Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington
|Diocese of Burlington|
|Territory||State of Vermont|
|Area||9,135 sq mi (23,660 km2)|
|(as of 2015)|
|Established||July 29, 1853 by Pope Pius IX|
|Cathedral||Cathedral of Saint Joseph|
|Patron saint||Immaculate Conception|
|Bishop||Christopher J. Coyne|
|Metropolitan Archbishop||Seán Patrick O'Malley|
|Vicar General||Rev. Msgr. John McDermott|
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington (Latin: Dioecesis Burlingtonensis) is a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the New England region of the United States, comprising the entire state of Vermont. It is led by a prelate bishop, who serves as pastor of the mother church, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the city of Burlington. The Diocese of Burlington was canonically erected on July 29, 1853 by Pope Pius IX. Its territories were taken from the former Diocese of Boston. The Burlington See is a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Boston.
During the Easter Vigil of April 14, 2001 Saint Joseph Church was rededicated as the Co-Cathedral of Saint Joseph. Burlington became one of only four American dioceses to have two active cathedral parishes in the same city—the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Diocese of Honolulu, and the Diocese of Brooklyn are the other three. On December 22, 2014, Pope Francis appointed the Most Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, formerly an Auxiliary Bishop of Indianapolis, as the next diocesan bishop, replacing the Most Rev. Salvatore Ronald Matano, who was appointed as the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester. Bishop Coyne's installation took place on January 29, 2015 at the Co-Cathedral of Saint Joseph. In October 2018, it was announced that the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception would be sold.
Originally Vermont was included within the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Baltimore, established in 1789. The bishops of Quebec continued, as they had in the past, to look after the spiritual interests of the Catholic settlers and Indians. When the Diocese of Boston was formed in 1810 Vermont became part of its territory.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, there were no priests residing in Vermont. Father Matignon, of Boston, visited Burlington in 1815 and counted about 100 Catholic Canadians. About 1818 Father Migneault from Chambly, Quebec, looked after the spiritual needs of the settlers on the shores of Lake Champlain for several years. He was appointed vicar-general of this part of the diocese by the Bishop of Boston and continued in that capacity until 1853.
Father Fitton, of Boston, came to Burlington for a short time in the summer of 1829. Bishop Fenwick, second Bishop of Boston, visited Windsor in 1826. The first resident priest in Vermont was Rev. Jeremiah O'Callaghan from 1830 until 1847. He was sent by Fenwick to Vermont, and visited successively Wallingford, Pittsford, Vergennes, and Burlington. He settled at Burlington, where he ministered for nearly a quarter of a century. His field of labor extended from Rutland to the Canadian line, a distance of about 100 miles (160 km), and from the shores of Lake Champlain to the Connecticut River.
Fenwick made his first pastoral visit, as Bishop of Boston, to Vermont in 1830, and in 1832 he dedicated the first church built in Vermont in the nineteenth century. This was erected at Burlington under the supervision of Father O'Callaghan.
In 1837 Rev. John Daley came to the southern part of the state. He is described as an "eccentric, but very learned man". During the time of his zealous labors in Vermont, he had no particular home. He usually made his headquarters at Rutland or Middlebury. He acted as a missionary, traveling from place to place wherever there were Catholics, and stopping wherever night overtook him. He remained in the state until 1854 and died in New York in 1870.
A census of the Catholic population of Vermont, taken in 1843, showed the total number to be 4940. At about this time emigration from European countries, particularly from Ireland, increased. The Catholic population increased.
During 1837 to 1854, Father John B. Daly performed missionary work in southern Vermont.
In 1852 a meeting of the bishops of the province of New York decided to ask the Holy See to erect Vermont into a diocese, with Burlington as the see city. Bishop Fitzpatrick of Boston proposed for Bishop of Burlington, Louis de Goesbriand, Vicar-General of Cleveland, Ohio. On 29 July 1853, the Diocese of Burlington was created and Father De Goesbriand named as bishop. He was consecrated at New York by the apostolic delegate, Mgr Bedini, on October 30, 1853. On November 5, he arrived at Burlington. He was installed the following day by Bishop Fitzpatrick. Bishop De Goesbriand visited the entire diocese. He found about 20,000 Catholics scattered throughout Vermont. In 1855 he visited France and Ireland for the purpose of securing priests for the Diocese of Vermont. He brought to the diocese in the succeeding years, several priests who helped build the Church in Vermont.
The first diocesan synod was held at Burlington, October 4, 1855. Rev. Thomas Lynch was appointed vicar-general in 1858. The gothic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was built in Burlington starting in 1861 under the supervision of Bishop De Goesbriand. It was completed and dedicated on December 8, 1867. By 1881 DeGoesbriand had a dozen priests to serve 6,000 congregants scattered throughout the state.
In the 1870s, the diocese bought about 25 acres (10 ha) of land on North Avenue from a former Burlington Free Press editor. It built a Victorian house there, where it maintained an orphanage for nearly a century. In 1945, it bought about 7 acres (2.8 ha) adjacent and created the Don Bosco School for delinquent boys. After the school and orphanage closed, the diocese moved its headquarters there. Decades later, former residents filed complaints of physical and sexual abuse by former clergy. Attempting to meet a settlement of $30 million, the diocese sold the property to Burlington College for $10 million in 2010.
In 1891, the ratio of French priests to francophone parishioners was the highest in New England in the diocese of Burlington (1:1610).
Bishop De Goesbriand served for thirty-eight years. In 1892, because of his advancing years and failing health, he requested the appointment of a coadjutor. Rev. J. S. Michaud, then pastor of Bennington, Vermont, was appointed. Bishop De Goesbriand retired to the orphanage, which he himself had founded.
Michaud completed the Cathedral Church, built the Fanny Allen Hospital and staffed it with the Religious Hospitalers of St. Joseph. The Sisters of Charity of Providence operated another new hospital in St. Johnsbury; the Loretto Home for the Aged in Rutland was served by the Sisters of St. Joseph. In 1904, the Bishop invited the dedicated Society of Saint Edmund to establish Saint Michael's College at Winooski Park. In 1905, the Daughters of Charity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus came to Newport where they opened a mission to serve as teachers, nurses and catechists for the Northeast Kingdom.
During his tenure, Michaud expanded the number of churches in Vermont from 72 to 94. There were 75,000 Catholics, 102 priests, 286 religious sisters, and 20 parochial schools serving some 7000 students.
Bishop Michaud died on December 22, 1908. Rev. J.J. Rice, D.D., then pastor of St. Peter's Church, Northbridge, Massachusetts, was selected as his successor. Bishop Rice was consecrated on 14 April 1910.
Catholic schools experienced a 24% drop in enrollment between 1998 and 2008 - from 3,190 to 2,431.
In 2010, the diocese settled 26 lawsuits for sexual abuse by priests, for $19,807,432 in 2017 dollars. Predating 2010, sexual abuse allegations were brought against the diocese who operated the St. Joseph Orphanage on North Avenue in Burlington for decades. It shut its doors in 1974. It was formerly managed by an order of nuns called the Sisters of Providence. In the 1990s, more than 100 former St. Joseph's Orphanage residents came forward to claim they were physically, sexually and emotionally abused by nuns, priests or lay staff workers in the 1940s, `50s and `60s when they lived in the Orphanage. Abuses suffered by the former residents included being tied to trees, whipped, locked in small boxes, raped, beaten, burned with cigarettes and matches, hung upside down outside windows, tossed into water to "sink or swim' and in some alleged instances, murdered. The diocese has spent more than $300,000 to settle the claims of 60 orphans who lived in St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington in the 1950s and 1960s. Lawyers for the diocese had asked the court to throw out the lawsuits. Statements made by four nuns and two priests who worked at the orphanage weakened claims by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington that abuse charges could not be corroborated. Additionally, five out of eight priests at St. Joseph’s were also accused of sexual abuse that accused in other litigations. The accused priest’s were father’s Foster, Bresnehan, Devoy, Emile Savary, and Donald LaRouche, who ruled over St. Joseph’s 39 years of existence. The grounds at St. Joseph’s has long since been sold off by the Catholic church, and was recently purchased by a developer who converted it into several upscale condos and renamed it ‘Liberty House’. 
In 2010, the diocese ordained four priests, the highest number in decades.
On October 11, 2018, the Diocese of Burlington announced that the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception would be sold following a long period of low attendance and that its members would be transferred to St. Joseph's.
|Number of Catholics in diocese|
There are twelve deaneries in the diocese.
- South Burlington
The list of bishops and their years of service:
- Louis de Goesbriand (1853–1899)
- John Stephen Michaud (1899–1908)
- Joseph John Rice (1910–1938)
- Matthew Francis Brady (1938–1944), appointed Bishop of Manchester
- Edward Francis Ryan (1944–1956)
- Robert Francis Joyce (1956–1971)
- John Aloysius Marshall (1971–1992), appointed Bishop of Springfield in Massachusetts
- Kenneth Anthony Angell (1992–2005)
- Salvatore Ronald Matano (2005–2014), appointed Bishop of Rochester
- Christopher J. Coyne (2015–present)
Lisa Lorenz is the superintendent of schools.
4 secondary/high schools:
- Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Rutland
- Rice Memorial High School, South Burlington
- St. Michael's Catholic High School, Brattleboro
- St. Terese Digital Catholic Academy (online)
11 parochial/parish elementary/middle schools:
- St Monica St Michael School, formerly Central Vermont Catholic School (formerly St. Monica), Barre
- St. Paul's Catholic School, Barton
- Sacred Heart School, Bennington
- St. Michael School, Brattleboro
- Christ the King School, Burlington
- Mater Christi School (private), Burlington
- Bishop John A. Marshall (private), Morrisville
- Sacred Heart, Newport
- Christ the King School, Rutland
- Good Shepherd, St. Johnsbury
- St. Francis Xavier, Winooski
Student enrollment dropped 24% from 3,190 to 2,431 from 1999 to 2008.
In 2005, the Vermont diocese had net assets of $5,679,217. This figure includes assets acquired "at cost." An insurance company has estimated that it would cost $400 million to replace the physical assets of the diocese, including churches, schools, and nursing homes.
The Vermont Catholic Charities had total net assets of $3,874,935.
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- In 1808 Fanny Allen, daughter of General Ethan Allen, converted to the Catholic faith, and entered the novitiate of Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, where she was received as a member of the order.
- Orestes Brownson, the noted Catholic author and philosopher, was a native of the state. He was born in Stockbridge in 1803.
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