St. Mary’s Father Beaudin earns Papal appointment

MIDDLEBURY — Not a bad couple of years for Father William Beaudin and his parishioners at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
The congregation — which includes St. Bernadette Church in Bridport and St. Genevieve Church in Shoreham — recently capped a successful fundraising campaign that resulted in major interior renovations to the historic St. Mary’s building on College Street.
And early this month, Beaudin visited the Vatican as one of only 1,100 priests worldwide to be designated a “Missionary of Mercy” by Pope Francis. As such, Beaudin and his fellow priests will help Pope Francis fulfill the mission of his recently declared “Jubilee of Mercy,” a Holy Year for those of the Catholic faith that began on Dec. 8.
The Holy Year is “dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy” that God “constantly extends to all of us,” Pope Francis is quoted as saying.
“It’s humbling,” Beaudin said on Thursday of his appointment. “It provides an interesting moment of reflection.”
Beaudin is one of four Vermont priests to receive the Missionary of Mercy designation, and one of only 125 throughout the United States, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. The others are Msgr. Peter A. Routhier, the Rev. Luke P. Austin and the Rev. James E. Lawrence.
Bishop Christopher J. Coyne recommended all four Vermont clergy members for the papal designation.
As Missionaries of Mercy, the priests are to serve as “heralds of the joy of forgiveness”; “welcoming, loving and compassionate Confessors”; and “inspired preachers of mercy,” according to the Catholic Diocese.
“The short definition here is basically to be living symbols and signs of God’s care and love and forgiveness,” Beaudin said. “(The missionaries) are a living sign of the Father’s welcome to all those in search of his forgiveness.”
As one of the missionaries, Beaudin will also make himself available to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Confession) and for presentations on forgiveness and the Jubilee at churches throughout the state.
Beaudin was one of around 650 Missionaries of Mercy able to make the trip to Rome from Feb. 8 to 12 to receive the blessing and instructions from Pope Francis on what was expected of them. The whirlwind trip included an Ash Wednesday Mass and a conference led by the Pope in the Sala Regia (Royal Hall) next to the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
The Sala Regia is a long, expansive room flanked by a smaller room with an elevator. It was via this elevator and the smaller room that Pope Francis arrived to speak with the priests about their duties, Beaudin said.
While Beaudin said he would have liked to have gotten a “selfie” and a few words with the Pope, he was not able to approach him from were he was seated.
“He has a strong, compassionate presence,” Beaudin said of the Pope. “But I really didn’t get that close to him.”
Pope Francis gave what Beaudin described as a “spiritual presentation” for around 30 minutes, before proceeding to his other duties.
Beaudin is inspired to carry out his mission.
“The whole thing — mercy, forgiveness, everything — underlines a very fundamental need in life that the Pope is trying to emphasize, which is the need for (mercy and forgiveness) in a world that is harsh and merciless,” Beaudin said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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