Diocese celebrates founding Bishop’s 80th Birthday Print this post

Legacy of Bishop Emeritus Nevins honored with Mass

by BOB REDDY

VENICE – The best and most appropriate way to express the thanks and gratitude of the faithful for Bishop Emeritus John J. Nevins on his 80th birthday – Mass was celebrated by the Diocese of Venice in his honor.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, as well as dozens of priests from across the Diocese of Venice and more than 700 of the faithful, all gathered Jan. 19 at Epiphany Cathedral to honor a friend, a mentor and the founding spiritual leader of the Diocese. Among those honoring Bishop Nevins was long-time friend and colleague, Archbishop John C. Favalora, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Miami.

The lasting friendships Bishop Nevins forged through his 80 years, 22 of those years as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, were evident with the rousing applause he repeatedly received. Bishop Nevins acknowledged the praise with a wave, a thumbs-up, and a blessing using his Bishop’s cross.

Bishop Dewane said the birthday celebration was an opportunity to thank Bishop Nevins for answering the call to the priesthood and giving his life to serving as a beacon of light for the faithful.

“We celebrate our gift of faith and friendship,” he continued. “Bishop Nevins’ years of service are a gift to us all. He gave his life to God in the service as a priest and we celebrate him for making that commitment.”

A renovated stained-glass window at the rear of the Cathedral was donated by the priests of the Diocese of Venice in honor of Bishop Nevins. The glass represents the Universal Church and the priesthood. The inscription reads: “Most Rev. John J. Nevins, First Bishop of the Diocese of Venice: ‘To Serve with Mercy.’”

Under his motto: “To Serve with Mercy,” Bishop Nevins responded to changing societal needs by instituting many Diocesan outreach programs, including those to migrant farm workers, unwed mothers, refugees, and people with HIV/AIDS.

Bishop Nevins was born Jan. 19, 1932 in New Rochelle, N.Y., to John and Anne (McGuire) Nevins. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 6, 1959, and was ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Miami on March 24, 1979.

Bishop Nevins was appointed the first Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida on July 17, 1984 by Pope John Paul II, and was installed at Epiphany Cathedral on Oct. 25, 1984. He retired as Bishop of the Diocese of Venice on his 75th birthday, Jan. 19, 2007.

Following the Mass, priests and friends personally wished Bishop Nevins a happy and healthy birthday.

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