History of the Diocese

Diocese of Venice Timeline

Diocese of Venice is Created

 July 17, Pope John Paul II erects the Diocese of Venice in Florida from parts of the Archdiocese of Miami, the Diocese of St. Petersburg and the Diocese of Orlando, naming Archdiocese of Miami Auxiliary Bishop John J. Nevins as the first bishop; Oct. 25 Bishop John J. Nevins is installed as first Bishop of the Diocese and Epiphany Church was dedicated as the Cathedral of the Diocese; Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. founded; Diocese has 116,495 registered parishioners. 11 schools; first chancery of Diocese in rented building in Capri Isles area of Venice


Father Arthur William Hannaway is first priest ordained in the Diocese of Venice on May 25; St. Thomas More Parish dedicates new church; Council of Catholic Women founded for Diocese


Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, St. Vincent de Paul Parish in North Fort Myers and Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton founded as parishes; Hispanic Services of Catholic Charities established in Fort Myers


The first six men ordained into permanent diaconate; Our Mother’s House, a home for single mothers with young children opens in temporary home in Bradenton; Catholic Center dedicated in Venice; St. Alfonso Chapel in Zolfo Springs dedicated


St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples, St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota, Our Lady of Mercy (elevated from mission) in Boca Grande and St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte founded as parishes; Poor Clare Nuns form contemplative monastery in Fort Myers Beach; new San Marco Parish church on Marco Island dedicated; TV Mass for the homebound begins

5 Years

Diocese of Venice celebrates five years with a variety of events; Los Hermanos Community of Christian Brothers begins ministry to migrants in Bonita Springs; Mass celebrated at DeSoto National Memorial in Bradenton to commemorate the 450th Anniversary of Hernando DeSoto’s landing in Florida; St. Andrew School opens in Cape Coral; first Catholic Charities ball in Sarasota; new churches at Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto, Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee are dedicated; Rosary Crusade draws more than 4,000 to Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte; Mental health counseling offered by Catholic Charities for first time in Sarasota


Our Lady of Light Parish in Estero and Blessed (now Saint) Katharine Drexel in Cape Coral founded as parishes; new Hispanic Social Services Center in Fort Myers and St. Ann Parish church in Naples dedicated


First interfaith Yom Hashoah Service in remeberance of the Holocaust held at Epiphany Cathedral; Diocesan television Mass debuts; new St. Michael Parish church in Lake Placid and San Pedro Parish church in North Port dedicated; Mission and Catholic Hispanic Community of the Apostle St. James in Lake Placid founded; Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities opens in Venice; first Diocesan Life Chain Pro-Life event draws 20,000 faithful along U.S. 41 from Bradenton to Naples


St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Chapel founded in Buckhead Ridge


St. Columbkille is established as a parish; San Antonio Parish in Port Charlotte established; Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park renovated; Holy Family Chapel in Everglades City founded; St. John the Evangelist Parish church dedicated; first Media Appreciation luncheon

10 Years

Diocese celebrates 10 years as a Diocese with a variety of events; Blessed Edmund Rice School established in Port Charlotte, serving adult formation class throughout Diocese; first Leaven Conference held; Guadalupe Social Services in Immokalee comes under Catholic Charities


St. Vincent de Paul Parish church dedicated; San Antonio Parish church dedicated in Port Charlotte; Our Lady of Lourdes Parish church in Venice dedicated; St. Peter the Apostle Parish church in Naples dedicated; Rice School opens in Arcadia


Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat and Spirituality center in Venice and the Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid open


Bishop Nevins offers Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish as site for negations for migrant workers, Florida Youth for Life Congress held in Ellenton; statewide workshop for parish nurses and pastors held at Epiphany Cathedral Parish; St. Vincent de Paul Society of Naples dedicates Ozanam Center


St. Columbkille Parish church dedicated; first class graduates from Rice School

15 Years

Diocese celebrates 15 years as a Diocese; St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Parrish founded as a parish and church dedicated; St. Michael the Archangel Parish church on Siesta Key rededicated, St. Agnes Mission in Naples was established; Hispanic Services of Catholic Charities opens offices in LaBelle and Bonita Springs



St. Joseph the Work Parish church in Moore Haven dedicated; St. Finbarr Mission in East Naples dedicated; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish church in Naples dedicated, Catholic Charities develops diocese disaster response program


Dreams Are Free School in Sarasota established; Catholic Charities refugee/resettlement program expanded to Naples, Fort Myers, Venice and Sarasota; U.S. government grant provides funding for establishment of HIV/AIDS housing program in Sarasota


Saint John XXIII in Fort Myers, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Osprey and Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Bradenton founded as a parishes; St. Rose of Lima Mission in Clewiston and Father Anglim Academy at Dream Are Free in Fort Myers established; Bishop Nevins Academy in Sarasota opens for St. Martha School and Dreams Are Free Academy; first Kristallnacht Convocation with Catholic/Jewish Dialogue Committee of Southwest Florida


Our Lady of the Angels Parish multi-purpose facility in Bradenton dedicated

20 Years

Diocese celebrates 20 years as a Diocese; Hurricanes Charley, Francis and Jeanne strike Southwest Florida causing extensive damage to the region leaving thousands homeless and seriously damaging St. Isabel Parish on Sanibel, Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda and St. Paul Parish in Arcadia; new Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish church in Bokeelia, St. Katharine Drexel Parish church in Cape Coral and St. Padre Pio Shrine at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota dedicated; St. Therese Mission in North Fort Myers founded


Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma strike Southwest Florida doing extensive damage and leaving thousands homeless; Saint John XXIII Parish church dedicated


Pope Benedict XVI names Msgr. Frank J. Dewane to succeed Bishop John J. Nevins as Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida; Msgr. Dewane ordained as Co-Adjunct Bishop of Venice in July; St. Jude in Sarasota founded as a parish and church dedicated; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish church/parish center dedicated; St. Padre Pio Shrine dedicated at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota



Bishop Frank J. Dewane takes over all duties as second Bishop of the Diocese of Venice; Bishop Emeritus John J. Nevins retires on his 75th birthday; Our Lady of Light Parish church dedicated; Holy Martyrs Mission in LaBelle and St. Agnes in Naples established as a parish; enhanced building and construction guidelines for Diocese, including greening efforts, established; enhanced Safe Environment program to protect children and vulnerable adults; Bishop Dewane celebrates Masses in area prisons for the first time; first Walk for Life in Fort Myers


St. Charles Borromeo Parish church in Port Charlotte rededicated, St. Isabel Parish on Sanibel reopens, new Sacred Heart Parish church dedicated in Punta Gorda, each received heavy damage from Hurricane Charley in 2004; St. Catherine School in Sebring opens and is the 15 school in the Diocese; Quasi-Parish of Ave Maria Oratory founded; first Red Mass at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota; first Bioethics Conference in Fort Myers for priests and medical professionals; first Novena of Masses for Life held throughout Diocese; first Environmental Justice Forum on Water

25 Years

“Year of Celebration,” Diocese celebrates 25 years; 250,000 registered parishioners, eight elementary schools, three high schools, two special needs schools and one adult formation school. Mass held in honor of Bishop Nevin’s 50th anniversary as a priest; first men’s and women’s conferences held; first Diocesan-wide Youth Rally; inaugural Volunteer Appreciation Mass in Venice, Mass held at Eucharistic Memorial in Bradenton; walk-a-thon for World Missions


First Veterans Day Mass held at Sarasota National Cemetery; five priests bestowed with Papal Honors; first Walk for Life in Naples; Christ the King Chapel founded in Sarasota


“Catholics Come Home” campaign media blitz a success; St. Therese in North Fort Myers named 58th parish in Diocese; new Jesus the Worker Parish church dedicated in Fort Myers; nearly 100 pilgrims attend World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain; group of 25 youth go on mission trip to St. Lucia; Diocese celebrates Month of the Rosary; Diocese hosts 25th Annual Respect Life Conference; first project in Neighborhood Stabilization program dedicated in Sarasota; Ave Maria University recognized as Catholic University


“The Light is On” campaign was introduced during Lent to encourage the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation with great success; Year of Faith began with a variety of events themed to encourage Catholics to become more energized in their Faith; The “Catholics Come Home” campaign returned in a modified format; four men were ordained priests by Bishop Dewane during two separate ordination Masses; a new women religious community was welcomed at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula when sisters from the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara arrived in September; a key theme throughout the year was the defense of Religious Freedom with thousands of people attending several rallies and participating in campaigns to encourage reversal of the HHS mandate; St. Monica Residence, a Catholic Charities apartment building for low-income families in Sarasota was opened; a new redesigned Diocesan website was unveiled; the year ended with the blessing and dedication of the new church for St. William Parish in Naples.