Advent: Season of Preparation and Expectation

Ordinary Time is coming to an end and the Season of Advent is upon us. This Season, which marks the beginning of the Liturgical Year of the Church, commences on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, and will come to an end on Christmas Eve.

Pope Francis reminds us that “we have a beautiful promise that introduces us to the Season of Advent: ‘Your Lord is coming!’ Let us never forget this! God is near, and He is coming!”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said Advent is “an invitation to pause in silence to recognize the signs of the coming of the presence of the Lord. It is a time of anticipation and of prayer.”

Advent has a two-fold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnity of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming.  For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.

“A time of preparation, Advent describes Advent as relates to the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas,” Bishop Dewane said. “Let us resolve to help bring Him into the hearts of those we encounter throughout each day. Let us take advantage of what is new in the Advent Season as the Universal Church prepares for the birth of Christ. And let us grow in Faith during this portion of the Liturgical Year on our journey toward Salvation.”

The Advent Season in the Church is different from the Christmas Season. The First Sunday of Season is Dec. 3, and it runs through the vigil of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec. 24). The Christmas Season in the Church runs from First Vespers of the Nativity of the Lord up to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Jan. 8, 2024.

Because the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas fall on consecutive days, the faithful are reminded that there is an obligation to attend Mass for both days, and this must be satisfied by attendance at two separate Masses. A single Mass does not satisfy both obligations.

After the annual celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the Church has no more ancient custom than celebrating the memorial of the Nativity of the Lord and His first manifestations.

As earlier noted, the focus of the Advent Season is preparation. This is done through prayer, quiet reflection, weekday Mass attendance and even fasting, Bishop Dewane explained.

Taking time to quietly reflect and grow in Faith can be a challenge. Yet we are called to put distractions aside, even for a few minutes a day, which allows the love of God to fill one’s life with joy. Many Parishes in the Diocese offer extended times for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

A key symbol in Churches for this Season is the Advent Wreath. The light emanating from the candles on the Advent Wreath serve to break through the darkness, reminding us of the Light of Christ that we anticipate during this Holy Season. The liturgical color of Advent is a particular shade of purple, a color which is most often associated with royalty. This color is used to symbolize the anticipation of the birth of Christ, who is our King and Savior.

Each Sunday of Advent, an additional candle of the wreath is lit, with the rose-colored candle lit on the Third Sunday of Advent. Best known as Gaudete Sunday, this celebration derives its name from Scripture: “Gaudete in Domino semper” (“Rejoice in the Lord always”) and marks the mid-point in the Season. Bishop Dewane said that the change in color provides encouragement to rejoice during ancient Season that was originally marked by penance, as we continue our spiritual preparation for Christmas.

Aside from the Sundays of Advent, the Church also celebrates two important Marian feasts, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8 (observed as a Holy Day of Obligation), and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, Dec. 12. We are also called to seek the intercession of the saints as we make this journey towards Christmas, particularly those saints whose feasts we celebrate during Advent, such as St. Ambrose, St. Nicholas, St. Juan Diego, St. Lucy, and St. John of the Cross. They model for us the way to salvation and assist us in our own pilgrimage to heaven.

Food drives support needy during holidays

Throughout November, students at the 15 Diocesan Catholic schools rallied to collect thousands of food items which were donated to local food pantries just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

At St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers, the Junior National Honor Society organized the food drive with more than 4,000 items collected in during a two-week period. Meanwhile, at St. Andrew Catholic School students in Cape Coral donated 1,540 pounds of food. A similar food drive at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring garnered some 2,000 canned goods. These are just some of the impressive responses to a call for need in the area.

The Diocesan high schools were not to be outdone by their younger counterparts. Huge deliveries of food from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School went out on Nov. 17, 2023, to four local food pantries. In addition, the school donated more than $1,200 in gift cards for use at area grocery stores. Similar scenes played out at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, and Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School includes all grades and held a similar food drive.

Beneficiaries of the food collected by the students throughout the Diocese included the regional Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., food pantries, the Harry Chapin Food Bank in Fort Myers, All Faiths Food Bank in Sarasota, as well as individual Parish food pantries.

For example, one of the beneficiaries of the items collected at Cardinal Mooney was the St. Joseph Food Pantry, which distributes needed food to more than 1,800 families each month in Manatee County, or about 6,500 individuals.

Pantry Director Dan Friedrich said the demand from needy families for food has increased in the past year as the cost of items has skyrocketed. While donations go up during the holidays, the demand is there year-round.

The generosity of the families at the Diocesan Catholic schools will go a long way in helping those in need this holiday season.

While dry food donations are accepted at all food pantries, monetary donations are greatly appreciated as this money can be leveraged to purchase more items from regional food banks. To support Catholic Charities, please visit To support the St. Joseph Food Pantry, please visit

Prison outreach volunteers recognized

The men and women volunteers who enter the jails and prisons scattered throughout the Diocese of Venice serve a crucial role to a segment of society that is too commonly dismissed and forgotten.

Prison outreach volunteers were recognized for their work by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during a Mass of Appreciation on Nov. 17, 2023, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte. The outreach provides a variety of services, including Bible study, religious education and assistance with receiving the sacraments such as Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

Bishop Dewane, who celebrated Mass for the volunteers, praised the group for choosing to answer a specific call from God, that of serving the incarcerated, those who are often marginalized or forgotten by society.

“The Diocese is blessed that the Lord has put you volunteers there to serve in a particular way for those men and women who need it the most,” Bishop Dewane said. “The incarcerated have value, and their inalienable dignity is always there. All of us who go into the jails and prisons find the image and likeness of God in those whom we encounter.”

Bishop Dewane, who celebrates Mass at jails and prisons within the Diocese of Venice several times each year, said the volunteers who participate in prison outreach touch the heart of the incarcerated because they talk to them about the Lord.

“Your service comes from the heart,” the Bishop said. “You have the insight and the desire to see the need and to serve those who are on the margins by taking the word of God and sharing the Good News with the men and women you encounter. God put you where you need to be, and for that, I am grateful.”

The Bishop, who admitted being nervous during his first prison visit while working in Rome, said each encounter has a personal impact on him. When celebrating the Mass for the incarcerated, Bishop Dewane said, he knows he is bringing the forgiveness, mercy, compassion, peace, love and joy of the Lord to others.

Since his appointment as Bishop of the Diocese in 2006, Bishop Dewane has conferred the Sacraments of Confirmation, First Communion and Baptism for dozens of inmates. In October the Bishop conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on a group of seven inmates at DeSoto Correctional Institute in Arcadia.

Following the Mass for volunteers, a luncheon was held in the Parish Hall. The volunteers heard from Florida Department of Corrections State Chaplain Johnny Frambo and Father Severyn Kovalyshin, head Region 3 Chaplain (the Diocese of Venice is part of Region 3), who updated everyone on the positive impacts of their ministry.

Diocesan Prison Outreach Co-Coordinators Bob Hiniker and Joe Mallof also provided updates and the good news that programs to support the incarcerated are expanding, including a re-entry program and the expansion of digital classes and resources.

At DeSoto Correctional Institute in Arcadia, there is a weekly Mass with more than 50 in attendance. This Mass includes viewing the TV Mass for the Homebound produced by the Diocese Department of Communications, as well as reflections of the readings.

Within the Diocese, there are currently 24 priests, six deacons and 80 laity who volunteer in prison outreach in 10 county jails, five state prisons and one state work camp. The Prison Ministry of the Diocese is under the guidance of the Office of Evangelization.

There are currently more than 15,000 men and women incarcerated within the Diocese and new volunteers are needed. All volunteers participate in an orientation program before entering a correctional facility and “shadow” experienced volunteers until they feel comfortable. Times and days vary by facility.

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about the Diocesan Prison Outreach, or perhaps becoming a volunteer, please contact Bob Hiniker at or Joe Mallof at

Feast Day celebration in Clewiston

St. Margaret of Scotland, patroness and eponym of the Catholic Parish in Clewiston, was canonized for her concern with and ministry to the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, and the sick. She built schools and hospitals and spent time each day listening to the needs of the people in the outer court of the castle where she reigned as queen with her husband, Malcolm III.

“The history of St. Margaret Parish has continued the witness of St. Margaret,” Bishop Dewane said during a Mass honoring the Saint on Nov. 19, 2023. “I am pleased and honored to be here with all of you today as you honor your patroness, someone who lived a long time ago and far away. You do honor St. Margaret today, but you also do this in how you live your lives, responding to the needs of the community with compassion.”

The celebration included a bilingual Mass (English and Spanish), and this was followed in the Parish Hall with a feast.

Father Jean Woady Louis, Administrator of St. Margaret Parish, expressed his gratitude for the presence of Bishop Dewane and explained that the Parish is proud of its heritage, serving the faithful in Hendry County since 1932.

The Feast of St. Margaret is celebrated on Nov. 16, and honors a Saint who was born in Hungary in 1045 and died in 1093. She was canonized in 1250 by Pope Innocent IV as a Saint, acknowledging her life of holiness and extraordinary virtue. She was honored for her work for reform of the Church and her personal holiness.

St. Margaret is best remembered for her love of the poor. When she walked or rode out in public, crowds of the needy flocked to her, and none left her without being comforted.

Although very generous with material gifts, St. Margaret also visited the sick and nursed them with her own hands. She and her husband were also renowned for serving orphans and the poor on their knees during Advent and Lent.

Memorial Mass held for deceased Deacons and their wives

Remembering those who have gone before, Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the annual Memorial Mass for deceased Deacons and their wives on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.

The Mass is held in November to coincide with the Month of All Souls. In addition to Deacons and their spouses, also present were members of the Permanent Diaconate Formation Classes of 2025 and 2028 and their spouses.

The readings of the day were from All Souls Day (Nov. 2), when the faithful learn that God has provided life and an afterlife through His Son, Jesus Christ.

“We learn that death is not an end in itself,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Lord took the souls of the departed Deacons and their wives to Himself, fulfilling that promise of life ever after.”

Bishop Dewane explained that being a part of the Permanent Diaconate is a unique responsibility within the Church, resurrected following Vatican II. Since the Diocese of Venice was created in 1984, the Bishop said Deacons are following in the footsteps of their predecessors.

“The role of the Deacon is the idea of a ministry of service within the Church,” Bishop Dewane said. “The calling of a Deacon is to imitate the goodness and love that is God and be a beacon for others.”

The Memorial Mass brings together those Deacons, and their wives, serving today while honoring the memory of those who have served in the Diocese of Venice since its founding. Appropriately, it is a time of expressing gratitude to all for their answering the call of the Lord in a precise way.

Bishop Dewane concluded his homily by saying, “For all of the Deacons and their spouses who have gone before us and we no longer see, I end by saying: ‘Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!’”

As part of this annual tradition, during the Prayer Intentions, the names of those who have passed away during the previous year are solemnly read as candles are lit in their honor. Included in the list of names this year were Deacon Rich Spiro, Deacon William Cassidy, and Frances Pennypacker.

Today, there are more than 6o Permanent Deacons, many seasonal, living and serving throughout the Diocese of Venice.

Diocesan cross country athletes excel at State

Diocesan Catholic high school teams and individuals excelled at the recent Florida State High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee.

Individually, Mackenzie de Lisle, a junior at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, took home the Girls Class 2A silver with a 5K time of 17:52.2. In the same race, Allsion Dempsey, a senior at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, took the bronze with a time of 18:01.9.

Overall, in the team competitions, the Bishop Verot girls finished fourth, while the Cardinal Mooney girls placed 25th overall. The Verot boys also placed fourth overall. In the Class 1A race, the girls from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples placed 22nd overall.

The athletes competing for the Verot girls team were Mackenzie de Lisle, Gianna Gyurich, Caroline Ward, Caroline Muddell, Erika Romero, Jocelyn Sweeney, and McKinley Parker. The Mooney girls team included Allsion Dempsey, Rosemary Selke, Ellie Runnels, Hailey Fritschle, Kyla Logan, Samantha Petrill, and Karel Dib. The Neumann girls team included Kailyn Albright Merkel, Elisabeth Le Quere, Virginia Kate Chachere, Emma Collins, Ava Murtack, Chelsea Perez, and Mylee Van de Wouw. The Verot boys team included Andrew Marino, Dennis Olsen, Zachary Zielke, Thomas Eichten, Zachary Engel, Rafael Casillas, and Cael Horton.

Congratulations to all these athletes for qualifying for the State Championships and their overall performance this season!


News Briefs for the week of November 24, 2023

Bishop to speak at Theology on Tap in December

Each month, on the third Thursday, young adults gather for faith, fellowship and fun at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. Theology on Tap is presented by the Diocese Office of Evangelization, and the Dec. 21, 2023, guest speaker will be Bishop Frank J. Dewane. The Mandeville Beer Garden is located at 428 N. Lemon, Ave., and the gathering begins at 7 p.m. The Nov. 16, presentation was led by Father Anthony Armstrong, O. Carm., Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Osprey. Father Armstrong spoke to the group of young adults about “Prayer and Practicing the Presence of God.”

Families clean up neighborhood road

Incarnation Catholic School families from Sarasota took to the streets as part of an Adopt-A-Road cleanup crew on Nov. 18, 2023. The team helped clear the streets of garbage between Tuttle Avenue and Bahia Vista Street, just north of the school. This was a great way to give back to the community and help keep Sarasota clean.

Junior Thespians compete regionally

Junior Thespians from St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton competed in nine performance events and one technical event at the District Jr. Thespians Competition at Blake High School in Tampa on Nov. 18, 2023. The St. Joseph students received seven “Superiors” and three “Excellents.” This is outstanding! What an amazing accomplishment. A special thanks goes to Paul Mahoney who coaches these young artists.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is Holy Day of Obligation

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, observed Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, is the patronal feast day of the United States and is a Holy Day of Obligation. The Solemnity celebrates the Immaculate Conception of Mary in her mother, St. Anne. The Immaculate Conception does not refer to the original conception and birth of Christ, as is often thought, but rather to the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was conceived without inheriting original sin. Note that Holy Days of Obligation are feast days on which Catholics are required to attend Mass and to avoid (to the extent that they are able) servile work. The observance of Holy Days of Obligation is part of the Sunday Duty, the first of the Precepts of the Church. To accommodate this obligation, many Parishes throughout the Diocese will offer vigils or extra Masses on the Solemnity.

Bereavement Outreach and Training coming in December

The Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life is holding two bereavement events in early December. One is a bereavement outreach, and the second is a training session for individuals or Parishes wishing to form bereavement volunteers.

The outreach is from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Dec. 4 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, 5265 Placida Road, Grove City; and again from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Dec. 5 at St. William Parish, 601 Seagate Drive, Naples. Entitled, “There is Hope”, these workshops focus on surviving the holidays after the loss of a loved one. There is no cost to attend, and registration is not required. Deacon Henry DeMena will facilitate the workshops.

The training is focused on forming and educating Parish bereavement volunteers and those who speak with the bereaved. This training takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dec. 6 and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 7 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. The cost is $35.00 and includes lunch and materials. Registration is required at Bereavement Training ( For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at or call 941-484-9543.

Veterans Day Catholic Mass honors military service and sacrifice

The 14th Annual Catholic Mass on Veterans Day made a successful return to Sarasota National Cemetery as Bishop Frank J. Dewane prayed for those currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, those who have died, and their families.

More than 850 people attended the Mass which was celebrated in 2022 at St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota due to the threat of a tropical storm.

Bishop Dewane thanked the veterans for their service in defense of freedom, a freedom enjoyed to this day thanks to those who served and sacrificed throughout this nation’s history and for those who continue to serve, answering the call of their country.

“We gather here today at this National Cemetery in a unique expression of the Church of the Diocese of Venice,” Bishop Dewane said. “To those who came before us, may God bless them all. They are remembered deeply in this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

Reflecting upon the vocation of servicemen and servicewomen who give themselves “for the love of their country and the love of others, seeking peace, protecting, and cherishing the common good,” the Bishop continued. “We become even more sensitive to the role of those in the military as well as live in a time when there are a number of touchpoints throughout the world that are in great conflict.”

“It is a vocation of both patriots and peacemakers,” Bishop Dewane said. “We have to acknowledge that and respect it. They give their lives so that you and I today live in a relative peace, and so that generations into the future will live in that peace.”

Bishop Dewane said the prayers of the Mass are offered in gratitude for what the veterans have sacrificed for, the greater good of society, noting that it is important that we be attuned to this, as we owe them. In some cases, these men and women in uniform do not return home, leaving a void and sadness in someone’s heart.

“Let us remember those who serve us and have served us, asking the Lord to care for them and their families,” Bishop Dewane concluded.

Prior to the opening of the Mass, all veterans – active and retired – were asked to stand and be recognized. This was followed by the singing of the National Anthem.

Before the concluding prayer of the Mass, Bishop Dewane led everyone in reciting a Prayer for Peace. The Sarasota National Cemetery celebration concluded with a procession, escorted by the Knights of Columbus Color Corps, to the nearby graves as those in attendance sang “God Bless America.”

Priests, Deacons, the Knights of Columbus Color Corps, and all present, gathered in silent prayer before “Taps” was played on a bugle.

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. (Ret.), Charles Voight, a 5-year veteran who served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq and is a parishioner at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota, expressed his gratitude for the Mass.

“This means a great deal to me, and to all veterans,” Voight said. “We each served our country and would gladly do it again, but it’s a service that is not always recognized. Serving in combat was an experience which deepened my faith. My trust in God helped me to get through some difficult times.”

There are more than 25,000 veterans and eligible family members currently interred in the National Cemetery and some 18.5 million military veterans in the United States.

The Diocese of Venice coordinates the Catholic Mass at the National Cemetery with the backing of the Knights of Columbus and is grateful for the help and support of Sarasota National Cemetery.

Prayer for Peace

Lord of all, in this time of strife and suffering, we come before you with heavy hearts, seeking your divine intervention. We lift up to you the victims of the Holy Land conflict, asking for your mercy and healing touch.

Prince of Peace, grant solace to those who are in pain, strength to those who are weary and hope to those who are in despair. Let your guiding light shine upon all, that they may find a path to reconciliation and understanding.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, wrap your mantle of love around those who are suffering, and intercede for them before your Son. May your gentle compassion be a source of comfort and consolation.

We implore you, O God, to inspire leaders and all involved to seek avenues of peace and dialogue. Soften hearts that are hardened by hatred and division, and instill in them a desire for unity and harmony.

St. Francis of Assisi, patron of peace, pray for us. Help us to be instruments of your peace in this troubled world. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we pray.


Dangerous ballot initiative seeks to erase Pro-Life protections

An extremely grave initiative is underway in Florida that seeks to erase pro-life protections by inserting language into the Florida Constitution banning regulation of abortion.

Abortion activists are working to gather petition signatures to place a pro-abortion constitutional amendment, titled Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion, on the November 2024 ballot.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, along with the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB), warns that this amendment would allow abortion up until birth, including when the baby is capable of feeling pain, and would eliminate laws requiring parental consent – the proposed amendment calls only for notification – and safety protocols for women. Floridians should not sign the petition.

The FCCB released a statement on the proposed amendment and its petition, stating, “This amendment is deeply concerning because it will allow all abortions to be obtained until viability and includes a broad ‘health’ loophole, essentially allowing abortion on demand up to birth. The amendment would hinder the Florida legislature’s ability to protect women and children from abortion.”

In addition, the Florida Bishops assert that the amendment could also nullify current laws requiring parental consent before minors obtain abortions and a 24-hour waiting period prior to abortions, as well as the 15-week and 6-week abortion laws recently passed by the legislature.

The FCCB has filed a legal brief with the Florida Supreme Court opposing the ballot initiative that seeks to enshrine unfettered abortion access into the state constitution.

The FCCB’s brief was one of four others filed on October 31, 2023, in addition to Attorney General Ashley Moody’s initial brief contesting the validity of the petition initiative for the “Amendment to Limit Government Inference with Abortion.” Other organizations that filed a brief were Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, National Center for Life and Liberty, and Florida Voters Against Extremism, a political committee formed specifically to organize and lead opposition to the initiative.

To help educate the parishioners of the Diocese of Venice on this dangerous amendment, a series of ads (in both English and Spanish) have been created listing the facts regarding the proposed amendment.

The ads, and more information about the proposed amendment, can be found at Decline to Sign – Diocese of Venice. The first fact is as follows, “This proposed amendment would legalize abortion up until birth, even allowing partial-birth abortion. Isn’t that going too far?”

As the Florida Bishops stated, “Declining to sign is not impeding the democratic process; it is taking a stand against what would be a terrible state policy. The FCCB is following developments in the initiative process closely and diligently preparing to help defeat it. Please continue your prayers for the protection of the unborn and spread the word to your spheres of influence.”

For more information about the “Decline to Sign” initiative, please visit Decline to Sign – Diocese of Venice or contact Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-484-9543 or


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Diocesan schools honor our veterans

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Venice honored those in the military (active and retired) in a variety of ways to commemorate Veterans Day.

A Veterans Day tradition at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples continued, with a Mass and reception on Nov. 8, 2023. The Mass was celebrated by Father Alejandro Giraldo-Roldan, the Parochial Vicar, and all students participated by processing in with handmade patriotic artwork.

The Seton tribute to veterans was led by eighth graders and included a salute to branches of the military, a flag folding ceremony, presentation of bravery pins, and remembrance of veterans not present. The first graders displayed handmade letters spelling out the profound truth that “We are the Land of the Free Because of the Brave!” The second graders closed out the program by singing “God Bless America.” A reception followed in the Parish Center.

At St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton, students and faculty gathered on Nov. 10 in the courtyard to recognize those who have served our country. The school community joined in, listening to patriotic songs and watching as fourth graders processed with flags to represent the branches of the military. Everyone then reflected on how grateful they are for those who have fought for our freedoms and the individuals who continue to serve. The assembly concluded with the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer, and a parade with the pre-kindergarten-4 students.

Tradition at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota continued with a formal ceremony which included the reciting of poems, and the singing of patriotic songs in thanks to all veterans for their service. In addition, the Knights of Columbus led a formal flag raising ceremony.

Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers held a school assembly with speakers and a presentation by the American Legion Honor Guard.

St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral had a school Mass honoring veterans and then afterwards the veterans lined up and greeted each student with a fist bump as they returned to class.

St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy in Sarasota joined together for a Veterans Day program that included a parade. In addition, the second graders in Mrs. Ravazzoli’s class wrote thank you cards to a friend who is one of 5,000 sailors currently serving on the USS Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier now stationed in the Gulf of Oman. Included in the care package are pictures, cards, and a snack basket.

These were just a few examples of how Diocesan Catholic schools honored the service and sacrifice of those in the military.

Veterans Day began as an informal celebration to mark the conclusion of World War I (Nov. 11, 1918), before being designated as a national holiday in 1954 to honor all military men and women who have sacrificed so much in their service to this country.