Catechetical Day Conference inspires

The Church calls all who are baptized to be catechists within their families and their communities. Catechesis is a critical way in which we use our Faith to empower one another to learn more about Jesus Christ.

A Catechetical Conference, hosted by Diocese of Venice Department of Education and spearheaded by the Office of Religious Education, provided an understanding as to how to bring Jesus Christ into the classroom as a catechist according to Church teachings.

The bilingual Conference was Sept. 25, 2021 at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, and offered catechetical leaders, catechists, religion coordinators and religion teachers a training day aimed at helping them to grow spiritually and professionally. There were nine workshops and several keynote addresses led by renowned speakers presenting a variety of topics rooted in the theme, “Encountering Christ in the Classroom.”

The response from the more than 300 participants throughout the day was overwhelmingly positive. Many cited the variety of options for workshops, the bilingual nature of the event; as well as the enthusiasm of the speakers as reasons for their enjoyment of the day.

“This is great,” said Sister Rosemary Le, FMI, Director of Religious Education at Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers.

Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education, expressed her prayers that the Conference was an opportunity for catechists to learn how to better share the Good News of the Lord in their classrooms.

“We broadly define the ‘classroom’ to include our homes, churches and workplaces to show that we catechists can empower our communities to love Jesus, emulate his teachings and embrace our Catholic faith at any time and place,” Chrzan said.

The Conference opened with Mass at neighboring St. Cecilia Parish, celebrated by Msgr. Stephen E. McNamara, Vicar General of the Diocese and Pastor of Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers, who was filling in for Bishop Frank J. Dewane. Bishop Dewane was unable to attend the Conference until later in the day.

Workshops ranged from “How to Pray with Children in the Classroom” and “How to Use E-learning Platforms in Religious Education” to “Disciples Making Disciples.” Among the featured speakers were Jared Dees, creator of the website, The Religion Teacher; Ricardo Grzona, founder of Fundación Ramón Pané, a nonprofit organization dedicated to evangelization and spiritual formation; and Dr. Amy Roberts, a classroom methodology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

The day also included the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration.

In addition to the Catechetical Conference, Chrzan also hosted a workshop on Sept. 23, at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) Workshop was led by Dr. Bill Keimig of Franciscan University of Ohio. Kiemig spoke to about 40 catechists regarding the need to follow the proven formal structure of the RCIA process. He noted that by following the process in the way it was created, it ensures that a greater number of new Catholics will remain active in the Faith beyond the first year following the Sacrament Confirmation at the Easter Vigil.

News Briefs for the Week of Oct. 1, 2021

Scout 10 Commandment Hike held

The Knights of Columbus of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Council 15821, led by Grand Knight Anthony Hopfinger, presented a dialogue with the Cub Scouts about the Ten Commandments held on Sept. 25, 2021, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The Cub Scouts hiked around the Lake of the Blessed Sacrament to 10 different points to discuss the Commandment with the Knights. Patches were blessed and distributed by Father Lawton Lang, Diocesan Scout Chaplain. A light lunch was provided by the staff at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. All were pleased with the weather, the program, and the presentations.

Religious Sister dies

Sister Maria del Carmen Peña, Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco, died unexpectedly Sept. 25, 2021 in Haledon, New Jersey at the age of 87 and a Salesian Sister for 65 years. Sister Carmen retired at the age of 86 after six years of service in the finance office of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples. The high school posted a message of her passing on social media and stated: “She loved our school and we loved her even more.  She was small in stature, but captured a big piece of your heart once you met her. Her legacy will live on through all those who were blessed to know her.  May you rest in peace Sr. Carmen.  No doubt some of the first words she heard was, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’” Born in 1934 in Saltillo, Mexico, Sister Carmen served in various roles of leadership for more than 40 years, including Provincial Treasurer and Provincial Vicar and much more. A Mass of Christian Burial was held Sept. 27, 2021, at the St. Joseph Provincial Center in Haledon, New Jersey.

Latest Catholic Charities vaccination clinic a success

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. continues to reach out to underserved portions of the community by hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics throughout the Diocese. The latest clinic was hosted Sept. 25, 2021 at the Casa San Juan Bosco Farmworker Housing community in Arcadia. Representatives of the DeSoto County Department of Health and Florida Department of Health administered the vaccines with volunteers assisting and handing out gift bags of food and other essentials to all who came. Catholic Charities has hosted more than a dozen vaccination clinics throughout the region.

Interest in science blossoms in Chemistry Club

The after-school St. Catherine Catholic School Chemistry Club explored chemical changes in matter during various scientific experiments at their Sept. 27, 2021 meeting. Everyone in the club loves science.

Students donate care packages

Members of the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School St. Vincent de Paul Society in Sarasota donated more than 100 care packages to the families and clients of Bethesda House of the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Venice, Inc. on Sept. 24, 2021.

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated in school

Students at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by doing research on the different Spanish-speaking countries in the world. Students then created a presentation to share what they learned with the rest of the class on Sept. 21, 2021.

Students learn about Moses

The first grade students of Christine Macaluso at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers learned about the story of Moses in class the week of Sept. 20, 2021. They ended their week by creating colorful drawings of baby Moses in a basket.

Schools hold Boosterthon

St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota held a Boosterthon the week of Sept. 20-24, 2021. One of the highlights was a fun run and other games, topped off by ice cream at the end of the week. Money raised during the week will go toward various programs in the two schools.

Students celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day outside

Pre-K-3 and Pre-K-4 classes at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples celebrated Johnny Appleseed Day with an outdoor class on Sept. 27, 2021. Students sat on blankets while they learned about a man who not only introduced apples to North America but promoted conservation.

Appreciation shown for Priests

As the world slowly emerges from the global Pandemic, the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (VDCCW) took time out to recognize and honor the priests who serve throughout the Diocese.

During the first VDCCW Priest Appreciation Dinner on Sept. 17, 2021, at the Venetian River Club in Venice, the members pledged to focus on better supporting the priests as they continue to serve the people of God.

‘You have no idea what you mean to us,” said Brenda Dolan, Florida Council of Catholic Women President/Province Director-elect and immediate Past-Co-President of the VDCCW. “On behalf of the CCW, allow us, the people that love and support you, to minister to you. Let us know what you need. We really want to be there for you.”

Dolan shared a story from her youth when a group of friends would bring pizza to their Pastor’s home each Sunday evening after learning that it is the loneliest night of the week for all priests. “It is when everyone is with their families… After that we made sure he was never alone on a Sunday night.”

The who were present for the dinner, both active and retired, came forward to be individually recognized. Each shared their appreciation for the role the members of VDCCW play in support of them, their Parishes and the Diocese as a whole.

Father Mark Heuberger, Pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton thanked the CCW for all that they do, “so much takes place that could not happen without the dedication of the CCW.”

Father Ricky Varner, Pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral called the CCW an inspiration.

Ellen Bachman, immediate Past-Co-President of the VDCCW, spoke of how priests adapted to the changing world during the Pandemic. She highlighted that many did live-streaming Masses, counseling and consoling those who struggled all to ensure that the connection between the faithful and God was never severed even when everyone was physically separated.

“Thank you for all you did for God’s people during these trying times,” Bachman said. “You will never know how important you are in our lives. You are with us from birth until death. You are there when we receive the Sacraments, and you are there when we take our last breath… God spoke to us through you.”

While we all are called to serve the Lord through different vocations, Bachman said it is impossible to guess what it is like to be a priest.

“You are alone. We know it is difficult that when you make a decision and have no one to discuss it with,” Bachman added. “You weren’t ordained to be an architect, to be landscaper, to be janitor… These and other administrative duties make it difficult for you to devote your time to your priestly duties. I know all of you struggle with these kind of things…I speak on behalf of everyone when I thank you for what you do, for who you are and for the life you give to serve God’s people.”

Father Robert Beligotti, a retired priest who assists at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice with his twin brother Father Richard, reflected upon his 53 years of priesthood by paraphrasing a statement from St. John Vianney, Patron of Parish priests. “You are not there for yourself, you are there for your people. You don’t absolve yourself; you don’t minister the sacraments to yourself; you are there because of your people. This statement always reminds me that it is my purpose to serve God’s people – to make them more like the Lord. It has been a great honor to be among you and thank you for all of your support.”

Each priest received a framed poem honoring the Ministerial Priesthood.

Diocesan Rosary Congress Sept. 30 to Oct. 7

By Joshua Mazrin, Special to the Florida Catholic

“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times” (St. Padre Pio).

To utilize this weapon for our times, the Diocese of Venice is hosting a traveling Rosary Congress at nine different Parishes beginning the evening of Sept. 30, 2021 and concluding on the evening of Oct. 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. A Rosary Congress is a prolonged time of Eucharistic Adoration during which time the Rosary is recited every hour.

In the Diocese of Venice, the Rosary Congress will spend one day at each of the nine Parishes, beginning at 6 p.m. with an opening Mass followed by Perpetual Adoration throughout the night and the following day. Each hour the Rosary will be said for intentions such as the Church, the Faithful of the Diocese of Venice, our country, and difficulties for all throughout the world. This year we especially pray to renew our own consecration of ourselves and our Church to the Blessed Mother and for a renewed love for Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. At the end of each day (following the night and day long Perpetual Adoration), a closing Mass, 24 hours later will be held at 6 p.m.

The Rosary Congress will begin at both Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral on Sept. 30. It will then move to St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples, St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, Christ the King Parish in Sarasota, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Parrish, and will then conclude at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will be celebrating the closing Mass at 6 p.m., Oct. 7. (See complete schedule below.)

As one of the seven last things Jesus Christ said to us from the Cross, “Behold your mother” turning our gaze toward the Mother of God, who is our Mother. “Behold your son” spoken to Our Lady shows the maternal care into which we are placed from then and through all eternity. These messages were amongst the most important things Jesus had to say to us regarding our earthly pilgrimage toward heaven, namely, that Our Lady looks out for Her children, that Her intercession is powerful, and that we need Her.

The Diocese of Venice has continued to foster its devotion to the Blessed Mother. Our Lady of Mercy is the Patroness of the Diocese. Under this patronage, the Diocese was formally consecrated to Our Lady during Advent of 2017. The fruits of this consecration have been tremendous as Our Lady offers her special care through her powerful intercession. With these past years dedicated to St. Joseph, beginning with the Diocese of Venice’s Year of St. Joseph (March 19, 2020), and now in the Universal Church’s year dedicated to St. Joseph (Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021), the Rosary Congress is a time to set the Holy Family as an example for all families.

With the many difficulties in the world today, whether they be hardships of antiquity or new troubles, the Rosary Congress presents a unique opportunity to place all prayer intentions and the needs of all the Faithful into the loving arms of the Mother of God.

To offer these intentions to Mary in the presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar serves to open the gates of heaven for the maximum grace possible. There is no better time spent, besides time at the Holy Mass, than time spent before Jesus in the Eucharist. Being in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is so powerful it prompted St. Alphonsus Liguori to say, “Know also that you will probably gain more by praying 15 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day” and, “Certainly amongst all devotions, after that of receiving the sacraments, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament holds first place, is most pleasing to God, and most useful to ourselves.”

During the Rosary Congress, all are afforded the blessed opportunity to present their petitions to Mary as they come to the foot of her Son, adoring Him just as the shepherds did at His Nativity. In the presence of Jesus and Mary, the Rosary is the unsheathed sword by which the prayers of the faithful will prompt Jesus and Mary to overcome the evils of today. In short, if there are any prayers you need answered, any at all, you can rest assured that Jesus and Mary will hear you, and the Rosary Congress is an impactful and unique opportunity to avail yourself to that grace.

More information regarding the Diocesan Rosary Congress may be found at

Joshua Mazrin is the Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization and can be reached at 941-484-9543 or

Diocese of Venice Travelling Rosary Congress

Sept. 30 to Oct. 7, 2021

Each location:

Opening Mass at 6 p.m.

Adoration with Rosary each hour from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Closing Mass 6 p.m. to conclude the 24 hours.


Thursday, Sept. 30, 6 p.m.

Incarnation Parish, 1901 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota

St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 S.W. 20th Ave., Cape Coral

Friday, Oct. 1, 6 p.m.

St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples

St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota (modified schedule 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Scriptural Rosary.)

Saturday, Oct. 2, 6 p.m.

Our Lady of the Angels Parish, 12905 E. SR 70, Lakewood Ranch

Sunday Oct. 3, 6 p.m.

Christ the King Parish, 1900 Meadowood St., Sarasota

Monday, Oct. 4, 6 p.m.

St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 6 p.m.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, 12001 69th St. E., Parrish

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 6 p.m.

Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave., Venice

Closing Mass, 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 7,

Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave., Venice, celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane.


Top students recognized

Seven Diocese of Venice Catholic high school seniors recently received national recognition for academic success.




Each of the four Diocese Catholic high schools had at least one student named a 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalist, placing them among only 16,000 students nationwide to be recognized among the 1.5 million juniors who entered the competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The nationwide pool of semifinalists includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state and represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors.

Those gaining semifinalist status were: Alexis Camina (St. John Neumann Catholic High School, Naples), Sophia Miller (Bishop Verot Catholic High School, Fort Myers), Catherine Graham and Winston Fairchild (Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria), and Hallie Monserez, Peter Etz and Sofia Cava (Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Sarasota).

Being named semifinalists puts these seven scholars on a path to compete to become National Merit Scholarship Finalists and potential scholarship winners. The process includes submitting a detailed application with information about their academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, as well as honors and awards received.

Finalists are announced in the spring and have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million to be offered next spring.

The mission of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Venice is to offer a superb education infused with Catholic values, teachings and traditions.

To learn more about Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools, please visit


Sarasota faithful welcome Pastor

To be a Pastor, a priest must have a certain strength to constantly work toward lifting up the faithful, helping them create a stronger connection to Jesus Christ. This is done through the words and actions of a Pastor, serving as the Good Shepherd

It was for this reason Bishop Frank J. Dewane installed Father Eric Scanlan as Pastor of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Sept. 19, 2021.

Father Scanlan has been serving as Administrator of Incarnation Parish since Oct. 29, 2018, and Bishop Dewane said it was an appropriate time to install him as Pastor. Outwardly, there will be no changes in the operation of the Parish but nevertheless the Bishop noted this was an important moment for the parishioners and in the life of the Parish.

A Pastor infuses a great deal of life into a Parish and is entrusted with the spiritual welfare of the faithful by preaching, administering the Sacraments and exercising certain powers of supervision. Bishop Dewane reminded the people of Incarnation to offer advice to their new Pastor, but he may sometimes make decisions that are not popular.

“I pray that you accept Father Eric as your Pastor,” the Bishop added. “As he helps you to become more centered on Christ, be connected to your new Pastor. I ask that you be willing to support him and uplift him in his sacred work.”

During the installation, the priest begins with selected words leading to the start of the Creed at which point he is joined by the faithful. At the end of the Creed, the new Pastor has extra lines which are exclusive for him. In addition, the Pastor takes an Oath of Fidelity to the Bishop and his successors; formalized by his placing his hand upon the Book of Gospels.

Following the installation, two members of the Parish, representing the entire congregation, served as witnesses and signed the formal documents, copies of which are left at the Parish, placed in the Diocesan archives and in the personnel file of Father Scanlan. Bishop then introduced the new Pastor to a rousing applause.

Father Scanlan thanked Bishop Dewane for his appointment and commented on how welcoming the Parish community has been since the day he was first assigned. Present for the installation were Father Scanlan’s parents and several other members of his large family.

After the installation, a reception was held in the Parish Hall.

Pro-life outreach to the young and young at heart

By Jeanne Berdeaux, Special to the Florida Catholic

Every year since 2007, a special collection has been taken in parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice to enhance the work of the Respect Life Office. At the direction of Bishop Frank J. Dewane, the main focus is on youth – helping young people develop a greater respect for all human life, regardless of age or condition. The 2021 collection for the Diocese is the weekend of Oct. 2 and 3, during National Respect Life Month.

The global Pandemic has had a devastating effect on our young people in ways many people don’t even realize. Many students were left alone in their homes if their parents had to work. They had on-line classes, but the temptation was there to explore the darker side of the Internet. Planned Parenthood unleashed an online outreach to snare young men and women into their web which resulted in over 744,000 anonymous conversations with their so-called sexual health experts as well as over 185,000 one-on-one conversations via chat rooms and texts.

To counteract the negative messages bombarding our youth, Collier Community Abstinence Program (CCAP), now a nationally recognized non-profit organization, pivoted to develop all new authentic abstinence programs which were streamed online last year for home and school use free of charge. They have also developed the first-of-its-kind app-based program called “My Mentor” to supply mental and emotional health support to students which is ready to debut in 2022. This innovative approach is much needed in Southwest Florida which has experienced a 500% increase in youth (13-18) suicide attempts from 2018 to 2020. It can literally save lives! This app will be given to every Parish and school in the Diocese of Venice in February 2022. The programs have already made a difference, reducing the number of pregnancies in unwed teenagers, improving graduation rates and lowering school absenteeism. The generous donors of the annual Respect Life Collection allow the Diocese to support CCAP’s efforts as they strive to instill the pro-life message in our youth. Further information can be obtained by contacting CCAP Executive Director Theresa Barbale at 239-776-5489 or

The collection also allows us to offer scholarships to the Congreso Pro Vida, a national pro-life conference to inspire Hispanic communities to learn more about the life issues.  There have been five Congresos in the Southwestern United States and California, but this is the first one to be held in Florida, hosted by the Archdiocese of Miami on Oct. 29-31, 2021. With half of our parishes providing specific outreaches to Hispanic and Latino communities, it is important that their pro-life heritage be reinforced, particularly since Planned Parenthood has implemented its own outreach to Spanish-speaking communities. Information is available at and Diocese of Venice scholarship information can be obtained from Sylvia Jimenez at 941-412-5860 or Online opportunities are also available for those who cannot attend in person.

Due to the Pandemic, Florida had a virtual Catholic Days at the Capitol lobbying effort in February of this year, but plans are underway to bring adults and students to Tallahassee in person for the Feb. 1-3, 2022 event. The collection allows us to sponsor Catholic high school students to experience their government in action – a great civics lesson! They also learn how they can bring Catholic messages to state legislators on key bills of interest to the Church, particularly on abortion, the death penalty and end of life issues. Seeing the Capitol, the Senate and House chambers, the Governor’s office and individual legislators’ offices can make a lasting impression on young minds. This experience will give them a new perspective as they become voters in the near future and inspire them to continue to engage in legislative advocacy as they mature into Catholic adults. Anyone interested in joining us for this 3-day bus trip is invited to contact me at or 941-374-1068.

So much more outreach can be done thanks to the generous donations to the annual Respect Life Collection. God bless our cheerful givers!

News Briefs for the week of Sept. 24, 2021

Bishop radio show addresses faith and science

Join Bishop Frank J. Dewane, for his monthly radio program on Relevant Radio. “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane,” which can be heard at 8:30 a.m., on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. This month will feature part one of a two-part show on Faith and Science featuring guests Michael Dauphinais, Ph.D., who serves as the Fr. Matthew Lamb Professor of Catholic Theology at Ave Maria University, and Stephen H. Thong, Ph.D., who serves as Chair, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Dept. of Chemistry & Physics at Ave Maria University. Access to listen to the program is available at The second part of the series will be available on Friday, Oct. 29.

National Migration Week runs through Sept. 26

National Migration Week 2021 will be held from Sept .20, 2021 through Sept. 26, 2021 in solidarity with the Holy See’s observation of the World Day for Migrants and Refugees on Sept. 26. The theme is “Towards an Ever Wider ‘We’” where Pope Francis calls on us to ensure that “we will think no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those,’ but only ‘us’” (Fratelli tutti, no. 35) and this universal “us” must become a reality first of all within the Church, which is called to cultivate communion in diversity. In general, National Migration Week is meant to emphasize the ways in which the migration question is important for the Catholic Church in the United States. Throughout the Week, the Diocese of Venice posted information about the week and messages of support on its social media platforms.

Catechists commissioned

At Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice, catechists were commissioned as part of Catechetical Sunday on Sept. 19, 2021. These religious educators made a promise to hand on the faith and be a witness to the Gospel. The theme for this year was: “Say the Word and My Soul Shall be Healed.”

High school students participate in coastal cleanup

Members of the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Environmental Club participated in the International Coastal Cleanup at Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach on Sept. 18, 2021.

Puppetry skills taught to young students

The St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School 8th grade drama students collaborated to teach 1st graders puppetry skills and reviewed scripts using 1st grade sight words on Sept. 17, 2021 in Naples. Students will perform their puppet show skits for the 1st grade class when they are ready! The other 8th grade drama class practiced skits with kindergarten and 3rd grade students.

Students learn about Safety

The St. Mary Catholic Academy School Resource Officer Laura Markey visited Teacher Erin Fredd’s 2nd Grade Class on Sept. 16, 2021 in Sarasota, and a had a lesson on car safety, bike safety, strangers and so much more. The students were absolutely intrigued by her and the great stories she shared. The students had an opportunity to ask questions and learn about the great things police officers do for our community.

High school college fair big success

More than two dozen different colleges and universities took part in the St. John Neumann Catholic High School College Fair in Naples on Sept. 20, 2021. It was a valuable opportunity for all of the students to speak in person with representatives and ask questions.

Bishop participates in September 11 Commemoration

With overhead storm clouds matching heavy hearts on the evening of September 11, 2021, Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, joined more than a thousand for the 20th Commemoration Ceremony of the 9/11 attacks, held at the Sarasota National Cemetery. The event was organized by the Sarasota Ministerial Association.

Bishop Dewane, joined by several Diocesan priests and deacons at the ceremony, offered the Invocation, asking Our Lord God of Peace to bring that same peace to a world that is often violent.

“We pray for your peace as we remember the terrorist attacks of 9/11,” said Bishop Dewane. “May our suffering awaken in us the awareness, pain and fear that so many live with each day.”

The Bishop also asked Our Lord to show us how to pray for those who struggle against oppression and injustice, and he asked for God to give world leaders wisdom and discernment.

Dozens of community leaders from a wide variety of police and fire departments also addressed the crowd with words of inspiration and hope, as they encouraged all to never forget the nearly 3000 lives lost on that tragic day, including 343 FDNY firefighters who fought valiantly to reach those trapped in the twin towers.

Attendees were given a carnation to place on a canvas, which when filled produced the American Flag.  Commemorative coins were given to survivors of the attacks and to those who served our Country in the military.

One former U.S. Marine, who also received a commemorative coin for his military service, said the 9/11 gathering was the right thing for all to attend as to never forget the pain of that day.

9/11 Commemorations from around the Diocese

In ways large and small the faithful of the Diocese of Venice commemorated the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States with reflection and prayer.

Students in Diocesan Catholic Schools took part in prayer services, dressed in patriotic colors and learned about an event that happened before they were born. The students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers participated in a Red, White and Blue Dress Out fundraiser on Sept. 8, 2021 with proceeds going to the “Tunnel to Towers Foundation” (  The Foundation was created in honor of Fire Department of New York member Stephen Gerard Siller, who was headed home following his shift on Sept. 11, 2001, when he heard the call.  Though blocked by traffic, he then proceeded to run in full gear across the Brooklyn Bridge to the Twin Towers where he later perished.

On Sept. 9, during their lunch periods, the Verot students were given the opportunity to share in discussion with some of the staff members about the events of 9/11 and their lasting impact.

Meanwhile, St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy held a prayer service on Sept. 10 with students encouraged to wear red, white and blue. The service was to further promote peace and tolerance.  The funds raised will be used to purchase a Peace Pole and benches.

Diocesan Parishes also hosted a variety of prayer services and commemorations.

St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples hosted its annual 9/11 Memorial Mass on Sept. 11.  The Parish is home to a 9/11 Cross made from the steel of the World Trade Center and has hosted a commemorative Mass each year since 2001. Father Gerard Critch, Pastor of St. Peter’s, served as a Chaplain at Ground Zero during the initial search and recovery process following the terror attacks in New York City.

Our Lady of the Angels Parish and the Knights of Columbus of the Saints Cosmas and Damian Council 13341, hosted a Blue Mass on Sept. 11 in honor of the work of public safety personnel including law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical services personal.

Leading up to the 20th Anniversary, St. Agnes Parish in Naples hosted a Peace Novena from Sept. 3 to Sept. 11. The novena served a dual purpose of commemorating the terror attacks and marking the end of the war in Afghanistan with its recent tragic consequences. The final prayer service on Sept. 11 included special decorations, a candle lighting ceremony, scripture readings, a brief homily, intercessions, the completion of the Novena, and music, prior to Mass. The faithful were able to follow the entire novena through the Parish website.

These are just some of the examples of how the faithful of the Diocese marked this anniversary all unified in prayer that no one will ever forget the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, and to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.