Drive-thru blessing inspires

During a recent downpour, the faithful of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula patiently lined up in their vehicles to be closer to the Lord.

Father Oscar Mendoza, Administrator of St. Michael, led a drive-thru blessing on July 25, 2020, with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Father Mendoza stood in the rain, with the monstrance safely under an umbrella, and offered a blessing as each vehicle paused.

“At the beginning, the idea of ​​blessing families with the Blessed Sacrament was to replicate what was done a few months ago, visiting house to house and covering as much area as possible,” said Father Mendoza while explaining what actions were taken while the Parish Church was closed due the COVID-19 Pandemic.

While the Church is open for Mass, Father said there are some elderly, sick, or those who were still in fear due to the Pandemic that are staying away from Church.

Understanding the concern, Father Mendoza consulted with Bishop Frank J. Dewane about options for the public to participate in Adoration, but in a new format.

“This time it was more meaningful for families, thanks to the suggestion of the Bishop to be outside the church,” Father Mendoza explained. “In fact, it was a success. Many faithful came to the blessing despite the heavy rain that afternoon, which I called a ‘Rain-down of Blessings.’”

Father began by setting up an appropriate outside altar where he could pray before the Blessed Sacrament. While wearing a mask, Father carried Jesus forward in a monstrance to be closer to the faithful who remained in their vehicles.

“At that moment, and with great emotion, I could perceive that the individuals and families who received the blessing were deeply moved by His presence and continued on their way with great gratitude and joy in their hearts,” Father said. Some people were brought to tears while others sought specific prayers for family members who are struggling because of the Pandemic, whether they are ill, in fear, or out of work.

Father Mendoza said he plans to have another drive-thru blessing. “This act of faith could be promoted, since the faithful are hungry and thirsty for God, especially in this uncertain time when they cannot participate in Mass as before due to the pandemic.”

Charlotte County SVdP helps distribute food

A food distribution effort in Charlotte County helping more than 1,400 individuals and families in late July was boosted by support from local members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP).

The SVdP St. Charles Borromeo and Sacred Heart Conferences participated in a USDA Farms to Family Food Box giveaway on July 24, 2020 at Franz Ross Park in Port Charlotte. This effort included distributing 1,440 boxes of food (23,040 pounds) to the community through various non-profit agencies in the area response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The USDA program consists of refrigerated boxes of fresh produce (fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat), which were picked up by various non-profit organizations. In addition to SVdP Conferences, food was also distributed to Villa San Carlos, a low-income senior housing facility run by the Diocese of Venice.

The Charlotte County Food Assistance Task Force, currently chaired by SVDP member Joe Sabatino, is helping to provide a coordinated response to the crisis by organizing the outreach efforts of non-profit organizations throughout the county. The Task Force has different committees providing financial assistance, business recovery, youth and education opportunities, support for special populations, and food assistance, with the various SVdP conferences actively participating.

“This is a collaboration of community resources, county government, churches, along with leadership by St. Vincent de Paul,” Sabatino said.

It was a joy to behold, to watch everything come together,” Sabatino said. “After a few bumps, things worked very smoothly, and we were able to distribute all the food boxes by 11 a.m. The teamwork displayed by everyone was great to see. We were all united in our mission to provide food to those in need, and more importantly to let them know that they are valued, and we care about them and their families during these deeply stressful times.”

The SVdP Conferences in Charlotte County (Sacred Heart, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Maximilian Kolbe and San Antonio) each have food pantries and have remained opened throughout the crisis.

SVdP Conferences are also supporting the Harry Chapin Food Bank in Fort Myers with its distribution of food at least twice a month at Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., in Punta Gorda. The upcoming schedule is from 10 a.m. to noon, every other Thursday (Aug. 13, Aug. 27, Sept. 10, and Sept. 24).

For more information or to help support the needs of the SVdP Conferences in Charlotte County, please visit https://www.svdp-dov.org/charlotte/.

Catholic Charities response to Pandemic updated Aug. 3, 2020

In July Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. served more than 15,000 individuals and families at six area food pantries.

That brings the total to more than 60,000 assisted with food since the COVID-19 Pandemic began in March 2020.

Donations for individuals and area businesses have helped Catholic Charities meet the demand. For example, the Fort Myers Restaurant Depot donated several pallets of food to the Elizabeth K. Galena Center in Fort Myers.

If you need help

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Services have expanded to include assistance in applying for state and federal benefits if you have lost work due to the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

Food distribution

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Monday-Friday, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee, the Soup Kitchen is providing take-out/meals-to-go;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers;
  • 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, 8:30-10:30 a.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 E. Oak St. Arcadia.

How to Help

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is in urgent need of your financial support during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

News briefs for the week of Aug. 3, 2020

Band camp takes place

Maintaining social distance while keeping in rhythm is the new challenge for participants in the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Band Camp in the last week of July 2020. Participants are learned new routines to be incorporated into performances during the coming year.

Spiritual Exercises for Spanish Movement lay leaders

During the month of July, some lay members of the Spanish-language Diocesan Directors of the Apostolic Movements had the opportunity to participate in Ignatian Spiritual Exercises at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. These exercises have been proposed by the Church as a true school of spiritual life. The groups were divided between men and women to ensure social distancing was maintained.

Year of Saint Joseph

Stained glass window at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Moore Haven.

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in the context of the Coronavirus, consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of St. Joseph. The Bishop announced a “Year of St. Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. St. Joseph, often referred to as the Protector, can be our protector during this time of the pandemic. To pray a Novena to St. Joseph please visit the Year of St. Joseph webpage at https://dioceseofvenice.org/a-year-of-st-joseph/.

Dispensation

While the celebration of public Mass resumed May 18, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect through Sept. 1, 2020 for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home. Please check the Diocese of Venice website for any updates.

Livestreaming

The Diocese of Venice will continue livestreaming the Mass through the Diocese website (www.dioceseofvenice.org) and Facebook pages from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily as the dispensation to attend Mass remains.

Sunday Televised Mass

The Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis. The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish. The Faithful may also contribute through usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org. Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for an Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

Act of Spiritual Communion

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Diocesan Catholic schools opening Aug. 17

Comprehensive plan addresses protocols

With the input of teachers, counselors, and principals the Diocese of Venice Department of Education has completed the school reopening plan and Aug. 17, 2020 is the date all Diocesan Catholic Schools will open for the 2020-2021 academic year.

In addition, parents are being provided the option of allowing their child to participate in synchronous at-home learning, whereas a student logs in from home via a computer for a live-stream option that follows his or her same on-campus classroom instruction schedule.

The announcement of the opening date and school options were delivered to Catholic School parents through a letter dated July 24, 2020 from Diocese Superintendent of Catholic Schools Father John Belmonte, S.J. With an emphasis on safety, the letter states the original start date (Aug. 10, 2020) was pushed back by one week to give school principals and teachers needed time to prepare for a safe start to the school year.

“Reopening our schools was an evolving process that has required careful planning,” Father Belmonte wrote. “The plan includes the guidance and recommendations from the Florida Department of Education, Florida Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Father Belmonte continued. “It attempts to augment and clarify how and when these guidelines relate to our Catholic schools. Rigorous cleaning and sanitizing protocols, requirements for face coverings and social distancing, resources for school leaders and a dedication to the best Catholic education possible are found in our reopening plan.”

In addition to the letter, a “Summary Guide for Students, Parents, and Their Families” and “Quick Reference Guide for Parents” are on the Diocesan Education website (www.dioceseofvenice.org/education). The documents outline how every school will maximize the health and safety of persons on campus while mitigating risk and community spread as they move into the academic year. Each principal has also produced an individual school plan that covers specific details of his or her respective campus.

As noted previously, all Diocesan Catholic schools will offer an alternative at-home learning opportunity for students in high risk populations. Those who have chosen synchronous at-home learning, do have the freedom to switch to traditional face-to-face learning during the school year. Those decisions will be made with the school principal. In addition, if a student needs to quarantine at home, this at-home learning option will be available to that student until he or she can safely return to school.

“For the trust you place in the Diocese of Venice by enrolling your child in a Catholic school, know that we are humbled and grateful,” Father Belmonte wrote. “Your child and his or her well-being is of great importance to us. We know of their desire to be in their social milieu and our survey confirms your wish to see them back at school.”

Father Belmonte added that during “the past four months, we have learned in a deeper way, the value and importance of our Catholic schools. Our Catholic Faith teaches us that it is Christ who is the reason for our schools. As we open this fall, recall that we teach Christ Himself. It is Christ who teaches us, rescues us, saves us, redeems us, heals us, unites us, forgives us, and loves us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In preparing to open our schools, let us remain focused on Christ who is the reason for our schools, the reason we teach, and the reason why we will gather, prudently and safely in the Fall.”

Please check with your local Catholic school website for specific reopening guidelines. In addition, the Diocese Department of Education will be providing relevant updates on its website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/education.

Neumann Class of 2020 are ‘Celtics for life’

For the first time in months, and for the final time in their lives, the close-knit St. John Neumann Catholic High School Class of 2020 gathered as a group on July 16, 2020 for a Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Exercises at St. Agnes Parish in Naples.

The celebration put a capstone on the high school lives of 80 graduates who are destined for futures unknown but grounded in a Christ-centered education. While the ceremonies were delayed two months because of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, Sister Patricia Roche, Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco and Principal, declared at the conclusion of the evening events; “You have overcome much, but know you are loved by your Celtic family and always loved by God. Once a Celtic, always a Celtic.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Mass and congratulated the graduates on their achievement and for the gifts bestowed upon them while at St. John Neumann.

“While some of those gifts can be defined as academic or athletic, it is the spiritual gifts which will truly carry you forward toward a brighter future,” Bishop Dewane said. “You are graduating in a challenging world, but with the gifts you have been given, your ability to hear God’s call, the ability to see God’s work, as well as the ability to feel in your heart the Lord in your life,” Bishop Dewane said. “Be motivated by the word of God and what you see and hear in your heart, go forward, be strong, always striving to be that ‘Man or Woman of God’ you are called to be.”

Guests at the Mass and commencement were limited to immediate family to ensure social distancing could be maintained. The graduates, wearing specially provided “Class of 2020” masks, were spread across the church and seated with their families versus clustered together.

While several of the new graduates were unable to attend the ceremonies, the evening was streamed live via the school social media accounts.

An emotional moment during the commencement came when a diploma was presented to the family of Brooke Rice. Brooke died in a vehicle crash in the summer of 2018 and would have been the fourth child in the family to have graduated from St. John Neumann.

After the evening concluded, the students said their farewells outside of the church, posing for pictures in their cap and gown.

Faith Formation in Spanish completes third cycle

The final phase of an intensive three-year Spanish-language Faith Formation Program concluded in June 2020 with 358 earning a Diocesan certificate of completion. In the three years of the program a total of more than 1,300 earned certificates.

A faith formation class in Spanish takes place Jan. 28, 2020 at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton.

With the support of Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Diocese Hispanic Ministries Director Father Claudio Stewart, the Spanish Faith Formation Program sessions were developed immediately following the local consultation process of the V Encuentro in 2016 and 2017.

The results were overwhelmingly positive as the program has shown there is a real desire for Hispanic Catholics to be formed in their Faith. The 2019-2020 sessions, which covered the “History and Tradition of the Church,” were interrupted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, thanks to technology, the final sessions of instruction were available and completed online.

The V Encuentro was a multi-year outreach initiated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, with a goal of discerning ways for the Church in the U.S. to better respond to the needs of the ever-growing Hispanic presence. The process involved consultations at the Parish, Diocesan, regional and national levels. A final report was submitted to the Vatican in September 2019 with recommendations for inclusive action at all levels of the Church in the U.S. and are in the process of being implemented.

The idea behind the initial three-step Spanish Faith Formation Program within the Diocese was to quickly help bridge the gap in formation for Hispanics in the Diocese for whom English is not their first language. This gap had created an isolation among some, and the program became empowering to Hispanic Catholics who often felt they were outsiders in the Catholic Church within the U.S., primarily due to the language difference.

Father Carlos Reyes, Scalabrinian, Pastor of Our Lady Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee, leads a faith formation class in Spanish on Feb. 24, 2020 in Immokalee.

The benefit of having the formation program in Spanish was to allow the participants the opportunity to better absorb the complexities of the Faith without the extra work of translating the information. This also helped streamline the instruction and allowed a more open discussion.

The formation program provided a structured and ongoing formation of the lay people with the goal of allowing people to be in contact with the Deposit of Faith (Depositum Fidei) – Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. At the conclusion of the processes, those who earned the certificates are encouraged to use their new-found knowledge to evangelize in their Parish community.

The Faith Formation classes were divided into four geographic regions of the Diocese to allow easier access to the courses. Instructors included 10 priests and two women religious. Each level became increasingly sophisticated, challenging the participants to take a fresh look at the Catholic Church.

The first phase in 2017-18 focused on the “Magisterium,” with a thorough explanation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The second course in 2018-19 was dedicated to the “Revelation and Introduction to the Sacred Scriptures.” The third course, which was completed in June, covered the “History and Tradition of the Church.”

Father Stewart has reaffirmed that while the initial three-part program is completed, there is more in the planning process for expanding Hispanic Faith Formation within the Diocese. However, the ongoing pandemic has caused delays in implementing those plans.

Other actions taken since the local V Encuentro sessions have encouraged a broader outreach and inclusion in existing Parish and Diocesan events. This means having sessions in Spanish at conferences, bilingual programs, and other steps that will help unify the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Venice. As this is the focus of Dioceses across the country, the goal is to create a stronger Catholic Church in the U.S.

“There is not supposed to be a separate Faith for English speakers versus Spanish speakers,’ Father Stewart explained. “We are all part of the same Universal Church – founded by Jesus Christ.”

To learn more about other Diocese of Venice initiative through the Hispanic Ministries Office, please email pastoralhispana@dioceseofvenice.org, or visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/hispanic-apostolate.

Communicating with the faithful

Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic the challenge to stay connected to one’s faith has been hampered by many factors: quarantine, social distancing, isolation, fear as well as access to technology by some to stay informed.

Parishes have used every resource they can to share updates with the faithful, including sending out mailings, letters or bulletins. Those with access to technology can find on websites and social media the Masses streamed live, videos on saints of the day, or reflections on the Scriptures.

More than a dozen priests have committed to weekly talks, providing updates on the Parish, which include measures taken to ensure safety when the faithful return, or updates on the financial needs. Most of these talks include a comforting spiritual element which serves to connect everyone.

Low tech efforts are also being taken, such as mailing and phone calls to the faithful to ensure people that the Catholic Church cares.

St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers took on the task of phoning each of the 3,650 registered families. This herculean effort was distributed among staff (working from home) and focused on learning how people were coping with the pandemic.

The response to the calls has been overwhelmingly positive as those who are isolated appreciated the contact from the outside world, in particular from their Parish.

“It has been an incredible thing,” St. John XXIII Pastor Father Robert Tabbert said. “Everyone has been so appreciative. We are learning things about them, but we are also learning about the issues they have. Calls are also being directed to me and the other priests here if there is a need for spiritual support.”

The calls have helped to provide a level of comfort for people who needed to know that the Parish was still there, Churches are open and when they are ready to return, everything will be okay.

“People just want a listening ear,” Father Tabbert explained. “People respect what we did in closing and in reopening as well as how we are taking every measure to ensure it is safe.”

St. William Parish in Naples is posting a series of items in the weekly bulletin called “Faith During a Pandemic.” This behind-the-scenes look at changes that have taken place in the Church is targeted for those who have not returned or who were curious about the reasons behind certain changes. Images from inside the church show the extensive cleaning taking place between Masses and what might appear different, including an empty brochure rack and prayer candles removed. All this explanation is to lessen the shock and to answer questions many have.

Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers regularly posts images inside its Church during weekend Masses. These show how everyone is social distancing and along with the photo suggestions are made on how to slowly return, such as attending a daily Mass before going to a Sunday Mass.

With the dispensation to attend Sunday Mass extended until Sept. 1, 2020 by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, a number of Parishes have created videos and taken other actions to inform the parishioners on what to expect when people return in greater numbers. All of the actions taken at the Parishes are being done to remove any doubts about returning.

News briefs for week of July 28 2020

VDCCW presents Bishop with check

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was honored at a special gathering of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women on July 25, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall in Venice. The meeting coincided with the 14th anniversary of Bishop Dewane’s Episcopal Ordination as Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida in 2006. The VDCCW leadership presented the Bishop with a check for $9,000 to be used to support the Diocesan seminarians.

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate Aug. 15

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will ordain to the Permanent Diaconate seven men at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The candidates are: Jeffrey Ball of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria; Enrique (Rick) Castro of St. Cecilia Parish, Fort Myers; Ramiro Hernandez of St. Michael Parish, Wauchula; Jack W. Milholland Jr. of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Lakewood Ranch; Roberto Pagán of Jesus the Worker Parish, Fort Myers; Vern W. Smith of St. Martha Parish, Sarasota; and Dr. William Soscia of St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow. All are invited and encouraged to attend.

Online master’s degrees offered through Ave Maria University

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, but one thing is clear: an online master’s degree from Ave Maria University will distinguish you from the competition when companies start hiring again. Online degrees available include a Master of Business Administration. For more information, contact Elizabeth.ODonnell@avemaria.edu or visit https://avemariauniversity.lpages.co/gradprograms-r2/.

Virtual Vacation Bible School a success

St. Joseph Church completed their virtual Vacation Bible School July 23, 2020 with a special Zoom celebration. The online sessions provided inspiration for the children who participated and performed different activities related to inspirational Bible messages. Parish Administrator Father Rafal Ligenza provided a lesson on the Eucharist and lead everyone in prayer for the final celebration.

First Communion face masks donated by sewing group

The Sewing Group of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples donated 200 white masks for use at Mass by First Communicants and their families on July 11, 2020. The Faith Formation team facilitated the distribution of the masks for the boys and girls as well as their families. Two Mass were scheduled for all of the children as all social distancing rules were followed.

3D face shield project update

The first phase of a STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, math) 3D printing project to provide face shields to frontline workers has been a success. So far 100 face shield have been delivered for use by Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. staff and volunteers at food pantry distribution sites as well as for children participating in summer camps. The project was the idea of Jennifer Falsetiny, Curriculum Specialist for the Diocese Department of Education. The goal is to turn the Camillus Project, as it is called, into an ongoing club for schools that may wish to participate so as to give back to the community while providing solutions to a real-world problem. The plan is to re-launch the program again in the new school year to hopefully get more schools involved in the hands-on STREAM 3D printing service project.

Dispensation

While the celebration of public Mass resumed May 18, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect through Sept. 1, 2020 for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home. Please check the Diocese of Venice website for any updates.

Livestreaming

The Diocese of Venice will continue live-streaming the Mass through the Diocese website (www.dioceseofvenice.org) and Facebook pages from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily as the dispensation to attend Mass remains.

Sunday Televised Mass

The Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis. The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish. The Faithful may also contribute through usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org. Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for an Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

Act of Spiritual Communion

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

 

Bishop Verot graduates outdoors

The 55th Commencement Exercises of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers may have been more spread out than normal on July 18, 2020, but a delay of two months did little to spoil the significance the day meant for both the graduates and their proud families.

Entering down the middle of Viking Stadium, which is emblazoned with VEROT between the hash marks, the graduates sat on folding chairs six feet apart, on either side of the stage which was placed on the goal line. Folding chairs were set up on the field with family groups sitting together to best ensure social distancing. When social distancing was not possible, everyone was required to wear a mask.

The Verot Class of 2020 overcame the impacts of Hurricane Irma in 2017 which closed their school down for weeks and it took more than a year to complete repairs. Then, just as they were on the brink of the final quarter of their senior year in high school, the world changed. The COVID-19 Pandemic cancelled in-person classes and the resulting quarantine and online classes put a new and trying meaning to distance learning for the close-knit group of 157 graduates.

These students have achieved much, having been offered more than $22 million in scholarships and nearly all with plans for higher education. Because of the delay in graduation, a few students were unable to attend, therefore the graduation was streamed live through the Verot website.

Important commencement traditions remained, such as parents who are Verot alumni were invited to the stage to present their child with their diploma. Because of the pandemic, there were no handshakes when diplomas or awards were presented.

One moment which brought a spontaneous applause was when the father of Mateo Devito accepted the diploma on his behalf, the same day he was being inducted into the U.S. Navy at the U.S. Naval Academy. The closing benediction was given by Father John Belmonte, a Jesuit priest who is the new Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Education.

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