2019 Youth Rally – CALLED BY NAME

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

The superlatives from the nearly 2,000 high school Catholic teens who attended the 2019 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally helped to best describe the day.

“Absolutely incredible!” “Amazing!” “Inspirational!” “Awesome!” “Powerful!” “Wonderful!” “Uplifting!” “Moving!” “Spiritual!” These are just some of the reactions from the teens who participated in the Nov. 2 Youth Rally at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center in Punta Gorda.

The theme for the 2019 Youth Rally was “Called by Name” (Isaiah 43:1), which served to remind the young women and men that the Lord knows them and calls each by name to become strong in the faith life.

Organized by the Diocese Office of Evangelization, the day was filled with talks, music, adoration, opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and a Eucharistic Procession through the streets of Punta Gorda. The lessons learned throughout the day were reinforced in the closing Mass, encouraging the teens to open their heart to the call of the Lord and receive the gift of faith.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane began the day asking the youth for a shout out to Jesus. The response of nearly 2,000 teens was inspiring.

“Let this Youth Rally be something that strengthens you in your faith,” Bishop Dewane added. “I want you to leave this day with a heart that is open to Jesus because you are each “Called by Name.” Jesus sees each of you as important. It is through that call that you are made to be a Disciple of Christ – created by your response to the call of the Lord, a response from the heart of each individual here.”

Appropriately, the Gospel reading for the closing Mass was from the Gospel of Luke, the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector perched in a sycamore tree whom Jesus “Called by Name.”

“Zacchaeus received a gift of faith and accepted the Lord’s call with joy because he allowed his heart to be open,” Bishop Dewane said during the Mass. “You must respond to that gift of faith and act – be doers of your Faith. See Christ within yourselves and in those around you. Just as we know Zacchaeus was a sinner, so too are we. In this we are comforted knowing that the Lord calls us each by name – no matter our sins.”

The closing Mass was celebrated at nearby Sacred Heart Church. A time for Eucharistic Adoration led by the Bishop was followed by a public Eucharistic Procession through the streets of downtown Punta Gorda as the youth recited the Holy Rosary and sang hymns. At the church, to accommodate the vast number of participants, an overflow of youth was ushered into the Parish Hall where the Mass where the was live-streamed.

Throughout the day, the youth were encouraged to take selfie photos with Bishop Dewane and to post any images they took during the day to Instagram with the offer of a prize to two lucky people of Apple Air Pods.

Each participant received a Youth Rally t-shirt and during the dinner break there was time to go outside behind the Conference Center and relax with friends or enjoy several inflatables as well as a climbing wall.

The Youth Rally, which included young people from 9th through 12th grade, included talks from Noelle Garcia and D.J. Bernal as well as music from the Taylor Tripodi Band.

The first speaker of the day was Noelle Garcia, a Catholic recording artist and speaker, wife, and mom to five kids. She has travelled the country for more than 10 years sharing the faith through witness, Scripture, catechesis, and music. Her message was to explain how the love of the Lord can overcome any obstacle or feeling of loneliness that young people so often face today.

D.J. Bernal also speaks at conferences throughout the United States and works with young Catholics in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. He suggested to the youth that by opening one’s heart just a bit, life can be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The young men and women were spilt up for a time to hear specific messages directed toward them from Garcia and Bernal. During those sessions, the youth also heard about how to listen to God’s call and how they and sons and daughters of God.

In the split session, there was a special emphasis on answering one’s vocation in life, whether as a priest, religious, married or single.

Father Shawn Roser, the Diocese Vocations Director and Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, spoke to the men about his vocations journey. Also present for the Rally were 13 of the 17 active Diocesan seminarians. They manned a booth and answered questions from fascinated teens and were altar servers during the closing Mass.

Sister Gema Ruiz, S.S.V.M., of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, spoke to the women. She shared a video of a woman who is from the Diocese and is currently working her way toward making her perpetual vows as a religious sister. Religious women from several parishes were present for the Rally and they each had a booth to generate interest in a vocation to the religious life.

The Taylor Tripodi Band performed throughout the day, opening the Youth Rally and then performing leading up to adoration. Taylor explained that she uses her talents as a singer and a musician to glorify the Lord and to inspire others to feel the same way she does about her faith. The band also served as musicians during the closing Mass.

The first Youth Rally was held in 2008 at the encouragement of Bishop Dewane and it has become so popular that the annual event has outgrown four previous venues. Organized by the Office of Evangelization and Office of Youth and Young Adults, planning for the 2019 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally is already taking place. See you all next year.

Diocese celebrates 35th with Mass at Holy Eucharistic Memorial

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

On a breezy day on the shore of the Manatee River in Bradenton, the faithful gathered for a Mass that not only commemorated the 35th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Venice in Florida but also celebrated each Catholic who came before and all who go forward serving as a Disciple of Christ.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane noted the Mass was celebrated at the historic location, in front of a Holy Eucharistic Memorial, which was built in the 1960s to commemorate the 1539 Spanish Expedition of Hernando de Soto. The group purportedly landed nearby and included 12 priests and two brothers. Appropriately, there were 12 concelebrating priests and two deacons present for the Mass.

Just as the Lord guided those priests to the shores of Florida nearly 500 years ago, today each of us is called to be more a man or women of God, Bishop Dewane explained. One way to accomplish this is to be a Disciple of Christ, something which is going to be a recurring theme of the Anniversary Celebration in the coming months. This call to a be a Disciple is an answer to Jesus asking, “Who do you say that I am?”

“You must publicly respond and live the answer as a Disciple,” the Bishop continued. “Do this by setting an example to those around you so that others – through your invitation, through your example, through your words, and through your deeds – can understand your answer.”

Being a Disciple of Christ is a response to the living God, who is in our midst, Bishop Dewane added. “We must respond in our soul and live out our answer to the question of who Jesus is in our lives. Our ancestors who came before answered, and this is why we gather here. We have been passed along the gift of Faith. We have been given the example and heard the call in our lives and continue to hear that call. It must be carried forward from this day.”

More than 200 people, including fifth- to eighth-grade students from St. Joseph Catholic School, participated in the Mass. A steady breeze helped off-set the heat. The response from those gathered was overwhelmingly positive.

“Everything was so wonderful and beautiful,” said Carolyn Reilly of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto. “I felt a strong connection to the past. It was not just to those first priests who landed here, but to all of the priests who serve in this area.”

The beautiful setting on the river was on Diocesan property within Riverview Pointe Park, which is adjacent to DeSoto National Memorial Park.

The Holy Eucharistic Memorial was commissioned in 1960 by the Diocese of St. Augustine, which was the only Catholic Diocese in Florida at the time. The memorial was first exhibited at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, Spain, and was at the 1965 World’s Fair in New York. It was later placed at its current location on the shores of the Manatee River.

The memorial includes two carved relief’s depicting a Mass and a Baptism, and a 20-foot obelisk which is figured with carved symbols of the Holy Trinity. A statue of Hernando de Soto was removed after being damaged. Replicas of the statue stand at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota and the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. The nearby 60-foot Memorial Cross was dedicated by then-Bishop John J. Nevins in 1996.

George Parker of St. Joseph Parish said he was inspired by the Mass and the history it represented. “I feel connected to those first priests, and I feel connected to those who were here when the Diocese was founded. We are blessed to still have the opportunity to celebrate the Mass. It is poignant that this Mass was here on this beach, just as they may have done so long ago.”

According to records, several Masses have taken place at the site. Most recently in 2009 when Bishop Dewane celebrated the Mass to coincide with both the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese and the “Year for Priests.”


A Walk in the Woods (and into the 16th Century)

After participating.in the 35th Anniversary Mass, teachers, staff and students from St. Joseph Catholic School took a short hike through the Florida wilderness to follow in the footsteps of the man in which the park is named – DeSoto National Memorial Park.

Members of the National Park Service welcomed their St. Joseph guests with a guided tour of the park’s museum, monument and life size reproductions. The students learned about of the 700-man Spanish expedition which was led by Hernando de Soto. His quest for gold and glory would transform into a four-year, 4,000-mile odyssey of warfare, disease and discovery that would shape the future of trade, religion and politics throughout North America.

The interactive tour included a video documentary about De Soto’s expedition as well as an introduction of the indigenous tribes who resided in Florida in the early 16th century.

Students also had the opportunity to don heavy helmets, armor and chainmail worn by conquistadors and they then stepped inside replicas of the native American living quarters.

John Carkeet contributed to this report.

Mooney golfer wins State Championship

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Golfer Robbie Higgins has been crowned Florida State High School Athletic Association 1A Boys State Champion after shooting rounds of 69 and 70 to win by four strokes.

Higgins also lead his Cougar teammates to a fifth-place finish during the two-day team competition Nov. 1-2 at Mission Inn Resort and Club in Howey-in-the-Hills. The Sarasota team qualified for the state tournament by being the 1A Region 3 Boys champions. Fellow Cougar Noah Kumar finished 17th overall.

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School boys golf team from Fort Myers finished 12th and the top golfer, Kevin Kelly, was 24th overall. The Verot girls team also finished 12th overall, with the top golfer Gabby Vetter finishing 41st.

In addition, St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples sent one golfer to the State Championship tournament as an at-large competitor; Gus Vickers finished 28th overall.

Congratulations to all the golfers for their outstanding effort and accomplishments which capped off an exciting season for each of them.

Former lawyer now visits prisoners to teach the Bible

Who’s Making it Happen

Susan Laielli – Florida Catholic

Retirement for many successful former Florida labor attorneys might encompass sunny days on the golf course and fancy lunches with his wife and friends, but not for Gene Tischer, who spends weekdays giving back to others in the name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Most days Gene can be found teaching a Bible study at St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota, volunteering to gather food and supplies for a homeless mission in Bradenton or serving as a Diocese of Venice Prison Minister at the DeSoto Correctional Facility and the Florida Commitment Center in Arcadia.

Every Wednesday he awakes before dawn to prepare for the 135-mile round trip to the prison in Arcadia, where he holds Bible study classes for some of the most isolated people in our society – convicted felons.

He admits the men are so thankful for the teachings of the Bible and it becomes clear those in attendance want to repent for their mistakes, which is why Gene says he does this type of volunteerism.

“These are souls, and no soul shall be left behind,” he said, confidently shaking his head yes.

Since November 2016 he has been volunteering with the Diocese of Venice Prison Ministry first inside the Sarasota County Jail before being asked to join the DeSoto Correctional Facility in March of this year. He recalls how that happened.

“There wasn’t much to it. Father Russell (Wright, Parochial Vicar of St. Patrick) asked me to join the prison ministry team in Arcadia. Have you seen Father Russell?” Gene said, laughing. “It’s hard to say no to him!”

Father Wright is known to be persuasive when he believes in a cause such as sharing the Bible with prisoners.

Teaching the Bible is something Gene is not only passionate about but is skilled and trained to do. He entered St. Andrew Seminary in Rochester, N.Y., as a junior in high school, followed by four years at St. Bernard College Seminary. He attended Gregorian University in Rome for one year before deciding to study law at Georgetown University, where he met his wife Bobby.

The pair would adopt two sons, Jason and Tanner, just like his parents did when they thought they couldn’t have children.

“I was quite a surprise for my parents,” Gene recalls, being the youngest and only biological child of his parents, who raised all three children in Victor, N.Y.

When talking with the prisoners in the Bible Study class he tries to instill a better thought process in the men to have improved judgement in the future.

“I feel terrible sympathy for what some of these guys did. I feel much sympathy for the victim’s families too,” Gene said. “I tell these guys, it’s a horrible thing that you did, but Jesus died for your soul, He was on that cross and sees your face. He knew you were going to kill that guy, and He still wants you to live with Him in heaven – now do the work to get there.”

He exudes joy and confidence, which must be difficult these days as his wife battles chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and is now taking oral chemotherapy. But in typical Gene style he changes the subject to someone else’s misfortune.

“Please pray for our friend’s 16-year old child who is now battling an aggressive tumor.”

How to volunteer

There are approximately 15,000 people incarcerated within the 10-county Diocese of Venice on any given day. These individuals populate 10 county jails and seven state prisons across the region. To minster to the spiritual needs of these inmates, there are about 150 volunteers who are actively involved in prison ministry. This includes 25 priests and 10 deacons. That is not nearly enough. For information about how to volunteer for Prison Outreach in your area, please contact Robert Hiniker at 863-558-0407 or hinbob5@hotmail.com.

Principal’s Corner – Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School

By Principal M.C. Heffner,

The Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms the need for Catholic schools for our families. It states, in part, “As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.”

As the principal of Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, I am often asked – why Epiphany? Why Catholic education? My answer is rooted in the Catholic belief beautifully articulated in our Catechism.

Choosing a Catholic school ensures that parents are selecting educational partners who are unapologetically faithful to our Catholic identity. We ensure it is woven throughout our rigorous curriculum and extra-curricular offerings. We engage our students and families to live our Catholic faith through daily prayer gatherings to begin our school day in the courtyard, participation in weekly school Mass with student servers, live “Saints Alive” performances by our third graders, and by supporting our partner parishes’ sacramental preparation programs.

Our 3 Crowns recognition program – which honor the Feast of the Epiphany and the three kings – actively supports positive traits that build success for students and support family values. Recognizing student efforts to practice and live by the 3 Crowns is a critically important part of our culture.

Each crown – Academic, Character, and Spiritual – focuses on a given trait that changes with the months. For example, November’s Academic Crown trait is “punctual;” the Character Crown trait is “dependable;” and the Spiritual Crown’s trait is “forgiving.” Throughout the month, the teachers and I will discuss the meanings of these traits and what it looks like when we put them into practice. Teaching positive traits that support good citizenship and our Catholicity are integrated into who we are and what we do. This is done during morning prayers and integrated into classroom work throughout each school day during the month.

In my first two years of service at Epiphany I have been blessed to work with teachers and staff who are dedicated to ensuring that our students are prepared for any challenges of high school.  We provide a rigorous education without high stakes testing pressures.  Instead, we create an environment that fosters and develops analytical thinking skills through innovative educational practices.

One recent and exciting initiative is the installation of 23 new Cleartouch Interactive Boards throughout our campus. In addition to the 1-to-1 iPad program in grades K-5 and a 1-to-1 Chromebook program in middle school, these interactive boards are empowering both our students and teachers to instruct, research, collaborate, engage, and learn in ways that include traditional methods, but go beyond traditional means.

Students engage in both analytical and creative thinking while they solve real-world issues, determine the best ways to live out our faith’s works of mercy to serve others, and have fun guiding independent research projects. The excitement permeating our campus is truly motivating and inspires me to do all I can to support this wonderful Epiphany community.

So, why Epiphany? Why Catholic education? Catholic schools, especially Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, are rooted in the Catholic belief of school choice. We partner with our parents to provide the best education for children; an education that supports positive emotional development, nurtures healthy young adults through games, exercise and athletics, and embraces a Faith that is unapologetically Catholic.

We are Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, and we welcome you to join us.

Visit us online at www.ecstigers.com or www.facebook.com/EpiphanyTigers.

Two priests die

Staff Report

A former Fort Myers Pastor and a longtime priest assisting at a parish in Bradenton recently died.

Father Thomas E. Murphy, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, who served as Pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers (1994-2001) and as Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers (1990-1994), died Oct. 25, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pa. He was 71.

Father James H. Archambault, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford who had assisted at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton since 1997 until his health no longer allowed, died Oct. 21, 2019. He was 80.

Father Murphy was born in 1947 and professed his first vows with the Oblates in 1967, perpetual profession in 1970 and was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1976. He held degrees from Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales and from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Father Murphy served at schools in Philadelphia, Reading, Pa., and Alexandria, Va. as well as at parishes in Philadelphia and mostly recently in Cape May, N.J. Within the Diocese of Venice, Father Murphy was Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Light Parish when it was founded in 1990 and then was named as Pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in 1994 where served until 2001.

Preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Father Murphy is survived by two sisters, several nieces and nephews, grandnieces and nephews, and two great-grandnieces. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Oct. 28 in Rydal, Pa. and internment will be in the Oblate Cemetery in Childs, Md.

Father Archambault was born Dec. 23, 1938, in Waterbury, Conn., and studied at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Conn., as well as at St. Mary Seminary and St. Mary University in Baltimore, Md. He was ordained May 4, 1967 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Hartford, Conn. Following ordination, Father Archambault served in the same state at Parishes in Bristol, Windsor Locks, Manchester, and New Britton, and chaplain at a hospital in Waterbury. Upon his retirement in 1987, he moved to Florida where he served as an assistant priest at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton.

Predeceased by his parents and his brother, Father Archambault is survived by a sister-in-law, nieces, nephews and several grandnieces/nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial, celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and concelebrated by priests of the Diocese, took place Oct. 28 at St. Joseph Parish. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to the St. Vincent de Paul Ministry at St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th St. W., Bradenton, FL 34205.

Please pray for the repose of the souls of Fathers Murphy and Archambault and the consolation of their families.

Equestrian Order celebrates Feast Day

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem Oct. 26 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Dewane praised the Knights and Dames for their commitment to the protection of the Holy Land and for having courage to stand up as examples of men and women of faith who through their thoughts and hearts commit to service in response to the call of the Lord.

The annual Mass is held as close as possible to the Order’s Patroness Feast Day, Our Lady of Palestine, which is Oct. 25 and was approved by the Holy See in 1933. The Feast Day asks all to join in praying to the Virgin Mary for special protection of Palestine and the holy city of Jerusalem.

The Equestrian Order is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives which are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The Order is present in nearly 40 countries worldwide.

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre exists within the local dioceses and works closely with the Universal Church in unity of prayer and communion of purpose. Knights and Dames of the Order care greatly for the fate of this land, and endeavor to sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

In exercising its mission in support of the Christians in the Holy Land, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre spiritually and financially supports structures pertaining to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (schools, seminars, centers), both through stable and continuous projects as well as projects that can vary from year to year depending on the needs.

Parish Respect Life Conference covers full range of issues

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

“Don’t give up, God is working with us,” was the clear message of a Respect Life Conference on Oct. 26 at St. Agnes Parish in Naples. The theme for the conference was “From Conception to Natural Death,” and inspirational speakers provided critical information on how to create a culture of life.

St. Agnes Pastor Father Bob Kantor said the parish conference, organized by the Justice and Peace Committee and Respect Life Coordinator Rosemary Dresch, was inspired by the 2018 Florida Respect Life Conference which was hosted by the Diocese of Venice and held in Punta Gorda.

Father Kantor added that while not many were able to attend the 2019 state conference in St. Augustine, the local conference was able to reach out to more in the parish and serve as a compliment for the efforts of Respect Life in the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Venice in hope and unity with the society and the world.

The Conference opened with Father George Ratzmann, Pastor of St. William Parish in Naples, who spoke about Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). This 1995 encyclical of St. John Paul II which set the standard for the Church Teaching on the value and sacredness of all human life from conception to natural death.

“Anytime life is threatened or there is an assault on human life, it is also an assault on God, and God’s dignity, since we share in God’s dignity,” Father Ratzmann explained.

This culture of life is not only about biological life, Father Ratzmann stressed, but also about spiritual, economic, emotional life; including any act that diminishes any human dignity. This means that it is not enough to ensure that the unborn is saved, but that the child has access to nutrition, clean water, education and more, because that combines to assist them to become the person God intended.

Other conference speakers included Pamela Wood Stenzel on developing a culture of life among youth; Deacon Henry DeMena on healing following a loss through miscarriage; Dr. Deacon Al Mauriello on the Catholic perspective of end of life issues; Marietta Jaeger Lane on the death penalty while sharing her personal story of loss, fury and forgiveness; and Father Michael Orsi, Parochial Vicar at St. Agnes and host of local pro-life show Action for Life, on how to make a difference on pro-life issues.

Red Mass celebrated for legal community

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

With the idea that those who work in the judicial system touch the very fabric of our culture and society, a structure that must always first consider the dignity of the human being above all else, an annual Red Mass was held Oct. 22 at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring for legal professionals in Highlands County.

The Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and concelebrated by priests from the area, invokes the blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit upon those in the legal community.

“Our prayer is that you receive the grace of wisdom, courage, compassion and right judgement, while seeking always to uphold the dignity and the rights for every person and the good of the community,” Bishop Dewane said.

Citing the 1965 Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Liberty), Bishop Dewane noted that is was partially based on the U.S. Bill of Rights, notably the First Amendment, the freedom of religion.

“Religious freedom means we have the right to live out our religious convictions in a modern society,” the Bishop continued. “To give witness to them. To be the leaven in society through the living of our faith. In our work regarding religious liberty; we are asking for space to serve with integrity.”

Bishop Dewane acknowledged that while those in the legal profession may serve the legal system in different ways, they first and foremost serve the Lord. The Red Mass serves as a poignant reminder, to those who participate, about who they are and from where they originate.

Highlands County Circuit Judge Anthony Ritenour expressed the feelings of many present best when he thanked Bishop Dewane for celebrating the Mass and inspiring the legal professionals of Highlands County to remember their roots which are based in faith.

“I always enjoy coming to this,” Judge Ritenour said. “The idea of Freedom of Religion that founded this country – that set the point for justice – is something we must all be reminded.”

Following the Mass, Judge Ritenour led the attorneys in the traditional renewing their oath. While leading the group, the judge put a particular emphasis on the closing words of the oath: “so help me GOD!”

The tradition dates to the 13th century Europe for the courts of the day and earned it’s name by the red robes worn by the judges. Liturgically, the Red Mass is celebrated as the Solemn Mass of the Holy Spirit. The traditional red color of the vestments worn by clergy during the Mass represent the tongues of fire symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit.

In the United States, the Red Mass tradition was inaugurated in 1928 at Old Saint Andrew’s Church in New York City. Each October, before the start of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new term, a Red Mass is celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Florida Bishops celebrate a Red Mass for the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee each year. The first Red Mass in the Diocese of Venice was in 2008 and is celebrated annually in both Sarasota and Sebring. The 2019 Sarasota Mass in was Oct. 2 at St. Martha Parish.

News briefs from the Diocese for late October 2019

Local pastor to serve in leadership role with national priest group

Father Jiobani Batista, Pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston, was elected secretary of The National Association of Hispanic Priests (ANSH) during the association’s 30th annual convention that was held in New York City from Oct. 7-10.

Priests from across the United States attended this year’s convention, entitled “Time for Priestly Reform and Renewal,” as part of a three-year program for the renewal, fraternity and continuing education of priests working in a variety of ministries in dioceses across the country.

Adopt a Family for Christmas

You can make Christmas brighter for a mother and her baby! Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities in Venice is looking for volunteers to Adopt a Family for Christmas. The program provides shelter and guidance for single mothers and their children who would otherwise be homeless. The mission is to offer single mothers and their children a safe and secure environment in which to achieve increased self-sufficiency through education, vocational training and personal growth. The resident families have provided a wish list of items they can use and wrapped gifts need to be returned to Our Mother’s House by Monday, December 9. For more information, please contact Case Worker Rita Millner at 941-485-6264, ext. 102.

Early Learning Center has special visitors

Officers from the Sarasota Police Department recently made a special visit to St. Martha’s Early Learning Center of Catholic Charities. The preschool students enjoyed a fun learning experience with the men and women in blue. Sarasota Police Officers discussed with the children what an emergency is and how to dial 911. They handed out Junior Police Officer badges and coloring books. “The officers also joined us for a dance party,” said Catholic Charities Program Director Jamie Van Dyke. “Every one of the students now plan on being a police officer when they grow up!”

International Festival held in Naples

St. Agnes Parish in Naples hosted the 10th Annual International Festival on Oct. 20. More than 20 nations were represented with food and music as well as many wearing traditional attire, and the entertainment for the day also had an international flavor. A parade of flags was one of the highlights.



Students wear orange for Unity Day

Students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers wore orange on Oct. 23, Unity Day, in support of bullying prevention. This event has students of all ages stand against bullying, while being united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion. The school has been participating in Unity Day for many years.



Knights support Honor Flight program

Representatives of the San Marco Knights of Columbus Assembly 2514 presented a check for $2,000 in October to Collier Lee Honor Flight. Collier Lee Honor Flight was established in 2013, its mission is to transport veterans from Collier and Lee counties to Washington, DC to visit the memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices. A typical mission will visit the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Air Force Memorial, Marine Corps Memorial, and Arlington Cemetery. Top priority is given to World War II and Korean War era veterans, and to any veteran of any war that has a terminal illness. Veterans travel by a chartered commercial jet, and police escorted buses while on the ground. A typical mission will have 70 to 75 veterans. Trips are provided at no cost to the veterans.

Shoes donated to Catholic Charities program

Catholic Charities of Collier County is grateful to the Rotary Club of Naples Bay for supplying free shoes to clients at the Family Counseling Center and Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center. The Rotary Club sponsors their Kids Kicks for Shoes Program that provides shoes for needy children in Collier County.