Permanent Deacon Ordained in Palmetto

As his wife and three sons looked on, Craig J. Dutka became a changed man, transforming from a member of the laity to a Permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Venice.

Dutka processed into Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto on June 18, 2022, dressed in the white alb of a candidate. It wasn’t until Bishop Frank J. Dewane laid his hands upon the head of the candidate that Dutka was officially ordained a Permanent Deacon. During this moment, in silence, Bishop Dewane placed his hands on Dutka’s head and prayed for an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The imposition of the Bishop’s hands confers grace and spiritual power.

Deacon Dutka came to the Diocese of Venice on a spiritual journey from New Jersey, where he entered the permanent diaconate program in the Diocese of Metuchen, and one year shy of ordination there was forced to leave the program when he lost his business and moved to Florida. Undeterred, he was accepted as a Permanent Deacon candidate in the Diocese of Venice as long as he completed additional formation.

This led to the moment of his ordination, which Deacon Dutka said was made possible by his complete faith in the Lord, with the assistance of Bishop Dewane and others in the Diocesan Diaconate Formation Program, family and friends. He also credited the prayers and blessings of his wife and three sons with the achieving of his dream of becoming an ordained servant of the Lord.

During his homily, Bishop remarked that the new Deacon’s “soul has been indelibly marked; be conscious of the change that has taken place within you. As a Deacon you are loved by Jesus Christ in a particular way that comes with a grace from your response to His call. Be the instrument of Jesus Christ in response to that love.”

Bishop Dewane called on Dutka to be the leaven in the community and to be a pillar in their Parish while calling others to the Faith. “The Lord will give you the words,” he said. “Your life experiences will add meaning to those words and serve you well. Do the will of God from your heart and serve the people with love and joy.”

During his homily, the Bishop also took time to thank Dukta’s wife, Eileen, for her effort in joining her husband sacramentally, through marriage, on this spiritual journey. He noted that the partnership they have, and the support from the whole family has helped to shape the new Deacon into who he is today: a man of God.

At the start of the formal Rite, the candidate was called before Bishop Dewane by Father Kristian Villafana, temporary Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, and then presented to the Bishop for his examination. The election by Bishop Dewane includes the following prayer: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose this, our brother, for the Order of the Diaconate.” The gathered deacons, priests and faithful responded: “Thanks be to God.”

After the homily, the part of the Rite called the Promise of the Elect took place, when Dutka came forward, and the Bishop asked him whether he was willing to accept the responsibilities of the ministry: to live in humble charity, to hold fast to the Mystery of the Faith, to celebrate the liturgy of hours with and for the People of God, and to maintain and deepen his prayer life. To each question, the Candidate Dutka responded, “I do.” Then he approached and kneeled before Bishop to give his promise of obedience to the Bishop and his successors.

Next in the Rite was the Litany of the Supplicants when Dutka prostrated himself before the altar as the assembled kneeled. The Litany of Saints was then sung. At the conclusion, the Bishop outstretched his hands and recited a prayer. Next was the Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Ordination.

Father Villafana then placed a Deacon’s stole and a dalmatic on Deacon Dutka. Once vested, Dutka knelt again before the Bishop and then the last part of the Rite, the Handing On of the Book of Gospels took place. The Mass continued as usual at this point with the newly ordained Deacon Dutka serving as Deacon of the Altar.

The mission of the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of Venice is to: serve as ministers of charity, leading in identifying the needs of others and striving to meet those needs; serve as ministers of the Word, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching and teaching in the name of the Church; serve as ministers of the Sacrament of Baptism; witness marriages; conduct wake and funeral services; and lead the faithful in prayer.

The Diocese was blessed to have seven men ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in 2020, and an additional 13 men are in diaconate formation class for possible ordination in 2025.

Celebrating the Real Presence – Corpus Christi marked with processions

Mary Dwyer quietly wept as she took part in a Corpus Christi procession at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota on June 19, 2022, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

“The power of Our Lord, and His Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, brings me great comfort,” Dwyer said. “I feel so happy to be able to honor Jesus in this special way.”

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) is a celebration of the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Our Lord which is a tradition that dates back centuries and is often marked by a Eucharistic Procession. This year’s celebration fell on Father’s Day.

At Incarnation, the procession began with a flower girl, sprinkling rose petals onto the ground, then the cross bearer, altar servers and a Knights of Columbus Honor Guard ahead of Father Eric Scanlan, Pastor of Incarnation, carrying the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament while it was under a canopy, as the Parish Choir led everyone in song.

The procession made its way from the main church into the Parish courtyard and then into the parking lot, stopping at four temporary altars where Father Scanlan led everyone in prayer and readings from the Gospel. The procession concluded in the Parish Chapel where Father led the Benediction.

Participating in a procession is viewed as an opportunity to reflect on this gift of the Holy Eucharist as the faithful pause at four “stations” for a reading and prayer and then conclude with Benediction. It is an opportunity to remind ourselves how special we are that God should want to nourish us with the body and blood of His Son, and it is an opportunity to thank God for these wonderful gifts.

During the Mass, Father Scanlan reflected on the importance of approaching one’s faith by focusing on the Real Presence – the true body and blood of Christ – that is found in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

“Brothers and sisters, Our God dwells among us,” Father said during the Mass. “He comes to honor us. To strengthen and heal us… But, the Lord can only do so much, unless we open our hearts to Him. We can say Lord, help me to believe; help me to receive You with love and affection; help me to allow you to heal me and to transform me, this heart and soul of mine. He wants so much for us to encounter Him, here today, each one of us. Brothers and sisters, this Great Feast offers us the opportunity to rekindle our love and our wonder and our gratitude of the Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He is here. He is here.”

The Corpus Christi celebration, and its associated Eucharistic Processions, which took place at Parishes within the Diocese, also marked the opening of the National Eucharistic Revival. This Eucharistic Revival is an effort by the U.S. Bishops to answer the call of Jesus Christ to return to the source and summit of Our Faith – the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

The Diocesan Year of the National Eucharistic Revival is from June 19, 2022, to June 11, 2023. During the Diocesan Year there will be a series of events and retreats that encourage the renewal of the Church “by rekindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” Please check the Diocese website regularly for the plans for implementing this Revival in the Diocese at  https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/eucharistic-congress-2023/.

Instituted in 1264 by Pope Urban IV, Corpus Christi is also known as the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

The Feast Day is an important affirmation of our belief that Our Lord is really and truly sacramentally present in the form of bread and wine. When Our Lord instituted the Eucharist, He said this IS My Body and this IS My Blood; not this represents or is symbolic of my body and blood. The Sacrament was defined as “an outward sign” of inward grace given to us by Jesus Christ for our sanctification and salvation.

The Feast of Corpus Christi is observed two weeks after Pentecost. The Feast of Pentecost, which was on June 5 this year, is celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday, and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem, as described in the Acts of the Apostles.

Pastor remembered for humor and service

A Mass of Christian Burial for Father Patrick C. Organ, Pastor for 31 years at San Pedro Parish in North Port, brought forth his family, brother priests and the lay faithful to pay homage to the man who humbly served in persona Christi for 51 years totally.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the main celebrant and Father Leo Riley, Pastor of San Antonio Parish in Port Charlotte, offered the homily. Dozens of priests were also present for the solemn occasion, honoring their brother for his service in this life and sending him forth into his next life. Reflecting his Irish birth, the Mass included several songs from his native land, including bagpipers.

Father Organ was 77 when he died on June 9, 2022, after a brief illness. This was just a few months short of his formal retirement. As Bishop Dewane noted during the June 21, 2022, Mass, the Diocese was grateful for the service of Father Organ, and the impact he made on the people at San Pedro and beyond.

“Father made a contribution here and it continued to the last,” Bishop Dewane said. “When Father Pat was there, you knew he was there. You had a blessing here at San Pedro Parish to know that you knew he was here, and more importantly, he knew you were here. That is why he was here. That is why he didn’t want to go anywhere, because his ‘family’ was here. Yes, he spoke often about his family back in Ireland and his growing up there… I know Father Pat looks down upon all of you, grateful, ‘How kind of them, they were always so good.’ He wanted to remain, but at some point, he realized it was time to move on; not too far away, but the Lord decided ‘Yes, you are going to move; you are going to come home.’”

Born in Ennistymon, County Clare, Ireland in 1944, Father Patrick C. Organ was the eldest of five children. Having attended Ennistymon Christian Brothers Seminary and St. Kieran’s Seminary in Kilkenny, Ireland, he was ordained on June 13, 1971, for the Archdiocese of Miami.

Father Organ served at Parishes in Lake Worth, Miami, Coral Springs, and Hollywood. Within the Diocese of Venice (established in 1984), Father served as Parochial Vicar at San Marco Parish on Marco Island, St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte, and then as Pastor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish. It was on May 21, 1992, when Father arrived as Pastor of San Pedro and found a “home and family.” In addition, through the years, Father also served on various Diocese of Venice boards and committees. He will be missed.

Summer STREAM Camp wows

Not even a week out of school for the summer and a group of students were back on the campus of St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton to take part in a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Summer Camp where they got to perform all types of experiments and had lots of fun.

The camp opened on June 6, 2022, with a Spacecation! Eager young scientists made space containers for gear, set up an experiment for hatching space eggs, built and operated robotic arms, and even created their own “Jupiter” volcanoes.

This camp incorporates the “Camp Invention” program for children in grades K-6, where STREAM skills are built with creative, hands-on problem-solving activities.

Each day of the camp pushes students to use a variety of skills and brainpower to work on fun projects as they learn to work as a team to make amazing objects and learn about how the world works. Each section offers a variety of challenges and tasks the students must work to complete. In some experiments they are given strict guidelines to follow, while in others they can be as creative as they wish all in the name of science and learning.

The students worked on their creative writing with Plot Coasters! During this project, the students learned about story parts and writing creative stories. The prompt for the story was: You found a cave…what was inside? And the creative minds took off from there.

In the Marble Arcade portion of the camp, students started with chain reactions, zigzagged through physics, engineering and gaming as they built a mega marble arcade. This allowed the campers to study engineering while exploring friction, inclines, weights, and scales.

Next up, the campers made a big splash with Aquatic Robotics. The students dove into ocean research and created a habitat for their “jellyfish.” They also used their decision-making skills to make design choices, developed and patented new aquatic plants, and created a symbiotic best friend for their aquariums. Then they developed a unique, bio-inspired invention and role-played hooking their investors at the fish market.

They also had time to study probabilities by flipping cups and worked with “Arty Bots” which are not only fun to build, but they can create beautiful works of art!

Some of the campers also helped harvest the latest crop of lettuce from the school’s new hydroponic garden. This food continues to grow prolifically and is donated to the neighboring St. Joseph Food Pantry.  This experience has been a wonderful opportunity to show how food is grown and ways that we can help others in our community.

These are just some of the examples of the fun and learning that took place during the first two weeks at the St. Joseph Catholic School STREAM Camp. To learn more about St. Joseph Catholic School, please call 941-755-2611 or visit www.sjsfl.org/.

CCW growing in Diocese

For the second time in as many months, the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (VDCCW) has started a new Council, this one in Naples.

On June 8, 2022, the new St. Ann Parish Council of Catholic Women in Naples was established. A slate of officers was installed during a ceremony presided over by Father William Davis, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, and Pastor of the Parish. The installation followed a Mass and the praying of the Holy Rosary. The newly installed officers are Co-President Andrea Keefe, Co-President Shannon Radosti, Vice President Lisa McGowan, and Treasurer Joanne Irene.

After the installation, the ladies held their first formal meeting and were welcomed to the CCW family by Brenda Dolan, who is the Florida CCW President/Province Director-Elect. Dolan spoke about the CCW mission and sisterhood of the organization.

Later, Anne DeCamillo, President of St. William Parish Council, spoke about the history of Saint William CCW and its vibrancy serving as an inspiration to the women who ultimately formed the St. Ann Parish CCW.

As part of the kick-off of the new Council, they had their first service event with a “diaper drive.” A representative from Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc. spoke to the group that evening to talk about how CPCI is helping women and saving lives and accepted the donation of the collected diapers. CPCI has locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota and Gainesville, as well as mobile vans which serve in rural communities.

VDCCW President Josephine Weiss, who was also present to witness the birth of the new Council in Naples, said it is an exciting time for the VDCCW.

“We are proud of all the ladies in our Council of Catholic Women especially those who stepped up to serve in various positions on their boards,” Weiss said, adding another new Council is forming in Palmetto at Holy Cross Parish. The formal establishment of the Council is expected in the fall.

This good news follows the May reconstitution of the CCW at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring. The Council there had gone dormant for several years before reforming on May 7 with Father Jose Gonzalez, the Pastor, presiding.

Weiss confirmed that the VDCCW is going strong, with the new affiliates bringing the total to 18 VDCCW Councils in addition to a CCW Juniors program at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. Meanwhile, new women are stepping into leadership positions, generously offering their talents to the running of Council activities.

For a group to become an affiliated VDCCW Parish Council, a petition must be submitted, and certain criteria must be met. Often, a Council is started when a group of women expresses interest in starting a Parish Council after learning about the VDCCW from others.

A Council forms with the support of the Parish Pastor/Administrator and is invited to participate in the numerous activities of the VDCCW and Parish Councils throughout the year.

Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women acts through its membership to support, empower and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service. Council programs exude Gospel values and serve the needs of the Church and society in the modern world.

The VDCCW is a strong advocate of service in the community, volunteering their time, talent, and treasure to various efforts. There is special focus in supporting the Diocesan seminarians, the unborn and the homeless.

The U.S. CCW was founded in 1920 by the U.S. Bishops to provide all Catholic women a common voice and an instrument of unified action.

News Briefs for the Week of June 24, 2022

Appointments

After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Joseph Clifford, has taken an assignment in the Diocese of Lansing, as Chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI, effective February 2, 2022.

Father Piotr Paciorek, retired as Parochial Vicar of Ave Maria Parish, effective May 31, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of Ave Maria Parish.

Father Chester Domaszewicz, retired as Pastor of St. Bernard Parish, effective June 1, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Pastor of St. Bernard Parish.

Msgr. Patrick Dubois, has been appointed as Vicar Forane of the Northern Deanery, effective June 17, 2022.

Ordination to the Priesthood July 16

Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacons Christian Chami, David Portorreal, and Michael Young. The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., on Saturday, July 16, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the lives of the Deacons as well as the Diocese of Venice. The event will be livestreamed via the Epiphany Cathedral Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EpiphanyCathedral – you do not need to be a subscriber to view the ordination.) A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Where is Totus Tuus this Week?

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. During the week of June 20-24, 2022, the team was at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle. The weeklong Parish summer catechetical camp program assists parents and parishes in evangelizing and catechizing the youth by complementing the work they are already doing at the parish and at home. This summer the program is offered at eight parishes in the Diocese of Venice with two sessions now completed. The camp program takes place for grades 1-5, Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and for grades 6-12, Monday – Thursday from 7:30 p.m.to 9:45 p.m. Several parishes still have openings for this program. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the parish hosting the program or Anne Chrzan at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org. The remaining Parishes hosting the program are as follows:

  • St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory Street, Sebring, June 27-July 1.
  • St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers, July 11-15.
  • St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th Street West, Bradenton, July 18-22.
  • St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, July 25-29.
  • St. Patrick Parish, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, August 1-5.

Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help June 27

All are welcome to attend the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 11:15 a.m., Monday, June 27 in the St. Joseph Chapel on the grounds of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 S. Moon Drive, Venice to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In preparation, you are invited to pray a novena starting Saturday, June 18. The daily prayers are published on the website at www.olph-retreat.org. The Fall 3-night, 5-night, and 7-night private, directed retreat schedule is also published on the website. To learn more about a private retreat and to register, please visit www.olph-retreat.org or call 941-486-0233.

Independence Day Bike and Golf Cart Parade

The Knights of Columbus Ave Maria Assembly 3862 is hosting the 6th annual “God Bless America” Independence Day Bike and Golf Cart Parade, at 10 a.m., Monday, July 4, 2022. The ceremony starts in the Piazza of the town and will include a reflection from an Ave Maria veteran on the “Blessing of Freedom,” then patriotic songs, prayers for our country, then a “Blessing of the Bikes.” The parade, which will include bikes, trikes, golf carts, skateboards, strollers (decorated or not), will be led by a fire truck and pass through several neighborhoods, ending approximately 2 miles later back in the Piazza where there will be treats available. All are welcome. For more information, contact Dominick Micillo at 904-536-1480.

Mooney grad takes Junior golf title

Wyatt Plattner, a recent graduate of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, won the 50th Southern Junior Championship at the Country Club of Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2022. To take the title, Plattner notched four birdies on the back nine holes to post a final-round 67, earning a three-shot win in the 54-hole event at 9-under-par 201. The Mooney grad will play at the college level at the University of Cincinnati beginning this fall.

Volunteers needed in Naples

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Naples is looking for thrift store volunteers. If you would like to offer your time as a cashier, sorter, receiver or customer assistance representative for SVdP Naples, call Samantha at 239-775-2907 ext. 1014 or email info@svdpnaples.org.

Youth Conference July 8-10

The 14th annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference – “Fearless” – is being held July 8 to10, 2022. Featured talks are by Father Rick Martignetti, Father Joseph Lugalambi, Father Rich Pagano and Chris Padget. The event includes the talks, Mass, Adoration, praise and worship, fellowship, and opportunities for confession. The cost is $175 and includes lodging, all meals, a t-shirt and more. To register, call 239-348-4725, aveconferences@gmail.com or www.aveconferences.com.

Adoption services available

Catholic Charities Adoption Services is a state-wide agency that provides counseling to birth parents, and provisions or resources to meet the needs of birth parents considering adoption planning. If you or a loved one would like to learn more, please call Joan Pierse at 941-355-4680.

Men’s Support after Abortion Program

One in 4 women will have experienced at least one abortion by age 45. A man is connected to every pregnancy and abortion. Men are hurting from their abortion experiences too. Men often push down their experience or cover it up with unhealthy behaviors. For six weeks beginning on Saturday, July 9, 2022, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples, Father Mark Harris will team up with Nathan Misirian from Support After Abortion to co-facilitate a program just for men wounded, angry or hurt by abortion. If you (or someone you know) are a man ready for healing, or you know someone who is, confidentially call 941-412-5860 today or email project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org to register for this series.

Volunteer to Help Pregnant Mothers

Looking for a way to help pregnant women in need?  Your tax-deductible donation will help with rent, utilities, or other necessities.  Give to the Catholic Charities Pennies for Babies Fund, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285 where no administrative fees are taken from any donations. Questions?  Contact Jeanne Berdeaux, Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Diocese of Venice Statement regarding the recent Supreme Court Decision, Dobbs vs. Jackson

Diocese of Venice Statement regarding the recent Supreme Court Decision, Dobbs vs. Jackson
Venice, FL, June 24, 2022 — In God’s eyes, all human life is sacred, from conception to natural death; this is the teaching of the Catholic Church. The Church is pleased to hear of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. This ruling now undoes the grave injustice of 1973, when Roe v. Wade decided that an entire class of human beings, the preborn, were outside the protection of the law. Now the states will once again have the opportunity to protect the lives of preborn children and in doing so, also protect millions of women from the tragic consequences of abortion. Of course, legal protection must be accompanied by more care for mothers and their children. The Catholic Church, and the Diocese of Venice, stand ready to help mothers in need. Pregnant women are not alone.
Pope Francis has called upon all Parishes to be “islands of mercy in a sea of indifference.” Parishes in the Diocese of Venice have redoubled their efforts to accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, offering them loving and compassionate care.
Specifically, Walking with Moms in Need is a new program. The Diocese of Venice helps parishioners connect with local mothers facing difficult or challenging pregnancies. The program helps parishioners to identify local resources so that pregnant and parenting women receive the material, spiritual, and emotional support they need. Within the Diocese of Venice, there are Pregnancy Help Centers in 22 locations, and nine residential maternity and after-birth homes.
For decades, the Diocese of Venice has supported mothers in need and continues to do so. Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities in Venice is one of the programs in the Diocese that supports single mothers and their children, providing not just housing and material needs, but valuable counseling and education.
Additionally, the Diocese offers confidential, compassionate support after abortion to both women and men through its Project Rachel Ministry.
Let us all continue to pray for the end to abortion, and the end to taking the lives of an entire category of human beings, the preborn.
Media can contact Diocese of Venice Communications Director Karen Barry Schwarz at: Office: 941-441-1118 Mobile: 941-275-5183
Follow this link to the statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops –
Follow this link to statement from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops –
PHOTO CREDIT: Catholic News Service

Project Rachel: Hope and Healing for All

By Sylvia Jimenez, Special to the Florida Catholic

The women and men who have reached out to Project Rachel for help in their path to healing from past abortion range in age from early 20s to late 80s and even 90+ years old.  Some have been suffering silently with their “secret” for as many as 70 years.  For some, there is no one else in the world who knows about their abortion(s). The father of the aborted baby may not even know about the fact that the woman was pregnant – because some women never tell anyone.

There is hope, and healing, for those impacted by abortion. Project Rachel is a Diocesan outreach to women and men who suffer from the mental and spiritual trauma of abortion. This important outreach in the Diocese of Venice includes counseling, healing retreats and other direct and indirect support. All contact is strictly confidential.

STORIES OF HOPE AND HEALING

It is wonderful to see a glorious transformation in every participant who experiences the Project Rachel healing retreat. It is like a Holy Week experience, where one goes through some of the trials or suffering of Calvary, but at the end of the retreat there is the new life and happiness of the Resurrection.  It is interesting that those who are the most reluctant and fearful in the beginning are the ones who are especially beaming at the end. Every participant feels great relief, freedom, and peace.

One woman felt deeply hurt each time she heard harsh, judgmental comments made by others at her church about those who have abortions. They would never have imagined that she had an abortion.  This caused her to alienate herself from God and Church for many years.  Then reading a testimony online, she concluded that if she expected to be forgiven for her sins, she too had to be forgiving, and she decided to “give the Church a chance” by attending a Project Rachel retreat.  She not only received the healing she desired, but she also came back to the Church and grew spiritually, including frequent reception of the Sacraments. This then led her to become active in the evangelization of other fallen-away Catholics.

Project Rachel invites you to view a few short and beautiful video testimonies of several women who have received healing from their abortions at www.dioceseofvenice.org/respect-life/post-abortion-help

HOW YOU CAN HELP

We are all sinners and undeserving of the grace God offers us. Yet, God is our loving Father, who waits with open arms, always inviting us to a renewed relationship with Himself (Luke 15:11). It is our Christian duty to spread the message that no matter how much one has sinned, with true repentance, we have access to God’s abundant love and mercy. This is the very foundation of Project Rachel.

Here is how you can help:

  1. Pray – Let others know you are praying for this intention. Ask that intercessions be included with those at your parish’s Masses. Also, prayer cards are available which may be requested free of charge.
  2. Inform yourself and share with others –These websites have ample information:

www.hopeafterabortion.com and www.supportafterabortion.com

Watch movies such as: Unplanned and The Matter of Life, a new documentary available soon via streaming or DVD.

  1. Help raise awareness (among your family, friends, community) about the need for healing after abortion and hope for healing through Project Rachel or other post abortion healing groups. Invite Project Rachel staff to speak to your parish group (CCW, Women’s Guild, Men’s Group).

For More Information:

Project Rachel invites you to view a few short and beautiful video testimonies of several women who have received healing from their abortions at www.dioceseofvenice.org/respect-life/post-abortion-help.

For more information about Project Rachel, as well as to read stories of hope and healing, visit www.hopeafterabortion.com (English) and https://esperanzaposaborto.org (Español)

For testimonies of men having found healing after abortion, visit www.menhealingfromtrauma.com.

If you know someone who has had an abortion and you would like to reach out to them so they can receive healing, contact Project Rachel. We can offer good recommendations for each situation. All contact is strictly confidential. (Se habla español. Todo contacto es confidencial) Call Sylvia Jimenez at 941-412-5860, or email Project.Rachel@DioceseofVenice.org.

 

Faith Can Be Fun!

What do you get when upwards of 100 children gather for a special summer camp – a growth in Faith and lots of fun.

Part way into its second week, the inaugural Totus Tuus Summer Camp for children and teens has been a great success. The opening week, June 6-10, 2022, at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral, brought in 50 children each day and 27 teens each evening. The second week, June 13-17, is at St. Agnes Parish in Naples and there are more than 100 children and 60 youth taking part. Among the group at St. Agnes were also children from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee.

The goal of the Totus Tuus Summer Camp is to help young people grow in their understanding of the faith and strengthening of their faith in Jesus Christ. The camp is directed by a team of four missionaries and two Diocesan seminarians. Parish staff and volunteers augment the team and together they make the week one to remember for all who participate.

Each day of the weeklong camp, the children and youth learn lessons about the importance of prayer, and ways to pray, from the basics of the Our Father and Hail Mary to the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

They also learn about the importance of the Eucharist and how Jesus walks with them all the time, explained Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education.

The day begins with music to pump the children up and get them ready for the full day ahead with all the time focused on learning key lessons about their faith. In addition to dancing, music and prayer, the children have time for activities such as crafts and games.

There is time for Mass each day with additional quiet reflective time in Eucharistic Adoration and three days when there is opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Mass portion of the day is more than participating in the important celebration of the Holy Eucharist. It is at this time during the camp when the children not only learn the various hymns but also learn about the different parts of the Mass and why they are so key to this important celebration. For example, when entering the Church, the children are brought to the Holy Water Font and taught how and why they are to respectfully dip their finger in the water and bless themselves.

Diocesan Seminarians Juan Contreras and James Gates are fully involved in the daily activities of the camp, serving as leaders in prayer and offering their discernment stories to the teens in the evenings. They serve as leaders when teaching about hearing the call of the Lord in one’s life, citing their own examples as a guide for others to follow.

The teen aspect of the summer camp is confined to the evenings and focuses on allowing the Totus Tuus missionaries and seminarians to share their stories and lead discussions on topics that are important to young people today. The teens also take part in Adoration and there is a special focus on growing their prayer life and relationship with the Lord.

There is a mid-week potluck during which families come and see firsthand what their children have learned as they perform skits or short plays about different aspects of their faith. The week concludes with a water day of outside fun and games.

Rose M. Talbot-Babey, Director of Religious Education at St. Katharine Drexel, sent a note to Chrzan about the week, saying she received lots of positive feedback from parents and children alike about how they enjoyed the Totus Tuus camp.

“In particular, the children were sharing what they had learned once they got home which is so encouraging and the parents were pleased with that,” Talbot-Babey wrote.

Only one Parish hosts the camp each week. The Parishes hosting Totus Tuus this summer are: St. Katherine Drexel; St. Agnes in Naples; Our Lady Queen of Heaven in La Belle, June 20-24; St. Catherine in Sebring, June 27-July 1; St. John XXIII in Fort Myers, July 11-15; St. Joseph in Bradenton, July 18-22; St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples, July 25-29; and St. Patrick in Sarasota, August 1-August 5.

The camp program, for grades 1-5, takes place Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for grades 6-12, it is Monday to Thursday from 7:30 p.m.to 9:45 p.m.

Several parishes still have openings for this program. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the Parish hosting the program or Anne Chrzan at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

Lay movement brings people back to Faith

Members of the John XXIII Parish Retreats Movement gathered at Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid on June 12, 2022, to celebrate the conclusion of another retreat.

At total of 29 women took part in the three-day retreat with their family and others taking part on the final day for the closing Mass. This makes more than 1,000 who have returned to the faith in the Diocese of Venice through the John XXIII Movement.

The John XXIII Movement is a private international association of laity, with the goal of leading marginalized communities to God. To be part of the movement you must have experienced the initial retreat experience. After completing the retreat, participants are encouraged to attend faith-formation classes and weekly meetings to strengthen their faith and personal relationship with God. Rooted in Eucharistic Adoration, the ministry serves the Church and its people through love, surrender, and sacrifice.

The Movement is constituted according to the canons of Canon Law of the Catholic Church and inspired by the principles that emanated from the Second Vatican Council. The Movement, from its origins, goes out in search of the forgotten and the marginalized, of those, who due to their problems, live in the anonymity of life thinking that the Gospel cannot be preached to them. In addition to the John XXIII Movement, the Diocese has eight additional lay outreach efforts, many of which are directed toward the Hispanic faithful.

Father Claudio Stewart, Diocese of Venice Director of the Hispanic Apostolate and Movement Spiritual Director, celebrated the closing Mass of the retreat which was a graduation of sorts for the women and a joyous welcome back into the Faith.

“They come to this retreat not expecting anything and leave with everything, the love of their family, the love of the community, the love of Christ,” Father Stewart said. “It is an emotional journey as they must seek the Lord’s forgiveness for sins they have done to themselves and those done to others. This is not easy.”

Following the Mass, each woman stood up and offered their story. This was done while holding a crucifix for support, as they each first explained how they heard about the John XXIII Movement and then what they experienced during the retreat. Finally, as their family looks on, and everyone is smiling in encouragement, the woman then expresses their emotional apologies and remorse to their family and friends and also their gratitude for leading them back to Christ.

Once they are done with their testimonial, each woman is cheered and approaches their friends and family, who have been held back to allow them the space to be open and honest. The reunion is full of hugs and presentations of roses, a symbolic gesture of the Blessed Virgin Mary and their new closeness to the Lord. The celebration concludes with celebratory music and a fiesta of food and fellowship.

“This is a well-organized and transformative program,” Father Stewart said. “The people on these retreats have many reasons for being away from the Church, but with the support and encouragement they are given, their return is a true celebration for the individual, their family, their friends and everyone who is part of the Movement and the Church in the Diocese of Venice.”

For more information about the John XXIII Movement, please contact Father Stewart at stewart@dioceseofvenice.org or Jose Pastor Ramirez, Diocesan Coordinator, at JosePR72@hotmail.com.

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