Two seminarians ordained to Transitional Diaconate

Jacob (Jake) Christian Gwynn and William Patrick (Pat) Long were ordained to the Transitional Diaconate on Saturday, April 13, 2024. The pair followed different calls of the Lord in their lives, but their answers were the same, leading the two Diocese of Venice seminarians on a journey toward the priesthood.

Deacons Gwynn and Long were among 10 ordained at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton by Most Rev. Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach. The men, from different Dioceses across Florida, are studying at either St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach or Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.

Following his ordination, Deacon Gwynn said, “The theme that was said many times on my day of ordination continues to resound in my heart today: ‘This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad’ (Ps 118:24). I am eternally grateful for the call to serve the Lord and His people through the ministry of the Diaconate and eventually as a priest!”

Deacon Long said the ordination brought “tremendous peace, joy and gratitude; gratitude to God for His great love, and for the opportunity to share that love with many as a newly ordained Deacon in His Church.”
The first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church, Deacons perform many services to the Church in conjunction with the ministries of priests and Bishops. Among their many duties, they will preach, perform baptisms, witness marriages, and preside over wakes and funerals.

Bishop Barbarito opened by giving thanks to the Lord for calling the ordinandi to the ministry of Holy Orders in service to all, and then by giving thanks to each of the men and their supporters.

“We also give thanks to each of them for discerning and accepting the call of the Lord, as well as to all of you, their family members and friends in supporting them in their discernment,” the Bishop said.

To the men, Bishop Barbarito stressed the importance of the day, after years of prayer and preparation.

“Holy Orders is the ordering of our lives toward Christ… Today, you will make three significant promises to Him and to His Church which will intimately affect your lives – a lifelong commitment of celibacy; to prayer; and to the service of Church as expressed in obedience. All of them become one in handing yourselves over to the Lord completely and totally.”

Following the homily, the men approached Bishop Barbarito one-by-one, knelt and promised respect and obedience, each to his own Bishop and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, the men then lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints. The faithful remained standing during the Litany as the ordination took place during the Easter Season.

Each man again approached the Bishop who imposed his hands on the candidate and proclaimed a prayer of consecration, to confer the Holy Spirit to guide their ministries. This is the moment the men were ordained. The Deacons then received a stole and dalmatic (the exterior garb of a deacon), signifying the Office of Diaconate and the deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Next, the newly ordained Deacons knelt before the Bishop who presented them each with the Book of the Gospels, and said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” The receiving of the Book of Gospels is a symbol of their new ministry of proclaiming the Gospel and preaching. The Rite of Ordination concluded with the fraternal kiss of peace.

Deacon Gwynn is studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, having graduated from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami in 2020. Born and raised in Palmetto, Deacon Jake is the third of four children. Deacon Jake recalls that becoming a priest was one of his earliest aspirations. One of his mentors from a young age was Msgr. Joseph Ferraro, a retired priest who also served as a U.S. Navy Chaplain, who inspired him to pursue a path to not only the priesthood but also in the Navy Chaplaincy. Following that inspiration, he was sworn in as an officer of the U.S. Navy in 2021 and is currently a Lt. (j.g), in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

As a Diocesan seminarian, Deacon Gwynn has had summer assignments at the following Parishes: St. William in Naples, St. Agnes in Naples; Our Lady of Lourdes in Venice; and Our Lady of Grace in Avon Park. He served a pastoral year at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. In addition, he has taken part in the Navy Officer Development School and later the Navy Chaplain Basic Leadership School, both in Newport, Rhode Island. Deacon Gwynn is pursuing his priesthood for the Diocese of Venice and the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. Deacon Gwynn was vested by Deaon Craig Dutka of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto.

Deacon Long has been studying at St. John XXIII National Seminary in Massachusetts which specializes in formation for later vocations. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, but raised in Sarasota, the second of six children, Deacon Pat is a graduate of St. Martha Catholic School and Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota. He graduated with a degree from Florida State. While pursuing a marketing career in the health care industry, he kept ties to the faith as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, religious education teacher, youth group leader and in Pro-Life work. Feeling God was calling him to the priesthood, with the help of a spiritual director he opted to enter seminary. As a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice, Deacon Long served at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, attended the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Nebraska, and participated in the Spanish Summer Immersion Program in Guatemala. During his ordination, Deacon Long was vested by Deacon Stephen Beck of Incarnation Parish.

Please pray for these men as they continue their spiritual journey.

Bishop Confirms four inmates

A group of men recently completed their final step of Christian initiation by being “sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” during their Confirmation by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at Avon Park Correctional Institute in Avon Park on April 10, 2024.

Bishop Dewane, who has stressed the importance of prison outreach since his 2006 appointment as Episcopal leader of the Diocese of Venice, shared with the Confirmandi the message of God’s Mercy as reflected in the readings from Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter.

In those readings, Jesus appears to the apostles in the Upper Room, but St. Thomas is not present and doubts the story. When Jesus returns, Thomas is present and Jesus questions his faith, telling him to touch his wounds so that he can believe in the Resurrection of the Lord.

“This is an important lesson to learn for all of us,” Bishop Dewane said. “Jesus gives Thomas, and all of us, a path toward believing in Him and trusting in His Mercy.”

Bishop Dewane used the example of the “Doubting Thomas” painting by Carravaggio, an Italian Renaissance painter whose image shows a close-up image of Thomas sticking his fingers into Jesus’ wounds. The Bishop asked the Confirmandi to imagine themselves in that scene, standing before Jesus and to think of how they would react and if they would believe.

When celebrating the Mass for the incarcerated, Bishop Dewane emphasized that he is bringing the forgiveness, mercy, compassion, peace, love and joy of the Lord to others. Each year, the Bishop celebrates Mass for inmates at different facilities throughout the 10-county Diocese, and has conferred the Sacraments of Confirmation, First Communion and Baptism for dozens of inmates since 2006.

The Confirmation Mass was witnessed by about 30 people, including sponsors and other inmates. Volunteers Toni and Tom Cruz Wiggins help lead the formation program.

Also participating in the Mass were Father Vincent Clemente of St. James Parish in Lake Placid, and Father Sean Mulcahy, of the Diocese of Orlando, who rotate celebrating Mass and hearing confessions. In addition, Deacon Sam Knight, of the Diocese of Orlando, regularly ministers and teaches and coordinates the volunteers.

During the Sacrament of Confirmation, the candidates renew their baptismal promises and then the Bishop, the attending priests, and all the faithful, pray that the Holy Spirit descend upon and remain on the Confirmandi. The Bishop then recites a prayer. Finally, the candidates are presented to the Bishop with their sponsor placing his/her hand on the candidates’ right shoulder. Then with his right thumb, the Bishop makes the sign of the cross on their forehead with the Holy Chrism oil and says “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” The newly confirmed replies: “Amen.” The Rite concludes when the Bishop says “Peace be with you,” and the new Confirmandi replies, “And with your Spirit.”

Bob Hiniker, who helps to coordinate the prison outreach throughout the Diocese of Venice, helped facilitate Bishop Dewane’s visit to Avon Park Correctional Institute. While four men received the Sacrament of Confirmation, four others were unable to participate due to a security lockdown at the facility. The Bishop vowed to return to confirm those men at a future date.

The Diocesan Prison Ministry provides a variety of services, including Bible study, religious education and assistance with receiving the Sacraments.

Hiniker stressed the importance of continuing to expand the number of people who volunteer in the five state prisons, 10 county jails and one civil commitment program. There are approximately 15,000 incarcerated within the Diocese; meaning the need for priests and volunteers is great.

“In particular, we are in dire need of priests to hear confessions in the jails and to Celebrate Mass in the prisons,” Hiniker said. “Also, we have several jails and prisons where we can utilize more volunteers. With more volunteers, we can reach and minister to more.”

All volunteers participate in an orientation program before entering a correctional facility and “shadow” experienced volunteers until they feel comfortable. Times and days vary by facility.

If you are interested in learning more about the Diocesan Prison Ministry, please contact Bob Hiniker at or Joe Mallof at

Parish unites for neighbors

By Larissa Rodriguez, Special to the Florida Catholic

A volunteer meal packing event was hosted by Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers on March 16, 2024, just as the darker days of the Lenten Season were winding down and the bright hope of Easter was on the horizon.

The Parish’s collaboration with Meals of Hope was the idea of Deacon Ripperton “Rip” Riordan, who wanted to see increased involvement in the Parish community.

“With the large population during the winter season, I had an idea or dream of getting the Parish Community involved in an outreach project outside of the Parish walls,” Deacon Riordan said. “So, I spoke with a few leaders of the Parish and local community and asked what special project needed to be done that could involve 200 volunteers?”

From there, the idea was kickstarted into becoming a reality. Deacon Riordan enlisted the help of two parishioners, Steve and Vicki Pierson, who suggested partnering with Meals of Hope, pouring their heart and soul into planning the event.

Meals of Hope is a nonprofit based in Naples with 15 food pantries throughout Southwest Florida and one more opening this month. It was founded in 2007 by its president and CEO, Stephen Popper, to provide hunger relief to people in the U.S.

Popper learned from his mother and aunts, who were trying to take care of poor children in Haiti, that the children had trouble learning because they didn’t have enough food to eat.

Popper and his wife organized their first meal packing event, and grew from there, packing a million meals in the first year. Though the company started with the goal of shipping meals overseas, it now largely focuses on providing meals locally.

The goal at the Our Lady of Light event was to pack 50,000 meals of cinnamon sugar diced apple oatmeal for distribution by the Harry Chapin Food Bank and other mobile food pantries throughout Southwest Florida. This number was surpassed with about 52,000 meals packed and shipped out by the end of the day.

“We really have quite a large impact. But we can’t do it without the support of Our Lady of Light and other churches and groups,” Popper said.

This event provided a profound impact to the community especially because it took place during Lent, as it created a practical way for parishioners to exercise their Lenten obligation of almsgiving and service, while also having fun.

Volunteers danced to the music as they were packing their meals and cheered once their group finished packing a full box. Their biggest cheerleaders were Deacon Riordan and Father Hugh McGuigan, Pastor of Our Lady of Light.

“Being of service to others is an important aspect of a strong community. Our faith community here at Our Lady of Light is an active group that desires to live their faith by sharing their love and resources for the needs of our brothers and sisters,” Deacon Riordan said.

In Deacon Riordan’s Holy Thursday homily, he compared Jesus washing the feet of his disciples to everyday acts of service modern Christians can perform. The Deacon said this event was one of the ways the community was able to share their witness as “foot washers” to others.

“One of the things I love about Meals of Hope is how inclusive it is, people from all ages can do it,” Popper said. “There are not many things that can do that, where people of all ages and abilities can participate and really have a strong impact in the community.”

The staff and volunteers of Our Lady of Light Parish are already planning another Meals of Hope event in November.

News Briefs for the week of April 19, 2024

Bishop celebrates Mass for Cathedral students

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice on April 12, 2024. The Gospel reading for the day was from John and describes the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. In this miracle, Jesus not only provides the nourishment of food, but more importantly spiritual nourishment. “Be mindful when you come here to the Church, to receive the strength from Jesus Christ, like he gave to all of those people on the side of the mountain. Each Sunday, He makes it possible to receive our strength to live our spiritual life.” Following the Mass, the Bishop blessed the pre-kindergarten students in the narthex of the Cathedral.

Three from one Catholic high school accepted into service academies

St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples has announced that three of its Class of 2024 have been accepted into military academies. Mason Ceccarelli will be attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland; Sloane Janopoulos will be attending the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Sophia McCartney will be attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. This remarkable achievement reflects the outstanding academic formation of the students at Neumann. The appointments are also a testament to each student’s exceptional leadership qualities, academic prowess, and unwavering patriotism.

Biomedical students show off senior projects

Senior biomedical students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers had the opportunity to put their year-long research projects on display April 11, 2024, to showcase their innovations that could, one day, shape the future of medicine. Each student created a display/poster which was a window into their hard work, critical thinking, and dedication to pushing the boundaries of biomedical science. Each of these seniors will be graduating as biomedical honors students and will be distinguished at their upcoming graduation with a stole. From groundbreaking treatments to revolutionary healthcare solutions, these bright minds have proven that the spirit of discovery is thriving at Bishop Verot.

Sarasota students excel at Model UN conference

Three Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students from Sarasota dominated the Ave Maria University Model UN Conference on April 13, 2024, in Ave Maria. There were 44 delegates who participated in the event which is an educational simulation where students can learn about diplomacy, international relations and the UN General Assembly and its other multilateral bodies. Cecelia Cosgrove was named best delegate, while Karel Dib took second place, Tyler Ruben took third. The students were judged by Naples Council of World Affairs.

Parable Project coming to Naples

St. Agnes Parish in Naples is welcoming the Magic Carpet Theatre for “The Parable Project,” a presentation of the stories Jesus told using drama, humor and audience participation. The event is 7 p.m., April 25, 2024, in the Parish Hall, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. There are no reservations needed and no charge for this event; donations will be accepted to offset the cost to the Parish. For questions, contact Ivy O’Malley at 239-307-4264 or

Calling all Pro-Life Advocates! 

If you’d like to volunteer to help educate people on the truth about the pro-abortion amendment on the November ballot, plan to attend a training opportunity within the Diocese of Venice in May (one of two). The first training is Monday, May 13, 2024, from 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Leadership Institute, 2163 Main Street (downtown), Sarasota.  The second session is also from 11:45 a.m., Wednesday, May 15, at St. John XXIII Parish Center, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. Lunch will be included at both sessions.  Register online at for either session by May 8. If you have questions, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or

Eucharistic Adoration for Life

You are invited to spend time with Our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration anytime between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (abortion days at Planned Parenthood) at Mary’s House (next to Community Pregnancy Clinic, 1419 7th Street, Sarasota) to pray for an end to abortion. Questions?  Contact Ginger at or 941-224-0662.

Annual Mass held to remember victims of child abuse

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass April 5, 2024, the Friday within the Octave of Easter, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, with the specific intention of praying for victims of child abuse.

This was the 16th year the Diocese has held a Mass to pray for the victims of abuse, which takes place in April to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“We pray for those who carry the deep and unrelenting pain of the wounds of sexual abuse,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Church must be part of the solution in addressing the scourge of sexual abuse, not a source of the problem. Unfortunately, those roles were reversed in the past, and the gravity of that is well known to all.”

Pope Francis said the actions of those who scandalized and wounded innocent lives have put Holy Mother Church in a suffering position.

While the Church’s credibility has suffered in light of the abuse scandal, Bishop Dewane cited Pope Francis in saying that the first priority must be the victims who showed great courage in speaking out and telling the truth by shedding light on what is a darkness in society, that they may find comfort in the Lord’s healing grace.

“Before God, and you good people, I express sorrow for the sins and for the great crime of clerical abuse committed,” Bishop Dewane said. “For as your Bishop, I humbly ask forgiveness of those who have been abused and of you the faithful.”

While it is a Bishop’s pastoral responsibility to provide utmost care in fostering the protection of minors through his actions and through the comprehensive Diocesan Safe Environment program, we are all called to be vigilant. The Diocese of Venice has a zero-tolerance policy, and works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults.

“I only have one pair of eyes and ears,” Bishop Dewane said. “Between all of us, there are many eyes and many ears. It is better to act, because if we don’t speak, maybe someone will walk through the rest of their life in despair and scarred terribly by what has happened – not because of anything they did but it was something that was thrust upon them. I understand my responsibility, but we must all be vigilant.”

The Safe Environment Program was established to protect the most vulnerable from  abuse while raising awareness to prevent abuse from happening. The program, educates thousands each year, working to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working with minors and vulnerable adults. The program provides information on the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention, and reporting of child abuse. The Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools. A key component of the Safe Environment initiative is that it includes a background check for all employees and volunteers.

The Diocese of Venice annually undergoes a comprehensive audit by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese is in compliance with current directives.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse and the Safe Environment program, please visit


During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB encourages the faithful to recite the following Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just: You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo;

Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu

Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

“Jesus, I trust in You”- Divine Mercy Sunday celebrated

The Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, completes the Octave of Easter, a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the blessing of His continuing presence in our midst. The Gospel reading for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 7, 2024, recalls the encounter between St. Thomas (the doubting Apostle) and Jesus after the Resurrection.

Divine Mercy Sunday celebrates the mercy of Jesus as reminded to us by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a religious sister who lived a humble life, to whom Jesus appeared. St. Faustina was born in Krakow, Poland and lived from 1905-1938. She was canonized by St. John Paul II in 2000, who at that time also declared the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. This celebration also honors St. Faustina’s vision of Jesus Christ, and His message of love and peace for the world.

St. Faustina wrote in her diary from private revelation that Jesus told her: “I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy (1109). The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (699).”

The image of the Divine Mercy was created by St. Faustina who was told to paint the image of Jesus as she saw Him. The painting has the saying at the bottom: “Jesus, I Trust in You.” The rays emanating from the Sacred Heart of Jesus represent water (white) – which makes souls righteous — and blood (red) — which is the life of souls, Jesus told St. Faustina.

Many Parishes throughout the Diocese hold Divine Mercy services and several have novenas of prayer leading up to the Sunday. The popularity of Divine Mercy has been embraced by many diverse communities throughout the Diocese.

At St. Paul Parish in Arcadia, Divine Mercy Sunday included the traditional afternoon prayer service in English and Spanish. This included the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a reflection from Father Pawel Kawalec, a recitation of the Divine Mercy Litany, singing of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and Solemn Benediction.

The prayer service concluded when the faithful were invited to come forward and venerate the image of Divine Mercy which adorns the wall to the right of the altar and was decorated with flowers.

Alicia Torres attended the Divine Mercy prayer service with her two children and said her prayers were focused on seeking help for family members who need to have Christ in their life more. “This day is about seeking Jesus’ Mercy for ourself and our family and the whole world.”

At St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples, the Divine Mercy celebration included a presentation by Sister Teresa de la Fuente, Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (St. Faustina’s religious order).

Pope Francis, during the Regina Caeli on Divine Mercy Sunday, noted that the “fullness of life” comes not from the pursuit of transitory pleasure but is “realized in Jesus.”

In his address, Pope Francis drew upon the disciples, who were despondent and secluded in the Upper Room, “going through the most tragic moment in life,” to showcase how Christ’s coming to them was a deeply transformative moment, one that not only reveals His mercy but also promises a new life.

“The Risen One comes to them and shows them His wounds,” the Pope said. “They were the signs of suffering and pain, they could stir feelings of guilt, yet with Jesus they become channels of mercy and forgiveness.”


Easter meal shared with homeless in Naples – Parish partners with Catholic Charities

Partnering with Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., the parishioners of St. William Parish provided a hot Easter meal for area homeless on April 4, 2024, the Thursday within the Octave of Easter.

Father George Ratzmann, Pastor at St. William, offered the prayer before the meal, “We pray that our time together, company we keep, and food we eat will nourish us both physically and spiritually.”

The meal took place outside of the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities, as more than 100 were served a hot meal which included chicken, potatoes, salad and cake for dessert. The Parish also hosted a similar dinner just after Christmas.

The meal was prepared by volunteers as some served the meals on tables set up in the parking lot in a relaxed atmosphere.

The gratitude of those being served was expressed in many ways, from “God Bless you,” and “Thank you” ringing out, as well as many handshakes and even a few hugs.

Mary, who has been homeless since 2021 when an illness caused her to have huge bills while also losing her job, said the people of Catholic Charities are very kind and supportive of her needs, providing food and clothes when needed. “This Easter meal was very delicious, and I can tell that everyone here is doing it because they want to help. That means so much.”

Father Ratzmann said it is wonderful to be able to offer a hot meal to those in need, and noted the benefits to the homeless are as great as to those who offer their time to volunteer. “We all gain from helping the children of God, in whatever circumstance we find them.”

The homeless outreach of Catholic Charities includes assistance from caseworkers, and essentials such as food, clothing, and toiletries.

In addition, with transportation being one of the greatest obstacles for the homeless population in Collier County, St. William Parish has partnered with the Knights of Columbus, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and Bikes for Tykes, to purchase tricycles for distribution by Catholic Charities.

The goal is to provide every homeless person with a recognizable (bright yellow), non-saleable adult tricycle. Each can carry a heavy load and has two baskets to secure personal items.

As it has been recognized that the need for reliable and safe transportation for the homeless exists throughout the region, it is the goal of the St. William Parish to expand the tricycle outreach to additional communities in partnership with Catholic Charities.

Annunciation of the Lord celebrated in Ave Maria

The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is when we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary saying “Yes!” to God.

Usually celebrated on March 25, the Solemnity was transferred to April 8, 2024, because the original date fell during Holy Week. The Solemnity marks the Angel Gabriel’s appearance to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-38), and his announcement that the Blessed Virgin had been chosen to be the Mother of Our Lord, and Mary’s willing acceptance of God’s Holy Plan.

For the faithful at Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria University, as well as the entire town, the Solemnity marks an important occasion as it is the Feast Day of the community and was celebrated this year on April 6.

The focus of the day was on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with Bishop Frank J. Dewane as the principal celebrant.

Bishop Dewane said during the Mass that the faithful should learn from the example of Mary and apply Her willingness to be open to the call of the Lord in our own lives; as it is inspiring to know the Blessed Virgin Mary had the courage to say “yes.”

“Take the grace that the Lord gives each of us, and live it and go forward,” the Bishop said. “We learn the important lesson that nothing is ‘impossible for God.’ Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her’ (Luke 1:37-38). Without God, we cannot fulfill His Mission. Our Lady understood that, so must each one of us. We have to radically change our inner selves and have that same strength to do the will of the Lord.”

At the conclusion of Mass, the faithful recited a Prayer of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, followed by a public Eucharistic Procession through the university and town. Later in the day was an outdoor barbecue dinner and concert.

Pregnancy clinics celebrate 50 years

Community Pregnancy Clinics, Inc. (CPCI), celebrated its “Legacy of Life” with a 50th anniversary Gala on April 6, 2024, in Naples.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane offered the invocation for the event, and proceeds will go to support CPCI’s four clinics, two mobile vans, and continued Pro-Life outreach which has helped save thousands of babies from the evil that is abortion.

Scott Baier, CEO of CPCI, said that the first clinic started in 1973 as a grassroots effort from St. Ann Parish in Naples, in the wake of the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision which paved the way to allow open access to abortion. Since that time the work of CPCI to help end abortion – one mother, one father, and baby at a time, has remained unchanged.

“By helping our mothers feel loveable, we make them more love-able, able to choose life for their babies and avoid the pain and suffering that would have come with the choice for abortion,” Baier said.

There are CPCI clinics in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, and Gainesville which provide free ultrasound, counseling, and support services for young families in crisis. To reach people where they live, work, and go to college, two mobile vans offer similar services.  The ultrasounds used in the various clinics and vans are provided courtesy of the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative.

CPCI also runs programs that educate young women and men about sexual and relationship health, which aim to help prevent unplanned pregnancies that often result in an abortion.

To learn more about the work of Community Pregnancy Clinics, please visit

News Briefs for the week of April 12, 2024

Naples students pack food for needy

Naples students from St. John Neumann Catholic High School, St. Ann Catholic School and St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School took part in a Collier County Food Bowl Competition supporting Meals of Hope, April 6, 2024. More than 350 students from schools across Collier County took part in the packing event. In all, more than 142,000 meals were packed in a single afternoon.

Eclipse helps make science fun

Students across the Diocese of Venice returned to the classroom from Spring Break on April 8, 2024, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. An added bonus was the arrival of an eclipse of the sun by the moon in the early afternoon. Students, donning protective eyewear, learned about how the sun and moon travel through the solar system and occasionally cross paths. While Southwest Florida only experienced about 60% blockage of the sun, the students were still impressed and in awe of the universe that was created by God.

Few spots remain for pilgrimage with Bishop to National Eucharistic Congress

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the Faithful of the Diocese of Venice to join him on a Pilgrimage to the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. This historic 5-day gathering will take place in Indianapolis July 17-21, 2024. The National Eucharistic Congress represents the culmination of the Church’s three-year effort to put an emphasis on the Real Presence of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharist. This is a pivotal moment in the Church, and a unique opportunity for participants to draw into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Our Lord. The U.S. Bishops have announced that participants in the National Revival will be afforded the opportunity to obtain a plenary indulgence. The cost of the Diocese of Venice pilgrimage package is $1,049. With the package, pilgrims receive the National Eucharistic Congress 5-day pass, which provides access to all speakers and events, as well as four nights’ accommodations in a 4-star hotel within walking distance of the convention center. Please note, the pilgrimage package does not include transportation or meals. Only a few packages remain! Don’t miss this opportunity!  Deadline to reserve is April 17. Register at For further information, contact Jim Gontis at

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

“We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern” – Pope Francis. In this election year, please remember that shaping the moral character of society is a requirement of our faith, and a basic part of the mission we have received from Jesus Christ. Guidance for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy is available from the USCCB, at Visit the website to deepen your understanding of Catholic Social Teaching, and the teachings of the Church that relate to the social, economic, and political issues of our time.

Theology on Tap Sarasota April 18

Theology on Tap takes place on the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota, 428 N. Lemon Ave, Sarasota. Join us outside in the garden for food and refreshments, presentations, and discussions about the Catholic Faith. The next scheduled date is April 18, 2024. The speaker will be Father Rafal Ligenza, Pastor of Saint Joseph Parish in Bradenton. Father Ligenza will speak on “Divine Mercy, Message and Devotion.” For any questions, please contact Jim Gontis at