Students encouraged to grow closer to Christ during Lent

During their Lenten Journey the students who attend the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Venice are being reminded to take seriously the call for prayer, fasting and almsgiving while not forgetting the ashes they received on Ash Wednesday.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the first in a series of Masses for students in all Diocesan Catholic schools on March 2, 2023, for St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy in Sarasota. This was followed on March 3, with a Mass for students at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte. Additional Masses are scheduled throughout March.

Bishop Dewane said the ashes the students received on Ash Wednesday may have faded or been washed away but the mark is still there.

“It is a reminder of the journey we are all on during this Lenten Season, and how we are to live a righteous life – a good life – according to the way the Lord taught,” the Bishop said. “It is about how do you treat others, day in and day out. Do it with a goodness, righteousness and with mercy in your hearts. Know that the way you were signed with a cross in ashes must stay with you throughout this Lenten Season. This is a sign of goodness grown out the Lord’s sacrifice.”

In addition, Bishop Dewane reminded the students how the three pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting and almsgiving – are not exclusive for parents and other adults to act upon and consider. These pillars are a guidepost for everyone to follow in his or her own way, from the youngest child to the oldest grandparent.

“Prayer, for example, should not be confined to school. Find time at home, before meals, or at bedtime, or when you get up,” the Bishop continued. “In that way you are growing in your relationship with the Lord.”

While fasting for many might mean going without food, there are plenty of options for younger students to make a true sacrifice for God. Giving up a favorite television show, video game, a favorite candy, or even all candy, is taking a step in the right direction, but it must be a true sacrifice to achieve a greater closeness with Christ.

Almsgiving is traditionally associated with giving money, but Bishop Dewane explained that the students can use this discipline as an opportunity to do good things for others.

“Helping or doing for others – be it a brother or sister, a parent, or a friend – being a good person is about giving a part of oneself for the other, doing what is right in the eyes of Jesus.”

The Lenten Season, Bishop Dewane said, is about responding to the call of Christ with goodness, righteousness, and justice in our hearts.

Following the Masses, the Bishop spoke with the eighth graders during which he inquired how they were progressing in school and encouraged them to remain the leaders of their respective school and to seriously consider attending a Diocesan Catholic High School next year, with many saying they would.

The eighth graders were then allowed to question the Bishop on any topic. Some questions focused on the unique clothing he wears during Mass, while others centered on learning about his personal spiritual journey to the priesthood and ultimately a Bishop. Bishop Dewane explained how his first internal call to the priesthood started about when he was in eighth grade. From that point he put off that call to focus on school, university and then work in the business world. Finally, he decided he needed to follow the call of the Lord and has never looked back. “It felt right.”

Parish Community Center dedicated

The Blessed Mother Center at St. William Parish in Naples has been operating for nearly 10 months, but on March 5, 2023, the community came together for a dedication and open house.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the dedication and blessing of the new multi-purpose building, which is much more than a Parish Hall. The dedication included a blessing of the people and the building.

“This will be used as a catechetical center; the focus of your Parish activities, and a place where we may come to know one another and give witness to our faith,” Bishop Dewane said during the ceremony. “It will be a place where adults and young children learn the Catholic Faith and deepen their commitment to live as Christ has taught us. We pray that the word of God may always echo from these walls.”

The Bishop congratulated the gathered faithful for responding to the call of Jesus Christ with their support of the project and their presence as people of faith. He apologized for the delay in getting the building dedicated citing a combination of issues which pushed the date back many months.

Bishop Dewane also recognized the leadership of Father George Ratzmann, Pastor of St. William, who has led the Parish for 15 years, which has included building a new Parish church and now the Blessed Mother Center.

Father Ratzmann also thanked the people for their generosity, adding, “You made the church possible and this new building possible. You have made ministry viable in this area, not only for now, but for generations to come.”

The 30,000 square foot Blessed Mother Center consists of two floors. The first floor includes 13 offices, a large conference room, a large auditorium (capacity for 300 for lectures and 150 for receptions), a small auditorium (capacity for 100 or 75 for receptions), a library with a pre-function area and catering kitchen. The second floor includes five meeting rooms, four additional meeting rooms for children’s activities, a large family faith room and a teen room. The contractor was Thomas Abraham and Kane Wei of Abraham Construction Group, and the architect was Adrian Karapici, AIA, NCARB, of AM Design Group LLC.

Since its opening, Blessed Mother Center has been a hive of activity with many different Parish groups using the facilities. In addition, on the ground are two pieces of art: Mary Seat of Wisdom in the courtyard (by sculpturer Timothy Schmaltz), and Seated Nun (a statue by Philip Jackson).

Two events benefit Catholic Charities

The programs of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., in Lee County received tremendous support during two recent elegant evenings.

First up was the Venetian Ball on March 4, 2023, at St. Leo the Great Parish Hall in Bonita Springs. Proceeds from the evening benefit the programs of Lee, Glades, and Hendry counties, with particular focus on disaster recovery.

Just two days later, on March 6, The Beach Ball took place at The Gasparilla Inn Beach Club on Boca Grande. This event supports the Boca Grande Preschool, operated by Catholic Charities, sustained serious damage during Ian.

The Venetian Ball theme was “Resilience, Rebuilding, and Community” and served as an opportunity to come together as a community to support and partner with Catholic Charities to serve the many survivors of Hurricane Ian; to celebrate survival and helping of one’s neighbor. The event itself was directly impacted by Ian, as the original venue was damaged, forcing a date and location change. The Pastor and staff of St. Leo the Great stepped up to be the hosts for the event.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane praised the staff, volunteers, and benefactors of Catholic Charities for coming together in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

“Catholic Charities accomplished a tremendous amount and did a great deal of work,” Bishop Dewane said.

The 100 staff and hundreds of volunteers of Catholic Charities set up 10 distribution sites, with the help of the Parishes, where water, food and needed supplies were distributed to more than 110,000 people during the span of two months.

“That is an incredible achievement for a group of our size,” Eddie Gloria, Catholic Charities CEO said. “The work done each day is not always pretty or seen on the news, but the work makes a difference.”

Gloria explained how Catholic Charities is transitioning from emergency disaster relief to long-term disaster case management. Up to 40 case managers will work for years helping the many people in need. And the need is great, as within the 10-county Diocese of Venice territory more than 400,000 applications for FEMA assistance have been made.

“There is a lot of work ahead of us,” Gloria said.

The Frank K. Galeana Humanitarian Award was posthumously awarded to Louis J. Baumer II, the first development director of Catholic Charities, founder of the Boots & Bandanas event in Arcadia and the Samaritan Guild, who also served as executive director of the Catholic Charities Foundation and regular volunteer. Baumer passed away in November 2022. His widow was unable to attend the event, so the award was accepted by longtime friend Gerrie Weaver.

Meanwhile, The Beach Ball was an evening of dining and dancing under the stars. The Boca Grande Preschool is on the campus of Our Lady of Mercy Parish on Boca Grande. The roof of the school ripped apart, allowing rainwater to pour in and cause additional damage.

The preschool was founded in 1988 for island residents in need of childcare which grew into a formal preschool providing early education opportunities for children (12 months to pre-kindergarten) whose parents work or live on Gasparilla Island in the Boca Grande community. Father Jerome Carosella, Our Lady of Mercy Pastor, has been instrumental in the development and growth of the program through the years and offered his gratitude for the continuing and generous support of the people of Boca Grande. The guests of honor for The Beach Ball were Sarah and Will Farish.

If you would like to support Catholic Charites or learn about their outreach throughout the Diocese of Venice, please visit

Diocesan Eucharistic Congress March 25

The Diocese of Venice will host a historic Eucharistic Congress March 25, 2023, at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center and Luminary Hotel, 1375 Monroe St., Fort Myers, and time is running out to register.

Organizers with the Diocese Office of Evangelization said that the venue is nearing capacity, with few spots left, so if you are planning to attend, but haven’t registered yet, do so today! Registration can be found at

The Eucharistic Congress, with a theme “The Word Became Flesh,” will encompass several parts, including three unique sessions. The first is for Diocesan Catholic middle school students; the second part is a Youth Rally for high-school aged teens (both on March 24); and the showcase event is for men and women and features special breakout sessions in English and Spanish as well as for both genders.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane called for the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress as part of a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year revival of devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The U.S Bishops believe that God wants to see a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist—and sent out in mission “for the life of the world.”

The National Eucharistic Revival is to serve as a reminder that Catholics around the world are raised to be aware of the transforming power and mercy of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist – the Source and Summit of the Faith.

“The Diocesan Eucharistic Congress is an opportunity for the faithful of the Diocese to come together as one to jointly rekindle a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist,” Bishop Dewane said. “This is a time to grow deeply in your faith, along with others from the Diocese, accompanied by Jesus Christ.”

Elements of the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress include a procession with the Eucharist in a public setting, time for Eucharistic Adoration, availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, talks and catechesis on important matters of faith – especially the Holy Eucharist – and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with Bishop Dewane.

The schedule for the Congress and line-up of internationally acclaimed speakers, which includes – Father Donald Calloway, MIC; Teresa Tomeo; Hector Molina; Mallory Smith; Mary Ann Weisinger-Puig; Joel de Loera; and Martha Fernandez-Sardina, can be found at

Each speaker will allow the faithful the opportunity to become part of the greater National Eucharistic Revival and to leave with their hearts and minds aflame for the love of Jesus, His Catholic Church, and especially the Most Holy Eucharist.

As Pope Francis has stated many times during his Papacy, each time we are present before the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ it is “a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.”

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by! Register today.

For more information about the schedule, and to register for the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress, please visit

News Briefs for the week of March 10, 2023

St. Patrick’s Day Dispensation

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday (March 17) during the Lenten Season, Bishop Frank J. Dewane is granting a one-day dispensation of abstaining from meat on that Friday alone. The Faithful are encouraged to choose another day in the same week to abstain from meat and to perform some other penance or work of charity on March 17 to assist in their spiritual Lenten journey. Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age or older. Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent (including Good Friday) are days of abstinence. Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the three traditional disciplines of Lent.

Seminarian receives Ministry of Acolyte

Diocese of Venice Seminarian, Joseph Corboy Doherty was one of 19 seminarians to enter into the Ministry of Acolyte on March 5, 2023, in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at the Pontifical North American College, Vatican City State. Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre of Louisville was the main celebrant and spoke the following words as he handed the paten to each candidate: “Take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his Church.” In his homily, Archbishop Fabre encouraged the seminarians, saying, “The ministry of an acolyte has a special connection to the altar and to the Eucharist. It is the duty of the acolyte to assist in serving the altar during liturgical celebrations and to attend to the Eucharist in certain functions and capacities. This is certainly an important ministry since it involves service to some of the most important elements of our Catholic faith, if not the most central element.” Representing the Diocese of Venice were Father Christian Chami and Transitional Deacon Daniel Scanlan.

Verot send two to state wrestling championships

The first ever wrestling state qualifiers from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers competed in the State Championships on March 3-4, 2023, in Kissimmee. Gabriella Vasquez, who wrestles at 105 pounds, and became the first female wrestler in Verot history to make states, placed third in the regionals on Feb. 21. At the state competition, Gabby fell in the first round and was injured and unable to finish in the consolation round of the double-elimination tournament. The second Verot wrestler to make states is Jack Benaitis who won the regionals to qualify for the 1A 285 competition.  Jack won his open match, but fell in the second round, and again in the consolation round. These two worked hard all season long to earn a spot in the state championships, and Verot couldn’t be prouder!

Medical professionals meet with Bishop

The leadership of the Southwest Florida Guild of the Catholic Medical Association met with Bishop Frank J. Dewane on March 2, 2023, at the Catholic Center in Venice. The group provided Bishop Dewane with their annual report on their latest activities, including plans for a Catholic medical educational seminar in the fall.

Support children this Easter

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Arcadia is seeking help in giving the gift of an Easter Basket for children of Casa San Juan Bosco farmworkers housing, local families, and migrant farm workers. Supporters can donate Easter Basket supplies, gift cards, or check to help the program bless children this Easter! Drop off or deliver items ordered online to Catholic Charities, 1210 East Oak St., Arcadia, FL 34266, by April 5.

First graders show off reading skills

First graders at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral showed off their reading skills in February by completing 225 books in one month. Laurie Pistorio’s students were recognized for their hard work on March 6, 2023. Well done young readers!!

Verot grad returns to Jeopardy!  

Claire Sattler, a Bishop Verot Catholic High School 2019 graduate, recently joined 27 former teen Jeopardy! contestants as they faced off in the Jeopardy! High School Reunion Tournament. The players competed for a $100,000 grand prize and a spot in the next Tournament of Champions. Sattler, now a senior at Yale University, won the 2018 Teen Tournament of Champions. In the opening quarterfinal round, which aired Feb. 27, 2023, Sattler was able to secure her win in the Final Jeopardy round because of a research paper topic that was given to her by her freshman English teacher – Lynn Chervenok Knox. In honor of her former teacher, Sattler drew a smiley face next to the winning question and wrote, “Thanks, Mrs. Knox!” With her victory, the native of Bonita Springs next appeared in the semifinals on March 6. Sattler, who had been in the lead with $8,600 going into Final Jeopardy. All three contestants failed to get the correct solution, so when Sattler bet $8,201, and dropped to $399, she ended up in third place. Well done as she continues to proudly represent Bishop Verot.

High schoolers pray “Living Rosary”

On March 3, 2023, the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School community gathered in the gymnasium to pray the “Living Rosary,” led by Father Eric Scanlan, Mooney Chaplain and Pastor of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota. During the “Living Rosary,” students stood in the form of a rosary, each standing for a bead, with each class represented in a decade, including one in Spanish. This beautiful prayer was brought to life by involving everyone – body and soul.

Grandparents recognized in Ave Maria

Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria took time on March 3, 2023, to recognize grandparents with a special day. This event included a delicious breakfast, talk from principal Dr. Daniel Guernsey, high school choir performance, Mass with grandkids, Eucharistic Adoration, and classroom visits. Whew! See more in our stories today.

Field Day fun at Cathedral school

A day filled with indoor and outdoor fun made for a great field day on March 3, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice. There were many different games and contests between individual students, between different classrooms and even between different grades. A great time was had by all.

Fort Myers students learn about Everglades

The Environmental Studies classes at Bishop Verot Catholic High School have been working on a course component with the Florida Everglades Foundation. Students recreated a diagram of the Everglades to show the impact of water levels and what we, as humans, are doing to the surrounding environment. The foundation’s mission is to work to restore and protect America’s Everglades through science, advocacy & education.

Rite of Election – Largest ever Diocesan group set to enter Church at Easter Vigil

The largest ever group of women and men set to enter the Catholic Church within the Diocese of Venice at the Easter Vigil were recognized during the annual Rite of Election at Epiphany Cathedral on the first Sunday of Lent on Feb. 26, 2023. This annual tradition is a formal Rite during which catechumens are presented and their names are entered into the Book of Elect.

The 216 catechumens (individuals who are not yet baptized) were joined by an additional 351 candidates (already-baptized Christians preparing for confirmation and First Eucharist). The candidates participate in the formal ceremony and are recognized during the celebration for answering the “Call To Their Continuing Conversion.” The Cathedral was at near capacity as family members were also present to show their support.

The Rite of Election was presided over by Bishop Frank J. Dewane who said he was impressed by the large number of catechumens and candidates, noting that the 567 are the most ever set to enter the Church in the Diocese in a single year through the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA) program.

Bishop Dewane complimented each for making the commitment to publicly announce the call of the Holy Spirit in a particular way by becoming active members of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Venice. “You are the brave and courageous; the Spirit of the Lord is working within you.”

The catechumens and candidates, who were recognized by Bishop Dewane, are on a continuing journey that will culminate when they come into full communion with the Catholic Church at the April 8 Easter Vigil Mass in their respective Parishes.

The group represent 47 Parishes in the Diocese of Venice and are accompanied by tens of thousands of others across the country that will also join the Catholic Church this year. Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers, St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee had the largest groups of catechumens and candidates.

Bishop Dewane acknowledged the sacrifice each catechumen and candidate has made in recognizing the voice of God in their lives, prompted by the Holy Spirit, to come forward on this journey of learning about the Catholic Faith.

“This happens in your heart,” the Bishop said. “Leave your heart always open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the voice of God. Listen to what the Lord is asking of you.”

By recognizing the Lord’s presence in your heart, it must change you in fundamental ways, Bishop Dewane said. The presence of the Lord in your life must impact how you live, how you treat yourself, how you treat others, and how you are going to live the life to which the Lord has called you. During the coming weeks of Lent, the Bishop encouraged the catechumens and candidates to seek the Lord in Sacred Scriptures as they develop and grow in building their relationship with Jesus Christ.

“We must go out from these four walls (of the Cathedral) and be doers of our Faith out in society,” Bishop Dewane said. “We have respective roles – responding and answering – as we are called, made in the image and likeness of God, to give witness to Jesus Christ.”

The catechumens are part of the OCIA, which is for those who are unbaptized and unchurched, who come to inquire about becoming part of the Roman Catholic Faith in a process that takes about a year. Often catechumens are those who have begun to seek and understand God in their lives and have been led by the Holy Spirit to become Catholic. OCIA is a journey of discovery and faith. This is most commonly done in three distinct phases: discernment, acceptance into the catechumenate along with purification and enlightenment.

Each catechumen will go through a series of scrutinies during which they examine their readiness to accept Christ and the Catholic Faith in the form of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation). This time culminates at the Easter Vigil when the catechumens are received through Baptism into the Catholic Church. The final period of the OCIA is the time of “Mystagogy” (post-baptismal catechesis). During the weeks following the Easter Vigil, the newly initiated live more profoundly their experience of Baptism and the Eucharist as they begin the journey of discipleship and their growing union with Christ.

For candidates, those who have been correctly baptized with a Trinitarian formula, the Catholic Church does not require re-Baptism. Candidates have already experienced a journey of faith and understand how Jesus leads us to the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, many have been attending Mass with their families for years but may have never received the Sacrament of Holy Communion or the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The candidates are invited to the Cathedral for the Rite of Election as a form of welcome, but because they are already in the Book of the Elect as baptized Christians, they do not bring their names forward. To symbolize that baptism, and as a sign of their continuing conversion, they come forward and make the sign of the cross with holy water.

Everyone is encouraged to pray for and welcome the catechumens and candidates at their own Parish as they continue their journey of discovery in their Faith.

Mooney girls team ends season with much to be proud of

Every player who participates in a team sport dreams of finishing off a season with a win, this often means a championship and glory. For the team that falls in the last game of the season, there is the disappointment of what could have been.

For the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Lady Cougar Girls Basketball Team, the last three seasons have ended in the Florida State High School Athletic Association 3A State Championship Game. Each game was a loss.

The Cougars from Sarasota fell to Miami Country Day 54-38 on Feb. 25, 2023, at RP Funding Arena in Lakeland. Mooney was seeking its first state title while Country Day earned its 8th, and second in 3 years over Mooney.

The championship was the final game for senior star Olivia Davis, who ended with 10 points. The coach of Country Day told reporters after the game that his team focused on shutting down Olivia because of how good a player she has been at Mooney.

“Yeah, their coach just told me I was a main part of their scouting report,” Davis told reporters. “I kinda expected it coming into this, especially as big of a game as this is.”

Davis reached the 1,000-point career milestone in January and will graduate behind a legacy of leading her team to three straight state championship games.

Cardinal Mooney coach Marlon Williams said the team will miss Davis’ passion, but has a bright future as 7 of the eight players will return next year.

Mooney leaders in the final were Bri Behn’s 17 points and Sam Kotasek’s 10 rebounds.

While the Cougars finish the season with a loss, their 21-6 record was impressive, as was this third run at a state title.

Information from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune was included in this report.

Program for young mothers gets needed support

Helping mothers who might otherwise be homeless become self-sufficient and productive members of the community is what Our Mother’s House is all about.

The annual Wine Tasting, Auction & Dinner event to benefit Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., was held Feb. 23, 2022, at the Venice Community Center in Venice.

Hundreds showed their support for the program. Attendees made bids on silent auction items and an enthusiastic live auction, plus donations made during a “Gift from the Heart” appeal.

Shannon Hoyt, the new Program Director for Our Mother’s House, said that after more than three decades, the program keeps getting better at promoting self-sufficiency and pushing young mothers towards independence.

Hoyt said that when young mothers face homelessness, the impact is greater than many realize, including on an emotional and behavioral level. In addition, the young child feels what their mom is going through.

“Your support of Our Mother’s House is having an impact,” Hoyt said. “These are generational effects. You are impacting the lives of moms who will go on and do great things, thanks to your support tonight and throughout the year.”

Jessie, a mom in the program, shared her story of overcoming addiction and despair, and finding Our Mother’s House which helped turn her life around.

“I found myself in the grasp of addiction – homeless, hopeless, and unable to escape the endless routine of self-destruction,” Jessie said. “I was lost and didn’t know how to move forward with my life. Not until I was unapologetically pushed, encouraged and sometimes even harassed to change the circumstances that I was in.”

Jessie wanted to be clean and the best version of herself, but it wasn’t until she became pregnant and heeded the advice of a friend that she went into a rehab program. It was there that she gave birth to a healthy daughter and was connected with the people at Our Mother’s House.

Although overwhelmed with being a single mother, the staff and volunteers at Our Mother’s House provided Jessie with the opportunities to set goals and to work towards them. That included offering her education about how to be a single mother and be successful.

“I never knew such a place existed. It was just what we needed,” Jessie said. “I’m truly becoming the woman I was supposed to be. (Our Mother’s House) gave me my sense of self; gave me my future back; and gave me the ability, as a mother, to secure and build a positive future.”

The 2023 event to support Our Mother’s House was the first full gathering since the pandemic. In 2022, a hybrid event included an in-person aspect, as well as a livestream for those unable to attend. The 2021 event was entirely virtual.

In addition to financial support, the program is in need of diapers, baby wipes and other supplies. For more information about Our Mother’s House or to help, please call 941-485-6264 or email You can also visit to donate or find the Wish List.

Knights donate ultrasound

The Knights of Columbus have done it again. They raised the money to purchase an ultrasound machine for a local pro-life pregnancy care center.

The Knights of Columbus Council 11281 of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples recently donated an ultrasound to the Community Pregnancy Clinics, Inc. (CPCI) pregnancy center at 2977 Goodlette-Frank Road, which is located across the street from a Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

Father Tomasz Zalewski, Pastor of St. John the Evangelist, led the Blessing and Dedication Ceremony at the CPCI clinic on Feb. 23, 2023. Father Nick Thompson, Parochial Vicar at St. John the Evangelist, proclaimed the Gospel reading. Then, Father Zalewski blessed the ultrasound.

Father Zalewski quoted God’s promise through the prophet Isaiah, “Can a mother forget her infant? Be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” Father also emphasized that all human life is a gift from God, and that we are each called to help build a Culture of Life in our community.

Scott Baier, CEO of CPCI, spoke about the importance of ultrasound technology and thanked St. John the Evangelist Parish and the Knights of Columbus for donating the machine. CPCI operates pregnancy clinics in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota and Gainesville – as well as two mobile clinics. CPCI has established its presence as a trusted provider of life-affirming pregnancy and reproductive healthcare in the community.

The donated ultrasound is a Philips ClearVue 850 Ultrasound Machine. The machine includes 3D/4D imaging modes and color Doppler. This technology allows mothers to see their baby earlier than ever. Even at six weeks gestation, parents and family see in detail the beginning of their baby’s development. Approximately 90% of women who view these clear images choose life for their baby!

Leona and Tony Hernandez, parishioners of St. John the Evangelist, volunteered to help with the Ultrasound machine demonstration. Among the 25 attendees at the dedication ceremony were CPCI staff, Knights and other supporters of the clinic. All were extremely impressed with the clear and powerful images of the Hernandez’ preborn child.

Knights Council 11281 Grand Knight, Paul Curti, explained that the Council held various events (including a Baby Bottle Drive and an outdoor Country Life Fest concert) to raise money for the ultrasound machine and other donations to local Pro-Life organizations.

Central Florida Laps for Life provided additional funding, and the Supreme Knights of Columbus Council provides a dollar-for-dollar match for ultrasound purchases.

Through the Ultrasound Initiative, the Supreme Council of the US provides a 50 percent matching grant and has helped to place more than 1,600 ultrasound machines into pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation.

Since the program began in 2012, within the Diocese of Venice 22 ultrasound machines, as well as 1 mobile unit, have been placed in Pro-Life pregnancy resource centers thanks to the Knights.

“Diocese of Venice Councils have donated more than $400,000 for ultrasound machines,” Drew Dillingham, Knights of Columbus National Life and Faith Program Manager, stated. “The Supreme Council has matched that amount, so over $800,000 in total has been donated by the K of C. More machines have been placed in the (territory of the) Diocese of Venice, than in 23 U.S. states.”

To learn more about the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative, please visit


To learn more about Community Pregnancy Clinics, please visit


News Briefs for the Week of March 3, 2023

Sarasota musicians play Carnegie Hall

Alex Dilan, the music director at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota, and 18 members of the Parish traditional and Contemporary Choir were part of a “Voices in the Hall” concert on Feb. 19, 2023, at Carnegie Hall in New York. The group was invited to participate by well-known Catholic guest soloists ValLimar Jansen and John Angotti. In total there was a 215-voice choir along with a string orchestra and full band. After months of preparation and three days of rehearsal in New York, the group performed. the concert, which included 18 songs ranging from traditional pieces by Moses Hogan to Gospel and Contemporary music by Angotti and Jansen. Dilan conducted the spiritual “Over My Head I Hear Music” to end the first section. The concert received many standing ovations, and Dilan said “It was certainly a once in a lifetime experience!”

Youth lead Stations of the Cross

The San Marco Parish High School Youth Group helped the faithful get into the Lenten season with Live Stations of the Cross on Marco Island on Feb. 24, 2023. The Youth dressed as the key figures that are part of the Passion of Jesus Christ.

Testing students get furry visitor

Students at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples received special furry visitors from Golden PAWS Assistance Crisis Team (GPACT) Program, on Feb. 27, 2023. The visit came at the end of the first day of Terra Nova testing, which Catholic school students take to access achievement in reading, language arts, math, science, social studies, and many other areas. The students were able to spend time petting and hugging the dogs, who seemed happy to receive the attention.

Mooney rider wins prestigious equestrian show

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School freshman Alexis Peterson took part in the Feb. 16-26, 2023, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show in Arizona. Alexis won several of the classes including a unanimous win in the “2023 Hunter Seat Equitation Championship 14 and under AHAA Scholarship Class.” She also had several wins in the Arabian Hunter and Half Arabian Pleasure Championship classes. Alexis was nominated by the Arabian Professional and Amateur Horseman’s Association (APAHA) as a 2022 final nominee in the category of Youth Hunter/Show Hack rider.

Students learn skills for the future

St. Joseph Catholic School students spent 6 weeks studying economic education objectives, including writing checks, using a debit card, keeping a checkbook register, writing newspaper articles, applying for a job, and working in a group. Following their studies, they dressed in business casual and put their learning into action by spending Feb. 23, 2023, at Enterprise Village at the Stavros Institute in Largo. During their business day, students worked in one of the 20+ businesses, took 3 breaks, received paychecks, received copies of their newspaper, held a town meeting, and had the opportunity to be consumers by making purchases in one of the business-sponsored storefronts.

Mooney students help feed the homeless

The Cougars in Action (CIA) student organization of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota went “undercover” to complete acts of kindness for others on Feb. 23, 2023. They implemented the Corporal Works of Mercy and made 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to help feed the homeless in Sarasota. Keep up the great work CIA!

Robotics program brings out best in students

In a true display of Humility, the Gift of Christ that reminds us to always embrace the wisdom and knowledge that others have to share, students in 6th grade and 8th grade Robotics at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers met on Feb. 28, 2023, to exchange experiences with the latest FIRST Lego League Challenge. This STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math) initiative integrates Catholic values and virtues through the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence.”

Verot spring production a success

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School Theater production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” had a successful run in Fort Myers from Feb. 24-25, 2023. Shows were sold out – and for good reason, as the students put on an amazing show that won over the audience. An enormous “Congratulations” goes out to the Theater department, and in particular their teacher, Lisa Clark. Her passion and dedication for the arts has grown the theater program into what it is today.