Retired Monsignor dies

Msgr. Joseph A. Ferraro, a retired priest who served 30 years as a military Chaplain, was a priest of the Diocese of Oakland and in retirement assisted at Parishes in Manatee County, died Dec. 18, 2020 at the age of 79.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1942, as a young man Msgr. Ferraro attended Catholic schools is Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania.  and later attended Holy Trinity College and St. Mary’s Seminary, both in Baltimore, Maryland, and he was ordained to the priesthood May 20, 1967, in Baltimore for the Trinitarian Order (Order of the Most Holy Trinity).

As a priest, Msgr. Ferraro first served as a Prison Chaplain in New Jersey, as well as assisting at St. James Parish in Trenton, New Jersey before becoming a teacher at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.

In 1969 he was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy, which led to a 30-year career as a Navy Chaplain. While a Chaplain, he served with the U.S. Third Marine Division, Vietnam, followed by duty with the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, Okinawa; U.S. Coast Guard Training Center, Petaluma, California; Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan; Construction Battalion Center-Seabees, Port Hueneme, California; Naval Support Activity, Naples, Italy; Oakland Naval Hospital, Oakland, California; and the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, Alameda, California. He was promoted to Captain in 1986. Father also served as Command Chaplain, U.S. Pacific Submarine Force, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California; Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California; and then with the U.S. Naval Forces, Rota, Spain. Msgr. Ferraro was Incardinated to the Diocese of Oakland in 1988.

It was in 1999 that he was selected by St. John Paul II as honorary prelate, garnering the title of Monsignor. That same year Msgr. Ferraro was also awarded the Legion of Merit, a military award of the U.S. armed forces that is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. In 1979, he was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps medal for heroism when he saved the lives of a family in Oxnard, California, which was being held hostage by a distraught woman.

Within the Diocese of Venice, Msgr. Ferraro assisted primarily at Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto as well as at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles in Bradenton and Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch and at St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota. He was recognized as a Golden Jubilarian during the 2017 Diocese of Venice Chrism Mass.

Funeral arrangements are pending. A Memorial Mass will be held at Holy Cross Parish at a later date. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Msgr. Joseph Ferraro and for the consolation of his family.

News briefs for the week of Dec. 21, 2020

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Bradenton

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton on Dec. 17, 2020. The fifth through eighth graders were present in the Church, while the younger students, and students who a learning virtually, participated via a livestream to ensure social distancing was maintained. Afterwards, the Bishop spoke to the eighth graders.

“A Seminarian Story” fourth installment available

The Diocese of Venice in Florida Office of Vocations launched a video series titled, “A Seminarian Story,” to celebrate the 16 Seminarians currently in formation. The first four videos have been released and more will follow approximately every few weeks. The most recent video is about Seminarian Juan Contreras who is doing formation at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. Developed with the assistance of the Diocese Communications Department, the goal of the series is to inspire others to follow in the path to the priesthood or religious life, as well as encourage the faithful to continue to support the seminarians as they continue their formation process at different seminaries. “A Seminarian Story” featuring Juan Contreras can be found at https://vimeo.com/456677189.

Last Bishop radio show of 2020 available

The December edition of the “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane,” his monthly radio program on Relevant Radio, will be available to listen on at 8:30 a.m., Dec, 26. The show focuses upon reflections on the incredible year that was 2020 while at the same time looking forward to what is coming next in the Diocese of Venice in 2021. The December program is available at https://dioceseofvenice.org/our-bishop/relevant-radio-podcasts. You can also find links to previous broadcasts at the same location.

Students participate in “Hour of Code’

The week of Dec. 7-13, 2020, the students at St. Martha Catholic School participated in the “Hour of Code,” a national effort to make computer science fun and takes place annually during Computer Science Education Week. It started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code,” to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with one-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts. Participation in the “Hour of Code” is just one of many aspects of STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, mathematics), which is part of the comprehensive education available in all Diocese of Venice Catholic schools.

Annual Mass for Catholic Haitian Community Jan. 1

The annual Mass celebrating the 217th anniversary of the independence of Haiti will take place at 2 p.m., Jan. 1, 2021, the Solemnity of Holy Mary, Mother of God, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The Main Celebrant is Bishop Frank J. Dewane. There is ample seating available at the Parish with social distancing and masks required. A drive-thru dinner will follow in lieu of a reception. For more information, please contact Father Fritz Ligondé at 239-210-1018.

Televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound

The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound, with Celebrant Bishop Frank J. Dewane, will air for a full hour on Christmas Day. For viewers in the northern portions of the Diocese (DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Sarasota counties), the Mass will air at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass will air at 8 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). You will also be able to find the Christmas Day Mass on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check your cable provider for channel listings. Leaflet missals are available upon request by calling Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714 or by writing: TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. For more information email ardy@dioceseofvenice.org.

Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal

The annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is happening now through January. A donation to the 19th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal will give those struggling the means to move beyond their battles and strengthen our communities during these times of high unemployment and despair. During this season of sharing, please consider a contribution to Catholic Charities so we can continue to provide help, create hope, and serve all. Thank you for your giving spirit! To donate, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or mail a donation to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Year of Saint Joseph

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in the context of the Coronavirus, consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of St. Joseph. The Bishop announced a “Year of St. Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020. In light of Pope Francis recently dedicating a “Year of St. Joseph,” the Diocesan celebration will continue through Dec. 8, 2021. St. Joseph, often referred to as the Protector, can be our protector during this time of the pandemic. To pray a Novena to St. Joseph please visit the Year of St. Joseph webpage at https://dioceseofvenice.org/a-year-of-st-joseph/.

Dispensation

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about the experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation given to attend Sunday Mass has been extended into 2021. At the same time, Bishop Dewane invites the Catholic Faithful who are able, to return to their Parish for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Please check the Diocese of Venice website for any updates.

New statue installed at OLPH Shrine

For nearly a quarter century Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice has been providing spiritual solace for the faithful of the Diocese of Venice on the banks of the Myakka River.

To help enhance the experience, a new Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is nearing completion. A major milestone was reached on Nov. 19, 2020, when workers installed a one-ton statue of Mary holding the Child Jesus. Long-delayed by the COVID-19 Pandemic and other logistical considerations, the new white marble statue majestically stands in a niche of a large piece of limestone atop a waterfall.

Prominently located on the property, the Shrine is next to the Bell Tower, along a path which leads in one direction to nearby St. Joseph Chapel and in the other direction to the outdoor Stations of the Cross. It is also a short distance from the bridge which leads to the main conference areas.

The concept of the Shrine Project began with several donations made to memorialize Redemptorist Father Charlie Mallen, the founding director of the Retreat Center, known by most as OLPH. The Diocese of Venice added to these donations so construction could be done in a beautiful and enduring way.

Father Mallen founded OLPH at the direction of then-Bishop John J. Nevins. With the assistance of Sister Carmella DeCosty, Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Father Mallen developed an overgrown piece of land into a spiritual refuge. The first buildings were blessed and dedicated in January 1996.

Although there will be a plaque to memorialize Father Mallen when completed, the large marble statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is the centerpiece of the Shrine. While the statue was being made and delivered, a temporary statue of Our Lady was in its place.

The backdrop of the statue consists of a single large piece of limestone and several Italian cypress trees which produce a vaulted cathedral effect. There is a small waterfall at Mary’s feet which is lit at night to striking effect. The reverse side of the limestone has a crucifix.

The main feature of the Shrine, the monument, is made of 15,000 pounds of Oolitic limestone quarried in Coral Bay Florida by Epic Stonework. The same material was used to create a series of benches, each weighing two-tons. The stairs and floor of the Shrine are made of keystone, and the ramp access is made of travertine.

Features include a variety of landscaping such as assorted bromeliads, two Montgomery palms, 14 Italian cypress, five Adonidia palms, three European fan palms, and three Ligustrum trees.

Diocese Buildings Project Manager Joe Rego said the statue is from Fynders Keepers of Stillwell, Kansas, made with marble from China. Treasure Cove of Sarasota, operated by Patrick Hebda, installed the statue and benches, as well as fabricated the crucifix to which the corpus was attached. The landscaping, hardscaping and water feature were installed by Appel Horticultural Services, LLC of Sarasota.

OLPH Director, Father Mark Yavarone, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, said a few finishing touches remain before the Shrine is complete, but that when appropriate, a blessing and dedication will take place.

“We will see when we can do it safely; but expect a big celebration, maybe this time next year, to celebrate the full 25 years,” Father Yavarone said.

News briefs for the week of Dec. 14, 2020

Bishop celebrates Mass for Sarasota Catholic school

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass on Dec. 10, 2020, Thursday of the Second Week of Advent, for the students at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota. Bishop Dewane reminded the students to not only prepare for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas but for the Second Coming of Christ. Following the Mass, the Bishop spoke to the eighth graders and fielded questions from the group.

Televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound

The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound, with Celebrant Bishop Frank J. Dewane, will air for a full hour on Christmas Day. For viewers in the northern portions of the Diocese (DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Sarasota counties), the Mass will air at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass will air at 8 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). You will also be able to find the Christmas Day Mass on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check your cable provider for channel listings. Leaflet missals are available upon request by calling Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714 or by writing: TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. For more information email ardy@dioceseofvenice.org.

Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal

The annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is happening now through January. A donation to the 19th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal will give those struggling the means to move beyond their battles and strengthen our communities during these times of high unemployment and despair. During this season of sharing, please consider a contribution to Catholic Charities so we can continue to provide help, create hope, and serve all. Thank you for your giving spirit! To donate, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or mail a donation to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Annual Mass for Catholic Haitian Community Jan. 1

The annual Mass celebrating the 217th anniversary of the independence of Haiti will take place at 2 p.m., Jan. 1, 2021, the Solemnity of Holy Mary, Mother of God, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The Main Celebrant is Bishop Frank J. Dewane. There is ample seating available at the Parish with social distancing and masks required. A drive-thru dinner will follow in lieu of a reception. For more information, please contact Father Fritz Ligondé at 239-210-1018.

Students send get well cards to COVID patients

St. Martha Catholic School second-graders in Sarasota made “Get Well Cards” for the patients on the COVID-19 Floor of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, as well as “Thank You Cards” for the staff which were delivered the week of Dec. 7, 2020. The students also collected treats to make Gift Baskets.

Toiletries added to food distribution

Thanks to a generous donation, toiletries were included in the Dec. 11, 2020, food pantry distribution by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Arcadia. The items allow the recipients to focus on the purchasing of other more urgent needs without having to pay for toiletries and food as they struggle to become more financially stable.

2021 Catechetical Conference Feb. 13

The 2021 Catechetical Conference, “Encountering Christ in the Classroom” will be held Feb. 13, 2021, at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. The day will begin with Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. This will be followed by keynote addresses and workshops in English and Spanish. All workshops will be geared around how to engage both catechists and students the lesson about the Faith while having Jesus Christ at the center. Exhibitors will be present, making possible the viewing new and creative ideas on using technologies, resources and teaching techniques. The cost for the day is $25 a person and includes lunch. Registration for this event can be found at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2021-catechetical-day

Sunday Mass In Spanish available on the radio

St. Jude Parish in Sarasota broadcasts the Holy Mass in Spanish, celebrated by Pastor Father Celestino Gutiérrez, every Sunday at 9 a.m. on radio station 99.1 and at 11 a.m. on 105.3. We thank the sponsors for this Mass and SOLMART Media for their collaboration in this effort.

Misa Dominical En Español

La Iglesia de San Judas en Sarasota transmitirá la Santa Misa en español, oficiada por su Párroco, el Padre Celestino Gutiérrez, todos los domingos a las 9 a.m. por la emisora de radio 99.1 y a las 11 a.m. por la 105.3. Agradecemos a los Patrocinadores para esta Misa y a SOLMART Media por su colaboración en este esfuerzo.

Safe Haven Sunday coming to Diocese

Pornography is one of the leading causes of addictions, abuse, adultery, divorce, and even human trafficking: it is, in short, a pervasive evil inflicting grave wounds on our families. Pornography creates unsafe environments for children and confuses others about attitudes towards sex and marriage. It is a moral issue. For this reason, March 7, 2021, has been designated as Safe Haven Sunday in the Diocese of Venice. This awareness day will give us an opportunity to address the harmfulness of pornography in marriages, families, and culture, while providing helpful resources for all. Detailed information about the implementation of this program will be shared in the coming weeks through your Parishes. If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Harkey, Diocesan Coordinator of Family Life at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org.

Online “Introduction to Catholic Theology” offered by Diocesan Institute

The Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is offering a 16-week online course starting Jan. 11, 2021, that introduces students to the principles, practices, and sources of Catholic Theology. The course “What is Catholic Theology? (Ecclesial Nature and Mission of Theology)” counts as a pre-requisite for those beginning the online MA in Theology and Christian Ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Anyone interested in a graduate-level introduction to Catholic Theology is welcomed to access the course for half-price. The course is taught by Dr. John Gresham, Executive Director of the Institute. For cost and other information and to register for the course, visit https://institute-dov.org/ and click on the link to COURSES. For more information, contact Dr. Gresham at 941-766-7334 or john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Anniversary Masses coming soon

All couples celebrating 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, or more than 50 years of marriage are invited by Bishop Frank J. Dewane to an Anniversary Mass in their honor to be celebrated in two locations. This year, considering the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, each location will have two Masses to allow for appropriate social distancing. The Masses are 10 a.m. and noon on Feb. 6, 2021, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., and 10 a.m. and noon, March 6, 2021, St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. All registration is being handled through your local Parish. Please reserve your seats at least one week before the Mass you wish to attend.

St. Clare Fraternity Welcomes Four New Members

By Beatrice T. Sanford, OFS, Special to the Florida Catholic

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, 2020, was a cause for celebration as the St. Clare Secular Franciscan Fraternity welcomed four candidates who made their permanent profession in a socially distanced ballroom on the campus of Ave Maria University in Ave Maria.

St. Francis of Assisi, who founded the Secular Franciscan Order in the 13th century, was known for his devotion to the Blessed Mother. Father Rick Martignetti, OFM, Ave Maria University Catholic Campus Minister, celebrated Mass which included the Rite of Profession.

The newly professed members of the St. Clare Secular Franciscan Fraternity are Mary Ellen Becker of St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, David Bowen of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, and Richard Nozewski and Robert Schoenborn of Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria.

The St. Clare Secular Franciscan Fraternity is a community of 25 men and women from various parishes in Southwest Florida called by God to follow the Gospel life after the example of St. Francis of Assisi, to share his charism, and to make it present in the world. Members pray daily and gather on the first Sunday of the month in Ave Maria Parish Hall. Secular Franciscans express the teachings of Jesus Christ through their daily lives, both in prayer and in action, going from the Gospel to life and from life to the Gospel.

To become a Secular Franciscan, there is a process that can last between 18 months to almost three years. It begins with orientation to determine the basic disposition to Franciscan Charism and life in fraternity. What follows next is the first phase of initial formation known as Inquiry or discernment where one determines if they truly are being called to this vocation.  Inquirers learn about lay spirituality, the life of St. Francis of Assisi, the history and structure of the Secular Franciscan Order as well as the Rule of the Order written by St. Francis.

If the person is ready to embrace the consecrated life there is a period of Candidacy with focus on the Pauline Rule and Prologue, Sacred Scripture, Franciscan Spirituality, Franciscan Apostolic Life and the Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order. The Rite of Profession is the final step and lasts a lifetime. As you may surmise, the key word is commitment and guidance by the Holy Spirit.

The hallmarks of the Order’s spirituality are simplicity, poverty, humility, a sense of minority, a complete and active abandonment to God, conversion, transformation, and peacemaking.

For more information, contact Carol Bart OFS at cabart51@gmail.com.

Diocesan 2020 Christmas Eve and Day Mass times

Below please find the Christmas Eve and Day Mass times for Parishes/Missions of the Diocese of Venice, with address and contact information provided. The Parishes/Missions are listed in alphabetical order by the city in which they are located. Masses times in a language other than English are also noted. Face masks are required to attend all Masses within the Diocese of Venice. Social distancing will also be maintained.

Special notes of interest

LIVE – Parishes which are livestreaming Mass on their website, Facebook or YouTube page will have a notation indicating this fact. In all such cases, Masses will be available to view anytime afterwards on the different platforms.

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED – Several Parishes are requiring reservations to address increased demand while ensuring appropriate social distancing. Please contact the Parish/Mission as soon as possible to learn how make reservations as several have deadlines as early as Dec. 21 to take this action.

Televised Mass for the Homebound

The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound with Celebrant Bishop Frank J. Dewane will air for a full hour on Christmas Day. For viewers in the northern portions of the Diocese (DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Sarasota counties), the Mass will air at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass will air at 8 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). Please check your cable provider for channel listings. The Mass will also be available for viewing at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass.

ARCADIA

■ St. Paul, 1208 E. Oak St., 863-494-2611

Christmas Eve

5 p.m., 8 p.m. (Spanish)

Christmas Day

11 a.m., 1 p.m. (Spanish)

AVE MARIA

■ Ave Maria, 5068 Annunciation Circle, Ste. 101, www.avemariaparish.org, 239-261-5555

Christmas Eve

5 p.m., midnight

Christmas Day

10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. (Latin)

AVON PARK

■ Our Lady of Grace, 595 E. Main St., www.ologap.org, 863-453-4757

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 7 p.m. (Spanish), 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

8 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

BOCA GRANDE

■ Our Lady of Mercy, 240 Park Ave., 941-964-2254

CHRISTMAS EVE

3 p.m., 5 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY

8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

BOKEELIA

■ Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, 12175 Stringfellow Road, www.miraculousmedalch.org, 239-283-0456

Reservations required for all Masses

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 5 p.m.

Christmas Day

8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

BONITA SPRINGS

■ St. Leo, 28290 Beaumont Road, www.stleocatholicchurch.org, 239-992-0901

Christmas Eve

3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 8 p.m.

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 5 p.m. (Spanish)

BOWLING GREEN

Holy Child, 4315 Chester Ave., http://michaelwauchula.weconnect.com, 863-773-4089

Christmas Day

2 p.m. (Spanish)

BRADENTON

■ Sacred Heart, 1220 15th St. W., mysacredheart.com, 941-748-2221

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 9 p.m. (Spanish), 9 p.m. (bilingual)

Christmas Day

8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon (Spanish), 1:30 p.m. (Spanish)

■ Ss. Peter and Paul, 2850 75th St. W., www.sspeterandpaul.org, 941-795-1228

Christmas Eve

4:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

■ St. Joseph, 3100 26th St. W., www.sjcfl.org, 941-756-3732

Christmas Eve

4 p.m. (live), 7 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

Christmas Day

9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. (live)

BUCKHEAD RIDGE

■ St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, 1027 Chobee Loop,  863-946-0696

CHRISTMAS EVE

5 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY

10 a.m.

CAPE CORAL

■ St. Andrew, 2628 Del Prado Blvd. S., www.standrewrcc.org, 239-574-4545

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m., midnight

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon (Spanish)

■ St. Katharine Drexel, 1922 S.W. 20th Ave., saintkatharinedrexelparish.org, 239-283-9501

Christmas Eve

4 p.m. (live), 4:15 p.m., 6 p.m., midnight

Christmas Day

8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. (live), 12:30 p.m.

CLEWISTON

■ Santa Rosa de Lima, 835 N. Mayoral St., Montura Ranch Estates, 863-983-8585

Christmas Day

8 a.m. (Spanish)

■ St. Margaret, 208 N. Deane Duff Ave., 863-983-8585

Christmas Eve

5 p.m., 7 p.m. (Spanish).

Christmas Day

10 a.m. (live), noon (Spanish) – reservations required

ENGLEWOOD

■ St. Raphael, 770 Kilbourne Ave., www.StRaphEng.org, 941-474-9595

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 8 p.m.

Christmas day

7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m.

EVERGLADES CITY

■ Holy Family, 200 Datura Ave., 239-394-5181

Christmas Day

10:30 a.m.

FORT MYERS

■ Jesus the Worker, 881 Nuna Ave., www.jesustheworker.org, 239-693-5333

(All Masses in Spanish and live)

Christmas Eve

7 p.m., 11 p.m.

Christmas Day

10 a.m., noon

■ Our Lady of Light, 19680 Cypress View Drive, www.ourladyoflight.com, 239-267-7088

Christmas Eve

4 p.m. (live), 6 p.m., 8 p.m.

Christmas Day

7 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

■ Resurrection of Our Lord, 8121 Cypress Lake Drive, www.ResurrectionCh.org, 239-481-7172

Christmas Eve

3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m. (Latin)

■ San Jose, 10750 Gladiolus Drive, www.jesustheworker.org, 239-639-5333

(All Masses in Spanish)

Christmas Eve

7 p.m.

Christmas Day

Noon

■ St. Cecilia, 5632 Sunrise Drive, www.saintcecilias.org, 239-936-3635

(All Masses live – reservations required by Dec. 21)

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m., 9 p.m.

Christmas Day

9 a.m., 11 a.m.

■ St. Columbkille, 12171 Iona Road, www.stcolumbkille.com, 239-489-3973

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m., 9 p.m.

Christmas Day

7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 5:30 p.m.

■ St. Francis Xavier, 2157 Cleveland Ave., www.stfrancisfm.org, 239-334-2161

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day – available of YouTube channel

7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. (Polish), 4 p.m. (Creole)

■ St. John XXIII, 13060 Palomino Lane, www.johnxxiii.net, 239-561-2245

(All Masses live)

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 9 p.m., 11 p.m. (Vietnamese)

Christmas Day

7:15 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:30 p.m. (Spanish)

■ St. Vincent de Paul, 13031 Palm Beach Blvd., www.stvincentfortmyers.org, 239-693-0818

All Masses are live

Christmas Eve

7 p.m.

Christmas Day

9 a.m., 11 a.m.

FORT MYERS BEACH

■ Ascension, 6025 Estero Blvd., 239-463-6754

CHRISTMAS EVE

7 p.m., 9 p.m.

CHRISTMAS DAY

8 a.m., 10 a.m.

GROVE CITY

■ St. Francis of Assisi, 5265 Placida Road, www.sfoachurch.com, 941-697-4899

Christmas Eve

4 p.m. (reservations required), 8 p.m.

Christmas Day

8 a.m., 10 a.m. (reservations required), 11:30 p.m.

HOLMES BEACH

■ St. Bernard, 248 S. Harbor Drive, www.stbernardcc.com, 941-778-4769

Christmas Eve

4 p.m.

Christmas Day

8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

IMMOKALEE

■ Our Lady of Guadalupe, 219 S. 9th St., 239-657-2666

Christmas Eve

6 p.m., 8 p.m. (Spanish), 10:30 p.m. (Creole)

Christmas Day

10 a.m., noon (Spanish), 2 p.m. (Spanish), 4 p.m. (Creole)

LABELLE

■ Holy Martyrs, 4290 Crescent Ave. S.W., https://www.olqhhmm.org, 863-675-0030

Christmas Eve

7p.m. (Spanish)

■ Our Lady Queen of Heaven, 355 S. Bridge St., https://www.olqhhmm.org, 863-675-0030

(All Masses are live)

Christmas Eve

5 p.m., 7 p.m. (Spanish)

Christmas Day

9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. (Spanish), noon (Spanish)

LAKE PLACID

■ St. James, 3380 Placid View Drive, https://www.stjameschurchlp.com, 863-465-3215

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

8 a.m., 10 a.m.

■ Santiago Apostol Mission, 685 County Road 621 E., https://www.stjameschurchlp.com, 863-385-0049

Christmas Eve

8 p.m. (Spanish)

Christmas Day

10 a.m. (Spanish)

LAKEWOOD RANCH

■ Our Lady of the Angels, 12905 State Road 70 E., www.olangelscc.org, 941-752-6770

Christmas Eve

4 p.m. (live), 6 p.m., 8 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9 a.m. (live), 11 a.m.

LEHIGH ACRES

■ St. Raphael, 2514 Lee Blvd., https://www.saintraphaelcc.net, 239-369-1831

Christmas Eve

5 p.m., 7 p.m., midnight

Christmas Day

9 a.m., 11 a.m.

LONGBOAT KEY

■ St. Mary, Star of the Sea, 4280 Gulf of Mexico Drive, www.stmarylbk.org, 941-383-1255

(Mass is posted to website by afternoon)

Christmas Eve

3:30 p.m.,5 p.m., 9 p.m.

Christmas Day

8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., noon

MARCO ISLAND

■ San Marco, 851 San Marco Road, www.sanmarcochurch.com, 239-394-5181

Christmas Eve

3:45 p.m. (live), 5:30 p.m. (live), 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m.

MOORE HAVEN

■ St. Joseph the Worker, 1800 N. U.S. Highway 27, 863-946-0696

Christmas Eve

8 p.m. (Spanish)

Christmas Day

8 a.m.

NAPLES

■ Corpus Christi, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, www.corpuschristifssp.com/, 402-659-5531

(All Masses in Latin and reservations are required)

Christmas Day

8:30 a.m., 10 a.m.

■ St. Agnes, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, www.stagnesnaples.org, 239-592-1949

(All Masses are live)

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m., midnight

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. (Spanish), 5 p.m.

■ St. Ann, 985 Third St. S., www.naplesstann.com, 239-262-4256

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

9 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m.

■ St. Elizabeth Seton, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, www.saintelizabethseton.org, 239-455-3900

Christmas Eve

4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. (Spanish), 6:45 p.m. (Spanish), midnight

Christmas Day

8 a.m., 10 a.m.

■ St. Finbarr, 13520 Tamiami Trail E., www.stfinbarr.org, 239-417-2084

(All Masses are live)

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 4:30 p.m.

Christmas Day

8 a.m. (Spanish), 10 a.m.

■ St. John the Evangelist, 625 111th Ave. N., www.saintjohntheevangelist.com, 239-566-8740

Christmas Eve

3 p.m. (live), 3:15 p.m., 5 p.m.,5:15 p .m., 7 p.m., midnight

Christmas Day

7 a.m., 9 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m.

■ St. Peter the Apostle, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road, stpeterchurch.naples.net, 239-774-3337

(All Masses are live)

Christmas Eve

3;30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 9 p.m., 9 p.m. (Creole), midnight (Spanish)

Christmas Day

8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 3:45 p.m. (Creole)

■ St. William, 750 Seagate Drive, www.stwilliam.org, 239-261-4883

(All Masses are live)

239-261-4883

Christmas Eve

2:45 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 10 p.m., midnight (Latin)

Christmas Day

7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m.

NOCATEE

■ Capilla Católica de San Juan Diego, 5247 S.W. Highway 17, 863-494-2611

Christmas Eve

6 p.m. (Spanish)

NORTH FORT MYERS

■ St. Therese, 20155 N. Tamiami Trail, www.sainttheresechurch.net, 239-567-2315

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 5 p.m.

Christmas Day

8 a.m., 10 a.m.

NORTH PORT

■ San Pedro, 14380 Tamiami Trail, www.sanpedrocc.org, 941-426-2500

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., midnight

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m.

OSPREY

■ Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 425 S. Tamiami Trail, www.olmc-osprey.org, 941-966-0807

(Reservations required for all Masses)

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 p.m.

Christmas Day

8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

PALMETTO

■ Holy Cross, 505 26th St. W., http://www.holycrossdov.org, 941-729-3891

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 9 p.m. (Spanish)

Christmas Day

9 a.m., 12:30 p.m. (Spanish)

PARRISH

■ St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, 12001 69th St. E., www.stfrancesxcabrini.org, 941-776-9097

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 5 p.m. (live), 7 p.m., midnight (live)

Christmas Day

10 a.m. (live)

PORT CHARLOTTE

■ San Antonio, 24445 Rampart Blvd., www.sanantoniocatholicchurch.com, 941-624-3799

Christmas Eve

3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. (live)

Christmas Day

9 a.m.

■ St. Charles Borromeo, 2500 Easy St., www.stcharlespc.org, 941-625-4754

Christmas Eve

4 p.m. (live), 6 p.m., midnight

Christmas Day

7 a.m., 9 a.m. (live), 11 a.m., 1 p.m. (Creole)

■ St. Maximilian Kolbe, 1441 Spear St., Stmaxcatholic.org, 941-743-6877

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 4:05 p.m. (Parish Center), 8 p.m.

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

PUNTA GORDA

■ Sacred Heart, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., www.sacredheartfl.org, 941-639-3957

(Mass will be posted on Christmas Day)

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 9 p.m.

Christmas Day

7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m.

SANIBEL

■ St. Isabel, 3559 Sanibel Captiva Road, www.saintisabel.com, 239-472-2763

(All Masses are live, reservations required)

Christmas Eve

3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Christmas Day

10:30 a.m.

SARASOTA

■ Christ the King, 1900 Meadowood St., www.Christthekingsarasota.org, 941-924-2777

(All Masses in Latin and live)

Christmas Eve

midnight

Christmas Day

8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

■ Incarnation, 2901 Bee Ridge Road, www.incarnationchurch.org, 941-921-6631

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m.

■ Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, 6600 Pennsylvania Ave., http://olqm.net/, 941-755-1826

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 5 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 10 a.m.

■ St. Jude, 3930 17th St., www.stjudesarasota.com, 941-955-3934

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 11 p.m. (Spanish)

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9 a.m. (Spanish), 10:30 a.m., noon (Spanish)

■ St. Martha, 200 N. Orange Ave., www.stmartha.org, 941-366-4210

(One Mass will be posted on website)

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. (Vietnamese), 10 p.m., midnight

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, noon (Vietnamese/Hall), 5:30 p.m.

■ St. Michael the Archangel, 5394 Midnight Pass Road, www.stmichaelssiesta.com, 941-349-4174

(Reservations required)

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

8 a.m. (live), 10 a.m. (live)

■ St. Patrick, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, www.churchofstpatrick.org, 941-378-1703

(All Masses are live)

Christmas Eve

4:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

■ St. Thomas More, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, www.stthomasmore.org, 941-923-1691

Christmas Eve

3 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 5 p.m., 5;15 p.m., 10 p.m.

Christmas Day

10 a.m., noon

SEBRING

■ St. Catherine, 820 Hickory St., www.stcathe.com, 863-385-0049

(All Masses are live)

Christmas Eve

4 p.m., 7 p.m. (Spanish), 9 p.m.

Christmas Day

8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon (Spanish)

VENICE

■ Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., www.epiphanycathedral.org, 941-484-3505

(All Masses are live, reservations required)

Christmas Eve

3:30 p.m., 3:40 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 6:40 p.m., 9 p.m. (Polish), midnight

Christmas Day

7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 9:10 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:10 a.m.

■ Our Lady of Lourdes, 1301 Center Road, www.ollvenice.org, 941-497-2931

Christmas Eve

3 p.m. (live), 5 p.m., 8 p.m.

Christmas Day

8 a.m. (live), 10 a.m., noon

WAUCHULA

■ St. Michael, 408 Heard Bridge Road, http://michaelwauchula.weconnect.com, 863-773-4089

Christmas Eve

5 p.m., 7 p.m. (Spanish), 9 p.m. (Spanish)

Christmas Day

8:30 a.m. (live), 10 a.m. (Spanish), noon (Spanish) (live)

19th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal seeks support

For more than 36 years, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc.  has provided food, clothing, shelter and a network of support services to people of all ages, all races and nationalities, and all religious backgrounds. The organization serves as a voice for the poor and vulnerable while reaching out in mercy to uphold the dignity of each person. This is done through more than 30 programs in locations throughout the Diocese.

The 19th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is happening now through January. A donation will give those struggling the means to move beyond their battles and will strengthen our communities during these times of high unemployment and despair. This is the largest fundraising effort for the organization which operates by the motto: “Providing Help, Creating Hope, Serving All.”

It should come as no surprise that Catholic Charities has been at the forefront of the regional response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, seeing firsthand the devastation affecting families throughout Southwest Florida. Many lost jobs or were furloughed. Families could not pay their rent/mortgage or put food on the table, creating unprecedented stress and anxiety for all.

During the first three quarters of 2020, Catholic Charities distributed 144 percent more food compared to the entire previous year, explained Catholic Charities CEO Philomena Pereira. “Those who lost their jobs became vulnerable and those who were poor and vulnerable before, are now even more impoverished. Catholic Charities has continued to operate its programs to inspire meaningful change one individual at a time.” Here are some examples:

  • Feed the hungry through multiple food pantries, a mobile pantry and a soup kitchen.
  • Aid those on the brink of homelessness by helping pay rent or mortgage.
  • Counsel children and adults coping with stress and anxiety.
  • Encourage and train those who need work through the Empowerment Program.
  • Assist victims of labor and sex trafficking by providing housing, education and training, counseling, legal services.

Pereira shared examples of those assisted during the past few months:

Shyrie, a single mother of three children, was laid off in April due to COVID-19 and fell behind on her rent, so rental assistance was provided for two months allowed them to remain in their home.

Clifford, who lost his job, needed food to feed his struggling family, so the family received a gift certificate to get a turkey and a month’s supply of food.

A three-month supply of diapers was given to Sophia, a struggling single mother.

Tamara, a 10-year-old with anxiety, was counseled to manage the separation from her parents during their quarantine when they tested positive for COVID-19.

Patricio, a farmworker, fell behind on his water and utility bills due to a lapse in work as a result of a work accident, so financial assistance was provided to cover the bills for three months until he got back on his feet.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane knows the statistics well. “Please remember that every number represents a child, family or individual who relied on the support of Catholic Charities. Your gift to the Christmas Appeal will allow Catholic Charities to continue the important work of helping the most vulnerable in our community to improve their lives. Catholic Charities has stepped to the forefront in helping people through this Pandemic crisis, just as they have done in the past and will continue to do in the future. It is to all the people who have helped sustain Catholic Charities, which works to serve those in need, that I am deeply grateful.”

Pereira added that during the Christmas Appeal Campaign, people “have the opportunity to make a significant impact with a direct gift to children and families in need. Your generosity is deeply appreciated. Remember, no matter the amount of your gift, when combined with others, it will make a significant difference for those who turn to us in their time of need.”

To donate, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or mail a donation to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

St. Joseph Devotional Project begins in schools

Beginning on Dec. 7, 2020, Junior Catechists at each of the Diocesan primary Catholic schools began the task of sharing classroom lessons about St. Joseph and a Catholic devotion to him.

The Diocese Department of Catholic Education St. Joseph Devotional Project new initiative is intended to promote a devotion to the Saint while at the same time developing a devotional life of both children and adults. This project will also create leadership opportunities for students and faculty and cultivate the “Catholic School Culture” of classrooms, schools and the Diocese.

Regina Rettig, of St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton, was selected as one of two Junior Catechists at her school. “When my teacher told me that she had chosen me to be the female Junior Catechist for Saint Joseph School, I was so delighted.”

Regina has been a student at St. Joseph for 10 years and is grateful to be able to give back to the school. “I am very glad that I can go teach others about St. Joseph and what a great saint he is and share my devotion with (my classmates). St. Joseph is an important Patron for our school because he is… watching over us and making sure that we do our best.”

The St. Joseph Devotional Project coincides with the ongoing “Year of St. Joseph” in the Diocese of Venice. Bishop Frank J. Dewane consecrated the Diocese to St. Joseph on March 19, 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese Superintendent of Catholic Education, said the consecration and “Year of St. Joseph” provided the ideal platform to introduce the devotion and begin developing a stronger Catholic culture in each of the Diocesan schools.

The foster-father of Jesus Christ, the Patriarch of the Universal Church, is an ideal saint to have a devotion, Father Belmonte explained. St. Joseph is also guardian and protector of the Church and Her Faithful. He is a figure who led by example, while also offering powerful prayer and protection.

The goal of the St. Joseph Devotional Project is to provide age-appropriate catechesis for students so that they can carry with them a life-long devotion to St. Joseph, Father added.

“This is not something students will just learn about for a few months, but we will build a devotion they will carry with them for a lifetime,” Father Belmonte continued. “When you teach students early on to have a devotion to St. Joseph, Our Lady or any other saint, the result is you gain a devotion to the Church.”

Each primary school selected two eighth grade Junior Catechists (boy and girl) to spearhead the devotion in the classroom. Training took place through a November Zoom virtual conference with Diocese Curriculum Specialist Jennifer Falestiny. The Junior Catechists started entering the classrooms the week of Dec. 7 to catechize their schoolmates with lessons. The pair will visit each classroom teaching about St. Joseph and promoting a Catholic devotion to him.

For the 12 weeks of the project, each week will have a new theme centered on the role of St. Joseph. The first week consisted of teaching about the saint and learning a Prayer to St. Joseph. Later themes include “Delight of Saints,” “Our Spiritual Father,” “Young Husband of Mary,” and more. This will build up to a March 19, 2021, Consecration Mass celebrated by Bishop Dewane. Still in the planning stages, the Mass will be livestreamed to each school to ensure total participation. The announcement by Pope Francis on Dec. 8, 2020, celebrating a “Year of St. Joseph” will be incorporated into the Devotional Project.

Meanwhile, each school will receive a custom plaque of the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph with the Child Jesus which are being custom made for the Diocese. Father Belmonte explained how the plaques will be made available for use and handled in the classroom before being permanently displayed at the schools after this project is completed.

An art contest, at the direction of the art teachers, will also focus on children creating their own artwork related to the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph. A friendly competition will showcase some of the works with prizes for the best works.

While this project is centered on primary school students, each Diocesan Catholic high school will incorporate pieces of the project into their curriculum.

Father Belmonte concluded that the St. Joseph Devotional Project is the beginning of what he plans to become annual devotions to be promoted at each of the Diocesan Catholic schools. “Our responsibility to our students is to promote a Catholic Culture in our schools. This is one way that is proven to work.”

Bishop addresses men’s retreat

A diverse group gathered Dec. 5, 2020 at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples to participate in the “No Man Left Behind Men’s Retreat.”

The retreat included participants from each of the three different men’s groups at the Parish. The groups are language-based (Creole, English and Spanish) and had never had the opportunity to gather for a retreat. Some 80 men participated in Adoration, Mass, dinner, a talk from Bishop Frank J. Dewane, as well as round-table discussions. Bishop Dewane celebrated the Parish Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent prior to joining the retreat.

The men were thrilled to have the Bishop present to address the different groups and to share his reflections on the role men play in society.

For a beginning, the Bishop cited the example of Pope St. John Paul II, stressing how the role of men is not only to DO things but to model their life on Christ and BE a witness for others.

“Be the witness by building a foundation in prayer,” Bishop Dewane continued. “Being a Catholic man living in the world today is not easy. Work to be a model for others to follow. In this time of moral and culture confusion, it is the role model that is needed. Sainthood follows later.”

Bishop Dewane noted that in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, he consecrated the Diocese of Venice on March 19, 2020, to the protection of St. Joseph. A prayer card was provided for everyone and the Diocesan Prayer to St. Joseph was recited by the group.

“This foster-father of Jesus Christ is the Patriarch of the Universal Church,” Bishop Dewane said. “He is also guardian and protector of the Church and Her Faithful. St. Joseph is a figure who led by example, while also offering powerful prayer and protection. His example is something that can be followed by us all.”

When speaking of best practices for a Catholic man, Bishop Dewane cited a document written by Bishop Thomas J. Olsmsted of Phoenix, called “Into the Breach.”

This document was directed toward Catholic men in that Diocese, but Bishop Dewane said that the best practices offered were worth repeating. Best practices included praying every day, examining one’s conscience before going to sleep, attending daily Mass, reading the Bible and keeping the Sabbath. In addition, on a monthly basis they are encouraged to go to Confession while also focusing on the building of fraternity with other Catholic men.

“Each of these examples help to center you on your Faith,” Bishop Dewane said. “You are likely doing some of these already but strive to do more. These are easy steps on how to live one’s Faith and be the example.”

Following his talk, Bishop Dewane fielded a variety of questions. The first related to how one can encourage family/friends to return to their Faith. Bishop Dewane noted how this is question which often arises and how so much is dependent on a specific person on what is needed to bring ‘that individual’ back into the Faith.

“Much of what I have been speaking about, that is being the witness and magnifying the Light of Christ in the world is the most important thing you can DO.” Bishop Dewane went on to added, “Also, know your Faith and know the teachings of the Church; arm yourself with knowledge… Don’t ever judge or criticize, because there is likely more of a reason as to why they are away from the Church than what they might express. Be the light and love of Christ by being that example for others to follow.”

The retreat was organized by Father Franckel Fils Aime, Parochial Vicar at St. Peter the Apostle, and Moise Stael Dantes, Parish Communications and Youth Director. Group discussions and reflections were also shared.

Father Gerard Critch, Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, addressed the group and thanked the Bishop for addressing the retreat. Father Critch said it was wonderful to have all three men’s groups in one place and that they reflected the spiritual quote which served as a guidance for the retreat.  “Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12.

“We have the three-ply cord together in this room, and it is strong,” Father added.

Bishop to students: Advent a time to prepare

There is still plenty of time to prepare for the birth of Christ at Christmas as well as for His anticipated Second Coming. The Advent Season is an ideal opportunity to pray and ask Christ to help us in areas of life that need improving.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane shared this wisdom on Dec. 4, 2020, during Mass for students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring.

While the Church must look different during the Advent Season – with a wreath and purple the dominant color – the Bishop told the students that they need to be different in their hearts during this Season.

“You have to ask the Lord for mercy and healing,” Bishop Dewane said. “We have to have the belief in our lives that Jesus Christ will do for us what we need. This is done through prayer. We can all live a better life with the guidance and support of Jesus Christ.  We are asking Christ, through prayer, to help us in areas of our life where we need improvement. By praying, you remain faithful in Christ.”

The Bishop reminded the students that; as with any friendship, the more one communicates, the closer they will become. This is particularly true with one’s relationship with the Lord.

With that in mind, the Bishop challenged the students to call out to Jesus in prayer for direction and comfort as they prepare for Christmas and the Second Coming. “You need to pray more often. Can you do that this Advent Season?” An enthusiastic “Yes!!!” was the response.

This was the latest in a series of Masses Bishop Dewane is celebrating at Diocesan Catholic Schools. In a normal year, these Masses are focused on the beginning of the academic year, but Bishop Dewane told the students in Sebring that circumstances of the COVID-19 Pandemic forced his schedule to be altered.

“My visit is usually to encourage you in the coming year,” Bishop Dewane said. “However, it is an honor to be here during the Advent Season, when the Church Year begins, and we joyfully prepare for the arrival of Jesus Christ.”

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