News Briefs for the week of December 15, 2023

Longtime immigration specialist retires from Catholic Charities

The staff of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., held their annual holiday party in Lee County at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Fort Myers on Dec. 8, 2023. During the celebration, time was taken to provide special recognition of Maria Rodriguez, the lead immigration specialist in Lee County. Rodriguez is retiring from Catholic Charities after 31 years of service. She started as an assistant with the organization and worked her way up to be a valued leader who helped assist families and individuals navigate their way through the immigration process. Rodriguez was presented with an award from Eddie Gloria, CEO of Catholic Charities, and Alex Olivares, Regional Director covering Lee, Hendry and Glades counties. Thank you, Maria, for your years of service and have a blessed and happy retirement.

Student takes cameras to the zoo

Photography class students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers took a field trip to the Naples Zoo on Dec. 7, 2023. The goal of the trip was for the students to capture images of the various wildlife, as well as to allow them to practice the fundamentals of photography they have been learning all semester long, and really put their skills to work! The fun trip helped the students to show off their talents and develop their photography skills.

Bishop to speak at Theology on Tap Dec. 21

Each third Thursday of the month, young adults gather for faith, fellowship and fun at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. Theology on Tap is presented by the Diocesan Office of Evangelization, and the Dec. 21, 2023, guest speaker will be Bishop Frank J. Dewane. The Mandeville Beer Garden is located at 428 N. Lemon, Ave., and the gathering begins at 7 p.m. For any questions, please email Jim Gontis at

Televised Mass for the Homebound on Christmas Day

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 8 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 on the Diocesan website at 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