News briefs for the week of January 5, 2024

High school club honors veterans

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School club Vikings for Heroes spent time helping the “Wreaths Across America” program on Dec. 14, 2023. This program took place at cemeteries across the entire nation, and the purpose was to “Remember the fallen. Honor those who serve. Teach the next generation the value of freedom.” Students spent the day decorating headstones at Fort Myers Memorial Gardens in preparation of the Christmas holiday. Vikings for Heroes is led by Pete Orsita, a military veteran himself who teaches science. Orsita’s passion to help other veterans is clear in how he has helped with outreach efforts such as “Wreaths Across America,” the Veteran’s Day assembly, and support for Honor Flights, which enables veterans to visit the memorials in Washington, D.C.

Boat building challenges robotics students

Congratulations to the ingenious 6th, 7th, and 8th grade robotics students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Corel. On Dec. 21, 2023, the students embarked on an aluminum boat-building challenge, showcasing problem-solving skills, collaboration and creativity that left us in awe! Special kudos went to 7th graders, Ryder and Matias, whose boat sailed to victory, holding an impressive load of 50 pennies, an example of true innovation at work. The project was a testament to teamwork, critical thinking, and the sheer joy of hands-on learning. All 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic schools offer a comprehensive STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math) learning model which is combined with the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” creating students equipped to succeed in the world of today.

Catholic Charities Annual Christmas Appeal needs your support!

The 22nd Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal needs your support! The Christmas Appeal continues through the end of January 2024 and is Catholic Charities’ largest annual fundraiser, critical to operating this critical social service organization. Gifts provide funding for the many Catholic Charities programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida. Your generosity enables Catholic Charities to serve those seeking help all year long. To donate please visit, or mail a contribution to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Catholic Street Evangelization training in Naples

Interested in learning about Catholic Street Evangelization? Register now for the January 27 Saint Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE) training at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave N, Naples.  Registration deadline is January 23. SPSE is supported and encouraged by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and is a response to the mandate of Jesus Christ to “preach the Gospel to all nations…” taking the Catholic Faith to the public square. The organization seeks to train others to witness effectively to the truth, beauty, and goodness of Jesus and His Church in a non-confrontational way. All Catholics who are 18 years of age and older are cordially invited to register. The daily Mass is at 8 a.m., and the workshops are from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A “Live Lab” will follow. The cost is $15 per person and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Please visit to register. For other questions, please contact Jim Gontis at

Volunteers Needed for Prison Outreach

Join the team of Diocesan volunteers who enter county jails and state prisons within the 10-county Diocese of Venice to do pastoral outreach, distribute the Eucharist and facilitate programs. Priests, Deacons, and lay volunteers are encouraged to assist in this ministry. Volunteers will first participate in an orientation program before entering the facility and will “shadow” experienced volunteers until they feel comfortable. Times and days vary by facility. Please contact Joe Mallof at 224-217-7139 or Bob Hiniker 863-558-0407 to learn where you can fit into this joyful opportunity.