Solemnity honors founders of the Church – Saints Peter and Paul have impact across Church, in Diocese

The Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles on June 29, 2024, the founders of the See of Rome. The Diocese of Venice is blessed to have a troika of Parishes which honor these important saints.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in a message to the faithful on the occasion of the Solemnity, said they are honored in Rome through their preaching, ministry and martyrdom there. “Saint Peter is the rock upon which Jesus built His Church; Saint Paul was the preacher of truth to the whole world!”

A bold follower of the Lord, “St. Peter was the first to recognize that Jesus was ‘the Messiah, the Son of the living God,’ and eagerly pledged his fidelity until death. St. Peter led the Apostles as the first Pope and ensured that the disciples kept the true faith,” Bishop Dewane wrote.

St. Peter spent his last years in Rome, leading the Church through times of persecution and eventually was martyred there in the year 64. He was crucified upside-down at his own request, because he claimed he was not worthy to die as his Lord. He was buried on Vatican hill, and St. Peter’s Basilica is built over his tomb.

“St. Paul’s letters are included in the writings of the New Testament, and through them we learn much about his life and the faith of the early Church” Bishop Dewane stated. He spent his life preaching the Gospel tirelessly to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean world. Eventually imprisoned and taken to Rome, where he was beheaded in the year 67, Saint Paul is buried there in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

Within the Diocese of Venice, there is a special devotion to the early saints, with three Parishes which bear their names.

The faithful at St. Paul Parish in Arcadia have been active since the 1880s, with the first Mass recorded in the area in 1882. St. Paul Mission was established in 1910. It became a formal Parish in 1958 for the then-Diocese of St. Augustine. The Parish serves a rural farming community and has a large active program for children and youth. Bishop Dewane dedicated a new Parish church in March 2021. The Parish has more than 2,000 families with Mass celebrated in English and Spanish.

Serving the southern end of the Diocese, St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples was erected in Naples on June 11, 1974, and currently has more than 4,500 families with seven weekend Masses in three languages. In 2019, the Parish Spirit Center, which includes the Parish Hall and offices, was dedicated by Bishop Dewane.

The newest of the three Parishes, Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton, was erected in November 1986 and was one of the first Parishes in the newly created Diocese of Venice in Florida. The Parish now has more than 2,500 families, with a sprawling campus that includes three main buildings which host more than 100 Parish outreach programs. A church roof replacement was recently completed.

Father Mark Heuberger, Pastor for the past 14 years, said the dynamic Parish was blessed to be named after the two early saints. A mural, which is above the altar, depicts the saints and their related symbols, St. Peter with a net and upside-down cross. St. Paul with a sword, a staunch defender of the early Church who died by the sword. There is also an image of Christ and a boat.

As we celebrate the Solemnity, Bishop Dewane concluded his message, saying: “Why not ask Saints Peter and Paul today for their intercession, that we may enjoy a lively faith, a firm hope, and a burning love for the Lord, as they both did.”