Advent: a continuous call to Hope

The Catholic Church is fast approaching one of the most important seasons of the Liturgical Year: Advent. It is a time which offers us a sense of preparation for the second coming of the Christ Child.

With the pre-Christmas frenzy, it is important to remain watchful. Why? Because, as St. Augustine stated, one great mistake in life is to get absorbed in a thousand things and not to notice God.

Advent begins on Nov. 28, 2021, the start of the new Liturgical Year, therefore it is appropriate to begin anew and raise one’s heart and mind to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and prepare for the celebration of the anniversary of the Lord’s birth.

“A time of deep prayer and meditation, Advent has an anticipatory mood in which the faithful must learn from the Old Testament of how the Prophets foretold the coming of Jesus into the world,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said. “As our ancestors prepared their hearts spiritually for His coming, so must we prepare ourselves in the Season of Advent for the second coming.”

The main focus of the Advent Season is preparation through prayer, quiet reflection, weekday Mass attendance and even fasting, Bishop Dewane explained. Taking time to quietly reflect and grow in Faith can be a challenge, but we are called to put distractions aside, even for a few minutes a day.

“This will allow the love of God to fill one’s life and one’s family with joy,” Bishop Dewane said.

Pope Francis stresses that Advent is both a time of “God’s closeness and our watchfulness.”

The Holy Father notes that on the First Sunday of Advent, a new Liturgical Year begins. In it, the Church marks the passage of time with the celebration of the main events in the life of Jesus and the story of salvation. “In so doing, as Mother, she illuminates the path of our existence, supports us in our daily occupations and guides us towards the final encounter with Christ.

The Pope invites everyone to live this time of preparation in the Season of Hope, with “great sobriety” and simple moments of family prayer. “Advent is a continuous call to hope: it reminds us that God is present in history to lead it to its ultimate goal, to lead it to its fullness, which is the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

During Advent, we are reminded that we are called to redouble our efforts to bring Christ’s saving message to all people. How can this be done? A few simple suggestions:

  • Liturgy: Seek Christ in the Sacred Liturgy and in the intercessions of His saints. The Advent Season offers a number of special feasts and solemnities that call for our active participation. Aside from the Sundays of Advent, the Church also celebrates the two Marian feasts, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) which is observed as a Holy Day of Obligation, and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas on Dec. 12. We also ask for the intercession of the saints as we make this journey towards Christmas, particularly those saints whose feasts we celebrate during Advent, such as St. Francis Xavier, St. Nicholas, St. Juan Diego, St. Lucy, and St. John of the Cross. They modeled for us the way to salvation and assist us in our own pilgrimage to Heaven.
  • Prayer: Spend time every day in prayer and include the work of the local Parish and of the Diocese in these prayer intentions. Offer up daily sacrifices for the good of others. This time of prayer and sacrifice should intensify as we draw near Christmas, with particular prayers given to us by the Church from December 17 to Christmas Eve to prepare for the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior.
  • Confession: One of the most critical ways to prepare one’s soul for the birth of Jesus at Christmas is to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This Holy Season is an ideal time to open one’s soul and to be set free from the burdens of past sins and wrongs. Many Parishes offer special times during Advent for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Volunteer: Another way to grow in Faith through this season is to recognize Christ in neighbors, especially those in need such as the elderly and sick. Get involved and give of yourself in some work of the Church, possibly evangelization, education, or charity. Use the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to accompany those in need and help them draw closer to Christ.  We are to be doers of our Faith on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ and all those around us.

Bishop Dewane said, “As Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. Let us resolve to help bring Him into the hearts of those we encounter throughout each day. Let us take advantage of what is new in the Advent Season as the Universal Church prepares for the birth of Christ. And let us grow in Faith during this portion of the Liturgical Year on our journey toward Salvation.”

Advent: Season of Preparation and Expectation

Ordinary Time has come to an end and the Season of Advent is upon us. This Season, which marks the beginning of the Church’s Liturgical Year of the Church, commences on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 and will come to an end on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

Advent is a time of preparation and expectation. The Church describes Advent as a season “of devout and expectant delight.” In Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year, the Church says, “Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, with remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time” (39). In Advent, we look forward not only to the commemoration of Christ’s birth at Christmas, but also to His return.

Pope Francis described Advent as the time “we begin again and it returns us to the horizon of hope, a hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God. A hope that does not disappoint, simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful,” just as we are called to be faith-filled, thus faithful.”

Hope is needed during this ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said it may become easy feel down and isolated because of restrictions necessitated by the Pandemic. This may cause the spiritual preparation, to which each of us is called during the Advent Season, to slip through the cracks.

“Staying focused on Advent is critical,” Bishop Dewane said. “As a unique Liturgical Season, Advent is a time for prayer and reflection. Therefore, it is doubly important to follow the lead of our ancestors who prepared their hearts spiritually for Christ, so must Advent prepare us for the Second Coming of Christ and that presence in our daily life.”

Those who have returned to their Parish for Mass and other activities should consider taking part in Daily Mass for the readings build up to the joyous celebration of Christmas. For those who remain home, consider watching a livestreaming Mass, or, if that is not possible, follow along with the daily readings through the Magnificat or the Bible.

One symbol popular in Churches for this Season is the Advent Wreath. By tradition, it is often found either in the narthex (gathering area) or, as is more common, near the ambo of a Church. Having a wreath in the home can be a unifying symbol for families. The liturgical color of Advent is a particular shade of purple, a color which is most often associated with royalty. This color is used to symbolize the anticipation of the birth of Christ, who is our King and Savior.

Each Sunday of Advent, an additional candle of the wreath is lit, with the rose-colored candle lit on the Third Sunday of Advent. This Sunday, best known as Gaudete Sunday, derives its name from Scripture: “Gaudete in Domino semper” (“Rejoice in the Lord always”), and marks the mid-point in the Season. The change in color provides encouragement to rejoice as we continue our spiritual preparation – especially prayer and fasting – for Christmas.

To help prepare for the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, one should find time to pray each day. Pray for those, and with those, you love. Whether in person or via a virtual connection, praying together gives one strength. Remember to also pray for your Parish and the Diocese, as well as for all those who are suffering during this most challenging time. Prayers should intensify as one gets closer to Christmas. Particular prayers are provided by the Holy Mother Church (called the O’ Antiphon and readily available online) for the period of Dec. 17, 2020 to Christmas Eve, which uniquely prepare us for the coming celebration.

Advent Season is also a great time to prepare one’s soul for the birth of Christ by taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many Parishes offer special times during Advent for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Contact your Parish for details and times.

Finally, this is a perfect time to deepen one’s knowledge of the Faith. Review the Catechism of the Catholic Church, read the Bible, listen to inspirational speakers online. By living one’s Faith more fully, and sharing it with those around us, it will allow one to make Advent a worthy preparation for the coming again of Christ into the world.

Cardinal Mooney gives back

St. Mother Teresa once said, “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota loves taking part in giving back to the community from serving meals to the homeless to food and toy drives.

To kick off the giving season, Mooney students and staff participated in a Thanksgiving   food drive that provided over 65 families with a full Thanksgiving meal as well as served over 200 homeless lunch in the downtown Sarasota area on Nov. 27.

The Cardinal Mooney chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society collected new toys to support Andrew’s Toybox and delivered them Dec. 19, just in time for Christmas, to the pediatric wards of Sarasota and Manatee Memorial Hospitals.

The 60 residents of Sunshine Meadows Nursing Home in Sarasota received items on their Christmas list Dec. 13, as part of an effort by the Cardinal Mooney staff as well as by different members of clubs on campus.

Also taking part of the giving season was the Cardinal Mooney Cougar Band which performed at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and University Town Center mall to help bring cheer to those travelling and shopping during the holidays.

Service in the community

Every student at Cardinal Mooney participates in giving back through community service and is required to complete 100 hours of service during their four years at the college preparatory school.

Most students have well over the 100 hours including senior Aaron Dhanhai who has 612 hours, with 550 of those hours as a volunteer at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Junior Mallory Allbritton has more than 440 hours with Sarasota Disaster Relief Services, 4H and Future Farmers of America (FFA).  Allyson Galvin, a sophomore, has 330 hours working on various service projects with Our Lady of Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch. Cooper Flerlage, a freshman, already has over 330 community service hours, mostly with the Sarasota County Summer Camp Program.

The family environment of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School fosters spiritual growth and prepares all students to become servant leaders in the world by performing over 30,000 community service hours a year.

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, a Christ-centered, college preparatory institution is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. The school prepares students to serve and lead by nurturing spiritual growth, cultivating the talent of all students, and challenging them to pursue academic excellence.

As a nationally accredited school, Mooney is now offering the new rigorous AP Capstone diploma; as well as a full honors curriculum; Advanced Placement courses; dual enrollment; and learning strategies programs. Student-athletes participating in over 30 athletic teams have won district, sectional, and regional titles with three state titles this year. With a 100 percent acceptance rate to college, Cardinal Mooney graduates earned more than $9 million in scholarships in 2019.

News and photos from across the Diocese

Christmas Day Television 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. 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.

Student artwork nationally recognized

Two St. Martha Catholic School students named as 2018-2019 Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) Christmas Artwork Contest winners earlier in the year, were recognized locally on Dec. 13 for their achievement. Sixth grader Collier Moser, and seventh grader Charlotte Thompson were two of only 24 students nationwide to be recognized with this honor. Additionally, Charlotte’s artwork was named one of two grand prizes and was reproduced as the Christmas Card of the national office of the Missionary Childhood Association. On Dec. 13, Father Bob Kantor, Director of the Diocese Office of the Propagation of the Faith (Missions Office), went to the Sarasota school for a presentation and to personally congratulate the winners and their art teacher, Mary Jo Salomone. Earlier in December, Charlotte attended a Mass in celebration for winners and their families at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The artwork of all 24 student winners is on display there until mid-January.

 

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School YACHT club hosted a spectacular Salesian day at the circus for students from SJN and Cristo Rey Tampa in Naples.

Mass Honoring Widows and Widowers in Naples Jan. 26

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will celebrate a Mass for all widows and widowers beginning at 3 p.m., Jan. 26, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th N. Ave., Naples. Dinner will follow in the Parish Hall. A display of photos will be available for viewing during the reception; should you wish to participate with a photo of you and your deceased spouse, please email Gail at ardy@dioceseofvenice.org, or send a copy in advance to Diocese of Venice, ATTN: Widows and Widowers Mass, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, Florida 34285. There is no cost to attend. Registration is required to plan for food. To register visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar. For more details contact Gail at 941-484-9543 or ardy@dioceseofvenice.org.

 

Cheerleaders from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Christmas Appeal continues

The annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal occurs now through January. The goal is to raise $565,000 and your gifts are much appreciated! The Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is the agency’s largest fundraiser and critical to operating the social service organization. Your donation will benefit Catholic Charities programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida that assist individuals, families, and seniors all year long. 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.

Venice Mayor Ron Feinsod speaks to students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in early December. He visited the school in thanks to their response to a Mayors Feed the Hungry Campaign.

Mass Celebrating Haitian Independence

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites everyone to participate in the Annual Mass celebrating Haitian Independence at 2 p.m., New Year’s Day, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The Mass, which is on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, brings together the various Haitian communities within the Diocese of Venice for one celebration. There is a reception after the Mass in the Parish Hall.

Students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School gather for the lighting of a candle on the Advent Wreath on Dec. 9 in Fort Myers.

Apologetics Conference Jan. 16-17

The Diocese Office of Evangelization is offering three opportunities to attend an Apologetics Conference with Mike Aquilina. An award-winning author of more than fifty books on Catholic history, doctrine, and devotion, Anguilla will speak at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 16, Resurrection Parish, 8121 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers; and then 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., Jan. 17, 2020, Epiphany Cathedral, 310 Sarasota St., Venice. The topics is “Defend Youth Faith: Finding answers to modern problems in the early Church.” There is no cost, and all are welcome. For information, please call 941-484-9543, email  evangelization@dioceseofvenice.org, or visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar.

Card party in Englewood Jan. 8

The St. Francis Assisi Parish Women’s Guild card party will be held at 11 a.m., Jan. 8, in the Parish Hall, 5265 Placida Road, Grove City. Play cards or games until 2:30 p.m.. Please make your reservations by Jan. 6 by visiting to www.sfoachurch.com – Parish Forms – Card Party – Reservation form, or by calling 941-697-4899 ext. 6 and leave a message with your name, phone number and number of people at your table. Tickets are $8 and includes your lunch, drinks, playing time and door prizes. All are welcome to attend.

 

 

Marriage Prep Retreat Jan. 11

St. Charles Borromeo Parish, 21505 Augusta Ave., Port Charlotte, is offering a pre-Cana retreat called for by the Witness to Love Marriage Preparation program from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Jan.11. Engaged couples attend this retreat before their 5th meeting with their mentor couples, the Theology night with the priest or deacon. Mentor couples and couples preparing for convalidation through the Witness to Love Civil Marriage Initiative are also welcome to attend if they wish. The retreat will be held in the Saint Charles Parish Center from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  The cost is $25 per couple.  Couples should register with Michael Barrett at (941) 585-0668 or faithformation@stcbc.org by January 4th.

Our 4th Annual St. Nicholas Celebrates Advent event took place recently at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers and included volunters from nearby Bishop Verot Catholic High School.

St. Ann Catholic School honored

The Naples Award Program has selected St. Ann Catholic School for the 2019 Best of Naples Award in the School category. The program is an annual awards outreach honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local business throughout the Naples area. Recognition is given to those that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate advantages of long-term value.

Dinner for St. Vincent de Paul Society Jan. 14

The Knights of Columbus San Marco Council 6344 will sponsor the St. Vincent de Paul Society Dinner, 5:30 p.m., Jan. 14, in the San Marco Parish Center, 851 San Marco Road, Marco Island.  The barbeque dinner includes pulled pork or fried chicken, baked potato, baked beans, salad, rolls and butter, coffee, tea, and dessert. Soda, Wine and Beer are available at a cash bar. The cost will be $25 per person. Credit cards accepted.  Reserve a table. No take-out is available.  This event is open to the public and everyone is invited. Buy your tickets at the Church Office or by calling Joe Granda at 239-389-2823, Mickey Flynn 609-335-2458, Joe Swaja at 239-269-7033, Gene Consolo at 248-321-2204 or John DeRosa at 239-272-0816. For more information, contact 239-389-5633 or visit our website at www.marcoknights.com.

News Briefs from around the Diocese for late November

Advent begins at Catholic Center

Bishop Frank J. Dewane led a prayer service for the staff of the Catholic Center in Venice on Dec. 1. The prayer service included the blessing of the Advent Candle, Christmas Tree and Nativity scene which will be on display in the lobby throughout Advent.

 

 

Parish holds Children Festival

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula hosted a Children Festival Nov. 16 for the younger members of the parish. There were a variety of fun outdoor games, crafts, food and time for quiet prayer.

 

 

 

Rose Ball recognizes service of young ladies

The Mother Frances de Sales Auxiliary to the Homeless held its Fourth Rose Ball Nov. 30 at the Naples Grande Beach Hotel and Resort where 22 young ladies were recognized for their commitment of volunteer service and formation. The event benefited four organizations in Collier County that work to help break the cycle of homelessness. Bishop Frank J. Dewane presented each young lady with a silver Rose Ball medallion of the organizations’ patron, Mother Frances de Sales, known as St. Leonie Aviat, who was canonized on Nov. 25, 2001. The ladies, known as Rose Girls, committed to a two-and-a-half-year volunteer and personal formation program where they make pledges of dignity, charity, and purity and were presented to those gathered as Dignified Ladies of Volunteer Service.

Youth make Advent Wreaths

Youth from St. Columbkille Parish in Fort Myers had an inter-generational gathering to make Advent Wreaths with their families in mid-November by members of the youth group and religious education programs. There were many smiles as they create a beautiful item to take home as a reminder of God’s greatest gift, Jesus. At the end of the fun, the wreaths were blessed.

 

Students visit Veterans Nursing Home

Students who take part in the St. Martha Catholic School & St. Mary’s Academy Mission Middle School Elective coordinated the collection of items and delivered “Giving Thanks” bags to the local veterans at the Douglas T. Jacobson Nursing Home in Port Charlotte. The Sarasota students spent time talking to these brave men and women and learning about their service to our country.

Quiz Bowl Champs

The Bishop Verot Academic team participated in the John C. Schudel Quiz Bowl Tournament the weekend of Nov. 15-16 earning a 1st Place finish! Congratulations Vikings!

 

 

 

 

Students enjoy time with women religious

The Y.A.C.H.T. Club (“Youth and Christ Helping Together”) of St. John Neumann Catholic School hosted a Neumann Fun “Night” Nov. 24! Students joined the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco for Mass at St. Elizabeth Seton parish followed by breakfast at the religious convent.

Letter from Bishop: You are called to be ‘A Disciple of Christ’

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With Advent on the horizon, we ought to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. This Season of anticipation and longing allows all of us to welcome God’s invitation to become A Disciple of Christ. This brings to mind the disciples in the early Church and the great sacrifice that they lived day in and day out.

The call to be A Disciple of Christ thus requires a response from you!  It may involve speaking out, giving up certain things in your life, or even taking on extra responsibilities. But the reality is, and Pope Francis has said this well, “We cannot be tepid disciples. The Church needs our courage in order to give witness to truth.”

Beginning with the Advent Season of 2019 and to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Diocese of Venice, the Diocese is launching a campaign for all to become A Disciple of Christ. The campaign will run through the Liturgical Seasons beginning with Advent, then Christmas, a portion of Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, and concluding with Pentecost. These Seasons allow each of us to discover and experience what it means to be A Disciple of Christ. The Liturgical Calendar provides an emphasis on how to live during each Season with its special focus; how to personally follow Jesus and become more united to Him in the daily life of each Liturgical Season.

To be A Disciple of Christ does not mean only to follow Him in external practices and the traditions of the Church, but to respond to Jesus from the heart in loving obedience and trust. We remember the rich young man who approached Jesus asking what must be done to inherit eternal life. Although he had followed the commandments since his youth, Jesus extols him to make sacrifices, sell his things, give to the poor, and follow Him (Cf. Matthew 19:21). This is more than just money, Jesus is calling the young man to rid himself of distractions and attachments in order to be A Disciple of Christ. The young man goes away sad, but that is the last heard of him in the Gospel.  To be a disciple, one must respond willfully and daily to Christ’s call and follow not only His teaching, but His example as well. Don’t go away sad, become A Disciple of Christ!

There is also an emphasis on that period of “becoming.” You may think, “I am already following Christ” but the call is to intentionally choose to become A Disciple of Christ each and every day. Every moment provides an opportunity to be filled with Christ’s love. Allow it to transform your heart and life. Then bring this love to your family, your friends, and as well to your enemies.

Opportunities to deepen your relationship with Christ, and thus to begin the journey to be a Disciple, are all around us. There are different prayer and/or study groups with which to be involved. There are areas of outreach to families, to the homeless, to the marginalized and those on the peripheries, as Pope Francis would tell us. Many Diocesan programs, conferences, and resources are also available to accompany you and enrich your journey.

It is understood that programs do not make disciples, but sometimes they are needed to help us become more, to live the Gospel. This “more” is meant to bring you deeper in your personal relationship with Christ in such a way that it becomes not merely a part of your life but frames you in all that you do.

In this Advent Season, be encouraged to take advantage of these steps, programs, and opportunities that lead you to be A Disciple of Christ. Take Christ into your home; take Christ into your heart! Prepare to receive Him in a new and transformative way this Season as we also look forward to His Second Coming, for in this life there is nothing of greater importance for us.

Rest assured of my prayers for you and your family and please keep me in your prayers as we continue our journey together to be evermore A Disciple of Christ.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of Venice in Florida

 

News from around the Diocese

Christmas Day Television Mass for the Homebound

The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound with Bishop Frank J. Dewane as Celebrant 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 airs at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass airs at 8:00 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). Please check your cable provider for channel listings. Leaflet missals are available upon request by calling 941-486-4714 or by writing: TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. For more information, contact Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714 or email ardy@dioceseofvenice.org.

2018 Christmas Appeal

Catholic Charities launches the annual Christmas Appeal during December 2018 and January 2019. The goal is to raise $565,000 and your gifts are much appreciated! The Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is the agency’s largest fundraiser and critical to operating the social service organization. Your donation will benefit Catholic Charities programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida that assist individuals, families, and seniors all year long. 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. For more information, please call 941-488-5581.

Bishop Blesses Christmas Tree

During the first week of Advent, Bishop Frank J. Dewane blessed the Catholic Center Christmas Tree Dec. 6 during a prayer service with the employees of the Catholic Center in Venice. The tree was then decorated and various holiday treats were offered.

 

 

Mass at Dawn continues through Dec. 23

Following the Filipino tradition, several parishes have hosted all or part of the so-called Mass at Dawn (Simbang Gabi).  This novena of Masses in celebrated preparation for Christmas. In the Diocese, the full novena was available at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte and began Dec. 15. Three Diocesan Filipino priests celebrated the opening Mass. Additional one-day Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo opportunities took place Dec. 16 at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral, as well as Dec. 21 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs. Although this tradition is not exclusive to Filipinos, its observance is very much highlighted and distinctive of the Philippine Catholic culture.

Mass Celebrating Haitian Independence Jan. 1

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites everyone to participate in the Annual Mass celebrating Haitian Independence at 2 p.m., New Year’s Day, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The Mass, which is on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, brings together the various Haitian communities within the Diocese of Venice for one celebration. Most Rev. Désinord Jean, Diocese of Hinche, Haiti, will be the Principal Celebrant and Homilist. There is a reception after the Mass in the Parish Hall.

“Lord Teach Me To Pray” Series begins Jan. 8

Are you longing for a deeper relationship with Jesus? If so, the “Lord Teach Me To Pray” prayer series rooted in Ignatian spirituality is for you. The first part of the three-part series, “Praying Christian Virtues,” is being offered for women for 12 weeks beginning Tuesday, January 8, at St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota. For more details, please email Veronica at veroltmtp@gmail.com.

Fashion Show Jan. 12

All are invited to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center at 1 p.m. Jan 12, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice, for an afternoon of fashion, food and fun. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. with an opportunity to bid on auction items. Lunch will be a Caesar Salad with your choice of salmon of chicken. Great Christmas gift! For more information or to buy tickets please visit www.olph-retreat.org or call 941-486-0233 ext. 3002.

 Couples Date Night Jan. 15 and 17

The Office of Family Life is hosting two Parenting workshops.  Catholic Parenting is challenging!  Learn specific tips and tricks that helped hundreds of families thrive!  Jim and Maureen Otremba have been presenting for over 20 years and have given presentations to Parishes and Diocese around the country. The workshops are 6 p.m., Jan. 15 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers, and from 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at Our Lady of the Angels Parish, 12905 E. State Road 70, Lakewood Ranch. The cost is $25 for materials.  Registration is needed.  Pizza dinner and drinks will be provided.  Our Lady of the Angels will have babysitting available.  For more information and registration go to www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar.

Spirituality of Retirement workshop Jan. 16

The Office of Family Life is hosting a workshop at 1 p.m., Jan. 16, at St. William Parish Ministry Hall, 750 Seagate Drive, Naples. The Universal Call to Holiness invites us to “the fullness of the Christian life and the perfection of charity” (Lumen Gentium). For Catholics in their retirement years, this invitation takes on new joys and challenges as their wisdom increases and defining life characteristics such as career, mobility, and relationships undergo transition. This workshop provides strategies for retired Catholics to enrich their identity as cherished members of the Body of Christ. Rooted in our baptismal call to holiness and drawing on the riches of the Eucharist, the presentation incorporates current research on brain biology, generativity, and wellness. Participants will gain an enhanced knowledge of the gift they are to the Body of Christ along with ways to share their gifts with their faith community. Suggested donation at the door.  Please register by Jan. 14 either online at www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar or call St. William at 239-261-4883.

Faith and Ale Lee County Jan. 17

Faith and Ale is an outreach for men to learn more about their faith and grow closer to Our Lord. The next gathering is 6:00 p.m. Thursday, January 17, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. The speaker is David Casper, a retired Hall of Fame American football player. Locations will vary throughout the 2018-19 season. To register, or for more information, please visit www.faithandale.com.

Blue Mass in Naples Jan. 26

St. Agnes Catholic Church, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples will celebrate a Blue Mass in honor of Law Enforcement and First Responders, Active and Retired on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. This year’s guest homilist will be Deacon Bob Montelongo of the Chicago Police Department. Please join us as we honor their sacrifice and service to our community. A luncheon will immediately follow in the Parish Hall. Please RSVP at 239-592-1949 for the reception.

Mooney Lady Cougar Weightlifting team debuts

This is the new Lady Cougar Weightlifting Team at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota.

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Lady Cougar Weightlifting Team made its debut in November. This new Sarasota team consists of 15 inaugural participants and will be competing against teams at competitions throughout the region.

 

 

 

 

Making gingerbread houses

Bishop Verot Catholic High School National Honors Society members hosted a gingerbread house decorating Dec. 6 in Fort Myers for second and third grade students from St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers and St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral.

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School National Honor Society welcomed second and third graders to the Fort Myers campus Dec. 6 from St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers. It was a fun day of creating beautiful Gingerbread Houses and Christmas Cookies, and a little snacking too.

 

 

 

 

Bringing music for weary travelers

Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School students from Venice played Christmas music in early December at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

String musicians from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice entertained weary travelers at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Dec. 4 with a holiday concert. Musicians from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota also had their own holiday concert a few days later. Great job everyone.

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