School time capsule opened: Part of ongoing 60th Anniversary celebrations

The 2020-2021 school year at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte has been unique with precautions required by the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. However, it is also a time for celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the school.

Events will be taking place throughout the school year with class and school projects helping each student become more aware of their important place in the school’s history. Bulletin boards at the school include displays reflecting its history in Faith, faculty, uniforms, service, sports, music and more.

Principal Tonya Peters held an informal ceremony on Nov. 12, 2020 to reveal the contents of a time capsule which had been placed in a “Peace Pole” on the school grounds, next to a covered pavilion and the sports field. The event was delayed a day because the threat of Hurricane Eta.

“That’s ironic because when the school opened in 1960, the first day was delayed by a hurricane,” Peters explained.

Peters, with the help of Collin Smith, an alum, parent and Home and School Co-President, emptied the pole/capsule to reveal the contents. The event was livestreamed to classrooms, as well as to virtual learners at home, to continue to ensure the safety of all students. Also present were Lily Solano of the School Board; Melissa Elsberry, first-grade teacher, parent and Co-President of Home and School; as well as Father Philip Scheff, School Chaplain.

The contents of the pole/capsule were wrapped in plastic bags with some being wet. The first item removed was a 1996 yearbook which immediately helped everyone realize what year the time capsule was created. “We had no idea,” Peters explained. “That’s 24 years ago. A long time. Let’s see what else they included.”

Moisture had damaged some of the items, but there were pictures of a student-teacher basketball game; a copy of the May 26, 1995 Florida Catholic in which featured a story about the school science fair; as well as individual prayers for peace written by students.

“That was fun, but it is only part of what we are doing today,” Peters said. “We are creating our own time capsule. We have two stainless steel official ‘time capsules’ that will be buried in the same place we found this one. But, let’s face it, we’re 2020, we’re different, and we had every class prepare something special.”

Some basic items were natural to include, such as the mission statement, a list of current school leaders, a 2020 soccer team championship t-shirt, a baton with the school prayer, a magnet with the 60th Anniversary logo, as well as a picture of Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Pope Francis shaking hands.

The Pre-Kindergarten 3-4 classes placed fingerprints from paint and placed them and their names on masks and the kindergarten students provided a group photo (all wearing masks).

The first-grade class created a “Zooming in 2020 at School” packet which included drawings from the students demonstrating what can and can’t be done while taking classes virtually. Examples of what is ok included paying attention and muting microphones when not asking or answering a question. Examples of what not to do included jumping on your bed, making silly faces, or playing with your pets.

The third-grade class provided a roll of toilet paper which was signed by all of the students. “It is so appropriate to have this and impossible for anyone to understand the great toilet paper shortage of 2020,” Peters said with a chuckle.

Other grades created a prayer for the future; notes that represent themselves; a display describing the presidential election; a word search with names of the students; and a decade-by-decade recap of important cultural events since the school opened.

“This has been so exciting,” Peters said. “We will place all of these new items into the time capsules and bury them. Maybe they will be opened in 24 more years, or even later.”

Smith, the alumnus, parent and Home and School Co-President who helped to reveal the contents of the time capsule, said St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School has been a part of his family since before he was born, with his grandmother and mother both teaching at the school, and now his children attend.

“This is home for my family and so many more,” Smith said. “It is a blessing to have St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School here in Port Charlotte.”

Bishop celebrates milestones

There are two dates in July which hold a special place in the heart of Bishop Frank J. Dewane, July 16 and July 25.

July 16, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is the day in which he received the Sacrament of Holy Orders 32 years ago in 1988 for the Diocese of Green Bay. In addition, it was 14 years ago, on July 25, 2006, when he was Ordained to the Episcopate, becoming a Bishop and eventual Spiritual Leader of the Diocese of Venice in Florida.

“I have been blessed and humbled to be in the Diocese of Venice in Florida,” Bishop Dewane said. “The duty of a Bishop is as Shepherd of a Diocese and to serve the pastoral needs of the faithful. It is the People of God and serving them that defines me as their Bishop.”

In those 14 years as Bishop, there has been unprecedented growth in the 10-county, 10,000 square-miles Diocese. This has necessitated the establishment of seven new parishes, and a chapel for the Latin Mass, as well as the expansion of many other facilities. This growth has all been done to address the pastoral dimension for the people of God.

Impacts from Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the ongoing response to the COVID-19 Pandemic have challenged the workings of the Diocese in different ways, but Bishop Dewane noted that, as in the aftermath of the hurricane, the Diocese and the Catholic Church remains strong.

“It is at times of great peril when people seek comfort from their Faith,” Bishop Dewane said. “As the impacts of the Pandemic linger, the Diocese is committed to continuing to serve the faithful in every way possible.”

Before the outbreak and quarantines, Bishop Dewane took part in the Ad Limina visit to Rome in February 2020, with the Bishops of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The highlight of the visit included a Feb. 13, 2020 audience with Pope Francis, after which Bishop Dewane was presented with a medal and rosary.

In addition, during the past year the Bishop has led two Diocesan initiatives which endeavored to encourage the faithful to grow closer to the Lord. First was the “Disciples of Christ,” campaign, which taught students in Catholic Schools and in Parish religious education programs what it means to follow Christ and to be a Disciple of the Lord.

Most recently, Bishop Dewane announced that the Diocese would celebrate a “Year of St. Joseph” from March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, 2020, the Bishop, in the context of the coronavirus, consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of St. Joseph. “Particularly in this time of uncertainty in light of the Pandemic, it is appropriate to seek the intercessions of the saints for guidance and protection,” Bishop Dewane said when announcing the “Year of St. Joseph.” The Bishop encouraged the faithful to join in heartfelt prayer and devotion, using the life of St. Joseph as our model for fulfilling our personal call to holiness. Please visit for links to prayers, devotions and the latest announcements related to the ongoing ‘Year of St. Joseph.”

Happy Anniversaries Bishop and best wishes for the coming year.

Mass with Bishop kicks off Parish Golden Jubilee

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

Anniversaries are a good time to look back while also looking forward to the future.

Sacred Heart Parish, near downtown Bradenton, has a history to fondly look back upon that dates to 1888. However, it wasn’t until 81 years later, June 4, 1969 to be exact, that the actual Parish was permanently erected as an off-shoot of St. Joseph Parish.

To mark the beginning of 50th Anniversary festivities, Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass in honor of those who have called Sacred Heart Parish home for the past 50 years, for those who do so today, and for future generations to follow in their footsteps.

“Just as each priest leaves his mark during the time he serves here, each person who comes into the Church to worship and pray, leaves their own mark,” Bishop Dewane said. “This community would be much poorer if it wasn’t for you. Thank you. You have made Sacred Heart a unique Parish with a proud history and a bright future.”

Many of the parishioners wore t-shirts with a 50th Anniversary logo of the parish which included an image of the Parish Church at its center and underscored by the dates 1969-2019.

“It’s just a wonderful Parish,” said Carlos Martinez. “Everyone is always so welcoming. And to have Bishop Dewane here to help us start our anniversary celebration with a Mass makes everything so special.”

The Parish Church has several unique features including faceted glass windows that contain the Beatitudes which were installed in 1974. A stained-glass window, high above the front doors and narthex depicts the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was in 2004 when a grotto Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe was dedicated. A major renovation of the Parish Church took place and Bishop Dewane rededicated the Church in late 2009.

The theme for the 50th Anniversary is: “Built by Faith and diverse in its expression, Sacred Heart Parish stands as a celebration of God’s love of His people, reflected in our church building, surroundings and, most of all, its members.”