News Briefs for the Week of Feb. 11, 2022


After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced the following appointments:

Father Thobias Sabariar, M.o.C., relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. Katharine Drexel Parish effective Jan. 30, 2022, and thus, has returned to his Religious Community.

Father Antony Lukka, relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish effective Jan. 30, 2022, and thus, has returned to his Diocese of Kanjirapally, India.

Cheer Team takes silver at States

The Competitive Cheer Team at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers took second place at the Class 1A Extra Large Varsity State Championships on Feb. 2, 2022, at University of Florida Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville. Way to go!

Parish hosts fun for high schoolers

The St. Michael Parish 2022 High School Youth Festival gathered more than 80 students in Wauchula on Feb. 5, 2022. The theme this year was “We are made to be great!” The day consisted of three talks given by Greg Stearns, an outdoor games tournament, prayer and quiet time with our Lord, the opportunity for confessions and Holy Mass. It was a beautiful day of fellowship.

Time running out to apply for college scholarships

The deadline to apply for Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida 2022-23 Scholarship will close on March 1, 2022. There are six different competitive scholarships being offered. Some of the scholarships are limited in who is eligible based on the schools they attend, where they live or what career path they plan to take. During the past eight years, the Catholic Community Foundation has awarded more than $425,000 in scholarships to students attending universities, colleges and vocational programs. To find out which Catholic Community Foundation scholarship you qualify for, please visit

High school artists shine at local Art Fest

Bishop Verot Catholic High School student Cornelia Ovren won BEST OF SHOW for her acrylic painting of The Triangle Waist Company at the Fort Myers Art Fest on Feb. 6, 2022. A team from Verot also won The Golisano Children’s Hospital Sunny and Sparkle award for their clever execution of Chalk Block’s theme: “Choose to Include” in the chalk art competitions. In the same competition, another Verot group took honorable mention for their chalk block “Come Together” tribute.
Several teams take District titles

Several Diocesan Catholic high school sports teams won district titles recently. The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School girls’ basketball team in Sarasota took the District title Feb. 4, 2022. The Mooney girls’ soccer team earned their own District title Feb. 3. The St. John Neumann Catholic High School girls’ basketball team in Naples also took their District title Feb. 4.  Both boys’ and girls’ soccer teams at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers captured District titles Feb. 2.

50th Anniversary Sarasota Prayer Breakfast March 17

Friends dedicated to furthering community prayer are encouraged to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sarasota Prayer Breakfast, March 17, at the Sarasota Hyatt Regency. The faithful of Sarasota will come together as a community to pray for our city, state and nation. The gathering is modeled after the annual National Prayer Breakfast held in our nation’s capital and attended by America’s legislative leaders. Tickets may be purchased online at For additional information please e-mail or call 941-350-6075.

Two local students earn top Christmas art honors

Two St. Martha Catholic School students are 2020-2021 Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) Christmas Artwork Contest winners.

Eighth grader Paulina Wilk and fourth grader Chloe Smith were among 24 winners of this year’s contest who represent Dioceses across the country. All winners are featured as MCA eGreetings, which launched on the First Sunday of Advent at Their artwork will be displayed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. through the Advent and Christmas Seasons this year.

An annual MCA awards ceremony was held Dec. 3, 2021, at the National Shrine for winners and their families. Mass followed and was celebrated by Msgr. Kieran E. Harrington, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (TPMS) in the United States, which include MCA.

“These young people are missionaries through their art, as their drawings proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ birth,” said Msgr. Harrington. “The Mission Church is blessed by the enthusiasm shown by these young artists – and by their commitment to mission, in prayer and sacrifice.”

Hundreds of submissions were received, both through the mail and online, for this annual competition which dates back to 1933. Back then, MCA used children’s artwork on Christmas seals. Christmas cards were introduced in 2005, and in 2007 eGreetings were launched with these drawings depicting scenes of the Christmas story: shepherds and angels, the Three Kings and the Holy Family, the animals present by the manger, and the Infant Jesus.

Paulina Wilk attended the awards ceremony with her parents. Mom, Dorothy Wilk, said Paulina has always enjoyed being an artist and has excelled ever since she was a little girl. “This was such an honor for her,” Dorothy Wilk said. “The ceremony was wonderful and to see her artwork on display at the Basilica was special.”

This was not the first time St. Martha Catholic School students have been recognized in the MCA Christmas Artwork Contest. Students from the school have been recognized multiple times through the years.

Mary Jo Salomone, Art Director at St. Marth, said Paulina and Chloe, along with each of her students, are amazing artists. Throughout the years Salomone takes time to ensure her students take part in the different art competitions and they have been honored to receive numerous awards.

“They never lose sight that each award is a gift from God which should be shared with others,” Salomone said. “Sharing God’s gifts with others every day of the year is the true meaning of Christmas.”

Father Bob Kantor, Director of the Diocese Office of the Propagation of the Faith (Missions Office), coordinates Diocesan mission work was very happy when he was notified. “Great news not only for the student winners and their families, but for St. Martha’s School and our Mission Office!”

An agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies, the MCA asks children in the nation’s elementary schools and parish religious education programs and those who are home-schooled to submit their artwork to illustrate “The Nativity & Mission.”

The MCA was founded in France in 1843 by Bishop Charles de Forbin Jansen. Its purpose is to encourage all children to be aware of the needs of children living in mission Dioceses throughout the world and support them both spiritually and sacrificially. Today it is in 110 countries and helps make Jesus known to children all over the world. Under its banner “children helping children”, monies raised through schools are directed towards self-help programs involving the building of schools, the provision of health and nutrition programs and medications, school fees, as well as teaching and learning resources.

For more information, please contact the Diocesan Office of the Propagation of the Faith (Missions Office) at 239-592-1949 or email

News Briefs for the week of May 7, 2017

Prayer service honor Mary held at Catholic Center

As May is a month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop Frank J. Dewane led a prayer service in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the staff of the Diocese of Venice Catholic Center on May 3, 2021. The prayer service took place in the entrance lobby where a statue of the Blessed Virgin is on display. In addition to prayers, the staff also sang two songs in honor of Our Lady.

Dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass ended May 1

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about their experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass was lifted in the Diocese of Venice beginning May 1, 2021. For a letter from Bishop Dewane and the revised guidelines updating Parish safety protocols which includes the need to continue to wear masks at Mass, as well as at all Diocesan and Parish activities, please visit for English and for Spanish, please visit

Naples artist does well in county competition

St. John Neumann Catholic High School student Thomas Lund took second prize in the 2021 Collier County High School Art Competition hosted by the Marco Island Center for the Arts announced on April 27, 2021. Lund submitted a drawing of St. Mother Teresa for the competition. Well done.

Outdoor band concert impresses

The 6th grade band and the 7th/8th grade Advanced Band of St. Ann Catholic School in Naples performed an outdoor concert on April 29, 2021. Under the direction of Marjorie Huelsman, the bands played a wide selection of music for family, friends and supporters of the school. Attendees sat in lawn chairs as the evening concert was held on the basketball court and athletic field.

Cheer team wins competition

The Incarnation Catholic School Cheer Team from Sarasota took the National Champion and Grand Champion titles at the Crown Cheer and Dance Small Gym Nationals held May 1, 2021 at the Bradenton Convention Center. With flawless movement on the mat, and ignoring the fact that finding practice time leading up to this competition was a challenge, the team prevailed. Well done ladies!

English Charismatic Renewal Pentecost Celebration in Punta Gorda

The Diocese of Venice English Charismatic Renewal will hold a Pentecost Celebration from 2:30-5 p.m., May 23, 2021 at Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., Punta Gorda. The event will include praise and worship as well as Mass. No registration is required. For more information, please email or contact Renee Mazaron at 419-343-1604.

Diocesan CCW Convention June 4-5

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s 34th Annual Convention, with a theme of “What have you done for the least of my people?” (Matt 25:40), will be June 4 and June 5, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 1301 Center Road, Venice. The cost of the two-day convention is $75, or $65 for one day (lunch included). Each day will include personal development time, dynamic speakers and workshops, as well as providing the opportunity to meet women from around the Diocese along with the President of the Florida Council of Women. For registration information, please contact Bernadette Raftery at 704-968-9580 or or Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or Please register by May 25.

Stepping into Marriage with Children

Did you know 60 percent of second marriages fail and the failure rate increases to 70 percent when there are children from a previous marriage in the home. The difficulties of parenting and stepparenting, seemingly insurmountable, are often the root cause of such failures. A free half day workshop, organized by the Diocese Office of Family Life, entitled “Stepping into Marriage with Children” is designed for those couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation. This workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 15, 2021 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. This workshop takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools to meet unique challenges. There is no cost to attend but registration is required at For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at or 941-484-9543.

Year of the Family

On March 19, 2021, the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the joy and beauty of familial love, Pope Francis inaugurated the year “Amoris Laetitia Family” which will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the next World Meeting of Families in Rome. When announced, the Dicastery said in a statement, “The Pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families”. To learn more about the effort and the initiatives occurring in the Diocese of Venice during this commemorative year visit

8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference

All are invited to the 8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference at Ave Maria University from May 14 to May 16, 2021. Featured speakers will include Dr. Mark Miravalle, John Paul II Chair of Mariology, Franciscan University of Steubenville; Kathleen Beckman L.H.S., author and President of Foundation of Prayer for Priests; Dr. Edward Sri, theologian, author, and co-founding leader of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students); and Roy Shoeman, speaker and author of “Salvation is from the Jews” and “Honey from the Rock.” Please visit to register for this event. Lodging and meals available. For more information call 239-348-4725 or email

News briefs from the week of June 22 2020

First grader wins national Space Art contest

Artwork of Javier Herrera, a first grader at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers, who won the Living Worlds Space Art Contest sponsored by the University of Notre Dame.

Javier Herrera, a first grader at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers has been named the first-place winner in the Living Worlds Space Art Contest sponsored by the University of Notre Dame. Javier won the K-1st grade category in the contest which asked students to imagine what new and unusual forms of life may exist on other planets. For his top place finish, Javier was presented with a beginner telescope and some science books. His teacher/classroom will receive a $250 gift card to purchase science and art supplies.

A panel of educators and scientists evaluated the artworks based on their artistic creativity, scientific accuracy, and the written explanation. By participating in this contest, it is hoped that students will learn about adaptation, the discovery of planets around other stars, and the diversity of life both on our planet and beyond.


LaBelle priest earns Doctorate

Congratulations to Father David Vidal, Administrator of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle, for successfully defending his doctoral dissertation on April 23, 2020, through the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Father Vidal is also a part-time member of St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami Philosophy Faculty as well as one of the adjunct spiritual directors. Father Vidal is a Thomistic scholar whose research and writings deal with the idea of the “Transcendentals” in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Son of current Ave Maria family ordained Transitional Deacon

On June 14, 2020, Salesian Brother Steven Joseph DeMaio (Salesians of Don Bosco) was among seven ordained transitional deacons in Jerusalem. He is originally from Sherman, Conn., but his parents are parishioners at Ave Maria Parish. Deacon DeMaio entered formation in 2010 and made his first vows in 2012 and perpetual vows in 2018. The ordaining prelate was Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, Latin-Rite Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem. The ordinations were celebrated at the Church of All Nations in Gethsemane. This summer he will exercise his ministry at a parish in Belle Glade in Diocese of Palm Beach, about 20 miles east of Clewiston.


Food pantry open in Wauchula

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula is the home to a food pantry which has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 Pandemic response. To accommodate those who work, the food pantry is open each Saturday, 7–8:45 a.m., 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula. If you need food at a different time or would like to support the efforts to assist the community, please call the Parish at 863-773-4089.

Community supports Catholic Charities program

The Vilano Community of Sarasota recently held a food drive for Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities in Venice and dropped of the items in early June 2020. The drive also collected items for the babies such as diapers and wipes. The program assists mothers and their young children who might otherwise be homeless with shelter and supportive assistance.

Bradenton food pantry available

The St. Joseph Parish Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave. W., Bradenton, is open and distributing food from 9a.m. to noon Monday-Friday, and 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays, following all social distancing protocols. New clients are welcome to register during regular pantry hours. Call 941-756-3732 if you have any questions or wish to make a donation of money or food. For more information on the St. Joseph Food Pantry go to

Catholic Charities Response to Pandemic

If you need help

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

Food distribution

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Monday-Friday, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers;
  • 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, 9-11 a.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 E. Oak St. Arcadia;

How to Help

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is in urgent need of your financial support during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, please visit or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Schools briefs week of April 27

Happy to see the teacher

St. Martha Catholic School teacher Jane Greenamoyer recently delivered Learning Packets to her kindergartners. The students were excited to see her as she was greeted from afar by her students and their parents. One student even wrote in chalk on the driveway of their home “Thank You! Mrs. Greenamoyer!”

Art projects reflect masters

Art students at two Diocesan Catholic schools were recently tasked with a fun distance learning project: recreate a work of art using props from home. The AP Art History class at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and the fifth through eighth graders at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples, were into the creative spirit of the projects and the results were impressive.


Verot senior builds signs to encourage others

Bishop Verot Catholic High School Senior Christian Kearns has been using his time away from school in Fort Myers to encourage others. The words Faith, Hope, and Love on the corner of McGregor and Colonial Boulevards were designed, cut, painted, and delivered by Christian.

Teacher in the spotlight

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples has been highlighting the work of its teachers to share with the community is an online effort called “Teachers in the Spotlight.” One recent example showed just how dedicated and committed the Seton teachers are to stay connected to their students. One of the families in Naples does not have Wi-Fi at their home which presents many difficulties during this time of Distance Learning. To help this family, 2nd grade teacher Dolores Martin travels to her student’s home to drop off packets with assignments and needed materials. She drove over on a Sunday (April 19, 2020), to give a weekly spelling assessment in the student’s driveway. Talk about going the extra mile to help your student.