Catholic schools represented at States

Athletes representing Diocese of Venice Catholic schools have been making a great showing in the respective sports at the regional and state levels.

Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School Shamrocks are the 2021 Sunshine State Athletic Conference 8-Man AAA Football State Champions. The team defeated Canterbury of St. Petersburg 28-18 at home on Nov. 12, 2021. Congratulations to everybody on the team and those who worked tirelessly in the background to make this happen.

Cross country athletes competed on Nov. 12, at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee. There, the Donahue boys took part in the Class 1A championship meet finishing 18th overall. The top runner for the Shamrocks was Leonardo Borjon taking 20th. His teammates included Winston Fairchild, Andrew Graham, Benjamin Freeze, Cameron Millwood and Stephen Hart.

On the girls side of the 1A State Championship, Addison Dempsey finished 12th overall representing Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota.

In Class 2A, the Bishop Verot Catholic High School girls cross country team finished 5th overall in the team competition while the boys finished 19th. The top runner for the Viking girls was Mackenzie De Lisle, finishing 13th overall. The other members of the team were Julia Reitz, Kylie Thomas, Erika Romero, Madison Thomas, Maren Pleger and Bianca Zaccagna. On the boys side, the top runner was Grayson Tubbs, who finished finished 56th. Other members of the team included Zachary Zielke, Andrew Marino, Dennis Olsen, Zachary Engel and Danial Adams.

The state championships in golf took place Nov. 9-10 at the Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills. Competing in Class 1A, the Cardinal Mooney boys finished 6th overall, while the Verot boys finished 8th.

Mooney golfer Wyatt Platter finished in a tie for fifth, one shot out of 3rd place. His teammates included Tommy Tyler, Nicolas Bencomo, Lukas Wahlstrom and Joseph Pike. The team finished 3rd in the Nov. 1 Class 1A Region 2 competition.

The top Verot boy was Dalton Payne, who finished in a tie for 29th. His teammates included Zachary Loninger, Kevin Kelly, Christian Allen and Michael Bevins. The team won the Class 1A Region 2 title. Meanwhile the Verot girls team finished 14th in the state competition, with Morgan Franklin the top team member finishing 54th.  Other golfers included Caroline Kelly, Brooklyn Butler, Talia Rodino, Amelia Loninger. The Viking girls won the Class 1A Region 2 title on Nov. 2.

On the gridiron, Bishop Verot beat Cardinal Mooney 39-0 at home in the football Class 3A regional quarterfinals on Nov. 12. Verot faces a tough road game on Nov. 19 in the regional semifinal against undefeated Berkeley Prep in Tampa.

Several athletes who have already accomplished much took part in National Signing Day on Nov. 11.

Four Bishop Verot senior athletes signed their National Letter of Intent to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level. The signers were: Kolton Curtis (baseball) Barry University; Kendal Garguila (soccer) Florida Gulf Coast University; Kevin Riscassi (baseball) Flagler College; and Josiah Velasquez (baseball) Florida Gulf Coast University.

In addition, four Cardinal Mooney athletes also singed their National Letter of Intent. These athletes included: Avery Beach (track and field) University of Tampa; Patrik McGrath (lacrosse) Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts; Luke Labriola (baseball) Hillsboro Community College; and Jenna Santiago (soccer) Duquesne University, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Congratulations to each of the athletes for representing your school at the highest level.

Mooney swimmer repeats as State Champ

A Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School junior repeated as Class 1A State Champion Nov. 6, 2021 at Sailfish Splash Park and Aquatics Center in Stuart.

Michaela Mattes took the State Championships in the 500 Freestyle for the third year in a row and came in second in the 200 Individual Medley, proudly representing her Sarasota school.

Michaela took the 500 Freestyle with a dominating time of 4:45.51, more than 8 seconds faster than her nearest competitor. Her winning time earned her automatic All-American status with the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA). She was State Champ in the event as a freshman and sophomore.

In 200 Individual Medley, Michaela took silver with a time of 2:00.71, again earning All-American status. This was the third year Michaela medaled in the event, taking gold in 2020 and silver in 2019. In the 2021 finals, she trailed only one competitor who was a two-time defending State Champ in Class 2A.

Fellow Mooney student Daniel Krajewski also qualified for the state competition and participated in the boys 200 Individual Medley.

At the same event, Bishop Verot Catholic High School swimmer Marcos Egri-Martin broke two school swimming records while placing 6th in the 100 Breaststroke and 9th in the 50 Freestyle.

Marcos was also part of the 200 Freestyle Relay team which finished 16th overall.  The other Fort Myers swimmers on the relay team were Diego Corredor, Stephen Prendville, Alexander Price and Ethan Halter. Eleanor Bonds who finished 18th in the girls 1 meter diving competition after finishing 4th in the regional competition. An additional Verot competitor was Nicolas Scripcario, who swam in the 500 Freestyle.

Additional athletes from Cardinal Mooney, Bishop Verot and St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples and the Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria will be competing in state cross country and golf events through Nov. 17.

Check out the next Florida Catholic for results or follow the Diocese at to see updates throughout the weekend.

News Briefs for the Week of November 8, 2021

Bradenton students do well in Knights soccer challenge

Three St. Joseph Catholic School students in Bradenton won awards at the Knights of Columbus State Soccer Challenge on Nov. 6, 2021 in Melbourne, Florida. Connor and Karol placed 2nd in the state in their age division, and Cooper placed 3rd in the state! Congratulations!

Student wins top junior horsemanship title

Alexa Dahl, a junior at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, won the 2021 World Championship for American Saddlebred in the 17 and under Three Gated Country Pleasure Division which she won with her mount CH Undulata’s Satchmo on Aug. 27, 2021 at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, Kentucky. The Fair is host to the World Championships and the team made two top notch performances in to claim the title of Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure 14-17 World’s Champion and World’s Champion of Champions! This team captured numerous other wins earlier in the year and is sure to continue their show ring success.

Students mourn classmate

Bishop Verot Catholic High School students, faculty, and family gathered Nov. 3, 2021, in the Senior Courtyard for a candlelight prayer vigil to remember senior Juan Roa, who died unexpectedly. The vigil included students sharing stories of Juan and the impact he had on so many lives. On All Soul’s Day, Nov. 2, the entire student body, along with members of the Roa family, took part in a Mass in his memory.

Three-year-olds dig for dinosaurs

The pre-kindergarten-3 students at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota played Jr. Paleontologists on Nov. 3, 2021 during a dino dig. A packed sand pit was created for the children to dig through in their own grip section as they happily searched out the “dino bones” and then tried to figure out how to put them together to assemble a “full-sized” dinosaur. Afterwards the whole group took a well deserved nap.

Volunteers at local soup kitchen

Junior girls at the Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School took part in a Nov. 5, 2021, service day volunteering at the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen at Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee. The students set up the dining room tables, served the food and washed the dishes, learning valuable lessons about giving back and seeing first-hand the need of the poor in the community, some 10 miles for their home.

School hosts Fall Festival

St. Ann Catholic School in Naples hosted a Fall Festival on Nov. 6, 2021, put on by the school PTA. Beautiful weather brightened everyone’s day there were lots of fun activities and good food too.

Department of Education holds marketing and development workshop

The Diocese of Venice Department of Education hosted a Catholic Schools Marketing & development Collaboration Event and Workshop Nov. 8, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice. Some 30 school representatives took part in the day which included sharing best practices, learning new strategies and brainstorming on how to continue to work together. The workshop was presented by John Carkeet, Department of Education Marketing Coordinator. Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education was also present and encouraged that continuing to build the Catholic culture at their respective schools must be a large part of any marketing and development plan.

Verot tackles Mooney in rivalry football game

The Homecoming Football Game for the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Vikings on Oct. 22, 2021 in Fort Myers was a rousing success when they beat their long-time nemesis Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota.

The Mooney Cougars took an early 10-0 lead, but the tenacious Vikings came charging back to claim victory with the final score of 28-17. For the season, the Vikings are now 5-3 and the Cougars are 6-3.

The Homecoming Game opened with a special dedication to Coach Mike Gill, a 1968 graduate of Verot and teacher. The rivalry game marked the 50th Homecoming for Gill as a teacher. He teaches woodshop and is a favorite among multiple generations of Verot students who have viewed him as a mentor (he has coached several sports) and someone whom they admire and respect.

Just before kickoff, Gill was greeted by the referees and then was given the honor of making the coin-flip to decide who would get possession of the ball first. A special coin was struck for the occasion, which had the school logo on one side and “Coach Gill’s 50th Homecoming” on the reverse.

“This is all so humbling,” he said while trying to control his emotions as his entire family, including grandchildren, and all of the Verot faithful cheered him on.

Before the game, it was announced that the school designated that one of its courtyard’s would be named in his honor.

Among those congratulating Gill was Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Education. Father Belmonte celebrated Mass for the Verot football team prior to the game and gave the Invocation. To be impartial, Father Belmonte spent the first half on the Verot sideline and the second half on the Mooney sideline.

Before the game was an Alumni tailgate and at halftime the Homecoming Court was presented. Homecoming Week included Mass, “Dressed to Impress Day,” a field day, “Alien and Astronaut Day,” game show competitions, a senior breakfast, Powderpuff football, and a traditional Homecoming Bonfire the night before the game.


News Briefs for Week of Sept. 3, 2021

Bishop Dewane continues to celebrate Mass for students

Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues celebrate Mass for the students in each of the 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic schools. The latest series of Masses took place Aug. 26, 2021 at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota; Aug. 27 at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte; and Aug. 31 at both St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School and St. Ann Catholic School in Naples.

Diocesan principals meet

The Diocese of Venice Office of Catholic Education hosted a Principal’s Meeting Aug. 26, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall. Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Education, led the meeting and updated everyone on how the start of the new Academic Year has been going in the Diocese and how successful the COVID-19 safety precautions have been working. Father Jeff Puttoff, SJ, who assisted in recruiting and promoting the Step Up for Students Scholarship initiative in the Diocese, provided an update on that work which resulted in a more than 12% increase in enrollment. The principals also received updates on the implementation of a comprehensive curriculum update. Jennifer Falestiny, Diocese Director of Curriculum, spoke about training teachers in a variety of areas. Falestiny also focused on the work to expand the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs. This also included a progress report on the implementation of the robotics STREAM initiative which will include competitions starting in the fall. Bishop Frank J. Dewane joined the group for lunch.

Miss Florida 2021 grew up at Bradenton Parish

If the recently crowned Miss Florida 2021, Leah Roddenberry, looks familiar to you, it might be that she is a parishioner and a former altar server at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton. Father Mark Heuberger, Pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul, congratulated Roddenberry during a Mass in early August and wished her luck for December, when she will compete in the 100th Miss America competition. She graduated in 2017 from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota and previously attended St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton. Congratulations, Leah! We’ll be cheering you on.

Students start garden

School gardens can make lasting differences in the lives of children. The lessons taught through these outdoor learning laboratories transcend gardening to impact children, their families and entire communities for years to come. St. Mary Catholic Academy Teacher A.J. Schiep engaged his students in this wonderful and meaningful activity on Aug. 26, 2021, in Sarasota. The new garden is just outside their classroom windows and the students used various gardening tools, getting their hands dirty, while preparing the soil for planting. The students will work on the garden throughout the year, following the progress and eventually eating the fresh food that grows.

Eighth graders display leadership

St. Francis Xavier Catholic School eighth-grade each year take part in Falcon Academy students where they are excited to display the skills they have developed throughout their years here while serving the school community. This leadership program includes journaling, discussion, and feedback exercises help students self-reflect on their experiences. During the year, they will explore patience, empathy, active listening, reliability, dependability, creativity, positivity, effective feedback, timely communication, team building, flexibility, risk-taking, and mentoring. Host teachers provide mentorship as the eighth graders embark on an exciting year St. Francis Xavier before heading off to high school! For their first session on Aug. 27, 2021, the older students introduced themselves to their younger counterparts with activities, presentations, and read aloud time. Some of the students played a Fun Friday game while working on color recognition and taking turns with the PreK Falcons. Although our eighth graders had a lot of nervous excitement at first, they eventually settled right into the role and had a blast!

Verot students have many Club opportunities

There are so many great ways to be involved at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. Students discovered their many options at an Aug. 26, 2021 Club Fair. Clubs come in various forms and focus, such as Catholics in Action; National Honor Society; Model UN; Academic Team; Black and Gold Delegation; or American Sign Language. While others are more generalized, such as environmental, art, chess, math, creative writing, robotics, theater, debate, and more.

Football team takes part in pre-game Mass

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School football team took part in the traditional pre-game Mass before their opener on Aug. 26, 2021 in Sarasota celebrated by Chaplain Father Eric Scanlan. The home game was against Booker High School of Sarasota. The Mooney Cougars won 36-0.

Summer camps bring smiles to young faces

For one week each summer many parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice make an amazing transformation to accommodate Vacation Bible School for the youngest of the faithful.

While this option was not available in the summer of 2020 due to the global Pandemic, the summer of 2021 brought the children back in droves.

A Vacation Bible School is intended to teach children to love God and thank the Lord for all the wonderful gifts in the world. Throughout a typical day of Vacation Bible School, the children learn about Bible stories, and then sing and dance in praise of God.

Team leaders – often middle school and high school student volunteers – lead the children through a variety of activities which included arts and crafts, games, reenacting Bible adventures and just having fun. Each day in the week has a different theme and different activities to keep the children engaged and learning.

One of the highlights for the volunteers is during the quieter moments when they hear the children explain their “God Experiences.” These are explained encounters with God’s creation or with good people, such a seeing butterflies or rainbows or having a good friend help with a project. The week concludes with a joyous celebration.

Some VBS programs are coordinated with neighboring Parishes to pool resources as was the case the week of July 19-23 with St. Cecilia and St. Francis Xavier Parishes in Fort Myers. A bonus for the St. Cecilia group was the opportunity to commemorate “World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly” on July 25, by singing at the conclusion of Mass.

Meanwhile, multiple Diocesan Catholic schools hosted STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) camps. Some of these camps covered several weeks and introduced the eager students to new projects such as arts and crafts, engineering various objects and other activities that incorporated the different aspects of STREAM.

St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples held its annual Summer Music Camps in mid-July with the budding musicians (ages 4-12) showing off their newly learned skills during Mass.

For the athlete in many, the area Catholic high schools hosted a variety of sports camps for children such as soccer, football, basketball, cheerleading and many others. These camps offer a chance for younger children to learn the skills needed to excel in different sports while at the same time having a bit of fun.

Catholic Charities in Bonita Springs holds a summer-long camp for children which includes a variety of fun games and projects giving the children the opportunity to show off their athletic, artistic and other skills. The campers also take a variety of fun field trips.

These are just some of the examples of the exciting activities that took place for the thousands of young people in the Diocese during the “slow” season.

News Briefs for the Week of May 28, 2021

Student art on display at Fort Myers airport (held from last week)

If you happen to be traveling through the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers sometime this year, take some time to check out the St. Andrew Catholic School student canvas on display in Concourse B. St. Andrew students in grades 5-8 participated in creating a collaborative canvas for the “Art In Flight” exhibit. Every couple of years the Alliance for the Arts coordinates with the Lee Art Educators Association to create student artwork for the exhibit. This year’s theme was “New Frontiers,” and students were challenged to question what would be the new frontier(s) for their generation. The title of our canvas is “Hope For Our Future”. You can visit to learn more about the project and view the student artwork.

Deacon aspirants finish first year of formation

The 11 aspirants for the Diaconate Class of 2025 finished their first year of formation with a weekend retreat on May 22-23, 2021 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The retreat was led by Father Jim Simko, Parochial Vicar of St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton.

Religious Freedom Week coming soon

Solidarity in Freedom takes place from June 22 to 29. The Week begins with the Feast of Ss. John Fisher and Thomas More, ends with the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul and includes the Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist. During Religious Freedom Week, Catholics are encouraged to pray and act each day for religious freedom. The (USCCB) United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pray-Reflect-Act Series aims to help Catholics build solidarity with people of faith who are persecuted and find strength to carry out the mission of the Church here in the United States. For resources and reflections each day of this week, please visit

2021 Marriage Preparation Retreats

The Diocesan Office of Family Life is offering “Day of Reflection” retreats for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. A specially prepared volunteer team of married couples and a priest will share their experiences and information with the intention of enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of marriage. The retreats in English are from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., on the following Saturdays: August 7, and November 13. Please visit to register for the English retreats. Retreats in Spanish take place: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., August 7 and October 30 at St. Jude Parish, 3930 17th Street, Sarasota, and 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., August 14 and December 4, at Our Lady Queen of Heaven, 355 S. Bridge Street, LaBelle. To register for a St. Jude retreat date please contact the parish at 941-955-3934. Please visit to register for a retreat at Our Lady Queen of Heaven, For further information contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 ext. 3019.

Ave Maria University 12th Annual Youth Conference

All high school age youth from incoming freshman to outgoing seniors are invited to join us for the 12th Annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference “FEARLESS” July 9-11th at Ave Maria University. This incredible weekend will be full of faith, fellowship, music, and great speakers! The special rate for this year’s conference is only $130 per person and includes lodging, meals, and conference fee PLUS a cool t-shirt! Call or email 239-348-4725 or or visit us at for more information.

Time capsule dug up

The eight graders at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice opened up a time capsule on May 19, 2021, revealing what they buried as fifth graders. Among the items were photos and articles about the students, as well as notes to their future selves.

Students write children’s book

The work of St. John Neumann Catholic High School students in the Creative Writing class of Cindy Brewer culminated in mid-May through a published hardcover book that included stories written and animated by the class.

Each student used a monster friend to help conquer a specific fear. Once published, these freshman and sophomores visited nearby St. Elizabeth Seton School and read their stories to the kindergarten class.

Mooney hires new baseball coach

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota is thrilled to announce Mike Mercurio as the new head varsity baseball coach for the Cougars. Mercurio is an alumnus of Cardinal Mooney, Class of 1985, and has been coaching for Cardinal Mooney for nine years, the last three as the head junior varsity coach for the Cougars. His coaching experience and devotion to the Cardinal Mooney baseball team brings a wealth of knowledge to his alma mater. Mercurio is currently a Lieutenant with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and will be retiring this summer after 34 years. Together with his wife Karen, they have two daughters that are also graduates of Cardinal Mooney.

Diocesan athletes do well in States

Athletes from three Diocese of Venice Catholic high schools did well at the Florida High School Athletic Association Track and Field State Championships held May 7-8, 2021 at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Top local athletes were:

  • John Neumann Catholic High School Junior Leah Martin-Gonzales took two Class 1A State Titles (100 hurdles and long jump), and was part of the 9th place 4X100 relay;
  • Neumann Junior Joshua Gulapa finished 3rd in the Class 1A 110 hurdles, and 4th in the 300 hurdles, and was part of the 11th place 4×400 relay team;
  • Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Senior Max Middleton took 2nd in the Class 2A discus and 8th in the javelin;
  • Bishop Verot Catholic High School Sophomore Geraldine Herrera took 2nd in the Class 2A 200 dash, and 11th in the 100.

Each of the three schools had athletes competing in multiple disciplines, representing their respective schools with speed, agility, determination and grace.

The Mooney girls 4×400 relay team set a new school record in a 10th place finish while Madeline Carson finished in 10th in the discus, leaving the meet as the top ranked sophomore in the state.

Double State Champ Leah Martin-Gonzales of Neumann took the 100 hurdles title in a time of 14.50, 0.28 seconds ahead of second place; and the long jump title with a jump of 5.72 meters (or 18 feet 9.25 inches), 10.5 inches farther than the next closest competitor.

Verot’s Geraldine Harrera’s second place run in the 200 was in a time of 24.55; Mooney’s Max Middleton’s had a second-place discus throw of 45.95 meters (150 feet 9 inches); while Neuman’s Joshua Gulapa finished third in his 110 hurdles race in a time of 14.88.

Congratulations to the athletes. Well done!!!

News Briefs for the Week of May 14 2021

Catholic Schools receive Year of St. Joseph plaque

Diocese of Venice Catholic schools were recently presented with a three-dimensional St. Joseph plaque courtesy of Bishop Frank J. Dewane as part of the ongoing celebration of the “Year of St. Joseph.” Teaching the lessons of St. Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church, has been a priority in the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Venice for the past year. The schools took part in a St. Joseph Devotional Project to introduce the devotion and to strengthen Catholic culture in each of the Diocesan schools. Bishop Dewane marked the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, 2021, by celebrating Mass at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton with invited guests and winners of the Devotional Project Art Contest. The Mass was livestreamed and at its conclusion the Bishop led the students (both in person and viewing online) in the Act of Consecration to the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph.

Wear Red on Pentecost Sunday

The great feast that marks the birth of the Christian Church by the power of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost Sunday, is May 23. Pentecost means “fiftieth day” and is celebrated 50 days after Easter. Red is the liturgical color for this day and the Faithful are encouraged to wear red to Mass that day. Red is symbolic of the love of the Holy Spirit and recalls the tongues of fire in which the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles that first Pentecost. The color red also reminds us of the blood of the martyrs. These are the believers of every generation who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, hold firm to the true faith even at the cost of their lives.

Lakewood Ranch woman receives lay Franciscan honor

Marie Rizzi, of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, is the winner of the 2021 Franciscan Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award, from the Secular Franciscan Order Five Franciscan Martyrs Region (Florida, Alabama and South Georgia). Rizzi practices Catholic Social Justice daily by feeding the hungry, shopping for the homebound, calling to see if people need company or a ride to an appointment. She has directed her Parish efforts to support Casa San Juan Bosco Farm Worker Housing of Catholic Charities in Arcadia. In addition, she is active in devising ways to involve youth in Parish outreach. Rizzi was presented the award at the Five Franciscan Martyrs Region Annual Meeting in Winter Park on May 7, 2021.

St. Martha golf team league champs

Congrats to the St. Martha Catholic School Golf Team on finishing an undefeated season on May 5, 2021. The Sarasota team capped off their season with a 6 shot victory to earn the League Championship.

Fort Myers students collect items for Catholic Charities

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School National Honor Society members collected needed items for the Fort Myers Food Pantry of Catholic Charities in early May 2021. The collection included more than 750 diapers, socks, toothbrushes, and soap.

New dean announced for Ave Maria Law

The Ave Maria School of Law in Naples recently announced that John Czarnetzky, a professor of law at the University of Mississippi, will become the new dean of the law school effective June 1, 2021. In addition to teaching courses at the University of Mississippi School of Law, Czarnetzky also works as a legal advisor to the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations, and has represented the Holy See in various negotiations and in international treaties. Czarnetzky also is a lay Dominican and a Third Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He was unanimously selected for the position by the school’s board of governors. Czarnetzky replaces Kevin Cieply, who resigned at the end of February due to personal reasons.

Updated Catholic Charities food pantry hours

The hours have been updated for the Catholic Charities efforts toward food distribution at the following times and locations:

  • Guadalupe Social Services – 211 South 9th St., Immokalee – Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon. The Soup Kitchen dining room is now open daily for dine-in and meals-to-go.
  • Judy Sullivan Center – 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples – Monday-Friday, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • Margaret Parish – 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston – Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Bonita Springs – 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs – Friday, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.
  • Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry – 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers – Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Paul Parish – Parish Hall, 1208 E Oak St., Arcadia – Fridays, 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

English Catholic Charismatic Renewal

The Diocese of Venice English Charismatic Renewal will hold a Pentecost Celebration on May 23 beginning at 2:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., Punta Gorda. No registration is required. For more information, please email or contact Renee Mazaron at 419-343-1604. Reminder: Bring your prayer group banner and stand to the event.

Diocesan CCW Convention

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 held June 4 and June 5, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 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.

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