Mooney swimmer takes State title for fourth consecutive year

A Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School senior repeated as Class 1A State Champion Nov. 18, 2022, at Sailfish Splash Park and Aquatics Center in Stuart.

Michaela Mattes took the State Championships in the 500 Freestyle for the fourth year in a row and came in second in the 200 Individual Medley, proudly representing her Sarasota school. Michaela completes her swimming career as the most decorated Mooney athlete and will go on to swim for the University of Florida in the fall.

Michaela took the 500 Freestyle with a dominating time of 4:43.80, more than 9 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 also State Champ in the same event as a freshman, sophomore and junior.

In the 200 individual medley, Michaela took silver with a time of 1:59.27, again earning All-American status. This was also the fourth consecutive year Michaela medaled in the event, taking gold in 2020 and silver in 2019 and 2021. On her own, Michaela took 15th in the team competition.

The Mooney boys qualified for States in the 200 medley relay with swimmers Alexander Mitten, Daniel Krajewski, Michael Navarro-Lenza, and Turner Mitten. Turner Mitten finished 12th in the 500 free, while Krajewski qualified for the 200 individual medley, and Alexander Mitten in the 100 backstroke.

At the same event, Bishop Verot Catholic High School swimmers Alexander Price, Stephen Prendiville, Nicolas Scripcariu and Daniel Perez also qualified for the 200 medley relay. Meanwhile, Eleanor Bonds, finished 11th in the 1 meter diving competition, while her teammate Kaylie Cunniff finished 14th in the same event.

The 1A State competition was delayed one week due to impacts from Hurricane Nicole.

Exciting sports news from around the Diocese

It was a busy time the past week for athletes at Diocese of Venice Catholic high schools between competitions and signings.

First up, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Sophomore Nico Bencomo fired a -1 (71) to tie for 2nd in Florida High School 1A Golf State Championship, Nov. 12, 2022, at Mission Inn Resort and Country Club in Howey-in-the-Hills. Bencomo led Mooney to a team bronze medal.

Mooney’s Tommy Tyler fired an even par 72, one shot out of the medals to tie for 6th. Other Mooney golfers included Joe Pike, Lukas Wahlstrom, and Finley Murphy. This is the best team finish in school history for the Sarasota boys.

At the same competition, the Bishop Verot Catholic High School team finished 5th overall. The golfers were Christian Allen, Michael Bevins, Zachary Loninger, Kevin Kelly, and Dalton Payne. In addition, Connor Shea, of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples was the only boy to qualify for States.

In the girls’ golf competition, the Verot team finished 12th overall. Golfers included Amelia Loninger, Samantha Loninger, Morgan Franklin, Caroline Kelly, and Ava Aloia. Due to the impacts of the Hurricane Nicole, the State Championship was delayed and then shortened a single 18-hole event.

Meanwhile, on National Signing Day, Nov. 9, 2022, 13 student-athletes from across the Diocese signed their letters of intent to play at the collegiate level.

At Mooney, five student-athletes made their announcements. They include: Jordyn Byrd, University of Texas (volleyball, the 6-foot-5 senior outside hitter is part of the 1,000 Kills Club and was the 2021-2022 Gatorade Florida Volleyball Player of the Year); Michaela Mattes, University of Florida (swimming, ranked as the No. 5 recruit in the country and No.1 out of Florida according to College Swimming.com for the Class of 2023); Jack McKinnon, University of South Florida, (baseball, also a standout varsity football player); Olivia Davis, University of Tampa (basketball, four year starter at Mooney); and Caity Patterson, Florida Gulf Coast University (softball).

At Bishop Verot, six students signed their letter of intent. They are: Victoria Ash, Stetson University (softball); Camryn Feast, Florida Gulf Coast University (softball), Andrew Hanlon, Brown University (baseball); Aidan Knaak, Clemson University (baseball); Sarah Yamrick, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (softball); and Gigi Malik, University of Piedmont (lacrosse).

At St. John Neumann in Naples, Carter White and Tyler Kozera both signed to play baseball at the University of Central Florida.

Congratulations and good luck to each student-athlete!

 

News Briefs for the week of Nov. 11, 2022

Appointments

After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Kristian Villafaña is relieved of his duties as Temporary Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, Palmetto, effective October 18, 2022.

Father Nicholas Thompson, as Parochial Vicar at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Naples, effective November 1, 2022.

Father Binu Joseph, as Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart Parish, Bradenton, effective November 3, 2022.

Catholic Mass to Honor Veterans Moved Due to Weather

The Diocese of Venice in Florida will celebrate its 13th annual Veterans Day Catholic Mass to honor veterans on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. The Mass, originally scheduled to be held at The Sarasota National Cemetery, has been moved due to weather constraints. The Mass will now be celebrated at the nearby St. Patrick Parish, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. The Mass will begin at 3:30 p.m., with opening ceremonies at 3:15 p.m. All are encouraged to arrive early. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will be the principal celebrant of the Mass.

Mooney runner finishes second in States

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School junior Addison Dempsey took the silver medal in the Class 2A girls Florida High School Athletic Association Cross Country State Championship on Nov. 5, 2022, in Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee. Dempsey crossed the 5,000-meter (or 3.1 mile) race in 17:54, just 11 seconds behind the winner. The Mooney girls’ team came in 25th overall, with Kate Ruaona placing 11th. The Sarasota boys finished in 20th, with the top runner, Christian Kline placing 37th. At the same event, the Bishop Verot Catholic High School runners from Fort Myers also participated, with sophomore Mackenzie De Lisle placing fifth. The boy’s team took fifth place overall, with the top runner, Grayson Tubbs, placing 16th. Congratulations everyone!

Students learn to fold American Flag

The Veterans of Foreign War Golden Gate Post 7721 visited St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples on Nov. 4, 2022, to teach the eighth graders how to properly fold the American flag in advance of the school’s Veterans Day Tribute on Nov. 11.

Key Club members help neighboring school

More than 40 St. John Neumann Catholic High School students and Key Club members came together Nov. 7, 2022, to help with a beautification project at St. Elizabeth Seton. Students laid mulch on the playground and painted parking lot curbs and stops. Lots of fun was had amidst the hard work.

Tiger Trot a success

The annual Tiger Trot at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice was a huge success. Held on Nov. 4, 2022, the event raised funds and everyone had a great time. Msgr. Patrick Dubois was in attendance to observe and blessed the Tiger Trot and cheer everyone on.

Thermal energy class was HOT!

Fourth grade science students at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota learned all about Thermal Energy the week of Nov. 1, 2022. The students each constructed their own solar oven and placed the components for s’mores in them before bringing them outside to cook. The result: the ovens worked, and everyone had a delicious snack created in their own oven!

Parish holds food fest

Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park held its annual International Food Festival on Nov. 6, 2022. Delectable cuisine from around the world was up for selection including from countries such as Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Ireland, Mexico, Italy and many more. Parish pastor Father Ronnie Sison, who is originally from the Philippines, took time to visit each table and sampled many selections.

 Fun day in Bradenton

A fun time was had during “Silly String” festivities at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton on Nov. 4, 2022. The fun was a follow-up celebration to the successful annual Eagle Run fundraiser held earlier in the month. The seventh-grade class, which had great success during the Eagle Run, also celebrated with a McDonald’s party.

 

Rivals battle on field, united in the Lord

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School Viking football team from Fort Myers defeated the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Cougar football team from Sarasota on the gridiron 27-24 on Oct. 21, 2022.

The final score of the hard-fought game was irrelevant as the two schools put aside their rivalry and came together in the wake of the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ian. The Fort Myers region was hard hit by Ian and many students, staff and faculty lost their homes. The Sarasota area did not have near as much damage, but impacts were felt, and the homes of several families were badly impacted.

Although sorrowed by their own losses, the realization by the Cougar football team that their rivals were hurting even worse caused them to spring into action. This included a school-wide effort to collect much needed disaster relief items. On Oct. 20, Mooney players and coaches loaded up a truck with these donations and delivered them to Fort Myers where they were given to needy members of the Verot community.

This gesture did not go unnoticed. Just prior to the opening kick-off, the entire Verot football team and cheer squad, accompanied by their coaches, crossed the field carrying a banner which read “Thank You for Supporting our Bishop Verot Community.” The banner included the school logos as well as the signatures and individual “Thank you” messages from each player, cheerleader, coach and support staff.

This act of Christian character and class brought a roar of approval from the Mooney grandstands as the banner was brought forward and the two head coaches shook hands. As a Cardinal Mooney social media post after the game stated: “Sometimes it is so much more than football.”

The game served as the Mooney homecoming and included honoring multiple graduating classes, with a special emphasis on the class of 1962, the first graduating class at Cardinal Mooney. At various moments before the game and during breaks, these special alumni were recognized.

News Briefs for the week of August 9, 2022

School Masses with Bishop continue

 

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for students at Ave Maria Catholic School and Donahue Academy in Ave Maria on Aug. 31, 2022, and at St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy in Sarasota on Sept. 1. Bishop Dewane encouraged the students to use the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to grow closer to the Lord. These Masses are part of a series the Bishop will celebrate to open the 2022-2023 Academic Year at the 15 Diocesan Catholic schools from mid-August into October.

Verot Football reaches win milestone

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School football team reached 300 wins with a home victory on Sept. 2, 2022, over Lehigh 33-16. The Viking milestone appropriately comes as the Fort Myers school is in the midst of celebrating 60 years since its founding in 1962. Congratulations to all of the players, coaches and staff who have contributed to this program’s success.

School has STREAM Day

St. Mary Academy in Sarasota held a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) Day on Sept. 2, 2022. The students had projects that reinforced the seven “Gifts of Christ” – truth, beauty, goodness, humility, prudence, fortitude, affability. Students participated in a variety of activities that both challenged their minds, but also built up their love for God.

Kristallnacht Commemorative Program Nov. 6 in Naples

The Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County invites the community to a commemorative Program of the 84th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, recognized by most historians as “the Night the Holocaust began.” The event is free and will take place at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, at Temple Shalom, 4630 Pine Ridge Road, Naples. The guest speaker is Dr. Suzanne Brown-Fleming, Director of the International Academics Programs Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and her topic will be “November 1938: Perspective from the Vatican Archives. The event is sponsored by the Diocese of Venice, Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Federation of Greater Naples, GenShoah of SWFL, and the Holocaust Museum and Janet G. and Harvey D. Cohen Education Center. Please register at www.jewishnaples.org, or call 239-263-4205 to allow for adequate refreshments. For additional information please email cjdialogue@naples.net.

Club helps those in need

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School YACHT Club spent their Labor Day holiday helping to distribute food at nearby St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples. The food distribution is every Monday and is part of Naples community effort led by St. Matthews House. The YACHT Club (Youth And Christ Helping Together) is an instrumental component of the Neumann Campus Ministry Program. The mission of the club is to invite all students to the fullness of Christ’s love through service to others. Students plan and implement retreats, prayer services, liturgies, and more. They also take “cruises” to perform service in the community. The students were joined by two Sisters of St. John Bosco who serve at St. John Neumann.

Students donate blood

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students in Sarasota rolled up their sleeves and gave back to the community in a special way on Aug. 30, 2022, when they donated blood during a visit to the school by the SunCoast Blood Centers bus. There is a regional and national blood shortage and every pint donated helps to save lives.

Marriage Conference coming in October

Registration is now open for the Diocese of Venice Oct. 22, 2022, “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference, presented in partnership with the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life and the St. John Paul II Foundation. The theme of this year’s Conference is “Family: A Community of Prayer.” To register, please visit https://forlifeandfamily.org/events/th22-vnfl/. A video message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane can be found at www.dioceseofvenice.org/together-in-holiness-marriage-conference-october-22-2022. This marriage enrichment conference will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. Grow together in holiness, learn to form your children in the Catholic Faith, enjoy a day of quality time with your spouse, witness dynamic presentations! The day will include the Mass and the availability of the Sacrament of Reconcilliation. This special event is for all couples, engaged, newlywed or long-married! On-site childcare will be provided. For more information, please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseovenice.org.

Viking Class golf tournament in Fort Myers

The annual Bishop Verot Catholic High School Athletic Booster Viking Golf Classic is Oct. 15, 2022, at Stoneybrook Golf Club, 21251 Stoneybrook Gold Blvd., Estero. There is an 8 a.m. shotgun start. Take your best shot on a few holes, as there will be some mini-games: hole-in-one contest, longest drive, and closest to the pin. After the tournament, enjoy a luncheon at the clubhouse, complete with raffles and a silent auction! Tickets are $150/person or $600/group. Sponsorships at multiple tiers are available. Reach out to Jason Baumgardner for more information at either jason.baumgardner@bvhs.org or 239-274-6711.

5K Walk/Run for Life Oct. 8 in Naples

The 8th Annual St. Agnes 5K Walk/Run for Life will be held Oct. 8, 2022, with the goal of promoting a respect life message and raising funds for pro-life causes while encouraging healthy living (body and soul). Registration is at the Parish at 6 a.m., with the race at 7:15 a.m., at 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road in Naples. Only those registering by Oct. 2 will receive a race shirt. Registration is open at www.stagnesnaples.org. For more information, please call 239-592-1949 or email deaconroberto@stagnesnaples.org.

Priest appreciation dinners coming soon

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women invites all to one of two Priest Appreciation Dinners the group is hosting. The dinners are intended to honor all priests serving in the Diocese. The first dinner is 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Hall, 1301 Center Road, Venice, while the second is at the same time on Friday, October 7, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. The dinner is $45. For those interested in attending either dinner, please contact Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or pennyln99@aol.com.

White Mass for Healthcare Professionals in Naples

Registration is now open for the annual White Mass for health care professionals at 8:30 a.m., Oct. 15, 2022, at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. A blessing of the stethoscopes will also be held. Physicians are asked to wear their white coats. There will be a breakfast and lecture in the Parish Center with guest speaker Dr. Christina Puchalski, a pioneer and international leader in the movement to integrate spirituality into healthcare in clinical settings and medical education. Physicians and nurses may qualify for continuing education credit. For more information, and to register, please visit www.stagnesnaples.org.

Registration Open for golf tournament

The registration is open for the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School 2022 Annual Golf Tournament on Monday, October 10 (rain date, October 17) at the Laurel Oak Country Club in Sarasota. Registration starts at 10:00 a.m., with a shotgun start at 12:00 p.m. The cost is $775 per foursome (early bird registration by September 12, is $725 per foursome). The cost includes golf, a boxed lunch, cocktails, buffet dinner and prizes. There will also be a 50/50 helicopter ball drop ($10 per chance/open to all). The tournament benefits the CMHS Adopt-A-Student Financial Assistance Program. For tickets and sponsorships, please contact Amy Gorman at agorman@cmhs-sarasota.org or visit www.cmhs-sarasota.org.

 

 

News Briefs for the week of September 2, 2022

Office of the Bishop

After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Inna Reddy (Ignatius) Yeruva, M.o.C., relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar for Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish/Soup Kitchen in Immokalee, effective August 12, 2022.

Father Nathan Marzonie, O.M.V., as Parochial Vicar of San Pedro Parish in North Port, effective August 22, 2022.

Father Shawn Monahan, O.M.V., as Assistant Director of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, Venice, effective September 1, 2022.

Father Lino Estadilla, O.M.V., relieved of his duties as Assistant Director of our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, Venice, effective September 1, 2022, and thus has returned to his Religious Community.

Father Eric Scanlan, is appointed as Director of the Permanent Diaconate Program, Diocese of Venice in Florida, effective September 1, 2022.

28th Annual Undy Sunday coming in October to Collier County

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., in Collier County is hosting its 28th Annual Undy Sunday campaign. This effort is a collection of undergarments and socks for needy children in Collier County. This year, there are three ways to support this cause.

There will be collection containers marked “Undy Sunday” at the Parish exits, for on-site collection the weekends of Oct. 22 – 23, and Oct. 29 – 30. Please bring new and unused underwear and socks in sizes Small, Medium, and Large for children ages 5 -14.

The Undy Sunday team has an Amazon Charity Wish List where you can find current needs at https://smile.amazon.com/hz/charitylist/ls/R7GC9KYLQEIF/ref=smi_ext_lnk_lcl_cl.

You can make a monetary donation using a secure online donor portal of Catholic Charities: https://one.bidpal.net/undysunday. All monetary donations will be used to purchase underwear and socks for the needy children. Any questions or comments, please contact Undy Sunday coordinators Mike Egan at 239-333-9933 or Tim Corcoran at 781-799-5486, or Catholic Charities at 239-455-2655 ext. 3100.

Mooney senior excels at international swim competition

Michaela Mattes, a world class swimmer who is in her senior year at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, recently helped lift TEAM USA to a win at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii from Aug. 24 to 27, 2022. Michaela finished the meet winning gold in the 1500m (mile) freestyle with a time of 16:25.19, and placed 3rd in the 800m freestyle in 8:35.78. She also placed 5th in the 400 individual medley and 9th in the 400 freestyle. Michaela was the overall 3rd top scorer for the USA women. With this Cougar’s help, TEAM USA won the Junior Pan PAC meet! The team consisted of 20 girls and 21 boys who were the fastest 18 & under (born in 2004 or later) from the US International Trials in April. The senior, who is a three-time State Champ in the 500m freestyle, is committed to swimming at the University of Florida starting in 2023.

Diapers urgently needed in Bonita Springs

Please do what you can to provide diapers to the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., office in Bonita Springs, 28360 Beaumont Rd, Bonita Springs, FL 34134. They have put out a call as they are in dire need for diapers for clients because their shelves are bare. A donor who use to provide them in the past, has moved away. They particularly need sizes 5 & 6 for toddlers, as well as sizes 3 & 4 for newborns (not so much the smaller sizes). The Catholic Charities office is next to St. Leo the Great Parish and can be reached by calling 239-390-2928. You can also donate directly to Catholic Charities by visiting www.catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate.

Young students build robots and follow moon mission

A robotics class at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples had fun building and coding space rovers in anticipation of the NASA Artemis I rocket launch on Aug. 29, 2022. While the rocket never blasted off, the students had a blast building their miniature rovers and some even built rockets using Lego. These specialized skills are being learned as part of a broader STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum. This curriculum, guided by “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” grew out of a robotics program, and has expanded to enhance the spiritual and academic opportunities for students. With Artemis missions, NASA will collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon. Then they will use what they learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars.

Married couples’ night in Fort Myers

The Hispanic Outreach of Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers celebrated married couples with a special dinner/dance on Aug. 26, 2022. The evening included prayer, a delicious meal and dancing. This was a gathering in celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage and the commitment of the couples to each other, through God. The theme of the night was “God once again manifests Himself through His word, remembering that those who once put their lives together was through the love of God.”

Viking Class golf tournament in Fort Myers

The annual Bishop Verot Catholic High School Athletic Booster Viking Golf Classic is Oct. 15, 2022, at Stoneybrook Golf Club, 21251 Stoneybrook Gold Blvd., Estero. There is an 8 a.m. shotgun start. Take your best shot on a few holes, as there will be some mini-games: hole-in-one contest, longest drive, and closest to the pin. After the tournament, enjoy a luncheon at the clubhouse, complete with raffles and a silent auction! Tickets are $150/person or $600/group. Sponsorships at multiple tiers are available. Reach out to Jason Baumgardner for more information at either jason.baumgardner@bvhs.org or 239-274-6711.

Fans come out for football opener in Sarasota

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students, parents, alumni and friends came out in droves to support the Cougars for the opening of the football season on Aug. 26, 2022, against Booker High School in Sarasota. The Cougars won the defensive battle 10-9 and have high hopes for the coming season. It was great to see so many familiar faces in the crowd cheering on the team.

5K Walk/Run for Life Oct. 8 in Naples

The 8th Annual St. Agnes 5K Walk/Run for Life will be held Oct. 8, 2022, with the goal of promoting a respect life message and raising funds for pro-life causes while encouraging healthy living (body and soul). Registration is at the Parish at 6 a.m., with the race at 7:15 a.m., at 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road in Naples. Only those registering by Oct. 2, will receive a race shirt. Registration is open at www.stagnesnaples.org. For more information, please call 239-592-1949 or email deaconroberto@stagnesnaples.org.

First Responders Mass

The Knights of Columbus Saints Cosmas and Damian Council 13341 is honored to sponsor the First Responders Mass at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 10, Our Lady of the Angels Parish, 12905 E. State Road 70, Lakewood Ranch. The Mass will honor the work of public safety personnel, including law enforcement officials, firefighters, and emergency medical service personnel. This Mass is a way to recognize the sacrifice of first responders and to remember those who have given their lives in service to their communities. All are welcome.

40 Days for Life Fall Campaign begins soon

The Fall Campaign of 40 Days for Life begins Sept. 28 and ends Nov. 6, 2022. Check with your Parish coordinator to join your Parish’s day on the sidewalk or go to www.40daysforlife.com (look under the locations tab for Sarasota or Fort Myers). Your presence can be a powerful sign to women in need that there are better options available. Questions? Contact Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068. Join the 40 Days for Life Fort Myers kickoff event at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 13, outside of Planned Parenthood, 6418 Commerce Park Drive, Fort Myers. The event will be highlighted by national pro-life speaker and author Terry Beatley. The Kick-Off Rally in Sarasota is from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Community Pregnancy Clinic, 1419 7th St., Sarasota (around the corner from Planned Parenthood). The guest speaker will be Lisa Rowe, CEO of Support After Abortion.

Priest appreciation dinners coming soon

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women invites all to one of two Priest Appreciation Dinners the group is hosting. The dinners are intended to honor all priests serving in the Diocese. The first dinner is 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Hall, 1301 Center Road, Venice, while the second is at the same time on Friday, October 7, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. The dinner is $45. For those interested in attending either dinner, please contact Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or pennyln99@aol.com.

Eucharistic Conference in September

Inspired by the National Eucharistic Revival movement, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples is creating the opportunity for people to learn more about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. The one-day Eucharistic Conference is 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. The day features talks and worship music in both English and Spanish. There are sessions only in Spanish at the same time as the only English sessions followed by Eucharistic worship in both languages. Father Casey Jones, Pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton, and Jon Niven, Music Director at Seton, are hosting the English track. Special guests Juan De La Rosa, Director de la Renovación Carismática and Fernando Torres, Ministerio Agnes Dei Líder de Adoración, both from the Archdiocese of New York, are hosting the Spanish sessions. The day will end with a bilingual Vigil Mass at 4:30 pm. Breakfast and lunch are provided. Cost is $10 per person. Registration is on Seton’s website, www.StElizabethSeton.org. The Parish is located at 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples. Please call 239-455-3900 for any additional information.

White Mass for Healthcare Professionals in Naples

Registration is now open for the annual White Mass for health care professionals at 8:30 a.m., Oct. 15, 2022, at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. A blessing of the stethoscopes will also be held. Physicians are asked to wear their white coats. There will be a breakfast and lecture in the Parish Center with guest speaker Dr. Christina Puchalski, a pioneer and international leader in the movement to integrate spirituality into healthcare in clinical settings and medical education. Physicians and nurses may qualify for continuing education credit. For more information, and to register, please visit www.stagnesnaples.org.

Sarasota Laps for Life Oct. 8

Join the Sarasota Laps for Life 5K on Siesta Key Beach from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. This year the Knights of Columbus are running to benefit SOLVE maternity homes in Bradenton, Sarasota and Englewood. SOLVE provides cost-free housing, counseling and support for women and teens with unintended pregnancies. Why run? Promote a culture that encourages life in abundance by providing the support and resources available for both mother and child so they can flourish. Join us as we celebrate life in abundance! See www.srqlapsforlife.net for details and registration.

 

Young Sarasota student twirls to top of sport

With seemingly no effort, 13-year-old Jax Scott can work a baton like a seasoned veteran, performing moves and tosses only elite twirlers can master after many years of failure and practice.

Yet, in little more than two years of hard work and dedication, Jax, an eighth-grade student at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota, earned the right to represent the USA at an international competition after taking the top prize at the July 2022 U.S. National Baton Twirling Championships in Stockton, California.

“It felt great,” Jax said. “I was proud of myself working the past few years competing and when I went to nationals, the first goal was to qualify for team USA. And I did it.”

At nationals, Jax took first place in the two baton and artistic twirl competitions and second in the solo competition. His overall score earned him the right to go to the August 2023 International Baton Twirling Federation Nations in Liverpool, England as a representative of TEAM USA.

Jax credits his parents, family, coaches and friends for supporting him in what is primarily known as a female-dominated sport. This does not matter as he focuses on learning new tricks, having exciting experiences and makes friends from across the country.

“Not many think it’s cool or fun, but I do,” Jax said. “My friends are really supportive and are happy when I master new tricks… My advice is, do not give up on what you are practicing. Ask your coaches, and they will help you and guide you through them… And if you cannot catch it, improve by the loss… This is a sport originated by men and when I saw what was possible, I knew it was cool. The great thing is you can be innovative with your routine… there are fire batons, glow batons and even breakdancing.”

It was a family house cleaning that put Jax on the road to success in the early days of the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020. “I came across the baton and didn’t even know what it was, but then I would do tricks that most beginners wouldn’t be able to do… After my first lesson, I just fell in love with it. I would practice every day, right after school.”

The baton was his mother’s, Jennifer Neumann, who was a baton twirler as a young girl but had moved on to other passions, putting the tool in storage for her family to find many years later.

“We saw right away how skilled he was and how passionate he became,” Neumann said.

Realizing this was not just a passing fancy, Jax’s parents contacted twirling coaches Cody Carter and Jennifer Marcus, who have helped guide the young student to excel.

Jax sees Carter as his idol and mentor. Carter is an honors student at Arizona State University who has been twirling since he was seven years old and is a three-time world champion who also appeared at the age of 14 on season 11 of America’s Got Talent.

After watching many twirling videos, and a few online chats during several Zoom calls, Jax finally met his idol in person. Marcus is his Florida-based coach who lives on the east coast and meets with Jax once a month.

Both are readily available when Jax has questions regarding learning new routines and how to prepare for competitions.

The thing that most attracted Jax to the sport was the extreme difficulty of learning how to manipulate the baton to complete harder and harder tricks which drove him to push himself to try harder whenever something did not work immediately.

“You are going to mess up every so often during your routines, like dropping or forgetting tricks,” Jax said. “But you try again and again. Looking back at my early work and I wasn’t even doing it right and then to see how much I have improved, that is very satisfying and helps push me to work harder.”

Jax will spend the next year practicing one to two hours each day after school. So far, he has more than 35 tricks in his repertoire and his athleticism enables him to include cartwheels and high tosses while manipulating and spinning two batons.

Neumann said it is hard to express the amount of hard work and dedication Jax put into becoming the top baton twirler in his age group.

“We are extremely thankful for our Parish and school for their support,” she said. “It is important for others to see what Jax can do in a short time and perhaps be able to experience the love and passion he has for baton.”

Neumann added that their three youngest children are also taking up the baton and the family is working to raise money to help offset the costs of the trip to England next year. A Go Fund Me page has been set up, which can be found by searching for IBTF Nations Cup World Competition, or by using this link, https://www.gofundme.com/f/ibtf-nations-cup-world-competition?utm_medium=email&utm_source=product&utm_campaign=p_email%2B2300-co-team-welcome.

One week in and students fully engaged

The ubiquitous car line, the trudging of feet in the hallways, the ringing of the first bell, morning prayers and then classroom instruction.

These scenes are repeated each day at the 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic schools which began instruction for the 2022-2023 Academic Year on Aug. 8, 2022, with the full complement of 5,837 students engaged in schoolwork by Aug. 10.

The first days were full of everyone figuring out where to go, reuniting with old friends or making new ones, participating in their first academic lessons and taking part in any of a myriad of extracurricular activities.

At Diocesan Catholic schools, each student attended an opening Mass, either the first day of school, or within the first week.

Jesuit Father John Belmonte, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education, started the year by celebrating Mass for students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples on Aug. 10, and then doing the same on Aug. 16, for the students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers.

Diocesan schools are fully implementing the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) learning model into all classrooms. At the same time, the incorporation of the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” is growing out of a robotics program which broadens the opportunities for each student.

This approach, fully supported through the generosity of Bishop Frank J. Dewane, places students ahead of the curve in primary fields while continuing to promote core Catholic virtues by helping students to develop cognitive thought processes and gain skills such as leadership, communication, complex problem solving, teamwork and creativity.

The first Friday at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples was a House Retreat Day, where new students are assigned to one of four Houses which serve as their center of social and school spirit activities throughout the coming year. Each of the four teams competes for points to earn different rewards or prizes throughout the year, with a trophy for the winners at the end.

The first week flew by at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, where 854 students, the most in its long history, roamed the halls. The week concluded with the annual Freshman Retreat from Aug. 12-13. Students learned about Bishop Verot and the traditions and expectations being a Verot Viking. The retreat is led by seniors who will serve as mentors to the underclassmen as they go forward in high school. Highlights of the weekend included doing service work in the community at the Humane Society and Food Bank among other locations. They students also took part in a traditional candlelight prayer vigil in the courtyard.

Enrollment numbers are also way up at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring where  the students quickly dove into their studies in reading, writing, mathematics, science, technology, Spanish and much more, but all grounded in the Faith.

The largest Diocesan elementary school, St. Francis Xavier in Fort Myers, has 578 students, and the campus was buzzing as classrooms filled and everyone settled into the school year.

Just before school began, the three Catholic schools in Lee County were the beneficiary of the Catholic Schools Night on Aug. 5, at The Mighty Mussels minor league baseball game at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. Part of the proceeds benefitted the St. Francis Xavier, Bishop Verot, as well as St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral. St. Andrew Principal David Nelson threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

For the first time ever, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte began its first bus run with 24 on board, including six from nearby Arcadia. This is an exciting opportunity for children from this part of the Diocese to experience a Diocesan Catholic education.

These are just a few of the examples of what took place during the first week of school in the Diocese of Venice and doesn’t even come close to covering the full scope of the exciting things that are taking place each day. Stay tuned as we follow our students throughout the school year

To learn more about Diocese of Venice Catholic schools, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/education.

 

Diocesan Catholic Schools open

The first day for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Venice was Aug. 8, 2022, and encompassed the usual mix of excitement, tears (children and parents) and reunions among friends.

“Love you!” “Miss you already!” “One more hug!” “Have a great day!” “Have fun!”

These were some of the words from parents and students as the first day carline was full of stops and starts at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice. While the parents tried to figure out the proper carline procedures the students emerged from their respective family vehicles with their ubiquitous backpacks, a bounce in their step and enthusiasm to get to class. Of course, there were a few stragglers who weren’t quite certain where to go, but teachers and middle school helpers led the way.

A morning assembly in the courtyard in front of the school Chapel, put the students in the right frame of mind for the day and the Academic Year as everyone joined in morning prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as a few birthday announcements.

Msgr. Patrick Dubois, Rector of Epiphany Cathedral, and Father Alex Pince, Parochial Vicar, blessed the children with holy water. Also present was Jesuit Father John Belmonte, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education.

“Who is excited for this school year?” Father Belmonte queried, and immediately hands shot up and a cheer of “Yes!” came from the 250 students. “Who is ready to learn; to grow in your faith and to be at the best school anywhere?” Again, the hands shot up and cheers echoed throughout the courtyard.

“We are all here to make sure this year is the best year ever,” Father continued. “I wish all of you a very successful and exciting school year.”

Then the eager students were off to the classroom to learn and grow spiritually and academically. For the youngest students, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, some parents escorted their child into the classroom. Following a few last “First Day of School” photos, the parents departed, and everyone quickly settled into their seats comforted in the knowledge that they now had 20 or more new friends.

These scenes were repeated at each Diocesan Catholic school. The high schools had less tears and more fun as those students settled into their year. At each Diocesan Catholic high school – Bishop Verot in Fort Myers Cardinal Mooney in Sarasota and St. John Neumann in Naples – there were special “Senior Sunrise” welcomes for the graduating class of 2023.

The Diocesan Catholic schools work conscientiously to provide Christ-centered learning experiences that are transportable to the real world and provide the opportunity for children to develop life-long learning skills and to be successful beyond the classroom.

Father Belmonte said the 2022-2023 Academic Year began with enrollment of 5,837, a more than 14% increase over the previous year. In fact, Father Belmonte said each Diocesan school has a wait list in at least one grade level, and many are seeing enrollment reaching levels not seen in more than a decade. With those enrollment numbers, many new faces, and many new families are now part of the greater Diocesan Catholic school family.

“There has been a focused effort to let the community in on the secret that Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools provide a top-notch education at all grade levels,” Father Belmonte said. “There are exciting things happening in our schools and families are taking notice.”

That excitement includes the inclusion of the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) model into all classrooms while incorporating the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence.” This is all part of an incorporated Diocesan robotics program which broadens the opportunities for each student.

This approach, fully supported through the generosity of Bishop Frank J. Dewane, places students ahead of the curve in primary fields while continuing to promote core Catholic virtues by helping students to develop cognitive thought processes and gain skills such as leadership, communication, complex problem solving, teamwork and creativity.

As the 2022-2023 Academic Year progresses each Catholic school student will look back fondly at the first day and remember that “this is the best year ever.”

For more information about Diocesan Catholic schools, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/education.

Summer camps bring love of Christ to young faces

“Learned about Jesus!” “Learned about the Bible!” “Took part in fun and games at my Parish!” “Took a trip with friends from my Parish!” “God loves me, no matter what!” “I developed skills to help one day become an engineer!” “Gained a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary!” “Grew closer to the Lord!”

These are just some of the answers which children from across the Diocese of Venice will give to their friends and teachers when they return to the classroom and are asked: What did you do this summer?

At nearly every Parish in the Diocese there were a variety of captivating summer camps, with faith at their core. During these camps, thousands of children were engaged, and their young minds were, at least temporarily, focused on the Lord.

At eight Parishes, the Diocese of Venice Department of Religious Education and Office of Evangelization brought “Totus Tuus” camps for children and teens. This program was dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic Faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. The camps were directed by a team of four missionaries and two Diocesan seminarians. Parish staff and volunteers augmented the team and together they made the week memorable for all who participated.

The most common of these camps is the Vacation Bible School program which was offered at more than 35 parishes in the Diocese this summer. This weeklong Bible themed camp focused on learning the important lessons of Scripture in a fun and engaging way. The two most common themes this summer were “Monumental: Celebrating God’s Greatness” and “Come to Mama.” At Vacation Bible School, children attended daily Mass and participated in Eucharistic Adoration. They also learned uplifting songs and dances, made crafts and generally had a great time.

Several Parishes also hosted summer activities for the teens, some included taking part in service projects, while others went on retreat, either locally or even out-of-state.

A dozen different Diocesan groups took part in Camp Covecrest 2022, a Life Teen retreat throughout the summer in northern Georgia which focuses on leading teens closer to Christ. This is an intensive retreat which focuses the teens on building their relationship with the Lord through team activities, reflection, and prayer. The focus of these retreats included Eucharistic Adoration, opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and participating in Mass.

In addition, St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, took a special trip for teens to Vogel State Park in Blairsville, Georgia. This trip was led by women religious of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará. While based at the state park, the groups began each day with morning prayers, then travelled throughout the region and made certain to attend daily Mass at one of the local Catholic Churches. The evening routine included 30 minutes of talks and small group discussion, as well as 30 minutes of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Days were filled with a variety of activities, including hiking, rafting, swimming, as well as visits to water parks and more casual walks through mountain towns.

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. The longer camps stressed different skills and included field trips to augment the in-class experience. The camps actively incorporated Catholic values and virtues through the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence.”

For the athlete in many of our young people, the area Catholic high schools hosted a variety of sports camps for soccer, football, basketball, cheerleading and many others. These camps offered a chance for younger children to learn the skills needed to excel in different sports while at the same time they had fun.

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

At Casa San Juan Bosco farmworker housing in Arcadia, Catholic Charities hosted a summer camp there for resident children. The activities included arts and crafts, as well as the opportunity to continue to develop their reading skills.

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.

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