Diocesan cross country athletes excel at State

Diocesan Catholic high school teams and individuals excelled at the recent Florida State High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee.

Individually, Mackenzie de Lisle, a junior at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, took home the Girls Class 2A silver with a 5K time of 17:52.2. In the same race, Allsion Dempsey, a senior at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, took the bronze with a time of 18:01.9.

Overall, in the team competitions, the Bishop Verot girls finished fourth, while the Cardinal Mooney girls placed 25th overall. The Verot boys also placed fourth overall. In the Class 1A race, the girls from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples placed 22nd overall.

The athletes competing for the Verot girls team were Mackenzie de Lisle, Gianna Gyurich, Caroline Ward, Caroline Muddell, Erika Romero, Jocelyn Sweeney, and McKinley Parker. The Mooney girls team included Allsion Dempsey, Rosemary Selke, Ellie Runnels, Hailey Fritschle, Kyla Logan, Samantha Petrill, and Karel Dib. The Neumann girls team included Kailyn Albright Merkel, Elisabeth Le Quere, Virginia Kate Chachere, Emma Collins, Ava Murtack, Chelsea Perez, and Mylee Van de Wouw. The Verot boys team included Andrew Marino, Dennis Olsen, Zachary Zielke, Thomas Eichten, Zachary Engel, Rafael Casillas, and Cael Horton.

Congratulations to all these athletes for qualifying for the State Championships and their overall performance this season!


News Briefs for the Week of Nov. 17, 2023

Students learn about election process

It is never too early to learn about one of the cornerstones of a democracy, the opportunity for a free and open election. At St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, the first graders learned all about the election process and the importance of voting on Nov. 7, 2023. Students then conducted their own classroom vote, complete with election booths and banners promoting the two “candidates.” On the ballot was which cookie is best, chocolate chip or Oreo? The winner was the chocolate chip cookie with a vote of 13-8.

Students donate blood

More than 60 Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students from Sarasota took part in a blood drive on Nov. 7, 2023, in support of the SunCoast Blood Centers. This opportunity to serve the community reinforced the goal of each student at Cardinal Mooney, which is to make a difference. Together, the students’ collective efforts can transform lives.

Athletes sign with colleges

There were 10 different student athletes from three Diocesan Catholic high schools who signed their letter of intent to pursue athletics at the collegiate level. Most of the signings took place on Nov. 8, 2023. From Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, Madison Duncan has signed with Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, to pursue her passion for softball. At St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, two girls’ basketball stars have made their commitments. Sophia McCartney has accepted an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, while Sydney Martin will continue her career at Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, N.C. Meanwhile, Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers had seven athletes make commitments. They are, Jason Bello, baseball, University of South Florida, Tampa; Morgan Franklin, golf, Samford University, Homewood, Alabama; Maddix Simpson, baseball, Ohio State University; Owen Rodriguez, lacrosse, Wingate (N.C.) University; Zoe Vadas, rowing, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts; Curtis Couillard, baseball, Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.; and Marissa Peck, beach volleyball, Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama. Congratulations to all these athletes and prayers and best of luck in your college careers.


Stadium Plaza dedicated to longtime teacher/coach

Coach Mike Gill has been a presence on the campus of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers for more than five decades, first as a student and then as a coach and a teacher for the past 52 years.

To honor his legacy, the newly constructed “Coach Gill Plaza” was dedicated to honor a man who has had a lasting impact on the Bishop Verot community. The plaza, complete with a cross, fencing, new pavers, and dedicated entrances, serves as the newly renovated entrance to the Viking Stadium which serves as home to numerous Verot sports teams, including football, track and others.

More than 150 family members, friends, Viking alumni, faculty, staff and current students were present for the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 27, 2023, prior to the final regular season home game. Representing the Diocese was Jesuit Father John Belmonte, Superintendent of Catholic Education.

Verot Principal Suzie O’Grady lauded Gill for making an indelible mark on the Verot community, as mentor and friend to students, faculty, and staff for many decades. O’Grady also thanked the many supporters of the project and noted how appropriate it was to honor a man who means so much to the greater Verot community, with a legacy that goes beyond any words of praise.

Gill said he was privileged and humbled by the dedication of the plaza in his name, saying that in the crowd present to honor him were people more worthy of such an honor.

“I don’t deserve this,” Gill said. “I don’t need my name up there. Bishop Verot has given me more in my tenure than I could ever repay. It is the people that make up the Viking nation; that’s what is impressive, all of you.”

Verot tackles Mooney in rivalry football game

The Homecoming Football Game for the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Vikings on Oct. 20, 2023, in Fort Myers, was a rousing success when they beat their long-time nemesis, the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Cougars from Sarasota.

The game was close early, but the powerful Vikings offense came to dominate the game with a final score of 50-14. This is the fourth time the Vikings have reached 50 points or more. For the season, the Vikings are now 8-1 and the Cougars are 6-2. Good records for both teams!

The Vikings are led by junior quarterback Carter Smith who passed for 150 yards with two touchdowns while also rushing for 138 yards and three touchdowns. During the game he became the holder of Verot’s career passing record at 6,495 yards.

Other standouts for the Vikings were sophomore Deshon Jenkins Jr., who rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns.

The Verot defense was led by senior safety Leroy Roker (2 interceptions and four tackles). Leroy also rushed for 34 yards, and he caught one pass for 24 yards. He recently announced his commitment to play football at The Ohio State University.

The Vikings have high aspirations with a goal for a return trip to the State Final Four.

Present as a neutral observer for the game was Jesuit Father John Belmonte, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Education. To be impartial, Father Belmonte spent the first half on the Verot sideline and the second half on the Mooney sideline.

Before the game an Alumni tailgate was held, and at halftime the Homecoming Court was presented. Homecoming Week included Mass, karaoke night, a field day, game show competitions, a senior breakfast, powderpuff football, and a traditional Homecoming Bonfire the night before the game.

Diocesan schools enjoy record enrollment

When entering any of the 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic schools you will find a bustling hive of activity, and you will see images of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary visible everywhere.

The children, in their uniforms – whether it is sports jacket, tie and slacks, or a polo shirt and tan pants – are smiling as they go from classroom to classroom eager for the next lesson.

In the classrooms, the students work at desks or in labs being challenged to learn in a way that is both enriching and fun: this is often done in a cooperative environment.

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

Jesuit Father John Belmonte, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education, said the 2023-2024 Academic Year is going to be exciting for everyone as enrollment has topped more than 6,200 students. That is an increase of more than 30 percent since 2020.

“We are full up with every school having some sort of waitlist,” Father Belmonte said. “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. There are exciting things happening in our schools and families are taking notice.”

While some of the enrollment increase has been due to the expansion of school choice scholarships through the Florida Step Up For Students program, Father Belmonte said it is much more.

Most crucially has been the support of Bishop Frank J. Dewane with promoting a variety of different initiatives to help bolster enrollment in the past several years. This includes a curriculum called “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” a robotics program, expanding the scope of the STREAM model (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math), into the classroom.

“These new initiatives, which are being implemented in every Diocesan Catholic school, ensure that each of the students receives the educational experience that parents have come to expect from the Diocese,” Father Belmonte explained. “That is a quality education that helps to build the mind, body and spirit, all focused on building up the glory of God in the world.”

Bishop Dewane said the increased enrollment is impressive and that he is humbled knowing that more families are putting their trust in the Diocese to educate their child.

“I want to thank all of the parents who have put their confidence in Diocesan Catholics schools, whether they are new to our schools or have been connected to our schools for many years,” Bishop Dewane said. “We have gained this trust by having Christ at the center of everything. We accomplish this through our comprehensive ‘Gifts of Christ’ initiative which enhances the faith and academic life of the students and the entire Diocesan school community.”

This initiative creates a strong culture by providing each student a Catholic world view and building moral character that continues to help develop the creative imagination of each student.

The result is that Diocesan Catholic schools are outstanding in placing students ahead of the curve in primary fields while continuing to promote core Catholic values by helping students to develop cognitive thought processes and gain skills such as leadership, communication, complex problem solving, teamwork and creativity.

Getting the word out about the great things happening in Diocesan Catholic schools has meant that Father Belmonte and his team have been relentless in raising awareness about the widespread availability of school choice and education choice scholarships. During enrollment season in the spring, Father Belmonte said his office texted and emailed 1 million messages to Catholic families within the borders of the Diocese.

“People are saying, ‘I can’t believe you’re communicating with me on my cell phone,’” Belmonte said.

Clearly, the outreach efforts are working. And there are no plans to pause.

The Diocese is in the process of converting one of its schools, Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota, into a classical school, in response to growing parental demand for that kind of rigorous curriculum. In doing so, Incarnation will join Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria as a classical Catholic school.

Across the Diocese, the schools are increasing academic standards while focusing on developing a strong “Catholic School Culture.”

“This culture is the vision, values, systems, language, expectations, behaviors, and beliefs that increase a school’s and Diocese’s chances of accomplishing the strategy of fulfilling its mission: to introduce the world to its Savior,” Father Belmonte said. “That is at the core of what we do, each and every day, and judging by the enrollment numbers, the parents value that by entrusting their children to our schools.”

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

School buildings get summer makeover

When students returned to Diocesan Catholic schools the week of Aug. 7, 2023, school administrators were in a last-minute rush to complete summer improvement projects which ranged from a fresh coat of paint, the installation of portable classrooms, to new roofs.

The work across the Diocese took advantage of students being off campus as crews with heavy equipment conducted loud and dusty work. The work is expected to continue in some locations right up to and beyond the first day of school, which was Aug. 9.

At Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, crews have been working at various locations across the campus. Work included the installation of six new portable classrooms behind the theater to accommodate the growing number of students as well as other cosmetic upgrades throughout. Meanwhile, the finishing touches are being put on a new entrance to Viking Stadium. In its final phase in mid-August, the new plaza is being dedicated to Coach Mike Gill, who has been a teacher at Verot for more than 50 years. The work is expected to be completed by the first kickoff of the coming football season in late August.

Workers also descended on Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, throughout the summer. One building received a new roof, while there was new paint in the hallways and bathrooms, updates to the gymnasium roof and major renovations to the baseball field. Unexpected repair work was needed due to a mid-summer thunderstorm, which caused damage to the roof of the media center and a covered walkway, but that work was completed by the first day.

There have been several upgrades at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples. Work included installing two new modular classrooms to handle increased enrollment, new middle school lockers, an audio/visual system in the gymnasium, renovated restrooms in the cafeteria, smart boards, shiny floors, and much more.

Four additional classrooms were added to Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria. These rooms had been used for various purposes, such as storage and other school activities, but the need for the class space became pressing as there has been a massive increase in enrollment in the past few years.

A new covered basketball court is being installed at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton. This court is nearing completion as the finishing touches are added. The covered area will allow more outdoor activities for students, including sports such as tennis and pickleball.

For Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, much of the work focused on completing roof repairs from Hurricane Ian. The main school building was temporarily unusable following the Sept. 28, 2022, storm. Temporary repairs to the interior building and roof allowed students to return to the building by early January 2023, but the installation of the new permanent metal roof took most of the summer. St. Ann Catholic School in Naples also received a new roof in an upgrade to protect from future storms.

All ongoing work is expected to be completed soon, putting the 15 Diocesan Catholic schools in good shape for the more than 6,200 in the classrooms this year!

News briefs for the week of Aug. 4, 2023

New Mooney athletic director named

Rafael Fernandez has been appointed as the new athletic director at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota. Fernandez is a 1991 graduate of Mooney having played baseball at the school. He comes to Mooney from the same post at Lake Howell High School in Winter Garden. Previously he was dean of students at South Seminole Academy in Casselberry, and before that at Lancaster Elementary School in Orlando. He has a degree from the University of Central Florida and is fluent in Spanish. Much of his family still lives in the Sarasota area as he returns to his roots to take on a program that has seen great success in recent years.

Knights support school

Two Knights councils, Ponce De Leon Council 8074 in Punta Gorda and Our Lady of Victory Council 3358 in Sarasota, recently presented gifts to St. Mary Academy in Sarasota. Council 8074 generously gifted $4,000 to support the school during a July 26, 2023, reception in Punta Gorda. Council 3358 presented a check for $5,000 on July 27. St. Mary offers an exceptional education for children with learning differences. For more information, please visit https://www.stmarysarasota.org/.

Children participate in summer camps

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula hosted two different summer camps, one for girls the week of July 10-14, 2023, and another for boys the week of July 17-21. These camps were all day and included fun activities but also had a strong component of faith, which included the participation in the Mass, prayer, adoration and taking part in Eucharistic processions. The camps were led by the religious women of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, who serve at the Parish, as well as many volunteers.

Scam Alert

There have been recent incidents where parishioners have been contacted supposedly by their pastor and/or parish staff to send gift cards, cash or money orders via email or text. These requests are a scam and under no circumstances should you reply to these emails or comply with these requests. Nor should you divulge any personal information to anyone that is not a trusted source. If you are contacted with a request for money via email or text, and the message appears as though it is from a Diocesan priest or employee, do not reply. Instead, make direct contact with the person by calling the Parish and asking to speak with the priest or employee.

Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal

Every day, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., serves in the 10 counties that constitute the Diocese of Venice the most vulnerable population by feeding, housing, empowering, and helping all in need. This summer, you can be the one that makes a difference. Your acts of kindness have the power to transform lives and leave a positive impact in our community. The Catholic Charities Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal is asking for your support. The giving is easy! Your gift will make a positive impact on our less fortunate brothers and sisters! Please visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/ or mail a check to Catholic Charities, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Retreats Returning to OLPH

Beginning this Fall, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice, will be offering a variety of retreats. There is available a single-day Youth Retreat for grades 6-12. The following group retreats are open for registration: Matt Talbot Men’s Retreat scheduled for Oct. 15-17, 2023, and the Can You See Me? Retreat scheduled for Oct. 27-29. Interested in a 3-night, 5-night, or 7-night private, directed retreat schedule? Fall dates are now available. To learn more or to register for a group or private retreat, please visit https://www.olph-retreat.org/, or call 941-486-0233.

Surviving Divorce

If you or someone you know is navigating the challenges of a separation or divorce, consider participating in the Surviving Divorce Program developed by Rose Sweet, a well-known Catholic author, and speaker.  The twelve-week program begins at 6:30 p.m., Aug.17, 2023, at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Avenue, Naples. Contact Michael Dana at mgdana@gmail.com or 301-332-9055 to register.

Day of Reflection for Sacramental Marriage

The Office of Marriage and Family Life will be hosting a Day of Reflection for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church.  A specially prepared team will share their experiences and information enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of marriage.  This event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 9, 2023, at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Avenue, Naples.  The cost of $50/couple covers all retreat materials and lunch.  Pre-registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/marriage-preparation-seminar-2023.  Should you have questions or require additional information contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543 ext. 4748.

DOV Class of 2023 impressive

The four Diocese of Venice Catholic high schools graduated 416 into the world during a three-week span in May 2023.

This group, as they are each year, is impressive for their accomplishments earned through sacrifice, hard work and commitment in mind, body and soul.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the four different Baccalaureate Masses and noted how the Diocese is proud of the graduates and made a point to recognize the role of parents and grandparents of the graduates as well as gratitude for entrusting their children to Diocesan Catholic high schools for their education.

“It is my prayer that the academic and spiritual education you each received will serve to guide you into the future as men and women of God,” Bishop Dewane said.

An astounding 99 percent of the graduates are heading off to higher education at some of the top colleges and universities in the land. Dozens were recognized for their academic prowess with many graduating with honors. Of note, four have opted to join the military and one accepted an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

As a group, these graduates gave back to the community with more than 52,000 service hours while also garnering more than $43.2 million in scholarship offers.

In addition to academic awards, many of these students were scholar athletes with several earning state titles in a variety of sports. More than 50 of the graduates were offered scholarships to continue their athletic career at the next level.

These results are even more striking when you realize the Class of 2023 was completing its freshman year in high school when the Covid-19 global pandemic struck. In addition, these students also endured the impacts of Hurricane Ian on Sept. 28, 2023. The storm damaged the homes of the families of many students throughout the region, with the worst impacts in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota counties.

At Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, the graduation was May 12, and the Valedictorian was Michael Ramsamooj and Salutatorian was Michael Yencik. The Baccalaureate Mass was celebrated at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota on May 11.

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School Commencement Exercises were May 21 at the Naples school, with the Baccalaureate Mass at St. William Parish on May 20. The Class Valedictorian was David Schummer and the Salutatorian was Isabella Fernandez.

The graduation for Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers was May 22, with the Baccalaureate Mass at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral. Verot had 38 students recognized as top graduates, and among those, Caroline O’Halloran presented the introductory address, and the commencement address was by Cameron Caangay.

The Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School graduation was May 26 at the school in Ave Maria, with the Baccalaureate Mass at Ave Maria Parish. Andrew Graham was the class Valedictorian and Michael Long was the Salutatorian.

News briefs for the week of May 26, 2023

Verot athlete wins discus state title

Wyatt Whalen, a graduating senior at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, won the Florida State 2A Discus Championship at the recent Florida High School Athletic Association Track & Field State Championship on May 19, 2023, at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Whalen made a throw of 16.48 meters (54-feet 1-inch), which follows up his 2022 state title in the shot put. Verot teammate Grayson Tubbs, also a senior, finished third in the 800-meter race with a time of 1:56.52. The Verot boys finished 7th overall, with the girls coming in at 16th. Other top performances came from the girls and boys 3200 relay teams, which both finished fourth. Other Verot athletes to reach the awards podium (top 8) were: Logan Schwartz, javelin (4th), Mackenzie De Lisle, 3200 (4th); Julie Reitz, 1600, (8th); Ryan Peterson, discus (5th); Raven Gadsen, triple jump (8th). In the same competition, Marc Dalmau, a graduating senior at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, took third in the discus with a throw of 49.12 meters (161-feet 2-inches). Congratulations to everyone!

Neumann falls in baseball state semifinals

The dream year for the St. John Neumann Catholic High School baseball team came to an end on May 18, 2023, in the state semifinals at the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers. The team fell by a score of 3-0 to Lakeland Christian, the eventual state 2A champions. The Celtics finished the season with a record of 23-9 and reached the state Final Four for the first time since 1985. Great season everyone!

40-Hours Devotion and Eucharistic Procession coming to North Port

San Pedro Parish, 14380 Tamiami Trail, North Port, will celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi and the ongoing Eucharistic Revival with a 40-Hours Devotion and Eucharistic Procession. Adoration will begin at 3 p.m. Friday, June 9, 2023, and conclude at 7 a.m., Sunday, June 11. Adoration will be interrupted during the daily Masses (8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, June 10). There will be a Eucharistic Procession around the Parish grounds following the 10:45 a.m. Mass on Sunday, June 11. To sign up for an hour of adoration, please contact 941-426-2500 or sanpedrorevival@gmail.com.

Physics on display

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School Honor’s Physics class of Michelle Vocu held a time-honored tradition on May 16, 2023, and tried their luck with the egg drop experiment. The assignment was to design and construct a container that would allow the egg to fall freely without increased air resistance from the top of the football stadium press box, and land unharmed. The maximum weight allowed was 600 grams, and the students were encouraged to have a minimum size for the structure. In addition, they were not allowed to use any food or packaging materials in their design. After their drops (most of which were successful), the designs were evaluated, and recommendations were made for a redesign. The students were also able to calculate the impact force and velocity of their egg, using the data collected. What a great way to round out the year!

School improvement project moves into next phase

The North Campus Improvement Project at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton has moved into Phase 2 beginning in mid-May 2023. The next activity includes the installation of a shade structure over the outdoor basketball courts. The improvement project includes the construction of a six-classroom early learning/aftercare center, updates to the playground, classroom lighting and much more. If you have questions about how you can help support the school, please contact Carlee Colonneso at development@sjsfl.org,or visit https://www.sjsfl.org/donate.

Retreat encourages men to return to Church

The latest John XXIII Movement retreat took place the weekend of May 19-21, 2023, at Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid. The retreat was for men who have been absent from the Church and marginalized from society. The John XXIII Movement is a private international association of laity, born to be a movement of evangelization/conversion and to work, helping the faithful return to full and active participation in the Catholic Church.



News Briefs for the week of May 19, 2023

Neumann baseball reaches Final Four

For the first time since 1985, the St. John Neumann Catholic High School baseball team has reached the State Final Four. The Naples boys went on the road and defeated Canterbury of Fort Myers on May 15, 2023, to win the Class 2A-Region 3 championship. The Celtics (23-8) will face either St. Johns Country Day or Lakeland Christian on May 18 at the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers. If they win, the State Championship game will be May 20. The team is led by first year coach Charlie Mauer. Congratulations and good luck!

Sarasota beach volleyball team falls in Final Four

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School girls beach volleyball team fell in the state Final Four on May 13, 2023, at the Florida State University Beach Volleyball Courts in Tallahassee. The Sarasota team was the fifth seed going into the tournament and won twice, including the quarterfinals, before falling in the semifinals to eventual state champions, top seeded New Smyrna Beach. The Cougars finished the season 24-2. On April 22, the team were crowned the Sunshine State Class AA Beach Volleyball champs for the second straight year, after having competed at the Game Point Event Center in Orlando. Great season Cougars!

Living Rosary held in Naples

On the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, 2023, faithful at St. Agnes Parish in Naples took part in a “Living Rosary,” where people stand in to represent the beads on a rosary. The event was organized by Karen O’Shea and prayers were given for Peace in the World and the life of pre-born babies.

Youth help clean Our Mother’s House

Youth from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice took time out on May 13, 2023, to do a service project at Our Mother’s House, a Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., residence program for moms and their babies, who might otherwise be homeless. The teens cleaned up the various properties, did some planting and much more. Great job everyone.

Sarasota cheer team wins at Nationals

The two Incarnation Catholic School cheer teams from Sarasota took first place on May 20, 2023, at the East Coast Cheerleading Grand Nationals Championship in Orlando. The “Littles” and “Older” girls wowed the judges. The teams put in endless hours of practice and their dedication and teamwork paid off. Congratulations!

Fort Myers e-sports team wins title

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School E-Sports Team won the Sunshine State Athletic Conference (SSAC) State E-Sports Rocket League Championship in Orlando on May 11, 2023. Rocket League is a high-energy, physics-based sports game that combines elements of soccer and demolition derby, requiring skillful maneuvering of vehicles to outscore opponents. The Fort Myers team competed against top-ranked schools from throughout Florida culminating in a dominant 4-0 victory over Master’s Academy in Orlando.

Construction projects shared with young students

Prekindergarten students at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota got a special treat on May 12, 2023, when they were invited to learn about different construction projects made by sixth-grade students in the class of Sister Cathy Bonfield, SSND. The older students showed off their amazing K’Nex creations (a rod and connection building system that incorporates battery-powered moving parts to create large designs), which included rollercoasters, cranes and much more. The sixth-grade students also shared how the creations move and operate, and about the building process, while the prekindergartners listened in rapt attention.

Money raised for homeless

St. Catherine Catholic School students in Sebring recently finished a “Penny War” contest, raising more than $1,200 for supplies for homeless children and families of Highlands County. These items were delivered on May 16, 2023, to the Kiwanis Club which is partnering on the purchase of shoes. The various personal care items were then packed by students before delivery.

Food pantry thanks community

The St. Joseph Food Pantry in Bradenton was overwhelmed by the recent U.S. Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive and dozens of volunteers helped sort the food on May 13, 2023. St. Joseph Food Pantry is the primary food pantry in Manatee County and the Postal Carrier donation is a big help as the pantry is gearing up to help feed children throughout the summer as they are away from regular school meals. If you would like to help, please visit https://stjoepantry.com/. Donors can also bring food such as canned corn, canned green beans, 1lb box spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, boxed macaroni and cheese, cheese, cereal, as well as peanut butter and jelly to St. Joseph Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave W., Bradenton, FL 34205. The food pantry is open 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. Volunteers are always welcome. For more information, call 941-756-3732 or email directors@stjoepantry.com.

Students learn about history visit Diocesan Eucharistic Memorial

Fifth grade students from St. Joseph Catholic School enjoyed a May 12, 2023, visit to the DeSoto National Memorial in Bradenton, where they learned about Florida history as well as Diocesan history. The students learned that Hernando DeSoto led an expedition of 10 ships and 620 men, including 12 priests, which landed near present-day Bradenton on May 25, 1539 (68 years before the founding of Jamestown). A Eucharist Memorial and Cross were built and dedicated by the Diocese of Venice in this location to commemorate this historical event.

Students learn about saints

Third-grade students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers took part in a special project called the Saints Wax Museum. This project included learning about the saints, doing research and making a presentation about their life, what acts led them to being named a saint, and much more. The culmination of the project was on May 11, 2023. The students dressed as their saint and stood behind a table, which had a display with the biographical information about the saint, and they had to be prepared to talk about the saint as students from other grades (and later parents) came by to ask them questions. This was a fun and immersive way for all of the students to learn about saints.

Day of Reflection for Sacramental Marriage

The Office of Marriage and Family Life will be hosting a Day of Reflection for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church on two separate dates. A specially prepared team will share their experiences and information enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of marriage.  The first event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 17 at St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 SW 20th Avenue, Cape Coral. The cost of $50/couple covers all retreat materials and lunch. Pre-registration is required at Marriage Preparation Seminar 2023 (regfox.com). Should you have questions or require additional information contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543 ext. 4748.