News Briefs for the week of April 28, 2023

Mooney Beach Volleyball state Champs

Congratulations to the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School girls Beach Volleyball Team! They are the Sunshine State Class AA Beach Volleyball champs for the second straight year having competed at the Game Point Event Center in Orlando on April 22, 2023. In addition, the Mooney girls second team were the Silver Champions. Way to go Lady Cougars!

Theology on Tap reaches young adults

Fun, faith and fellowship were part of the monthly Theology on Tap outreach to young adults on April 20, 2023, at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. The featured speaker in April was Father Shawn Monahan, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, assistant director of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The relaxed atmosphere takes place in the garden for food and refreshments, presentations, and discussions about the Catholic Faith. Theology on Tap takes place at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month The next gathering will be May 18, with special guest Father Alex Pince, a priest who was ordained in 2021 and is Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. For more information, please contact Mathamaria Morales at

Teacher recognized for service

Coach Krys Kolbe has been teaching physical education at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton for 23 years. She’s also the school’s athletic director. She was nominated as a Bay News 9 A+ Teacher in early April for always striving to inspire her students. “Krys is one of those teachers that if I had the ability to duplicate her I would,” said Deborah Suddarth, the St. Joseph principal. “She is incredible.” Kolbe said initially she wanted to be a doctor but quickly learned she was meant to be a teacher. She said she has always loved to play and being a physical education teacher allows her to do that every day.

School Adopt-a-Road crews in action

Caring for God’s Creation is one of the fundamental lessons taught at each of the 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools. One way to care for the planet is participating in local Adopt-a-Road programs, which is what Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota did on April 22, 2023. The service project crew adopted the stretch of South Tuttle Avenue from Bee Ridge Road to Webber Street. They spent the day cleaning up items, supervised by teachers and parents who also participated. The group did their part to keep Sarasota, and God’s creation, clean.

Neumann basketball team excelled academically

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School Varsity Boys Basketball Team finished the season with a 3.655 cumulative team GPA. This GPA is based on an unweighted 4.0 scale and earned the team the #3 rank in Florida Class 2A and #7 overall. Way to go Celtics!

Fort Myers students share biomed projects

Bishop Verot Catholic High School senior biomedical students gathered in Fort Myers as four young scholars each presented their capstone projects to the student body on April 18, 2023. This presentation is a culmination of everything they have learned in the four-year program. The seniors researched a topic of interest in science and had to pursue a project that had a gap in understanding or research that had not been done before.

Author reads book to students

Young students at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples had a great lunch hour on April 21, 2023, with children’s book author, Anya Beltsina. She visited St. Ann and read from her book “Smiley, Happy Planet Earth.” The visit and reading was both educational and engaging for students.

Students create artwork to celebrate planet

Psalm 24:1 states – “The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” To celebrate God’s creation, fourth grade students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers did a wonderful job on their Earth Day coffee filter art projects on April 21, 2023. Using the filters and watercolors, the students were able to create their own Earth, each unique, just like the students.



News Briefs for the week of April 21, 2023


After consultation with Priest Personnel Board, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following appointments:

Father Teofile Useche, as Pastor of Holy Cross Parish, Palmetto, effective May 1, 2023, and is relieved of his duties as Pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Port Charlotte.

Father Claudio Stewart, as Administrator of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Port Charlotte, effective May 1, 2023, while retaining other responsibilities to the Diocesan Hispanic Apostolate.

Father Jayabalan Raju, as Administrator of St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers, effective May 1, 2023, and is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of Epiphany Cathedral, Venice.

Father Krzysztof Piotrowski, as Parochial Vicar of Epiphany Cathedral, effective May 1, 2023, and is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes Parish, Naples.

Father Augustine Twum Obour, as Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes Parish, Naples, effective May 1, 2023, and is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Fort Myers.


Mass for Victims of Child Abuse April 25

April is Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month, and in conjunction with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Diocese of Venice will hold a Mass for Victims of Child Abuse for the 16th consecutive year with Bishop Frank J. Dewane as the Celebrant. The Mass will take place at 8 a.m., Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are invited to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

10 Parishes hosting Novena of Masses for Life

Throughout the Diocese of Venice, there are 10 Parishes hosting the annual Novena of Masses for Life. A Novena of Masses for Life is celebrated annually from the Solemnity of the Annunciation (usually on March 25 unless it falls during Holy Week) and monthly on or around the 25th until November, with the option of additional Masses on Christmas.  The novena presents a special opportunity to meditate on the progressive development of Our Lord in His mother’s womb.  The hope is that this meditation will help people to reflect on the sanctity of all human life, from fertilization/conception to birth and throughout life until natural death, regardless of age or condition. Parishes participating in the monthly Novena of Masses for Life until Christmas are: Epiphany Cathedral, Venice; Incarnation, Sarasota; St. Patrick, Sarasota; Our Lady of Lourdes, Venice; San Pedro, North Port; St. Maximilian Kolbe, Port Charlotte; St. Vincent de Paul, Fort Myers; St. Cecilia, Fort Myers; St. Andrew, Cape Coral and St. Catherine, Sebring. For a schedule of Masses, contact the Parish or Jeanne Berdeaux at or 941-374-1068.

Teacher recognized in Naples

The Naples Council on World Affairs has chosen Cindy Brewer, a teacher at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples as 2023 Educator of the Year! Brewer’s students won first place award this year at the National High School Model UN competition in New York, as well as winning a vocal recognition award at Gator Model UN. Last year the Neumann team took two third place awards at the national competition. She arranged multiple Zoom conversations for her students with students in Ukraine through the Move Ukraine effort supported by NCWA; her students also prepared podcasts to share with Ukrainian students. One of her students was selected for a NCWA summer scholarship to Oxford University in England, and she has brought her students to NCWA lectures and other events. She was granted NCWA’s award at an event Friday evening. Her background singing in an a cappella group that traveled to North Korea, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and other locations during the 1980s led to personal experiences that laid the foundation for her interest in world affairs.

Verot student earns award at state conference

Bishop Verot Catholic High School student Ava Lewis competed the weekend of April 14-16, 2023, in the Florida HOSA (Future Health Professionals) State Leadership Conference in Orlando. HOSA helps in educating young minds who are looking to enter the global health community. Ava was the representative for Bishop Verot and ended up placing third for Prepared Speaking! Her achievement qualifies her for the International Leadership Conference in Dallas this June. Great job Ava, and good luck in Dallas!

Memorial service held for Knights in Fort Myers

The Knights of Columbus at St. Columbkille Parish in Fort Myers organized a Memorial Service in honor of deceased members on April 16, 2023. The service, led by Father Lorenzo Gonzalez, Pastor of St. Columbkille, was held in the memorial prayer garden which was built in part thanks to the efforts of the Knights.

Weightlifters compete in States

Six Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School weightlifters competed in the 1A Florida High School Boys Weightlifting State Championship on April 13, 2023, at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. J.R. Rosenberg took third place in the 199 pounds division, with a combined weight lifted of 610 pounds. Other Mooney competitors were Matt Thomas, Javier Pastor, Drew Mellon, Ian Parker, Matty Maloni and Joe Carlo. Also competing from the Diocese of Venice, were Bishop Verot Catholic High School weightlifters Justin Davis and Wyatt Whalen from Fort Myers.

Father-daughter dance a success in Bradenton

The St. Joseph Catholic School Parent Teacher Organization organized “The Emerald City Father-Daughter Dance” in Bradenton on April 15, 2023. The fathers and daughters had lots of fun.

Final retreat for high school seniors held in Naples

Soon-to-be graduating seniors from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples attended their last retreat on April 17, 2023, at St. Ann Parish. The theme for the retreat was Joshua 1:9 – “Stay strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” The seniors listened to witness talks and read letters from their freshman selves before hitting the beach for some fun!

News Briefs for the week of March 10, 2023

St. Patrick’s Day Dispensation

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday (March 17) during the Lenten Season, Bishop Frank J. Dewane is granting a one-day dispensation of abstaining from meat on that Friday alone. The Faithful are encouraged to choose another day in the same week to abstain from meat and to perform some other penance or work of charity on March 17 to assist in their spiritual Lenten journey. Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age or older. Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent (including Good Friday) are days of abstinence. Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the three traditional disciplines of Lent.

Seminarian receives Ministry of Acolyte

Diocese of Venice Seminarian, Joseph Corboy Doherty was one of 19 seminarians to enter into the Ministry of Acolyte on March 5, 2023, in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at the Pontifical North American College, Vatican City State. Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre of Louisville was the main celebrant and spoke the following words as he handed the paten to each candidate: “Take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his Church.” In his homily, Archbishop Fabre encouraged the seminarians, saying, “The ministry of an acolyte has a special connection to the altar and to the Eucharist. It is the duty of the acolyte to assist in serving the altar during liturgical celebrations and to attend to the Eucharist in certain functions and capacities. This is certainly an important ministry since it involves service to some of the most important elements of our Catholic faith, if not the most central element.” Representing the Diocese of Venice were Father Christian Chami and Transitional Deacon Daniel Scanlan.

Verot send two to state wrestling championships

The first ever wrestling state qualifiers from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers competed in the State Championships on March 3-4, 2023, in Kissimmee. Gabriella Vasquez, who wrestles at 105 pounds, and became the first female wrestler in Verot history to make states, placed third in the regionals on Feb. 21. At the state competition, Gabby fell in the first round and was injured and unable to finish in the consolation round of the double-elimination tournament. The second Verot wrestler to make states is Jack Benaitis who won the regionals to qualify for the 1A 285 competition.  Jack won his open match, but fell in the second round, and again in the consolation round. These two worked hard all season long to earn a spot in the state championships, and Verot couldn’t be prouder!

Medical professionals meet with Bishop

The leadership of the Southwest Florida Guild of the Catholic Medical Association met with Bishop Frank J. Dewane on March 2, 2023, at the Catholic Center in Venice. The group provided Bishop Dewane with their annual report on their latest activities, including plans for a Catholic medical educational seminar in the fall.

Support children this Easter

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Arcadia is seeking help in giving the gift of an Easter Basket for children of Casa San Juan Bosco farmworkers housing, local families, and migrant farm workers. Supporters can donate Easter Basket supplies, gift cards, or check to help the program bless children this Easter! Drop off or deliver items ordered online to Catholic Charities, 1210 East Oak St., Arcadia, FL 34266, by April 5.

First graders show off reading skills

First graders at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral showed off their reading skills in February by completing 225 books in one month. Laurie Pistorio’s students were recognized for their hard work on March 6, 2023. Well done young readers!!

Verot grad returns to Jeopardy!  

Claire Sattler, a Bishop Verot Catholic High School 2019 graduate, recently joined 27 former teen Jeopardy! contestants as they faced off in the Jeopardy! High School Reunion Tournament. The players competed for a $100,000 grand prize and a spot in the next Tournament of Champions. Sattler, now a senior at Yale University, won the 2018 Teen Tournament of Champions. In the opening quarterfinal round, which aired Feb. 27, 2023, Sattler was able to secure her win in the Final Jeopardy round because of a research paper topic that was given to her by her freshman English teacher – Lynn Chervenok Knox. In honor of her former teacher, Sattler drew a smiley face next to the winning question and wrote, “Thanks, Mrs. Knox!” With her victory, the native of Bonita Springs next appeared in the semifinals on March 6. Sattler, who had been in the lead with $8,600 going into Final Jeopardy. All three contestants failed to get the correct solution, so when Sattler bet $8,201, and dropped to $399, she ended up in third place. Well done as she continues to proudly represent Bishop Verot.

High schoolers pray “Living Rosary”

On March 3, 2023, the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School community gathered in the gymnasium to pray the “Living Rosary,” led by Father Eric Scanlan, Mooney Chaplain and Pastor of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota. During the “Living Rosary,” students stood in the form of a rosary, each standing for a bead, with each class represented in a decade, including one in Spanish. This beautiful prayer was brought to life by involving everyone – body and soul.

Grandparents recognized in Ave Maria

Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria took time on March 3, 2023, to recognize grandparents with a special day. This event included a delicious breakfast, talk from principal Dr. Daniel Guernsey, high school choir performance, Mass with grandkids, Eucharistic Adoration, and classroom visits. Whew! See more in our stories today.

Field Day fun at Cathedral school

A day filled with indoor and outdoor fun made for a great field day on March 3, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice. There were many different games and contests between individual students, between different classrooms and even between different grades. A great time was had by all.

Fort Myers students learn about Everglades

The Environmental Studies classes at Bishop Verot Catholic High School have been working on a course component with the Florida Everglades Foundation. Students recreated a diagram of the Everglades to show the impact of water levels and what we, as humans, are doing to the surrounding environment. The foundation’s mission is to work to restore and protect America’s Everglades through science, advocacy & education.

Mooney girls team ends season with much to be proud of

Every player who participates in a team sport dreams of finishing off a season with a win, this often means a championship and glory. For the team that falls in the last game of the season, there is the disappointment of what could have been.

For the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Lady Cougar Girls Basketball Team, the last three seasons have ended in the Florida State High School Athletic Association 3A State Championship Game. Each game was a loss.

The Cougars from Sarasota fell to Miami Country Day 54-38 on Feb. 25, 2023, at RP Funding Arena in Lakeland. Mooney was seeking its first state title while Country Day earned its 8th, and second in 3 years over Mooney.

The championship was the final game for senior star Olivia Davis, who ended with 10 points. The coach of Country Day told reporters after the game that his team focused on shutting down Olivia because of how good a player she has been at Mooney.

“Yeah, their coach just told me I was a main part of their scouting report,” Davis told reporters. “I kinda expected it coming into this, especially as big of a game as this is.”

Davis reached the 1,000-point career milestone in January and will graduate behind a legacy of leading her team to three straight state championship games.

Cardinal Mooney coach Marlon Williams said the team will miss Davis’ passion, but has a bright future as 7 of the eight players will return next year.

Mooney leaders in the final were Bri Behn’s 17 points and Sam Kotasek’s 10 rebounds.

While the Cougars finish the season with a loss, their 21-6 record was impressive, as was this third run at a state title.

Information from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune was included in this report.

Mooney girls make third straight State Final in basketball

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Lady Cougars Basketball Team will be playing for a State Championship after a Class 3A Semifinal victory Feb. 22, 2023, at the RP Fund Center in Lakeland. This is the third return trip to the State Championship game for the Sarasota team having had heartbreaking losses in 2021 and 2022.

The Lady Cougars defeated King’s Academy of West Palm Beach 52-39 in their Semifinal, the same team they beat to reach the final in 2022. Back in Sarasota, the game was livestreamed to students as they took a break for lunch. A large group of students is expected to go to the Final.

The Cougars lifted their season record to 21-5, having won their last eight games to reach the Final. The team’s leading scorers throughout the year are Olivia Davis and Keli Barrett. The Class 3A State Final against Miami Country Day is at 10 a.m., Saturday. Feb. 25 in Lakeland. This game is a rematch of the 2021 3A State Final.

On Feb. 17, the Mooney team won the regional championships on their home court over Tampa Catholic, earning their berth into the State Final Four for their third consecutive year. The Lady Cougars are seeking their first State Championship.


News Briefs for the Week of February 3, 2023

Youth “Rock the Universe”

Youth from the Diocese of Venice took part in the annual “Rock the Universe” at Universal Studios in Orlando on Jan. 28, 2023. “Rock the Universe” is an annual Christian rock festival which has been taking place since 1998. Among the groups present was the youth team from Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto, led by Carmen Martinez.  Joining this team was Marthamaria Morales, Diocesan Youth and Young Adult Outreach Director.

Ball supports education

The gymnasium of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples had an extreme makeover and served as the site of the annual Celtic Ball benefitting the school. The Ball, with a theme of “Palm Beach Chic Celebration,” took place Jan. 29, 2023, with Bishop Frank J. Dewane serving as the guest of honor. The purpose of the Ball was also to celebrate the next generation of Catholic leaders who are the beneficiaries of the faith-based education at St. John Neumann Catholic High School.

Youth wash cars in Fort Myers

Throughout the year, the youth at St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers host a series of fun events to raise money so they can participate in a variety of activities throughout the year. On Jan. 29, 2023, the teens hosted a car wash, washing cars while parishioners were either at Mass, or getting donuts and coffee in the Parish Hall after Mass. The money raised will allow the teens the ability to participate in the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress Youth Rally, as well as a variety of trips, each of which help the youth learn to grow closer to the Lord.

Rummage sale offered wide selection of goods

The Women’s Guild at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park hosted a Rummage Sale in the Grogan Center on Jan. 27 and Jan. 28, 2023. There were dozens of tables filled with items such as clothing, cookware, artwork and much more. The money raised supports the outreach the Women’s Guild does throughout the year.

Students recognized for artistic talent

St. Martha Catholic School students Caleb Shouse (4th grade), and Hannah Lomangino (3rd grade), had their artwork selected for the 2023 Sarasota County Government NEST (Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team) Calendar. Caleb’s artwork is featured on the November page and Hannah’s is on the December Page. They were honored, with the other winners, during an awards ceremony on Jan. 31, 2023, in Sarasota. Their art teacher, Mary Jo Salomone, was also present for the awards presentation.

Fort Myers sports teams ready for Districts

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School boys’ soccer team locked up the No. 1 seed in the 3A District 8 District Tournament for the fourth year in a row. The Verot girls’ basketball team also dominated this season under new head coach, Alissa Schenk, and enter the 3A District 12 District Tournament as the No. 1 seed. Well done Vikings!

Volleyball player recognized in state

For the second year in a row Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School student Jordyn Byrd has been named the Gatorade Florida Volleyball Player of the Year which was announced Jan. 13, 2023.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Jordyn as Florida’s best high school volleyball player.

The state’s returning Gatorade Player of the Year, the 6-foot-5 senior outside hitter amassed 571 kills and 206 digs this past season, leading the Cougars (18-10) to the Class 3A state quarterfinals. Byrd also recorded 52 service aces and 48 blocks while posting a .571 kill percentage and a .439 hitting percentage. Ranked as the nation’s No. 16 recruit in the Class of 2023 by, she concluded her prep volleyball career with 1,640 kills.

Jordyn has volunteered locally as a Mooney student ambassador, and she has donated her time with Stuff the Bus, which collects school supplies and toiletries for underserved children in the Sarasota region.

“Jordyn is better than any hitter I’ve seen in the state,” said Kim Whitney, head coach of Calvary Christian High School. “She attacks the ball at a very high point, which is very difficult to defend. She’s able to put a ball away wherever she is on the court.”

Being a Gatorade Player of the Year means paying it forward for the next generation. Through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward initiative,” every Player of the Year receives a grant to give to one of Gatorade’s social impact partners, supporting Gatorade’s ambition to fuel the future of sport. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations.

At Mooney, Jordyn has maintained a 3.69 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball on scholarship at the University of Texas this fall. She is also a standout on the Mooney basketball team.

News briefs for the week of Jan. 20, 2023

Naples teens attend Florida March for Life

A group of 27 (six parents, two teachers, and 19 students) represented St. John Neumann Catholic High School of Naples at the March for Life in St. Augustine on Jan. 14, 2023. The group marched for the sanctity of life in a trip sponsored by Florida Right for Life President Lynda Bell.

Cougar Experience held for visiting students

On January 11, 2023, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota hosted 130 8th graders from their partner schools for The Cougar Experience. It was a great day of games, lunch, athletics and learning more about Cardinal Mooney’s arts and academics. The partner schools are St. Martha Catholic School, Incarnation Catholic School, and St. Mary Academy, all in Sarasota, as well as Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice and St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton.

Learning the Sacraments

Fourth grade students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers are learning about the seven Sacraments, and the role water plays in the sacraments. The students renewed their baptismal promises Jan. 11, 2023, while working on a craft project related to the Sacraments.

Jr. Thespians take stage in state competition

The Jr. Thespians Troupe from St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton received four Superior Awards and four Excellent Awards at the Jan. 12-14, 2023, Florida State Junior Thespian Festival – Thespian Jam, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Some 6,000 participated in the festival which gives theater lovers the chance to celebrate the best middle school theatrical work and have an unforgettable experience. The students put in many hours of practice and hard work, which definitely paid off.

Basketball player reaches milestone

St. John Neumann Catholic High School basketball player Sophia McCartney reached the 1,000-point milestone during a game on Jan. 14, 2023. After the home game in Sarasota, the star player was honored and recognized for this remarkable achievement, something that is rare in high school basketball.

Cape Coral students hone their robotics skills

Middle school students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral were able to hone their robotic coding skills on Jan. 17, 2023. They worked on coding and working with Lego Spike Prime Robots. These small robots are made out of Lego pieces and can follow paths on an established course. The robots can be coded to perform various tasks as well. These skills are being learned as part of a larger Diocesan-wide robotics STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, math) curriculum which helps students learn the skills needed to excel in a high-tech modern society.

News Briefs for the Week of Jan. 13, 2022

Cathedral celebrates Feast Day

Epiphany Cathedral in Venice celebrated its Feast Day, the Epiphany of the Lord, with a trilingual (English, Spanish, Polish) Mass on Jan. 8, 2023. Msgr. Patrick Dubois, Cathedral Rector, said the Feast Day is an important moment for the Parish community as well as for the Universal Church. The day marks the moment when the three magi come to pay homage to the Child Jesus, something we must do each day as we celebrated the love of the Lord in our lives. Readings and music alternated between the three languages and at the conclusion of Mass, Msgr. Dubois asked all to wish one another a “Happy Feast of the Epiphany.” A multicultural celebration followed in the Parish Hall.

Basketball player reaches milestone

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School basketball player Olivia Davis reached the 1,000-point milestone during a game on Jan. 6, 2023. After the home game in Sarasota, the star player was honored and recognized for this remarkable achievement, something that is rare in high school basketball.

Opportunities upcoming to support life

There are several opportunities for the faithful to support life in the coming months. First, one can Pray for the protection of all human life during the 9 Days for Life campaign from Jan. 19-27, 2023. Sign up now at to receive each day’s intention and reflection via email or text message. Second, the annual Ave Maria March for Life will take place at 10 a.m., Jan 21, at the Ave Maria University football field. The walk is held in recognition of the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death, and will conclude in front of Ave Maria Parish Church. Bishop Frank J. Dewane is the featured speaker. A lunch of hot dogs, chips and drink will follow the march.  For more information including registering for small or large groups, please contact Sharon Levesque at Next, join others for the 25th Annual Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life on Feb. 7. The event begins with the 8:30 a.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave. A bus will shuttle people from the church to 7th Street where walkers will circle the block around Planned Parenthood in prayer. Lastly, join others from around the state for the annual Catholic Days at the Capitol in Tallahassee from March 7-9. The three-day trip includes a legislative briefing on important bills relating to human life and dignity, a breakfast with legislators and the Florida Bishops, tours of the capitol and museum, scheduled visits with legislators and the annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit with the Florida Bishops and public officials. Bus transportation is provided at no cost as long as space is available. The registration deadline is February 6. For further details contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or

World Youth Day 2023 Deadline EXTENDED

The deadline to register is open for the Diocesan 11-day pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal, has been extended to Jan. 15, 2023. You are invited to join Bishop Frank J. Dewane for the trip to Lisbon with two nights in Fatima. This pilgrimage is from July 29 to August 8, 2023. The theme for World Youth Day 2023 is “Mary arose and went with haste”. (Luke 1:39) Travel arrangements are facilitated by Peter’s Way Tours. Space is limited and registration must be completed by January 15. Please visit for registration and further information.

Lee County schools gather for joint Mass

Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers welcomed students from St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers and St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral for Mass on Jan. 10, 2023. The younger students led everyone in song and afterwards Principal Suzie O’Grady invited students to participate in the “Three Kings” celebration. Following the Mass, the “Three Kings” went around campus writing the following on every door: 20 + C + M + B + 23. For centuries, faithful Catholics have marked the entrance to their homes with a symbol of faith, asking that Jesus bless all who live within the home. The message is as follows: [the first two digits of the year] + C + M + B + [the last two digits of the year]. The “C”, “M”, and “B” stand for the names of the three Magi – Caspar, Malchior & Balthazar, and the “+” represents the cross. The message also abbreviates the Latin phrase, Christus Mansionem Benedicat, meaning “May Christ bless the house.”

Parish marks Three Kings celebration

St. Paul Parish in Arcadia held a special “Three Kings” celebration on the Feast of the  Epiphany of Our Lord, Jan. 8, 2023.

Thanksgiving across the Diocese

The idea of giving thanks, knowing that we are here because of gifts given to us by God, is at the core of what Thanksgiving is all about.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane described the holiday this way while celebrating Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch on Nov. 24, 2022.

As hard as we try, Bishop Dewane added, “being who God called us to be is difficult, and we will fail along the way. But, the Bible records the wonderful gifts of God, which we can find within ourselves and in others who are all made in the image and likeness of God.”

The Gospel reading of the day was the parable of the 10 lepers, when only one returned to thank Jesus upon being cured of the debilitating illness. Jesus asks where the other nine were, and Bishop Dewane said that we are all among the nine at certain points in life, but must always strive to be among the one’s who return.

“Our appreciation and gratitude of thanksgiving increases over the years as we realize how much is done for us by those around us and by God Himself.” Bishop Dewane said. “By your presence at Mass on Thanksgiving, you are counted among those who returned to Jesus, just as you came to give thanks to God. Know the Lord sees the goodness and thanks you express.”

Being grateful for what they have was a strong theme during a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral.

The community was devastated by Hurricane Ian and is still recovering, which encouraged Father Ricky Varner, Pastor at St. Katharine Drexel, to host a Parish Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.

Father Varner sent a request to the Parish staff and leaders of the different outreach groups (Knights of Columbus, Council of Catholic Women, Legion of Mary, Youth Outreach, Cursillo and more) to organize the dinner in an effort to help continue the healing process in support of families who are still displaced or rebuilding. Each group would be responsible for providing a designated dish.

“Since the wrath of Hurricane Ian on September 28th, I have had the privilege to see the best of all of you and to work alongside this incredible community… as we continue to support our brothers and sisters here and beyond to rebuild their lives and strive to get back to some form of normalcy,” Father Varner wrote in his appeal.

The results were glorious as more than 200 people came to enjoy a holiday meal.

Father Varner bussed the tables during the dinner pleased at the response to the meal by individuals and families, many still traumatized by the hurricane eight weeks later. “You people of St. Katharine Drexel – You Rock!”

One couple present were the Tremble’s who thought they would have to forgo a traditional Thanksgiving meal this year because their kitchen was destroyed in storm surge. The Tremble’s had hosted family from across the country each Thanksgiving since they moved to the area in 2010. That was not an option this year. They could have taken up any number of offers to go north for the holiday, but there is too much work to do in Cape Coral.

“Our life has been one long microwave dinner since Ian,” said June Tremble. “We are so thankful to Father Ricky and to everyone at the Parish for doing this. This is the best turkey I have ever had, because I know it was made with love.”

Other families had similar stories to share, with one person expressing their thanks for having a chance to put the recovery from Ian at the back of their mind, if only for a few hours.

“I have smiled and laughed more in the hour I have been here than in the two months since Ian,” said one man. “I really needed this. I think we all did.

The response by the staff and volunteers, as well as by the Parish families meant that Father Varner is already planning on making the dinner an annual tradition.

Meanwhile, Bishop Dewane went from the Mass in Lakewood Ranch to take part in a free community Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the Knights of Columbus Our Lady of Victory Council 3358 at their Hall on Fruitville Road in Sarasota.

The Knights delivered more than 200 meals to the elderly and homebound and then served hundreds more to those who needed a hot meal or didn’t have anywhere to go for the holiday. Guests were also encouraged to take meals home. Those meals included turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing, roll, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

Bishop Dewane offered the opening prayer for the Knights and other volunteers before the dining room was opened. Then, the Bishop took his traditional spot in charge of serving the corn and assisted in serving potatoes as well.

On Nov. 24, students from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota volunteered and served food at the 23rd Annual Sarasota Ministerial Association Thanksgiving Dinner at Sarasota First Baptist Church. Students and families participate each year this event is held.

For those who watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York, they might have caught a glimpse of two cheer teams from the Diocese.

The National Champion Cheer Squad from Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota were part of the larger “Spirit of America Production!” group.

Joining them was a group of senior cheerleaders from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Sarasota. The participation of both groups is by invitation only and it is considered a great honor to be selected.