Graduations held at three Diocesan Catholic high schools

St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, and Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers held their commencement exercises in mid-May.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass for each of the schools, with the Mooney Mass celebrated May 15, 2024, at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, the Neumann Mass was May 16, at St. Peter the Apostles Parish in Naples, while the Verot Mass was May 17, at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Fort Myers.

Bishop Dewane first thanked the parents and guardians for entrusting their children to one of the Diocesan Catholic high schools for four years of their education, and then congratulated the graduates for their own accomplishments.

While graduation is the end of a specific academic endeavor, Bishop Dewane told the graduates that the learning will continue throughout the rest of their lives.

“It is my prayer that this time of learning will include the school of faith,” Bishop Dewane said. “Faith is about welcoming and cherishing a bond with Jesus Christ and God. Guided by the Holy Spirit, cultivate every dimension of your life for the glory of God.”

The Neumann commencement exercises included 75 graduates receiving their diplomas. The class, which accumulated more than 10,000 service hours, also earned $12 million in scholarship offers and nearly all are going off to college. The Valedictorian was Alessio Cirino and Salutatorian was Tatum Costantini. Three of the graduates will be attending military service academies.

For Cardinal Mooney, commencement took place at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in Sarasota, with 159 graduates. The Valedictorian was Lauren Burd and the Salutatorian was Tyler Ruben. This group earned nearly $10 million in scholarships and completed more than 17,500 service hours.

The Bishop Verot commencement, with 182 graduates, including 35 Summa Cum Laude students (no valedictorian or salutatorian are recognized). However, Patrick Dendis, provided the introductory address, while Aliza Litvak, who offered the commencement address. The class earned more than $15 million in scholarship offers and completed more than 21,000 service hours.

The fourth Diocesan Catholic high school, Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria will hold their Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Exercises on May 24.

The total reported scholarships offered to the graduates at the three schools exceeds $35 million. However, that total does not include Florida Bright Future Scholarships, which are pending due to a delay in processing awards.

The graduating Class of 2024 went through a disrupted freshman year with the Covid-19 pandemic when masks and social distancing disrupted many activities. They also dealt with the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ian in 2022. Please pray for all the new graduates!

Bishop celebrates Baccalaureate Mass for university

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the main celebrant at the Baccalaureate Mass for Ave Maria University on May 3, 2024, The Feast of Sts. Philip and James, the Apostles, in Ave Maria.

A Baccalaureate Mass is a Mass of Thanksgiving for God’s many blessings upon the graduates.

During the Mass, Bishop Dewane encouraged the graduates to place themselves into the hands of God as they move forward, remembering the virtue of faith as they live their lives. To do that, they must know who God is in their own lives.

“Faith is an act by which a human being freely commits him/herself to God,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is a gift that should never be taken lightly. Being Catholic is about cherishing the bond that you can develop with God and with His Son, Jesus; a bond that will make you ever more Catholic and hopefully deepen your faith.”

The Bishop noted that St. Irenaeus, a 2nd century bishop in France, teacher, leader, martyr, saint, and Doctor of the Church, said, “The Glory of God is the human being fully alive.” That fullness is meant in terms of striving to fulfill a new dimension of our own humanity.

“Knowledge is always good in itself; it can fill our minds and souls,” Bishop Dewane continued. “Knowledge has many uses which will bear much fruit in your life in choices you make, allowing you to live the fullness of the Lord, being more that man or woman of God you are called to be.”

St. Irenaeus also said, “The glory of the human person is the vision of God.”

“That groundwork was prepared for you by the accumulated knowledge you received here at Ave Maria University,” Bishop Dewane said. “Seek God in your lives. Let that be the glory of life for you as graduates.”

Following the Mass, Bishop Dewane greeted the graduates outside of the church and many complimented him on his words and support of the university.

Ave Maria University is celebrating its largest graduating class in its 25-year history, with more than 250 students receiving their diplomas during Commencement Exercises on May 4.

The commencement speaker was Father Mike Schmitz, of the Diocese of Duluth who is director for youth and young adult ministry and is well-known for his online content such as weekly videos from Ascension Presents, as well as podcasts “The Bible in a Year” and “The Catechism in a Year.”

Receiving honorary doctorates during the commencement exercises were Father Schmitz, Nicholas Healy, the first president of Ave Maria University, and Father Richard Martignetti, OFM, who is departing as Chaplain of Ave Maria University to a new assignment after six years.

Father Joseph Lugalambi is the new Chaplain at Ave Maria University, effective May 4, 2024.

Neumann and Verot Class of 2023

St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples and Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers held their commencement exercises in mid-May. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass for both schools, with the Neumann Mass celebrated on May 18, 2023, at St. William Parish, while the Verot Mass was May 19, at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral.

The Neumann commencement exercises were May 19, with 75 graduates receiving their diplomas. The class, which accumulated more than 12,350 service hours, also earned $12 million in scholarship offers and nearly all are going off to college. The Valedictorian was David Schumer and Salutatorian was Isabella Fernandez.

The Verot commencement exercises were May 20, with 182 graduates. Again, nearly every student will be going off to college, including Summa Cum Laude Stephen Penderville, who was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy. The class earned $23.5 million in scholarship offers and completed more than 21,000 service hours.

The graduating Class of 2023 went through a disrupted end of their freshman year with the Covid-19 pandemic and then this year dealt with the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ian. Please pray for these new graduates.





Cardinal Mooney Graduation 2022

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Class of 2022 Commencement Exercises were held May 13, 2022 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on the Sarasota Bayfront.

There were 120 graduates who received their diploma. The Valedictorian was Halle Monserez and Salutatorian was Peter Etz. The Commencement Address was given by Leah Roddenberry, Mooney Class of 2017, and current Miss Florida.

The Baccalaureate Mass was celebrated May 11 at Incarnation Parish with Most Rev. Bernard Hebda, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, as the main celebrant (His nephew is a 2022 Mooney graduate).







The Class of 2022 are nearly all headed for college and among their group are 32 Honors diplomas, 3 National Merit Finalists, and $14.5 million plus in scholarship offers.

Cardinal Mooney graduation outdoors

The roar of the crowd at LECOM Park on July 31, 2020 was not for a Bradenton Marauders minor league baseball game but for the graduating seniors of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School.

The class of 133 is an impressive group, earning more than $10 million in scholarships and nearly all will be attending college in the coming weeks. Delayed from its original date in late May due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, some were not present for the graduation because of college or work commitments, but each was recognized during the Commencement Exercises.

The night before the commencement, on July 30, 2020, the Class of 2020 was given a proper send off for Catholic high school students, with a Baccalaureate Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at Incarnation Parish.

“With the pandemic, so much has changed for all of us and we find ourselves in a very unique situation,” Bishop Dewane said. “As a class, likely all of you here have become closer while at the same time being 6-feet apart. It’s something unique and something you will always remember.”

While the Bishop noted that the graduates may feel they are a little less fortunate than some other classes because of opportunities lost and graduating during a global pandemic and economic crisis.

“At the same time, despite that difficulty, the Lord calls us together to celebrate in the way that we can celebrate who you are and who you are becoming as a man or woman of God,” Bishop Dewane continued. “You have to have the grace to respond to those changes in your life… Use the gifts you have gained, received and earned at Cardinal Mooney and go forward and build upon those to be your strength as you go forward facing life anew.”

During the graduation, masks were worn and social distancing occurred whenever possible as friends and family were spread out in the stands at LECOM Park. The graduates initially sat along the third base line. When their names were called, each graduate came forward crossing the infield to behind the pitcher’s mound where Principal Ben Hopper was there to hand out the diplomas. The graduates were also congratulated by Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Education and Father Eric Scanlan, Cardinal Mooney Chaplain and Administrator of Incarnation Parish. The Commencement Address was given by Dr. William Soscia, Mooney Class of 1984.

The loudest applause during the Commencement came when Hopper presented a diploma to graduate Michael Bavaro. Bavaro was a star lacrosse player who broke several vertebrae in a March 2020 boating accident and requires the use of a wheelchair.