Center reopening sparks joy in community

A bright white building along Michigan Avenue in the Dunbar and Harlem Heights sections of Fort Myers has been a beacon of hope in the community for nearly 35 years.

The African Caribbean American Center (AFCAAM Center), a program of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice, Inc., has been a stalwart since 1988, providing after-school tutoring and mentoring in a positive and safe environment.

A temporary setback caused by the global pandemic turned out be a renaissance for AFCAAM allowing necessary renovations of the facilities and the implementation of new programming to ensure that the center continues to be a great resource for the community.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane and other dignitaries took part in a community celebration of the reopening of the AFCAAM Center on Sept. 17, 2022. The celebration included a block-party atmosphere with a blessing and ribbon-cutting, as well as food trucks, bounce houses, dunk tanks, live music, and games. Singing legend Verceal Whitaker, formerly of The Platters, also performed live.

Bishop Dewane said shuttering AFCAAM during the pandemic was a difficult but correct decision, and the program reopens with much-improved facilities and the same mission; to offer educational support for children.

“Children are a gift for the community,” the Bishop said. “Through Sacred Scriptures we are challenged by the Lord to help build up the gifts of the children and it is clear we are doing that here every day at AFCAAM. This is done through the good works of Catholic Charities, the staff, volunteers and all of the community partners that come together for this important program.”

Eduardo Gloria, Chief Executive Office of Catholic Charities, said the two-year closure offered the opportunity to start a new chapter for AFCAAM.

“Today we are celebrating a return of a great program to this community,” Gloria said. “We feel AFCAAM is an incredible resource for the children and families. Catholic Charities is proud to be part of the incredible achievement for this great community.”

Originally founded in 1988 by Dominican Sisters, the AFCAAM program gets its unique name from the people it serves – African, Caribbean and American. The name, and program, reflect the great diversity of this community. The AFCAAM Center was remodeled to include a tropical-themed reading room, counseling space, classroom space, a computer lab with more than 50 computers and other improvements that make AFCAAM a positive setting for children to learn and grow.

Partners in the program include the Galeana Family Foundation, Lee County Sheriff’s Community Response Unit and Lee County Human and Veteran Services.

Anna Callwood, AFCAAM’s new program director, said there are currently 33 students taking part in the afterschool program with plenty of room for more.

“This is a safe and fun place to be,” Callwood said. “It is a place where young minds are encouraged to dream and to thrive academically, socially and physically; Tutoring, reading, reading comprehension and writing skills are implemented to ensure each child improves his or her academic and social performance. For the middle to high school-aged youth, they are mentored, encouraged and engaged as they mold their personal lives in preparation for life beyond.”

Four of the after-school program students went on stage to greet everyone who came out to support the reopening of AFCAAM.

For more information about the AFCAAM Center, visit, or contact Anna Callwood at 239-461-0233 or The AFCAAM Center is located at 3681 Michigan Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33916.

Pastor installed in North Port

Father Thomas Carzon, Oblates of the Virgin Mary, was installed as Pastor of San Pedro Parish in North Port by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Sept. 18, 2022.

Father Carzon was appointed as Pastor of the Parish in August following the passing of Father Patrick Organ, who served as Pastor in North Port for 30 years. Bishop Dewane explained that the installation of a new Pastor is like a punctuation mark for the life of the Parish; as Father Carzon will now care for the various spiritual dimensions of the community.

Bishop noted this was an important moment for the faith community at San Pedro and how the Parish and the Diocese are blessed to have religious priests from the Oblates of the Virgin Mary at San Pedro, who will bring their charism to the Parish. There are now two Oblates assigned there, with the arrival on Aug. 22 of Father Nathan Marzonie, OMV, who is newly ordained.

The Bishop reminded the people of San Pedro to support their Pastor in his daily work, in administering the Sacraments, as well as when he alone will be called to make difficult decisions that not everyone will always appreciate.

“He needs your support in many ways but in particular through prayer,” Bishop Dewane said.

During the installation, the priest begins with selected words leading to the start of the Creed at which point he is joined by the faithful. At the end of the Creed, the new Pastor has extra lines which are exclusive for him. In addition, the Pastor takes an Oath of Fidelity to the Bishop and his successors; formalized by his placing his hand upon the Book of Gospels.

The ceremony concluded with the signing of documents by the Bishop, the new Pastor, and two official witnesses of the Parish community, who serve as witnesses for all of the parishioners. Those documents are split between the Parish and Diocese as well as the Pastor’s personnel records.

“Bishop, thank you for entrusting the care of San Pedro to me and the (Oblate) community, and thank all of you here at San Pedro for welcoming us into your community,” Father Carzon said.

Following the Installation Mass, Father Carzon greeted well-wishers during a lunch reception in the Parish Life Center.

CCW honors priests

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (VDCCW) took time out to recognize and honor the priests who serve throughout the Diocese.

During a VDCCW Priest Appreciation Dinner on Sept. 16, 2022, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, the members pledged to focus on better supporting the priests as they continue to serve the people of God.

‘You have no idea what you mean to us,” said Josephine Weiss, VDCCW President. “On behalf of the CCW, allow us, the people that love and support you, to minister to you. Let us know what you need. We really want to be there for you.”

The priests who were present for the dinner, both active and retired, came forward to be individually recognized. Each shared their appreciation for the role the members of VDCCW play in support of them, their Parishes and the Diocese as a whole.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane thanked the VDCCW members for all that they do in support of priests through their prayers and actions, adding “so much takes place that could not happen without the dedication of the CCW. This type of event means so much.”

Ellen Bachman, Past-Co-President of the VDCCW, reflected upon how a priest hears a call from the Lord to serve, and in doing so, he touches the lives of the faithful in many ways and that it is all our responsibility to ensure that they know they are appreciated.

“Thank you for all you do for God’s people,” Bachman said. “You will never know how important you are in our lives.”

The priests were asked to come forward to receive a token of appreciation and reflect upon what they may not have learned from seminary that was important in the priesthood.

Many spoke about how they learned much in the classroom but something they couldn’t discover there was the profound goodness of the people of God.

A second VDCCW Priest Appreciation Dinner will take place 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, October 7, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. The dinner is $45. For those interested in attending, please contact Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or

News Briefs for the week of September 23, 2022

Bishop inspires students

Bishop Frank J. Dewane inspired students to use the Gifts of the Holy Spirit during Mass on Sept. 16, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice, and then on Sept 19 at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring. Bishop Dewane told the students how they need to work to hear a call from the Lord and respond in a particular way, using those Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Naples student earns Do the Right Thing Award

Congratulations to St. Ann Catholic School fifth Grader Nicholas Radosti for winning the 2022 Do the Right Thing Award, awarded by the Naples Police Department. Nicholas was nominated for this award because of his kind and honest heart. One day during Mass, Nicholas saw a teacher drop money on the ground. Nicholas made sure to find the teacher right when Mass ended and give the money back to her. Nicholas is a kind person who is filled with honesty and integrity.

Neumann reaccredited

St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples has been reaccredited by the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. The reaccreditation process included a Sept. 16, 2022, visit to the campus and an evaluation of the courses and programs offered at Neumann following state and national Catholic education guidelines. Each Diocesan Catholic school in accredited and the reaccreditation process takes place every seven years.

Student Bibles blessed

Sixth grade and new middle school students at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota were presented personal Bibles following Mass on Sept. 13, 2022. Father Eric Scanlan, Pastor at Incarnation Parish, blessed the Bibles and encouraged the students to not just read the words, but grow to understand what the Lord teaches in Sacred Scriptures and then use the lessons learned in their daily life.

Read a book, build a robot

Students in a St. Martha Catholic School language arts class read Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel “Fahrenheit 451,” as part of the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum which enhances the educational experience for students in multiple disciplines. As part of that curriculum, the Sarasota students engineered robotic dogs out of Lego bricks on Sept. 16, 2022. The dogs are based on the robotic dog featured in the novel. The students’ robot dogs were more cute than vicious, but they had a great time with the challenge!

Eagle Run a success

St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton held its annual Eagle Run on Sept. 16, 2022. This fundraising event was a huge success as students of all ages participated in the run as well as other related activities all in support of the school. St. Joseph officials thanked the parents and community for their continued support of the school and this 2022 Eagle Run.

Verot celebrates homecoming in style

A weeklong celebration led up to the Bishop Verot Catholic High School football Homecoming Game Sept. 16, 2022, versus Gulf Coast High School in Fort Myers. The Vikings won 27-14. Prior to the game, the students participated in a variety of fun activities to boost the excitement for the students. This included a Spirit Day, fun and games and several dress-down days and competitions between boys and girls, the various houses, and grade levels, in the courtyard and gymnasium. A key component was schoolwide Mass.

School raises awareness about cancer

Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice took time out on Sept. 15, 2022, to raise awareness and support for pediatric cancer. Donations will be given to the Children’s Cancer Center. Thank you to everyone who donated. Please keep all those currently battling cancers, and those in remission, in your prayers. Local businesses donated items which were then used in a raffle to raise the money.

Model UN team excels

The weekend of Sept. 17-18, 2022, the St. John Neumann Catholic High School Model U.N. group competed in the SharkMUN conference at Gulf Coast High School. Seven schools were represented, and the Neumann team came away with the Best Delegation Award. Five members of the team received individual awards: Bella Fernandez, Alessio Cirino, Mason Wagner, Jake Marks and Hunter Lund.

News Briefs for the week of August 16, 2022

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Bradenton, Sarasota and Naples

Bishop Frank J. Dewane recently celebrated Mass for students at three Diocesan Catholic schools, visiting St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton, Sept. 7, 2022, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, Sept. 12, and St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, Sept. 13. Bishop Dewane continues to be impressed by the increased enrollment at each of the schools as the students filled churches, chapels and gymnasiums. The Bishop is also continuing to invoke the Holy Spirit to descend upon the students as they go forth into the 2022-2023 Academic Year.

Seminarian prepares for Transitional Diaconate Ordination

In preparation for their upcoming diaconate ordination, the fourth-year class at Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome publicly professed the Faith of the Church and made an Oath of Fidelity in the presence of the NAC community on Sept. 13, 2022. Among those taking their oath was Diocese of Venice Seminarian Daniel Scanlan, who will be ordained on Sept. 29 at St. Peter’s Basilica. Please continue to pray for Daniel and all seminarians as they approach this milestone of their formation journey.

Robot building engages students

Students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral were busy on Sept. 12, 2022, building Lego Education Spike Prime Robots in Robotics class. The robotics program at St. Andrew allows students to learn and excel using skills that will prepare them for the future. Eventually, teams will be formed to compete in completing various tasks or taking part in a robot obstacle course within the school, and as the year progresses, against other robotics teams from other Diocesan Catholic schools.


Faith Formation kicks off in Fort Myers

The faith formation program at Our Lady of Light Parish and St. Cecilia Parish, both in Fort Myers, got a kick-start on Sept. 11, 2022, when hundreds of children began a new educational journey as they grow closer to the Lord. Our Lady of Light has some 150 in its K-5 formation program called “Footsteps in Faith.” St. Cecilia had their first classes learn Patriotic songs in conjunction with Patriot’s Day.

Life skills learned at school

St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples had its own version of the TV reality show “Chopped!” on Sept. 9, 2022. Students in a life skills class created a menu, recipe, budget and learned about how to read nutritional labels on grocery items. This included a trip to a grocery store and then preparing and serving the delicious creations for the judges, which included the Principal, Sister Patricia Roche, Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco. The results were delicious.

Students celebrate Our Lady’s birthday

To honor the Blessed Virgin Mary on her birthday, Sept. 8, 2022, students at Ave Maria Catholic School and Donahue Academy in Ave Maria made special efforts to mark this joyful event. This outpouring of love for Our Lady included homemade cookies, handmade cards and paper flowers for the Mother of God. The kindergarten students also made private visits to a statue of Our Lady, offering their prayers and best wishes on Mary’s special day.

Scientific method learned in classroom

Sixth grade science students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring have been learning about the scientific method – consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses. For example, on Sept. 12, 2022, they grew bacteria in a petri dish and conducted a scientific investigation and observed their bacteria specimens under a microscope. This type of project offers a hands-on approach to learning which helps students use multiple skills in order to complete their experiments.

Kindness rocks found on school campus

If you visit Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, you might spot colorful rocks on the ground. These rocks were not lost during some science experiment gone awry, they were in fact created by freshmen in their theology class as part of a “Kindness Project.” With the assistance of guidance counselors, each small rock was colorfully decorated and included a simple message of kindness, such as “Live your best life!” “Be You!” “Smile!” and more. The reaffirming artistic creations were then placed throughout the campus on Sept. 9, 2022.

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, or call 239-263-4205 to allow for adequate refreshments. For additional information please email

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 A video message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane can be found at 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

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 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 For more information, please call 239-592-1949 or email

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

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

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 or visit



Bishop encourages students to find Christ in others

Each of the more than 5,800 students enrolled in the 15 Diocesan Catholic schools has been blessed with gifts that have been given to them by God.

These gifts, whether it be in math, science, spelling, athletics, music, or any of a number of blessings bestowed on the faithful, make each student unique.

“Take the uniqueness we are from within, granted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and strive to live the good life we are all called to by the Lord,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane during a “Mass of the Holy Spirit” for students on Aug. 30, 2022, at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples.

“It is always my prayer that you take time to come to know who God is in your life,” Bishop Dewane said. “You have grown as a community of believers and as students of our faith. Work hard to come to know who Jesus is. You must also come to know Christ is present in those around us.”

It is our uniqueness, each being made in the image and likeness of God, that makes up our whole being, the Bishop said. That being is someone who reflects the Light of Christ to the world by being kind and good.

“When we do that, living as Christ calls, it becomes easier to find Christ in others,” Bishop Dewane said. “By seeing Christ in others, we develop a respect for our brothers and sisters, because we know Christ is in them.”

Importantly, by participating in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, each student is brought together by the Real Presence through the Body and Blood of Christ, the Bishop explained. While it can be easy to be distracted and we sometimes fail to recognize Christ in others, it is important to try harder. “When we can recognize Christ in others and in the world around us – it changes who we are, and helps us we grow closer to the Lord.”

At each school, the students are part of a community of believers striving to grow in mind, body and spirit. The Bishop explained that this includes not just building up grades or becoming better in a favorite sport, but by coming to see in each other the presence of Christ.

“Do this by showing kindness and mercy toward one another throughout the year,” Bishop Dewane concluded. “And always look for the presence of Christ from within yourself and in the world around you.”

Bishop Dewane also celebrated Masses at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples on Aug. 30 and on Aug. 25 at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota. These were among the first in a series of school Masses Bishop Dewane will celebrate through October.

Following Mass at Incarnation, St. Ann and St. Elizabeth Seton, Bishop Dewane took time to speak with the eighth graders, the oldest students in their school. It was at this time he asked them to be the leaders of their school and to take that role seriously and give a good example.

“Be an example to the younger students, because they look up to you,” he said. “You also need to be engaged in your Faith. The younger students may not have followed along with what was said during the Mass, but you are old enough to understand, and you also know your responsibilities in school and in Church.”

The Bishop also fielded questions from the students, which ranged from basic curiosities about what it is like to be the Bishop, to interest in his background before becoming a priest. The opportunity was also taken to encourage the students to continue on to the nearest Diocesan high school, noting the need for them to continue to grow in faith at the same time as they grow in physical maturity and knowledge. After speaking to each group of eighth graders, the Bishop took part in a group photo.

During the Masses at each school, Bishop Dewane said he was encouraged that many parents and grandparents were able to attend, showing their support for Catholic education. He stressed that the Church serves a fundamental purpose in the Faith development of its students, but the parents are the first and primary teachers of their children. “Learning begins at home, especially as it pertains to one’s Faith life. What we do is to augment the education, morals and values that parents provide.”

Bishop Dewane’s 2022 Labor Day statement

Statement from Bishop Frank J. Dewane on the significance of Labor Day:

On this Labor Day, recall that Jesus teaches, in word and deed, that we should appreciate work. After all, Jesus Himself, having “become like us in all things, devoted most of the years of his life on earth to manual work at the carpenter’s bench.” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens)

Work is an essential and important aspect of the human condition, helping us to feel useful, and necessary. Through work, we fully express who it is that God is calling us to be. On this Labor Day, let us strive to be grateful for our work, but also mindful of those who are out of work, underemployed, or mistreated in their work environment.

Though salaries and wages are on the rise and there is a low rate of unemployment, there is still cause for concern. With the current inflation rate, paychecks simply don’t go as far. One in three U.S. workers, 52 million people, are earning less than $15 an hour. The share of women and minorities earning less than a living wage is even greater. Labor Day is the perfect time for we as a Church to consider how to support workers and foster solidarity.

As God rested on the Seventh Day from all the work which He had done (Gen 2:2), may we enjoy the fruits of our labor on this day. If you need work, may you find it. If you have work, may you be enriched by it. And if you seek change, may the Holy Spirit guide you in searching for not just a job but fulfillment in your life. May you discover what it is that God is calling you to do, to be. Have a Happy and Blessed Labor Day and be assured of my prayers and best wishes on this nationwide day of rest.

+Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

Venice in Florida

Bishop speaks out against hate

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was among a group of religious leaders who spoke out against hate during an Aug. 23, 2022, Venice City Council meeting.

The City Council approved a proposed proclamation condemning a June 25 incident during which anti-Semitic flyers were distributed to lawns and driveways of residential homes in the City of Venice. Shortly after the that disturbing event, Venice Mayor Ron Feinsod received an e-mail in the form of anti-Semitism hate mail.

Bishop Dewane supported the City Council proclamation, expressing the need to both condemn and prevent all acts of hate, saying “anti-Semitism is simply unacceptable. It must not be tolerated. Let us work together to prevent hate in all its forms, in our words, in our deeds, and in our prayers.”

In response to the June incident, Bishop Dewane drafted a letter to the editor, which was subsequently published in local newspapers and appeared in the July 15 e-edition of the Florida Catholic ( In that letter, the Bishop called such incidents of anti-Semitism disheartening and disturbing.

Since the start of 2022, similar anti-Semitic incidents have taken place not only in Venice, but Punta Gorda, Naples, Fort Myers and Sarasota. The Bishop has been vocal in his outrage against such incidents and is a staunch supporter of the Jewish people.

“The Diocese of Venice has tremendous compassion and empathy for what has occurred in the history of the Jewish people and has always valued and indeed cherished its longstanding relationship with the Jewish Community,” Bishop Dewane said. “An emphasis has been placed on deepening our shared roots, the teaching of tolerance in our schools and Parishes, and fostering interreligious friendships.”

Among those speaking out at the Venice City Council meeting was Pieter Kohnstam of Venice, a Holocaust survivor who knew Anne Frank, her having been his babysitter while they lived in the same building as children in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The proclamation, which was proposed during the first City Council meeting since June, stated that the rise in anti-Semitism throughout Venice, the county, the state and the country is both offensive and deplorable. “The contents of the flyers and the e-mail violate our sense of common decency and moral behavior. These incidents have created concern and outrage in our community, which is founded on our nation’s principals of protecting individual rights, including freedom of religion.”

The Proclamation concluded with the statement, “We, the people of the City of Venice do hereby declare that all forms of hate, racism and anti-Semitism are considered an attack on every citizen and visitor to our great city.”

Other religious leaders were also present to speak out against hatred. Once passed, a copy of the Proclamation was presented to Kohnstam.

Bishop celebrates Mass at university

The Ave Maria University 2022-2023 Academic Year opened with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Aug. 22, 2022.

The Mass included faculty, who processed in before the opening hymn dressed in their doctoral robes and seated up front while the students sat behind. Concelebrating were priests who serve the spiritual needs of the students on campus and in Ave Maria Parish.

Bishop Dewane welcomed new and returning students for the start of a new Academic Year and noted that they have each been provided with a great opportunity to be at Ave Maria University and said he was praying that they find success in their studies. The Bishop encouraged the students to be open to hear the call of the Lord in their lives and to live that answer each day.

The Mass fell on the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Gospel reading was from Luke 1:39-56, relating the time Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth and the response of St. John the Baptist who was in the womb.

Bishop Dewane remarked that the title of Queen for the Blessed Virgin implies a struggle, a challenge and even battle, and how the students must be conscious of that in recognizing Mary and her role in Salvation history. Bishop Dewane noted that when regal titles, such as king and queen, are used in Scripture, there is an implied battle.

“We need to search for announcement of the Angel Gabriel in our own life; those things that come from the Lord and bring about change,” Bishop Dewane said. “It might not be the Angel Gabriel, but it might be as when Jesus is on the shore and calls to the Disciples, ‘Come follow Me!’ (Matt. 19:21) As students at Ave Maria University, I want you to listen closely this year, how many times Christ says ‘Come follow Me!’”

The Bishop said we must all be attentive to our response to the call of the Lord, with the knowledge God has an eye out for those who strive to serve Him and do His will. There are clues along the way, but we will only find them if we are ready to respond and have not only our ears open, but our minds, hearts and souls open to that call of “Come follow Me!”

“Pray to hear that call,” Bishop Dewane continued. “Look to the Lord to find what good He gives you in your life and let that guide you to become a faithful spouse, or perhaps to the priesthood or a religious vocation … all of this will be found as you acquire more knowledge of who Jesus Christ is in your life.”

The Bishop said the students attend Ave Maria University with a quest for truth, justice, integrity and they should not settle for less, but he reminded them that during this search for those things in the world around them, they must also look within themselves.

“It is you who has to project those very things you search for in your life,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is no surprise that God brought you here to have an encounter with the Lord… Accept the guidance of the Lord. Go with Him on the journey and be richer for it along the way… Hear that call of ‘Come follow Me!’ and live a true answer to Christ here at Ave Maria University.”

Following closing prayer, the Bishop presided over a commissioning ceremony for four new theology professors, during which each took a Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity, vowing to remain faithful to the Teachings of the Church before Bishop Dewane and the entire school community.

After the Mass the Bishop greeted the students who thanked him for his presence and inspiring homily.