2022 LION CUP STREAM Robotics Challenge huge success

With a shower of confetti, the inaugural Diocese of Venice Lion Cup Robotics Tournament got off to a rousing start on May 14, 2022, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers.

The Lion Cup – a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) middle and high school robotics tournament, included 150 competitors, 23 teams, representing 13 Diocesan Catholic schools. The competition was fierce, and the intensity built as the day progressed and the participants became laser-focused on being the best.

Emily Graham of the middle school Shambots 2 team from Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish said the team prayed and sought the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for success in the competition.

“We worked so hard to get ready and it was so much fun to compete against the other schools and then we won,” Emily, a 6th grader said with a big smile. “These robots are so amazing. We worked together to get everything to work.”

Jackalyn Flynn, a member of the Dollar Store Stark Industries team from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, said the competition was tough but she had lots of fun. “This was hard. We just created our team and learned so much from this competition. We will do better next year.”

In a welcome video message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane, he described the students as pioneers forging a path for the next generation of leaders and innovators and believers.

“Your ideas and enthusiasm show no bounds as we celebrate the creative challenge founded on the Gifts of Christ,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Lion Cup is more than a friendly competition among Catholic schools, it demonstrates that STREAM is a faith-infused program that can help solve many of the world’s most daunting problems by upholding Catholic values and teaching the principles of strength, utility and beauty. The Lion Cup showcases that Diocese of Venice Catholic schools are preparing students who are ready to build, lead and succeed in a time when science and technology are at the forefront of nearly every facet of our lives.”

The competition was fierce as teams programed their robots to accomplish various tasks in a specific order in a limited amount of time. The middle school robots are made from Lego pieces and as they go through the obstacle course, their autonomous robot picks up items along the way. Teamwork comes into play in design, construction and strategy. The high school robots are 10 times larger and are both autonomous and have a remote control.

Just before the competition began, teams were allowed to practice on the designated courses and test their work. Many teams made adjustments before the actual competition began and then the intensity and focus of the participants was ramped up. With their teammates/classmates cheering from the sidelines, each completed – or failed- task evoked a reaction.

The teams were judged on robot design, accuracy, efficiency and other factors. Awards were presented to the top teams at the end of the competition.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Education, said it was a great day, beyond his wildest dreams, giving much credit to Jennifer Falestiny, Diocesan Curriculum Coordinator and leader of the STREAM initiative in the Diocesan schools.

“What a huge success. So much virtue was shown here today,” Father Belmonte said. We do all of these things to give glory to God. That’s why our schools exist. That’s why our teachers teach. That’s why your parents send you to the school – everything to God’s glory.”

The Lion Cup honors St. Mark, one of the patron saints of the Diocese of Venice, whose symbol features a winged lion. The competition also pays homage to Leonardo da Vinci, inventor of many of the first robots, one of which resembles a lion.

“Da Vinci’s works incorporate three design attributes developed by Vitruvius, a famous Roman architect and engineer: Firmitas (strength), Utilitas (utility) and Venustas (beauty),” said Father Belmonte. “All three of these attributes will be aspects of our students’ robotic designs. The students have been preparing for this tournament for months and were eager to compete.”

Special awards were presented to the teams that reflected the attributes of Firmitas, Utilitas, and Venustas.

The Department of Education at the Diocese of Venice plans to host larger robotics competitions every year, possibly opening the invitation to other schools throughout Florida.

The winning teams were:

Middle school

  • 1st – Shambots 2 – Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish
  • 2nd – ECS Tigers 2 – Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School
  • 3rd – Falcon Robot – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

High School

  • 1st – Despair Parts – St. John Neumann Catholic High School
  • 2nd – Shambots 1 – Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish
  • 3rd – SJN Team 2 – St. John Neumann Catholic High School

Venustas – Beauty – Our Lady of Mercy – Co-Patroness of the Diocese of Venice

  • Middle school – ECS Tigers 1 – Eiphany Cathedral Catholic School
  • High school – Dollar Store Stark Industries – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

Utilitas – Utility – St. Macrina – Patron Saint of Robots

  • Middle school – Falcon Robot – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School
  • High school – Shambots 1 – Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish

Firmitas – Strength – St. Mark the Evangelist – Co-Patron of the Diocese of Venice

  • Middle school – Dragons – St. Mary Academy
  • High school – Dollar Store Stark Industries – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

Last chances to participate in the Synod

Do you want to have a say in the future of the Universal Church? If so, then there are only two opportunities left for the Faithful to have their voices heard during the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” as requested by His Holiness Pope Francis.

You can sign up now for the last in-person Diocesan Listening Session from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, May 23, 2022, at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (English and Spanish); or for the Virtual Listening Session via Microsoft TEAMS from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 25. To register for either or both, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions.

There have been 10 Diocesan Listening Sessions to-date, with the most recent May 16, at St. Agnes Parish in Naples. These Listening Sessions have been available to offer the Faithful the opportunity to provide input into the future of the Universal Church. Each Session asks participants to discern the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. The feedback has been both positive and passionate.

“For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” is a worldwide effort for a deeper communion, fuller participation, and greater openness to fulfilling our mission in the world. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the input of the Faithful – with an open heart, mind and soul – is critical as the Universal Church contemplates the future.

The information gathered at the Diocesan Listening Sessions, as well as from direct or follow-up comments from the Faithful, will be synthesized into a document which will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and ultimately the Vatican. Similar Listening Sessions are being held across the country and around the globe.

Those interested in attending any of the Sessions are encouraged to confirm their attendance by registering at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions. (NOTE: to participate in the Virtual Listening Session, you MUST register, so a link can be provided).

For any questions or comments regarding the Listening Sessions or the Synod, please email synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Walking with Moms in Need – Program embraces and supports pregnant mothers

By Jeanne Berdeaux, Special to the Florida Catholic

Would you know how to help a pregnant woman in need? Maybe it’s your daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, sister, or neighbor. Maybe it’s someone you see in a store, restaurant, or church. Perhaps she is crying, looks distraught or is obviously being treated poorly by someone. Through a new national initiative from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called Walking with Moms in Need, now you will know how to help.

Walking with Moms in Need teaches parishioners how to help pregnant women in need, starting by letting them know they are not alone. The nationwide Catholic program calls

every parishioner to learn the names of their local pregnancy help centers, the first responders for women with unexpected or difficult pregnancies.

There are over 3,000 pregnancy help centers across the country. They have many different names, but they are staffed with people dedicated to helping pregnant women make the right life-affirming choice and find the help they need.

Pregnancy help centers, once referred to as crisis pregnancy centers, provide accurate information about a woman’s options, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, maternity and baby clothes, diapers, and other material needs, all free of charge. They also have a list of resources in the community for financial help, food, and other needs.

If a woman needs a place to stay and extra help throughout her pregnancy, the pregnancy help center staff will assist her in finding a maternity home and later an after-birth home where she will receive help to welcome her child into the world.

Many centers also reach out to the father of the child, helping him to become the father that the child needs and the support that the mother needs. Both the mom and the dad will be helped to realize that they are already parents.

Did you know that over 90 percent of women who see their child via ultrasound choose life? They may see their child sucking her thumb, waving, kicking, or jumping around in the amniotic fluid in the womb. They see that the baby is truly a human being, not just a clump of cells. Every pregnancy help center in the Diocese has an ultrasound machine, most provided by the Knights of Columbus.

In the Diocese of Venice, Parishes will initiate the new Walking with Moms in Need program with prayer and bulletin ads, posters, and other means of communication to point pregnant women in the right direction. Parish volunteers are encouraged to visit the pregnancy help centers in their area, meet with staff, and explore ways the Parish can help the center and their clients. Volunteers are needed to help with many tasks, from answering phones, sorting baby clothes, helping with mailings, and much more.

Perhaps a woman is looking for a Catholic Parish where she can return to her roots in the Catholic Church. Recently a Parish volunteer was able to welcome a new resident at Mass who moved into a local maternity home away from her home Parish. In another part of the Diocese, volunteers from two Parishes worked together to help a pregnant woman with material needs, providing a crib, stroller, furniture, and baby items. Catholic Charities and Pennies for Babies helped with rent and utility bills to keep the family from being evicted or having their electricity turned off.

To volunteer for Walking with Moms in Need, or to help your Parish introduce the program, visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/walking-with-moms-in-need. If you know of someone who is local, pregnant and needs help immediately, click the “I’m Pregnant” button at that link. If she lives elsewhere there is helpful information available at www.optionline.org. (Note: All Diocesan resources are available in Spanish.)

The demand for abortion will not just disappear, regardless of the upcoming Supreme Court decision regarding Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion in America. Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and we hope and pray it is, abortion will not automatically become illegal; instead, it will go back to the states to decide. It is up to us, especial those of us who are Catholic, to make abortion unthinkable and offer better alternatives to women facing unexpected and difficult pregnancies.

Would you know how to help a pregnant woman in need?  Now you will, with Walking with Moms in Need. Let her know she is not alone.

Jeanne Berdeaux is the Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about Walking with Moms in Need, visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife or contact the Respect Life Office at 941-441-1101.

List of pregnancy help centers in Diocese:

Palmetto – North River Care PC*https://www.northrivercare.org/ – 941-729-9004

Bradenton – CareNet Manasota PC*https://carenetmanasota.com/ – 941-751-1966

Sarasota –  My Choice PC*http://www.mychoicepregnancycenter.com/ – 941-351-3007; Community PChttps://communitypregnancyclinic.com/- 941-260-5427;
Sarasota Medical PC*
; – https://www.sarasotapregnancy.com/ – 941-330-2273

Venice – Pregnancy Solutionshttps://pregnancysolutions.org/ – 941-408-7100; North Port – 941-257-8270; Port Charlotte – 941-883-6346

Fort Myers – Community Pregnancy Clinics*https://communitypregnancyclinic.com/- 239-689-1543; Verity Pregnancy & Medical Resource Centerhttp://www.veritypmc.com/ – 239-433-1929; Pregnancy Resource Centerhttps://www.prcnaples.org/ – 239-990-8186

Naples – Pregnancy Resource Centerhttps://www.prcnaples.org/ – 239-280-5523; Community Pregnancy Clinicshttps://communitypregnancyclinic.com/ – two locations – 239-262-6381 or 239-778-8282

Immokalee – Immokalee PC*https://www.immokaleepregnancy.com/ – 239-657-2016

Avon Park, Wauchula, Sebring, Lake Placid – Choices Family Resource Centershttps://choicesfrc.com/ – 863-453-0307

*Help available in Spanish

Residential facilities:

Bradenton, Sarasota and Englewood – Solve – 941-748-0094 – solvehomes.org

Venice – Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. –941-485-6264 – catholiccharitiesdov.org

Fort Myers – Our Mother’s Home of Southwest Florida – 239-267-4663 – ourmothershome.com

Cape Coral – Thrive –239-242-7238 – thriveswfl.org

Naples – Sunlight Home – 239-352-0251 – sunlighthome.org

Naples – Providence House – 239-692-8779 – providencehousenaples.org

Material Needs: Venice Area Pregnancy Care Center – 941-485-1776 – vapcc.org

Project Rachel

Most women who choose abortion eventually realize that they made the wrong choice and face a lifetime of regret. Even if they confess this sin to a priest, they often find it difficult to accept God’s forgiveness and forgive themselves. They will often confess the same sin over and over. Project Rachel is the Catholic Church’s program to help women and men come to terms with an abortion decision and find the hope and healing they need. Watch for more on post-abortion healing in the next edition of The Florida Catholic. For confidential help, call 941-412-5860 or email project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org.

How to help

If you would like to help pregnant women in need financially, consider giving to the Pennies for Babies Fund. Send checks (not cash) to Catholic Charities Pennies for Babies Fund, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. All donations go directly to rent, utilities and special needs of pregnant moms who choose to parent their child.

USCCB Statement

 USCCB Pro-Life Chairman Urges Faithful to Pray in Response to Leak of Draft Supreme Court Opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

May 4, 2022

WASHINGTON – In response to the leak of a draft opinion in the Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following call to prayer:

“The leak related to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reminds us of the urgent need for prayer and action at this pivotal moment in our country.

“As Catholics, we care about every unborn child and every mother. Our Church has consistently witnessed in word and deed that life begins at the moment of conception. As the bishops shared in our statement Standing with Moms in Need: we pledge ‘to redouble our efforts to accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, and during the early years of parenthood, offering them loving and compassionate care through initiatives such as Walking with Moms in Need and countless others.’

“At the same time, as we await the Court’s decision, we urge everyone to intensify their prayer and fasting that the final decision of the Court will bring about the reversal of Roe and Casey.

“We hope and pray for a change in our laws and stand ready to help all pregnant women in need in each of our communities.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us and guide us.”

Synod Listening Sessions winding down

An enthusiastic group of Faithful from Parishes in the Eastern Deanery shared their thoughts during the latest Diocesan Synod Listening Session on May 9, 2022, at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring.

This was the ninth of 12 such Listening Sessions as part of the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” as requested by His Holiness Pope Francis.

There are just three Listening Session left: 6:30-8 p.m., Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples; 6:30-8 pm., Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (English and Spanish); and 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 25, Virtual Listening Session via Microsoft TEAMS.

To ensure everyone has a voice, the Faithful are encouraged to consider attending one of the final Listening Sessions, which started in February, with close to 1,000 having their voice heard in this process. Each Session has the goal of discerning the Word of God in Scripture and what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. The feedback has been both positive and passionate.

“For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” is a two-year, worldwide effort for a deeper communion, fuller participation, and greater openness to fulfilling our mission in the world. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the input of the Faithful is critical as the Universal Church contemplates the future. The Faithful continue to be encouraged to respond to the Synod with an open heart, mind and soul, the Bishop added.

Each session is being recorded to allow for proper documentation. The information gathered at the Diocesan Listening Sessions, as well as from direct or follow-up comments from the Faithful, will be synthesized into a document which will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and ultimately the Vatican. Similar Listening Sessions are being held across the country and around the globe. The XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place at the Vatican in October 2023.

The format of the Listening Sessions includes an opening prayer and remarks before lively table discussions. Each Session concentrates on questions inspired by 10 Synod themes supplied by the Vatican. Participants are also able to share additional comments privately by emailing synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Listening Session locations were selected based of geography and population to cover as much of the Diocese as possible and several have been offered in both English and Spanish.

Those interested in attending any of the Sessions are encouraged to confirm their attendance by registering at www.dioceseofvenice.org. A link will be provided for those interested in participating in the Virtual Listening Session.

For any questions or comments regarding the Listening Sessions, please email synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

News Briefs for the week of May 13 2022

Appointments

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

Father Jayabalan Raju, Parochial Vicar of Epiphany Cathedral Parish, Venice, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective April 22, 2022.

Father Fausto Stampiglia, S.A.C., V.F., retired as Pastor of St. Martha Parish and other Diocesan responsibilities, effective May 14, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Pastor of St. Martha Parish.

Father Jerzy (George) Suszko, S.A.C., is appointed as Pastor of St. Martha Parish, effective May 14, 2022. At the same time, he is relieved of his duty as Parochial Vicar at St. Martha Parish.

Father Marcin Koziola, is relieved of his duties as Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, effective May 2, 2022.

Father Kristian Villafaña, is appointed as Temporary Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, effective May 2, 2022.

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate June 18

All are invited and encouraged to attend the Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate for the following candidate: Craig Dutka of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto. The Ordination will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 18, 2022, at Holy Cross Parish, 506 26th St. W., Palmetto. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow.

Sarasota Beach Volleyball team State Champs

Congratulations to our Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Girls Beach Volleyball team from Sarasota, they are State Champions for the Sunshine State Conference! The team beat Merritt Island High School on April 30, 2022, at Hickory Point Beach in Taveras. The team then fell in the quarterfinals of the FSHAA State Tournament on May 7, 2022, at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The team finished the season with a 22-2 overall record.

Fort Myers tennis team takes second at State

Congratulations to the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Viking Girls Tennis team in Fort Myers. They made Verot history today, earning 2nd place in the State Championship on April 29 at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry! The ladies entered the State Tournament at the 6th seed and took down two teams before falling in the Final to Gulliver Prep. Way to go ladies!

Pitcher throws Perfect Game

St. John Neumann Catholic High School Freshman Sophia Escobar pitched a Perfect Game on April 26, 2022, against South Fort Myers High School. She also struck out 14 batters during the game. A Perfect Game means Sofia did not allow any walks, hits or runs. Well done!

Venice school is STREAM Accredited

Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice is officially a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) Accredited Catholic School in the Diocese of Venice. Accreditation became official on April 26, 2022, from the Florida Catholic Conference of Bishops Accreditation Committee. The process of being certified has taken six years and the school credits its teachers for dedicating unit and lesson plans to the process.

Youngest students have fun measuring

Pre-kindergarten students, the youngest at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring, had fun on May 9, 2022, learning how to measure different objects. This lesson is helping to prepare these young minds for more advanced math in Kindergarten and beyond.

Mary, the example for all to follow

When it comes time to reflect upon Mother’s Day, there is no greater example than the Mother of Jesus.

Pope Francis said to be a mother is a great treasure through an unconditional and sacrificial love for their children, which was shown so clearly when the Blessed Virgin Mary presented Jesus at Christmas, a gift to the world.

Mary’s example provides an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the role of all mothers in society and the Church, the Pope explained, noting how despite all of the “symbolic glorification” we give to motherhood, it is still under-valued.

To be a mother is a gift, the Pope said, and explained that through their sacrifices, mothers assist in helping society to overcome its self-centered tendencies, as well as its lack of openness, generosity and concern for others.

“In this sense motherhood is more than childbearing; it is a life choice entailing sacrifice, respect for life, and commitment to passing on those human and religious values which are essential for a healthy society,” he said.

Reflecting upon the motherhood of Mary, Bishop Frank J. Dewane recently devoted the April 2022 Relevant Radio show “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane” to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“We must look to the faith of Our Lady,” Bishop Dewane said. “Our Blessed Mother had to do some very difficult things to stay under the cross as her Son hung there. I don’t know what more can be asked of a mother than to have to observe the death of her child.”

It is appropriate that Mother’s Day falls in the month of May, many of the Marian apparitions are linked to the month, which is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church opted to dedicate the month to Mary.

Bishop Dewane stressed that the Faithful must look at radically changing their life, but with a certain zeal, or fire, welling up from within, similar to how the Blessed Virgin answered “Yes!” to the call of the Lord at the Annunciation.

“Our human nature doesn’t always drive us to do these things,” the Bishop continued. “But when we take the time to spiritually reflect and allow the Lord to enter in, and allow Our Lady to be our guide, we can make a big difference.”

During the radio show, Bishop Dewane and special guest Father Tom Carzon, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, reflected upon the different Marian apparitions.

“Our Lady is always calling us to repentance,” Father Carzon said. “She’s preparing us. She’s calling us back to the Gospel.  And in the midst of things – even when suffering comes – just as she was standing by Jesus at the Cross – she’s standing with us.”

Marian apparitions in the Ukraine, Rwanda and other places of conflict and oppression, serve as not just a warning, but a comfort that Our Lady is always present, Father added.

“It’s like these things, tragic as they are, they are not beyond God’s reach, or outside of God’s hands,” Father Carzon said. “Mary helps us by that presence. It is so powerful – she shows up as we need her.”

Bishop Dewane noted that some apparitions are witnessed by many or some are by a few, but the messages are clear, bringing comfort and healing. “When something brings people together in Faith, it has to be recognized that something good is happening.”

The Patroness of the Diocese of Venice is Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which is also the name of the Diocese’s primary retreat center in Venice. In addition, there are a dozen Parishes dedicated to Our Lady. In the coming weeks, there are two major celebrations of Mary, including the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima (May 13), as well as the newly instituted Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, on June 6, the Monday after Pentecost, which was recently created by Pope Francis.

If you would like to listen to the April “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane” radio show, the program is available at https://dioceseofvenice.org/our-bishop/relevant-radio-podcasts.

The monthly radio program on Relevant Radio can be heard at 8:30 a.m. on the last Friday of each month (May 27, 2022), at 106.7 FM and 1410 AM in Fort Myers and 93.3 FM and 1660 AM in Naples.

Final Synod Listening Sessions in May

Time is running out to have your voice heard during the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” as requested by His Holiness Pope Francis.

To ensure everyone has a voice, the faithful are encouraged to consider attending one of the final four Listening Sessions in May; three of which will be in person, with a Virtual Session to close out the Diocesan Phase.

To date, eight Listening Sessions, starting in February, have been completed throughout the Diocese with hundreds having their voice heard in this process. Each Session has the goal of discerning the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. The feedback has been both positive and passionate.

“For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” is a worldwide effort for a deeper communion, fuller participation, and greater openness to fulfilling our mission in the world. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the input of the faithful is critical as the Universal Church contemplates the future. The Faithful are encouraged to respond to the Synod with an open heart, mind and soul, the Bishop added.

Each session is being recorded to allow for proper documentation. The information gathered at the Diocesan Listening Sessions, as well as from direct or follow-up comments from the faithful, will be synthesized into a document which will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and ultimately the Vatican. Similar Listening Sessions are being held across the country and around the globe.

The format of the Listening Sessions includes an opening prayer and remarks before lively table discussions. Each Session concentrates on questions inspired by 10 Synod themes supplied by the Vatican. Participants are also able to share additional comments privately by emailing synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Listening Session locations were selected based of geography and population to cover as much of the Diocese as possible and several have been offered in both English and Spanish.

Upcoming in-person Sessions will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Monday, May 9, St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring (Eng./Sp);
  • Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (Eng./Sp);

Please note, there will also be a Virtual Listening Session from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 25.

Those interested in attending any of the Sessions are encouraged to confirm their attendance by registering at www.dioceseofvenice.org. A link will be provided for those interested in participating in the Virtual Listening Session.

For any questions or comments regarding the listening sessions, please email synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Earlier Listening Session

Diocesan Phase for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”

To date, eight in-person Listening Sessions have been completed, and they include:

  • (Completed) Feb. 9, St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota (Eng.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 16, Epiphany Cathedral, Venice (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 22, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, Bradenton (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 3, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 14, St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 16, Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 24; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225, Golden Gate Parkway, Naples (Eng./Sp.).
  • (Completed) March 28, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples (Eng.).

Mass held to remember victims of child abuse

A Mass was celebrated on behalf of the victims of child abuse – the innocent and defenseless who have suffered a most terrifying violence to their body and soul.

This Mass on April 20, 2022, the Wednesday within the Octave of Easter, was celebrated by Msgr. Patrick Dubois at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. This was the 15th year the Diocese has held a Mass to pray for the victims of abuse, which takes place in April to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Msgr. Dubois cited the Gospel Reading of the day of the two Disciples, who were weighed down by the terrible crucifixion of Christ, as they journey on the road to Emmaus in hope that Jesus’ Resurrection triumphed over evil.

“Just as the Disciples became witnesses to Jesus’ suffering, let us implore His Grace to weep with them; to make at least some amends for all victims of child abuse,” Msgr. Dubois said. “We recall with sadness how their precious dignity was violated much as Christ was also pierced because of our sins.”

Msgr. Dubois added that we must also weep for the heinous and terrible harm caused by the Church’s own sons and daughters, betraying their sacred mission only to abuse children who had been placed under their care and trust.

“The hurt of all of these innocent victims, that should never have happened, weighs heavy upon our hearts and upon the conscience of the entire Church,” he continued. “To these children, to all adults who lost their sacred innocence as minors violated by people who they trusted, we express another year of heartfelt sorrow and shame.”

Citing Pope Francis, who said the sins of clerical abuse of minors has a toxic effect on Faith and hope in God, Msgr. Dubois said some have maintained their Faith “while for others the experience of betrayal and abandonment has led to a weakening of Faith in God. It is the great miracle of hope which prevails against the deepest darkness that can be present in our lives. Our loving Lord is forever on the side of all who suffer, of all the victims – particularly the defenseless and abused child – bringing healing to so much pain and hurt.”

Msgr. Dubois concluded in prayer calling “upon the Lord to rebuild the broken lives and hearts; giving hope to all those who mourn a lost innocence; to all who suffered so terribly; to all who today so rightly hunger and thirst for justice and may they soon feel God’s miraculous and restorative grace. In this way, may they, like the Disciples on the road to Emmaus, deeply feel Christ’s blessing and Real Presence.”

In speaking on this topic, Bishop Frank J. Dewane has repeatedly stated that the Diocese of Venice, and its entities, take very seriously the safety of all young people and vulnerable adults. In fact, the Diocese has a zero-tolerance policy, and works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults.

“The Diocese of Venice is steadfast in its commitment to providing a comprehensive program to protect the most vulnerable from all types of abuse while raising awareness to prevent abuse from happening in the first place,” Bishop Dewane further stated.

The Diocese of Venice Safe Environment Program works to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working with minors, and parents. The program provides information on the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. Thousands participate in this program each year. In addition, the Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools.

The Diocese of Venice annually undergoes a comprehensive audit by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese is in compliance with current directives.

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or how to sign up for a Safe Environment class, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE

During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB encourages the faithful to recite the Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just:

You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States

Conference of Catholic Bishops

UNA ORACIÓN DE SANACIÓN VÍCTIMAS DE ABUSO

Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo;

Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento

El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu

Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas

Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States

Conference of Catholic Bishops.

News Briefs for week of April 29, 2022

Priest dies

Father Russell Ruggiero died at his home in Lakewood Ranch on April 18, 2022, at the age of 59. Father Ruggiero was ordained to the priesthood on May 29, 2010, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. He served as Parochial Vicar at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton, San Marco Parish in Marco Island, and St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers. Father served as Administrator of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish from Jan. 8, 2017 to Oct. 19, 2018 before taking a leave of absence. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on April 25 at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish. Father Mark Heuberger, Pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul was the main celebrant with Bishop Frank J. Dewane in attendance. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Ruggiero and the consolation of his family. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in eternal peace.

 Retreat improves communication for couples

A MDS (Matrimonio, Diálogo y Seguimiento – Matrimony, Dialogue and Follow-Up) Wedding Retreat took place at Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid on April 22-24, 2022. MDS, a Catholic-based Spanish-language enrichment program directed to all married couples which is designed to improve communication in the conjugal life for the couple. Participating couples are paired with mentor couples to help them daily live out their Sacramental Marriage, accompanied by Jesus. These intensive retreats are offered several times a year and the couples and their mentors have follow-up contact to ensure the lessons have a lasting impact. Father Claudio Stewart, Diocesan Director of the Hispanic Apostolate addressed the retreatants offering encouragement.

Final Synod on Synodality Listening Sessions in May

There are only four more opportunities to take part in the Diocesan Phase for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” as requested by His Holiness Pope Francis. Everyone is invited as the Diocese of Venice is holding various sessions for an evening of listening with the goal to discern the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. To date, eight in-person listening sessions have been completed, and they include:

  • (Completed) Feb. 9, St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota (Eng.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 16, Epiphany Cathedral, Venice (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 22, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, Bradenton (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 3, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 14, St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 16, Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 24; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225, Golden Gate Parkway, Naples (Eng./Sp.).
  • (Completed) March 28, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples (Eng.).

Upcoming in-person Sessions will take place from 6:30 p.m.- 8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Monday, May 9, St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring (Eng./Sp);
  • Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (Eng./Sp);

Please note, there will also be a Virtual Session from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 25. Those interested in attending any of the sessions are encouraged to confirm their attendance by registering at www.dioceseofvenice.org. For any questions or comments regarding the listening sessions, please email synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Robotics team prepares for competition

The St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School Robotics team from Port Charlotte has been preparing for their very first competition which takes place on May 14 in Fort Myers. These students have been working extremely hard and coming up with different strategies for this upcoming competition against other teams from throughout the Diocese. The students are working hard to build a strong team while developing skills in programming, modeling and design, all needed to ensure a successful competition.

 

Students vote for their favorite books

With the assistance from members of the St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School National Junior Honors Society, students returned from their Easter break on April 19, 2022, to vote on their favorite Sunshine State books. They did this by using real voting machines. Students from all levels, pre-kindergarten-3 through eighth grade, had the opportunity to vote. The machines were programmed to allow the students to choose from the different books. Everyone had fun using the machines while also learning about books and the voting process.

Love of baseball shared by students

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students in Sarasota continued its 10-year partnership with the Miracle League of Manasota by continuing the service outreach on April 23, 2022. The goal of the Miracle League is to provide opportunities for differently-abled children and adults to play baseball. Members of the Mooney club volunteer each weekend, giving back by teaching various skills and being vocal cheerleaders for those who take part in the program.

House Olympics lots of fun in Naples

The annual House Olympics at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples took place on April 22, 2022, with Raley House taking the victory. Teams from each house participate in a variety of fun and games competing for points and ultimately a victory over their fellow competitors. Neumann has four “Houses” which serve as a form of student government, dividing students into different teams. Throughout the year these teams earn points for success in various academic and athletic individual and team competitions. The House Olympics is just one of the latest competitions. The championship team will be announced at the end of the year. This system was implemented to help younger students become more familiar with Neumann as freshman and through the years the older students serve as mentors to their House members.

New Pro-Life Documentary

“The Matter of Life,” a new Pro-Life documentary, will be in theaters for a limited engagement on Monday, May 16 and Tuesday, May 17 only. The documentary takes you on a journey to unravel the complexities of the abortion debate by addressing the issue through science, philosophy, history and powerful personal stories with testimonies from some of the best pro-life national speakers such as Scott Klusendorf, Stephanie Gray Connors and Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortionist. The film answers hard questions and provides hope for the future. With the impending Supreme Court ruling on the Dobbs case (a review of the Alabama abortion law and could ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade – www.prayfordobbs.com), now is the time to learn all you can about this important issue. See www.thematteroflife.org for a trailer, theater locations and more. Questions? Contact Jeanne Berdeaux, Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-441-1101.

Treasures of the Church coming to Diocese

An Exposition of Sacred Relics will take place in several locations within the Diocese of Venice and elsewhere in Florida in the month of May. Each evening begins with a presentation and teaching on relics which features the catechetical and spiritual basis for the “Walk with the Saints” where over 150 relics will be displayed. In the Diocese of Venice, the following dates and locations are available for all to attend: May 9, Incarnation Parish, 2929 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota; May 10, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 SW 20th Ave., Cape Coral; May 11, Ave Maria Parish, 5088 Annunciation Circle, Ave Maria; May 12, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples. Each exposition will begin at 6:30 p.m. and there is no fee to attend.

9th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference in May

All are invited to the 9th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference May 13 to May 15 at Ave Maria University, Ave Maria. The theme is “Do Whatever He Tells You.” Featured speakers will include Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Coffey, of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, Father Larry Richards, Father Rick Martignetti, Deacon Dr. Mark Miravalle, EWTN’s Steve Ray, and Johnnette Benkovic plus music by Martin Doman and the AMU Band. In addition to the talks, the Conference will include a Rosary Walk, Holy Mass, Benediction, and more. The cost is $180 per person and includes lodging, meals and conference fee for the weekend. For more information visit www.aveconferences.com,call 239-348-4725 or email aveconferences@gmail.com.

EASTER: The Summit of the Catholic Faith

For the Easter Season – Spread the Good News

Throughout the Universal Church the faithful gathered for a joyous celebration on Easter; that is the Resurrection of Our Lord, the Summit of the Catholic Faith. Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities.”

This celebration comes after the holiest of weeks which began with the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and included the institution of the Eucharist (Communion) during the Last Supper, Institution of the Sacrament of Holy Orders as well as the betrayal by Judas on Holy Thursday and the suffering and death of Our Lord on Good Friday. The Resurrection on Easter completes the journey for Jesus but it is just the beginning of a new journey of belief and hope for the Faithful, Bishop Frank J. Dewane explained during the Easter Vigil Mass on April 16, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

“For more than two thousand years humanity has never known a night so powerful as this night which represents the greatest noble night when the power of death was overcome – conquered that night by Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane said.

The Bishop noted the Gospel reading from the Vigil provides guidance to carry the message of Easter forward. The Gospel of Luke (24:1-12) tells the story of the women who were going to care for the body of Jesus, thought to be deceased, in the Jewish custom and found the stone rolled away from the tomb. The Gospel then reads: “but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.’ And they remembered his words.'”

Bishop Dewane said we all need to look back to Scripture and recall those words, at that moment. “All of us need to ponder the power of the Resurrection in our life. We need to have hope. Yes, we can be afraid at times, but we cannot be deterred. The women who came to the tomb of Jesus were afraid, but they had hope. We must allow the same to happen to us, as with shouts of joy, proclaim the Risen Lord, whose power can roll back the stones – those obstacles to living out a true life of faith in Jesus Christ. This Risen Lord gives us the grace we need to go forward to be the messengers of Christ’s Word – the messenger of the Resurrection of the Lord – Alleluia! Christ is Risen!”

The Easter Vigil begins in darkness, the Easter fire is kindled and the Paschal (Passover) Candle lit. The Candle is brought into the darkened church with the proclamation that Christ is our Light as the flame is shared and the light spreads.

During this Vigil Mass, the faithful hear the story of Salvation proclaimed in numerous Scripture readings first from the Old Testament (Genesis and Exodus) and then from the New Testament. It is also at this time at the Vigil Mass that the Bishop and priests baptize and confirm Catechumens and Candidates. There were 397 women and men who entered fully into the Catholic Church at Parishes throughout the Diocese.

One of these candidates was Samantha Valerie Caballero who received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion from Bishop Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral. Caballero was emotional after becoming fully Catholic. “I feel blessed to have grown close to the Lord, Jesus Christ in my life,” she said afterwards.

The celebration of Easter is not confined to a single day; in fact, throughout the next 50 days the Easter Season is celebrated “in joyful exultation as one Feast Day, or better as one ‘great Sunday.’”

The first eight days after Easter make up what is called the Octave of Easter and is a festive time. On the 40th day of the Easter Season, Catholics celebrate the Ascension of the Lord (May 26 – the celebration is moved to the following Sunday, May 29). The days that follow are a time to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday (June 5).

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