2019 Youth Rally – CALLED BY NAME

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

The superlatives from the nearly 2,000 high school Catholic teens who attended the 2019 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally helped to best describe the day.

“Absolutely incredible!” “Amazing!” “Inspirational!” “Awesome!” “Powerful!” “Wonderful!” “Uplifting!” “Moving!” “Spiritual!” These are just some of the reactions from the teens who participated in the Nov. 2 Youth Rally at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center in Punta Gorda.

The theme for the 2019 Youth Rally was “Called by Name” (Isaiah 43:1), which served to remind the young women and men that the Lord knows them and calls each by name to become strong in the faith life.

Organized by the Diocese Office of Evangelization, the day was filled with talks, music, adoration, opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and a Eucharistic Procession through the streets of Punta Gorda. The lessons learned throughout the day were reinforced in the closing Mass, encouraging the teens to open their heart to the call of the Lord and receive the gift of faith.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane began the day asking the youth for a shout out to Jesus. The response of nearly 2,000 teens was inspiring.

“Let this Youth Rally be something that strengthens you in your faith,” Bishop Dewane added. “I want you to leave this day with a heart that is open to Jesus because you are each “Called by Name.” Jesus sees each of you as important. It is through that call that you are made to be a Disciple of Christ – created by your response to the call of the Lord, a response from the heart of each individual here.”

Appropriately, the Gospel reading for the closing Mass was from the Gospel of Luke, the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector perched in a sycamore tree whom Jesus “Called by Name.”

“Zacchaeus received a gift of faith and accepted the Lord’s call with joy because he allowed his heart to be open,” Bishop Dewane said during the Mass. “You must respond to that gift of faith and act – be doers of your Faith. See Christ within yourselves and in those around you. Just as we know Zacchaeus was a sinner, so too are we. In this we are comforted knowing that the Lord calls us each by name – no matter our sins.”

The closing Mass was celebrated at nearby Sacred Heart Church. A time for Eucharistic Adoration led by the Bishop was followed by a public Eucharistic Procession through the streets of downtown Punta Gorda as the youth recited the Holy Rosary and sang hymns. At the church, to accommodate the vast number of participants, an overflow of youth was ushered into the Parish Hall where the Mass where the was live-streamed.

Throughout the day, the youth were encouraged to take selfie photos with Bishop Dewane and to post any images they took during the day to Instagram with the offer of a prize to two lucky people of Apple Air Pods.

Each participant received a Youth Rally t-shirt and during the dinner break there was time to go outside behind the Conference Center and relax with friends or enjoy several inflatables as well as a climbing wall.

The Youth Rally, which included young people from 9th through 12th grade, included talks from Noelle Garcia and D.J. Bernal as well as music from the Taylor Tripodi Band.

The first speaker of the day was Noelle Garcia, a Catholic recording artist and speaker, wife, and mom to five kids. She has travelled the country for more than 10 years sharing the faith through witness, Scripture, catechesis, and music. Her message was to explain how the love of the Lord can overcome any obstacle or feeling of loneliness that young people so often face today.

D.J. Bernal also speaks at conferences throughout the United States and works with young Catholics in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. He suggested to the youth that by opening one’s heart just a bit, life can be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The young men and women were spilt up for a time to hear specific messages directed toward them from Garcia and Bernal. During those sessions, the youth also heard about how to listen to God’s call and how they and sons and daughters of God.

In the split session, there was a special emphasis on answering one’s vocation in life, whether as a priest, religious, married or single.

Father Shawn Roser, the Diocese Vocations Director and Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, spoke to the men about his vocations journey. Also present for the Rally were 13 of the 17 active Diocesan seminarians. They manned a booth and answered questions from fascinated teens and were altar servers during the closing Mass.

Sister Gema Ruiz, S.S.V.M., of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, spoke to the women. She shared a video of a woman who is from the Diocese and is currently working her way toward making her perpetual vows as a religious sister. Religious women from several parishes were present for the Rally and they each had a booth to generate interest in a vocation to the religious life.

The Taylor Tripodi Band performed throughout the day, opening the Youth Rally and then performing leading up to adoration. Taylor explained that she uses her talents as a singer and a musician to glorify the Lord and to inspire others to feel the same way she does about her faith. The band also served as musicians during the closing Mass.

The first Youth Rally was held in 2008 at the encouragement of Bishop Dewane and it has become so popular that the annual event has outgrown four previous venues. Organized by the Office of Evangelization and Office of Youth and Young Adults, planning for the 2019 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally is already taking place. See you all next year.

Diocese celebrates 35th with Mass at Holy Eucharistic Memorial

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

On a breezy day on the shore of the Manatee River in Bradenton, the faithful gathered for a Mass that not only commemorated the 35th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Venice in Florida but also celebrated each Catholic who came before and all who go forward serving as a Disciple of Christ.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane noted the Mass was celebrated at the historic location, in front of a Holy Eucharistic Memorial, which was built in the 1960s to commemorate the 1539 Spanish Expedition of Hernando de Soto. The group purportedly landed nearby and included 12 priests and two brothers. Appropriately, there were 12 concelebrating priests and two deacons present for the Mass.

Just as the Lord guided those priests to the shores of Florida nearly 500 years ago, today each of us is called to be more a man or women of God, Bishop Dewane explained. One way to accomplish this is to be a Disciple of Christ, something which is going to be a recurring theme of the Anniversary Celebration in the coming months. This call to a be a Disciple is an answer to Jesus asking, “Who do you say that I am?”

“You must publicly respond and live the answer as a Disciple,” the Bishop continued. “Do this by setting an example to those around you so that others – through your invitation, through your example, through your words, and through your deeds – can understand your answer.”

Being a Disciple of Christ is a response to the living God, who is in our midst, Bishop Dewane added. “We must respond in our soul and live out our answer to the question of who Jesus is in our lives. Our ancestors who came before answered, and this is why we gather here. We have been passed along the gift of Faith. We have been given the example and heard the call in our lives and continue to hear that call. It must be carried forward from this day.”

More than 200 people, including fifth- to eighth-grade students from St. Joseph Catholic School, participated in the Mass. A steady breeze helped off-set the heat. The response from those gathered was overwhelmingly positive.

“Everything was so wonderful and beautiful,” said Carolyn Reilly of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto. “I felt a strong connection to the past. It was not just to those first priests who landed here, but to all of the priests who serve in this area.”

The beautiful setting on the river was on Diocesan property within Riverview Pointe Park, which is adjacent to DeSoto National Memorial Park.

The Holy Eucharistic Memorial was commissioned in 1960 by the Diocese of St. Augustine, which was the only Catholic Diocese in Florida at the time. The memorial was first exhibited at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, Spain, and was at the 1965 World’s Fair in New York. It was later placed at its current location on the shores of the Manatee River.

The memorial includes two carved relief’s depicting a Mass and a Baptism, and a 20-foot obelisk which is figured with carved symbols of the Holy Trinity. A statue of Hernando de Soto was removed after being damaged. Replicas of the statue stand at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota and the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. The nearby 60-foot Memorial Cross was dedicated by then-Bishop John J. Nevins in 1996.

George Parker of St. Joseph Parish said he was inspired by the Mass and the history it represented. “I feel connected to those first priests, and I feel connected to those who were here when the Diocese was founded. We are blessed to still have the opportunity to celebrate the Mass. It is poignant that this Mass was here on this beach, just as they may have done so long ago.”

According to records, several Masses have taken place at the site. Most recently in 2009 when Bishop Dewane celebrated the Mass to coincide with both the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese and the “Year for Priests.”


A Walk in the Woods (and into the 16th Century)

After participating.in the 35th Anniversary Mass, teachers, staff and students from St. Joseph Catholic School took a short hike through the Florida wilderness to follow in the footsteps of the man in which the park is named – DeSoto National Memorial Park.

Members of the National Park Service welcomed their St. Joseph guests with a guided tour of the park’s museum, monument and life size reproductions. The students learned about of the 700-man Spanish expedition which was led by Hernando de Soto. His quest for gold and glory would transform into a four-year, 4,000-mile odyssey of warfare, disease and discovery that would shape the future of trade, religion and politics throughout North America.

The interactive tour included a video documentary about De Soto’s expedition as well as an introduction of the indigenous tribes who resided in Florida in the early 16th century.

Students also had the opportunity to don heavy helmets, armor and chainmail worn by conquistadors and they then stepped inside replicas of the native American living quarters.

John Carkeet contributed to this report.

Two priests die

Staff Report

A former Fort Myers Pastor and a longtime priest assisting at a parish in Bradenton recently died.

Father Thomas E. Murphy, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, who served as Pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers (1994-2001) and as Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers (1990-1994), died Oct. 25, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pa. He was 71.

Father James H. Archambault, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford who had assisted at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton since 1997 until his health no longer allowed, died Oct. 21, 2019. He was 80.

Father Murphy was born in 1947 and professed his first vows with the Oblates in 1967, perpetual profession in 1970 and was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1976. He held degrees from Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales and from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Father Murphy served at schools in Philadelphia, Reading, Pa., and Alexandria, Va. as well as at parishes in Philadelphia and mostly recently in Cape May, N.J. Within the Diocese of Venice, Father Murphy was Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Light Parish when it was founded in 1990 and then was named as Pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in 1994 where served until 2001.

Preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Father Murphy is survived by two sisters, several nieces and nephews, grandnieces and nephews, and two great-grandnieces. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Oct. 28 in Rydal, Pa. and internment will be in the Oblate Cemetery in Childs, Md.

Father Archambault was born Dec. 23, 1938, in Waterbury, Conn., and studied at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Conn., as well as at St. Mary Seminary and St. Mary University in Baltimore, Md. He was ordained May 4, 1967 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Hartford, Conn. Following ordination, Father Archambault served in the same state at Parishes in Bristol, Windsor Locks, Manchester, and New Britton, and chaplain at a hospital in Waterbury. Upon his retirement in 1987, he moved to Florida where he served as an assistant priest at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton.

Predeceased by his parents and his brother, Father Archambault is survived by a sister-in-law, nieces, nephews and several grandnieces/nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial, celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and concelebrated by priests of the Diocese, took place Oct. 28 at St. Joseph Parish. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to the St. Vincent de Paul Ministry at St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th St. W., Bradenton, FL 34205.

Please pray for the repose of the souls of Fathers Murphy and Archambault and the consolation of their families.

Equestrian Order celebrates Feast Day

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem Oct. 26 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Dewane praised the Knights and Dames for their commitment to the protection of the Holy Land and for having courage to stand up as examples of men and women of faith who through their thoughts and hearts commit to service in response to the call of the Lord.

The annual Mass is held as close as possible to the Order’s Patroness Feast Day, Our Lady of Palestine, which is Oct. 25 and was approved by the Holy See in 1933. The Feast Day asks all to join in praying to the Virgin Mary for special protection of Palestine and the holy city of Jerusalem.

The Equestrian Order is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives which are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The Order is present in nearly 40 countries worldwide.

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre exists within the local dioceses and works closely with the Universal Church in unity of prayer and communion of purpose. Knights and Dames of the Order care greatly for the fate of this land, and endeavor to sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

In exercising its mission in support of the Christians in the Holy Land, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre spiritually and financially supports structures pertaining to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (schools, seminars, centers), both through stable and continuous projects as well as projects that can vary from year to year depending on the needs.

Red Mass celebrated for legal community

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

With the idea that those who work in the judicial system touch the very fabric of our culture and society, a structure that must always first consider the dignity of the human being above all else, an annual Red Mass was held Oct. 22 at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring for legal professionals in Highlands County.

The Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and concelebrated by priests from the area, invokes the blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit upon those in the legal community.

“Our prayer is that you receive the grace of wisdom, courage, compassion and right judgement, while seeking always to uphold the dignity and the rights for every person and the good of the community,” Bishop Dewane said.

Citing the 1965 Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Liberty), Bishop Dewane noted that is was partially based on the U.S. Bill of Rights, notably the First Amendment, the freedom of religion.

“Religious freedom means we have the right to live out our religious convictions in a modern society,” the Bishop continued. “To give witness to them. To be the leaven in society through the living of our faith. In our work regarding religious liberty; we are asking for space to serve with integrity.”

Bishop Dewane acknowledged that while those in the legal profession may serve the legal system in different ways, they first and foremost serve the Lord. The Red Mass serves as a poignant reminder, to those who participate, about who they are and from where they originate.

Highlands County Circuit Judge Anthony Ritenour expressed the feelings of many present best when he thanked Bishop Dewane for celebrating the Mass and inspiring the legal professionals of Highlands County to remember their roots which are based in faith.

“I always enjoy coming to this,” Judge Ritenour said. “The idea of Freedom of Religion that founded this country – that set the point for justice – is something we must all be reminded.”

Following the Mass, Judge Ritenour led the attorneys in the traditional renewing their oath. While leading the group, the judge put a particular emphasis on the closing words of the oath: “so help me GOD!”

The tradition dates to the 13th century Europe for the courts of the day and earned it’s name by the red robes worn by the judges. Liturgically, the Red Mass is celebrated as the Solemn Mass of the Holy Spirit. The traditional red color of the vestments worn by clergy during the Mass represent the tongues of fire symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit.

In the United States, the Red Mass tradition was inaugurated in 1928 at Old Saint Andrew’s Church in New York City. Each October, before the start of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new term, a Red Mass is celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Florida Bishops celebrate a Red Mass for the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee each year. The first Red Mass in the Diocese of Venice was in 2008 and is celebrated annually in both Sarasota and Sebring. The 2019 Sarasota Mass in was Oct. 2 at St. Martha Parish.

Bishop speaks nationally on death penalty, assisted suicide

Staff and wire reports

October is Respect Life Month, therefore it was appropriate that Bishop Frank J. Dewane recently spoke out on two important end-of-life issues.

Speaking as the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Dewane was part of a roundtable discussion about capital punishment on Oct. 10, the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

The discussion highlighted not only the consistency of church teaching against capital punishment but also what Catholics could do to learn more about what the Catholic Church has to say on this issue.

Bishop Dewane participated in the Catholic News Service moderated roundtable with Archbishops Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, D.C.

Bishop Dewane stressed the sacredness of human life and said that “when it is violated, when it is attacked,” we are called to step in and “become the voice for those who can’t speak” for their own lives.

The Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty stems from its view on the sacredness of human life and the value of mercy.

The bishops spoke about the many problems with the death penalty. Examples cited were cases where minorities were not given a jury of their peers or when DNA results have exonerated death-row prisoners. Bishop Dewane mentioned that many on death row include people of color or those in poverty or suffering from mental illness. He said society needs to look at these factors and consider not just punitive but restorative measures.

The bishops were asked about Catholic opinion of the death penalty — 53% are in favor of it, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center poll. It was agreed by the panelists that it’s important for the faithful to learn, study, and read the Teachings of the Magisterium of the Church on this issue.

From St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis there has been a steady movement toward a greater clarity in terms of the morality and the inadmissibility of the death penalty.

Panelists were disturbed by the announcement this summer that the federal government rescinded its 16-year moratorium on executing federal inmates.

When talking about the families of victims the bishops agreed that the only thing that can bring healing or comfort is “mercy: being willing to forgive.”

In another pro-life initiative, on Oct. 15, Bishop Dewane co-authored a news release from the USCCB responding to a National Council on Disabilities (NCD) federal study revealing that assisted suicide laws are dangerous to people with disabilities.

In its report, “The Danger of Assisted Suicide Laws,” NCD provides several policy recommendations including urging states to not legalize any form of assisted suicide or active euthanasia. The NCD is an independent federal agency charged with advising the president, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.

Bishop Dewane, along with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, praised the NCD for its “critical research and report exposing serious risks of abuse, coercion and discrimination posed by assisted suicide laws, specifically for people with disabilities.”

“Every suicide is a human tragedy, regardless of the age, incapacity, or social/economic status of the individual.,” the statement continues. “The legalization of doctor-assisted suicide separates people into two groups: those whose lives we want to protect and those whose deaths we encourage. This is completely unjust and seriously undermines equal protection under the law.”

The statement goes on to note the human rights and intrinsic worth of a person do not change with the onset of age, illness, or disability. As Pope Francis said, “True compassion does not marginalize anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude – much less consider the disappearance of a person as a good thing.”

The bishops stated that all must do what they can to uphold the dignity of life, cherish the lives of all human beings, and work to prevent all suicides. “We urge state and federal governments, health care providers, and associations to heed this report’s warnings and recommendations, especially its opposition to assisted suicide laws,” the statement concluded.

Bishop Dewane has been chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development since 2016 and will be passing along the role to Archbishop Coakley during the Fall Meeting of the USCCB.

Catholic News Service contributed information to this report.

Priestly Ordination: United to the Sacrifice of Christ

Bob Reddy – Venice –

The presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice in Florida grew by one with the Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Carlos Encinas.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the ordination of Father Carlos in a Rite that was filled with long tradition and witnessed by hundreds Oct. 5 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

The Bishop told Father Carlos that through ordination, he becomes forever “United to the Sacrifice of Christ.” That unity is also with the Bishop and the Universal Church led by Holy Father Pope Francis.

“You are called to be that Church as you go out and strive to minister to the people of God,” Bishop Dewane continued. “Be the example of the Good Shepherd and go out and find the lost sheep who have the strayed by being the Light of Christ to others who might be in darkness.”

To start the Rite of Ordination, Diocese of Venice Vocations Director Father Shawn Roser called Deacon Carlos forward as he presented himself for ordination to the Bishop. The Bishop, on behalf of the entire Church, accepted Carlos and called him to ordination as a Priest by saying: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and Our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose Carlos Encinas, our brother, for the Order of the Priesthood.”

During the Rite of Ordination, Encinas knelt before Bishop Dewane to express his desire and willingness to be ordained as a Priest and to fulfill the responsibilities that come with ordination, which included a promise of respect and obedience to the Bishop and his successors. Encinas then lay prostrate before the altar for the Litany of Supplication/Litany of Saints.

After this solemn act of prayer, the Sacrament of Ordination was conferred when Carlos again knelt before Bishop Dewane, whom in silent prayer, imposed his hands on the head the ordinand. Each priest then came forward to lay their hands upon the head of Father Encinas. This was followed by Bishop Dewane, with his hands outstretched, praying the Prayer of Ordination.

Father Carlos was then vested in stole and chasuble by Father Gerard Critch, Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples where Encinas had recently served as Transitional Deacon. The hands of Father Carlos were than anointed with the Sacred Chrism by the Bishop, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make their ministry fruitful.

Next, the Bishop presented Encinas with the chalice and paten which all priests are called to present to God in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Rite of Ordination is concluded with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to the newly ordained priest, welcoming him into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. Bishop Dewane introduced Father Carlos to all those present to enthusiastic applause, before all priests came forward to offer the sign of peace.

In addition to families and friends from Argentina, there were faithful from across the Diocese, many from the parishes where he previously had served. Included among those were also representatives of the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, and the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, as well as Diocesan seminarians who served during the Mass. Father Carlos was also pleased that a number of priests and fellow graduates from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, many of whom were ordained earlier in the year, were able to attend.

The Ordination was followed by a reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall where newly ordained Father Carlos Encinas was available to greet the public and impart his priestly blessing on them.

Putting aside distraction key to becoming a Disciple of Christ

Bob Reddy – Naples –

We are all called to be “Disciples of Christ.” The best way to achieve this goal is to put aside distractions such as cell phones and other devices so as to then focus on how best to serve the Lord.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane gave this message during separate Masses Oct. 3 in Naples for students at St. Ann Catholic School and St. John Neumann Catholic High School.

“You must put aside the distractions – cell phone, tablets, the internet – as these take your precious time and often moves you further from the Lord,” Bishop Dewane said. “I want you to work and concentrate on becoming a ‘Disciple of Christ.’ You can do this by making more room in your lives for Jesus. Sometimes this is easy to do and sometimes it is hard, but I know each of you can do it.”

The Bishop added that when Christ is with them, they are asked to be a certain kind of person. That is a person who strives to do what Christ asks of them, and in so doing, they become more a man or woman of God – a “Disciple of Christ.”

The theme of being a “Disciple of Christ” coincides with the commemoration of the 35th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Venice. Through the Diocese Education Office, students across the Diocese are being given lessons on how to become a “Disciple of Christ” through prayer as well as through their actions, particularly toward others. These building blocks will aide them in their spiritual journey.

The Masses for the students at St. Ann Catholic School and St. John Neumann Catholic High School were the last in a series of Mass at each Diocesan Catholic School to start the academic year. The Masses were delayed by a month because of the early September threat from Hurricane Dorian. Bishop Dewane made a note for the students to pray for the victims of the Hurricane.

Young students learn about vocations

Bob Reddy – Fort Myers –

Sixth graders from Catholic elementary schools across the Diocese of Venice have recently been challenged to recognize the presence of the Lord in themselves while also considering their vocation: possibly to religious life for the girls and the priesthood for the boys.

“God is calling each of us,” Diocesan Vocations Director Father Shawn Roser explained to the students at each of three Diocesan Vocations Days in late September. “You are old enough to understand the role Christ is having in your life and I know some of you are being called to a religious life or the priesthood.”

The Vocations Days took place Sept. 23 at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples for the Catholic schools in the Southern Deanery; Sept. 25 at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota for schools in the Northern Deanery, and Sept. 30 at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers for schools in the Central Deanery.

Students heard from priests and religious men and women about listening to God’s call for their vocation in life. No matter whether that vocation is as a priest or consecrated religious, married life, consecrated single life – the Lord will provide guidance.

The day focused on encouraging the young boys and girls to open their hearts and minds to develop their personal relationship with God while keeping open the possibility of a deeper calling for their vocation. The students were repeatedly told that their relationship with the Lord must always begin with prayer.

Throughout the day the students heard from priests and religious women who shared their stories of how they found a grace to serve God in a special way. There were separate sessions for boys and girls, when they were free to ask any questions.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass at the conclusion of each Vocations Day and reinforced what the students learned by stressing how they need to pray to the Lord about their vocation in life. He also shared his own vocation story.

“The Lord has a role for each one of us in life, and if it is not done, the community is all the less for it,” Bishop Dewane said. “Go forward in your lives and really consider religious life, consider the priesthood and pray about it. Pray that the Lord inspire you to that vocation. Pray to the Lord that you get clarity.”

Bishop Dewane, Father Roser and the religious sisters who assisted at the Vocations Days each stressed that God is never going to call the students to do something they are not going to want to do or cannot handle.

“You just have to open your mind and your heart to what God is calling you to do,” Father Roser said.

During the Vocations Days at Cardinal Mooney and Bishop Verot Father Roser was joined by Servant Sisters of the Virgin Matara from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. At St. John Neumann, he was assisted by Sister April Hoffman, a Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco who teaches at the high school.

In addition, Sister Cathy Bonfield, School Sister of Notre Dame, escorted her students from St. Martha and St. Mary Academy to the Vocations Day at Cardinal Mooney, and spoke to the girls about her vocation journey as a teacher for more than 50 years.

Each day focused on encouraging the young boys and girls to open their hearts and minds to develop their personal relationship with God while keeping open the possibility of a deeper calling for their vocation.

Throughout the day the students participated in various activities and games with the priest and religious present while also carefully listening to the profound words they had to say as each shared their own personal spiritual journey to serve God in a special way.

Students from St. John Neumann, Cardinal Mooney and Bishop Verot shared their own faith story, noting the challenges to stay focused on the Lord with other distractions in life. However, no matter how far they strayed from their Faith, each noted that the one strength in their lives was the Lord, calling them back. This invariably brought comfort and stability to their lives.

Prior to the closing Mass, there was Eucharistic Adoration to allow the students a chance to focus and spend time in the presence of the Lord.

Father Roser said the goal was to let these young boys and girls know about the possibilities for the future and the greatness that comes as a servant of the Lord for priests and religious.

News briefs from Around the Diocese September 2019

Mooney Golfer No. 1 in Florida, ranked nationally

Noah Kumar is captain of the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Golf Team in Sarasota and has now cracked the top 100 nationally and is ranked 90th with Junior Golf Scoreboard. The Florida High School Athletic Association ranks Kumar the No. 1 high school golfer in the State of Florida. During his senior season with Cardinal Mooney, Kumar has an 18-hole tournament stroke average of 67.33, with six straight low round first place medal wins in a row. His nine-hole stroke average is 35.5 with a career low of 31. Kumar has been playing tournament golf since he was 10-years-old. He qualified to play in the U.S. Junior Amateur this past July and came in 12th in stroke play. Keep up the good work Noah!

Bishop celebrates Mass for Ave Maria University

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the faculty and student of Ave Maria University in Ave Maria on Sept. 23, delayed from Sept. 2 when the Mass was cancelled because of Hurricane Dorian. During the mass the Bishop encouraged the students to grow in their faith and to carry the message of the Lord into the world. At the conclusion of the Mass, the Bishop presided over a commissioning ceremony for nine new theology professors, during which each took an oath and vowed to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church.

Scout 10 Commandment Hike held Sept. 21

Scouts from across the Diocese of Venice gathered Sept. 21 for a 10 Commandments Hike at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The more than 100 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and American Heritage Girls learned about the 10 Commandments at different stations located along the internal road of the property. The Scouts were presented with an achievement badge for participation at the end of the day.

CCW Eastern Deanery holds retreat

The Council of Catholic Women of the Eastern Deanery took part in a bi-lingual retreat Sept. 21 at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park. More than 70 women from parishes Hardee, Highlands, Hardee, Glades and Hendry counties took part. The retreat included presentations by a number of priests as well as group prayers with the praying of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Bishop celebrates Mass for NET retreat in Bradenton

A National Evangelization Team (NET) Ministries group held a one-day retreat for middle school students on Sept. 29 at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton. The retreat included several talks by youth ministers who travel across the nation trying to inspire young people to open themselves up to the Lord. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Mass for the retreatants and offered words of encouragement to the middle-schoolers for participating in the day and to the NET team for coming to the Diocese.

Laps for Life held Sept. 28

The Our Lady of Victory Knights of Columbus Council 3358 welcomed more than 200 to the 2nd Annual Sarasota Laps for Life at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. The event was opened by a blessing for Deacon William Ladroga and the runners and walkers followed a path for three laps to complete the 5K event. The top finishes finished in 17:35 minutes. The event helped to raise money to purchase for a new ultrasound for My Choice Pregnancy Center in Sarasota.

Bishop celebrates Red Mass

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the annual Red Mass on Oct. 2 at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota. The Mass is held in honor of all members of the legal profession and has a history which dates back centuries. The most famous such Mass is held for the U.S. Supreme Court on the first Sunday in October. The Florida Bishops also celebrate a Red Mass for lawmakers in Tallahassee during the annual legislative session.

Pets blessed on Feast of St. Francis

A variety of pets wait to be blesses on Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota.

Pets great and small were blessed Oct. 4 on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota. Administrator Father Eric Scanlan blessed everything from hermit crabs, ferrets, fish, birds, snakes, lizards, dogs and cats brought in by the students and parishioners.