Bishop celebrates Masses at Parishes throughout Diocese

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the main celebrant for the Vigil Mass on June 6, 2020 at the Church of St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota,

This visit was the latest in a series of Masses being celebrated by Bishop Dewane throughout the Diocese of Venice since public Masses resumed May 18, 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Bishop celebrated Mass on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, as well as on May 31, 2020 at St. Isabel Parish in Sanibel. In addition, the Bishop presided over a Baccalaureate Mass at Ave Maria Parish for the graduating students of the Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria on June 5, 2020.

“Since we have begun existing the way we do now I try to be out and about in the Diocese at various Parishes,” Bishop Dewane explained. “We certainly have a new normal.”

Public Masses resumed in the Diocese of Venice on May 18, 2020 and now Parishes are functioning at up to 50 percent capacity while also ensuring parishioners are wearing face coverings and maintaining appropriate social distancing. In addition to other safety and health precautions, extra sanitizing is taking place between Masses.

“The good thing is that we gather as a community when we come to Mass – or are watching via livestream – and know that the Lord sees the good that you do,” Bishop Dewane said at St. Patrick Parish. “It’s not ideal to have masks on and not being able to see people as they are, but we need to do that right now.”

During this time of Pandemic, the Bishop said the faithful must acknowledge that Christ calls us to be a people of hope. “We must remain believers and hope for the best – for one another, for ourselves, but most of all for our Faith. We have to have hope in Jesus Christ.”

For those who are older, are vulnerable to illness. or they are not fully comfortable to return to Mass, the dispensation of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass continues through June 28, 2020.

The live streaming Masses from the Diocese of Venice will continue (available on Facebook or at from the Catholic Center at 9:15 a.m. daily through June 28, 2020.

Catholic Community Foundation presents new scholarship

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida is proud to provide the Frederick W. Schaerf, M.D., Ph.D. Neuroscience Scholarship to a graduating senior from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers who is interested in pursuing a career in neuroscience or a similar field.

Frederick W. Schaerf, M.D., Ph.D., the namesake of the Frederick W. Schaerf, M.D., Ph.D. Neuroscience Scholarship which is being adminsitered by the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc.

The Schaerf Scholarship provides one $4,000 one-time scholarship. The first recipient is Andrew Taikas, a parishioner at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral who will be attending Duke University in North Carolina in the fall with a double major using biology and chemistry to focus on a career in neuroscience.

“This scholarship will help me to alleviate the financial debt for my family and allow me to have more opportunities,” Taikas said. “I want to learn and understand genetics and the environment influences and how certain mental illnesses, and diseases come about.”

The scholarship was presented virtually during a May 20, 2020 awards ceremony which included recognition for 15 other Catholic Community Foundation scholars.

Foundation Executive Director Michael Morse said the late Dr. Schaerf and his wife Melissa Schaerf, M.S., A.R.N.P., founded and managed the Neuropsychiatric Research Center of Southwest Florida, which has become a globally recognized clinical research site, specializing in Alzheimer’s disease and related memory disorders.

The family chose to create a scholarship with the Catholic Community Foundation to honor Dr. Schaerf and to reward and recognize a student interested in pursuing a career in the field that meant so much to them, Morse added.

“They chose the Catholic Community Foundation because they wanted to support a student graduating from their beloved Bishop Verot Catholic High School, and they wanted the scholarship to be managed by a Foundation dedicated to fulfilling the mission of Christ,” he said.

Andrew Taikas is the 2020 Frederick W. Schaerf M.D. Ph.D. Neuroscience Scholarship recipient from Bishop Verot Catholic High School.

During the virtual ceremony, Morse told all of the scholars that they are already winners in life in what they have shown and that the Foundation is very proud to award the Schaerf Scholarship, and others, to worthy students.

“It is our privilege to share these scholarships,” Morse said. “This is individuals and families that believe very much in education and supporting education for our youth. They established these scholarships years ago to provide these dollars going forward.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, joined by members of the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. Board, led the virtual presentation ceremony from the Catholic Center in Venice.

The recipients of the Schaerf, Mary Fran Carroll and Coseglia scholarships were recognized for their outstanding academic achievements and for their commitment of continuing their education. The ceremony is typically held in person, but the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the virtual ceremony.

The Foundation Scholarship Committee carefully reviewed applications before determining the worthiest applicant.

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. was established to provide philanthropic opportunities for individuals, such as Schaerf scholarship, to create lasting gifts in support of Catholic programs and ministries within the Diocese of Venice. Last year alone, the Foundation distributed $1.2 million in endowed support for Catholic Schools, Parishes, Seminarian education, programs for the needy, college scholarships and more.

To learn more about the Catholic Community Foundation, please contact Michael Morse at 941-441-1124 or by email at  You can also visit the Foundation website at

News briefs for the week of June 8 2020

Food pantry open in Wauchula

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula is the home to a food pantry which has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 Pandemic response. To accommodate those who work, the food pantry is open each Saturday, 7–8:45 a.m., at the Parish 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula. If you need food at a different time or would like to support the efforts to assist the community, please call the Parish at 863-773-4089.

Parish continues to support Our Mother’s House

The Peace and Justice Outreach of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch adopted Catholic Charities Our Mother’s House as their charity for the month of May. During that time, the group made three delivers of donations for the babies and young mothers, with each larger than the previous. The donations were much appreciated by the facility which assists mothers and their young children who might otherwise be homeless.

Retired priest celebrates 70th anniversary of ordination

A small celebration marked the 70th anniversary of the Ordination to the Priesthood Father Ireneo Tovar on June 3, 2020, at St. James Parish in Lake Placid.  Father Tovar has been “retired” in Lake Placid for the past 21 years. He has one living sister, a religious sister who is more than 100 years old. He himself is 95 years old and enjoys celebrating Mass at St. James and working in his garden. The Mass was concelebrated by Father Jose Gonzalez, Pastor of St. Catherine Parish in Sebring and Dean of the Eastern Deanery, Father Vincente Clemente, Pastor of St. James, and Father Felix Gonzalez, Parochial Vicar of St. James. Father Tovar was born in Spain, and left Spain against his mother’s wishes because he wanted to become a missionary. He was sent to Africa during World War II to a country then-called Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe, which he loved. He was the first Anglo many had seen. He spent 18 years as a priest there, establishing churches where there had been none. Later he was reassigned to Camden, N.J., where he worked for over 20 years with the Spanish-speaking migrant population, before retiring to Florida.

Online Prayed Retreats

During the current health crisis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice is offering online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In these online retreats, Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estradilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to you, to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking to you. A Bible and journal should be available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds. The cost is as follows: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48. All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to participate in an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at and a code will be provided for your online registration as well as an application. For planning purposes, please allow 7 days from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

Scam Alert

It has once again been brought to the attention of the Diocese of Venice that parishioners have received text/email messages from people pretending to be priests or Bishop Frank J. Dewane and requesting donations in the form of gift cards and/or wire transfers. The messages often greet the person by name and have the priests name in the closing signature of the message; this is a well-crafted and targeted attack on the Church across the country which has hit our Diocese again. These text/email messages are ‘spoofed’ fakes that should not be responded to or taken seriously by anyone. The best defense against this sort of scam is to raise awareness in the community and not respond or open any worrying attachments. It is Diocesan policy that no priest or staff within the Diocese request donations in the form of gift cards, PayPal, MoneyGram, etc.

There is already an established process in place on how parishioners can make donations and participate in the life of the Parish. Whenever a parishioner is worried about any request for money from the parish or a priest, they should immediately call their parish and under no circumstances should they respond to these scam requests.

Bradenton Food Pantry

The St. Joseph Parish Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave. W., Bradenton, is open and distributing food from 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays, following all social distancing protocols. Cars will be directed through the parking lot and trunks will be loaded by volunteers in protective gloves and masks. Call 941-756-3732 if you have any questions. You do not need to be a regular client to receive food. To make a donation of money or food, please visit

Diocesan Catholic schools say farewell until August

When the 2019-2020 academic year began for the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Venice in August 2019, the joy and anticipation could be seen on the faces of incoming students as well as the teachers and faculty welcoming students back to school.

This is video capture of a last-day-of-school parade May 28, 2020 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers.

Fast forward to the end of May 2020 and faces from everyone were the same, if only hidden by facemasks or viewed from afar as everyone ensured proper social distancing.

Diocese Catholic Schools are rooted in Faith and it was that Faith which helped turn a school year that was disrupted in ways like never before into one of unity and celebration.

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School leadership greets parents and students on the last day of school on May 28, 2020 in Naples.

Distance learning kept students and teachers physically apart but the learning process continued and thrived. Whether it was mathematics, language arts, science or art the thirst for knowledge from the young minds overcame the many distractions, obstacles and frustrations faced while being forced to learn through an electronic device.

Thank you signs adorn this vehicle during a farewell parade on May 27, 2020, marking the end of the school year at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral.

This happened thanks in no small part to the passion that each teacher offered, imparting knowledge under difficult circumstances. The final layer of support which made the 2019-2020 school years success possible was primarily behind-the-scenes from dedicated faculty.

As is at the end of any school year, Diocesan Catholic schools held celebrations to mark the occasion. While big assemblies were out of the question, leave it to educators to figure a way to make sure the last day was special.

Faculty and Staff from St. Ann Catholic School in Naples May 28, 2020 maintain social distancing as they wait for students and parents for a farewell parade on the last day of school.

At St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers, an eighth-grade graduation parade a week earlier inspired the school to have a drive-thru farewell. The parade had the teachers and faculty in the parking lot while the vehicles with the students and their parents slowly worker their way through the parking lot. Many of the vehicles were decorated for the occasion offering well-wishes and prayers for a heathy and safe summer and a return to school in August.

“We are excited to thank all of our families for everything they have done for us all year,” said John Gulley, St. Francis Xavier Principal. “We are looking forward to seeing you all next year.”

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota created a faculty farewell video. Two teachers at St. Martha Catholic School, who were known for sharing their favorite recipes while distance learning, offered tips for quick, healthy and refreshing summer snacks.

Maggie, a St. Joseph Catholic School Kindergartner is ready for her summer reading project and first grade after finishing her SuperKids program in Bradenton. The school wrapped up distance learning on May 27, 2020.

The end of the school year for pre-K3 and pre-K4 students at St. Ann Catholic School included a visit to the Naples school. The students were each given gift bags of goodies including a bucket and shovel to use at the beach. The teachers, wearing masks, held up a colorful sign which proclaimed: “We love our pre-K students! Have a great summer!”

These are just a few of the examples of last day fun at the Diocesan Catholic schools.

To learn more about Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools, please visit

Prison Outreach adds new religious education component

A huge challenge faced the Diocese of Venice Prison Outreach when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) to limit outside contact with prisoners.

This limited contact to restriction of group gatherings in the prisons themselves for fear of the spread of virus. This left the men and women with no access to religious education programs or materials.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane speaks during a recorded Mass from the Santa Maria Chapel at Epiphan Cathedral in Venice on May 13, 2020, to be made available to inmates in state prisons.

Thanks to a cooperative effort between the Diocese of Venice and the FDOC, work has been done to facilitate a new virtual religious education program focused in support of the prisoners. This was facilitated by Diocesan Prison Outreach Co-Coordinators Bob Hiniker and Joe Mallof with the full support of Bishop Frank J. Dewane.

With no prisoner access to religious programs, Hiniker and Mallof reached out to Anne Chrzan, Diocese Director of Religious Education, seeking materials or courses that are in a format which can be uploaded onto individual tablets. Each state inmate is provided with a tablet through a program called JPAY which provides controlled access for content such as emails, video visitation and other services without wireless services.

This meant that any effort would have to be developed and uploads to the tablets through the FDOC. This religious education programming is part of a larger effort to increase access to Catholic content for prisoners in the state facilities during the pandemic and beyond.

Chzran explained that offering courses on the Catechism of the Catholic Church are a good first step in providing a strong foundation for growing in the Faith while the inmates have many hours of free time while confined in their cells.

“Each of the four pillars of the Catechism are being developed into short minicourses and uploaded onto the JPAY tablets for all Catholic inmates,” Chzran said. “These courses will provide the inmates with reading and reflection on scripture and prayer, sacraments, the Creed and morality. The first pillar of the Catechism, ‘Scripture and Prayer,’ has been developed over the past month and will be uploaded onto the JPAY tablets soon. “

An effort is being made to ensure these programs will also be made available in Spanish.

When the prisons are open to Prison Outreach, about 150 volunteers, including 25 priests and 10 deacons, are providing a variety of religious programs, such as Bible study, religious education and assistance with formation before receiving the Sacraments such as Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation, as well as the Mass. Bishop Dewane regularly celebrates more than a dozen Masses in state correctional facilities each year also conferring the Sacraments on numerous inmates.

When Hiniker and Mallof realized the access to the prisoners was not going to be a temporary issue, they approached Bishop Dewane to propose an new outreach program for inmates. This effort was made with the encouragement and support of Father Severyn Kovalyshin, Region 3 Chaplain, and the State Chaplain Johnny Frambo.

The first part of the outreach included a donation of televisions, made possible with private support. These TVs were installed in state prison dormitories with the agreement that they would air the Diocesan-produced TV Sunday Mass for the Homebound.

Mallof said FDOC officials were so grateful for the donation that they were willing to allow the Diocese to provide content through the JPAY system, including the religious education courses.

The other content includes the Mass. This came about because even with the televisions, not everyone would be able to see the Mass in ideal conditions. The FDOC agreed to allow the Diocese to also produce the Mass for upload to the JPAY tablets at the start of each month. Hiniker and Mallof reasoned that this would allow the inmates viewing and reference access to the Mass at any time, making it an ideal situation.

Because Bishop Dewane is known to the inmates at many of the state correctional facilities, he agreed to be the celebrant for the first four Masses which will be available for viewing in June. Going forward, the Masses will be identical to what will air each Sunday for the homebound.

Adapting to the changing nature of access to the state prisons has allowed the Diocesan Prison Outreach to be at the forefront in ensuring that this important program reaches the people in need.

“The relationship we have and continue to build with the chaplains, by strengthening their position within the FDOC, will bear additional future fruits in ways yet to be seen,” Mallof said.

If you are interested in learning more about the Diocesan Prison Outreach, or perhaps becoming a volunteer, please contact Bob Hiniker at or Joe Mallof at

Hurricane season begins, preparation and prayers needed

The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season is less than a week old and there have already been three named storms, Tropical Storms Arthur, Bertha and Cristobal. While no threat to the Diocese of Venice, the storms serve as a not-so-subtle reminder that they can form at any time and preparation ahead of time is key to safety and survival.

With names such as Dolly, Edouard and Fay next on the list of names for potential storms, preparation and vigilance are keys to safety and security from the power of nature should a storm threaten.

While early storms do not necessarily promise this year will be worse than any other season, it only takes one storm to strike your home to make it a bad season. The Hurricane Season officially runs from June 1, 2020 to Nov. 30, 2020 and forecasters with the National Hurricane Center are expecting 12-19 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes, and 3-6 major hurricanes. An average season would have 12 total storms.

Southwest Florida is no stranger to the storms with Hurricane Irma in 2017 leaving behind a trail of destruction and despair in its wake and a year later we saw Hurricane Michael devastate the Florida Panhandle.

To best prepare for a storm, having an emergency plan is crucial. Simple things people need to know or do, include: knowing what evacuation zone you live in (updated annually); having more than one evacuation route; having key documents ready in a waterproof container; knowing where the nearest emergency evacuation shelter is; having a disaster supply kit with essentials, including enough food, water and medications for a minimum of three to seven days. For a list of the essentials for a disaster supply kit, please visit

For those who may need help in evacuating, such as the elderly or handicapped, they must contact the county emergency management office to register for evacuation assistance. This system is updated each year so registering in the past will not guarantee being on a list for 2020.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been the focus for all, emergency management experts suggest buying supplies well ahead of time. The idea is to purchase items at a steady pace to not only lessen the financial burden but to ensure you have all the necessary supplies before there is a last-minute rush and items such as water and batteries are long gone. This will help lessen the fear when a storm does threaten.

Should disaster strike, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Venice Inc. will be at the forefront in preparing and responding. Catholic Charities would send a team to the epicenter of the disaster and then coordinate to set up relief centers — called PODs, which stands for Points-Of-Distribution – where the need is greatest. These centers – often located at Parishes or next to Catholic Charities offices – will be sites where water, clothing, food and other disaster relief assistance can be distributed.

Catholic Charities CEO Philomena Pereira said that even while responding to the ongoing pandemic with food pantries and other disaster relief Catholic Charities has updated its disaster preparedness plan. This is done in coordination with Catholic Charities offices in Florida and Catholic Charities USA, as well as the Florida Department of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This update includes learning lessons from past disasters around the country in order to better respond in the future.

The Diocese of Venice is also well versed in responding to these storms. Each Parish, Catholic school and other entities have hurricane preparedness plans which assists in preparation before a storm and recovery afterwards.

Key websites

The following is a list of websites where you can learn more information about how you can be better prepared in the event disaster strikes.

National Hurricane Center:

Federal Emergency Management Agency:

Florida Division of Emergency Management:

Hurricane Prayer

As we enter the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season (June 1-Nov. 30), a prayer is presented here by which one asks God for protection and safety from the storms that often threaten Southwest Florida. With the formation of Tropical Storm Arthur in med-May, it promises to be another busy season of watching the tropics. We must all remember the devastating effect of Hurricane Irma from 2017 and what was witnessed when Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle in 2018, everyone in the Diocese of Venice knows and understands the power of these storms and the suffering which follows in their wake.

Prayer for Safety in Hurricane Season

O God, Master of this passing world,

hear the humble voices of your children.

The Sea of Galilee obeyed Your order

and returned to its former quietude.

You are still the Master of land and sea.

We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control:

the Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy,

overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land, and spread chaos and disaster.

During this hurricane season we turn to You, O loving Father.

Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid

and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with passing of time.

O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our beloved Mother, we ask you

to plead with your Son on our behalf,

so that spared from the calamities common to this area

and animated with a true spirit of gratitude,

we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son

to reach the heavenly Jerusalem,

where a stormless eternity awaits us. Amen.

Oración para la temporada de huracanes

O Dios, Señor de este mundo pasajero,

escucha la humilde voz de tus hijos.

El Mar de Galilea obedeció Tu orden

y volvió a su anterior quietud.

Tu todavía eres el Señor de tierra y mar.

Vivimos en la sombra del peligro sobre el cual no tenemos control;

el Golfo, como un violento gigante, puede despertar de su aparente letargo,

sobrepasar sus límites, invadir nuestra tierra y sembrar caos y desastre.

Durante esta temporada de huracanes acudimos a Ti, O Padre Misericordioso.

Líbranos de tragedias como las pasadas que están tan vivas en nuestra

memoria y cuyas heridas rehúsan ser curadas con el paso del tiempo.

O Virgen, Estrella del Mar, nuestra amada Madre, te pedimos

que intercedas ante tu Hijo por nosotros,

para que nos libre de las calamidades comunes a esta área,

y animados con un verdadero espíritu de gratitude

caminemos en los pasos de tu Divino Hijo

para llegar a la Jerusalén Celestial,

donde una eternidad sin tormentas nos espera. Amen.

Coseglia Scholarships awarded

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. has awarded four outstanding Diocese of Venice Catholic high school graduates with the 2020 Frank & Florence Coseglia Scholarship. The winners were recognized for their academic standing, service to their Parish and school, as well as an essay on what their Catholic Education has meant to them.

The scholarship recipients are Mary Castillo of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers; Faith Giovine of Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria; Grant Wojcik of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples; and Anna Kollmeyer of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota.

The Catholic Community Foundation Coseglia Scholarship was established in 2012 to fulfill the dreams of Frank and Florence Coseglia. The Coseglias wanted to provide financial support to deserving Catholic high school graduates pursuing degrees at accredited colleges or universities, and they wanted that financial support to last far beyond their lifetimes. For these reasons, the Coseglias chose to create a Catholic Legacy by establishing an endowed scholarship fund with the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida.

The winners were nominated by their high schools and approved by the Catholic Community Foundation Board of Directors. Each will receive a one-time scholarship of $1,117 toward the cost of their college/university studies. This is the ninth year the Catholic Community Foundation Coseglia Scholarship has been awarded.

Mary Castillo a graduating senior from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers.

Castillo was accepted to St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where she will be pursuing a degree in nursing with a minor in Spanish. Through her voluntary work in missions while in high school she is dedicated to helping those in need in third world countries. She credits Bishop Verot with providing her an “amazing education.”

Faith Giovine is a graduate of Donahue Academy Catholic School of Ave Maria.

Giovine will be going to Ave Maria University to follow her passion for nursing and the sciences. “This scholarship will help me to achieve that goal.”

Grant Wojcik is a graduating senior at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples.

Wojcik was accepted to Florida State University to obtain degrees in finance and pre-law, with plans to go to law school to become a wills and trust attorney. Grant has a passion to help and protect those who need it, something he credits to the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco who run St. John Neumann. “They helped me to build a connection with my whole community.”

Anna Kollmeyer is a graduate of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota.

Kollmeyer was born in China and adopted by a family in the United States.  She will be attending the University of Nebraska-Omaha where she will be living in the St. John Paul II Newman Center. In high school she worked with the Miracle Aid Club and will seek a degree in helping children with special needs.

The Coseglia Scholars were recognized during a May 20, 2020, virtual awards presentation. Bishop Frank J. Dewane joined Catholic Community Foundation Executive Director Michael Morse and Diocese Chancellor Dr. Volodymyr Smeyrk on a Zoom conference call from the Catholic Center.

Bishop Dewane said he was impressed by each scholar’s achievements in their respective Catholic high schools and expected great things from them going forward.

Morse said the Coseglia Scholarship is a wonderful example of how one family chose to support the good works of the Catholic Church by investing in the education of our youth.

Those interested in learning how to set up an annual scholarship in their name, or the name of a loved one, should contact the Catholic Community Foundation at 941-441-1124, by email at  You can also visit the Foundation website at

Resources and prayers during pandemic

Catholic Charities response to the pandemic as well as resources and prayers

If you need help

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.


Food distribution

Volunteers load a vehicle in early May 2020 at the Elizabeth K. Galeana Center of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. in Fort Myers.

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers;
  • 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, 9-11 a.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 E. Oak St. Arcadia;
  • Saturdays, 7–8:45 a.m., St. Michael Parish, 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula.

How to Help

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is in urgent need of your financial support during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, please visit or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus web page is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at

Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary by following the links for the Diocese response to Coronavirus included on the Diocese homepage. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website,, also posts the daily Mass readings.

While the celebration of public Mass has resumed (effective May 18, 2020), Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time, that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect until June 28, 2020. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home.

While Parishes have been asked to continue livestreaming until the dispensation is lifted, the Diocese of Venice Mass live stream will continue from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily through June 28, 2020, and is available through the Diocese website and Facebook pages.

In addition, the Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis.

The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit to donate to your Parish.

The Faithful may also contribute through their usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Please continue to pray for the repose of those who have died, for the recovery of those who are sick, for the strength of healthcare workers and caregivers, as well as for an end to this health crisis. Thank you for your generosity.

Act of Spiritual Communion

Bishop Frank J. Dewane raises the host during the Mass at St. Ann Parish in Naples in January, 2020.

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Prayer Against Coronavirus

Cover of Diocese of Venice prayer card praying against coronavirus.

Lord Jesus Christ, our Divine physician, we ask you to guard and protect us from Coronavirus COVID-19 and all serious illness. For all that have died from it, have mercy; for those that are ill now, bring healing. For those searching for a remedy, enlighten them; for medical caregivers helping the sick, strengthen and shield them. For those working to contain the spread, grant them success; for the afraid, grant peace. May your precious blood be our defense and salvation. By your grace, may you turn the evil of disease into moments of consolation and hope. May we always fear the contagion of sin more than any illness. We abandon ourselves to you infinite.  Amen

By Pedro de la Cruz

 Oración contra el Coronavirus

Señor Jesucristo, nuestro Médico Divino, te pedimos que nos guardes y protejas del Coronavirus COVID-19 y de toda enfermedad grave. Por todos los que han perdido la vida por causa del virus, ten piedad; por los que están enfermos ahora, sánalos. Por los que buscan su cura, ilumínalos; por el personal médico que cuida de los enfermos, fortalécelos y protéjelos. Por los que trabajan para contener al virus, que sean existosos; por los que temen dáles la paz. Que tu preciosa sangre sea nuestro escudo y salvación. Por tu gracia, convierte a la maldad de esta enfermedad en momentos de consuelo y esperanza. Que siempre temamos más al contagió del pecado que al de cualquier enfermedad. Nos entregamos a tu infinita misericordia. Amén.

By Pedro de la Cruz

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe for Protection from the Coronavirus

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus.


Courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Oración a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe para la Protección del Coronavirus

Virgen Santísima de Guadalupe,

Reina de los Ángeles y Madre de las Américas.

Acudimos a ti hoy como tus amados hijos.

Te pedimos que intercedas por nosotros con tu Hijo,

como lo hiciste en las bodas de Caná.

Ruega por nosotros, Madre amorosa,

y obtén para nuestra nación, nuestro mundo,

y para todas nuestras familias y seres queridos,

la protección de tus santos ángeles,

para que podamos salvarnos de lo peor de esta enfermedad.

Para aquellos que ya están afectados,

te pedimos que les concedas la gracia de la sanación y

la liberación.

Escucha los gritos de aquellos que son vulnerables y temerosos,

seca sus lágrimas y ayúdalos a confiar.

En este tiempo de dificultad y prueba,

enséñanos a todos en la Iglesia a amarnos los unos a los otros

y a ser pacientes y amables.

Ayúdanos a llevar la paz de Jesús a nuestra tierra y a nuestros


Acudimos a ti con confianza, sabiendo que realmente eres

nuestra madre compasiva,

la salud de los enfermos y la causa de nuestra alegría.

Refúgianos bajo el manto de tu protección, mantennos

en el abrazo de tus brazos,

ayúdanos a conocer siempre el amor de tu Hijo, Jesús.


Cortesía de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de EE. UU.

News briefs for the week of June 1 2020

School shares virtual May Crowning images

These two students from St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples pray before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary during May.

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School did not want to let the COVID-19 pandemic cancel a favorite annual tradition, the May Crowning of Mary. Seton families were sent a request to submit pictures of students at home praying the rosary, placing flowers at a statue of Mary, coloring pages of the Blessed Mother, etc., and the results were inspiring. The results were so impressive that the school created and shared a short video which can be found on the school’s Facebook page. What a great way to honor Our Lady during the Month of May.

These are some of the drawings created by students from St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples created to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary during May 2020.

Bishop Dewane celebrates Pentecost Vigil at Cathedral


Sarasota student continues to help front line workers

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School student Malory Albritton helped pack and load the donations of blueberries to Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton in mid-May 2020.

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School student Malory Albritton is continuing to serve the community during COVID-19 pandemic. She helped pack and load the donations of blueberries from Albritton Fruit Farms made to Manatee Memorial Hospital nursing staff and doctors. Thank you for all that you do!

Ordination to the Priesthood June 27

The Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacon Franckel Fils-Aime will take place at 11 a.m., June 27, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the life of Deacon Franckel and the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

New basketball coach for Mooney

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota announced the appointment of Clayton Slentz as the new head varsity coach for the boys’ basketball team. Coach Slentz will continue to build on the growing strength of the Cougar athletic program. He has been an assistant varsity basketball coach with the Cougars for the past three years and currently teaches history at Cardinal Mooney. Slentz earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in 2015 and his master’s degree in history in 2017. For nine years, Slentz has been coaching basketball at the high school level.

Incarnation student receives honor for writing play

Incarnation Catholic School student Cora Thayer was one of 20 script submissions selected from more than 7,600 entries as part of the Florida Studio Theater “Write-A-Play” program. A participant in the Florida Studio Theater’s Writing Workshop, Cora’s “Big Dreams Under the Big Top,” will be performed during the Young Playwright’s Festival in the Spring of 2021. Her play is about a tiny inchworm named Illianna who overcomes many obstacles to become a circus Ringmaster.

Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota hosted a Florida Studio Theater Writing Workshop for students in January.

Online Preached Retreats

During the current health crisis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice is offering online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In these online retreats, Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estradilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to you, to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking to you. A Bible and journal should be available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds. The cost is as follows: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48. All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to participate in an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at and a code will be provided for your online registration as well as an application. For planning purposes, please allow 7 days from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

First public Sunday Mass since mid-March brings joy, hope

As the faithful left Mass at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice on May 24, 2020, there was a feeling of joy and hope. The joy came from the return to public Sunday Mass after a two-month absence. The hope was that this small step means that lives are closer to returning to normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, it was fitting that the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord was the moment the faithful returned to the regular Sunday Mass for the first time since March 15, 2020. The Solemnity includes the reading from the conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew called the “Great Commissioning” – when the Lord gives instructions and sends forth the Disciples into the world to spread the Good News.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who lifted the suspension of public Mass effective May 18, 2020, celebrated the 11 a.m. Mass on May 24, 2020 at the Cathedral, noting it was a pleasure to be back before the faithful after such a long absence.

“It is gift from the Lord that we are able to come back to our churches and our Parishes,” Bishop Dewane said. “At the same time, we have to acknowledge that Christ calls us to be a people of hope. During this time of the pandemic we must remain believers and hope for the best – for one another, for ourselves, but most of all for our Faith. We have to have hope in Jesus Christ.”

Brad Gaines attended the Vigil Mass at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers and was very happy to be back.

“It is such a blessing to be here for Mass,” Gaines said. “It brings me great comfort, just like I had been every weekend since I was born, at least until the pandemic hit. I never realized how much I would miss being at Mass, in the presence of the Lord and singing hymns with others.”

The reopening of public Mass came with some restrictions as churches were only allowed to accommodate up to 50 percent of normal capacity while maintaining appropriate social distancing. As expected, many decided to remain home because they are older, are vulnerable to illness. or they are not fully comfortable to return. For this reason, Bishop Dewane extended the dispensation of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass through June 28, 2020.

For those who did go to Mass, signs were posted reminding everyone of social distancing regulations. Greeters kept doors propped open and ushers directed people to available seating as half of the pews in churches were blocked off. All Parishes required that masks be worn. There were no missals in the pews, thus the music selections were more common, making it easier for people to participate. Hand sanitizer was readily available and between Masses extra cleaning took place.

Many Parishes also created instructional videos to prepare the faithful for what to expect when coming to Mass, such as which entrances would be open and providing directions on receiving Holy Communion while wearing a mask.

Fran Kingman admitted she was wary about going to Mass until she saw the instructional video on the precautions being taken at Epiphany Cathedral.

“I so wanted to come back and was very worried,” Kingman said. “I soon realized that the Cathedral was taking this situation seriously. For me, wearing a mask at church is strange but a small price to pay. Honestly, I would rather do that from now on if it meant keeping the churches open for Mass.”

At the Cathedral, and many other Parishes, Holy Communion was made available in the afternoon for those who watched the Mass through a live stream and did not feel comfortable being at Mass in the church. Such accommodations were made to ensure the Sacrament remained available to all during these unique times.

During the pandemic, the live streaming of Mass became commonplace. While some Parishes have opted to stop or reduce the number of live streaming Masses, the Diocese of Venice will continue to offer its live stream service (available on Facebook or at from the Catholic Center at 9:15 a.m. daily through June 28, 2020.