First phase of reopening Churches implemented

Churches throughout the Diocese of Venice have opened for private prayer in what is the first phase of a process toward reopening Churches for all liturgical celebrations and access to the Sacraments. This was done in response to the State of Florida announcement of the relaxation of stay-at-home order and the reopening of some businesses and lays the groundwork for the eventual opening of Churches for Mass.

“The Diocese is planning so that Parishes are able to move gradually and prudently towards resumption of public celebrations of Mass as soon as local conditions permit this to be done safely,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane in an April 28 letter to the priests of the Diocese explained the planning process for this first phase.

In the letter, the Bishop noted that each Parish would have its own procedures for opening based on a multiple of factors. The factors included, but were not limited to, the size/layout of the worship space, the ability to do regular cleaning, the availability of volunteers and ultimately to have the confidence that the health and safety of the Faithful and the Parish staff and volunteers are maintained at all times.

The Bishop added that he understood and appreciated the extra effort required by the priests and Parishes to facilitate the opening, but “because the Faithful are hungry for a return to the Church and for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, this desire is worthy of the extra effort.” It is expected this first phase will allow for a growing reassurance by the Faithful that it will be safe to return for Mass once it is possible to do so.

Throughout this process, Bishop Dewane has been consulting with priests from across the Diocese while following guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Florida Department of Health.

Naturally concerned about the health and well-being of all, Bishop Dewane said his focus is also on the spiritual health of the Faithful. “I am confident that these visits will yield abundant spiritual fruit in personal holiness and the communion of our Parishes. This will eventually lead to being able to offer the access to all of the life-giving Sacraments in the near future.”

At the Church of the Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers caution tape was laid over the various pews to mark off where to sit. This has been a common solution for several Parishes. For example, at Resurrection every third pew was partially open on each side to ensure a minimum 6-foot spacing for adequate social distancing. A volunteer was present in the narthex to offer hand sanitizer and to direct people to available places for prayer. Once a person departed, the volunteer would then wipe down the pew. All are always required to wear a mask.

Caroline Herbert said it was good to be able to prayer in the Church for the first time since early March. “I felt lost with my Church closed, but it is comforting to know it is now open for private prayer.”

Herbert said she was hopeful the Mass would be offered soon, but understood the complicated logistics involved in making that happen. “The way they have the Church blocked off now, there would only be room for 30 or so people. That really isn’t enough, but if it is what is needed to make it safe, then that is what it will be. I pray for a solution that is best for everyone.”

Visitors for private prayer at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice are greeted in the narthex and shown a seating chart for the Church. The faithful selects the spot from where they wish to pray and given a number that corresponds to that spot. A volunteer escort is provided as a guide. Upon leaving the Church, through a different door, the faithful are asked to drop their number off in a basket. The Parish cleaning staff later uses those numbers as guidance for deeper cleaning. This system works well as only between 20 and 50 people are coming for prayer throughout each day.

Bishop Dewane as well as priests across the Diocese are now in the process of determining the best way to open for Mass, noting that maximum 25 percent capacity and 6-foot distancing of unrelated individuals creates challenges for all Churches.

No matter when the public Mass resumes, the faithful should expect changes. Church capacities will be greatly reduced and seating restricted. Face masks will be required, no worship aides, holy water fonts will be empty, no choirs, no Precious Blood, and Communion should be taken in the hand.

The general dispensation for the obligation to attend Mass will continue even when the offering of public Mass resumes. Those who are vulnerable, elderly, caregivers to the vulnerable, or just not comfortable going to a public Mass, should continue to participate in live-streamed Masses being offered and make a “Spiritual Communion.”

“The Faithful will need to have patience and understanding during this process as well as to take personal responsibility in their actions when they return to ensure the health and safety of themselves and of their brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Modern take on Lourdes found in Venice

On the quiet banks of the Myakka River in Venice is a hidden gem of the Diocese of Venice, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center.

Surrounded by giant live oaks with a cool lake at its center, the Retreat Center, known by most as OLPH, offers a place full of God’s peace and beauty which encourages guests to develop a deeper relationship with the Lord, improve prayer life, and perhaps meet a new friend with whom to walk the spiritual journey of life.

In its illustrious 25-year history, tens of thousands have flocked there for retreats, conferences and prayer. The goal of OLPH is to give people the time and place to briefly “leave the world behind” and return to daily living refreshed and renewed.

To help enhance that experience, a Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is currently being installed. Well along in the construction process, the Shrine sits next to the Bell Tower and is along a path which leads in one direction to nearby St. Joseph Chapel, another to the outdoor Stations of the Cross and is a short distance from the bridge which leads to the main conference areas.

OLPH Director, Father Mark Yavarone, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, said the concept of the Shrine Project “began with several donations made to memorialize Redemptorist Father Charlie Mallen, the founding director of the Retreat Center. The Diocese of Venice added to these donations so that the construction could be done in a beautiful and enduring way.”

Father Mallen founded OLPH in 1995 at the direction of then-Bishop John J. Nevins. With the assistance of Sister Carmella DeCosty, Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Father Mallen developed an overgrown piece of land into a refuge.

Although there will be a plaque to memorialize Father Mallen, when completed, a large marble statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is going to be the centerpiece of the Shrine.  While the statue is being made, another statue of Our Lady is temporarily in place.

The backdrop of the statue consists of a single large piece of limestone and several Italian cypress trees which produce a vaulted cathedral effect, Father Yavarone explained.

“There is a small waterfall at Mary’s feet which is stunningly lit at night,” Father added. “What I like most about the shrine is that it makes Mary the center of the Retreat Center property in a very visible way.  Let’s hope that it will foster devotion to Mary and many fond memories and prayers for Father Charlie!”

While the shrine is not finished yet: the plans include an area for votive candles that will be enclosed to comply with fire regulations and sidewalks which will lead to the steps of the shrine.

The main feature of the Shrine, the monument is made of 15,000 pounds of Oolitic limestone quarried in Coral Bay Florida by Epic Stonework. The same material was used to créate a series of benches, each weighing 4,000lbs. The stairs and floor of the Shrine are made of keystone, and the ramp Access is made of travertine.

Features include a variety of landscaping such as assorted bromeliads, two Montgomery palms, 14 Italian cypress, five Adonidia palms, three European fan palms, and three Ligustrum trees.

Following the completion of the Shrine, a blessing and dedication will take place.

Fondly known as “The Miracle on the Myakka,” OLPH hosts more than 8,500 guests each year. The Retreat Center has villas for overnight visitors and the St. Joseph Chapel for Masses and Eucharistic Adoration. Activities at the Retreat Center include weekend retreats for families, catechists, pastoral ministers and various parish organizations, as well as day retreats, days of reflection, workshops, and seminars for many Diocesan organizations, schools, churches, and leadership teams.

The Oblate Fathers also offer a number of preached retreats that are in varying lengths from three days up to one month.

To learn more about Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, please visit www.olph-retreat.org.

New Superintendent to start in July

Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the appointment of Jesuit Father John Belmonte, as Superintendent of Catholic Education for the Diocese of Venice in Florida, effective July 1, 2020.

“I am very pleased that Father Belmonte will be joining the Diocese of Venice in this important leadership role,” Bishop Dewane said. “His extensive experience, skills and passion for Catholic Education will support the Diocese in its mission to continue providing the highest educational standards, while maintaining focus on Catholic instruction and identity.”

As Superintendent, Father Belmonte will be responsible for the Department of Education in the Diocese of Venice in Florida which consists of 15 schools; 4,777 students; the Office of Religious Education which supports the 61 parishes and 13,573 children and adults; as well as The Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation.

Father Belmonte received his B.A. in History from Marquette University in 1985 and after graduation entered the Society of Jesus in St. Paul, Minnesota, and pronounced vows in 1987. Father continued studies in philosophy and humanities at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. In preparation for ordination to the priesthood, he completed theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy with a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology in 1995.

Ordained to the priesthood on June 14, 1996 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1997, Father Belmonte completed a Licentiate of Sacred Theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Father Belmonte enrolled in 1999 to an Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Doctoral Program at Loyola University in Chicago, which he completed in 2006.

Father Belmonte held several positions at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, and St. Ignatius Preparatory High School in Chicago, Illinois, before joining the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois in 2010, where he served as School Superintendent.

The Diocese of Venice in Florida offers a superb education infused with Catholic values, teachings and traditions that are centered on Christ, rooted in the Gospel and alive with the Faith. This formation takes place in 10 elementary schools, four high schools, one special education grade school, and the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation.

The Institute facilitates the need for both post-secondary professional development, as well as comprehensive, lifelong and systematic formation for adults. The Office of Religious Education, which supports the 61 parishes in the Diocese through catechetical leadership and guidance in the faith formation of Adults, Youth and Children, also falls under the supervision of the Superintendent of the Department of Education.

At this time, the Diocese wishes to gratefully acknowledge Ben Hopper, who serves as Interim Superintendent of Catholic Education while maintaining his role as Principal of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota. Hopper has done an outstanding job of supporting Catholic Schools within the Diocese of Venice, providing leadership and guidance, as well as helping the schools successfully navigate the transition to virtual learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Diocese is thankful for his valued contributions and looks forward to fully supporting him as he continues in his position at Cardinal Mooney.

Please join in welcoming Father Belmonte to the Diocese of Venice in Florida.

 

Religious Education continues meeting virtually

Every weekday (except Tuesdays) the Directors of Religious Education (DRE) across the Diocese of Venice gather virtually to stay connected amongst themselves while also receiving direction on how to continue their work of sharing the Good News of the Lord for students of all ages.

Since mid-March, Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education, has been leading these virtual meetings on Zoom (online video conferencing), in the wake of the indefinite suspension of in-room Religious Education classes within the Diocese.

Each virtual meeting begins with prayer and includes check-ins, learning how everyone is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, both within their own family and among the parishioners and their students, Chrzan said. The group is learning about effective virtual teaching and sharing best practices.

Chrzan said everyone on the call shares ideas on topics such as creating fun virtual lesson plans, engaging parishioners and hosting virtual retreats.

The DREs from across the Diocese report that parents and children enjoy staying connected to Religious Education classes and are loving the break from “schoolwork” and taking the time to pause and pray during the day.

One initiative from Chrzan is the offering of weekly lessons online for each Sunday during the Easter Season. These lessons are accessible to parents and students who are enrolled in the Catholic schools and in the religious education programs.

Since all learning is now virtual, every Wednesday, Chrzan sends out instructions in English and in Spanish with a new Sunday lesson code to the DREs and Catholic school principals. The lessons are being created weekly by using an online platform named Nearpod. These lessons are coded so each week the family receives a new, age-appropriate lesson, geared for ages ranging from two-years-old to adult.

In the lessons, families can watch the live stream of their Parish Mass or Mass presided by Bishop Frank J. Dewane (9:15 a.m. 7-days-a-week) which is found on the Diocese of Venice website. Following the livestream of the Mass, the families are instructed to participate in an activity centered around the Gospel message. The lessons are in English and in Spanish. There are also Catholic videos embedded in the lesson for the family to watch throughout the week. This gives families the opportunity to live the Gospel throughout the week by choosing an activity each day.

For example, during the week of the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the families had an opportunity to watch a “virtual May Crowning” as well as creating a May Crowning for their home.

Feedback from the families has been very positive, Chrzan said. “Many families have sent the lesson to friends in other Dioceses who can benefit from the family-centered lessons.”

This initiative will continue through Pentecost (May 31, 2020). Additional initiatives are under development and will be made available to DREs at the appropriate time.

For further information about Diocese of Venice Religious Education initiatives, please contact Anne Chrzan at 941-484-9543 or chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

News briefs for the week of May 4, 2020

Neumann delivers cheer to seniors

The leadership of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples spent two days on “Operations: Celebrate Our Seniors” delivering cheer from the school van to the homes of graduating seniors. Each student received their cap and gown, yard sign, a t-shirt and personalized cookie. If the seniors can’t come to school, the goal was to bring the school to them. Each senior was asked to sign a graduation poster as they received words of encouragement from the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco who run the school.

 

Online Bible Study LIVE beginning May 12

A Bible Study will be offered online through the Diocese of Venice Facebook Live on Tuesdays May 12 through July 28 using the program “Genesis to Jesus” from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Each session will begin at 2:00 p.m. Join by going to https://www.facebook.com/DioceseofVenice/ and simply watch the live-stream video on the page. You will also be able to type in your questions and comments in real-time to participate from your own home (you do not need to have a Facebook account to watch the video but you do need to have an account to comment and ask questions)!  With so much great Catholic content out there now, here is something you can participate in yourself!

Scam Alert targeting parishioners

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 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.

Year of St. Joseph resources online

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, Bishop Frank J. Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of Saint Joseph in the context of the Coronavirus and announced a “Year of St. Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021.  St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of the Universal Church, fathers, workers and the sick and dying. A number of resources, including a Novena to St. Joseph, have been made available on the Diocesan website – www.dioceseofvenice.org.

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 https://www.stjoepantry.com/.

Music lessons continue

St. Francis Xavier Catholic School first grade student learns to play an instrument with the virtual assistance of Music Teacher Jeffery Jodice using ‘Google Meet’ in Fort Myers.

Updated Prayers and Resources from Diocese May 5 2020

Masses Temporarily Suspended Due to Coronavirus

While Masses and liturgical events in the Diocese of Venice remain suspended, Churches are beginning to open for individual prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Public gatherings for Mass or other Liturgical Services will still not be possible.  Restrictions regarding social distancing, sanitizing of hands and often-touched surfaces, as well as protective masks by visitors must be followed.  Please check with your Parish for details.

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.
Amen.

Resources online

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

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, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

The Diocese of Venice Mass is streamed live at 9:15 a.m. daily from the Catholic Center in Venice. Meanwhile, Mass is being streamed live from many Parishes daily (some on weekends only) throughout the Diocese of Venice (See updated list on Diocese website). Most streams are available with links through the Parish websites or through Facebook (to watch a live stream on Facebook, you do not need an account) or YouTube. Check with your Parish if you are having trouble finding the Mass or for more details.

Additionally, Magnificat is offering the online version of this devotional free at https://us.magnificat.net/free.

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, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. 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 https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ 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.

Prayers

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.

Amen.

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

corazones.

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.

Amén.

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

 

Graduating seniors given hope

The graduating seniors at the Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Venice have experienced a turbulent final few months before they head off to college in the fall.

The coronavirus pandemic forced their Spring Break to be spoiled, then when they returned from two weeks away from the classroom, they didn’t physically return to their respective campus for in-classroom learning but instead began distance learning.

For the senior classes at Cardinal Mooney in Sarasota, Bishop Verot in Fort Myers, St. John Neumann in Naples, and the Donahue Academy in Ave Maria, some of the best parts of being a senior – prom, senior class trips, awards banquets, Baccalaureate Mass and finally graduation – were impacted.

These events were first postponed when it was hoped that in-class schooling could resume in early May, and then cancelled when it was announced that distance learning would continue through the end of the academic year.

While it seemed that all hope was lost that the seniors would miss out on everything, the respective school leaders have been working behind-the-scenes to find alternative, albeit tentative, solutions.

Diocese of Venice Interim Superintendent of Schools Ben Hopper, who is also Principal at Cardinal Mooney, explained that each school is working on a plan to hold traditional graduation events – Baccalaureate Mass, awards banquet, graduation, and possibly even prom – sometime in July.

“Although the Class of 2020 had many of its events postponed or canceled this spring, we wanted to acknowledge all of their hard work for the past four years, and we believe that they will be stronger for having to deal with so much change,” Hopper said. “We have been working behind the scenes trying to make sure that we can all celebrate their graduation at a later date.”

Dates for events for Cardinal Mooney and Bishop Verot seniors have been tentatively announced, while the Neumann and Donahue Academy events are still in the planning stages. Everything being planned for July is in the preliminary stages and will be conducted following all state and CDC health and safety guidelines. Of course, the events are all subject to postponement based upon health and safety conditions at the time.

In the meantime, the schools are celebrating their seniors in special ways.

On April 17, there was a Bishop Verot Live event for Seniors in which the school turned on the Stadium lights for 20 minutes and had a video with pictures and shout outs to the Class of 2020.

Cardinal Mooney “planted” graduation signs in the yards of graduating seniors, letting them know Mooney is proud of their achievements since schools will conclude the academic year with virtual instruction. The Mooney Class of 2020 comprises 133 students living in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties.

Bishop Verot delivered personalized signs to every senior, along with their caps and gowns, on April 24. Neuman was scheduled to do so on April 30.

Long serving religious priest dies

Father Onorio Benacchio, Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles (Scalabrinians), who was a priest for nearly 70 years and served in the Diocese of Venice for 25 years, died April 23, 2020, in Kingston, Rhode Island. He was 95.

Father Benacchio served as Pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston from 1994 to 1996 and then as a Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee from 1996 to 2019.

Born April 15, 1925 in South Nazario, Vicenza, Italy, to Gaetano and Caterina Benacchio, it was at the age of 12 when he entered the Scalabrinian Seminary in his hometown. Father Benacchio took his first religious vows on Sept. 4, 1943, and was ordained to the priesthood, June 18, 1950 in Piacenza, Italy, when he was 25.

Following his ordination, Father was appointed to serve the poor in missions in South America in accordance with the Scalabrinian Charism. He spent 36 years attending to the needs of the missions in Brazil and then eight years in Venezuela.

He came to the United States and the Diocese of Venice in 1994. He was 69 at the time. He served as Pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston before being transferred for the final time in his long ministry to Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee. There he celebrated Mass is English, Spanish and Creole, while also celebrating Mass for the Portuguese-language Catholic community each weekend in Fort Myers.

During a Mass marking the occasion of his 65th anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood, Father Benacchio estimated he had celebrated Mass more than 25,000 times. “But celebrating Mass today, after so many years, still feels like it is the first time… It is what I do, what I always do and what I will always do. It is at the heart of what a priest is all about, that moment when you are closest to Jesus Christ.”

His favorite memories included his extensive time and travels in South America. To help relax, he liked to write poetry.

A memorial Mass will be held at a later date while the public celebration of Mass has been suspended in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated Catholic Charities information and other resources

Catholic Charities Response to Pandemic

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

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

Mondays: 9-11 a.m.

  • Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee,

Mondays: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

  • St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston,

Tuesdays: 9-11:30 a.m.

  • Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples,

Fridays: 9-11 a.m.

  • Bonita Springs, St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs,

Fridays: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

  • Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers,

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 www.catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Prayers and Resources

Act of Spiritual Communion

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.
Amen.

Resources online

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

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, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

The Diocese of Venice Mass is streamed at 9:15 a.m. daily from the Catholic Center in Venice. Meanwhile, Mass is being streamed live from many Parishes daily (some on weekends only) throughout the Diocese of Venice (See updated list on Diocese website). Most streams are available with links through the Parish websites or through Facebook (to watch a live stream on Facebook, you do not need an account) or YouTube. Check with your Parish if you are having trouble finding the Mass or for more details.

Additionally, Magnificat is offering the online version of this devotional free at https://us.magnificat.net/free.

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, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. 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 https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ 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.

Prayers

Prayer 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.

Amen.

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

corazones.

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.

Amén.

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

USCCB leads country in prayer for reconsecration to Mary

The Diocese of Venice in Florida encourages the faithful to join the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for a live stream of the Re-Consecration of our nation to the Protection of the Blessed Mother under the title of Mary, Mother of the Church.  This will give the Church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell, and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus.

The live stream will take place at 3:00 p.m., May 1, 2020, on Facebook @USCCB, and will also be shared on the Diocese of Venice Facebook Page.  Prayer resources are available at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

In addition, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will Consecrate the Nation of Canada on May 1, 2020.

 

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