Bishop extends dispensation for Mass through Sept. 1, 2020

Encourages all continue to wear masks, follow safety guidelines

The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been extended through at least Sept. 1, 2020 due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic. At the same time Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to thank the Faithful of the Diocese for following health and safety guidelines by the wearing of face coverings and maintaining social distancing.

This announcement was made by Bishop Dewane in a June 26, 2020 letter to the Faithful. “Catholics are encouraged to stay at home if ill or are not comfortable returning to public gatherings for the celebration of Mass.”

The decision, Bishop Dewane wrote, comes after consultation with priests of the Diocese and the decisions addressed will allow everyone to remain focused on the health and well-being of the Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese, as well as those in the larger community, as we move forward. (Visit www.dioceseofvenice.org to read the Bishop’s letter.)

The decisions were also based on the reality that while restrictions due to the Pandemic have been somewhat lessened and, at the same time, confirmed cases are on the rise in Florida.

“The Faithful of the Diocese of Venice are to be commended for their cooperation and compassion during these difficult times. We are all in this together, and your support and assistance are needed and deeply appreciated,” the letter states.

The letter also addresses the use of face coverings during Mass, which remains an essential part of the protocols for remaining open.

While the wearing or not wearing of masks has become a political statement for some, the letter states, “face coverings are essential because of the guidance that wearing a mask lessens the likelihood of transmission of the virus. Therefore, I ask for your cooperation in wearing masks, particularly at Mass and any public gathering at your Parish. Please consider the use of face coverings a mandatory step taken in genuine concern for the well-being of our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Lastly, the letter notes that Pastors/Administrators have been asked to use their discretion as to whether small groups who are gathering for prayer or to coordinate ministries may meet safely while at the same time ensuring that guidance for face coverings and social distancing be observed.

However, the letter continues that it is not yet time for large groups to assemble for social or fraternal purposes to meet safely.

“Let us remember the importance of prayer for those who are affected by the Coronavirus and for a quick end to the threat associated with the virus. Be assured that Our Merciful Father hears and answers our prayers.”

Bishop Dewane concluded the letter expressing his empathy with the difficulties being experienced by everyone during these uncertain times, but to always remember to stand united to safeguard the well-being of all, including the larger community.

Bishop addresses racism: Calls for unity, action and finding God in each other

In a recent letter to the faithful, Bishop Frank J. Dewane directly addressed racism in this country and called on all to seek unity, take action and continue to find the image and likeness of God in others.

The letter, dated June 9, 2020, acknowledged the death of George Floyd and the suffering caused by racism in the United States. It also expressed an understanding for the anger and frustration felt by many as evidenced in protest in cities throughout the country, while at the same time stating that the Church encourages a peaceful response and prayers for an end to racism.

“The Church, Her leaders and the Faithful have an important role in confronting the sin of racism. Responding to the call to defend human dignity, the Church must raise Her voice against every instance of the evil of racism. I add my voice and condemn racism in all its forms.”

Bishop Dewane, who is on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee on Racism, has spoken repeatedly about bigotry and discrimination in the county, and the unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd, either during the daily livestreaming Mass from the Catholic Center or when celebrating Mass at Parishes in the Diocese. During his recent visits to Parishes throughout the Diocese, racism has been a recurring theme, including June 13, 2020 at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring.

“Every human being, regardless of their skin color, is made in the image and likeness of God,” Bishop Dewane said during the livestreamed Mass on June 14, 2020, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi – The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

A table display at St. Agnes Parish in Naples includes the USCCB Prayer to Overcome Racism along with a candle and flowers the weekend of June 13-14, 2020.

“It is not just one race, one color, every human being, you, me, all our neighbors,” Bishop Dewane continued.  “As human beings, as the Body of Christ, we have to see the image and likeness of God in all – not just some. The race of a human being, or the color of their skin, cannot determine the humanity showed toward them; the human respect that they are given shouldn’t be differentiated – it has to be the same!”

Citing racial unrest in the 1960s, 70s and 90s, and even just a few years ago, the Bishop said a solution to racism has not been found and it is very much present around us all. “We are the Body of Christ. We are the Church. We find ourselves here in the Diocese of Venice. You belong to a particular Parish. We need to drill down on this – and everyone needs to take action. You and I, we need to find unity. We need to seek peace and we do it all in the recognition that each and every person has been made in the image and likeness of God.”

In his letter to the faithful, the Bishop cited the words of Pope Francis who recently said: “My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”

Bishop Dewane also noted that he sent a request to priests of the Diocese to speak out against racism during their homilies for the weekend of June 13-14 and beyond. A variety of resources were made available to the priests through the USCCB website which are also available to the public. The Bishop also suggested that Parishes hold prayer sessions and programming to address the question of racism.

Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers hosted a June 11, 2020, “Prayer Service for Peace.” The gathering included Eucharistic Adoration, a Gospel reading, Sacred music, prayer and reflections on racism in this country.

During the weekend of June 13-14, many Parishes added special intentions against racism to the Prayers of the Faithful. St. Agnes Parish in Naples had a tabletop display in their narthex which included candles, flowers and a framed copy of the USCCB “Prayer to Overcome Racism.” The Parish will dedicate Adoration hours specifically calling for an end to racism.

You can find the Bishop’s Letter to the Faithful  and other resources on the Diocese of Venice homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org, or for other resources, please visit www.usccb.org.

Bishop Letter: Jesus revealed to us in a new way

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is risen!  Alleluia!  These joyful words may seem oddly placed for many as the world seems to be held by the Pandemic in a more Lenten period of sacrifice, trial, and difficulty.  People throughout the Diocese, the country, and the entire world are going through tremendous hardships.  Families struggle with finances; others are challenged with health concerns from the ongoing pandemic; and the spiritual needs of the faithful, through the Sacraments, has only recently been made available. Amidst all this adversity, we do not forget that Christ has risen! He has overcome the world!  He is victorious!  Christ sends us the promise of Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, during the upcoming Pentecost Sunday.

Allow yourself to be placed in the upper room with the Disciples of Jesus Christ and the Mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Imagine the uncertainty and even fear that they may have had. In this time of uncertainty in your life, how might you live as “A Disciple of Christ?”

We recall a similar feeling in the Upper Room before the Resurrection of Jesus.  In the middle of the night, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, filled with a great sorrow and the feelings of missing Jesus dearly. Many of us can relate to this now, not being able to see our Lord and receive Him in the Eucharist. It is precisely here, in this desire of Mary to be with our Lord, that He appears to her. “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” (Jn 20:15), Jesus asks Mary, who does not recognize Him.  “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni’” (Jn 20:16).

For many of us, Jesus is revealing Himself in a new way during this time of COVID 19. We might not recognize Him, just as Mary did not outside the tomb, possibly due to fear and anxiety. It is when Jesus calls her by name that she knows who He is.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine,” (Is 43:1) the Lord says to you and to me. How are you listening for Jesus’ Words today? Are you listening to Him calling you by name, calling you to be, in a new and deeper way this Pentecost, “A Disciple of Christ?”

Like St. Mary Magdalene, Jesus hears your prayers and sees the desire of your heart to know Him. It is truly a joy that the public celebration of the Mass has resumed, and many are able to return to the Sacraments. The Lord is waiting to encounter you.

Although businesses are slowly opening again and the Churches of the Diocese of Venice are open, there remains a level of uncertainty and caution. Even after the Resurrection, the Disciples had to endure great difficulties. When Jesus has ascended to heaven, the Disciples remained in the Upper Room for 10 days in fear for their lives. In this time, the words of Jesus remained in their hearts. “For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (Jn 16:7).

As the Church will move from Pentecost into Ordinary Time, we wait to see how the Lord will continue to get us through the Pandemic. Let us do so like the Disciples, “devoted […] with one accord to prayer (Acts 1:14). Trusting that the Lord will “work all things to good” (cf. Rom 8:28).

Do not forget that on Pentecost the Lord has sent us the Holy Spirit who is our Advocate, Comforter, Sanctifier, and Counselor.  Ask the Spirit daily for help to live as “A Disciple of Christ,” for He will “teach you everything and remind you of all that {Christ} told you” (Jn 14:17) and “helps us in our weakness” (Rom 8:26).

Pentecost leads the Church into Ordinary Time. This is precisely because “God declares that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17) and all are given the call to “preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). Pentecost is followed by Ordinary Time because the normal life of the Church is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and we are to live as “A Disciple of Christ.”

This still may take some ingenuity and effort due to the ongoing Pandemic, but do not give up hope! Christ sees your efforts to know Him and love Him and He will bless you for them. Present restrictions in our society provide help to many people but create a need for others, and with this there are many opportunities for you to love your neighbor.

Strive to come to know the Lord in a new way at this time! Pick up your phone to be present to those you have not spoken with in a while. Take these opportunities to pray with one another and build each other up in the faith. Go to the Church, keeping with social distancing guidelines and wearing a mask, so as to allow your taking advantage of Mass and Confessions being offered.  Use this extra time for spiritual reading and even pick up your Bible that maybe has not been open in a long time.  Through these and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, you can be ever more “A Disciple of Christ.”

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn 14:27).  This is a time of great trial and difficulty, but do not give up hope!  The Lord will calm the storm (cf. Mk 4:39).  “The LORD will fight for you; you have only to keep still” (Exodus 14:14).  Allow the Lord into your heart in a new way, a way that you might not recognize just yet, but allow yourself to hear Him when He calls you by name, as He calls you to be “A Disciple of Christ.”

May God bless you and your family on this Pentecost!  Know of my continual prayers for you, especially as the Mass is offered daily for your good.  Please keep me in your prayers as well.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

Venice in Florida

Public celebration of Mass resumes May 18

The following is a letter from Bishop Dewane to the faithful, dated May 12, 2020: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Bishop Frank J. Dewane raises the host during the Mass at St. Ann Parish in Naples in January, 2020. The public celebration of the Mass in the Diocese resumes May 18, 2020.

As we rejoice in our Easter Faith, my prayer is that the new life we have in Christ will bring you and your family hope and comfort. The Coronavirus has brought numerous challenges. Our common efforts to mitigate the disease have asked us to sacrifice and adjust to new realities for the good of all. United in Christ, we continue to face the present difficulties with courage and compassion. So many have persevered in faith and charity and our Parishes have remained beacons of God’s love and grace. For this, I am profoundly grateful to God and to the Priests and Faithful of the Diocese of Venice.

After much prayer and discernment, and having consulted with the priests on the Presbyteral Council, it has been determined that public celebration of the Mass in the Diocese of Venice can resume. Therefore, I am announcing that the celebration of Holy Mass with a congregation present, will begin on May 18, 2020 and moving forward.  All other non-liturgical activities at Parishes remain suspended until it is determined that these activities can safely resume; thank you for your understanding on this point.

Out of concern for the safety of all involved, our Pastors have been asked to follow established directives and guidelines. These limit the size of the congregation to 25% of occupancy, maintain social distancing guidance, and ask the Faithful’s cooperation to wear facemasks and bring with them hand sanitizer for their use. The Faithful are also asked to receive communion in the hand. These are extraordinary times and I ask for your patience and good will as Parishes reopen for public celebrations. Further, schedules may need to be adjusted and some Priests or liturgical ministers may not be able to participate publicly because of age or health conditions.

As Parish churches reopen for Mass, I remind 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. Parishes have been asked to continue livestreaming until the dispensation is lifted. 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.

The Faithful of the Diocese of Venice have remained resolute in their faith during these unprecedented times, vibrantly expressing their Spiritual Communion with Christ and His Church. Still, I am aware that there is a hunger for the Eucharist. My prayerful hope is that, strengthened by the Bread come down from Heaven, you will emerge from these times with stronger faith. As we return to Holy Mass, let us with the psalmist, raise our voices in praise of God: I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

Venice in Florida

 

April 17, 2020 letter from Bishop Dewane to the Faithful

April 17, 2020

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

During Easter Season, as the Church rejoices in Our Lord’s Resurrection, my prayer is that you and your family are safe and strengthened by God’s grace in these uncertain times. You will recall that I promised to give an update regarding the Coronavirus and our efforts in the Diocese of Venice to ensure the health, safety, and the spiritual wellbeing of all our Catholic Faithful.

The decision to suspend public celebrations of the Liturgy was among the most difficult I have had to make as your Bishop. The decision required the Diocese to weigh the needs of public health in a time of pandemic against the great sacrifices that a suspension would require of the Christian Faithful and our Priests. Knowing it would be difficult for you not to fully participate in the Holy Mass or gather with your fellow Parishioners for other activities, was something I sincerely understood. It was also on my mind that your Priests would need to labor strenuously and find innovative ways to compassionately care for Parishioners.

It has been edifying to see how the Catholic Faithful, led by their Priests, have embraced these challenges and found creative ways to give witness to our spiritual communion in Christ. Throughout these days, I have been privileged to hear many stories from Parishioners about how they have, in their homes, remained Faithful to their life of prayer and worship of God. The efforts of parents, caregivers, Catholic School teachers, catechists, Parish staff and so many of our people, have made the difficulties being experienced an opportunity for heroic acts of Christian Charity and love. Priests are to be acknowledged for the pastoral ways in which the Holy Mass and the Sacraments have been offered to the Faithful; at the same time, placing themselves at risk to attend the sick and dying. Likewise, I am grateful to the Parishioners who have continued their generous stewardship towards the Parishes and Schools of the Diocese which face financial challenges in these present circumstances.

In a particular way, let me express my appreciation to the many families who, from home, united in their Parish Holy Week and Easter Liturgies. All the Faithful can be proud of the efforts made during these difficult days to maintain spiritual communion and practice their Catholic Faith. Trusting in Our Lord who abides with us, we have found hope and strength to weather the hardships.

No matter how difficult this time has been for many of us, I ask you to prayerfully intercede for those who have died from the Coronavirus and for their family and loved ones who grieve. Likewise, please lift-up in prayer healthcare workers and others, who, with dedication, are combating this disease and compassionately caring for the sick and dying. Pray also for wisdom for our public officials that they may guide us with competence and concern.

Please know that the Diocese appreciates the sacrifices you have made and is looking forward to the time when public celebrations of Holy Mass can resume. With me, Diocesan Officials are monitoring public health data as a process of planning begins. It is necessary to determine how and when your Parish can resume normal operations safely, while maintaining careful vigilance to protect those at greater risk of serious illness. The upcoming weeks will indeed require patience. Only after necessary steps are taken, can there be certainty regarding when to begin a phased return to normal Parish activities and public gatherings.

Likely, the present circumstances regarding public Masses will last for the near future. Celebrations of Confirmation, First Communion, and reception into the Church for Catechumens and Candidates will continue to be postponed until it is feasible to reschedule them with some certainty. Parishes will keep the Faithful updated as greater clarity regarding Diocesan plans is possible.

Let us remember that with Faith, our sufferings and sacrifices can be a source of redeeming grace. If we offer our sufferings to God and unite them with the Passion of Our Lord, we will be made stronger in Faith and greater witnesses to the hope that is ours in the Risen Christ.

As we commemorate Divine Mercy Sunday, let each one of us put aside our doubts and united as a believing people, express with new resolve: “Jesus, I trust in You!”

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop the Diocese of

Venice in Florida

Bishop Dewane letter to faithful in Spanish

La siguiente es una carta del Obispo Frank J. Dewane a los fieles de la diócesis de Venecia. Debajo de la carta hay información adicional importante. (Lea todo el contenido de este aviso).

14 de marzo de 2020

Queridos hermanos y hermanas en Cristo,

Mientras la Santa Madre Iglesia peregrina durante el tiempo cuaresmal, por favor, tengan la seguridad de mi continua oración por todos ustedes. Como se mencionó en mi reciente carta, junto con nuestros Sacerdotes y personal diocesano, he estado vigilando de cerca la evolución de la amenaza que representa el coronavirus, en particular para los más vulnerables entre nosotros.

Por esta razón, por preocupación pastoral, se ha emitido una dispensa de la obligación de asistir a la misa dominical para las personas afectadas por el coronavirus. Ahora que se ha declarado una emergencia nacional y el Estado de Florida ha proporcionado más orientación, muchos de los Fieles Católicos pueden considerar prudente evitar grandes reuniones. Por lo tanto, por una abundancia de preocupación espiritual, extiendo la dispensación desde la obligación de asistir a la Misa Dominical a todos los Fieles Católicos hasta nuevo aviso.

La celebración de la Santa Eucaristía continuará en nuestras iglesias con las precauciones necesarias. Se pide a todos los Fieles Católicos que observen el Día del Señor con reverencia y en comunión espiritual entre sí, asistan o no a misa durante este tiempo.

Estemos unidos en la oración para que Dios, que es nuestro refugio y fortaleza, nos dé valor y perseverancia en la caridad durante este tiempo, para que podamos permanecer sanos y alentar a nuestros hermanos y hermanas que están enfermos.

Que, por intercesión de Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro, los mantenga a salvo de todo daño y edificados por sus oraciones y penitencias en este tiempo de cuaresma.

Sinceramente tuyo en Cristo,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Obispo de la Diócesis de Venice en Florida

Apéndice:

Las siguientes precauciones adicionales son efectivas inmediatamente en toda la Diócesis de Venice:

  • Las clases serán suspendidas en todas las Escuelas Católicas dentro de la Diócesis de Venice hasta el 30 de marzo de 2020.
  • Todas las actividades de Educación Religiosa y Jóvenes de la Parroquia se suspenderán hasta el 30 de marzo de 2020.
  • Los eventos parroquiales deben posponerse o cancelarse hasta el 30 de marzo de 2020.
  • Las oficinas parroquiales y diocesanas permanecerán abiertas durante este tiempo.

La Diócesis continúa vigilando de cerca la situación y emitirá actualizaciones según corresponda en el sitio web de la Diócesis.

Gracias de nuevo por su paciencia y comprensión.

Sinceramente tuyo en Cristo,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Obispo de la Diócesis de

Venice en Florida

Bishop Dewane letter on Coronavirus response

The following is a letter from Bishop Frank J. Dewane to the faithful of the Diocese of Venice. Below the letter is some additional important information. (Please read the entire contents of this notice.)

March 14, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ,

As Holy Mother Church makes her pilgrimage through the Lenten Season, please be assured of my continuing prayerful encouragement and support. As mentioned in my recent letter, together with our Priests and Diocesan Staff, I have been closely monitoring developments regarding the threat posed by the Coronavirus, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.

For this reason, out of pastoral concern, a dispensation has been issued from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for those effected by the Coronavirus. Now that a national emergency has been declared and the State of Florida has provided further guidance, many of the Catholic Faithful may deem it prudent to avoid large gatherings. Therefore, out of an abundance of spiritual concern, I now extend the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass to all the Catholic Faithful until further notice.

The celebration of the Holy Eucharist will continue in our churches with the necessary precautions. All the Catholic Faithful are asked to observe the Lord’s Day with reverence and in spiritual communion with one another, whether you attend Mass or not during this time.

Let us be united in prayer that God, who is our refuge and strength, will give us courage and perseverance in charity during this time, that we might remain healthy and encourage our brothers and sisters who are ill.

Through the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, may you be kept safe from all harm and uplifted by your Lenten prayer and fasting.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of the Diocese of
Venice in Florida

Addendum: 

The following additional precautions are effective immediately throughout the Diocese of Venice:

  • Classes will be suspended in all Catholic Schools within the Diocese of Venice until March 30, 2020.
  • All Parish Religious Education and Youth activities will be suspended until March 30, 2020.
  • Parish events should be postponed or canceled through March 30, 2020.
  • Parish and Diocesan offices will remain open during this time.

The Diocese continues to closely monitor the situation and will issue updates as appropriate on the Diocesan website .

Thank you again for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

Venice in Florida

Bishop Letter: What it means to be ‘A Disciple of Christ’

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

After receiving the blessings of the Christmas Season, celebrating the birth of Christ Our Lord, many return to their ordinary schedules of prayer, work or family obligations.  So too, the Church enters a portion of Ordinary Time.  Throughout Advent and Christmas, we placed the emphasis of our prayers and attention on welcoming Christ into our hearts and homes while ever awaiting His triumphant return with the Second Coming.  Now in this Ordinary Time, we take Christ with us and go forth living what it means to be A Disciple of Christ.  Call to mind the lives of Christ’s early Disciples, of the Saints who lived heroically, and even of those great examples of holiness in our own lives.  How might we follow these examples in everyday life in order to be A Disciple of Christ?

First let us recall Christ’s words to His Disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:19-20).  Jesus gives them a mission!  What mission has the Lord called you to do with your life?  Do you help at a food pantry, volunteer at your Parish, work to counter Human Trafficking or the pornography industry that thrives in our society?  Yes, it can get messy.  How are you deepening your journey in becoming A Disciple of Christ?  These are all great ways to take what you have received and to give back in some way in the name of Christ.

To each one of us Christ says, “Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give.” (Matthew 10:8).  In order to live as A Disciple of Christ, this mission must be embraced like the Cross itself.  Of course, this may be difficult at times, there may be the temptation to think, “What am I able to give?” along with thoughts of inadequacy or tepidness.  It is important to know that it is not always big things that the Lord asks of us.  St. Mother Teresa, whom I had the pleasure of speaking with on several occasions, taught that, “Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.”  These words of hers are an encouragement to me as they may be for you as well.

In the Gospel of Mark Jesus tells the parable of the sower.  If we focus on the sower he seems absolutely mad. Why? Throwing seed just everywhere with no regard for the soil where the seeds land. The farmer could be thought to be crazy for not targeting the placement of the seed, seeding only the good soil.  However, God asks you and I to go out and sow His Word and His love – not only on receptive soil, not only to those who will respond but also on the path, on the rocks and into the thorn bushes.  God’s love is irrational, extravagant, embarrassing, even unreasonable and over the top.

So, do not be afraid to do even the big things at the prompting of God on the journey of becoming A Disciple of Christ; the extravagant action that some see as over the top may be what Christ calls you to do as a Disciple.  Take the risk, make the move, take even the smallest step and do not worry about who notices.  Sow His Word as A Disciple of Christ and leave the rest to the providence of God.  Do not be afraid!

In times where the Lord may be asking more of us, the words spoken to St. Paul offer consolation wherein Christ says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Whether something small is being asked of you or something great, there are always more opportunities to respond to this mission; to go forth in the Name of the Lord as A Disciple of Christ.  Pope Francis has taught us that “In virtue of […] baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples” and continues by saying all the faithful are called to a personal involvement in the work of evangelization.

Have courage in knowing the Lord desires to use you, your particular skills and abilities, your gifts and talents.  Continue to invite Christ into your home and your heart, then take Him out into the streets, into your communities.  They may not be pretty but as St. Mother Teresa told us, “Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.”  Be encouraged to continue the ways you are already living as A Disciple of Christ in your life and to begin new ways, new actions today.

As we continue this portion of Ordinary Time, let us work together in this mission that Christ has given us to go forth and to spread the Gospel and be A Disciple of Christ.  To be people of action!!

Thank you for responding to His call in your life.  Rest assured of my prayers that you would continue to allow Christ into your life in new ways, big or small each day and go forth in action.  Please keep me in your prayers as well.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Frank J. Dewane

How can I be more ‘A Disciple of Christ’ in my own life

Letter from Bishop Dewane:

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Just past the midpoint of Advent, we all have been provided an initial time of fruitful preparation for the coming of Christ into our hearts and homes. As we look toward the end of Advent and the coming of Christmas, the call to become “A Disciple of Christ” in a new way should come to mind each day. This Advent, the Diocese of Venice launched a campaign to be “A Disciple of Christ,” to invite Christ in a personal and transformative way into our hearts that leads us to follow Him intentionally and willfully.  At this time, it is fitting to find newness in our relationship with Christ, to ask oneself, “How can I be more ‘A Disciple of Christ’ in my own life’?”

This beginning allows each of us a fresh start as well as a focal point which, of course, is Christ Himself. In the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa, “He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.” This is what it means to both become and to be a disciple, since it is Christ that we desire and His love that we know. It is never too late to begin anew, to follow Christ and invite Him into our hearts.

The Season of Advent began with the focus on the Second Coming of Christ, when He comes in glory to judge the living and the dead. The portion of the Season which we are entering now sets its gaze on the first coming, the coming of the Christ Child. With roughly a week left of Advent and in view of the quickly approaching Christmas Season, why not up our game? Make the most of the opportunity of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child into our own lives. Our beginning points may be different, as St. Gregory told us, but we continue to move from beginning to beginning so that Christ may be born in our hearts again and again.

The Gospel of Luke tells us of the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement of the coming of Christ. Mary, in a special way, displays what it means to be a disciple, and she is, in fact, the first “Disciple of Christ.” When she hears the Word of God spoken to her, she responds in faith, exclaiming, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word” (cf. Luke 1:38). This is the essence of living the Gospel: “may it be done to me according to your word”; it is an acceptance and a response to God.  In this way, all ought to be “A Disciple of Christ,” eager to receive His call and respond with love and faith. Then let us act and boldly allow Christ to take precedence in our lives in every respect.

Another example to be taken from this is the hearing and listening to God’s Word. How often do we allow the Bible to collect dust on the coffee table or on a bookshelf? Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice, He knows them, and they follow Him (cf. John 10:27). In this Season of preparation and in the following Season of Christmas, open your Bible with your family. “Take and read” as the Lord spoke to St. Augustine.  In this you will find the “words of eternal life” (cf. John 6:68) present in Our Lord who is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (cf. John 14:6) and you will know what it means to be “A Disciple of Christ.”

Looking toward the end of Advent and preparing for the coming of the Christ Child, be always aware of His Second Coming; be prepared to meet Christ as a disciple. Recognize the ways that He gives His love and respond to that love!

I wish you a fruitful remainder of the Advent Season and indeed a very Blessed and Merry Christmas! Know that you are in my prayers and please keep me in your prayers as we prepare for the coming of Christ into our hearts so as to be “A Disciple of Christ.”

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Frank J. Dewane

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