Bishop breaks ground for a Parish Activity Center in Lakewood Ranch

With hundreds looking on and cheering their support, ground was broken on Nov. 4, 2023, for the new Our Lady of the Angels Parish Activity Center and rectory in Lakewood Ranch.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane led a brief prayer service and blessing before picking up a shovel to take part in the ceremonial groundbreaking.

“This Parish Activity Center is something that could not have been imagined just a few years ago, and now it is something that is needed for your growing, faith-filled Parish,” Bishop Dewane said.

Father Sebastian Szczawínski, S.A.C., Pastor of Our Lady of the Angels, remarked that he was very grateful for the support and prayers for the campaign which made the groundbreaking possible.

“This is for children and adults who are going to learn about Jesus – how to live a good life, how to live a proper life, connected to Christ,” Father Szczawínski said.

The new 12,580-foot Parish Activity Center will be located on the west side of the Parish property. In addition, there will be a duplex rectory constructed for the Pastor and Parochial Vicar in the northwest corner of the property. The project is expected to take 12-16 months to complete.

Under the guidance of Bishop Dewane and Father Szczawínski, the Parish ran a “Building Our Future” capital campaign during the past two years to help make the Parish Activity Center and rectory a reality.

The new activity center will more than double the existing facilities and will service the needs of an ever-growing community. The activity center will be a one-story building and will house 10 rooms of various sizes for use in ministries and programs. The new structure will serve the needs of the nearly 500 1st – 12th grade Faith Formation students and support the more than 40 outreach ministries and groups of the Parish. The current Parish Hall, which was recently renovated, will remain, and be used for meetings and events as needed.

The construction of a rectory will bring the clergy from off-campus living arrangements to be on-campus and within walking distance of Our Lady of Angels. The new duplex will be a two-bedroom, two-bathroom structure.

The architect for the project is PRA Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP – John Holtz, partner, and the general contractor is ME&S general Contractors, Inc.

Joining Bishop Dewane and Father Szczawínski in the groundbreaking were priests and Deacons who serve the Parish. Members of the Parish Finance Council also turned dirt, as well as many others who were pivotal in making the project a reality.

Our Lady of the Angels serves 3,138 registered families in the growing Lakewood Ranch community with up to seven weekend Masses offered during the peak season.

For more information about Our Lady of the Angels, visit

‘Blessing of Animals’ delights

As the school day wound down at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers the sounds of barking, meowing and the stir of critters small and large echoed across the sports field.

It was Oct. 4, 2023, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, which has become synonymous with the “Blessing of Animals.” According to history, the 12th century patron saint of animals and the environment spoke to the animals and treated them as members of his family.

Students at St. Francis Xavier brought their dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, frogs and much more. These creatures were well loved and an important part of each family but also part of God’s creation, explained Parish Administrator Father Steven Clemente.

Father Clemente led a brief prayer service and read a special prayer which recalls the words of the Old Testament Books of Genesis, Exodus, Kings and Jonah.

As Father Clemente went through the crowd of students, parents and parishioners, each animal was blessed with Holy Water. The students shrieked with delight when the Holy Water blessed their animals, one student with a toothy grin said, as she hugged her furry dog, “So happy!”

At St. Ann Catholic School in Naples, Pastor Father William Davis, OSFS, blessed a wide assortment of animals, including a horse.

Similar animal blessings took place throughout the Diocese, with many Parishes opting to host the blessings during the preceding or following weekend.

For example, at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, Pastor Father Gerard Critch led a blessing on Oct. 7, with a large crowd of people, as well as their furry, feathery and scaled companions.

At Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice, for the Feast Day, kindergarteners made bird feeders in honor of St. Francis.

In addition, at Bishop Verot Catholic School in Fort Myers, members of the St. Francis of Assisi House were allowed to have a “dress out” day, where they wore the house colors in place of their regular school uniform. The house system allows students in each grade to foster a sense of community while participating in various school activities as a unified group.

Affordable housing community blessed in Zolfo Spring

The recently completed Casa San Alfonso affordable housing community with 21 single-family homes in Zolfo Springs was blessed by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Sept. 28, 2023.

“Housing continues to be a vital concern and need for people throughout Florida,” Bishop Dewane said. “We’re pleased to support Zolfo Springs with affordable rental housing that will provide comfort and a sense of belonging for local residents.”

The Diocese of Venice partnered on the project with National Development of America, Inc., and supported by Zolfo Springs and Hardee County.

“We’re very grateful for our partnership with the Diocese of Venice and the strong support from county and city officials to help bring this project to fruition,” said John Raymond, director of real estate for National Development of America. “Casa San Alfonso is the perfect example of how a community can come together to achieve something impactful.”

Zolfo Springs Mayor Rod Cannon was overjoyed by the project and complimented the quality of the work noting that there were nearby tracts of land available if the Diocese was interested in expanding the project.

“This is beautiful. I am really overwhelmed by it,” Cannon said. “I have been excited about this whole project from the moment I learned about it to this day. We are blessed to have it, especially as it is available to families who might not have any other housing options in our community.”

Justin Smith, with the Development Group in Hardee County, said the county initially did not have a policy in place to support affordable housing but was able to back the housing project through grants to help make the finances work.

During the ceremony, Bishop Dewane offered a special thank you to the faithful of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula for their support of the project. Casa San Alfonso is located on repurposed land that was once used as a Mission of St. Michael.

Representing the Parish at the ceremony were Father Wilner Durosier, CS, Father Juan Lorenzo, women religious of the Servant Sisters of the Blessed Virgin of Matara, as well as many of the faithful.

Father Durosier said he was excited about the project and promised to promote the housing opportunities to the faithful.

The Diocese of Venice and National Development embarked on Casa San Alfonso in 2020 to address the growing demand for affordable rental housing in Hardee County. Additional affordable housing projects within Hardee County are already in the development process.

National Development of America will manage Casa San Alfonso which will provide affordable housing for qualified residents – those who make 50-60% of the Average Median Income. Monthly rents range from $673 to $976.

The community features 17 – 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom homes, and 4 – 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom homes, complete with new appliances. Amenities include an onsite clubhouse with a computer lab, and charming walking trails throughout the neighborhood, which is situated on a large outdoor greenspace of 12 total acres.

Casa San Alfonso is now leasing. Interested applicants should submit a leasing form at or email for more information.


OLPH reopens with celebration

It is fitting that the formal reopening of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center (OLPH) in Venice was a Mass, with a blessing of the new Chapel altar.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the Mass on Oct. 1, 2023, marking the official recovery of the retreat center after Hurricane Ian caused extensive flooding damage a year earlier.

“When the hurricane passed through, we knew there was much to be done,” Bishop Dewane said. “This had to be a priority to be fixed up, opened up, and functioning again, because of what this holy ground represents.”

“OLPH is a positive experience for so many people, where they have come to discover or receive God’s Mercy,” the Bishop continued. “This retreat center is a blessing to the Diocese and it has had struggles and highlights. We are now going through a new highlight.”

During the Mass, Bishop Dewane formally blessed the new altar first with a prayer of blessing and then with Holy Water and incense. Following the blessing, the altar was formally dressed, and the Mass proceeded.

OLPH Director Father Mark Yavarone, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, thanked the many present for their support in the recovery process. Father Yavarone pointed out the leadership of Bishop Dewane and Diocesan Chancellor Volodymyr Smeryk as the impetus to getting the retreat center open so quickly. The retreat center has been hosting retreats since late August and is very busy. In fact, a men’s Cursillo group was at OLPH for the weekend of the reopening celebration.

Large portions of the clean up after the hurricane and the rebuilding was made possible thanks to the help of many benefactors and volunteers. The financial support helped a great deal, but it was the volunteers whose expertise and love was put into helping with landscaping clearing and replanting, as well as the construction of the new furniture, saving OLPH tens of thousands in added expenses.

“We could not have survived without you,” Father Yavarone said to those gathered. He also praised his small staff for overcoming the many obstacles and logistics to get OLPH back to functioning fully in less than a year.

Father also reflected upon his first visit to the property by kayak a few days after Ian, witnessing the destruction up close, with all seven of the major buildings flooded. This included the Chapel, conference center, dining hall and four residential buildings. It was not until 10 days after the storm when the damage could be surveyed by foot.

“When I first came back on property on foot and saw all of the mold and destruction, I had an unsettling thought – ‘I wonder if the Bishop and Chancellor are going to pull the plug?’ But, I never heard a discouraging word. The question was ‘How can we rebuild to make the retreat center better than it was?’ and the focus has been on achieving that goal to where we are today,” Father said.

Bishop Dewane lauded Father Yavarone for his own leadership in guiding OLPH in its recovery process, doing off-site retreats at Epiphany Cathedral and Our Lady of Lourdes in Venice and San Pedro in North Port, all to ensure the ministry of the retreat center still reached many people, even if the physical buildings could not be used.

“Father never lost heart, because as we all know, OLPH has been a positive experience for so many people through the years and will continue to do so for many more to come,” Bishop Dewane said. “Thank you, Father Mark, for all you have done.”

Those gathered gave Father a standing ovation.

In addition to benefactors and volunteers, also present for the reopening were Carmelite Father J.J. McCarthy, former director of OLPH, and Sister Carmella Decosty, Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, who helped establish OLPH with Redemptorist Father Charlie Mallen in 1995.

A reception was held in the conference center and guests were offered a tour of the rebuilt facilities. At the reception, the faithful were also introduced to Father Greg Cleveland, the new OLPH assistant director.

OLPH offers a variety of individual and group retreats as well as Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.

For more information about OLPH, or if you would like to offer financial support, please visit or call 941-486-0233.

A Father’s Day Tribute from Bishop Dewane

Father’s Day is celebrated in the United States on June 18, 2023. Below, a message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane, is offered below in English and Spanish:

Let us honor all fathers, living or deceased, on this day. Happy Father’s Day!

The divine Fatherhood of God is the source of human fatherhood; this is the foundation of the honor owed to fathers, today and every day. May the Fatherhood of God, our Heavenly Father, inspire all fathers to great love. Remember that it is out of God’s love for us that he gave of His only Son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation. Let God, our Heavenly Father, be the role model, and source of inspiration, for all fathers.

Inspiration can be found, too, in the example of Saint Joseph, patron saint of fathers, workers and the Universal Church. Saint Joseph’s obedience to God, his courage, and the love and care shown to Mary and Jesus make him a model of earthly fatherhood. As a father, Saint Joseph guided and accompanied Jesus so he could grow in wisdom and grace. This is what all fathers must do – teach your children to grow in God’s grace and to become wise in the ways of our Lord.

Best wishes for a blessed and happy Father’s Day.

Honremos a todos los padres, vivos o fallecidos, en este día. ¡Feliz Día del Padre!

La Paternidad divina de Dios es la fuente de la paternidad humana; Este es el fundamento del honor que se debe a los padres, hoy y todos los días. Que la Paternidad de Dios, nuestro Padre Celestial, inspirar a todos los padres a un gran amor. Recuerde que es por el amor de Dios por nosotros que dio de Su único Hijo, Jesucristo, para nuestra salvación. Que Dios, nuestro Padre Celestial, sea el modelo para seguir y la fuente de inspiración para todos los padres.

La inspiración se puede encontrar también en el ejemplo de San José, santo patrono de los padres, de los trabajadores y de la Iglesia universal. La obediencia de San José a Dios, su coraje y el amor y cuidado mostrado a María y Jesús lo convierten en un modelo de paternidad terrena. Como padre, San José guio y acompañó a Jesús para que pudiera crecer en sabiduría y gracia. Esto es lo que todos los padres deben hacer- enseñar a sus hijos a crecer en la gracia de Dios y a ser sabios en los caminos de nuestro Señor.

Mis mejores deseos para un bendito y feliz Día del Padre.

Diocese partners to build affordable apartments in Fort Myers

With the flick of a shovel, Bishop Frank J. Dewane and members of the Fort Myers City Council celebrated the start of construction of the St. Peter Claver Place Apartments.

This first phase of the project, being constructed in partnership with National Development of America, Inc. (NDA), includes 136 affordable two- and three-bedroom units with the total buildout reaching 214 units. The ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony took place April 11, 2023, and is the result of seven years of meetings, negotiations and financing, ultimately serving as a clear example of the best in public-private partnerships.

“This is a great, great project. I want to thank all the different partners, most importantly the Diocese of Venice,” said Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson during the groundbreaking ceremony. “Totally, 214 units may not seem like a lot when you look at the demand, but it is. It’s huge! It’s a big chunk that’s been added to the inventory. Not only that, we have taken a vacant piece of land and we are collectively going to turn that into something really nice that gives people a place to live, hopefully a place they can call home.”

Bishop Dewane said St. Peter Claver Place is being constructed for the working people of Fort Myers.

“We see throughout Fort Myers people are in need of housing, particularly rental housing. The market is tough. It is difficult for families to find good accommodations, a place to raise their children and know that they are safe and secure. We want to contribute to that by what we undertake here, by what we do with NDA and with the city. We do it for the residents who live here and that is important to all of us. They are the reason why we are here. We are not here because someone is Catholic. We are Catholic and that’s our call; to reach out to others and to help them,” Bishop Dewane said.

Rick Miller, President of NDA, said that the St. Peter Claver Place Apartments is an example of perseverance, as the concept of the project began more than seven years earlier because of the increased demand for affordable rental housing in the Fort Myers area. The first meetings with the city were in 2016 and started the process of rezoning and permitting. The biggest challenge was getting financing for affordable housing.

“We (at NDA) are different than the other guys. Our goal is to provide quality housing at rental rates that working people can actually afford. Today, if something new gets built, the rental rates are well beyond the reach of the working people of this area. St. Peter Claver Place is different; the financing structure allows us to charge rates between $600 and $1,300 per month, a fraction of what people are paying now,” Miller said.

The timing of the groundbreaking comes on the heels of a Florida Atlantic University study released on April 6 which found that for February, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area had the largest year-over-year rent increase in the U.S. at 13.59%. The average Cape Coral-Fort Myers rent for February was $2,283.51.

St. Peter Claver Place residents must qualify depending on their financial status, making between 30% and 60% of the city’s average median income. For 2022, that was $83,200, with qualifying salaries based on last year’s numbers being annual incomes between $25,000 and $50,000.

Fort Myers City Councilwoman Teresa Watkins Brown said housing is the No. 1 issue the Council deals with each day. “There are people who cannot find a place to live. Either it is too much, or not decent. I’m elated that this project is here.”

The final deal for the project was approved days before Hurricane Ian struck the area on Sept. 28, 2022, which Miller explained made a difficult process even more difficult.

“We are well underway and will be on schedule for completion by the end of 2023. Our budget was largely out of control because of difficulty of getting materials and supplies, but we got the support needed to get this project going,” Miller said.

Michele Hylton-Terry, Executive Director of Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency, described St. Peter Claver Place as a remarkable affordable housing project, that was supported through the use of tax increment rebate financing.

“Our agency has played a crucial role in bringing this development to life, demonstrating the power of public-private partnerships and addressing affordable housing and the needs of our community. This project not only provides safe, high-quality homes for hardworking families but also contributes to the revitalization of our city, boosting our local economy and creating a more inclusive and vibrant community. Let (St. Peter Claver Place) not only symbolize the opening of new doors to these families who will call this place their home, but let it also be the beginning of a new chapter for our city, one marked with growth, resiliency and unity.”

A number of additional dignitaries were present for the groundbreaking ceremony, including City Councilman Johnny Streets, who echoed the praise for the project. There were other city staff as well as community supporters who were instrumental behind-the-scenes in helping to achieve the success of what is becoming St. Peter Claver Place. Also present were representatives from Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., as well as priests and religious who serve at nearby Jesus the Worker Parish and St. Francis Xavier Parish.

The project is located on Michigan Avenue, within the Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard Redevelopment Area of Fort Myers, and is adjacent to AFCAAM of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., an after-school youth mentoring program. The name, St. Peter Claver Place, is derived from the former Catholic Mission which was located on the property until the early 2000s.

St. Peter Claver (1580-1654) was a Jesuit missionary known as patron saint of slaves, African missions and interracial justice. St. Claver spent his life serving enslaved Africans who were brought to Columbia during the 17th century.

The Diocese of Venice has a long partnership with National Development of America, having worked together to create two projects in Arcadia: St. John Paul II Villas, an affordable housing project for seniors completed in 2019, as well as Casa San Juan Bosco, a single-family housing project for farmworkers completed in 2016.

Phase 1 of St. Peter Claver Place is expected to be completed by the end of 2023 with occupancy shortly afterward. The second phase of 78 units is pending financing.

Parish Community Center dedicated

The Blessed Mother Center at St. William Parish in Naples has been operating for nearly 10 months, but on March 5, 2023, the community came together for a dedication and open house.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the dedication and blessing of the new multi-purpose building, which is much more than a Parish Hall. The dedication included a blessing of the people and the building.

“This will be used as a catechetical center; the focus of your Parish activities, and a place where we may come to know one another and give witness to our faith,” Bishop Dewane said during the ceremony. “It will be a place where adults and young children learn the Catholic Faith and deepen their commitment to live as Christ has taught us. We pray that the word of God may always echo from these walls.”

The Bishop congratulated the gathered faithful for responding to the call of Jesus Christ with their support of the project and their presence as people of faith. He apologized for the delay in getting the building dedicated citing a combination of issues which pushed the date back many months.

Bishop Dewane also recognized the leadership of Father George Ratzmann, Pastor of St. William, who has led the Parish for 15 years, which has included building a new Parish church and now the Blessed Mother Center.

Father Ratzmann also thanked the people for their generosity, adding, “You made the church possible and this new building possible. You have made ministry viable in this area, not only for now, but for generations to come.”

The 30,000 square foot Blessed Mother Center consists of two floors. The first floor includes 13 offices, a large conference room, a large auditorium (capacity for 300 for lectures and 150 for receptions), a small auditorium (capacity for 100 or 75 for receptions), a library with a pre-function area and catering kitchen. The second floor includes five meeting rooms, four additional meeting rooms for children’s activities, a large family faith room and a teen room. The contractor was Thomas Abraham and Kane Wei of Abraham Construction Group, and the architect was Adrian Karapici, AIA, NCARB, of AM Design Group LLC.

Since its opening, Blessed Mother Center has been a hive of activity with many different Parish groups using the facilities. In addition, on the ground are two pieces of art: Mary Seat of Wisdom in the courtyard (by sculpturer Timothy Schmaltz), and Seated Nun (a statue by Philip Jackson).

Knights donate ultrasound

The Knights of Columbus have done it again. They raised the money to purchase an ultrasound machine for a local pro-life pregnancy care center.

The Knights of Columbus Council 11281 of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples recently donated an ultrasound to the Community Pregnancy Clinics, Inc. (CPCI) pregnancy center at 2977 Goodlette-Frank Road, which is located across the street from a Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

Father Tomasz Zalewski, Pastor of St. John the Evangelist, led the Blessing and Dedication Ceremony at the CPCI clinic on Feb. 23, 2023. Father Nick Thompson, Parochial Vicar at St. John the Evangelist, proclaimed the Gospel reading. Then, Father Zalewski blessed the ultrasound.

Father Zalewski quoted God’s promise through the prophet Isaiah, “Can a mother forget her infant? Be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” Father also emphasized that all human life is a gift from God, and that we are each called to help build a Culture of Life in our community.

Scott Baier, CEO of CPCI, spoke about the importance of ultrasound technology and thanked St. John the Evangelist Parish and the Knights of Columbus for donating the machine. CPCI operates pregnancy clinics in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota and Gainesville – as well as two mobile clinics. CPCI has established its presence as a trusted provider of life-affirming pregnancy and reproductive healthcare in the community.

The donated ultrasound is a Philips ClearVue 850 Ultrasound Machine. The machine includes 3D/4D imaging modes and color Doppler. This technology allows mothers to see their baby earlier than ever. Even at six weeks gestation, parents and family see in detail the beginning of their baby’s development. Approximately 90% of women who view these clear images choose life for their baby!

Leona and Tony Hernandez, parishioners of St. John the Evangelist, volunteered to help with the Ultrasound machine demonstration. Among the 25 attendees at the dedication ceremony were CPCI staff, Knights and other supporters of the clinic. All were extremely impressed with the clear and powerful images of the Hernandez’ preborn child.

Knights Council 11281 Grand Knight, Paul Curti, explained that the Council held various events (including a Baby Bottle Drive and an outdoor Country Life Fest concert) to raise money for the ultrasound machine and other donations to local Pro-Life organizations.

Central Florida Laps for Life provided additional funding, and the Supreme Knights of Columbus Council provides a dollar-for-dollar match for ultrasound purchases.

Through the Ultrasound Initiative, the Supreme Council of the US provides a 50 percent matching grant and has helped to place more than 1,600 ultrasound machines into pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation.

Since the program began in 2012, within the Diocese of Venice 22 ultrasound machines, as well as 1 mobile unit, have been placed in Pro-Life pregnancy resource centers thanks to the Knights.

“Diocese of Venice Councils have donated more than $400,000 for ultrasound machines,” Drew Dillingham, Knights of Columbus National Life and Faith Program Manager, stated. “The Supreme Council has matched that amount, so over $800,000 in total has been donated by the K of C. More machines have been placed in the (territory of the) Diocese of Venice, than in 23 U.S. states.”

To learn more about the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative, please visit


To learn more about Community Pregnancy Clinics, please visit


News Briefs for the week of Sept. 30, 2022


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

Father Leszek Trojanowski, as Parochial Vicar of Holy Cross Parish, Palmetto, effective September 23, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of San Pedro Parish, North Port.

Father Christian Chami, returning to Rome to complete his Licentiate Studies at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm, effective September 23, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto.

Bishop Dewane also announces the new members to the Presbyteral Council, as a result of the most recent elections and appointments, are the following:

Father John Fitch, Representative of the Central Deanery

Father Eric Scanlan, Representative of the Northern Deanery

Father Hugh McGuigan, O.S.F.S., Religious Representative

Father Shawn Roser, Member-at-Large

Father Lawton Lang, Member-at-Large

Father Thomas Carzon, O.M.V., Appointed Representative

Father John Nghia Hoang, Appointed Representative

Congratulations to the new members. At the same time, an expression of gratitude is extended to those who served on the Presbyteral Council in their respective categories:

Father Jarek Sniosek

Father Joseph Gates

Father George Ratzmann

Father Jayabalan Raju


Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Fort Myers, Cape Coral

“Find Christ in others” was the challenge put forth by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on the students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers and St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral on Sept. 22, 2022. Bishop Dewane celebrated Mass at both schools as part of an ongoing effort to visit each school in the first two months of school. Afterwards, the Bishop took time to speak to the eighth graders, answer their questions and encourage them to attend nearby Bishop Verot Catholic High School.

Scouts participate in 10 Commandment Hike

More than 70 Scouts from across the Diocese of Venice took part in the annual 10 Commandment Hike on Sept. 24, 2022, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The Scouts walked the grounds, go from station to station where they were taught the lessons of the 10 Commandments, not just what they are, but also how not to violate them. Diocesan Scout Religious Award Coordinator Bob Paquette said he hoped the Scouts would gain valuable lessons that they can apply to their everyday life. A special patch was presented to each Scout after they were blessed by Diocesan Scout Chaplain Father Lawton Lang of St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota.

New Stations blessed in Cape Coral

Bishop Frank J. Dewane blessed newly installed Stations of the Cross at St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral on Sept. 22, 2022. The blessing took place after a Mass for students at St. Andrew Catholic School and included the eighth-graders, parents and parishioners. The Stations were repurposed from the original outside Stations which were around the perimeter of the Parish property. The former Stations were imbedded into stone and placed in the newly landscaped prayer garden on the southeast side of the church. The garden includes benches surrounding a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a lighted path leading to each Station.

20 Parishes hosting Diocesan Rosary Congress Oct. 1-7

On Oct. 7 each year we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in honor of the Blessed Mother. This year 20 Parishes in the Diocese of Venice will be participating in a Rosary Congress from Oct. 1, to Oct. 7, 2022 (All schedules subject to change due to Hurricane Ian). During the Rosary Congress, the host Parishes (at least two in each Deanery) will provide the hourly praying of the Holy Rosary as well as Eucharistic Adoration. Many of the Parishes taking part will also have the celebration of the Mass at the opening and closing of a 24-hour period of Adoration. Several Parishes will make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available during specific times of the Rosary Congress. To find the complete listing of host Parish and their contact information, please visit

Marriage retreat held in Arcadia

A Spanish-language marriage retreat took place Sept. 25, 2022, at St. Paul Parish in Arcadia. There were 60 couples who heard from speakers about the importance of having Christ accompany the couples as they live out their Sacramental Marriage, joined in union with God. Father Luis Pacheco, Administrator at St. Paul, said the retreat was a blessed time for all of the couples.

News Briefs for the Week of August 5, 2022


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

Father Thomas Carzon, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, as Pastor of San Pedro Parish in North Port, effective Aug. 1, 2022, and thus is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

New Marian statue blessed

St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers hosted the blessing of a new Marian statue on July 31, 2022. The statue of Mary was donated courtesy of Retired Pastor Father Stanley Dombrowski, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, and his sister Mary. Father Dombrowski led the blessing ceremony for the statue which sits outside, under the portico at the entrance of Marian Hall. The statue was dedicated to their parents, Stanley and Mary Dombrowski.

Men’s Retreat held in Lake Placid

Members of the John XXIII Retreats Movement gathered at Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid on July 31, 2022, to celebrate the conclusion of another retreat. More than 25 men took part in the three-day retreat with their family and others taking part on the final day for the closing Mass. This makes more than 1,000 who have returned to the faith in the Diocese of Venice through the John XXIII Movement. The Movement is a private international association of laity, with the goal of leading marginalized communities to God. After completing an initial retreat, participants are encouraged to attend faith-formation classes and weekly meetings to strengthen their faith and personal relationship with God. Rooted in Eucharistic Adoration, the ministry serves the Church and its people through love, surrender, and sacrifice. For more information about the John XXIII Movement, please contact Father Stewart at or Jose Pastor Ramirez, Diocesan Coordinator, at

Catholic Charities Summertime Appeal ongoing

Every day, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., serves its most vulnerable population by feeding, housing, empowering, and helping all in need. This summer, you can be the one that makes a difference. Your acts of kindness have the power to transform lives and leave a positive impact in our community. Catholic Charities, “Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal” is asking for your support. The giving is easy! Your gift will make a positive impact on our less fortunate brothers and sisters! Please visit or mail a check to Catholic Charities, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Walking With Moms in Need

Would you know how to help a pregnant woman in need? Maybe it’s your neighbor, cousin, niece, sister, granddaughter, or daughter. Maybe it’s someone you see in a store, restaurant, or church. Perhaps she is crying, looks distraught or is obviously being treated poorly by someone. Through a new national initiative from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called Walking with Moms in Need, now you will know how to help. Walking with Moms in Need teaches the faithful how to help pregnant women in need, starting by letting them know they are not alone. The nationwide Catholic program calls every parishioner to learn the names of their local pregnancy help centers, the first responders for women with unexpected or difficult pregnancies. If you know of someone who is pregnant and needs help immediately, visit

Parish youth help out  Do not run on same page as above brief

The St. John XXIII Parish Youth Outreach in Fort Myers has been working hard. First they organized shoes and backpacks collected from parishioners and to be delivered to families in need. Then they shifted their efforts to helping to organize and clean the Parish thrift store. Please keep all the youth in your prayers that they too will also say yes to living His word through action.

National Eucharistic Revival

A three-year revival of devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist begins with the Diocesan phase, from June 19, 2022, through June 11, 2023. During the Diocesan Year, there will be a series of events and retreats that encourage the renewal of the Church “by rekindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” The pinnacle of the coming year will be a Diocesan Eucharistic Congress on March 24 and March 25, 2023. This event, which is in the early planning stages, will take place at the Convention Center and Luminary Hotel on the Fort Myers riverfront. The National Eucharistic Revival is a focused effort by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to revive a devotion to and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. To learn more about the National Eucharistic Revival, visit Stay tuned for more information for the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress by visiting

Support after abortion – Project Rachel

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

Do You Need Help?

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance, or tele-mental health counseling, please call 941-355-4680 in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands Counties; 239-390-2928 in Charlotte, Lee, Hendry, and Glades Counties; and 239-793-0059 in Collier County between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 pm., Monday to Friday.

Retreat Center Fall Schedule Available Online

The Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center (OLPH) fall group retreats are now available for registration at This includes a new one-day retreat on “Meditation in the Catholic Tradition,” scheduled for Saturday, October 22, the biannual silent Ignatian Preached Retreat, scheduled for Friday, November 18 to Monday, November 21, and the Monthly Day of Prayer series. Would you rather a private, directed retreat? OLPH offers 3-night, 5-night, and 7-night private retreats. To learn more about these retreats, please call 941-486-0233 or visit

Food pantry needs help

The St. Joseph Food Pantry in Bradenton is in need of peanut butter. This staple is an important part of the pantry’s Family Bags and provides a key source of protein for children in need in Manatee County. The Food Pantry is happy to accept bulk, large, and small containers of peanut butter, as well as other non-perishable food items. If you wish to make a financial contribution, your donation can be doubled thanks to a partnership with the Flanzer Trust. Donations can be delivered to 2704 33rd Ave. W. Bradenton, FL  34205, Monday thru Friday 9 a.m. till noon. Please call 941-756 3732 or email if you have any questions or if you need to make arrangements for drop off. For more information about how you can help, please visit

Friends of the Seminary Gala

Please mark your calendars to participate in the St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary Friends of the Seminary Gala, in person or via our on-line experience, on Friday, October 21, 2022. You will find information at (This page will continue to update as we get closer to the event). This event is the Seminary’s largest fundraiser and your support is essential to ensure the continuity of this important mission: Forming priests after the Heart of Christ for the future of the Catholic Church. The virtual portion will be open to all and include live feed of the Mass at 5:30 p.m., and an online auction. We pray that with your support and God’s Providence, we will have a successful event. For more information, please call 561-732-4424, Ext. 162.