News Briefs for the week of Sept. 30, 2022

Appointments

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 https://dioceseofvenice.org/diocesan-rosary-congress-oct-1-to-7.

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

Appointments

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 stewart@dioceseofvenice.org or Jose Pastor Ramirez, Diocesan Coordinator, at JosePR72@hotmail.com.

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 www.catholiccharitiesdov.org 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 https://dioceseofvenice.org/walking-with-moms-in-need.

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 www.eucharisticrevival.org. Stay tuned for more information for the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress by visiting https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/eucharistic-congress-2023/.

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 project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org.

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 www.olph-retreat.org. 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 www.olph-retreat.org.

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 directors@stjoepantry.com 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 www.stjoepantry.com.

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 www.svdp.edu/friends2022 (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.

Parish stained glass inspires

Stained glass windows have a long history in the Catholic Church, with the earliest surviving examples dating to the 7th century. The windows were used in churches to enhance their beauty and to inform the viewer through narrative or symbolism about key moments in Salvation History.

Because of the lengthy process of making and creating each section of a window, some as tall an 14-feet, these windows are often the last additions when a new Parish Church is completed.

Such was the case at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch which was dedicated and blessed by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on April 22, 2018. The only stained-glass window in place on that date was a 11-foot 4-inch diameter rose window of Our Lady of the Angels, the patroness of the Parish. It is located above a triple arched entrance canopy.

The church design at Our Lady of the Angels features more than 60 exterior windows, which were bare and open to the sunlight and gradually filled in by professionals from Conrad Pickel Studio Inc., of Vero Beach. The final gap, located above the south transept exit, were installed on July 22, 2022, revealing the image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

This key window caused much comment prior to the installation, as at certain times of the day the open window would allow direct sunlight either onto the altar or onto the choir during Mass.

Of course, after the installation of the new stained glass, the view transformed from stark sunlight to a colorful image of Our Lady.

Father Sebastian Szczawinski, Administrator of Our Lady of the Angels, blessed the windows during a Mass on July 24. He thanked the faithful for their support and patience and said that it was well worth the wait.

“It is a real delight for me to realize there are those who are willing to sacrifice in making a Church more beautiful,” Father Szczawinski said. “After more than three years, this church is officially finished.”

The faithful applauded this pronouncement and following the Mass many remained behind to admire the windows, four of which were installed the previous week. Some of the reactions included: “Stunning!” “What amazing colors!” “Perfect!”

Paul Pickel, President of Conrad Pickel Studio Inc., said the company designed and fabricated the 24 sanctuary windows over a period of 3 ½ years. Present for the moment were the staff of the studio as well as the artist, Lyn Durham.

The mouth-blown glass, coming from factories in France and Germany, is made by hand and eventually folded down to a very thin sheet. The Pickel studio has many color shades and pieces that work together with lead once a client, such as Our Lady of the Angels Parish, approves the final design.

Durham said she offers a scale color drawing, with the lines denoting where color transitions and lead lines are to be placed. She then physically makes a full-size sketch. Once the glass is laid out, she hand-etches the glass, painting figures and faces. Any parts of the glass where there is a bright white shining through the etchings is called flashing. This requires a delicate touch on Durham’s part but creates a dramatic effect. This can be seen in the clothing of Mary in some windows, or in the stars of night scenes.

The windows, paneled to custom fit each window section from the inside, were installed by two men on scaffolding. With well-practiced ease, as the final screw was placed, those gathered from Pickel Studios, as well as a group of staff and volunteers from the Parish, let out a small cheer and applauded the completion of a job well done.

The front section of the main sanctuary has six key scenes of the life of Jesus including the Nativity, Holy Family, Holy Child Jesus in the Temple, the Last Supper, and Resurrection. The transepts have images of Our Lady in scenes from Jesus’ life and crucifixion, the Annunciation and Assumption among others, as well as under her various titles, such as Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Guadalupe and more. Each window has a title marker at its base.

News Briefs for the week of December 10, 2021

Appointments

After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced the following appointments:

 Father Jonathan Romanoski, F.S.S.P., relieved of his duties as Chaplain of the Latin Mass Community in the Fort Myers/Naples area, effective Nov. 21, 2021, and thus, has returned to his Religious Community.

Father Timothy Van Zee, F.S.S.P., as Chaplain of the Latin Mass Community in the Fort Myers/Naples area, effective Nov. 21, 2021.

Father Pablo Ruani, I.V.E., relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. Leo the Great Parish, Bonita Springs, effective Nov. 23, 2021. Father Ruani has taken an assignment in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Father Robin Sierra Quiroz, relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples, effective Dec. 4, 2021, and thus, has returned to his home Diocese.

Father Wilian Montalvo Tello, I.V.E., as Parochial Vicar of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples, effective Dec. 4, 2021.

Father Charles G. Ruoff, as Parochial Vicar of San Marco Parish, San Marco, effective Nov. 1, 2021, and at the same time he is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Port Charlotte.

Father Emmanuel E. Saint-Hilaire, as Parochial Vicar of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Port Charlotte, effective Nov. 1, 2021.

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

Monsignor Patrick Dubois, Member at Large

Father Luis Pacheco, Representative of Eastern Deanery

Father Casey Jones, Representative of Southern Deanery

Father Jack Costello, Appointed Member

Father Teofilo Ramirez Moreno, Appointed Member

Father Ananda R. Anki Reddy, Appointed Member

Father Franckel Fils Aime, Appointed Member

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:

Monsignor Joseph Stearns

Father Vincent Clemente

Father Jean Marie “Fritz” Ligonde.

Seminarian Instituted as Lector

Gregory Dougherty, a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Venice at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, Weston Massachusetts, was among a group of nine men who were Instituted as Lectors on Dec. 1, 2021. Most. Rev. Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, was the presiding prelate. The men who are in formation to become priests must be instituted as Lectors, in part because they must be formed and prepared to be proclaimers of the Word of God. This role includes not only their duties in the celebration of Mass and other liturgical rites, but also by witnessing to the Word of God now and in their future ministry. The main duties of the lector at the Sunday Mass includes proclaiming both the first and second readings. During the institution ceremony, the bishop instructs the candidates, saying, “You will proclaim that word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith and prepare them to receive the sacraments worthily.” Through these words, the bishop is making known to the men and the faith community the new expectations in their responsibilities in the Catholic Church. Previously, Seminarian Dougherty received Candidacy for the Orders of Diaconate and Priesthood on Oct. 27, 2021.

Do the Right Thing Award for helping student pass test

Congratulations to St. Ann Catholic School fourth grader, Mia Matusz, for winning the November 2021 Do The Right Thing Award from Naples Police Department! She was presented with a trophy and bag of goodies sponsored by Sotheby’s Realty on Dec. 1, 2021. Mia was nominated by her teacher for the award for going out of her way to help a classmate. She volunteered to give up her recesses to help a new student learn Spanish. No teacher asked her to do this, Mia simply saw her classmate needed help, and sacrificed her free time to help her. This act of Citizenship not only helped her friend pass her test, but also motivated her classmates to show random acts of kindness towards others! Congratulations Mia on your award!!

Annual Walk for Life a success

The annual St. Agnes 5K Walk for Life was in person and huge success this year in Naples on Nov. 20, 2021. The purpose is to promote a respect life message and to raise funds for the pro-life cause which encourage healthy living (body and soul). Among the walkers was the Pastor, Father Bob Kantor. The 2020 event was a virtual walk.

Parish dedicated statue of St. Joseph

 

 

As part of a continuing devotion to St. Joseph, the faithful of St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers have a newly blessed statue of the Saint holding the Child Jesus. The statue is in the Memorial Garden and the blessing took place Nov. 28, 2021. The original idea was from the Parish Women’s Guild to have a statue in connection to the Year of St. Joseph. The generosity of the faithful made the idea a reality in a ceremony presided over by Father Robert Tabbert, Pastor of St. John XXIII.

8th grade retreat focuses on service

The eighth graders of St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota had a very special Retreat Day on Dec. 3, 2021. They spent time in service to Caritas, Casa Santa Marta, Bethesda House and Resurrection House. In addition, donations from students, families and parishioners helped to provide 120 blessing bags for the homeless, restock several food pantries, donate over 350 pairs of socks, scarves, gloves to five local charities, 144 “St. Nicholas Gift Bags” for Parish students and provided 130 gift certificates for the residents of Casa Santa Marta. Way to go everyone!

Students use trash to create meaningful art

An amazing creation was built by the St. John Neumann Catholic High School Creative Arts class of Cindy Brewer. This project was entered into a competition hosted by Community School of Naples that aimed to encourage all students to be both more environmentally responsible and creative, at the same time.  The students spent over a month collecting trash and transforming it into “A Window to the Sea.” The theme of the competition was “Preserving Our Oceans.”

Students visit high school for Christmas crafts and fun

Traditions continued when Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers hosted second and third graders from St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers on Dec. 2, 2021. They were there to create Christmas crafts, gingerbread houses, and Christmas cookies. A shout out goes to the National Honor Society and Art Club for their talented assistance!

Two Pastors installed

The Catholic Church relies on its Parish Pastors to lead and to be a guide in the spiritual and everyday life of any Parish. These priests are called to serve in persona Christi bringing the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar of the Lord.

From time to time a Parish requires a new Pastor and on this occasion the Bishop will appoint – after consultation with the Priest Personnel Board – and install this new leader marking a new chapter in the life for the faithful.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane installed Father Eduardo Coll as Pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral on Aug. 22, 2021 and Father Casey Jones as Pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples on Aug. 23, 2021. Both Masses were in English and Spanish reflecting the diversity of each Parish.

“It is my prayer that you continue to join your new Pastor at the Altar of the Lord,” Bishop Dewane said. “A Pastor, and the priests who serve at your Parish, call down upon this altar the Body and Blood of Christ for themselves and for all of you.”

The Bishop asked that the faithful listen to their Pastor and accept decisions that are made. While they may not always agree with all of his decisions, they must strive to understand that any action is based on prayerful contemplation and the good of all centered on Christ.

“If there are differences, I ask you to strive to understand,” Bishop Dewane said. “People weren’t always in agreement with what Christ. They walked away. Don’t walk away. Stay with Christ. It is about the priest being the instrument of the Lord and bringing about the Eucharist at this Parish and you the faithful coming forward to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. When you return to the pew, with the help of your Pastor, you will go out into the society and gnaw on the Presence of Christ in your life.”

As part of the installation process, Bishop Dewane first introduces the priest as Pastor to the parishioners. The priest later begins the Profession of Faith for all to hear, including an additional part solely for him. The new Pastor then recites an Oath of Fidelity and promises to “adhere to the teachings, which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise authentic magisterium.” The installation also includes prayers to provide the new Pastor the wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit to lead the Parish.

The ceremony concluded with the signing of documents by the Bishop, the new Pastor, and two official witnesses of the Parish community, who serve as witnesses for all of the parishioners. Those documents are split between the Parish and Diocese as well as the Pastor’s personnel records.

In Cape Coral, a blessing of newly installed pews was added to the conclusion of the Mass. Father Coll was also recognized for being the leader of St. Andrew Catholic School.

At. St. Elizabeth Seton, the Bishop blessed a newly installed icon of Jesus the Eternal High Priest. Father Jones was also recognized for being the leader of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School and Chaplain of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers.

Retreat Center Shrine dedication June 6

The newly completed Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help will be dedicated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at 11:30 a.m., June 6, 2021 at the Retreat Center, 3989 S. Moon Drive, Venice.

The dedication will be followed by a barbecue lunch. All are invited to attend this special event in the life of the Diocese of Venice. However, space is limited and RSVP for the dedication is required via the website at https://olph-retreat.org/shrine-dedication-bbq or by calling 941-486-0233. There is no cost to attend, however donations are appreciated.

The Shrine memorializes Redemptorist Father Charlie Mallen, the founding director of the Retreat Center, known by most as OLPH, and is next to the Bell Tower, along a path which leads in one direction to nearby St. Joseph Chapel and in the other direction to the outdoor Stations of the Cross.

Father Mark Yavarone, OVM, Retreat Center Director of Spirituality, explained that the lake at the center of our property is called the Lake of the Blessed Sacrament, chosen by Father Mallen because he knew that the Eucharist was the center of the activity of the Church and the Retreat Center.

“The Blessed Sacrament, reserved in two places at our center, continues to be our retreatants’ favorite prayer setting,” Father Yavarone said.  “It is fitting to have the beautiful Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help close to the chapel and facing the Lake of the Blessed Sacrament.  This location speaks of the closeness of Mary to Jesus in the Eucharist.  At the back of the statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the crucifix and the plaque memorializing Father Charlie complete the shrine beautifully.

Sometimes we need to go to Mary in a very tangible way, and the new outdoor shrine affords this opportunity.  Also, many of our retreatants have a strong sense that God speaks through nature, and they like to pray outdoors, particularly during good weather.  We see many retreatants stopping at the shrine and briefly visiting Mary; many also pray there for longer periods of time.”

The main feature of the Shrine, the monument, is made of 15,000 pounds of Oolitic limestone. In a niche is a one-ton marble statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Help as the centerpiece with a small waterfall at Mary’s feet which is lit at night to striking effect. The reverse side of the limestone has a crucifix. Several Italian cypress trees produce a vaulted cathedral effect. Limestone was used to create a series of benches, each weighing two-tons. The stairs and floor of the Shrine are made of keystone, and the ramp access is made of travertine.

OLPH sits along the Myakka River and is the main retreat center for the Diocese of Venice.  The groundbreaking took place in 1995, with the first buildings opening later in the year. The site includes a conference center, villas for overnight guests, a dining center and chapel. In addition to the seven buildings on-site, retreatants have the opportunity to spend time enjoying the beautiful grounds which include the Way of the Cross, the Rosary Walk and the prayer decks located along the riverbank.

OLPH offers a variety of opportunities for people seeking solace and prayer. The public is welcome to visit the grounds during the week and there are Monthly Days of Prayer.  The center also offers group retreats of a few days duration that are open to the public. There are also one-on-one retreats that last one, three, five, eight, or 30 days.  These include lots of time for prayer and reflection, daily meetings with a priest, and availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Mass is also celebrated daily with all of these retreats, usually at 11:15 a.m. The schedule for retreats can be found by visiting www.olph-retreat.org, and clicking on “Schedule of Events.”

Parish Center breaks ground in Naples

A cleared lot will soon become the Parish Center for St. William Parish in Naples.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane led a blessing and groundbreaking ceremony on April 28, 2021 with a group of about 25 parishioners present to cheer on the project.

St. William Pastor Father George Ratzmann was delighted to get the project moving forward and thanked the support of the faithful and specifically for their understanding the vision of the Parish Center built not only for current parishioners but for future generations.

“I am so grateful for everyone who got behind this project,” Father Ratzmann said. “It has been a long process, but we are one big step closer to reaching our dream.”

The new Parish Center will be approximately 30,000 square-feet, include two auditoriums and a pre-function space, classrooms, offices, conference rooms, catering kitchen and elevator. The project is expected to take a year.

Parishioner Debbie Brunel was present for the groundbreaking and thrilled to see that work is beginning. “This is so exciting. We can’t wait for a whole year before it is complete. Plus, it is something the whole Parish community will be able use and enjoy but a wonderful legacy for those who will follow.”

Bishop Dewane began the groundbreaking with a brief prayer service, as well as blessing the construction site with holy water. As a continuation of the groundbreaking, Bishop joined Father Ratzmann, as well as representatives of the contractors and a few dignitaries, to turn dirt with special shovels.

The Parish Center is located on the north side of Seagate Avenue, just west of U.S. 41 and diagonal from the Parish church and across from the Waterside Shop. The former Parish Hall was torn down a few months ago and the Parish offices just a few days before the groundbreaking ceremony. The Parish Offices are temporarily located in the Parish Hall, which is at the rear side of the Church.

The project contractor is Abraham Construction Group, Inc., and the architect is BSSW Architects Inc.

New tabernacle blessed in Cape Coral

A focal point of the sanctuary of a Catholic Church is the tabernacle, a place reserved for the Eucharist which serves as a reminder of Christ’s presence that comes about in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The installation of a new tabernacle is an important moment for a Parish and was so at St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral on Jan. 23, 2021. For the occasion, Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass, during which he blessed the new tabernacle and a new monstrance.

“The tabernacle is the real center of what the Church building is and becomes, with the Real Presence of the Lord there outside of Mass,” Bishop Dewane explained. “It is appropriate, from time to time, to replace the tabernacle. Therefore, it is vital for all to recognize its significance as a dwelling place which the Lord, in the Blessed Sacrament, is reserved for worship.”

A tabernacle serves as a place to reserve those hosts that have been previously consecrated at Mass and therefore are now the true “Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity” of Jesus. Any consecrated hosts that remain after Communion are then put in a ciborium and placed in the tabernacle and locked to ensure that no one can profane the Blessed Sacrament.

In addition to the blessing of the tabernacle, the Bishop also blessed the new monstrance, which is used on a display stand to present the Blessed Sacrament to the people during Eucharistic Adoration. Both items were made by artisans in Mexico and shipped to Cape Coral. The blessing was intended to take place in mid-2020, but the COVID-19 Pandemic cause delays in shipping.

St. Andrew Administrator, Father Eduardo Coll, thanked Bishop Dewane for his presence as part of this important blessing of the new tabernacle and monstrance.

“I also want to thank all of the people we had behind the replacement of the tabernacle,” Father Coll added. “It was one large donor and a chain of good hearts who came together in support of this change. These beautiful items are part of a dream that became a reality, placing a renewed focus on the Real Presence in our Church.”

The tabernacle is gold plated with silver inlay. It has an image of the Resurrected Christ on the front, angels on the side, and a symbol of the Holy Trinity on the reverse. The two-sided tabernacle is needed as the Church is designed with the main worship space on one side of a glass wall, and a Chapel on the other side. The tabernacle is at the center of the wall behind the main altar. This dividing wall displays frosted glass images of various saints. A custom glass partition will be installed soon to complete the work in the sanctuary.

The monstrance, which is 4 feet tall, is also gold plated, with silver inlay and stones on a radiated background. The monstrance is styled as the Blessed Mother holds the Blessed Sacrament evoking the reality of Mary as the first Tabernacle to carry Jesus. Father Coll explained that this image is based upon one shared with the people of Poland in honor of Our Lady of Fatima.

Since its installation, the faithful have taken the opportunity to take images of the new tabernacle.

Gina Barnes said the new tabernacle is beautiful. She noticed during the Mass how the sun came through a side window and glowed on the tabernacle, illuminating it is such a way that nearly brought her to tears.

“It is so wonderful,” Barnes said. “It is a true dwelling place worthy of Our Lord.”

Parish Outreach Center dedicated, blessed in Wauchula

The mission of the new St. Michael Outreach Center in Wauchula is to develop each person’s recognition of their individual dignity and worth through the cultivation of their emotional, spiritual, intellectual and social development. The Center’s supportive economic, therapeutic, and educational resources are designed to provide a healthy framework for personal and social growth within families and the community.

That mission was celebrated with a dedication and blessing ceremony of the Outreach Center by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Nov. 21, 2020. Participating in the ceremony were staff, volunteers, supporters and local government officials (including Hardee County Manager Lawrence McNaul), as well as the Servant Sisters of the Virgin Matara, the religious sisters who serve at St. Michael Parish. Among the supporters’ present were members of the Our Lady of the Angels Knights of Columbus.

The Outreach Center, purchased and remodeled by the Diocese of Venice, is designed for community outreach to low-income individuals/families and the migrant community. This includes overseeing a food bank and thrift store as well as having afterschool programming, immigration services, mental health counseling from Catholic Charities, and other classes for both children and adults.

As part of the ceremony, a prayer service, which included Bishop Dewane first incensing the exterior and interior of the building as well as blessing the building with holy water. The was followed by comments for key people involved in the Outreach Center.

Bishop Dewane praised everyone for their hard work noting that they are making a real difference in reaching out and providing needed services in this poor economically challenged community.

The blessing was delayed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic and participants wore masks as a precaution. Programming at the Center began several months ago but are limited due to social distancing requirements as well as the ongoing urgent need for supplies.

The afterschool program for kindergarten through fifth grade is supplementing the student’s education by providing small group teacher-led instruction to bring them up to grade level. This is necessary because many are simultaneously learning a second language. Teen helpers assist with homework and provide other guidance for the younger children. Included in the afterschool effort is handwriting and cursive instruction, character formation, as well as outdoor developmental playtime.

Chantelle Garcia, who is an elementary school teacher, assists with the afterschool program as tutor and program coordinator. Garcia explained that in the first three weeks of the program the children made great strides. “It is amazing to see the difference that was made in such a short period of time. Imagine how they will be in three months or longer. There is a wait list because families are learning how well those in the program are doing.”

While the Outreach Center is making a positive impact, there are urgent needs. These include basic school supplies (construction paper, card stock, paints/pastels, crayons, educational games, books) for younger children (K-5). There is also a demand for children’s underwear, socks, shoes and sneakers to help the poorer families provide necessities. Another need is for metal supply cabinets with locks, as well as shelves for storage.

“We are just getting started and we don’t have a lot of money in the community, so our needs are great,” explained Erika Wood, Outreach Center Coordinator.

Another example of a need is that of musical instruments. Thanks to a donation of a grand piano, the Outreach Center does offer piano lessons. However, only a few children are learning to play, while other music lessons are limited to teaching basic notes and rhythm. The wish list includes Yamaha electric pianos (with headphones) as well as other instruments, so as more children can learn at the same time.

Sister Gema Ruiz, who is the Director of Religious Education at St. Michael Parish, said it is a blessing to have the Outreach Center and for Bishop Dewane to be present for a blessing and dedication.

“We are providing needed services in this community and it is good to have the Bishop here to see our work and to inform the Diocese of the blessed work we are doing here in Wauchula,” Sister Gema said.

To learn more about how you can help the St. Michael Outreach Center, you can reach Erika Wood at 863-832-6904, Erika.wood@stmichaelwauchula.org, or you can send donations to: St. Michael Outreach Center, 317 N. 6th Ave., Wauchula, FL 33873.

Pet blessings abound

For the past six months Eleanor Warring has relied on her best friend more than ever.  Sammy, a 7-year-old terrier poodle mix was one of more than a dozen dogs present for the annual Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 3, 2020 at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch.

Warring lost her husband of 58 years in 2016 when Sammy was nearly 3 years old and the two have been nearly inseparable since. The companionship has been valued more since the pandemic began, which is why Warring wanted to be certain Sammy received a proper blessing with Holy Water from Deacon Jack Milholland.

Sammy remained still throughout the prayer service which consisted of readings from Scripture, prayers and intercessions followed by a general blessing and then individual blessings as Deacon Milholland worked his way through the crowd.

“I would bring him to Mass if I could,” Warring explained. “That is why this blessing is so special. I find great comfort with Sammy and find great comfort in the Church.”

The Blessing of the Animals traditionally occurs on Oct. 4, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of animals and the environment. St. Francis loved the birds near his hometown and even allowed himself to be displaced from a place of shelter in deference to a donkey. The Saint wrote a Canticle of the Creatures, an ode to God’s living things, “All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures.”

The celebration of the Blessing of the Animals celebrates the sacredness of all God’s creation. In the spirit of Saint Francis, the celebration honors animals that share our lives and touch our hearts. It also acknowledges and encourages respect for all of creation.

With requirements of social distancing, many of the blessings throughout the Diocese were on a smaller scale than in the past, but their importance seemed just as crucial. At St. Columbkille Parish in Fort Myers, Father Lorenzo González held a drive-thru blessing, as did Father Casey Jones at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples. Meanwhile the blessing at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples by Father Gerard Critch was held in a courtyard.

In the wake of the pandemic, many became much closer to their pets. Whether the pets are furry, feathered, scaled or finned, they helped their owners cope with the isolation and loneliness brought on by the quarantine, or the need to remain home for work and/or school.

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