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 https://communitypregnancyclinic.com/.


To learn more about Community Pregnancy Clinics, please visit https://communitypregnancyclinic.com/.


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 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


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


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.”