Bishop responds to pandemic crisis

Bishop Frank J. Dewane has been at the forefront in responding to the ever-evolving coronavirus pandemic within the 10-county Diocese of Venice.

The announcement to suspend all Masses and Parish activities effective March 20, and continuing through at least Easter, was the culmination of a series of meetings, conference calls and consultation from the priests of the Diocese and other advisors, while also following guidance from local, state and federal officials. The dramatic limitations of all public gatherings ultimately affected the decision to suspend Mass.

In a March 18 letter to the faithful, Bishop Dewane explained his decision noting that it “was made after prayer and discernment, as well as hearing from the priests and the Faithful.” The decision to suspend the Mass came several days after Bishop Dewane dispensed all of the obligation to attend Mass during the same period.

“This is acknowledged as a sacrifice for the Catholic Faithful, who have a great love for the Holy Eucharist and depend on the Most Blessed Sacrament for their spiritual lives,” the Bishop wrote in his letter. “Do recall that Faithful Catholics, throughout the history of the Church, have kept the faith alive through trying times. By prayer and devotion, as well as spiritual solidarity with each other, the life of faith continued to be a source of strength and perseverance during persecutions and other times of public crisis.  Tomorrow, on the Feast of St. Joseph, I will dedicate the Diocese of Venice to the care of the Foster Father of Jesus. Let us be united in prayer to St. Joseph for his intercession and protection.”

In the same March 18 letter, Bishop Dewane announced the suspension of all activities in Parishes, including events and religious education programs. Parish offices will have limited staff and it is requested that, when possible, business be conducted by phone or email. Funerals will be limited to immediate family only, weddings – if they cannot be postponed – are to have limited participation, and baptisms will only be celebrated in cases of emergency. Priests are required to take all necessary precautions, so the Anointing of the Sick is being limited to a genuine need for the dying. Diocesan Catholic Schools were placed on an extended Spring Break, returning to virtual learning beginning March 31 for the foreseeable future.

Bishop Dewane has called upon the priests to draw upon the Church’s rich tradition of prayer and devotion to ensure that the spiritual life of parishioners is nourished and remains vibrant through means which are prudently adapted to the current circumstances.

Leading the way, Bishop Dewane recorded a video message to the Faithful encouraging everyone to turn toward prayer. In addition, Mass has aired daily at 9:15 a.m., live from the Catholic Center in Venice, with the Bishop as the celebrant. This Mass in available through Facebook and links to this and many other resources are available through the Diocesan website.

Encouraged by the leadership of Bishop Dewane, most Parishes within the Diocese have begun to live stream the daily Mass on their websites and social media accounts. Many also responded to suggestions to begin offering the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by car beginning March 21, and then late in the week of March 23, outdoor Communion was being offered at some Parishes.

Bishop Dewane also reassured the Faithful that the Diocese will continue to function and serve the community through the outreach of Catholic Charities and other ministries.

“Through prayer and trust be confident in the belief that God does not abandon us in times of peril, in fact, the Lord will draw us close and protect us,” Bishop Dewane said.

“Please continue to pray for everyone impacted by this pandemic – the sick, their caregivers, courageous medical personnel, and those reaching out in charity to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

“Seeking the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in particular, her spouse, St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for protection and guidance through these troubling times,” the Bishop continued. “Through the Word of the Lord, that is Sacred Scripture, it is possible to overcome fear and courageously face the challenging days ahead.”

Catholic Charities helping most needy

Operations pivot to focus on providing food, financial assistance and mental health counselling

The motto of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is: “Providing Help. Creating Hope. Serving All.” Since the beginning of the pandemic crisis, the staff of Catholic Charities is living that motto on the front lines of helping people throughout the 10-county Diocese.

With a long history within communities across the region, Catholic Charities is putting its resources and focus on the critical needs of providing food, financial assistance and telehealth mental health counseling.

“Catholic Charities is here to help those in need during this challenging time and ramping up its efforts to enhance support programs,” said Philomena Pereira, Catholic Charities CEO. “We have adjusted our focus to help in ways that will make the greatest difference to those in greatest need: food, financial assistance as well as mental health counselling.”

Food is delivered to the Elizabeth K. Galeana Center of Catholic Charities in Fort Myers the week of March 23, 2020.

Before the pandemic, Catholic Charities already assisted tens of thousands of individuals and families with a variety of support services. That broad effort focused on providing people with not just a helping hand, but a help up toward stability. With the onset of the pandemic, the focus is on ensuring the neediest, in the communities serviced by Catholic Charities, are not forgotten and can get the emergency help they need.

“The loss of jobs in the community is having a big impact,” Pereira explained. “Many of the people we see live paycheck-to-paycheck, and the sudden closure of so many businesses at once is devastating.”

As the situation has developed the leadership of Catholic Charities, in consultation with Bishop Frank J. Dewane and the Board of Directors, has worked to ensure that the critical needs within the community continue and are in key areas are enhanced.

Stressed during this time is to make sure all appropriate precautions are being taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all clients, volunteers, staff and community.

Food is sorted at a Catholic Charities food pantry in Bonita Springs the week of March 23, 2020.

The initial effort of Catholic Charities included strategically purchasing food and distributing supplies to food pantries located throughout the Diocese. This was and will continue to be done through existing long-term food banks and other reliable sources. A large donation of rice and beans from Cheney Bros. Inc. in Punta Gorda helped to supplement other purchases.

Food distribution will take place ONLY at existing pantry locations in Sarasota, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Naples and Immokalee. Clients will receive a pre-packaged bag or box of food items for their family and arrangements are being made to ensure both those distributing and those receiving food remain healthy and a safe distance apart. Additional food distribution points are also being established at select parishes in the Eastern Deanery.

Catholic Charities is also working to provide financial assistance for those in need. Financial assistance may include utility payments, prescription medication, or other critical needs. Persons in need will be exclusively assisted by phone for the foreseeable future.

In addition, Tele-Mental Health Counseling will be available for existing Catholic Charities clients, on a limited basis, using phone or videoconferencing.

During this crisis, Catholic Charities has established three toll free numbers for people needing assistance available 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. (Please have patience as the demand for assistance is high.) The numbers are as follows:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties, 844-385-2407;
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423;
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

Until further notice, Catholic Charities is restricting its offices to staff only. Services for persons in need will be assisted by phone.

While Catholic Charities relies heavily on volunteers, at this time, all volunteers are currently being asked to refrain from coming to offices unless otherwise notified. For questions about volunteering, please refer to your area-specific number listed above for assistance.

Additional steps include the suspension of shower services and clothing donations until further notice. Further, two major fundraisers, the Emerald Ball and the AFCAAM golf tournament were indefinitely postponed.

If you want to help, our food supply is the most important! Our pantry locations plan to deliver food to roughly 2,000 households across the 10 counties in the Diocese of Venice over the next several weeks. Funds to purchase food are greatly appreciated! You can help Catholic Charities respond swiftly and provide assistance to those in need by donating today at www,catholiccharitiesdov.org.

“Catholic Charities relies on the support of its generous donors and they can be assured that their contributions will go immediately to support those in the community in greatest need,” Pereira said.

Catholic Charities food pantry distribution sites (Please call ahead for distribution times and requirements.):

  • Bethesda House – 1670 4th Street, Sarasota, 844-385-2407;
  • Elizabeth K. Galeana Food Pantry – 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers, 844-385-2423;
  • Bonita Springs (at St. Leo the Great Parish) – 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs, 844-385-2423;
  • Judy Sullivan Center Family Resource Center– 3174 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, 844-385-2404;
  • Guadalupe Social Services – 211 South 9th Street, Immokalee, 844-385-2404.
Food is sorted the week of March 23, 2020, at the food pantry of the Elizabeth K. Galeana Center of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. in Fort Myers.

Three February events support Catholic Charities programs

Three distinctive events took place during February to help support the programs of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc.

First up on Feb. 15 was the always fun Boots and Bandannas at Kingsway Golf and Country Club in Lake Suzy. This western-themed evening includes plenty of cowboy hats, boots and lots of bandannas. This was 18th year for this event, which was held to support of the Catholic Charities programs in DeSoto County including Casa San Juan Bosco farmworker housing, St. John Paul II Villas senior housing and much more. Father Jerome Carosella, Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish on Boca Grande and who serves on the Catholic Charities Board, provided the invocation. There were live and silent auctions and The Kollections performed toe-tapping country and western music that brought many to the dance floor.

The following weekend was the annual Mardis Gras Madness at Art Ovation in Sarasota. The evening reflected its namesake as many guests wore colorful masks and jewelry. The proceeds went to Bethesda House, a comprehensive program in Sarasota which supports people living with HIV/AIDS.

Next up was the annual Our Mother’s House Wine Tasting and Dinner Dance on Feb. 27 at the Venice Community Center. The event included live and silent auctions, music and fun all to help support the Catholic Charities program which has been providing housing to homeless mothers and their children since 1987. The mission of the program is to offer single mothers and their children a safe and secure environment in which to achieve increased self-sufficiency through education, vocational training, and personal growth.

The highlight of the evening came when a former resident, Joanna, who lived at Our Mother’s House from 2009-2011, shared her story. She credited Our Mother’s House for helping to overcome great personal obstacles to now having a better life, raising her daughter while working as a surgical assistant. Following a standing ovation, the lively “Gift from the Heart” portion of the evening generated excitement and raised lots of money for the program.

To learn more or to support these and other programs of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org.

Football players help needy

Judy Bokorney – Special to the Florida Catholic

For the fourth year in a row, the players and coaches of the Ave Maria University football team treated families at the Casa Mara Soup Kitchen at Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee to a Super Bowl tailgate party.

Instead of the typical meal of soup, the tailgate party consisted of all-American menu of chili dogs, baked beans, potato chips, cupcakes, bread and juice.

The coaches prepared the meal and the players served a total of 120 people on Jan. 31, the Friday before the Super Bowl. To mark the occasion, the soup kitchen dining area was adorned with festive Super Bowl themed decorations.

“We wanted to give our families a fun day with some excitement,” said Guadalupe Social Services Program Coordinator Peggy Rodriguez. “We are grateful to the Ave Maria University Football Team for continuing to come out and do this every year. The interaction between the team and the families is so special.” Three raffle prizes were awarded during the meal as well.

“The players and coaches get a lot more out of it than they give and have the privilege to experience joy, love and gratitude,” said Ave Maria University Football Head Coach Joe Patterson. “Sports is about pursuing excellence and virtue, and you want to be as close to virtue as you can. To engage on a human to human level is integral to the development of the players as men.”

Guadalupe Social Services aims to alleviate the suffering in Immokalee with compassion, integrity, and empathy. By empowering the people through assistance provided to them, the main goals are to ensure human dignity and enhance the quality of life for all individuals served. Guadalupe Social Services focuses on offering the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and household items, stability and education.

Thank you to the Ave Maria Football Team for their service!

To learn more about Guadalupe Social Services, the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen and all of the programs of Catholic Charities, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org.

News Briefs from early February 2020

2020 Sarasota Charity Ball

The Catholic Charities Ball “Puttin’ It On the Ritz!” took place Feb. 8 at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota. The event had a Roaring 20’s theme and featured special guest Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy winner, two-time Florida Gator National Champion, professional baseball player, sports broadcaster and head of the Tim Tebow Foundation. The event benefited the programs of Catholic Charities in Sarasota and Manatee Counties including Our Mother’s House, Bethesda House, and the St. Martha Early Learning Center.

Blessing of doors

Father Gerard Critch, Pastor St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, blesses the new glass doors in the church that were installed thanks to the fundraising efforts of our CCW – Council of Catholic Women. Now it is more peaceful in the church and it also saves on the air conditioning costs!

 

 

 

 

School Foundation dinner

Bishop Frank J. Dewane gives the blessing before the meal at the St. Ann Catholic School Foundation Gala Feb. 5 at the Naples Grande Hotel.

 

 

 

 

Teacher earns research grant

James Less, a teacher at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, recently learned that he was a recipient of a research grant from the Society for Science & the Public.  Research grants are awarded across the country to a handful of high school and middle school teachers. In his grant submission, Less described he would use the funds to purchase data loggers with probes. The equipment will be used for students to collect, store and analyze their research data. “This equipment will also enable our students to conduct important and timely research because there is great statewide interest in water quality issues in Southwest Florida. The proposed equipment will put our students on the forefront of several local initiatives to undertake field studies that complement those of local colleges and universities.”

Speaker talks abstinence, life issues to teens

Pam Stenzel spoke Feb. 12 to youth at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula about pro-life issues and the importance of abstinence.

 

 

 

 

Order of Malta holds retreat

Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta took part in a retreat which included Feb. 7 Mass at St. Ann Parish in Naples.

 

 

 

Golf Tournament and $10,000 Drawing

St. Mary Academy’s 9th Annual Golf Tournament will be held  8:30 a.m., April 4, at The Meadows in Sarasota. This is a best-ball tournament and the cost is only $100 per player. Participants will receive breakfast, great goody bags and a sit-down BBQ lunch. In addition, there will be two drawings of $5,000 each during lunch. You do not need to play in the tournament to win the cash prize, tickets for the drawing are $50.00 each.. The event supports St. Mary Academy which educates students with learning disabilities. To register to golf or drawing information, please contact Connie Taft at 941-366-4010 or ctaft@stmarysarasota.org.

 

News Briefs from around the Diocese Jan & Feb 2020

Diocesan group enjoys Catholic Days at the Capitol

During the Jan. 28-30 Catholic Days at the Capitol, Bishop Frank J. Dewane gave a legislative briefing to participants from across Florida. A group of nearly 50, including students from each Diocesan Catholic high school traveled for this important lobbying opportunity.

 

Seminarian becomes Lector

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Daniel Scalan was among a group of first-year students at Pontifical North American College in Rome, to receive the Ministry of Lector on Jan. 11. Archbishop Bernard Hebda, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was the main celebrant and homilist. As part of the rite, the Archbishop placed the Holy Scriptures in the hands of each candidate and said, “Take this book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of his people.”

National Order of Malta leadership meets in Naples

The Order of Malta – American Association, held and Board of Counsellors meeting in Naples in late January. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the group on Jan. 27 at St. William Parish.

 

 

Register now Mission Possible Immokalee 2020

The very popular Mission Possible Immokalee 2020 trip registration for high school students is NOW OPEN! Organized as a joint effort of the Diocese Mission Office and Office of Evangelization, students will work on service projects from June 8-12, assisting at Catholic Charities of Collier and Lee Counties sites, Guadalupe Social Services and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The mission trip is $199 and includes meals, lodging and transportation to work sites. For more information, please contact the Diocese of Venice Mission Office at 239-241-2233. All registration must be through Youth Ministers at your local Parish or Catholic School.

Bishop recognizes Knights of Bikes

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass at St, Agnes Parish in Naples on Jan. 26, the Sunday of the Word of God. During the Mass, Bishop Dewane offered a special recognition for the Knights on Bikes, a club of Knights of Columbus which includes avid motorcycle enthusiasts. Members took part in the opening and closing processions of the Mass. At the conclusion, the Bishop blessed special key chains with a cross. Each member wears a vest with patches that read: “In God We Trust and Ride” and “In Service to One. Inservice to All.”

Parish honors first responders

St. Agnes Parish in Naples, honored Law Enforcement Officers, Fire Fighters, and First Responders, both active and retired with a Blue Mass on Jan. 25. Dozens of officers attended with their families to honor first responders who died in the line of duty and to pray for the safety of those still serving. The guest homilist was Father Sean Connor, Chaplain of the Boston Police Department. During the final blessing Father Michael Orsi, Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes, blessed medals of St. Michael the Archangel to give out to all the first responders for protection.

North Port Show of Shows

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. and the Knights of Columbus hosted The Goldtones Jan. 25 at the first ever North Port Sugar Bowl Show of Shows. Playing songs from 50s and 60s The Goldtones entertained an enthusiastic crowd at the North Port Performing Arts Center at North Port High School. The Sugar Bowl Fund helps support families in crisis, providing emergency financial assistance for low-income families in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. The Sugar Bowl Fund is a community partnership between Catholic Charities and the local Knights of Columbus Councils. The goal of the fund is an attempt to keep families together, self-sufficient and relieved of some of the pressures that cause greater hardship. Financial assistance can include help for car repairs, medical bills, utilities, rent or mortgage payments as well as relocation fees. The North Port Show of Shows was the first in this part of the area, similar events have been taking place for several years in Venice each fall and in Bradenton each Spring.

Jammin’ for the Mamas a success

About 130 guests showed up at the Boca Royale Golf and Country Club in Englewood for a “jawsome” night of fun, food, music and fundraising with the Shark Sisters! The Jammin’ for the Mamas event featured the popular local music trio and all proceeds benefited Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities which serves homeless mothers and their children and helps them to achieve self-sufficiency.

Christmas celebrated across the Diocese

The celebration of Christmas is a time to recognize the truth about Christ: our Incarnate Savior, the Son of God, both human and divine.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane stressed the importance of this reality when speaking about the meaning and symbolism that we must recognize and accept that on Christmas Day, “the Savior, the Messiah, is sent to us. In so doing, you and I become children of God.”

The true gift of Christmas is not the presents found under a tree, but the light God sent forth into the world, Jesus Christ and the example He provides, Bishop Dewane added.

“That gift of light is with you and me,” Bishop Dewane continued. “No matter where we find ourselves, that light of Christ rests with all of us. It is we who have to accept that, and when we do, we become that Child of God.”

For Christmas, Bishop Dewane celebrated the Televised Mass for Homebound which was recorded at St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota. As the Bishop has in the past, he made a point to celebrate the Mass for the incarcerated in the region. This was accomplished Christmas Eve at the DeSoto Correctional Facility in Arcadia and the day after Christmas at the Hardee Correctional Institute in Bowling Green.

Christmas throughout the Diocese reflected the generosity of the faithful toward those in need. The Advent tradition of having a Jesse Tree, with ornaments listing the wish of a needy child, was a common sight in churches in December. The result was that tens of thousands of gifts were distributed throughout the region to local children.

Also, part of the Christmas Season were concerts with carolers to help everyone get into the spirit of the coming Holiday. Christmas Eve was the time for children’s Masses with the younger faithful participating in the retelling of the Nativity story.

In what has become an annual tradition, St. Agnes Parish in Naples hosted a Living Nativity, complete with a recreation of the town of Bethlehem and live animals.

A common pre-Christmas celebration at several Parishes in the Diocese is “Las Posadas,” a tradition from Mexico and Central and South America where the Nativity story is retold over the course of nine days. The highlight of the novena is one larger centerpiece gathering. One of the more elaborate celebrations occurs at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. This year, the celebration was postponed due to weather until Jan. 4. In the retelling of the Nativity story, more than 100 youth participated.

Before the Christmas Break, Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools joined in the fun of the season by giving back to those in need while also holding their own celebrations.

Each school held their own toy drives to benefit needy children in the area with the generous response reaching beyond what was expected. Other fun activities included decorating cookies and trees, gift making and wrapping, as well as pageants and concerts, each to showcase the talents of the students.

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School National Honors Society in Fort Myers hosted young students from St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers to build gingerbread houses and decorate cookies.

Kindergartners at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton visited a nearby nursing home to sing carols to spread holiday cheer. Students at the school also received a visit from Mrs. Santa Claus who delivered books as part of a reading initiative from the Early Learning Coalition.

The Key Club of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples hosted a “Holiday Gift Shop” for the Friends of Foster Children Forever. Families came to the campus to choose from thousands of new toys that went to some very deserving foster children in the area.

Neumann students also helped pack 150,000 meals to help feed the needy in the local community. Food and toys were also delivered to the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities.

The events and activities listed represent a mere fraction of what took place in December at Parishes and schools across the Diocese of Venice.

News briefs from around the Diocese

Cathedral celebrates Feast Day

On Jan. 5, the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Feast Day of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over a tri-lingual Mass (English, Spanish and Polish). This annual tradition includes the different language communities that are based at the Cathedral. At the beginning of the Mass, Bishop Dewane blessed the Cathedral where it is inscribed 20+C+M+B+20 (the year and the initials of the three magi) above the main interior entrance to the Church.

Senior apartments available in Arcadia

Brand new apartments are move-in ready at St. John Paul II Villas of Catholic Charities in Arcadia. The senior community (55 years and older) has a community center and numerous activities throughout the year. Rents start at $459 for a one bedroom and $626 for a two bedroom. Income restrictions apply. All units include washer/dryer, microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and some units have a walk-in shower. If you are interested, please contact the leasing office at 863-884-2123 (TTY711).

Evenings dedicated to Charity

Now is the time of year that people are planning their busy seasonal social schedule with lots of interesting activities to choose for evenings of elegance or just casual fun.

While choosing from the many opportunities Southwest Florida has to offer, consider these events for a chance to give back to the community. Proceeds go directly to help our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need through the many programs of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc.

In most cases, the Catholic Charities galas are elegant black-tie affairs, but no matter what the attire, all of the proceeds will go directly to help those in the community where the event is held. This means that by buying a ticket you could literally help feed families, teach children to read or even prevent some from becoming homeless. Beginning in late January through April there are 10 chances to support Catholic Charities in an entertaining and unique way.

“These Catholic Charities Galas and events are of critical importance as it brings like-minded and faith-filled people together for a good cause,” explained Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. CEO Philomena Pereira. “Each gathering serves to help educate people about a critical need in the area, while at the same time offering everyone chance to have fun.”

The upcoming events will be centered on various themes and benefit either regional or specific programs of Catholic Charities. Many of the Balls will include a cocktail hour, auction, dining and dancing. The list of events is as follows:

  • Jammin’ for the Mamas for Our Mothers House, 13, Boca Royale Golf and Country Club, Englewood, $50, call 941-485-6264 or 941-662-7787, joyce.scott@catholiccharitiesdov.org;
  • Sugar Bowl Show of Shows North Port, Jan. 25, North Port Performing Arts Center, 6400 W. Price Blvd. North Port, $20 or $25 a person, 941-426-8479;
  • Catholic Charities Ball, Feb. 8, Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, $300 a person, 941-355-4680, 31 or mya.widmyer@catholiccharitiesdov.org;
  • Boots and Bandannas Dinner Dance, Feb. 15, Kingsway Country Club, Port Charlotte, $75 per person, 863-494-1068, assistant@catholiccharitiesdov.org;
  • Bethesda House Mardi Gras Madness, Feb. 22, Art Ovation Hotel, Sarasota, $150 a person, 941-355-4680, ext. 301 or widmyer@catholiccharitiesdov.org;
  • Our Mother’s House Wine Tasting, Auction and Dinner Dance, Feb. 27, Venice Community Center, Venice, $85 a person, 941-485-6264 or scott@catholiccharitiesdov.org;
  • Emerald Ball, March 7, Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, Naples, $400 a person, call 239-455-2655 or email pinillos@catholiccharitiesdov.org;
  • Sugar Bowl Show of Shows Bradenton, March 14, Neel Performing Arts Center, at State College of Florida, Bradenton, $25, $20, $35 per person, 941-74-5448;
  • Venetian Charity Ball, March 21, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, Bonita Springs, $250 a person, call 239-334-4007 or widmyer@catholiccharitiesdov.org;
  • AFCAAM of Catholic Charities Charity Golf Classic, April 17, Forest Country Club, Fort Myers, 239-728-4571 or tduffy1942@gmail.com.

For more details about specific events and to buy tickets, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org.

News and photos from across the Diocese

Christmas Day Television Mass for the Homebound

The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound with Celebrant Bishop Frank J. Dewane will air for a full hour on Christmas Day. For viewers in the northern portions of the Diocese (DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Sarasota counties), the Mass will air at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass will air at 8 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). Please check your cable provider for channel listings. Leaflet missals are available upon request by calling Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714 or by writing: TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. For more information email ardy@dioceseofvenice.org.

Student artwork nationally recognized

Two St. Martha Catholic School students named as 2018-2019 Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) Christmas Artwork Contest winners earlier in the year, were recognized locally on Dec. 13 for their achievement. Sixth grader Collier Moser, and seventh grader Charlotte Thompson were two of only 24 students nationwide to be recognized with this honor. Additionally, Charlotte’s artwork was named one of two grand prizes and was reproduced as the Christmas Card of the national office of the Missionary Childhood Association. On Dec. 13, Father Bob Kantor, Director of the Diocese Office of the Propagation of the Faith (Missions Office), went to the Sarasota school for a presentation and to personally congratulate the winners and their art teacher, Mary Jo Salomone. Earlier in December, Charlotte attended a Mass in celebration for winners and their families at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The artwork of all 24 student winners is on display there until mid-January.

 

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School YACHT club hosted a spectacular Salesian day at the circus for students from SJN and Cristo Rey Tampa in Naples.

Mass Honoring Widows and Widowers in Naples Jan. 26

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will celebrate a Mass for all widows and widowers beginning at 3 p.m., Jan. 26, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th N. Ave., Naples. Dinner will follow in the Parish Hall. A display of photos will be available for viewing during the reception; should you wish to participate with a photo of you and your deceased spouse, please email Gail at ardy@dioceseofvenice.org, or send a copy in advance to Diocese of Venice, ATTN: Widows and Widowers Mass, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, Florida 34285. There is no cost to attend. Registration is required to plan for food. To register visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar. For more details contact Gail at 941-484-9543 or ardy@dioceseofvenice.org.

 

Cheerleaders from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Christmas Appeal continues

The annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal occurs now through January. The goal is to raise $565,000 and your gifts are much appreciated! The Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is the agency’s largest fundraiser and critical to operating the social service organization. Your donation will benefit Catholic Charities programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida that assist individuals, families, and seniors all year long. Thank you for your giving spirit! To donate please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or mail a donation to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Venice Mayor Ron Feinsod speaks to students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in early December. He visited the school in thanks to their response to a Mayors Feed the Hungry Campaign.

Mass Celebrating Haitian Independence

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites everyone to participate in the Annual Mass celebrating Haitian Independence at 2 p.m., New Year’s Day, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The Mass, which is on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, brings together the various Haitian communities within the Diocese of Venice for one celebration. There is a reception after the Mass in the Parish Hall.

Students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School gather for the lighting of a candle on the Advent Wreath on Dec. 9 in Fort Myers.

Apologetics Conference Jan. 16-17

The Diocese Office of Evangelization is offering three opportunities to attend an Apologetics Conference with Mike Aquilina. An award-winning author of more than fifty books on Catholic history, doctrine, and devotion, Anguilla will speak at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 16, Resurrection Parish, 8121 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers; and then 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., Jan. 17, 2020, Epiphany Cathedral, 310 Sarasota St., Venice. The topics is “Defend Youth Faith: Finding answers to modern problems in the early Church.” There is no cost, and all are welcome. For information, please call 941-484-9543, email  evangelization@dioceseofvenice.org, or visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar.

Card party in Englewood Jan. 8

The St. Francis Assisi Parish Women’s Guild card party will be held at 11 a.m., Jan. 8, in the Parish Hall, 5265 Placida Road, Grove City. Play cards or games until 2:30 p.m.. Please make your reservations by Jan. 6 by visiting to www.sfoachurch.com – Parish Forms – Card Party – Reservation form, or by calling 941-697-4899 ext. 6 and leave a message with your name, phone number and number of people at your table. Tickets are $8 and includes your lunch, drinks, playing time and door prizes. All are welcome to attend.

 

 

Marriage Prep Retreat Jan. 11

St. Charles Borromeo Parish, 21505 Augusta Ave., Port Charlotte, is offering a pre-Cana retreat called for by the Witness to Love Marriage Preparation program from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Jan.11. Engaged couples attend this retreat before their 5th meeting with their mentor couples, the Theology night with the priest or deacon. Mentor couples and couples preparing for convalidation through the Witness to Love Civil Marriage Initiative are also welcome to attend if they wish. The retreat will be held in the Saint Charles Parish Center from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  The cost is $25 per couple.  Couples should register with Michael Barrett at (941) 585-0668 or faithformation@stcbc.org by January 4th.

Our 4th Annual St. Nicholas Celebrates Advent event took place recently at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers and included volunters from nearby Bishop Verot Catholic High School.

St. Ann Catholic School honored

The Naples Award Program has selected St. Ann Catholic School for the 2019 Best of Naples Award in the School category. The program is an annual awards outreach honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local business throughout the Naples area. Recognition is given to those that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate advantages of long-term value.

Dinner for St. Vincent de Paul Society Jan. 14

The Knights of Columbus San Marco Council 6344 will sponsor the St. Vincent de Paul Society Dinner, 5:30 p.m., Jan. 14, in the San Marco Parish Center, 851 San Marco Road, Marco Island.  The barbeque dinner includes pulled pork or fried chicken, baked potato, baked beans, salad, rolls and butter, coffee, tea, and dessert. Soda, Wine and Beer are available at a cash bar. The cost will be $25 per person. Credit cards accepted.  Reserve a table. No take-out is available.  This event is open to the public and everyone is invited. Buy your tickets at the Church Office or by calling Joe Granda at 239-389-2823, Mickey Flynn 609-335-2458, Joe Swaja at 239-269-7033, Gene Consolo at 248-321-2204 or John DeRosa at 239-272-0816. For more information, contact 239-389-5633 or visit our website at www.marcoknights.com.

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