News Briefs for the week of January 26, 2024

Ordination to the Priesthood Feb. 10

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacon Alan Baldarelli.  The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the life of Deacon Alan as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall. The ordination will be livestreamed at

Youth make sandwiches for homeless

Middle schoolers who are part of the Our Lady of Light Parish religious education program in Fort Myers made more than 400 sandwiches during their Jan. 18, 2024, gathering. These sandwiches were donated for distribution by the Lee County Homeless Coalition. The simple act of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches provided the youth a valuable lesson about giving back to the community, as we are all “Called to Serve” our brothers and sisters in Christ. Well done!

Fort Myers Knights have successful “Coats for Kids” drive

The Knights of Columbus Council 2596 at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers conducted a “Coats for Kids” program by purchasing a number of jackets and hoodies for children in need. This was done to provide children with nice outerwear during the winter months to not only ward off the chill but to give them something new that they are happy to wear. On Jan. 22, 2024, the Knights were able to provide more than 120 new fleece-lined zip-up jackets for distribution with their partner, Child Care SWFL, a local non-profit that provides a myriad of support and educational services to families in need and at-risk children. Coats were supplied to Child Care’s five learning centers in Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, and LaBelle. The Knights also presented Child Care with $500 to assist with their ongoing efforts.

Charismatic Day of Renewal and Formation Feb. 3

The Diocese of Venice Catholic Charismatic Renewal Commission invites all to the “Come Holy Spirit, Come” day of renewal from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Feb. 3, 2024, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 1441 Spear St., Port Charlotte. There is a $10 fee, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Seating is limited and the deadline to register is Jan. 31.  Please register at Questions, please contact Theresa Salvo at 804-387-8282 or, or Margie DeFrancesca at 239-595-1938 or

National Marriage Week, and World Marriage Day!

The observances of National Marriage Week from Feb. 7 -14, 2024, and World Marriage Day, Sunday, Feb. 11 are opportunities to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family. The theme for 2024 is “Love Beyond Words.”  For resources from the USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth to help celebrate and live the great gift of married life, please visit Celebrate National Marriage Week 2024 – For Your Marriage. Resources are available in both English and Spanish.

Wedding Anniversary Masses in February

All couples celebrating 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, or more than 50 years of marriage are invited by Bishop Frank J. Dewane to an Anniversary Mass in their honor. The Diocese hosts two Anniversary Masses each year (one in the northern part of the Diocese and the second in the southern part) to accommodate the demand. The first Mass is 11 a.m., Feb. 3, 2024, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The second Mass is 11 a.m., Feb. 24 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. A luncheon follows each Mass. Free pictures with Bishop Dewane will also be available for the couples. To register for either Mass, please contact your local Parish office for reservations no later than one week before the event you choose to attend. For additional information, please contact the Diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life at 941-484-9543.

Health Care Ethics Conference Feb. 17

Medical professionals, students, and interested laypeople are invited to the first annual Converging Roads health care ethics conference on Feb. 17, 2024, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs! This one-day conference will offer continuing education credits for health care professionals with presentations centered on the theme of Catholic Medicine in a Secular Society. For information, contact Carrie Harkey at, and to register, go to


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

Father Michael P. Orsi, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes Parish and Chaplain of St. John Neumann Catholic High School, in Naples, effective January 17, 2024. Father Orsi requested retirement and thus, was granted, while retaining priestly faculties.


Charismatic Conference inspires

When we give our lives to Jesus, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we become more like Him.

This fundamental concept served as a guidepost for the participants in the 2023 Diocese of Venice English Catholic Charismatic Renewal two-day “For Such a Time as This” Spiritual Gifts Conference with a concert, June 2-3, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The conference fell between the Solemnities of Pentecost (May 28) and the Most Holy Trinity (June 4).

English Charismatic Renewal groups from across the Diocese gathered to share in a day of uplifting talks, encouraging everyone to answer their personal call to holiness. Their goal was to establish, or reestablish, an immediacy of relationship with all three persons of the Holy Trinity, and through inner transformation, affect the whole of the person’s life.

The theme for the day “For Such a Time as This” comes from the writings of keynote speaker (author and musician) Tori Harris, whose book Holy Spirit 101 formed the structure of the conference. The conference offered a time of extraordinary praise and worship, healing prayer, and dynamic teaching. Everyone was encouraged to listen to the call of the Holy Spirit in their life and to share the joy and wonder with others.

The two-day event opened on June 2 in the Parish Hall with a free concert by Harris as she shared inspirational original songs mixed with traditional songs and stories to help the audience be moved by the fire of the Holy Spirit.

The mission of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, with faithfulness to the teachings of the Catholic Church, is to stir into flame the grace of Pentecost. This is accomplished by promoting knowledge of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1831), Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and creating a deepening awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our daily lives.

Harris said we are each called by the Holy Spirit in different ways, but importantly we must be open to hearing the call in the first place, because we are invited for a special reason.

“The whole point of this (Charismatic Renewal) is to declare Christ’s messianic mission” Harris said. “The Scriptures say that the Messiah will be able to give sight to the blind, raise the dead, and heal the sick. The Messiah alone can do that. Because if you are doing that it is because of the Messiah; the power of the Holy Spirit lives within you. You become a sign of Christ’s messianic mission to the world.”

If a prayer is just for someone to be healed, Harris said that doesn’t go far enough.

“The prayer is for them to be saved. For them to know Jesus. So, boldly proclaim Jesus to anyone that you are praying for,” Harris stressed.

Father Claudio Stewart, Diocesan English Catholic Charismatic Renewal Spiritual Advisor and Administrator at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte, led the group in prayer during the opening of the event.

Father Stewart said it is important for the faithful to realize that the saving power of Jesus can heal them physically and, more importantly, spiritually.

The conference in Venice offered a chance for Charismatics to recharge and refocus on their mission, explained Dr. John Gresham, President of the Diocesan English Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Gresham said the Lord reveals the Glory of His Kingdom and longs for us to know His love which will cast out any fear we have in our heart. “God invites us to share in the anointing of Jesus to do the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth. The Holy Spirit brings us into that Communion as co-workers with God.”

For more information about the Diocesan English Catholic Charismatic Renewal, please visit


News Briefs for the Week of May 27, 2022

Scouting religious awards presented

The Diocesan Scouting Religious Award Ceremony was held May 22, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Catholic National and Diocesan Awards were presented to Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and American Heritage Girls as well as to adult leaders. Diocesan Scout Chaplain Father Lawton Lang, as well Scout Leaders Jim Fetterman and Bob Paquette, presented the awards. The ceremony followed a Mass in the Cathedral where they were also recognized.

Students artwork recognized

Congratulations to Blaire M., a first grader at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers, whose artwork now adorns the side of a Waste Pro recycling truck. Blaire won 1st Place in the Keep Lee County Beautiful and Waste Pro “Leave the Scene Clean” environmental art contest. The artwork included a caterpillar, flowers, trees, hearts and a butterfly with the words “Plant Trees.” The truck with Blaire’s artwork visited the school on May 19, 2022, for everyone to see.




Catholic Summer Camp Program

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. The weeklong program assists parents and parishes to evangelize and catechize youth by complementing the work they are already doing at the Parish and at home. This summer the program will be offered at eight parishes in the Diocese of Venice. The camp program is for grades 1-5 Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for grades 6-12 Monday to Thursday, from 7:30 9:45 p.m. Parishes hosting the program are as follows:

  • Katharine Drexel Parish, 1920 SW 20th Ave., Cape Coral, June 6-10.
  • Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, June 13-17.
  • Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., La Belle, June 20-24.
  • Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring, June 27-July 1.
  • John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers, July 11-15.
  • Joseph Parish, 3100 26th St. W., Bradenton, July 18-22.
  • Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, July 25-29.
  • Patrick Parish, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, August 1-5.

Several parishes still have openings. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the Parish hosting the program or Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543.

Our Lady of Fatima Rosary Rally

Please join our national America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally for the Traditional Family and Public Prayers in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to end abortion which will be held Saturday, June 4, from noon to 1 p.m., at the corner of Daniels Parkway and Daniels Commerce Blvd near Tile Outlet of America and TIAA Bank in Fort Myers. Parking is in an empty lot at Daniels Commerce Blvd. and Commerce Park Blvd. or John Yarbrough Linear Park off Daniels at Metro Parkway. Please arrive 10 minutes early and bring your Pro-Life signs, chairs, water, and umbrellas. For more information, please contact Toni at

Pentecost Celebration

The Diocese of Venice English Charismatic Renewal invites all to join them for a celebration on Pentecost Sunday at 3 p.m., June 5 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 211 West Charlotte Avenue, Punta Gorda. The afternoon will include praise and worship followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 4:00 p.m. Please bring your Prayer Group Banner and Stand as there will be a Banner Procession. For further information, please contact Alice Keough at or 941-484-3505 ext. 1104.

22nd Annual Knights Liberty Ball

The Knights of Columbus Assembly 2542 is hosting the 22nd Annual Liberty Ball, June 18, 2022, at the Our Lady of Light Parish Center, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. Presented by the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, the evening will honor Knights who are veterans. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with Presentation of Colors at 6 p.m. with dinner to follow. Tickets are $35 and include dinner, two drink tickets and dancing. Dress code for Fourth Degree Knights is tuxedo with Social Baldric, all others, smart casual. This Gala is open to everyone. For ticket or event information, please contact any of the following: Jim Mendolera at 239-390-0346, Frank Haneline, 239-466-6883, or Ron Bekech at 239-437-4999.

Religious Freedom Week 2022

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is once again promoting the celebration of Religious Freedom Week beginning Wednesday, June 22 to Thursday, June 29. Each year the week encompasses the period between the Memorial of Saints Thomas More & John Fisher, through the Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul. The theme for this year is Life and Dignity for All. As we approach the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we are especially mindful of the debates around our country about abortion. The Church plays a crucial role in both bearing witness to the gospel of life and serving all who will be affected by these discussions and their outcomes. Learn how you can pray, reflect, and act to promote religious freedom at

Youth Conference

The 14th annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference – “Fearless” – is being held July 8-10. Featured talks are by Father Rick Martignetti, Father Joseph Lugalambi, Father Rich Pagano and Chris Padget. The event includes the talks, Mass, Adoration, praise and worship, fellowship, opportunities for confession and much more. The cost is $175 and includes lodging, all meals, a t-shirt and more. To register, call 239-348-4725, or

Charismatic Conference inspires

When we give our lives to Jesus, with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we become more like Him.

This fundamental concept served as a guidepost for the participants in the 2022 Diocese of Venice English Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference which was held Jan. 15, at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers.

The Conference brought together English Charismatic Renewal groups from across the Diocese to share in a day of uplifting talks, encouraging everyone to answer their personal call to holiness.

The theme for the day “Come, and You Will See,” comes from the Gospel of John (1:37-39). In the passage we learned that the disciples knew who Jesus was as a man and prophet, but they did not know the true Jesus, Son of God the Father. They decided to take the path to stay with the Lord.

This message is important, not just for Charismatics, but for all, said Bishop Frank J. Dewane, during a Mass at the conclusion of the Conference.

“They came to this Conference to listen to the Lord in their life, and to fill their hearts, minds and souls with the Holy Spirit and hear the call that the Holy Spirit has for them,” Bishop Dewane said. “We all need to listen to the charism, the call in our own life.”

Father Anthony Lukka, Diocesan English Catholic Charismatic Renewal Spiritual Advisor and Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, led the group in prayer several times throughout the day.

Father Lukka repeatedly stressed the importance for the faithful to realize that the saving power of Jesus will heal them from pain and suffering, physically or spiritually.

“The only thing that is required of us is to ask Jesus to bring healing into our lives,” he said. “It is by His wounds; you have been healed. It was on the cross where Jesus suffered and shed His Precious Blood that we are all healed of our sins. That healing should permeate who you are in your life.”

Renee Marazon, President of the Diocesan English Catholic Charismatic Renewal, said that on a daily basis the Lord reveals the Glory of His Kingdom and longs for us to know His love which will cast out any fear we have in our heart. “Speak to Jesus; talk to Jesus, he wants you to be His best friend. Talk to Him and listen to His voice.”

Dr. John Gresham, recently retired Director of the Diocese of Venice Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, spoke about the way we should be healed through all prayer and through the generosity and love of the Holy Spirit. God invites us to share in the anointing of Jesus to do the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth. The Holy Spirit brings us into that Communion as co-workers with God.”

Before Mass, the Conference concluded with a presentation from participants on the successful introduction of the Alpha Catholic Course at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral. This 12-week course is a way to reintroduce the faithful through group encounters and discussions is done at a smaller group level and is structured to help people feel comfortable talking about their faith and welcome in the Church beyond the pews on Sunday.

Marazon explained how the program started small and has grown exponentially and created a sense of community at the Parish that was lacking in the past.

One attendee said participating in the Alpha course was a spiritual gift where his faith in Jesus jumped. “We learn that God meets us where we are.”

For more information about the Diocesan English Catholic Charismatic Renewal or how to start an Alpha Catholic Course at your Parish, please visit or email Renee Marazon at

English Catholic Charismatic Renewal celebrates Pentecost

Members of the Diocese of Venice Catholic English Catholic Charismatic Renewal (DVCCR) gathered on Pentecost Sunday to celebrate a Mass in honor of the Holy Spirit and the “Birthday of the Church.”

More than 120 participated in an afternoon of prayer, song and reflection at Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda in the first in-person group gathering in more than a year, reuniting members of the 15 active English DVCCR prayer groups in the Diocese. The celebration culminated with Mass.

The significance of the English DVCCR gathering taking place on Pentecost was not lost on anyone. Pentecost marks the moment when the Holy Spirit filled the hearts of the apostles and sent them on their mission to evangelize to the world. This beginning, or “birthday” of the Church, is also the impetus for Charismatics, whose mission is to “stir into the flame the grace of Pentecost by promoting a personal relationship with Jesus.”

Spiritual Advisor Father Anthony Lukka led the group in prayer, including the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Inspirational music energized those gathered while several participants shared words of inspiration during the intervals.

English DVCCR President Renee Marazon expressed her joy about having old friends gathered together in prayer. The gathering served as a day of renewal as the different prayer groups work to reorganize as the world emerges from the Pandemic. The mission of the DVCCR is accomplished through prayer groups and spiritual growth experiences in meetings, retreats, days of renewal, workshops and conferences.

Mazaron said the leadership of the DVCCR met with Bishop Frank J. Dewane about its goals and plans. The Bishop agreed with the need to focus on building up the DVCCR prayer groups after the Pandemic.

To assist in this effort, it was announced that the Alpha Catholic Course is coming to the Diocese in October. This multi-week online course is an opportunity for participants to explore life and the Faith in a friendly, open and informal environment. Each talk looks at a different question about Christianity and is designed to facilitate discussion.

“The goal is to start a fire in the hearts of people after being locked up so long,” said Alice Keough, English DVCCR Secretary. “We are all about evangelization and building the Kingdom of God.”

To learn more about the Diocese of Venice Catholic English Catholic Charismatic Renewal, please visit or write to

News Briefs for the Week of May 14 2021

Catholic Schools receive Year of St. Joseph plaque

Diocese of Venice Catholic schools were recently presented with a three-dimensional St. Joseph plaque courtesy of Bishop Frank J. Dewane as part of the ongoing celebration of the “Year of St. Joseph.” Teaching the lessons of St. Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church, has been a priority in the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Venice for the past year. The schools took part in a St. Joseph Devotional Project to introduce the devotion and to strengthen Catholic culture in each of the Diocesan schools. Bishop Dewane marked the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, 2021, by celebrating Mass at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton with invited guests and winners of the Devotional Project Art Contest. The Mass was livestreamed and at its conclusion the Bishop led the students (both in person and viewing online) in the Act of Consecration to the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph.

Wear Red on Pentecost Sunday

The great feast that marks the birth of the Christian Church by the power of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost Sunday, is May 23. Pentecost means “fiftieth day” and is celebrated 50 days after Easter. Red is the liturgical color for this day and the Faithful are encouraged to wear red to Mass that day. Red is symbolic of the love of the Holy Spirit and recalls the tongues of fire in which the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles that first Pentecost. The color red also reminds us of the blood of the martyrs. These are the believers of every generation who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, hold firm to the true faith even at the cost of their lives.

Lakewood Ranch woman receives lay Franciscan honor

Marie Rizzi, of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, is the winner of the 2021 Franciscan Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award, from the Secular Franciscan Order Five Franciscan Martyrs Region (Florida, Alabama and South Georgia). Rizzi practices Catholic Social Justice daily by feeding the hungry, shopping for the homebound, calling to see if people need company or a ride to an appointment. She has directed her Parish efforts to support Casa San Juan Bosco Farm Worker Housing of Catholic Charities in Arcadia. In addition, she is active in devising ways to involve youth in Parish outreach. Rizzi was presented the award at the Five Franciscan Martyrs Region Annual Meeting in Winter Park on May 7, 2021.

St. Martha golf team league champs

Congrats to the St. Martha Catholic School Golf Team on finishing an undefeated season on May 5, 2021. The Sarasota team capped off their season with a 6 shot victory to earn the League Championship.

Fort Myers students collect items for Catholic Charities

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School National Honor Society members collected needed items for the Fort Myers Food Pantry of Catholic Charities in early May 2021. The collection included more than 750 diapers, socks, toothbrushes, and soap.

New dean announced for Ave Maria Law

The Ave Maria School of Law in Naples recently announced that John Czarnetzky, a professor of law at the University of Mississippi, will become the new dean of the law school effective June 1, 2021. In addition to teaching courses at the University of Mississippi School of Law, Czarnetzky also works as a legal advisor to the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations, and has represented the Holy See in various negotiations and in international treaties. Czarnetzky also is a lay Dominican and a Third Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He was unanimously selected for the position by the school’s board of governors. Czarnetzky replaces Kevin Cieply, who resigned at the end of February due to personal reasons.

Updated Catholic Charities food pantry hours

The hours have been updated for the Catholic Charities efforts toward food distribution at the following times and locations:

  • Guadalupe Social Services – 211 South 9th St., Immokalee – Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon. The Soup Kitchen dining room is now open daily for dine-in and meals-to-go.
  • Judy Sullivan Center – 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples – Monday-Friday, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • Margaret Parish – 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston – Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Bonita Springs – 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs – Friday, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.
  • Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry – 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers – Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Paul Parish – Parish Hall, 1208 E Oak St., Arcadia – Fridays, 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

English Catholic Charismatic Renewal

The Diocese of Venice English Charismatic Renewal will hold a Pentecost Celebration on May 23 beginning at 2:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., Punta Gorda. No registration is required. For more information, please email or contact Renee Mazaron at 419-343-1604. Reminder: Bring your prayer group banner and stand to the event.

Diocesan CCW Convention

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s 34th Annual Convention, with a theme of “What have you done for the least of my people?” (Matt 25:40), will be held June 4 and June 5, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. The cost of the two-day convention is $75, or $65 for one day (lunch included). Each day will include personal development time, dynamic speakers and workshops, as well as providing the opportunity to meet women from around the Diocese along with the President of the Florida Council of Women. For registration information, please contact Bernadette Raftery at 704-968-9580 or or Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or Please register by May 25.