By Father Robert J. Kantor, V.F., Director, Diocese of Venice Mission Office
Have you ever been on a journey that had unexpected detours? I once led a pilgrimage in France with a wayward bus driver who never seemed to know where he was going. Once he took us down a one-way street the wrong way and got us stuck in a narrow alley! It was one of many miscues that were frustrating then and comical only now. But God delivered some powerfully graced experiences along the way. That detour took us further from the great Rouen Cathedral that was our destination but brought us right up to another interesting church not even on our itinerary, named for St. Joan of Arc in the place where she was martyred.
When the age and infirmity of our pilgrims who had suffered multiple falls on uneven cobblestones made it evident our group could not climb to the top of Mont Saint Michel toward the end of our journey, an easier day at a seaside village for shopping and lunch included Mass in a beautiful wooden chapel. I was disappointed, but God had a reason for the detour.
During our travels, I got to know the bus driver and the many challenges of his life, including the abuse he suffered as a foster child following the early deaths of his parents, and the tragic passing of his own wife and son. I told him I would offer Mass for them that day and, after many years of blaming God for all his misfortunes, he came to church for the first time in years. It was a tearful surrendering into the arms of Jesus who knows the suffering of crosses better than anyone. Had we gone to Mont Saint Michel, he would likely have spent that day back at the bus, waiting for our return. Instead, he was reconciled with the God who made him and loves him. This is the mystery of encountering God in the detours of life.
No one can deny that COVID-19 has led to many changes in our lives, detouring us beyond our control. This has included interrupted travel, cancelled family celebrations, curtailed parish events, postponed weddings and funerals, and vacations turned staycations. And yet, God has delivered graces along these detours. People, now more than ever, appreciate the power of human contact and relish time with others that we used to take for granted. Parishes have discovered livestreaming and other creative ways to reach out and remain in contact with parishioners. And, this World Mission Sunday, some of us will have to try new methods of supporting the never-ending work of the Church to spread the Gospel. Online giving through our parishes may be one new way for us to ensure that missionaries around the globe continue to receive our support and know that they are not forgotten.
No one sets out on a journey expecting detours, and when they happen most of us don’t welcome them. But God can use these course deviations to take us out of our comfort zone to new adventures beyond our imaginings. Blessed are hearts open to a life’s journey led by God, going to destinations more amazing than any we could have ever planned, because they are charted by our magnificent God of detours, a God who calls us on mission.
World Mission Sunday is Oct. 24, 2021. The Diocese of Venice collection for World Mission Sunday is the same weekend of Oct. 23-24.
Father Robert Kantor is the Director of the Diocese of Venice Mission Office, Dean of the Southern Deanery, and Pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Naples. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Denny Denison, Bishop Verot Catholic High School
Fort Myers – Bishop Verot Catholic High School first opened its doors in 1962 as the only Catholic school in southern Florida. Through the years much has changed – the installation of air-conditioned classrooms, construction of new buildings, the transition away from hardback books, notebooks and pencils, but our philosophy remains the same.
In today’s world, we understand the importance of change while standing firm on our core beliefs. Our motto, Non Excidet, translates as We Will Not Fail, and Verot is committed to this motto by empowering every student who walks through our doors to be the best they can be.
Parents throughout Southwest Florida have chosen Verot for a variety of reasons. Our mission exceeds expectations as we strive to build relationships centered on faith, learning and leadership devoted to educating the whole person, utilizing innovative technologies, empowering students through collaborative experiences, and cultivating a spirit of service grounded in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our families have done their research and they know that four years at Bishop Verot High School will prepare their children well for what lies ahead.
In four short but memorable years, the student body of more than 700 students will learn diverse subjects at the honors, advanced placement (AP) and college prep levels. Courses such as engineering, marine biology, forensic science, computer science and video production aid students in discovering their passion.
As an Apple Distinguished School, both teachers and students embrace 1:1 iPad technology to take learning to new heights. With the integration of SARA – an intensive test preparatory program – into our faith-based curriculum, students perform at higher levels for the SAT and ACT. Our students’ positive experience and academic success inside and outside the classroom have resulted in 99 percent of graduates matriculating into four-year colleges and universities and more than 50 percent earning a Florida Bright Future Scholarship.
While rigorous academics are essential to future success, it is the development of the whole person that sets Verot apart from other schools in Lee County. New students, families and guests are introduced to the Viking commitment to selfless service, to one another, and to our Catholic Faith from the very moment they enter our campus. From the very first day freshmen step on the Bishop Verot Catholic High School campus, our Vikings know they are part of the Verot family. The excitement of starting a new school year is infectious as the Viking cheerleaders greet students on their first day and senior leaders offer a welcome making sure the newest family members are ready for success.
Ask any Verot alumni their favorite memory of Verot, and the number one response will be the Freshman Retreat. Led by Verot’s seniors, the Freshman Retreat solidifies our family by creating life-long bonds with fellow classmates and upperclassmen. Seniors and freshmen work side-by-side to serve meals, conduct hard labor and offer basic care and companionship to the most impoverished people in our community. The Retreat culminates with a candlelight gathering around the Most Blessed Sacrament in prayer.
Learn more about what it means to be a Viking by visiting bvhs.org or call 239-274-6700.
Dr. Denny Denison can be reached at email@example.com.
Dr. Benjamin H. Moore, Ed.D. – Superintendent of Catholic Education
Every family has the fundamental right to choose the best school for their child. I am thrilled and humbled to welcome over 4,500 students whose families have made Catholic education their choice when the 2019-2020 school year begins on August 12.
The start of the school year is a time of excitement, hope, perhaps some anxiety, and always an opportunity for new beginnings. This school year we are introducing the “Principal’s Corner” to highlight the wonderful things happening in all our schools.
Each issue of the “Principal’s Corner” will focus on the unique attributes and accomplishments of one of our schools and offer readers the opportunity to learn more about how our schools pursue our mission of educating the whole child – mind, body, and spirit. The fifteen schools of the Diocese of Venice are vibrant faith communities where academic rigor is infused with Catholic values, teachings, and traditions.
Our goal is to prepare our students for a life of service to family, community, and Christ. Beyond academic excellence, athletic and extra-curricular success, accreditation and accolades Catholic schools continue traditions of discipline and reverence. The school’s partner with parents, as the primary educators of their children, to instill character and promote respect for oneself and others. Through the support of generous donors, multiple state scholarship programs, and a variety of financial resources a Catholic education remains an accessible and affordable option.
Throughout this school year, I invite you to continue to check on the “Principal’s Corner,” or take the opportunity to schedule a visit at one of schools and learn more about the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Venice. I wish all of our students, parents, administrators, faculty and staff a blessed and successful 2019-2020 school year.
From the Principal’s Corner:
Mr. Michael Buskirk – St. Ann Catholic School, Naples
As the Liturgical Calendar and all of creation turn its eyes toward the Passion of Jesus Christ this Lent and the following Resurrection, how ought we to give the proper response to the love of God? The common practices of Lent include prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
These practices begin with a day of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday, March 6, abstaining from meat each Friday, and another day of fasting and abstinence on April 19, which is Good Friday.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, Eve sees a threefold description of the fruit, “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise” (Gen 3:6). St. John explains this threefold distinction in his first epistle, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).
Basically, what this means is that we primarily struggle in three ways: 1) the lust of the flesh is when we give into bodily temptations which may be gluttony, sloth, or lust for example, 2) the lust of the eyes pertains to wanting possessions or money, and 3) the pride of life is pride and vanity, wanting our own importance and glory rather than God’s.
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are set up directly to combat those dispositions in our lives. Prayer gives us humility rather than pride, relying on God rather than ourselves. Fasting is denying the body and the lusts of the flesh in order to grow in discipline and gain mastery over the body. Almsgiving brings about detachment to material goods so that we might rule them rather than us being ruled by the cares of the world, it also helps us to become generous people!
Lent is a season to focus on these in light of Jesus’ ministry, self-denial, and Passion that we might grow in conformity to Christ and His divine life. It is a season to truly grow in charity, which covers a multitude of sin and is the true measure of holiness. Growth in holiness is truly the perfection of charity (the perfection of ourselves in love of God and neighbor). As we progress along this path of sanctity, our lives become more perfectly united to that of Christ’s on the Cross, so that in dying with Him in death, we might rise with Him in life, including the growth and possible perfection of virtue and great union with God even on earth!
This Lenten Season, be encouraged to do more than you have ever done because you are given a unique opportunity to receive grace from God that you will never have the opportunity to receive again. Expect to receive abundant blessings this Lenten season! Remember the scandal of the Cross and the foolishness of God’s love for us, He desires to pour more and more grace into your heart and to love you in exactly the way you need. He offers healing, love, and mercy if only you would provide the open door of your heart and cooperate with His grace.
The Office of Evangelization is also offering many opportunities to encounter the love of God in your daily lives this Lent. There are daily reflections and prayerful resources on the Diocesan website under the new section “Liturgical Calendar” with a dedicated webpage to Lent. There will also be Diocesan “Mercy Nights” throughout the Diocese at different Parishes you can find on the website. These nights will include Eucharistic Adoration, praise & worship, a short reflection, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)—where we all might draw from the spring of eternal life and be transformed by the scandalous love of God.
LENTEN REGULATIONS ON FASTING AND ABSTINENCE
Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019, and Good Friday, April 19, 2019, are days of fast and abstinence. All Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence from meat.
Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics between the ages of 18 years and 59 years (inclusive). On a fast day one full meal is allowed. Two smaller meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “Paschal Fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily His Resurrection.
Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age and older. Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent (and Good Friday) are days of abstinence.
Note: If a person is unable to observe the above regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, they are urged to practice other forms of self-denial that are suitable to their condition.
Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the three traditional disciplines of Lent. The faithful and catechumens should undertake these practices seriously in a spirit of penance and of preparation for baptism or of renewal of baptism at Easter.
Lent 2019 – Mercy Nights
The Office of Evangelization is hosting several “Mercy Nights” throughout the Diocese during Lent. Mercy Nights are designed to give the faithful the opportunity to encounter God particularly through His unfathomable mercy. Each night will have Eucharistic Adoration, lively praise and worship music, a short reflection, and the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Make your Lent a time to truly encounter what the Lord has in store for you in prayer, come to Mercy Night! For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org (see a list below for the dates, locations and musicians).
All are welcome to the Mercy Nights, which begin at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted. There is no cost to attend.
March 13, St. Peter the Apostle Parish, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road, Naples, music by Jon Niven;
March 20, Incarnation Parish, 2901 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, music by Out of Darkness;
March 27, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 SW 20th, Cape Coral, music by Jon Niven;
April 5, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th N., Naples, (starts at 6:30 p.m.) music by Jennine Fuentes “Encounter on the Mountain;”
April 9, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice, music by Nathan Boock;
April 17, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, music by Jon Nevin.