Many learn about porn myths

Combining scientific research, statistics, humor as well as personal testimony Australian-born speaker Matt Fradd addressed the difficult topic of pornography to a variety of different audiences during a two-day visit to the Diocese of Venice in early May.

Fradd stressed that he didn’t want to tell his audiences what to do, but to provide information about behaviors and the negative consequences that result.

“We live in a pornified culture,” Fradd said to a group of adults and teens on May 4, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. “Instead of seeing pictures and reading articles in magazines and books, children can now access hard-core pornography in the home on the internet.”

At the invitation of the Diocese Office of Religious Education and Office of Family Life, Fradd spoke to middle school students at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte and Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota before appearing at the public event at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice on May 4, 2021. The next day, he spoke to freshmen and sophomores at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota in the morning, was the keynote at a Luncheons for Life gathering in Venice, and in the evening, he addressed some 300 teens at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch.

These talks grew out of the recent Safe Haven Sunday (March 7, 2021) within the Diocese of Venice which was a day of awareness that provided the opportunity for the Diocese to directly address the problem of pornography in marriages, families, and in our culture. At the same time, resources were made available to support individuals, married couples and families in making their homes safe from pornography.

During his talks, Fradd used age-appropriate language to deliver his powerful message. He began each session facing the issue head-on, saying: “The problem with porn is not that it shows too much but instead it shows too little of the human person. Porn reduces the complexity, the individuality and the uniqueness of the man or woman. It creates a two-dimensional thing for consumption and dehumanizes them in that way.”

Citing scientific research, Fradd spoke about the effects of excessive pornography on the brain, causing changes not unlike addictions to drugs. This addiction can cause users to become dissatisfied with their partner because realistic expectation is replaced by a two-dimensional fantasy.

When asked by his own young son about what pornography is, Fradd admittedly struggled to find a clear answer but shared his view on how to approach the topic.

He told his son, “Pornography is pictures or videos of people who are showing parts of their body that their bathing suit should cover. If you ever see that, or if someone shows that to you, or you see it on a billboard, or in a magazine, internet, tv show; you should always tell mommy and daddy and we will always be very proud of you. You might think you were in trouble, but I promise you, we will be proud of you for telling us that.”

He suggested that parents should sit down with their kids and let them know that they are aware that pornography is available everywhere, and that they are comfortable having discussions about it. “It’s important to let kids know that technology is amoral, neither good nor evil,” he added, “but, it’s how we use technology that is important.”

During a talk to students at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School on May 5, Fradd shared a story about how un-adult-like porn really is, noting that a friend refused to enter a strip club with the rest of the group by simply stating, “I just don’t think it’s manly to have to pay a woman to pretend to like you.”

Fradd said the consequences of accessing pornography, even as teens, can follow them for the rest of their life. “Human sexuality is so powerful and in contrast pornography is hellish mockery of heavenly reality.”

Fradd concluded each talk stressing that even if someone in the audience looks at porn on a regular basis or they feel it is impossible to stop, it does not mean healing cannot occur. He offered two websites as excellent resources to assist in this process – (for men), (for women). If additional help is needed, he recommended seeking a spiritual advisor, a certified sexual therapist and going to a 12 step program.

For parents, Fradd also recommended the use of internet accountability software such as Covenant Eyes, which monitors and filters computers, hand-held devices and phones can be found at This site was promoted during Diocesan Safe Haven Sunday.

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.

Vaccination clinic in Arcadia successful

When Olivia Fernandez received her first of two Covid-19 vaccination shots on May 1, 2021 she was very happy, having a new piece of mind that her whole family will be safe.

Fernandez was one of about 100 who received their vaccinations at Casa San Juan Bosco, a farm worker housing community in Arcadia built and operated by Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc.

“I’m am so happy to be here,” Fernandez said. “I worry about my little ones and this is one way to make sure I do what is right for them.”

The clinic was free and open to anyone in the community and administered by the DeSoto County Health Department. The event was scheduled from 1-4 p.m., but some arrived as early as 9 a.m. The effort was to encourage the large local Hispanic population to get vaccinated, a part of the community that has been reluctant to receive their vaccines because of worries over side-effects and misunderstandings about possible costs and documentation requirements.

Heather Smith of the DeSoto and Highlands County Health Departments praised Catholic Charities for the effort, explaining how the community members were receptive to take part in a clinic held at a property run by the Catholic Church.

“This made a big difference,” Smith said. “Thank you, Catholic Charities for doing this.”

Philomena Pereira, CEO of Catholic Charities, said the support of Bishop Frank J. Dewane allowed the most recent effort to happen. An initial vaccination clinic was held in late April but limited to the adult residents of Casa San Juan Bosco. They will be receiving their second shots in two weeks.

“This is just the next phase of our response to the pandemic,” Pereira said. “Part of that is being the conduit to help more and more people get vaccinated.”

There are plans to have additional vaccination clinics soon at other Catholic Charities sites, she explained. These will be promoted to the local communities as was the clinic in Arcadia. Fliers were set up throughout DeSoto County helping get the word out and ensuring success. Another Catholic Charities site in Arcadia, the food pantry adjacent to St. Paul, will host a vaccine clinic May 16.

The Arcadia clinic had some extra perks for those who were able to take part. People received a gift bag which included donated sandwiches from Market360 in Naples, fresh vegetables, coloring books and crayons from the faithful of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers, as well as undergarments for adults and children.

Father Anthony Hewitt, Pastor of St. Francis Xavier assisted throughout the day, helping people check in and fill out the necessary health forms. Also present were representatives from the Patterson Foundation promoting their summer reading program, and information was provided about how to apply for free or low-cost health services. Catholic Charities representatives were also there to answer any questions, translate when necessary and to share information about other programs that are offered at two Arcadia locations.

Those who received their first vaccine on May 1 will be able to return for their second vaccine at Casa San Juan Bosco on May 29.

Please visit to learn more about Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc.

Parish Center breaks ground in Naples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News Briefs for the week of May 7, 2017

Prayer service honor Mary held at Catholic Center

As May is a month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop Frank J. Dewane led a prayer service in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the staff of the Diocese of Venice Catholic Center on May 3, 2021. The prayer service took place in the entrance lobby where a statue of the Blessed Virgin is on display. In addition to prayers, the staff also sang two songs in honor of Our Lady.

Dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass ended May 1

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about their experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass was lifted in the Diocese of Venice beginning May 1, 2021. For a letter from Bishop Dewane and the revised guidelines updating Parish safety protocols which includes the need to continue to wear masks at Mass, as well as at all Diocesan and Parish activities, please visit for English and for Spanish, please visit

Naples artist does well in county competition

St. John Neumann Catholic High School student Thomas Lund took second prize in the 2021 Collier County High School Art Competition hosted by the Marco Island Center for the Arts announced on April 27, 2021. Lund submitted a drawing of St. Mother Teresa for the competition. Well done.

Outdoor band concert impresses

The 6th grade band and the 7th/8th grade Advanced Band of St. Ann Catholic School in Naples performed an outdoor concert on April 29, 2021. Under the direction of Marjorie Huelsman, the bands played a wide selection of music for family, friends and supporters of the school. Attendees sat in lawn chairs as the evening concert was held on the basketball court and athletic field.

Cheer team wins competition

The Incarnation Catholic School Cheer Team from Sarasota took the National Champion and Grand Champion titles at the Crown Cheer and Dance Small Gym Nationals held May 1, 2021 at the Bradenton Convention Center. With flawless movement on the mat, and ignoring the fact that finding practice time leading up to this competition was a challenge, the team prevailed. Well done ladies!

English Charismatic Renewal Pentecost Celebration in Punta Gorda

The Diocese of Venice English Charismatic Renewal will hold a Pentecost Celebration from 2:30-5 p.m., May 23, 2021 at Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., Punta Gorda. The event will include praise and worship as well as Mass. No registration is required. For more information, please email or contact Renee Mazaron at 419-343-1604.

Diocesan CCW Convention June 4-5

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 June 4 and June 5, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 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.

Stepping into Marriage with Children

Did you know 60 percent of second marriages fail and the failure rate increases to 70 percent when there are children from a previous marriage in the home. The difficulties of parenting and stepparenting, seemingly insurmountable, are often the root cause of such failures. A free half day workshop, organized by the Diocese Office of Family Life, entitled “Stepping into Marriage with Children” is designed for those couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation. This workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 15, 2021 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. This workshop takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools to meet unique challenges. There is no cost to attend but registration is required at For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at or 941-484-9543.

Year of the Family

On March 19, 2021, the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the joy and beauty of familial love, Pope Francis inaugurated the year “Amoris Laetitia Family” which will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the next World Meeting of Families in Rome. When announced, the Dicastery said in a statement, “The Pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families”. To learn more about the effort and the initiatives occurring in the Diocese of Venice during this commemorative year visit

8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference

All are invited to the 8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference at Ave Maria University from May 14 to May 16, 2021. Featured speakers will include Dr. Mark Miravalle, John Paul II Chair of Mariology, Franciscan University of Steubenville; Kathleen Beckman L.H.S., author and President of Foundation of Prayer for Priests; Dr. Edward Sri, theologian, author, and co-founding leader of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students); and Roy Shoeman, speaker and author of “Salvation is from the Jews” and “Honey from the Rock.” Please visit to register for this event. Lodging and meals available. For more information call 239-348-4725 or email

Giving back, a fundamental part of Catholic Education

In recent years, there has been a growing trend that schools, both public and private, offer students opportunities to engage in community service. For many, the experience helps to develop important skills such as teamwork and a sense of compassion, even during a Pandemic.

But for Catholic schools, community service is more than an admirable option or a nice addition to one’s college application. Service activities are fundamental to Catholic education and core to Catholic discipleship.

At Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, community service is described as “One of the greatest ways to impact and improve the larger community… Verot’s active service policy holds each student responsible for their role in changing society. Over the course of four years, students must complete a minimum of 100 Service hours centered on ‘hands on’ and direct experience with those in need.”

Principal Suzie O’Grady said it is believed that when students are exposed to the injustices that surmount our society, they can truly identify with the marginalized, and seek change. As Verot’s statement on community service continues, “Our hope is every student will have a life changing experience driving them to continue to serve the greater community beyond their time at Bishop Verot.”

Each year, Verot students complete more than 25,000 community service hours. It is through the concept of service that students learn how much of a difference one person can make, but the difference an entire community can make is overwhelming, O’Grady said.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Education, said at all 15 Catholic schools service to the community is a priority as it is important that all students not only be ranked by their academic successes, but by their engagement with the marginalized of our society.

“This is key to creating a Catholic identity for each Diocesan Catholic school,” Father Belmonte said. “We want our community service policy to plant the seed of Faith and love in all the students, thereby reflecting the love of Christ in their schools and in their community.”

In recent months Bishop Verot students have worked on a number of school-wide efforts including a recent successful Lenten Charity Drive which collected thousands of food items for Catholic Charities and other area organizations. Students also regularly volunteer to help distribute food at the Catholic Charities Elizabeth K. Galeana Food Pantry.

The school also helped prepare PPE (personal protective equipment) packages for the United Way. Packages included hand sanitizer, masks and much more, and will be given to needy families throughout the area.

Two Verot students are currently leading a Freshman Class project to create graduation gift bags for each of The Immokalee Foundation’s 60 graduating seniors, including a book, personalized poster, and fun items to celebrate the milestone in style.

At St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, a service project took a different focus as students created over 300 handmade Easter cards for the residents and workers at the Rehab and Healthcare Center of Cape Coral. Earlier in the year the students partnered with the Catholic Charities Senior Program to provide senior citizens with needed supplies.

For the students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples, the giving is done on a different level as the school remembers well the generosity of others who supported them in 2017, following the destructive Hurricane Irma. Therefore, when the school had a dress down day (a donation allows a student to opt out of wearing the school uniform) in March the $400 collected will go to a Catholic school in Texas impacted by the devastating winter storm.

Of course, these are just a few of the many acts of Christian which take place daily in Diocese of Venice Catholic schools throughout the year.

Father Belmonte said Diocesan students are continuing a long tradition with acts of service in a wide variety of settings so that the love and compassion of Christ may transform our world today.

Plenary indulgence available during “Year of St. Joseph”

As Catholics pray and reflect on the life of Saint Joseph throughout the coming year, they also have opportunities to gain a plenary indulgence, or remission of all temporal punishment due to sin. An indulgence can be applied to oneself or to a soul in Purgatory.

An indulgence requires a specific act, defined by the Church, as well as Sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, prayer for the Pope’s intentions, and full detachment from sin.

Special indulgences during the “Year of Saint Joseph” can be received through more than a dozen different prayers and actions, including praying for the unemployed, entrusting one’s daily work to St. Joseph, performing a corporal or spiritual work of mercy, or meditating for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer.

In its Decree, the Apostolic Penitentiary said that, “to reaffirm the universality of Saint Joseph’s patronage in the Church,” it would grant a Plenary Indulgence to Catholics who recite any approved prayer or act of piety in honor of St. Joseph, especially on March 19, the Saint’s solemnity as “Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” and on May 1, the Memorial of “St. Joseph the Worker.”

Other notable days for the Plenary Indulgence are the “Feast of the Holy Family” on December 27, as well as the 19th of each month during the Year and every Wednesday throughout the year, which is a day traditionally dedicated to the memory of Saint Joseph in the Latin Church.

The Decree further states: “In the current context of the health emergency (of the pandemic), the gift of the Plenary Indulgence is particularly extended to the elderly, the sick, the dying and all those who for legitimate reasons are unable to leave the house, who, with a soul detached from any sin and with the intention of fulfilling, as soon as possible, the three usual conditions, in their own home or where the impediment keeps them, recite an act of piety in honor of St. Joseph, Comfort of the Sick and Patron of a Happy Death, offering with trust in God the pains and discomforts of their life.”

The three usual conditions for receiving a Plenary Indulgence are Sacramental Confession (which, under the “usual conditions,” means going to Confession within 20 days before or within 20 days after the day the Plenary Indulgence is sought); also, the reception of Eucharistic Communion on the day the Plenary Indulgence is sought; and prayer for the Pope’s needs and intentions on the day the Plenary Indulgence is sought (which, under the “usual conditions” is understood to be an Our Father and Hail Mary; or, one may also recite the Creed). As stated above, a sincere and willed detachment from sin, both mortal and venial, is also required.

According to the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, an Indulgence is “the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven. A properly disposed member of the Christian faithful can obtain an Indulgence under prescribed conditions through the help of the Church, which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An Indulgence is Partial if it removes part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or Plenary if it removes all punishment.” (CCC, 1471)

Moreover, the decree specifically notes the numerous ways to receive an indulgence, including the following:

  • Participate in a spiritual retreat for at least one day that includes a meditation on St. Joseph.
  • Pray for St. Joseph’s intercession for the unemployed that they might find dignifying work.
  • Recite the Litany of St. Joseph for persecuted Christians.
  • Entrust one’s daily work and activity to the protection of St. Joseph the Worker.
  • Follow Saint Joseph’s example in performing a corporal work of mercy. These include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the imprisoned, visiting the sick, and burying the dead.
  • Perform one of the spiritual works of mercy, such as comforting the sorrowful, counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing the sinner, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injuries, and praying for the living and the dead.
  • Pray the rosary together with one’s family in order that “all Christian families may be stimulated to recreate the same atmosphere of intimate communion, love and prayer that was in the Holy Family.”
  • Engaged couples can also receive an indulgence from praying the rosary together.
  • Meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, because St. Joseph “invites us to rediscover our filial relationship with the Father, to renew fidelity to prayer, to listen and correspond with profound discernment to God’s will.”
  • Pray an approved prayer to St. Joseph on St. Joseph Sunday, the Sunday after Christmas in the Byzantine Catholic tradition.
  • Pray an approved prayer to St. Joseph on the 19th of any month.
  • Honor Joseph with an act of piety or approved prayer on a Wednesday, the day traditionally dedicated to St. Joseph.
  • Celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1 with an act of piety or prayer.

NOTE: The Apostolic Penitentiary permits any prayer to St. Joseph approved by the Church, mentioning in particular a prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII:

“To you, O blessed Joseph, do we come in our tribulation, and having implored the help of your most holy Spouse, we confidently invoke your patronage also. Through that charity which bound you to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and through the paternal love with which you embraced the Child Jesus, we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance which Jesus Christ has purchased by his Blood, and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.”

“O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ; O most loving father, ward off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence; O our most mighty protector, be kind to us and from heaven assist us in our struggle with the power of darkness.”

“As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril, so now protect God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection, so that, supported by your example and your aid, we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness, and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven. Amen.”

Information from the Catholic News Service is included in this report.


Seminarians ordained Transitional Deacon

José Grullón and David Portorreal followed different calls of the Lord in their lives, but their answers were the same, leading the two Diocese of Venice seminarians on a journey toward the priesthood. The pair reached a major milestone along that path on April 17, 2021 when they were ordained Transitional Deacon.

Deacons Grullón and Portorreal were among nine ordained at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Boca Raton by Most Rev. William A. Wack, CSC, Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. The men, from different Dioceses across Florida, are currently studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

Deacon Grullón said he was thrilled about the Ordination, acknowledging how it is only the end of one stage in his priestly formation which is opening many different opportunities of service to the Lord that come with this new ministry.

“Priestly ministry is all about relating to the Lord and translating that experience daily in a way that the people of God are also inspired to grow closer in their relationship with Him,” the new Deacon added. “I love being able to serve the people in different capacities: service in itself is a way in which I encounter the Lord through others.”

For Deacon Portorreal, the experience of Ordination was both exciting and surreal. “Time is flying by and there’s so much to learn, but I’m grateful. I look forward to serving the People of God to the best of my ability.”

As he continues in his studies and discernment, Deacon Portorreal prays that he will become a loving, compassionate, competent, and holy priest who is present to the faithful.

The first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church, deacons perform many services to the Church in conjunction with the ministries of priests and bishops. In Parish life, deacons may preside at baptisms, weddings and rites of Christian burial, assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel and deliver homilies.

In his homily, Bishop Wack explained how Jesus Christ is revealed in them and through them. “Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, is present to us in word and sacrifice. Now, He calls you to be bearers of the word and servants of the Gospel.”

In their promise of celibacy, Bishop Wack said they are single heartedly devoted to God and His Church. While this commitment may seem strange to outsiders, it allows them to open up to others in a very radical way and thoroughly joyful way. Later, when they prostrate themselves on the floor before the altar, in the midst of their family and friends, it is a sign of complete surrender and obedience.

“I’m sure you join me as you marvel not so much as what you are doing today but what God is doing to you,” Bishop Wack continued. “This is about what God is doing in you. We celebrate God’s work in you and through you today. The Spirit conforms you more fully to Christ, the One who came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for the many… You may ask, how can I know the Lord, experience His presence, or know God loves me. You are God’s answer to those questions – Here I am, send me.”

Following the homily, the men approached Bishop Wack one-by-one, knelt and promised respect and obedience to his Bishop and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, the men then lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints.

The ordinations were complete after each man again approached the Bishop who imposed his hands on the candidate and proclaimed a prayer of consecration, to confer the Holy Spirit to guide their ministries.

The Deacons then received a stole and dalmatic (the exterior garb of a deacon), signifying the Office of Diaconate and the deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Next, the newly ordained Deacons knelt before the Bishop who presented them with the Book of the Gospels as a symbol of their new ministry of proclaiming the Gospel and preaching. The Rite of Ordination concluded with the kiss of peace.

Deacon Grullón, 33, was born and raised in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. He earned university degrees in business in the Dominican Republic and worked in a financial institution as a credit analyst. Born a Baptist, Deacon Grullón entered the Catholic Church in 2012 having been inspired by studying the history of Christianity. Once a Catholic, he began serving in his local Parish in different capacities, participating daily in the Eucharist, and the example of hard-working priests made him consider the priesthood. He studied philosophy at Pedro Francisco Bonó Institute in Santo Domingo, which is affiliated to the Pontifical Gregorian University that conferred his degree.

It was in 2017 when Deacon Grullón entered the United States to study at St. Vincent De Paul Regional Seminary for the Diocese of Venice. As a seminarian, Deacon Grullón has had pastoral assignments at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle and Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, as well as assisting at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples during other breaks from school.

Deacon Portorreal, 49, grew up in Ohio attending Jesuit-run Catholic schools in Cleveland before entering film school at Florida State University. He moved to Los Angeles to try to break into the film industry trying to sell screenplays, get acting jobs and even tried his hand as writer/director. The seeds of a priestly vocation were planted in grade school and as the years passed there was a growing restlessness that the Ministerial Priesthood was what God wanted in his life.

Initial studies for priesthood for Deacon Portorreal began for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at St. John Seminary in Camarilla, California, but his parents are retired in Florida and so he transferred to become a seminarian within the Diocese of Venice. As a seminarian, Deacon Portorreal has had pastoral assignments at St. William Parish in Naples and St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

Please pray for these men as to continue their spiritual journey.

Prayers sought to heal victims of clergy abuse

For the past 14 years Bishop Frank J. Dewane has held a Mass to petition for the Lord to heal and protect the victims of clerical abuse while giving the grace for all to act in helping end this scourge.

“Whatever procedure, educational announcement, commitment we make, or administrative mechanisms we put forward are all powerless compared to the strength of our prayers through our gathering at this Holy Sacrifice, at this Table of the Lord, asking the Lord to heal the victims of abuse,” Bishop Dewane stated.

The Bishop celebrated Mass April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice with the specific intention of praying for victims of child abuse. The Mass takes place annually in April, which is National Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month, as Bishop leads the faithful in praying for an end to child abuse, and specifically the clerical abuse which has been a scourge on the Catholic Church.

In asking the Lord to heal all victims of abuse, the Church is also called to be part of the solution in addressing sexual abuse.

“The gravity of the phenomena of abuse is known to all, and the evil is clearly seen as something that scars individuals for life,” Bishop Dewane said. “For the sins that the Church has committed – including the exploitation of truly vulnerable individuals that are scarred for life – we ask the Lord’s forgiveness. Because we believe in the sanctity of the individual, the person, must always be foremost our priority consideration.”

The Bishop noted that much has been improved in the Church’s handling of abuse cases since 2002 when wide-ranging mechanisms were put in place to help protect children and the vulnerable, but it did not stop the abuse completely. In addition, the refusal to act or efforts to conceal abuse cases by some in power have undercut the Church’s credibility.

“For this I stand before you and acknowledge the human dimension of the Church – clergy and Bishops – have failed without a doubt. That is why we have to continue to face this,” Bishop Dewane continued. “While things have greatly improved – one case is one case too many.”

The Bishop reminded everyone that as faithful Catholics we each have our individual role in helping to end abuse.

“Bishops can never say enough about the pain and sorrow that has been caused by the tragedy of abuse; a tragedy of broken fidelity and trust toward individuals,” Bishop Dewane said. “I ask for forgiveness from those who have been harmed, scandalized, dispirited; those who have been sexually abused by clergy and bishops. The sorrow and pain of those who we serve is clear and it is we who have to act as soon as we learn of something in a most responsible and expedient way.”

Among the continuing actions taken by the Diocese of Venice to combat child abuse is the Safe Environment Program. This includes thoroughly screening and evaluating the background of all diocesan employees – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children and young people. In addition, the program educates thousands about the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.

The Bishop also explained the role of the Diocesan Review Board, a consultative body that independently advises the Bishop regarding the assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests. The Review Board consists of lay professionals and a Diocesan priest and makes recommendations of action. The Bishop does not participate in the Review Board process.

As strong as these efforts are in creating a safe environment within the Diocese, Bishop Dewane says it is up to everyone – each according to their role – to come face to face with the reality of child abuse in the Church and in society as a whole.

“We also have to be honest that many people have been hurt gravely and severely and each one of us must do our part in helping the healing process of all victims while also being aware of our individual responsibilities in preventing this scourge from continuing.”

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or how to sign up for a Safe Environment class, please visit

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.


During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB encourages the faithful to recite the Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just: You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo; Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Cyber Safety Workshops informs

When the Diocese of Venice set aside March 6-7, 2021 as Safe Haven Sunday so as to provide informational materials to address the harmful effects of pornography on youth marriages and families, it was only natural that there would be a call for more help on this difficult issue.

In response, the Diocese Offices of Family Life, Religious Education and Catholic Schools recently brought in Liz Repking, founder of Cyber Safety Consulting, to address parents, religious educators, and principals through a series of workshops.

Speaking from personal experience through her work, as well as a parent of three, Repking said her presentations had the goal of educating parents, children, and educators on the safe, savvy, and ethical use of the digital world with a total of five presentations before more than 150 people.

The parent workshops, April 14, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, and April 15 at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers, were titled, “Protecting God’s Children Online in a Hyper Digital Age.” Repking spoke about keeping children safe from cyber bullying, online predators, sexting, online gaming, and how to help children create an escape plan when trouble arises.

Safe Haven Sunday provided basic tools and practical tips for adults to create a safer digital environment for themselves and their children. Questions from Repking’s presentation focused on how to set limits while children are online and maintain an openness if trouble arises and encouraged a parent to be available to respond. Religious educators at the workshops sought a way to help guide their young students in becoming better digital citizens.

Repking explained how many teens freely share personal information as well as images or videos of themselves to others, whether they are real friends or “online friends,” not really knowing how that information is going to be used.

“Young people do not have the skills to developmentally manage the abstract thinking needed to address the issues they face online each day,” she said. “They don’t understand the consequences of their actions or the foreverness of the internet.”

Repking shared a disturbing story about her own daughter’s encounter with an online predator who used innocuous, but common tactics to become online friends with the teenage girl while attempting to learn more and more information. Fortunately for Reking’s daughter, this conversation was stopped before anything more serious could happen; it serves as an object lesson for others.

“She even told this person, who purported to be a girl her same age, that her mother is a cyber security person who told her not to share information or pictures,” Repking said. “But he kept pressing, and coercing, and trying to get more and more information. That happened to my daughter,” she said as she showed images of the text exchange. “She knew better. What happens to the others who don’t know any better?”

Workshops specifically for Catholic school principals and Parish religious education directors were held April 14 at St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers, April 15 at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, and April 16 at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers.

The presentation topics were similar to that of the parent workshop but Repking also shared her efforts to create curriculum for students in Dioceses and school districts around the country. This work focuses on helping young people approach online usage through a moral and value perspective, providing lasting life skills.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said Repking’s presentation was a natural follow-up to Safe Haven Sunday and moves the Diocese forward with the possibility of bringing the in-school program to the Diocese in the coming year. “There is so much out there that needs to be addressed in helping to develop our students to be faithful and prudent online users.”

Several religious education directors noted during and after the presentations the challenge they face in trying to get their students to understand the dangers of online usage (predators, cyberbullying, identity theft, and more). It was noted by several that hearing Repking was beneficial in guiding them and adding they hope to receive additional information and training in the future.