Permanent Deacon Ordained in Palmetto

As his wife and three sons looked on, Craig J. Dutka became a changed man, transforming from a member of the laity to a Permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Venice.

Dutka processed into Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto on June 18, 2022, dressed in the white alb of a candidate. It wasn’t until Bishop Frank J. Dewane laid his hands upon the head of the candidate that Dutka was officially ordained a Permanent Deacon. During this moment, in silence, Bishop Dewane placed his hands on Dutka’s head and prayed for an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The imposition of the Bishop’s hands confers grace and spiritual power.

Deacon Dutka came to the Diocese of Venice on a spiritual journey from New Jersey, where he entered the permanent diaconate program in the Diocese of Metuchen, and one year shy of ordination there was forced to leave the program when he lost his business and moved to Florida. Undeterred, he was accepted as a Permanent Deacon candidate in the Diocese of Venice as long as he completed additional formation.

This led to the moment of his ordination, which Deacon Dutka said was made possible by his complete faith in the Lord, with the assistance of Bishop Dewane and others in the Diocesan Diaconate Formation Program, family and friends. He also credited the prayers and blessings of his wife and three sons with the achieving of his dream of becoming an ordained servant of the Lord.

During his homily, Bishop remarked that the new Deacon’s “soul has been indelibly marked; be conscious of the change that has taken place within you. As a Deacon you are loved by Jesus Christ in a particular way that comes with a grace from your response to His call. Be the instrument of Jesus Christ in response to that love.”

Bishop Dewane called on Dutka to be the leaven in the community and to be a pillar in their Parish while calling others to the Faith. “The Lord will give you the words,” he said. “Your life experiences will add meaning to those words and serve you well. Do the will of God from your heart and serve the people with love and joy.”

During his homily, the Bishop also took time to thank Dukta’s wife, Eileen, for her effort in joining her husband sacramentally, through marriage, on this spiritual journey. He noted that the partnership they have, and the support from the whole family has helped to shape the new Deacon into who he is today: a man of God.

At the start of the formal Rite, the candidate was called before Bishop Dewane by Father Kristian Villafana, temporary Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, and then presented to the Bishop for his examination. The election by Bishop Dewane includes the following prayer: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose this, our brother, for the Order of the Diaconate.” The gathered deacons, priests and faithful responded: “Thanks be to God.”

After the homily, the part of the Rite called the Promise of the Elect took place, when Dutka came forward, and the Bishop asked him whether he was willing to accept the responsibilities of the ministry: to live in humble charity, to hold fast to the Mystery of the Faith, to celebrate the liturgy of hours with and for the People of God, and to maintain and deepen his prayer life. To each question, the Candidate Dutka responded, “I do.” Then he approached and kneeled before Bishop to give his promise of obedience to the Bishop and his successors.

Next in the Rite was the Litany of the Supplicants when Dutka prostrated himself before the altar as the assembled kneeled. The Litany of Saints was then sung. At the conclusion, the Bishop outstretched his hands and recited a prayer. Next was the Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Ordination.

Father Villafana then placed a Deacon’s stole and a dalmatic on Deacon Dutka. Once vested, Dutka knelt again before the Bishop and then the last part of the Rite, the Handing On of the Book of Gospels took place. The Mass continued as usual at this point with the newly ordained Deacon Dutka serving as Deacon of the Altar.

The mission of the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of Venice is to: serve as ministers of charity, leading in identifying the needs of others and striving to meet those needs; serve as ministers of the Word, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching and teaching in the name of the Church; serve as ministers of the Sacrament of Baptism; witness marriages; conduct wake and funeral services; and lead the faithful in prayer.

The Diocese was blessed to have seven men ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in 2020, and an additional 13 men are in diaconate formation class for possible ordination in 2025.

News briefs for week of July 20 2020

Mary statue stolen from Sebring Parish

A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was stolen from St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Sebring on Monday, July 13, 2020. It is not known why the statue was stolen, but the Church is asking for its return, or information of its whereabouts. The statue, which weighs about 200 pounds and was recently restored with fresh paint, has been located as part of a Memorial Rosary Garden in front of the Church for the past five years. It is valued at approximately $1,000. The theft follows the destruction of a statue of St. Francis of Assisi on the St. Catherine Church property which took place on June 26, 2020. St. Catherine Pastor, Father Jose Gonzalez, said both incidents are deeply disturbing and upsetting for the Faith community. Police reports have been filed in both cases. While it is unknown why the statues were targeted, it cannot be ignored that many such religious symbols have been vandalized or damaged nationwide in response to the recent social unrest. Anyone with information regarding these crimes is asked to contact the Sebring Police Department.

Beautification project transforms Parish

The faithful of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula recently assisted in a Parish beautification project in early July. The Parish Church and other buildings were power-washed and received a fresh coat of paint. Various landscaping work was also completed. The “Let’s Beautify the Parish!” initiative encourage people to share ideas and support the efforts as well as assist in the work.

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate Aug. 15

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will ordain to the Permanent Diaconate seven men at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The candidates are: Jeffrey Ball of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria; Enrique (Rick) Castro of St. Cecilia Parish, Fort Myers; Ramiro Hernandez of St. Michael Parish, Wauchula; Jack W. Milholland Jr. of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Lakewood Ranch; Roberto Pagán of Jesus the Worker Parish, Fort Myers; Vern W. Smith of St. Martha Parish, Sarasota; and Dr. William Soscia of St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow. All are invited and encouraged to attend.

Support After Abortion Virtual Conference

Join the Support After Abortion Healing Network Virtual Conference 2020: Building and Strengthening Abortion Healing Worldwide – Thursday, July 30 to Saturday, August 1.  See and hear online over 40 presenters: clergy, authors, curriculum leaders and those who have been impacted by abortion as they share their wisdom, insights and personal stories. Don’t be surprised that Support After Abortion resides in the Diocese of Venice and some of the presenters live here as well. There is no charge to watch any of the presentations during the three-day virtual conference by visiting See the website for a premium upgrade for access to each of the presentations for 90 days. (NOTE: Any priest interested in a free 90-day premium pass – a $49.99 value – can request one by e-mailing or calling 941-374-1068.)

First Communion face masks donated by sewing group

The Sewing Group of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples donated 200 white masks for use at Mass by First Communicants and their families on July 11, 2020. The Faith Formation team facilitated the masks for the boys and girls as well as their families. Two Mass were necessary for all of the children as all social distancing rules were also followed.




Parish provides gift cards

St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs recently donated $25 Publix gift cards to families who were using the emergency Catholic Charities Food Pantry. The pantry, which has been in operation in Bonita Springs since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, is open one day a week and provides emergency food for needy families impacted by the Pandemic. The gift cards were distributed to 200 families to help supplement the food they were receiving and were made possible through the generosity of the parishioners and Father Jarek Sniosek, Pastor of St. Leo.

3D face shield project update

The first phase of a STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, math) 3D printing project to provide face shields to frontline workers has been a huge success. So far 100 already been delivered for use by Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. staff and volunteers at food pantry distribution sites. The project was the idea of Jennifer Falsetiny, Curriculum Specialist for the Diocese Department of Education. The goal is to turn the Camillus Project into an ongoing club for schools to participate so as to give back to the community while providing solutions to a real-world problem. The plan is to re-launch the program again in the new school year to hopefully get more schools involved in the hands-on STREAM 3D printing service project.

News briefs for the week of May 18

Naples Deacon remembered

Deacon Donald Healy, who served at St. Ann Parish in Naples, died April 2, 2020. he was 83.

Deacon Donald Healy, the oldest Permanent Deacon to be ordained for the Diocese of Venice, who served at St. Ann Parish in Naples, died April 2, 2020. He was 83. Deacon Healy was born in Rome, N.Y. and was a highly recruited college athlete in three sports. He ultimate chose football and played as a two-way player (office tackle and defensive guard) for the University of Maryland before he was drafted in the third round (37th overall) by the Chicago Bears in 1958. He was then selected in the 1960 expansion draft by the Dallas Cowboys where he still holds the team record for recovered fumbles in one season (5), the longest standing record in team history. He played his professional final season with the Buffalo Bills before retiring in 1962 due to injuries. He lived for many years in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he and his wife Genevieve (Shea) Healy raised four children. He worked in agricultural chemical sales and then later in the automotive parts industry. The couple moved to Naples in 1995 and Deacon Healy eventually earned an advanced degree in theology, a requirement for his lifelong dream of becoming a Permanent Deacon. When he was 70, he was ordained a Deacon by Bishop John J. Nevins on Oct. 25, 2006 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and was assigned to St. Ann Parish. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, four children, and 11 grandchildren. A Memorial Mass will be held later at St. Ann Parish.

Scam Alert

It has once again been brought to the attention of the Diocese of Venice that parishioners have received text/email messages from people pretending to be priests or Bishop Frank J. Dewane and requesting donations in the form of gift cards and/or wire transfers. The messages often greet the person by name and have the priests name in the closing signature of the message; this is a well-crafted and targeted attack on the Church across the country which has hit our Diocese again. These text/email messages are ‘spoofed’ fakes that should not be responded to or taken seriously by anyone. The best defense against this sort of scam is to raise awareness in the community and not respond or open any worrying attachments. It is Diocesan policy that no priest or staff within the Diocese request donations in the form of gift cards, PayPal, MoneyGram, etc.

There is already an established process in place on how parishioners can make donations and participate in the life of the Parish. Whenever a parishioner is worried about any request for money from the parish or a priest, they should immediately call their parish and under no circumstances should they respond to these scam requests.

Neumann golfer earns First Tee! scholarship

St. John Neumann Catholic High School graduating senior Sophie Shrader has been announced as a recipient of a $10,000 a year scholarship from The First Tee! Shrader has participated in The First Tee for eight years and represented the organization in many national opportunities. Shrader will continue her education in the fall at the University of West Florida.

Letters bring smiles to medical professionals

Second graders from St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota have been distance learning and one of the things they learned about through reading is about communication through letter writing. The students read a story called “Dear Juno” and their assignment was to write letters of appreciation and send goodie baskets to the medical professionals at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. The staff took time to take a picture and send thanks to the students.

Roof work taking place in Avon Park

A much-needed roof replacement project is taking place at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park. The church roof is being replaced and upgraded to ensure its safety and security for years to come.

Mooney teacher earns Doctorate

Sarah Hard Gates, a Theology instructor at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, and 1997 graduate of the school, successfully defended her dissertation and was awarded her PhD in Education from Abilene Christian University. She previously earned degrees from St. Leo University, the University of South Florida, and Barry University. Gates, a beloved teacher who is considered one of the “fun” teachers, has been teaching at Cardinal Mooney for 16 years.

Athletes distance training in Naples

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School Celtic Football Team isn’t letting this time for social distancing ruin their plans to start next season as strong as possible. The boys in Naples have been working hard each morning with their at-home workouts, while connecting with their teammates and coaches via ZOOM!

Rosary maker group keeps busy

The Our Lady of the Angels Parish Rosary Outreach group in Lakewood Ranch has continued to be busy! In the past few weeks more than 400 rosaries have been made. They are given to nursing homes, assisted living residences, hospitals, people in religious education classes, Confirmandi, First Communicants, and for others to hand out. Some 500 rosaries have gone to Africa for children’s rosary groups and 400 will be going to Cuba with The Society for the Propagation of The Faith (once travel resumes). The Rosary is our sword in these difficult times, and the goal of the Rosary Outreach is to spread the beauty of prayer through the rosary.

Students take virtual field trip to museum

The St. Francis Xavier Catholic School fifth grade in Fort Myers recently was provided a special treat, courtesy of The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. Students were taken on a virtual field trip led by museum staff where they were able to see the Ringling grounds, some special portraits and paintings and learn about the life of John Ringling.

Community service during quarantine

Leave it to a Diocesan Catholic school student to turn the challenge of a quarantine into a giving opportunity. Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Freshman Morgan Franklin in Sarasota took it upon herself to still be committed to community service during our stay home policy and cut her hair for Locks of Love, for those suffering from hair loss. She shared before and after photos of herself online, as well of as the hair that will be donated.

Year of Saint Joseph

On the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, March 19, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of Saint Joseph in the context of the Coronavirus. The Bishop announced a “Year of Saint Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. Saint Joseph, often referred to as the Protector, can be our protector during this time of the pandemic. To pray a Novena to Saint Joseph please visit the Year of Saint Joseph webpage at

Online Preached Retreats

During the current health crisis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice is offering online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In these online retreats, Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estradilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to you, to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking to you. A Bible and journal should be available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds. The cost is as follows: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48. All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to participate in an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at and a code will be provided for your online registration as well as an application. For planning purposes, please allow 7 days from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

Seminarian ordained to Transitional Diaconate

In this time of darkness, let us all join in congratulating and praying for Mark Harris upon his Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate April 15, 2020, at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.

Deacon Harris, a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice, was one of three to be ordained by Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Hennessey of the Archdiocese of Boston. The ordination was rescheduled and moved to the seminary chapel due to the ongoing pandemic.

During the ordination, the new deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy and obedience to their Diocesan Bishop.

Bishop Hennessey thanked the families, all watching online because of the pandemic restrictions, for giving the men to the Church. “You now have the right to recognize them as the one who came to serve”

To the candidates, the Bishop said, “We are watching you by the way you live your life and are recognizing you as a Disciple of Jesus Christ. Embrace the celibate life, the life of charity and the life to serve at the altar… It was the breadth of grace, an undeserved and unexpected gift, that brought you to this place and time and only you and God know the sacrifices made.”

As part of the ordination, Bishop Hennessey first placed his hands over their head and prayed. Then the men put on their stole and chasuble. Next, each came forward to kneel before the Bishop, at which time the Book of Gospels was placed in the hands of each candidate being ordained and the Bishop said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

During the Mass, Deacon Harris served as Deacon of the Altar, assisting with the preparation of the gifts.

Born in Miami, Deacon Harris spent part of his childhood alternating between living in Florida and Connecticut.  He earned degrees in Commercial Art and then Business Marketing and Management from Florida Metropolitan University, before earning a Master’s in Education from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.

Now 53, Deacon Harris worked at various marketing and corporate jobs before becoming an elementary school teacher for Charlotte County School District. At Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda he served as Eucharistic minister and catechist, helping with the Youth Peer Ministry, Faith Formation Program and Core Adult Ministry Team.

Now carrying the new title of Deacon, this last phase of his formation before being called to priesthood, Deacon Harris, can baptize, witness marriages, perform funerals and burial services, distribute the Eucharist and preach the homily. Deacon Harris will have an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2021.

Diocesan Seminarian makes oath and profession

By Mary Brown, Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary – Special to the Florida Catholic

There was recently a ray of light and hope to be found at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, Mass., amidst the darkness and confusion that has been surrounding the world lately. On the evening of March 24, in conjunction with sung Evening Prayer, nine men who have dedicated themselves to three years of seminary formation, made the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity.

These men, including Diocese of Venice Seminarian Mark Harris, come from nine different Arch/dioceses. Harris will be ordained a Transitional Deacon on April 15 at the seminary. After one more year of formation, he is expected to be ordained to the priesthood.

Making the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity, with one’s hand placed on a Bible, is a requirement in order for a man to become a Transitional Deacon within the Catholic Church. Anyone who is given a position of leadership in the Catholic Church is required to do so. For example, a pastor taking leadership of a Parish or a priest joining the seminary faculty is required to make the profession and oath. There are many other Church positions that require one to make this profession and oath, but for these nine men especially, it was another step towards their becoming a priest.

By making this Profession of Faith, they are publicly promising a full acceptance of and commitment to all the articles of the Catholic Faith plus all that is encompassed within in the magisterial teachings of the Church. The main part of the profession is the recitation of the Nicene Creed, which all Catholics profess at Sunday Mass.

The Oath of Fidelity is a public promise to carry out their responsibilities in communion with the Church by following and obeying all Church teachings and laws. They promise to live out their faith fully in obedience to their bishops.

These men embody the commitment that it takes to follow their calling to become Catholic priests. We are honored that nine men have continued to commit to this journey and are thankful for the light that they provide to the Catholic community, especially in such trying times in the world. We are grateful to them and ask all to keep them in their prayers so that they may fully experience the joy of priesthood.

The Pope St. John XXIII Seminary community is committed to our founding mission: the human, spiritual, academic and pastoral formation of candidates aged 30 and older.

Former Director of Diaconate Personnel dies

Staff Report


Deacon Frank Camacho is being remembered fondly for his compassion and reflecting the love of Christ to others. The longtime Director of Diaconate Personnel, as well as serving as a deacon for more than 14 years at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers, passed away March 29. He was 81.

Deacon Frank J. Camacho, former Diocese of Venice Director of Diaconate Formation and Director of Diaconate Personnel, as well as serving for more than 14 years at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers, died March 29. He was 81.

A Mass of Christian burial was held for Deacon Camacho on April 1 at Our Lady of Light Parish. The Mass was celebrated by Parish Pastor Father Hugh McGuigan, OSFS, and other priests of the Diocese. Along with Bishop Frank J. Dewane, more than 50 permanent deacons were present to honor Deacon Camacho for whom they had utmost respect.

Father McGuigan spoke of Deacon Camacho, a dear friend, as a man who lived his life as a servant of the Church fully, and who felt blessed to each day serve the People of God. “There was not limit to the love he gave to the people of Our Lady of Light and beyond.”

Bishop Dewane said that Deacon Camacho was a respected friend and confidant who offered good advice and someone whose judgement was spot on; but had a sense of humor to handle any situation, no matter how difficult.

“I can see he and Lil (his wife who passed away in 2018) coming together again in their eternal lives, with an embrace and good laugh, but with certain joy and love,” Bishop Dewane said. “This man of faith – he knew who Christ was in his life. He knew the image and likeness of God in every person he saw; and he left that impact on us all.”

Deacon David Reardon, the current Director of Diaconate Personnel, spoke on behalf of his fellow deacons and noted that Deacon Camacho was a man who not only loved the Lord as much as other, but he lived that love more completely and in a most integrated and honest way than anyone he has ever known.

“Frank was so in touch with the wellspring of love in the heart of Jesus,” Deacon Reardon said. “It poured out of everything he did, and he gave his heart to everyone with who he came into contact.”

Born in Cambridge, Mass., Deacon Camacho was a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and later worked for the federal government General Services Administration in the Boston area for 37 years before retiring in 1994. He earned a degree from Northeastern University and was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in 1980 for the Diocese of Fall River, Mass. He served at Our Lady of the Cape in Brewster, Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, and as the Assistant Director of the Diaconate in Dartmouth.

Upon moving to Florida in 2003, Deacon Camacho served at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs before moving on to Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers. He also assisted at several other parishes through the years taking on temporary administrative roles when called upon by the Bishop. For the Diocese of Venice, he served as past-President of the Diaconate Council and as the Director of Diaconate Personnel.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Lillian B. Camacho; a son, Joseph Camacho and a daughter, Barbara Peters. He is survived by three children, Leo Almeida, Susan C. Franze and Francine E. Camacho, as well as nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by Father Hugh McGuigan, with Bishop Dewane and other priests present on April 1 at Our Lady of Light Parish. Additional services will be held in Cape Cod, Mass., with burial in Oak Ridge Cemetery, South Dennis, Mass.

Bishop leads Holy Land pilgrimage

Staff Report


Deacon Richard and Lynne Frohmiller renews their wedding vows in Cana, Israel, before Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Father Peter Vasko, OFM, Feb. 8, during a Holy Land pilgrimage.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was part of a recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a group of mostly faithful from the Diocese of Venice.

The pilgrimage was organized by John and Maureen Lengyel of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and included visits to sites such as Cana, Nazareth, Capernaum, Jericho, Bethany, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, names that evoke vivid imagery from the New Testament and specifically the life and death of Jesus.

The spiritual leader for the pilgrimage was Father Peter Vasko, OFM, who is the President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land.

Bishop Dewane expressed how he was truly a blessed for opportunity to take part in the pilgrimage, noting that when one visits the sites of the life of Jesus, one cannot help but be changed by the experience.

While in Cana, the couples participating had the opportunity to renew their wedding vows. Other highlights included visiting the site where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, the Sea of Galilee, Mount Carmel, the River Jordan, the Holy Grotto of the Nativity, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and to walk along the Via Dolorosa, the same path Jesus took while carrying the cross to Calvary. There were just a few of the highlights of the pilgrimage.

During the journey, one pilgrim wrote on social media that she was overwhelmed to be at holy sites where Jesus walked and taught. She later added that the entire journey was a life-changing experience.