Sacramental theologian speaks to priests, deacons, musicians

Permanent deacons of the Diocese of Venice recently gathered at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte to hear from visiting speaker Father Eusebius Martis, O.S.B.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane introduced Father Martis, a Benedictine monk of Marmion Abbey and a well-known sacramental theologian who was in the Diocese of Venice for the annual Priest Convocation in the first week of December.

While in the Diocese Father Martis also offered his expertise to a gathering of Diocesan musicians at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers on Dec. 5.

During his presentation to the deacons on Dec. 7 Father Martis focused on the importance of the liturgy noting that a deacon is intimately connected with the life of the community. “The role of the deacon is to act in the best of his ability as a model for the people and show them what they are supposed to do. You articulate what the truth is.”

Father Martis noted that every moment of the Liturgy has a specific purpose and meaning and the corresponding actions by a deacon matter. Therefore, the Liturgy is not a place to let individuality shine through, he continued. “It is a place of becoming united, formed into the Body of Christ. Liturgy that manifests division does a disservice to prayer.”

The Liturgy, actions and meanings of which are described in detail in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal Rite books and the Ordo, is a ritual of repetition, a process that repeats our pilgrimage to Heaven, Father continued.

“Our unity is manifested in common gestures, shared actions and joining our voices into a harmonious voice of Christ,” Father Martis explained. “The Deacon has his own role in the Liturgy: proclaiming, occasionally preaching; universal prayer, assisting the priest, and modelling for the people their gestures and postures.”

Father Martis also spoke to musicians from various Parishes using a similar theme.

Memorial Mass for Deacons offered

By Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

November is an appropriate time to remember those who have died, that they may someday be accepted into heaven.

For this reason, Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the Permanent Deacons and their wives to participate in a Memorial Mass each year as a time to pray for, honor and remember the Deacons and their wives who have passed away. The 2019 Mass was celebrated on Nov. 5 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. Today, there are more than 75 Permanent Deacons, many seasonal, living and serving throughout the Diocese.

The goal of the Memorial Mass is to bring attention to all the Deacons, and their spouses, who have served in the Diocese of Venice since its founding in 1984, not just to remember them, but to thank them for answering the call of the Lord in a precise way, Bishop Dewane explained.

As part of this annual tradition, during the Prayer Intentions, the names of those who have passed away during the previous year are solemnly read as candles are lit in their honor. Included in the list of names this year were Deacon Joe Bortland, Deacon Frank Camacho, Deacon Ed Lundy, Deacon Ed McCarthy and Deacon Sam Puleo, as well as Asuncion Guzman, Mae Ochner, and Sandi Paniccia.

“We gather here to give praise for Christ’s Victory over sin and death, and to remember those who came before us,” Bishop Dewane added. “The memory of their sacrifice and the belief that they had in giving glory and praise to God throughout their life – each according to a particular role as a Deacon or a spouse.”

“We come together for a Memorial Mass not only to give praise to Christ but to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion and to seek strength in the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery,” Bishop Dewane continued. “So, we honor not just the individual but that glory and praise they gave to God.”

Deacon Michael Reardon, the Diocese Director of Diaconate Personnel, who spoke on behalf of the deacons and their spouses who were present for the Mass, thanked Bishop Dewane for the Mass and his ongoing support of the Deacons serving in the Diocese.

2019 Jubilarians

Staff Report

2019 Diocese of Venice Jubilarians recognized during the Chrism Mass, April 16 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

50 years

Monsignor Rollin J. Darbouze

Born June 24, 1938, in Port-Salut, Haiti, the fifth of nine children of Hiram Francois Darbouze and Patiana Vante, Msgr. Rollin J. Darbouze was a sickly child who did not begin attending school until age 11. He studied as a seminarian at St. Jean l’Evangeliste in Camp-Perrin and later Notre Dame Seminary in Port-au-Prince where his education was put on hold when the seminary was closed by François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, the Hatian Dictator. He resumed his discernment to the priesthood at St. Joseph Seminary in Memramcook, New Brunswick, Canada. He was ordained June 28, 1969 in Quebec, Canada. Fluent in Creole, Spanish and English, Msgr. Darbouze first served at a parish in the Diocese of Nicolette in Quebec but was soon asked to serve the growing Haitian community in the Diocese of Brooklyn. For Brooklyn, he served in several different parishes in Brooklyn and Queens as well as in the Archdiocese of New York. He retired in 2010 and moved to Florida. For the Diocese of Venice, Msgr. Darbouze assists at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice.

Father Frederick J. Tillotson, O. Carm.

Carmelite Father Frederick J. Tillotson was born Oct. 4, 1942 in Pekin, Ill., the oldest of four children of Kenneth Foster Tillotson and Mary S. Cappel-Tillotson. He grew up in Puerto Rico and Sumatra, Indonesia, and attended high school at Aquinas College in Perth, Australia. He received his undergraduate degree from the Carmelite seminary and St. Bonaventure College (University) in Allegany, N.Y. Father Tillotson also holds degrees from the Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, and the University of San Francisco. He also pursued graduate studies at Oxford University in England, University College in Dublin, Ireland, and the University of London. He was ordained to the priesthood in Joliet, Ill., on Aug. 23, 1969. He has taught and held adminis­trative posts in several institu­tions including Director and instructor for The Kino Institute (the Academy of Religious Studies for Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, an affiliate school of the University of San Francisco); president of Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, Calif.; Head of School/CEO for Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson Ariz.; administrator of St. Cyril of Jerusalem Parish, Tucson; and as president of the Washington Theological Union in Washington D.C.; Director for Clinical Ethics for the Franciscan Health System of Philadelphia; member of the Institutional Review Board of the University of Arizona for Human Subject Research; member of the Bishops Committee on Sexual Misconduct; chaplain to the Tucson Notre Dame Alumni Association; member and chaplain to the Equestrian Order of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher with the rank of Knight Commander. While with the Diocese of Phoenix, he served on numerous diocesan councils and committees. He has held Carmelite provincial positions as coordinator of school ministry and member of the provincial council, as well as for the Carmelite General Curia in Rome. For the Diocese of Venice, Father Tillotson has served as Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish for nearly eight years.

25 years

Deacon John J. Mulvey

Deacon John J. Mulvey was born Nov. 27, 1931 in Syracuse, N.Y., to John J. and Mary O’Hara Mulvey. He was veteran of the U.S. Air Force, having served for 30 years before retiring in 1982 and later worked as a glazier at Syracuse University. He studied at Le Moyne Jesuit College in Syracuse and was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on May 14, 1994 in the Diocese of Syracuse. Deacon Mulvey served at the two parishes in the Diocese of Syracuse. For the Diocese of Venice, he serves at St. Katherine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral and St. Therese Parish in North Fort Myers. He is married to Patricia (Wood) and they have four children and five grandchildren.




Deacon Armand R. Ragosta

Deacon Armand R. Ragosta was born May 23, 1946 in Providence, Armando and Etta Zompa Ragosta. He has a graduate degree from of Providence College in education and religious studies and has an undergraduate degree from the Boston Conservatory of Music. He retired in 2002 after 33 years as a music teacher for the Cranston (R.I.) School Department. He ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on Oct. 15, 1994 in the Diocese of Providence. There he served in three different parishes. Deacon Ragosta winters in Englewood and since 2015 for the Diocese of Venice he serves at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Grove City and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice. He was married to his wife Ann Fiedorowicz for 48 years before her passing in 2017. They have two children.

Second wave of donated items delivered to Panhandle

Staff Report – Florida Catholic


The second delivery of items donated by the faithful of the Diocese of Venice has been delivered and distributed to those recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

Deacon Henry deMena and Paul Unsworth of St. Agnes Parish helped deliver the supplies to St. Dominic Parish in Panama City on Nov. 2. There he spent the week helping to hand out needed supplies to people who are continuing to struggle to rebuild their lives nearly a month after the storm struck the Panhandle.

“The destruction is truly indescribable,” Deacon deMena said. “The number of homes that are damaged or destroyed is amazing. Entire strip malls turned to rubble. We saw boats on their side in the middle of roads (more than three weeks after the storm); trailer homes either destroyed or lying on their sides; trees that were snapped like twigs, etc.”

The emergency supplies were the result of a Diocese-wide appeal that showed a tremendous response of donated emergency items, including water, food and cleaning supplies.

Deacon deMena and a colleague spent the week at the distribution center for food, water, personal hygiene, pet food and many other items located at St. Dominic Parish. The center operated from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and had a continuous stream of cars coming through.

“The needs are endless up there and yet everyone who came through the line were so upbeat and appreciative of what we were all doing for them,” the Deacon explained. “As the colder weather approaches people were looking for blankets since many of them are living in a partial home open to the outside.”

The distribution site is in the shadow of the Church, which had major damage. The rectory, parish hall and faith formation buildings were destroyed.

Everywhere he turned, Deacon deMena saw volunteers making a difference, working alongside Catholic Charities staff from across Florida and the nation being Jesus to the poor and downtrodden.

These students from St. John Neumann Catholic High School helped load this truck of hurricane relief supplies at the Catholic Charities Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center in Naples on Nov. 2. The supplies were delivered to the Florida Panhandle that weekend.

The first wave of supplies from the Diocese of Venice arrived in the Panhandle less than a week after Hurricane Michael struck on Oct. 10. The donations were then consolidated at the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities in Naples.

Students from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples helped load the truck deMena took of Panama City.

“I can’t list the many times we saw God’s hand in helping us,” Deacon deMena said of his time in Panama City. “This was a true example of how the Catholic Church works as a united front to care for ‘the least of my brothers.’”

Memorial Mass for Deacons held

By Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic


November is an appropriate time to remember those who have died, that they may someday be accepted into heaven.

For this reason, Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the Permanent Deacons and their wives to participate in a Memorial Mass each year as a time to pray for, to honor, and to remember the Deacons and their wives who have passed away. The 2018 Mass was celebrated on Nov. 6 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. Today, there are more than 50 Permanent Deacons, many seasonal, living and serving throughout the Diocese.

Bishop Dewane paid tribute to the Deacons for answering the call of the Lord in a precise way and took time to honor those who came before to ensure they are not forgotten.

“Being a Deacon is about building a spiritual life,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is an intentional aspect of discipleship. You go forward – with the support of your spouse – blessed by the Lord who provides the resources necessary so that you finish that call you were given.”

That call includes being representatives of the Living Church. Permanent Deacons serve as Ministers of Word, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, and teaching in the name of the Church. They also baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of Charity, Deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshaling the resources to meet those needs.

The goal of the Memorial Mass is to bring attention to all of the Deacons who have served in the Diocese of Venice since its founding in 1984.

“Let us not just remember on a single day those who go before us,” Bishop Dewane concluded. “Let us not forget that example of strength they gave us before continuing on their journey toward the Lord.”

As part of this annual tradition, the names of those who have passed away during the previous year are solemnly read as a candle is lit in their honor. Included in the list of names were Deacon Edward McCarthy, Deacon Joseph Cirieco, Lillian Camacho and Miriam Horvath.

Deacon Frank Camacho said that the annual Mass serves as an opportunity for the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese, and their spouses, to take time out to reflect on those who have died in the most appropriate way through Mass and prayer.


Bereavement: Surviving the Holidays

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic


The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone but more so for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The rush of memories can make it feel as if the loss is happening all over again.

To help the bereaved, the Office of Family Life offered three “There is Hope: Surviving the Holidays” workshops led by Deacon Henry deMena of St. Agnes Parish in Naples, who has extensive training experience as a bereavement counselor.

Deacon deMena tried to help the bereaved make sense out of what doesn’t make sense: grief. The workshops took place Nov. 13 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs, and Nov. 15 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and Incarnation Parish in Sarasota.

Deacon deMena spoke about how the grieving process is an emotional roller coaster and spiritually one can find peace at times and then find anger. None of this is unusual. While prayers can bring comfort, they cannot magically take pain away.

“As humans we might feel God has abandoned us when trying to deal with the loss of a loved one,” Deacon deMena said. “It’s OK, because God has broad shoulders. He can handle you being upset with Him. The more you can pray and talk to the Lord, the easier it will be to help Him find you. God wants to share His love and comfort with us.”

The holidays are difficult because anxiety and stress levels are running high for everyone. Anything that can be done to reduce the effort and stress of the season is recommended.

The first Thanksgiving or the first Christmas after a loss is a stark reminder for the bereaved that the deceased is no longer there in a specific and powerful way. Fortunately, as time passes the recovery for the bereaved from the holiday is quicker.

“You need to expect and accept the pain of the day,” Deacon deMena said of holidays. “Feel what you need to feel, not with others want you to feel.”

Deacon deMena offered a variety of suggestions on how to get through the holidays by planning ahead for any activity to help avoid surprises. One thing not to do during the holidays is pretending everything is the same or fine, or to not talk about the loved one as if they never existed. This actually is more painful for the bereaved.

Other topics included common grieving feelings and misunderstandings; bereaving time frames; holiday bereavement for children/teens; coping techniques; and the power of prayer.

Workshop attendees shared their own stories of grief and the challenge of dealing with well-intentioned friends and family who are offering advice.

One gentleman from Bonita Springs explained how he is trying to cope with the recent loss of his wife of more than 50 years. “There is a hole in my life. Thanksgiving and Christmas just seem so overwhelming.”

Deacon deMena stressed the need for the bereaved to express their emotions and not hide them. He suggested several ways to incorporate the memory of the lost loved one in some way at a gathering can overcome some difficulties friends or family might have when bringing up the deceased.

“Doing the holidays different is okay,” the Deacon said. “Things are not the same. There is no reason to act as if they are.”

Deacon DeMena will be holding an Hour of Remembrance Prayer Vigil at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12 at St. Agnes Parish Chapel, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. This is an hour before the Lord in prayer and music for all who are suffering or grieving in any way.

For more information about bereavement counseling, please contact Deacon deMena at

Training Session

For those who are interested in becoming a Parish bereavement volunteer, the Diocese Office of Family Life is hosting a training called “There is Hope: Bereavement Training.” This will focus on training parish bereavement volunteers and those who speak with the bereaved and is not a workshop to help someone who has recently lost a loved one.  Deacon deMena holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling with extensive training and experience in Bereavement. The training will be held Jan. 24-25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., both days, at St. Ann Parish, 985 3rd St. S., Naples. The cost is $25 per person which includes lunch for both days and materials.  More information can be found at  The registration link is:  and please register by January 21.