2024 Priest and Deacon Jubilarians

Seven Priests and four Permanent Deacons who are celebrating the 25th and 50th anniversaries of their ordination in 2024 were recognized and honored on March 26, 2024, during the annual Chrism Mass at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane congratulated each jubilarian for their years of service to Christ and Holy Mother Church. A reception was held in the Parish Hall following the Mass.

The priest golden jubilarians were Msgr. Mark Svarczkopf, who assists at multiple Parishes in Hardee and Highlands counties; Father Richard Bondi, who assists at Ave Maria Parish and University in Ave Maria; and Father Brian Manning, who assists at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples. Priest silver jubilarians were Father Anthony Hewitt, Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Boca Grande; Father Victor Caviedes; who is Parochial Vicar at St. Jude Parish in Sarasota; Father Anthonio Jean, who is Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton; and Father Jayabalan (Jay) Raju, Administrator of St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers.

Among the Deacons, the lone golden jubilarian was Deacon Michael Leahy, who is retired. Celebrating their silver jubilees are Deacon Edward Gwiazda, who assists at St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres; Deacon William Hickey, who assists at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch; and Deacon Alfred Mauriello, who assists at St. Finbarr Parish in Naples.

Jubilarian Bios

50 years

Father Richard A Bondi

Father Richard Bondi graduated from Boston College in 1970 with a degree in philosophy and theology, then from Mount Saint Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, with a degree is sacred scripture. On May 11, 1974, he was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Springfield (Massachusetts) where he served as both Parochial Vicar and Pastor in various Parishes. Further assignments, in addition to Parish ministry, members of the Diocesan Priest Senate, head of the Renew Program, as well as assisting at six different university and colleges within the Diocese. Father Bondi served as Chair of the Diocesan Building Commission and further advanced his studies, receiving a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Psychology and Clinical Studies from Weston Jesuit School of Theology. In 2009, Father purchased a home in Ave Maria and since 2022 he retired to the Diocese of Venice, assisting at Ave Maria Parish and Ave Maria University. Born the second of twin sons, Father Bondi was born in 1948 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Father Brian Manning

Father Brian Manning was Ordained to the Priesthood in Boston, Massechusetts, on May 18, 1974. Father Manning obtained degrees from St. John Seminary College in Boston. Upon his ordination, Father served as Parochial Vicar at several Parishes in the Boston area. As Pastor, Father Manning served at Parishes in Somerville, Scituate, and Franklin, before retiring in 2023 to Naples. Father currently assists at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples. Father Manning was born in 1948, the fourth of six children.



Msgr. Mark Svarczkopf

Prior to ordination, Msgr. Mark Svarczkopf studied at the Latin School of Indianapolis High School Seminary, St. Meinard Seminary College and then at Pontifical North American College in Rome. Ordained to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on June 8, 1974, Msgr. began his priestly ministry in various capacities including Associate Pastor, Administrator, Pastor, Chaplain of Scouts, Dean of the Indianapolis Northern Deanery, and Priest Moderator. He was also named Prelate of Honor, Director of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education, U.S. Bishop’s Seminary, North American College in Rome, and Vice-Rector for Administration of the North American College. Msgr. Svarczkopf retired in 2019 and for the Diocese of Venice currently assists in the Eastern Deanery, including at St. Michael in Wauchula, St. Catherine in Sebring, St. James in Lake Placid, and Our Lady of Grace in Avon Park. Born in 1948, Msgr. has two brothers.

25 years

Father Victor A. Caviedes

Father Victor Caviedes, a native of Lima, Peru, earned degrees from the University of Martin de Porres in Peru, and Autonomous University in Madrid, Spain. While in Madrid, he met Father Celestino Gutierrez who arranged for him to come to the United States in 1997. He studied as St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. Bishop John J. Nevins ordained Father Victor as a Diocesan priest at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice on Oct. 22, 1999. For the Diocese of Venice, Father has served at numerous Parishes as a Parochial Vicar, including Our Lady Queen of Heaven in LaBelle, Jesus the Worker in Fort Myers, and St. James in Lake Placid, dedicating himself to pastoral work with poor families and immigrants. Father’s current assignment is as Parochial Vicar at St. Jude Parish in Sarasota. He was born in Peru in 1953.

Father Anthony Hewitt

Father Anthony Hewitt was Ordained to the Priesthood at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice on Oct. 22, 1999. He studied at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, and at St. Vincent de Paul Regional seminary in Boynton Beach, and Catholic University in Washington, D.C., prior to his ordination. For the Diocese of Venice, Father Hewitt has served as Parochial Vicar at St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral, St. Jude Parish in Sarasota, and Pastor at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers. Father currently serves as Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Boca Grande. In addition to his Parish duties, Father also serves as a Defender of the Bond in the Diocesan Tribunal Office. Father was born in Kokomo, Indiana, in 1971 and has three younger sisters.

Father Anthonio Jean

Upon completing his studies at Cap-Haitien College Notre-Dame and the Grand Seminary Notre Dame of the Holy Cross in Haiti, Father Anthonio Jean was Ordained to the Priesthood on Oct. 22, 1999, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Father has served as Parochial Vicar at numerous Parishes within the Diocese of Venice, including St. Charles Borromeo in Port Charlotte, St. Francis Xavier in Fort Myers, San Pedro in North Port, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles in Bradenton, and St. Katharine Drexel in Cape Coral. Father Jean also served as Administrator of St. James Parish in Lake Placid. His most recent assignment is as Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton. He also served on the Presbyteral Council as a representative of the Eastern Deanery. Father Jean was born in Carice, Haiti in 1966, and has eight siblings.

Father Jayabalan (Jay) Raju

Having received degrees from Arul Anandar College, and St. Paul’s Seminary, all in India, Father Jayabalan (Jay) Raju was Ordained to the Priesthood on Aprill 11, 1999. His assignments as a priest included Parishes in India as well as Director of Madurai Multipurpose Social Service Society (Diocesan Catholic Charities), and Deputy Director of the Tamil Nadu Social Service Society (Regional Catholic Charities), also in India. For the Diocese of Venice, Father Raju has served as a Parochial Vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Grove City, St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral, St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers, and Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Father’s current assignment is as Administrator of St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers. Father Raju was born in 1971 and is the middle of three children.


Permanent Deacons

50 years

Deacon Michael Leahy

Deacon Michael Leahy obtained his education at the University of Dayton in Ohio, the University of Toledo in Ohio and Sacred Heart Seminary, Shelby, Ohio. On June 1, 1974, Deacon Michael was Ordained as a Permanent Deacon at Rosary Cathedral in Toledo. Since his Ordination, Deacon Leahy has served in nine different Dioceses in seven different states. Highlights from his career includes serving in jails, as well as state and federal prisons; being a Fire Department Chaplain in Ohio and Florida; leading a Deacon Training Course in New Hampshire and the Diocese of Charlotte; and serving in rest homes and hospitals in several different Dioceses. Deacon Leahy was born in 1939 in Tiffin, Ohio.  He has been married to his wife, Judy, for 62 years. Together they have eight children, 31 grandchildren and 17 great-children.

25 years

Deacon Edward J. Gwiazda

Deacon Edward Gwiazda was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on May 8, 1999, in Trenton, New Jersey.  He completed his studies at Monmouth University, West Longbranch, New Jersey.  Deacon Edward served at St. Isaac Jogues Parish, New Jersey, and currently serves at St. Raphael Parish, Lehigh Acres.  For his career, Deacon Gwiazda was a software engineer. Deacon Edward was born in 1948 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is married to Kathleen, and they have one child and two grandchildren.


Deacon William Lawrence Hickey

On June 6, 1999, Deacon William Hickey was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  His post graduate education was completed at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Deacon Hickey served in Philadelphia as Assistant to the Associate Vicar for Clergy – Permanent Deacons, and as Associate to the Director in the Archdiocese for Permanent Deacons as well as at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in West Chester. For the Diocese of Venice, Deacon Hickey serves at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch. He was born in Philadelphia in 1962, and is married to Melissa (Carragher) Hickey. They have six children and eight grandchildren. His current profession is as an Instructional design consultant.

Deacon Alfred J. Mauriello II MD

Following his Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate on June 5, 1999, in Philadelphia, Penn. Deacon Alfred Mauriello served at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish and continues to serve at Ss. Simon and Jude Parish, both in Philadelphia. Since 2022, he assists in the winter months at St. Finbarr Parish in Naples for the Diocese of Venice. Deacon Alfred was born in Philadelphia in 1943, and attended St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia. On June 1, 2023, Deacon Mauriello retired as a head and neck surgeon. Since his retirement, he still volunteers his time. Deacon Alfred is married to Susan (Patterson) and they have three children.

Deacons encouraged to increase outreach to Hispanic Catholic youth

Several dozen Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of Venice recently gathered to learn how to better serve young Hispanic Catholics, the fastest-growing population both in the Diocese and the nation.

Dr. Hosffman Ospino of Boston College shared practical examples for growth and success in this important demographic in the domestic Catholic Church. He was brought to speak to the Deacons through an invitation from Bishop Frank J. Dewane.

Bishop Dewane said he was pleased Ospino could talk to the Deacons about the needs of Hispanic youth, and tear down some of the misconceptions some have about the Hispanic community in general.

“The Hispanic presence, especially the young people, is not a threat to anyone,” Ospino said. “This is an opportunity, because they are of the same Church. The Church exists to evangelize and right now there is an urgency to evangelize these young men and women so they can become the next generation of evangelizers.”

Ospino praised the Permanent Deacons for answering the call to serve the Church “to go joyfully into the world to proclaim the Good News of the Lord. Because of this, you are the wisdom figure in your Parish communities. Deacons and their spouses are called to evangelize, not to preserve the past, but to ensure the future of our Parish communities.”

Offering a dizzying array of statistics, Ospino said that of the 32 million Roman Catholic Hispanics living in the U.S., about 19 million are 30 or younger. Of those 18 and younger, 94 percent were born in the U.S. and can speak English.

“There is pressure from elders for the younger generation to keep their immigrant roots, versus being Americanized,” Ospino said. “It is a question of cultural background. The only difference is their cultural background,” Ospino said. This means the programs that have worked for the last 25 years won’t work, because the families will pull their children out of any program once the families feel they are not being engaged.”

The answer is to form a partnership with the Hispanic families at the Parish, creating a spirit of cooperation to preach, teach and advocate for the children.

“The idea is to create a welcoming and affirming environment, giving the youth and parents a sense of agency,” Ospino said. “We don’t need state-of-the-art equipment in the classrooms. We need to reach them on the level where they will be engaged and have fun while growing in their relationship with Christ. You must listen to the community and ask for their needs. When you learn what the community wants, focus on one effort, and respond to that well. Know this, if you try to address everything, no outreach exists to do it all.”

Citing a dozen different programs from across the country that have had success in reaching Hispanic youth, Ospino said each serves a niche need within their communities. Some programs offer painting, cooking, music, and poetry classes alongside religious education, while others work on how to grow a relationship with Christ, starting with building better relationships in the household and in the community.

“This can be overwhelming when you are not even sure what will work, but you need to start somewhere,” Ospino said. “Pray together. Eat together. Serve together.”

Praying together can include a community Liturgy of the Hours or praying of the rosary. Eating together means having a Parish fair or festival that celebrates all cultures. The serving together is working in a unified effort to meet need in the community such as feeding the hungry or a clothing drive.

“These are simple, but this approach can work,” Ospino said. “It is you, the Deacons and your spouses, that can make it happen. This can be something that takes place four times a year, and it will grow because these are opportunities to grow as a community together, in the Glory of God.”

The Deacons were impressed by the presentation and noted how the reality of the increasing numbers of Hispanic Catholics in the Church is important to know and information they learned from Ospino will help outreach to this important population.

Bishop Dewane and Ospino encouraged the Deacons to return to their home Parish armed with inspiration and information on how to better connect to Hispanic Catholic youth. The potential to engage and attract more young people to grow in the faith was inspiring!

News Briefs for the week of February 16, 2024

Large group goes to Catholic Days

More than 50 people from the Diocese of Venice, including Bishop Frank J. Dewane and two dozen Catholic school students, took part in Catholic Days at the Capitol in Tallahassee from Feb. 7 to Feb. 8, 2024. This is an annual opportunity for the faithful to voice opinions directly to lawmakers from Southwest Florida on key pieces of legislation which are under consideration during this session. Primary focus was on ensuring the continued limitation on access to abortion. The students from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota and Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers also met with lawmakers and received a tour of the State Capitol.

40 Days for Life opens in Fort Myers, Sarasota and Naples

Show your support for life by simply praying for an end to abortion on the public sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood throughout the Lenten Season until March 24, 2024. For details and flier go to www.40daysforlife.com (add /sarasota or /fortmyers or /naples for a direct link to the location near you). Questions? Contact Jeanne at 941-374-1068 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

Two Diocesan teams participate in Model UN conference

Teams from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples and Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Sarasota were delegates to the 23rd Boston University Model United Nations Conference (BosMUN) Feb. 2 to Feb. 4, 2024. The Model UN is a three-day simulation of the United Nations hosted by Boston University for high school students. Jake Marks and Alessio Cirino, of Neumann, took home the prestigious title of Outstanding Delegates, showcasing their exceptional diplomatic skills and commitment to global problem-solving. Fellow delegates Hunter Lund and Kale Van Wart received Verbal Commendations. Congratulations to all the delegates who listened, engaged, and contributed to this wonderful conference of intelligent minds who hope to help guide the world to a better tomorrow.

Bishop welcomes priests, deacons to his home

Ahead of the Lenten Season, Bishop Frank J. Dewane hosted the priests of the Diocese of Venice to his home for a dinner and reception on Feb. 9, 2024. The next evening the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese visited with Bishop for their own dinner and reception. The evenings were intended to create an opportunity for the clergy to gather together in an relaxing atmosphere ahead of busy Lenten Season.

Vocation talk inspires

Sharing her vocations journey, Sister Juliana Alfonso, Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco, and teacher at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, inspired eighth grade girls during a vocation talk at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers. Sister Juliana spoke about her vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and encouraged the young girls to think about their own relationship with Christ. Sister offered tips about growing closer to the Lord through prayer, reading the Sacred Scriptures, participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and most importantly by being at Mass each Sunday. The girls found Sister Julian engaging and loved having her visit.

Knights on Bikes promotes its Diaper Ride

The Knights on Bikes, a motorcycle club of the Knights of Columbus, took part in the first-ever Diaper Ride to Thrive Pregnancy Clinic in Cape Coral on Feb. 10, 2024. In addition to bringing diapers, they also donated $500. Thrive is a maternity home (formerly known as Lifeline), that brings Christ to women who have chosen life, The Knights on Bikes mission is to promote and adhere to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, and evangelize through fellowship, charity, and service. For more information about the Knights on Bikes please contact Pete Battle at 239-601-6061 or email konbflvenice@gmail.com.

Scholarship application deadline approaching

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida has opened the 2024-25 online scholarship applications. There are currently five different scholarships available from the Foundation. Applications close on Feb. 29, 2024. The majority of the scholarships are for residents of Sarasota County. These scholarships are for graduating seniors (class of 2023 or 2024), or for non-traditional students who have been out of school for 3+ years and wish to pursue a higher education. To find out which Catholic Community Foundation scholarship you qualify for, please visit www.ccfdioceseofvenice.org/scholarships.

Our Mother’s House Wine Tasting Feb. 29

All are invited to attend the Our Mother’s House Wine Tasting, 5:30 p.m., February 29, 2024, at the Venice Community Center, Venice, 326 Nokomis Ave. S. The event will benefit the mothers and children at Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. This is a 2-year transitional living program, dedicated to empowering single mothers and their young children. Tickets are $90. Register online at http://bidpal.net/2024omh. For more information, 941-485-6264 or email omh@catholiccharitiesdov.org.

New group of Permanent Diaconate Aspirants studying hard

There are currently 12 men who are off and running in their studies as part of the Permanent Diaconate Formation Class of 2028.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane selected the aspirants after each was nominated and vetted through an extensive screening process. A key characteristic of those selected is that each has a deep understanding of the Faith.

The 12 aspirants come from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds, representing all areas of the Diocese of Venice, forming one of the largest aspirant classes in Diocesan history, explained Diocesan Permanent Diaconate Director of Formation Deacon Bob Gaitens.

Bishop Dewane said of the men chosen: “Each has answered his own call to serve Our Lord and Holy Mother Church in a particular way, as a Permanent Deacon. The Class of 2028 is on a journey of Faith that will bring each of them, and their family, closer to the Lord.”

The aspirants began their five-year formation process in September 2023, with classes taking place at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota. They have already completed their first semester of classes (Old Testament Part 1 and Theology of Orders).  Now they will start on Psychology Part II, Eschatology and Morality.

An added benefit for the Class of 2028 is that they are being formed alongside the Class of 2025. This allows both groups to draw on each other’s strengths to enhance their formation process. Gaitens explained how the Class of 2025 has taken a mentor role with the Class of 2028 and have embraced the responsibility of taking a leadership position with their newer classmates.

“The class has begun to feel comfortable with the program” Deacon Gaitens said. “When classes started in the fall, there was some trepidation about speaking up in Class. But with the encouragement of the Class of 2025, we have seen the Class of 2028 engage in classroom participation. Their interaction has been invaluable and has shown that the class has a very keen understanding and acumen. They are a diverse group and will expand the Diocese’s ability to help in Spanish speaking communities.”

There are currently more than 65 active Permanent Deacons serving in Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice. The most recent Permanent Deacon group was ordained in August 2021. The mission of the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese is to serve as ministers of the Word, where they proclaim the Gospel, preaching and teaching in the name of the Church; helping the needy; serving the faithful; ministering the Sacrament of Baptism; leading the faithful in prayer; witnessing marriages; and conducting wake and funeral services.

Reflecting on the comments from many of his fellow members of the Class of 2028, Matthew Harkness, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Cape Coral, said it is a blessing to be part of the Diaconate Candidate program and feels honored to be among so many other worthy men who are committed to serving the Lord in a unique way.

The following constitute the Permanent Diaconate Class of 2028:

  • Aldo Boldi, St. Patrick Parish, Sarasota;
  • William (Oscar) Gamble, St. Raphael Parish, Lehigh Acres;
  • Kyle Goneau, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, Sarasota;
  • Ted Harb, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Naples;
  • Matthew Harkness, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Cape Coral;
  • Matthew Lesak, St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton;
  • Roberto Lewis, St. Agnes Parish, Naples;
  • George Smith, Incarnation Parish, Sarasota;
  • Alex Tsai, Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria;
  • Daniel Vasquez, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Myers;
  • David Wallace, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Myers;
  • Ed Watson, Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria.

Memorial Mass held for deceased Deacons and their wives

Remembering those who have gone before, Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the annual Memorial Mass for deceased Deacons and their wives on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.

The Mass is held in November to coincide with the Month of All Souls. In addition to Deacons and their spouses, also present were members of the Permanent Diaconate Formation Classes of 2025 and 2028 and their spouses.

The readings of the day were from All Souls Day (Nov. 2), when the faithful learn that God has provided life and an afterlife through His Son, Jesus Christ.

“We learn that death is not an end in itself,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Lord took the souls of the departed Deacons and their wives to Himself, fulfilling that promise of life ever after.”

Bishop Dewane explained that being a part of the Permanent Diaconate is a unique responsibility within the Church, resurrected following Vatican II. Since the Diocese of Venice was created in 1984, the Bishop said Deacons are following in the footsteps of their predecessors.

“The role of the Deacon is the idea of a ministry of service within the Church,” Bishop Dewane said. “The calling of a Deacon is to imitate the goodness and love that is God and be a beacon for others.”

The Memorial Mass brings together those Deacons, and their wives, serving today while honoring the memory of those who have served in the Diocese of Venice since its founding. Appropriately, it is a time of expressing gratitude to all for their answering the call of the Lord in a precise way.

Bishop Dewane concluded his homily by saying, “For all of the Deacons and their spouses who have gone before us and we no longer see, I end by saying: ‘Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!’”

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 Rich Spiro, Deacon William Cassidy, and Frances Pennypacker.

Today, there are more than 6o Permanent Deacons, many seasonal, living and serving throughout the Diocese of Venice.

Diaconate candidates instituted as Lector

One by one, the 10 Permanent Diaconate candidates placed their hands on a Bible, promising to live out and share the powerful message of its ancient, holy words.

“Take this Book of Holy Scripture, be faithful in handing on the Word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of His people,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane instructed during the Rite of Installation into the Ministry of Lector, Sept. 9, 2023, at a Vigil Mass at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota.

Installation to the Ministry of Lector is part of the candidate’s journey to ordained ministry in the Church, as the 10 are on track for ordination as Permanent Deacons in 2025.

According to the Church’s Law and practice, the instituted lector is charged with proclaiming the readings from the Sacred Scriptures (except for the Gospel), announcing the intentions in the Prayer of the Faithful (in the absence of a deacon), and reciting or singing the responsorial psalm if there is no cantor. As distinct from the typical Parish reader, these men will now exercise this ministry in a permanent way.

The following constitute the Permanent Diaconate Class of 2025:

  • Richard E. Dahn, St. Agnes Parish, Naples;
  • Richard A. Hellenbrand, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral;
  • Thomas A. Januszka, St. Francis Cabrini Parish, Parrish;
  • Stephen L. Jendrysik, Incarnation Parish, Sarasota,
  • James N. Jenkins, St. William Parish, Naples;
  • Ramon R. Kanacheril, St. Vincent DePaul Parish, Fort Myers;
  • Mark A. Osterhaus, St. Agnes Parish, Naples;
  • Orlando A. Rubiano, St. Vincent DePaul Parish, Fort Myers;
  • Jeffrey P. Tenbarge, St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples;
  • John-William M. Trainer III, St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples.

As part of the Rite, the deacon candidates were individually called forth to be presented to the Bishop. Following the homily, the Bishop continued the Rite by reciting a prayer of blessing on the men – granting that, as they meditate on the Word of God, they may grow in its wisdom and faithfully proclaim it to His people. Then each candidate came forward to be presented the Holy Scriptures by the Bishop.

“Be conscious of what it is you do,” Bishop Dewane said. “In proclaiming God’s word to others, it is key that you accept it yourselves, and do it in obedience to the Holy Spirit.”

The diaconate candidates were told by the Bishop that this new responsibility is more than just reading Sacred Scriptures; it is about their understanding the text, and also revealing the Word of God to those around them.

Deacon Bob Gaitens, the Director of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate, said the deacon candidates have worked hard to get to this point.

“This is an important milestone as the candidates are very busy with ongoing intellectual study through the formation program,” Deacon Gaitens said.

Deacon candidates admit that their journey can feel like a marathon at times, and it can be a challenge to fit the many requirements along with their ongoing daily life requirements of marriage, family, and work. Installation rites offer a much-needed boost as they continue on their path.

John-William Trainer III, of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, was overjoyed to have reached this important moment in his formation journey. He credited the support of his wife, Angela, their three children, and Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary with his reaching this point. “I feel so blessed,” Trainer said.

Present for the installation were the wives of the candidates, who also take part in the formation process attending several of the formation weekends each year with their husbands. The wives are an integral part of the diaconate program as they support their husbands through prayer, sacrifice, and by assuming added duties of home and family.

Also present were children of the candidates, other supporters and friends as well as the recently selected Permanent Diaconate Class of 2028, who were taking part in their first formation weekend.

Upon completion of their formation program and Ordination to the Diaconate, Permanent Deacons may officiate at baptisms, weddings and funerals, read the Gospel and preach at Mass, and help with the canonical process for marriage and baptism. One of their greatest priorities, however, is service to the poor and marginalized.

Please keep the 10 Permanent Deacon candidates and their families in your prayers.

News Briefs for week of August 18, 2023

Knights honor clergy

The Knights of Columbus of Saints Cosmas and Damian Council 13341 of Bradenton hosted a Clergy Appreciation Dinner on Aug. 12, 2023, at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch. Among the honorees were Bishop Frank J. Dewane; Father Sebastian Szczawínski, Pastor of Our Lady of the Angels; Father Shawn Roser, Parish Parochial Vicar and Diocesan Vocations Director; Msgr. Joseph Stearns who is retired but assists at the Parish; Deacon Jack Milholland; and Deacon G. Thomas Harencher. The evening included dinner for more than 200 and each of the honorees was presented with a commemorative compass. Grand Knight Jerry Graceffo Jr. said it was appropriate for the Knights to honor the clergy who serve the spiritual needs of the faithful is many different ways.

High school welcomes new assistant director

Bishop Verot Catholic High School has announced the hiring of a new Assistant Director of Special Events, Donor & Alumni Relations. Crystal Melton will lead Bishop Verot’s events and alumni relations efforts as the school continues to have record enrollment and growth. Melton brings with her experience in the field of events, fundraising and community relations. Melton earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. She previously was on the Verot School Board and the chair of the Curriculum & Academic Affairs Committee for the school. Most recently, she was a teacher and Director of Development at St. Andrew Catholic School.  Melton grew up in Alaska and Virginia, before moving to Florida in 2010 with her husband and their two children. Her daughter is a Verot Alum and her son is an 8th grader at St. Andrew Catholic School, and a future Viking.

Support our seminarians

Support, encourage and educate future priests through the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Seminarian Fund. Join the VDCCW in celebrating Priesthood Sunday on September 24, 2023, in a special and lasting way by sending your Parish Priest a Seminarian Fund “IN HONOR OF” card. This is a gift that keeps on giving. The Diocese is currently educating 13 men in various seminaries and a donation of any amount would be a great help (The donation amount will not be revealed to the recipient). To take part, please send your donation, made out to VDCCW Seminarian Fund (plus $1 to cover postage and printing) to: Cornelia Zaneƫti, Seminarian Fund Guardian, 5808 Gulf Drive, #204, Holmes Beach, FL 34217.

Early bird registration for the Marriage Conference

Registration is now open for the Oct. 21, 2023, Diocese of Venice “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference, presented in partnership with the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life and the St. John Paul II Foundation. This marriage enrichment conference will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. All Catholic married and engaged couples throughout the Diocese of Venice and beyond are welcome. Grow together in holiness, learn to form your children in the Catholic Faith, enjoy a day of quality time with your spouse, witness dynamic presentations! The day will include the Mass and the availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This special event is for all couples, engaged, newlywed or long married! On-site childcare will be provided. Early bird couple registration is $54, ($64 after Aug. 28). To register, please visit https://forlifeandfamily.org/events/th23-vnfl/. Please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org for further information.

Catholic Charities event to benefit programs in DeSoto County

The 2023 Boots and Bandannas event to benefit the programs of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., in DeSoto County will take place, at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, at Our Lady of Angels Parish, 12905 SR. 70 E., Lakewood Ranch. Enjoy a fun night of great food, live auction, and live music by Andy Pursell and his band.  Kick up your heels for a great cause with programs such as a food pantry, farmworker and senior housing, youth and afterschool educational enrichment programs, financial and housing assistance and disaster response and recovery.  For more details, and to register for Boots and Bandannas 2023, please visit, https://one.bidpal.net/2023boots/welcome.

Red Mass for legal professionals to be held in Sarasota

The Red Mass, a medieval tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, is observed annually in the Diocese of Venice. The Red Mass will be celebrated at 5:30 p.m., Oct. 18, 2023, at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange St., Sarasota. Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop will be the main celebrant. A reception hosted by the Catholic Lawyers Guild (CLG) follows immediately at the Fr. Fausto Parish Hall. The first recorded Red Mass was held in the Cathedral of Paris in 1245. The popular name “Red Mass” refers to the traditional red vestments of the clergy and the judges when convened at the royal courts in Europe. Prayers at the Red Mass are offered to invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon those who serve in law and the administration of justice. Hence, lawyers, judges, public officials, law enforcement officers, and law students are specifically invited to participate at the Red Mass, although everyone is welcome to attend. In the United States, an annual Red Mass is held in Washington, D.C., before the opening of the U.S. Supreme Court. Similarly, Red Mass is held at the start of the legislative session in Tallahassee. The first Red Mass in the Diocese of Venice was held in March 2008 at St. Martha. At the Red Mass, prayers are for wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord, to help us through these challenging times. For further information, please contact Atty. Paul Consbruck at 866-558-7285; 941-966-6706 or adoptfla@yahoo.com.

News Briefs for the Week of Jan. 27, 2023

Retreat brings Deacons together

Two retreats were recently held for the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of Venice, first Jan. 19, 2023, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice and then on Jan. 21, at Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers. The retreats were presented by Deacon Dominic Cerrato, Director of Diaconal Ministries and editor of “The Deacon Magazine.”  The goal for the retreat was to offer the opportunity for the Deacons to grow in greater intimacy with Christ the Servant. The retreat reemphasized what the Deacons committed to during the prayer of ordination as it relates to: “Our relationship to Him; Our Identity in Him; Our mission with Him.” Deacon Cerrato explained that these are the three key elements in grasping the essential nature of the Diaconate.

Principal gathering held in Sarasota

Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools principals gathered for their Colloquio 2023 meeting Jan. 19-20, 2023, in Sarasota. The meeting focused on goal setting and empowering the principals in how they can support their faculty and staff to help ensure long-term retention. The keynote was Tony Ferraro, of Floyd Consulting, who spoke on “The Dream Manager,” a program based on a book by acclaimed author Matthew Kelly. The book is a business parable about how companies can achieve remarkable results by helping their employees fulfill their dreams. The meeting was organized by Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Education, and Jennifer Falestiny, Diocesan Curriculum Specialist.

Robotics program teaches “Gifts of Christ”

Third grade students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School began the robotics unit Jan. 18, 2023, in technology class and are learning to focus on the Gift of Christ, affability, with their partner. Working together, the students built a robotic snail and used block coding to create the snail’s communication through signal lights.

Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal ending

The 21st Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is continuing through the end of January 2023. A donation to the Appeal strengthens Catholic Charities ability to provide much-needed support, for those recovering from Hurricane Ian, or who need any type of assistance in the region. This outreach is accomplished through more than 35 programs in locations throughout the 10-county Diocese. These programs annually support more than 100,000 individuals and families in ways both large and small. To support the Christmas Appeal, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or mail a contribution to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Last call to book hotel rooms for Diocesan Eucharistic Congress

The two-part Diocese of Venice Eucharistic Congress and Youth Rally is coming March 24 and 25, 2023, to the Caloosa Sound Convention Center and Luminary Hotel on the riverfront of downtown Fort Myers. For those wishing to spend the evening of the 24th or 25th at the Luminary Hotel, the deadline to obtain a special rate is Feb. 1, please make your reservation by visiting https://www.marriott.com/event-reservations/reservation-link.mi?id=1658159545793&key=GRP&app=resvlink. The Eucharistic Congress Youth Rally is 5 to 10 p.m., Friday, March 24, while the Adult Eucharistic Congress is Saturday, March 25. Exciting speakers and musicians are scheduled for these two events. Both events will include Eucharistic Processions and the opportunity to grow closer to the Lord through the Blessed Sacrament. Visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/eucharistic-congress/ to register and for additional details.

Parishes participate in the National Night of Prayer for Life

On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 33rd annual National Night of Prayer for Life took place within the Diocese of Venice at four Parishes.

The National Night of Prayer for Life is an effort to unite people across the country, establishing a bridge between the Solemnity and the Feast of St. Juan Diego, to protect our culture, our Church and our land. Participating Parishes included San Pedro in North Port, St. Agnes in Naples, St. James in Lake Placid, and Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles in Bradenton.

The faithful were encouraged to make reparations for all the lives lost in this nation to abortion and to pray that parents may be conscious of their calling as they share in God’s creative power. Prayers were also made that those who have acted against human life experience forgiveness.

The National Night of Prayer for Life includes adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the holy rosary, prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, silent prayer and hymns.

The goal is to be united with churches across the country in prayer to end abortion and restore God’s blessings of Life and Religious Liberty in America.

At San Pedro Parish in North Port, the prayer vigil was led by Deacon Richard Frohmiller and corresponded with overlapping times across the different times zones in the country between 9 p.m. through 1 a.m. The unifying time when all major times zones in the country participated was between midnight and 1 a.m. (9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the west coast).

During the San Pedro vigil, the faithful were able to complete each of the Mysteries of the Rosary, participate in an Act of Consecration, prayers to St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Pius XII Prayer to Our Queen (reign Prayer).

Deacon Frohmiller said the importance of participating in the National Night of Prayer was not diminished by the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but is actually now more important than ever as many states are focusing on allowing abortions until birth, and/or forcing more taxpayer funding for this evil act.

To learn more about abortion and respect life issues in general, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife.

Memorial Mass held for Deacons and their wives

Remembering those who have gone before, Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the annual Deacon Memorial Mass on Nov. 19, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

The Mass is held in November to coincide with the Month of All Souls. In addition to Deacons and their spouses, also present were members of the Permanent Diaconate Formation Class of 2025 and their spouses.

The readings of the day were from All Souls Day (Nov. 2), when the faithful learn that God has provided life and an afterlife through His Son, Jesus Christ.

“Jesus identifies himself as the Bread of Life,” Bishop Dewane said. “Christ takes that opportunity to reveal Himself to you, and to me, so you and I will choose Him and hear His message, achieving a new level of understanding of what that eternal life means… We are conscious that we have a life here on earth for a limited time, so do those we love. But that reality isn’t a denial of death. Christ offers something more to us, and to those who came before – a lifting up. It is the eternal promise of being in the hands of God.”

Bishop Dewane explained that being a part of the Permanent Diaconate is a unique responsibility and humble role in the Church, for they live a sacramental marriage and answer a specific call to serve the Lord. Pope Francis says Deacons are sentinels, people of action who look out for the poor, those who are on the margins and those who might be on the fringes of the Church.

“Deacons help the Christian community to spot those who are far off on the margins by getting the larger community to see and understand as well as work to bring them closer to the Lord,” the Bishop said.

The Memorial Mass brings together those Deacons, and their wives, serving today while honoring the memory of those who have served in the Diocese of Venice since its founding in 1984. Appropriately, it is a time of expressing gratitude to all for their answering the call of the Lord in a precise way.

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 Vicki Brenner, Gail Tomasso, Sapina Pele, Joan Zammett, and Andrea Schultz.

Today, there are more than 60 Permanent Deacons, many seasonal, living and serving throughout the Diocese.

Applications sought for new Permanent Diaconate class

Bishop Frank J. Dewane has approved the call for applicants to the permanent diaconate, Class of 2028.  There are currently 10 men studying in the five-year program. The new class will begin in September 2023.

Inquirers must be Catholics in good standing and fully initiated into the faith for at least five years. An inquirer must be at least 35 years of age at the time of application and no older than 60 at ordination.

Informational meetings will be held for inquirers and their wives on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, or on Dec. 10, 2022, at St. Martha’s Parish, 200 N. Orange St., Sarasota. The meetings are from 10 a.m. to noon.

Further information is also available from the Diaconate Office at the Catholic Center in Venice by calling Deacon Bob Gaitens, Director of Diaconate Student Formation, at 941-350-2634 or email gaitens@dioceseofvenice.org. Further information on the Permanent Diaconate may be found on the Diocesan web site at https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/permanent-diaconate/.