There are two dates in July which hold a special place in the heart of Bishop Frank J. Dewane, July 16 and July 25.
July 16, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is the day in which he received the Sacrament of Holy Orders 32 years ago in 1988 for the Diocese of Green Bay. In addition, it was 14 years ago, on July 25, 2006, when he was Ordained to the Episcopate, becoming a Bishop and eventual Spiritual Leader of the Diocese of Venice in Florida.
“I have been blessed and humbled to be in the Diocese of Venice in Florida,” Bishop Dewane said. “The duty of a Bishop is as Shepherd of a Diocese and to serve the pastoral needs of the faithful. It is the People of God and serving them that defines me as their Bishop.”
In those 14 years as Bishop, there has been unprecedented growth in the 10-county, 10,000 square-miles Diocese. This has necessitated the establishment of seven new parishes, and a chapel for the Latin Mass, as well as the expansion of many other facilities. This growth has all been done to address the pastoral dimension for the people of God.
Impacts from Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the ongoing response to the COVID-19 Pandemic have challenged the workings of the Diocese in different ways, but Bishop Dewane noted that, as in the aftermath of the hurricane, the Diocese and the Catholic Church remains strong.
“It is at times of great peril when people seek comfort from their Faith,” Bishop Dewane said. “As the impacts of the Pandemic linger, the Diocese is committed to continuing to serve the faithful in every way possible.”
Before the outbreak and quarantines, Bishop Dewane took part in the Ad Limina visit to Rome in February 2020, with the Bishops of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The highlight of the visit included a Feb. 13, 2020 audience with Pope Francis, after which Bishop Dewane was presented with a medal and rosary.
In addition, during the past year the Bishop has led two Diocesan initiatives which endeavored to encourage the faithful to grow closer to the Lord. First was the “Disciples of Christ,” campaign, which taught students in Catholic Schools and in Parish religious education programs what it means to follow Christ and to be a Disciple of the Lord.
Most recently, Bishop Dewane announced that the Diocese would celebrate a “Year of St. Joseph” from March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, 2020, the Bishop, in the context of the coronavirus, consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of St. Joseph. “Particularly in this time of uncertainty in light of the Pandemic, it is appropriate to seek the intercessions of the saints for guidance and protection,” Bishop Dewane said when announcing the “Year of St. Joseph.” The Bishop encouraged the faithful to join in heartfelt prayer and devotion, using the life of St. Joseph as our model for fulfilling our personal call to holiness. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/a-year-of-st-joseph/ for links to prayers, devotions and the latest announcements related to the ongoing ‘Year of St. Joseph.”
Happy Anniversaries Bishop and best wishes for the coming year.