Just past the midpoint of Advent, we all have been provided an initial time of fruitful preparation for the coming of Christ into our hearts and homes. As we look toward the end of Advent and the coming of Christmas, the call to become “A Disciple of Christ” in a new way should come to mind each day. This Advent, the Diocese of Venice launched a campaign to be “A Disciple of Christ,” to invite Christ in a personal and transformative way into our hearts that leads us to follow Him intentionally and willfully. At this time, it is fitting to find newness in our relationship with Christ, to ask oneself, “How can I be more ‘A Disciple of Christ’ in my own life’?”
This beginning allows each of us a fresh start as well as a focal point which, of course, is Christ Himself. In the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa, “He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.” This is what it means to both become and to be a disciple, since it is Christ that we desire and His love that we know. It is never too late to begin anew, to follow Christ and invite Him into our hearts.
The Season of Advent began with the focus on the Second Coming of Christ, when He comes in glory to judge the living and the dead. The portion of the Season which we are entering now sets its gaze on the first coming, the coming of the Christ Child. With roughly a week left of Advent and in view of the quickly approaching Christmas Season, why not up our game? Make the most of the opportunity of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child into our own lives. Our beginning points may be different, as St. Gregory told us, but we continue to move from beginning to beginning so that Christ may be born in our hearts again and again.
The Gospel of Luke tells us of the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement of the coming of Christ. Mary, in a special way, displays what it means to be a disciple, and she is, in fact, the first “Disciple of Christ.” When she hears the Word of God spoken to her, she responds in faith, exclaiming, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (cf. Luke 1:38). This is the essence of living the Gospel: “may it be done to me according to your word”; it is an acceptance and a response to God. In this way, all ought to be “A Disciple of Christ,” eager to receive His call and respond with love and faith. Then let us act and boldly allow Christ to take precedence in our lives in every respect.
Another example to be taken from this is the hearing and listening to God’s Word. How often do we allow the Bible to collect dust on the coffee table or on a bookshelf? Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice, He knows them, and they follow Him (cf. John 10:27). In this Season of preparation and in the following Season of Christmas, open your Bible with your family. “Take and read” as the Lord spoke to St. Augustine. In this you will find the “words of eternal life” (cf. John 6:68) present in Our Lord who is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (cf. John 14:6) and you will know what it means to be “A Disciple of Christ.”
Looking toward the end of Advent and preparing for the coming of the Christ Child, be always aware of His Second Coming; be prepared to meet Christ as a disciple. Recognize the ways that He gives His love and respond to that love!
I wish you a fruitful remainder of the Advent Season and indeed a very Blessed and Merry Christmas! Know that you are in my prayers and please keep me in your prayers as we prepare for the coming of Christ into our hearts so as to be “A Disciple of Christ.”
The Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life recently hosted two retreats aimed at creating strong bonds between mothers and their daughters as well as fathers and their sons.
The Mother/Daughter Advent Retreat and Tea Party was Dec. 30 at St. Ann Parish in Naples. The Father/Son Retreat, with a theme of “Living as a True Man/Being on Fire as a Man of Faith,” took place Nov. 16 at the Donahue Academy of Ave Maria.
The nearly 40 mothers and daughters heard from Katie Hartfiel, who is an author and speaker dedicated to sharing the intense love of the Lord. Topics included: “Advent – A Waiting People;” “Mary – Why Loving Her Changes Everything;” and “Fatima and Marian Consecration – How the Miracle can change your life.” In addition to the talks, the mothers and daughters made Rosary key chains along with enjoying a classic English tea.
Some 75 fathers and sons heard talks from Dave DiNuzzo, a Catholic husband, father, speaker, author, and founder of founded TrueManhood Men’s Ministry. In addition to the talks, there were several outdoor activities, lawn games, and laser and archery battles while lunch was provided by a food truck. A key component to the day was Eucharistic Adoration as well as praise and worship, with the Sacrament of Reconciliation available after lunch.
The Office of Family Life strives to aid families in building a strong foundation with their lives centered on Christ through prayer and active participation in the Mass and Parish life.
The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound with Celebrant Bishop Frank J. Dewane will air for a full hour on Christmas Day. For viewers in the northern portions of the Diocese (DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Sarasota counties), the Mass will air at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass will air at 8 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). Please check your cable provider for channel listings. Leaflet missals are available upon request by calling Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714 or by writing: TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. For more information email email@example.com.
Student artwork nationally recognized
Two St. Martha Catholic School students named as 2018-2019 Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) Christmas Artwork Contest winners earlier in the year, were recognized locally on Dec. 13 for their achievement. Sixth grader Collier Moser, and seventh grader Charlotte Thompson were two of only 24 students nationwide to be recognized with this honor. Additionally, Charlotte’s artwork was named one of two grand prizes and was reproduced as the Christmas Card of the national office of the Missionary Childhood Association. On Dec. 13, Father Bob Kantor, Director of the Diocese Office of the Propagation of the Faith (Missions Office), went to the Sarasota school for a presentation and to personally congratulate the winners and their art teacher, Mary Jo Salomone. Earlier in December, Charlotte attended a Mass in celebration for winners and their families at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The artwork of all 24 student winners is on display there until mid-January.
Mass Honoring Widows and Widowers in Naples Jan. 26
Bishop Frank J. Dewane will celebrate a Mass for all widows and widowers beginning at 3 p.m., Jan. 26, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th N. Ave., Naples. Dinner will follow in the Parish Hall. A display of photos will be available for viewing during the reception; should you wish to participate with a photo of you and your deceased spouse, please email Gail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a copy in advance to Diocese of Venice, ATTN: Widows and Widowers Mass, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, Florida 34285. There is no cost to attend. Registration is required to plan for food. To register visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar. For more details contact Gail at 941-484-9543 or email@example.com.
Christmas Appeal continues
The annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal occurs now through January. The goal is to raise $565,000 and your gifts are much appreciated! The Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is the agency’s largest fundraiser and critical to operating the social service organization. Your donation will benefit Catholic Charities programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida that assist individuals, families, and seniors all year long. Thank you for your giving spirit! To donate please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or mail a donation to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.
Mass Celebrating Haitian Independence
Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites everyone to participate in the Annual Mass celebrating Haitian Independence at 2 p.m., New Year’s Day, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The Mass, which is on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, brings together the various Haitian communities within the Diocese of Venice for one celebration. There is a reception after the Mass in the Parish Hall.
Apologetics Conference Jan. 16-17
The Diocese Office of Evangelization is offering three opportunities to attend an Apologetics Conference with Mike Aquilina. An award-winning author of more than fifty books on Catholic history, doctrine, and devotion, Anguilla will speak at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 16, Resurrection Parish, 8121 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers; and then 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., Jan. 17, 2020, Epiphany Cathedral, 310 Sarasota St., Venice. The topics is “Defend Youth Faith: Finding answers to modern problems in the early Church.” There is no cost, and all are welcome. For information, please call 941-484-9543, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar.
Card party in Englewood Jan. 8
The St. Francis Assisi Parish Women’s Guild card party will be held at 11 a.m., Jan. 8, in the Parish Hall, 5265 Placida Road, Grove City. Play cards or games until 2:30 p.m.. Please make your reservations by Jan. 6 by visiting to www.sfoachurch.com – Parish Forms – Card Party – Reservation form, or by calling 941-697-4899 ext. 6 and leave a message with your name, phone number and number of people at your table. Tickets are $8 and includes your lunch, drinks, playing time and door prizes. All are welcome to attend.
Marriage Prep Retreat Jan. 11
St. Charles Borromeo Parish, 21505 Augusta Ave., Port Charlotte, is offering a pre-Cana retreat called for by the Witness to Love Marriage Preparation program from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Jan.11. Engaged couples attend this retreat before their 5th meeting with their mentor couples, the Theology night with the priest or deacon. Mentor couples and couples preparing for convalidation through the Witness to Love Civil Marriage Initiative are also welcome to attend if they wish. The retreat will be held in the Saint Charles Parish Center from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The cost is $25 per couple. Couples should register with Michael Barrett at (941) 585-0668 or email@example.com by January 4th.
St. Ann Catholic School honored
The Naples Award Program has selected St. Ann Catholic School for the 2019 Best of Naples Award in the School category. The program is an annual awards outreach honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local business throughout the Naples area. Recognition is given to those that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate advantages of long-term value.
Dinner for St. Vincent de Paul Society Jan. 14
The Knights of Columbus San Marco Council 6344 will sponsor the St. Vincent de Paul Society Dinner, 5:30 p.m., Jan. 14, in the San Marco Parish Center, 851 San Marco Road, Marco Island. The barbeque dinner includes pulled pork or fried chicken, baked potato, baked beans, salad, rolls and butter, coffee, tea, and dessert. Soda, Wine and Beer are available at a cash bar. The cost will be $25 per person. Credit cards accepted. Reserve a table. No take-out is available. This event is open to the public and everyone is invited. Buy your tickets at the Church Office or by calling Joe Granda at 239-389-2823, Mickey Flynn 609-335-2458, Joe Swaja at 239-269-7033, Gene Consolo at 248-321-2204 or John DeRosa at 239-272-0816. For more information, contact 239-389-5633 or visit our website at www.marcoknights.com.
When given the opportunity to ask Bishop Frank J. Dewane a question, several young men and women directly inquired where they fit in today’s Catholic Church.
These questions came Nov. 24 during a visit by Bishop Dewane to a Spanish-language Youth Catholic Charismatic Renewal Retreat at the Lake Placid Camp and Conference Center. This was one of several retreats taking place during late November for Spanish-language participants in a number of movements.
John XXIII Parish Retreats Movement
On the weekend of Nov. 15-17, members of the John XXIII Parish Retreats Movement gathered at Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid. About 25 men took part in the retreat with family and others taking part on the final day for the closing Mass.
The John XXIII Movement is a private international association of laity, with the goal of leading marginalized communities to God. After completing the retreat, participants are encouraged to attend faith-formation classes and weekly meetings to strengthen their faith and personal relationship with God. Rooted in Eucharistic Adoration, the ministry serves the Church and its people through love, surrender, and sacrifice.
On Nov. 24, the MDS, (Matrimony, Dialogue and Accompaniment) group gathered at Campo San Jose for a retreat. This is a Catholic based enrichment program directed to all married couples; which is designed to improve communication and the conjugal life for the couple. About 60 couples participated in the retreat.
Bishop Dewane celebrated Mass, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, for the retreatants and praised the effort of the leadership in promoting the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to others. The Bishop noted that by joining in the Sacrament the couples come together by sharing their life with each other and place themselves before Christ the King. “Let the Lord be the King of your marriage and put your focus there.”
Following the Mass, Bishop Dewane and Spiritual Director Father Pablo Ruani were presented with certificates of appreciation.
Hispanic Apostolate meeting
The Bishop also hosted a gathering of priests who serve the Hispanic community in the Diocese for a meeting at the Diocese Chancery in Venice on Nov. 26. This meeting provided the Bishop an update on the engagement of Hispanic Catholics, including success stories and the challenges faced in the Parishes, Diocese and on the national levels.
The group also spoke about implementing more of the ideas developed during the V Encuentro process, a nationwide initiative of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops to discern ways for the Church in the United States to better respond to the ever-growing Hispanic presence. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call of the New Evangelization as integral parts of the Church in the United States.
Answering questions from the young
In front of the youth participating the Catholic Charismatic Renewal retreat, the Bishop was asked questions related to the same issue, specifically about what he is doing to reach out to young Hispanics. The questioner noted that there is a real desire for many to become more involved in the Church, but they do not know where to turn for answers.
Emphasizing that this is an imperative issue for him, Bishop Dewane said more needs to be done to reach Hispanics throughout the Diocese. He is working to do that in a variety of ways, including increasing the number of Spanish-speaking clergy, and by having more Spanish-speaking presenters come to the Diocese and to parishes. The first part of that effort in the Diocese has been the rapid expansion of the Hispanic Apostolate.
While talking to the retreatants, the Bishop spoke about how they are at a critical time in the life with regards to their Faith. For this reason, he stressed the importance for them to limit their interaction with people and things that pulls them from developing their relationship with the Lord.
“You each know the people that turn you away from the Lord,” Bishop Dewane said. “You know better than anyone how that phone or that computer can take you to dark places. Only you can make the choice to put aside those distractions and focus on the Lord.”
Continuing, Bishop Dewane noted that each one of them have been given the strength to answer the call of the Lord and to be ‘A Disciple of Christ.’
“Learn what Jesus taught,” the Bishop added. “Use the saints and the apostles as examples of how to answer that call. Know that you will not always be perfect in your response to that call, but also know that the Lord will help pick you up so you can carry on this journey.”
The Bishop was also asked about his own discernment for a vocation to the priesthood; to explain the concept of predetermination; as well as how to balance in one’s life the perceived conflicts between science and religion.
Following his question and answer session, the Bishop had lunch with the young men and women. Several took that opportunity to ask their questions in private.
The superlatives from the nearly 2,000 high school Catholic teens who attended the 2019 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally helped to best describe the day.
“Absolutely incredible!” “Amazing!” “Inspirational!” “Awesome!” “Powerful!” “Wonderful!” “Uplifting!” “Moving!” “Spiritual!” These are just some of the reactions from the teens who participated in the Nov. 2 Youth Rally at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center in Punta Gorda.
The theme for the 2019 Youth Rally was “Called by Name” (Isaiah 43:1), which served to remind the young women and men that the Lord knows them and calls each by name to become strong in the faith life.
Organized by the Diocese Office of Evangelization, the day was filled with talks, music, adoration, opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and a Eucharistic Procession through the streets of Punta Gorda. The lessons learned throughout the day were reinforced in the closing Mass, encouraging the teens to open their heart to the call of the Lord and receive the gift of faith.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane began the day asking the youth for a shout out to Jesus. The response of nearly 2,000 teens was inspiring.
“Let this Youth Rally be something that strengthens you in your faith,” Bishop Dewane added. “I want you to leave this day with a heart that is open to Jesus because you are each “Called by Name.” Jesus sees each of you as important. It is through that call that you are made to be a Disciple of Christ – created by your response to the call of the Lord, a response from the heart of each individual here.”
Appropriately, the Gospel reading for the closing Mass was from the Gospel of Luke, the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector perched in a sycamore tree whom Jesus “Called by Name.”
“Zacchaeus received a gift of faith and accepted the Lord’s call with joy because he allowed his heart to be open,” Bishop Dewane said during the Mass. “You must respond to that gift of faith and act – be doers of your Faith. See Christ within yourselves and in those around you. Just as we know Zacchaeus was a sinner, so too are we. In this we are comforted knowing that the Lord calls us each by name – no matter our sins.”
The closing Mass was celebrated at nearby Sacred Heart Church. A time for Eucharistic Adoration led by the Bishop was followed by a public Eucharistic Procession through the streets of downtown Punta Gorda as the youth recited the Holy Rosary and sang hymns. At the church, to accommodate the vast number of participants, an overflow of youth was ushered into the Parish Hall where the Mass where the was live-streamed.
Throughout the day, the youth were encouraged to take selfie photos with Bishop Dewane and to post any images they took during the day to Instagram with the offer of a prize to two lucky people of Apple Air Pods.
Each participant received a Youth Rally t-shirt and during the dinner break there was time to go outside behind the Conference Center and relax with friends or enjoy several inflatables as well as a climbing wall.
The Youth Rally, which included young people from 9th through 12th grade, included talks from Noelle Garcia and D.J. Bernal as well as music from the Taylor Tripodi Band.
The first speaker of the day was Noelle Garcia, a Catholic recording artist and speaker, wife, and mom to five kids. She has travelled the country for more than 10 years sharing the faith through witness, Scripture, catechesis, and music. Her message was to explain how the love of the Lord can overcome any obstacle or feeling of loneliness that young people so often face today.
D.J. Bernal also speaks at conferences throughout the United States and works with young Catholics in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. He suggested to the youth that by opening one’s heart just a bit, life can be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The young men and women were spilt up for a time to hear specific messages directed toward them from Garcia and Bernal. During those sessions, the youth also heard about how to listen to God’s call and how they and sons and daughters of God.
In the split session, there was a special emphasis on answering one’s vocation in life, whether as a priest, religious, married or single.
Father Shawn Roser, the Diocese Vocations Director and Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, spoke to the men about his vocations journey. Also present for the Rally were 13 of the 17 active Diocesan seminarians. They manned a booth and answered questions from fascinated teens and were altar servers during the closing Mass.
Sister Gema Ruiz, S.S.V.M., of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, spoke to the women. She shared a video of a woman who is from the Diocese and is currently working her way toward making her perpetual vows as a religious sister. Religious women from several parishes were present for the Rally and they each had a booth to generate interest in a vocation to the religious life.
The Taylor Tripodi Band performed throughout the day, opening the Youth Rally and then performing leading up to adoration. Taylor explained that she uses her talents as a singer and a musician to glorify the Lord and to inspire others to feel the same way she does about her faith. The band also served as musicians during the closing Mass.
The first Youth Rally was held in 2008 at the encouragement of Bishop Dewane and it has become so popular that the annual event has outgrown four previous venues. Organized by the Office of Evangelization and Office of Youth and Young Adults, planning for the 2019 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally is already taking place. See you all next year.
We are all called to be “Disciples of Christ.” The best way to achieve this goal is to put aside distractions such as cell phones and other devices so as to then focus on how best to serve the Lord.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane gave this message during separate Masses Oct. 3 in Naples for students at St. Ann Catholic School and St. John Neumann Catholic High School.
“You must put aside the distractions – cell phone, tablets, the internet – as these take your precious time and often moves you further from the Lord,” Bishop Dewane said. “I want you to work and concentrate on becoming a ‘Disciple of Christ.’ You can do this by making more room in your lives for Jesus. Sometimes this is easy to do and sometimes it is hard, but I know each of you can do it.”
The Bishop added that when Christ is with them, they are asked to be a certain kind of person. That is a person who strives to do what Christ asks of them, and in so doing, they become more a man or woman of God – a “Disciple of Christ.”
The theme of being a “Disciple of Christ” coincides with the commemoration of the 35th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Venice. Through the Diocese Education Office, students across the Diocese are being given lessons on how to become a “Disciple of Christ” through prayer as well as through their actions, particularly toward others. These building blocks will aide them in their spiritual journey.
The Masses for the students at St. Ann Catholic School and St. John Neumann Catholic High School were the last in a series of Mass at each Diocesan Catholic School to start the academic year. The Masses were delayed by a month because of the early September threat from Hurricane Dorian. Bishop Dewane made a note for the students to pray for the victims of the Hurricane.
Noah Kumar is captain of the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Golf Team in Sarasota and has now cracked the top 100 nationally and is ranked 90th with Junior Golf Scoreboard. The Florida High School Athletic Association ranks Kumar the No. 1 high school golfer in the State of Florida. During his senior season with Cardinal Mooney, Kumar has an 18-hole tournament stroke average of 67.33, with six straight low round first place medal wins in a row. His nine-hole stroke average is 35.5 with a career low of 31. Kumar has been playing tournament golf since he was 10-years-old. He qualified to play in the U.S. Junior Amateur this past July and came in 12th in stroke play. Keep up the good work Noah!
Bishop celebrates Mass for Ave Maria University
Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the faculty and student of Ave Maria University in Ave Maria on Sept. 23, delayed from Sept. 2 when the Mass was cancelled because of Hurricane Dorian. During the mass the Bishop encouraged the students to grow in their faith and to carry the message of the Lord into the world. At the conclusion of the Mass, the Bishop presided over a commissioning ceremony for nine new theology professors, during which each took an oath and vowed to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church.
Scout 10 Commandment Hike held Sept. 21
Scouts from across the Diocese of Venice gathered Sept. 21 for a 10 Commandments Hike at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The more than 100 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and American Heritage Girls learned about the 10 Commandments at different stations located along the internal road of the property. The Scouts were presented with an achievement badge for participation at the end of the day.
CCW Eastern Deanery holds retreat
The Council of Catholic Women of the Eastern Deanery took part in a bi-lingual retreat Sept. 21 at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park. More than 70 women from parishes Hardee, Highlands, Hardee, Glades and Hendry counties took part. The retreat included presentations by a number of priests as well as group prayers with the praying of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Bishop celebrates Mass for NET retreat in Bradenton
A National Evangelization Team (NET) Ministries group held a one-day retreat for middle school students on Sept. 29 at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton. The retreat included several talks by youth ministers who travel across the nation trying to inspire young people to open themselves up to the Lord. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Mass for the retreatants and offered words of encouragement to the middle-schoolers for participating in the day and to the NET team for coming to the Diocese.
Laps for Life held Sept. 28
The Our Lady of Victory Knights of Columbus Council 3358 welcomed more than 200 to the 2nd Annual Sarasota Laps for Life at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. The event was opened by a blessing for Deacon William Ladroga and the runners and walkers followed a path for three laps to complete the 5K event. The top finishes finished in 17:35 minutes. The event helped to raise money to purchase for a new ultrasound for My Choice Pregnancy Center in Sarasota.
Bishop celebrates Red Mass
Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the annual Red Mass on Oct. 2 at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota. The Mass is held in honor of all members of the legal profession and has a history which dates back centuries. The most famous such Mass is held for the U.S. Supreme Court on the first Sunday in October. The Florida Bishops also celebrate a Red Mass for lawmakers in Tallahassee during the annual legislative session.
Pets blessed on Feast of St. Francis
Pets great and small were blessed Oct. 4 on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota. Administrator Father Eric Scanlan blessed everything from hermit crabs, ferrets, fish, birds, snakes, lizards, dogs and cats brought in by the students and parishioners.
Are you a young adult Catholic who wants to become more involved in your Faith? Are you a cradle-Catholic who needs an extra push?
If you think the answer is yes to these or other questions you may have about how to build a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and are from the southern areas of the Diocese, the soon-to-be-formed Society of Missionary Discipleship may be a starting point for you.
Under the direction of the Diocesan Office of Evangelization’s, Youth and Young Adult Outreach, the purpose of the Society of Missionary Discipleship is to form a group of Catholic young adults (ages 21-39) committed to prayer, community, and service. The plan is to begin meeting starting time in September.
The Society is to provide a place for those Catholics who desire to continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and helping others within the Diocese to do the same. Those participating will be like a family to one another, supporting, helping each other grow in holiness and serving the Lord. The aim of this is to increase the participation of the young adult faithful within all Parishes in the Diocese.
Diocese Director of Evangelization Joshua Mazrin said the Society is welcoming to all, just as the Church is welcoming. “Participants will commit to a year of becoming Missionary Disciples of Jesus Christ, as well as growing in fellowship with one another… Members will learn their faith like never before as they grow in a family environment with fellow Missionary Disciples.”
The group will offer a full retreat once a month for all who sign up as well as participation in a ministry/service project. The gatherings will serve as a means to evoke greater participation of the lay faithful within their faith, as well as the Diocese, and to provide them with a community of like-minded individuals. Throughout this process, participants will develop the core values of holiness, prayer, evangelization, fellowship, leadership, study (Biblical, theological, ministry, evangelism), and accountability.
The Mission statement for the Society is:
“The Society of Missionary Discipleship empowers the lay faithful within the Diocese of Venice to boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. Members are equipped spiritually, intellectually, and practically within a communal setting through comradery to take their faith out into the public square.”
Mazrin said the pilot program will include a group of 10-30 young adults from the Fort Myers and Naples area who attend 10 monthly retreats which will provide spiritual enrichment, education in ministry and theology, prayer, fellowship, and team-building. The group will also participate each month in a type of missionary activity (i.e. service to the community; e.g. Street Evangelization, Prison Ministry, Theology on Tap, other aspects of spiritual and corporal works of mercy). The year will conclude with participation in the annual Steubenville Conference.
The basic structure, or curriculum will include: evangelization practices; spirituality; basic Scripture; basic Sacraments; Theology of the Body; basic Doctrine (Christology, Soteriology, Trinitarian Theology, Ecclesiology, Mariology, etc.); and spiritual formation.
Done in a retreat-style, all content will provide solid teaching but be presented to the participants in the context of a retreat, Mazrin explained. The purpose of this is for all transmitted knowledge to be practical for their mission of evangelization as well as applied to their own spiritual lives to grow as disciples.
It is hoped that the members of the Society of Missionary Disciples will go on to the next step – a commitment to serve in a particular capacity with a Parish or Diocesan initiative for a year (while continuing to meet monthly for ongoing formation). The Society of Missionary Discipleship will serve as a means to evoke greater participation of the lay faithful within the Diocese and to provide them with a community of like-minded individuals.
To learn more details about the new Society of Missionary Discipleship, please contact Joshua Mazrin at 941-484-9543 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The upcoming Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to be celebrated Aug. 15, is a particular time in the year to reflect upon the story of eternal hope for the faithful.
Pope Francis said the Assumption (a Holy Day of Obligation) is a time when “the holy faithful people of God express with joy their veneration of the Virgin Mother. They do so in the common liturgy and also in a thousand different ways of piety; and thus, the prophecy of Mary herself comes true: ‘All generations will call me blessed’ (Luke 1:48), because the Lord has regarded His humble handmaid.”
The Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven, in soul and body, is a divine privilege accorded to the Holy Mother of God because of her particular union with Jesus, Pope Francis noted.
“It’s a corporal and spiritual union, which began with the Annunciation and matured throughout Mary’s life, through her singular participation in her Son’s mystery,” the Holy Father continued. “Mary always went with her Son: she went behind Jesus, and so we say she was His first disciple.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Assumption in this way: “The Immaculate Virgin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of death.”
Pope Francis said that while the Blessed Virgin has entered into heavenly glory, this does not mean that She is distant or detached from us; “rather Mary accompanies us, struggles with us, and sustains Christians in their fight against the forces of evil. The stupendous reality of Mary’s Assumption manifests and confirms the unity of the human person, and it reminds us that we are called to serve and glorify God with all our being, soul and body. To serve God only with the body would be an action of slaves; to serve God only with the soul would be against our human nature.”
This Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the oldest celebration of Our Lady. The original celebration was known as the “Memory of Mary” or “Falling Asleep” of Mary for it initially centered on the end of her earthly existence, commonly known as her “dormition.”
Soon the name was changed to the “Assumption of Mary,” since there was much more to the feast than the end of her earthly life. The belief that Mary had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven dates back to the Apostles themselves.
Clear from the beginning was that there were no relics of Mary to be venerated, and that an empty tomb stood on the edge of Jerusalem near the site of the end of her earthly existence or dormition. That location also soon became a place of pilgrimage. (Today, the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary stands on the spot.)
In 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church, therefore, an ancient belief became Catholic Doctrine and the Assumption was declared a truth revealed by God.
The declaration of the dogma was to “make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective,” Pope Pius XII stated in a proclamation.
The proclamation went on to say that the definition of the Assumption “will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it (reflects and builds up) the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds.”
It was also expected that the faithful would be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother; And that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers be more and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out the heavenly Father’s will and to bringing good to others.
Pope Francis said the current devotion that the faithful throughout the world have toward the Blessed Virgin confirms, the earlier expectations of Pope Pius XII.
The Diocese is kicking off a new Missionary Discipleship Society beginning in the Naples and Fort Myers area this September. The Missionary Discipleship Society is a group of young adults (ages 21-39) who will dedicate a year to becoming Missionary Disciples of Jesus Christ as well as growing in fellowship with one another. The group will offer a full retreat once a month for all who are signed up as well as participate in a ministry/service project monthly. Members will learn their faith like never before as they grow in a family environment with other members –then they will even be given the chance to attend a major Catholic Conference at the end of the year! For more information, please contact Joshua Mazrin at email@example.com .
Blue Mass in Venice on Sept. 8
Please join in honoring all active, retired and deceased first responders during the 9th annual Blue Mass, Sept. 8, 10 a.m., Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. This event is free and is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council 9924. A procession into the Church starts at 9:45 a.m. A brunch will immediately follow.
Parish celebrates Feast Day
The Hispanic Mission Santiago, a mission of St. James Parish in Lake Placid, celebrated the Feast of St. James on July 25 with a Mass and a series of fun activities. Father Victor Caviedes celebrated the Mass which was followed by a fiesta in the hall. Outside, the youth made “snowballs” and had fun with them in the parking lot.
Verot student earns prestigious award
Congratulations to rising Bishop Verot Catholic High School Senior Connor Shovlin, who was recently awarded the Rensselaer Medal Award, a scholarship opportunity worth $100,000. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute awards the Rensselaer Medal to promising secondary school students who have distinguished themselves in mathematics and science.
Summer music camp a success
St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples hosted a summer music camp which culminated in the July 21 participation in the Mass. The children of all ages learned to sing, play the ukulele, the tin whistle and the handbells all for Jesus!
Florida Catholic Chamber of Commerce meeting Aug. 29
Please join the Florida Catholic Chamber of Commerce for their next networking/lunch meeting Aug. 29, 11:30 a.m., at Calusa Harbor, 2525 1st St., Fort Myers. The Florida Catholic Chamber of Commerce promotes Catholic businesses and ministries supporting one another! The Chamber’s purpose is to inform and unite Catholic businesses to encourage the use of Catholic values and a culture of life in the home, community and workplace. All Catholic businesses and ministries are invited to attend all networking meetings. The gatherings are free, and no membership is required. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-980-0921.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter Sept. 20-22
Take time to give your marriage a well-deserved vacation. Take a break from the heat and plan to go on a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend and come back with a marriage that is refreshed and full of energy! The next Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend in this area is Sept. 20-22 at the Hampton Inn in Oldsmar. Space IS limited, so please apply early! For more information about taking a private time away, check out flwc-wwme.org or call 813-270-7832.