Marriage prep seminar enlightens

Couples from all across the Diocese of Venice recently attended a marriage prep “Day of Reflection” seminar specially designed for engaged couples preparing for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

A volunteer team of married couples, clergy, and Natural Family Planning instructors shared their experiences and information Nov. 13, 2021, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The intention of the seminar was to enable the 18 couples to become more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of a Catholic marriage.

The morning began with a presentation on the theology of sacramental marriage by Father Vincent Huber, FSSP, a Parochial Vicar at Christ the King Parish in Sarasota.

The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a supernatural calling by God for couples to strive to live holy, permanent, fruitful and lifelong marriages, explained Carrie Harkey Diocese Family Life Coordinator whose office sponsored the seminar.

“The role of husband and wife in a marriage is to help one another on this pilgrimage through life to get to heaven,” Harkey said. “Following this firm foundation, couples explored how the Christian Faith is meant to challenge us to become holier. The Church’s moral teachings are aimed at happiness.”

Couples then spent private time around the OLPH grounds with discussion prompts and had the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The afternoon was focused on life skills that lead to successful, holy, happy marriages. Couples also heard a presentation on Natural Family Planning from Margaret Kelly, FCPI- NFP.

Recognizing that finances are a normal and natural challenge in a marriage, the couples explored how the four Cardinal Virtues, habits that help us make good decisions – Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance – can be used to make sound decisions.

Finally, the day wrapped up focusing on living as a Catholic family. Deacon Ron and Silvia Dains, as well as Keith and Carla Geurts, couples representing decades of marriage experience, shared their tips and advice for lifelong success. It was stressed that married love between spouses, rooted in Christ, flows out into family life, friendships, and the world.

One participant commented that the experience was a “great time to step away from daily life and put our decision to marry in proper perspective.”

For more information about the seminar or to participate in one of the days being held in 2022 contact, please Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 or

Inspired Diocesan Youth “Sent” – Rally draws 1,000 for rousing day

Amazing things happen when you put 1,000 teenage Catholics under one roof.

For some 8 hours on Nov. 6, 2021 teens heard from inspirational speakers, rocked to spiritual music, and participated in Eucharistic Adoration and the Mass. At the same time, they bonded with each other and learned how they are an important part of the Universal Church.

Judging by the smiling faces at the end of the day the impact was evidently strong. Most importantly was their instant reaction to the question: “How was the Youth Rally?”

The answers were simple and uncomplicated: “Powerful!” “Awesome!” “The Best!” “Inspiring!” “Impactful” “Unforgettable!” “Poignant!” “Overwhelming!” “Emotional!” “Prayerful!” “Memorable!”

The theme for 2021 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally was “Sent” which comes directly from the Bible – “As you sent me in the world, so I sent them in the world” (John 17:18).

Each speaker, each song, each moment encouraged and challenged the young men and women to examine how they are living out their Faith in their home, with their friends, in their Parish and in society. What they learned is that Jesus Christ does not expect anyone to be perfect in their Faith journey, but they must continue to work to live their Faith better. And when they inevitably face difficulty and may stumble along the way, the teens learned that they shouldn’t be discouraged but instead encouraged that Jesus will be there to accompany them. Many of the youth were inspired to the point that a large number received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which was made available throughout the event.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane told the teens that above all else they must make room for the love of the Lord in their life.

“Allow that to be what fills you. Let that be what sends you out into the world,” Bishop Dewane continued. “And with that love of God, become the bearer of the Faith. Allow yourself to be the instrument that Christ has meant you to be… you have to make that happen. Use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to send you out; but know that it is you who has to then give of what you have to others. May you be filled ever more and learn to give because you have been sent out to communicate God’s Love.”

Bishop Dewane opened the Youth Rally to a rousing ovation from the young men and women. The Bishop said the Rally was the event he missed the most during the pandemic, reminding them how they are a blessed part of their Parish, the Diocese and the Universal Church and they should never forget their place.

“You are God’s gift to this Diocese,” the Bishop added. “You and the young people like yourself bring your talents and gifts, which are a reflection of the Lord. We celebrate those talents and gifts and call on all of you to use them in praise of Lord by the life you live.”

A key point of the day was the large group Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which refocused the teens on the Supreme Sacrifice Our Lord made for all of us. Bishop Dewane lead the Adoration before a temporary altar on the stage. He took time to process through the crowd with the monstrance, allowing each person to come up close and to be personal with Christ.

Other highlights of the day included inspirational music, games, and a chance for fresh air outside the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center. There were also lots of opportunities to take photos and selfies, many of which Bishop Dewane was a part. Displays from religious orders, the Diocesan Respect Life and Religious Education offices, and a Vocations table staffed by active Diocesan seminarians, were also present as well as several groups selling religious articles.

Throughout the day, the 2021 Youth Rally included an exciting line-up of speakers including David Calavitta and Kelly Colangelo. They each shared their unique Faith journey while also offering poignant advice to the teens as to how they can keep their focus on the Lord. Both stressed that the mid-teen years are a critical time as it is when the tumultuous world is trying to lure them down a darker path. At one point the young men were moved to a separate part of the facility thus allowing talks geared more personally toward the young women and men. The split sessions also included vocations talks.

The speakers were accompanied by inspirational music provided by the Francis Cabildo Band as the youth enthusiastically joined in singing each selection.

The 2021 Youth Rally is one of the largest gatherings in the Diocese of Venice each year. Parish and high school groups ranged in size from 4 to 140. The largest groups were from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle, St. Paul Parish in Arcadia, and Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers.

Visit the for a link to a slideshow of more photos

Workshops promote authentic femininity

Each woman is uniquely beautiful and made according to God’s “image and likeness,” that is God’s design. With this in mind, the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life hosted a series of workshops in late October to help instill a deeper appreciation for authentic femininity and the way God designed the female body as taught in the Theology of the Body from St. John Paul II.

Christina Valenzuela, a national speaker who provides lifelong learning and support for Body Literacy and Natural Family Planning, addressed three very different audiences using Sacred Scripture and the rich theology of the Catholic Church to help women develop a renewed appreciation for their unique role in God’s plan.

Valenzuela first spoke Oct. 21, 2021, to more than 150 young women at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, in a talk titled, “Language of the Body,” which was directed toward single women.

During the evening, she spoke about cycle charting and opened a window into Original Solitude and an opportunity to better understand what St. John Paul II calls the “mystery of woman? “That was done in the context of the liturgy, devotions, and rich theology of the Catholic Church.

Kateri Millword, President of Ave for Life, Ave Maria University’s Pro-Life Club, described the evening as a very enriching experience. This included hearing Valenzuela “talk about true femininity through the lens of fertility and cycles. She focused on their spiritual aspects, highlighting the dignity and beauty instilled in each woman by God. In the light of the “Theology of the Body” from St. Pope John Paul II. She explained how each woman can truly find herself through learning about her body in respect to what makes up her ‘feminine genius.’”

Then on Oct. 23 at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers, she took time to train representatives from several Parishes to develop Natural Family Planning (NFP) “Ambassadors.” The idea was to build confidence by talking about NFP with others while gaining tools for expanding NFP support at the local level. Valenzuela also offered a perspective on discerning the unique role each Parish plays in supporting the family. And the importance of becoming well-versed in various types of NFP and resources.

Workshop participant Lori Crawford, of Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers, explained how Valenzuela guided the group to reflect on the “next steps for sharing the good and hard news about Natural Family Planning. I felt the call while we were there to minister to young girls as they grow into young women and navigate the difficult teen and young adult years. I appreciated the clarity that this workshop brought as well as the camaraderie – a network of people that feel love for this relevant and difficult, but true teaching of the Church.”

The third workshop by Valenzuela took place Oct. 24, also at St. John XXIII Parish and was for mothers with daughters (ages 9-12) and designed to teach the science behind a women’s cycle, and how to create a “Culture of Care” for one another as a woman’s body grows and changes. More than 50 attended the “Cycle Prep Workshop” which receive high praise from the mothers who attended.

Elizabeth Andrews, of St. John XXIII Parish said “the Cycle Prep class offered by our Diocese was exactly what mothers of young daughters needed! There was so much information that moms weren’t aware of prior to this session, given in a fun and relatable way, plus we were given tools to assist our daughters as they mature.

Andrews said she would highly recommend any of the Pearl and Thistle’s programs Valenzuela created, and she was grateful to Bishop Frank J. Dewane and the Office of Family Life for bringing the workshop to the Parish.

Lastly, Valenzuela recorded a presentation on “Pastoral Accompaniment and NFP”, which Carrie Harkey, Diocesan Office of Family Life Director, said would be shared with Parishes to provide an overview of various NFP methods, resources and accompaniment techniques to help couples through difficult fertility situations.

In addition, The Family Life Office offers pastoral planning packets “NFP in Our Parish: A Guide to Building Family Support in your Pastoral Plan” with the goal of building support in the family and where that falls in the parish plan

Harkey noted that the success of the presentations by Valenzuela does not end the efforts of the Diocese to help women develop a renewed appreciation for their unique role in God’s plan while also continuing to support families who strive to authentically live Church teaching.

2021 Diocesan Youth Rally Nov. 6

Young people from all over Southwest Florida will journey to a one-of-a-kind event to experience a spiritually fulfilling encounter with Jesus Christ – the 2021 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites high school-aged teens to join him for a day that offers the Sacraments, music, speakers, a vocations/Catholic College fair and lots of fun! A key part of the day includes a large group Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which will lead into the celebration of the Mass.

“The Diocese is blessed to have everyone back together under one roof for the 2021 Diocesan Youth Rally,” Bishop Dewane said. “In 2020 we were apart for obvious reasons. Now is the time to bring our youth back together – celebrating our Faith and glorifying God.”

The 2021 Youth Rally is from noon until 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center in Punta Gorda. The theme for the Rally is “Sent” which comes directly from the Bible – “As you sent me in the world, so I sent them in the world” (John 17:18).

“The benefit of the Youth Rally is huge,” Joshua Mazrin, Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization and Acting Director of Youth and Young Adult Outreach, explained. “This isn’t just a yearly event, it’s a catalyst for the Faith. The Youth Rally evokes actual change in people’s lives.”

Mazrin said past participants have shared how the Diocesan Youth Rally allowed them to encounter God in ways they never had before.

“This year will be especially powerful with a time for Eucharistic Adoration allowing each person to come up close to and more personal with Christ,” Mazrin continued. “These moments are a true experience with God’s love. Youth also get to live out their Faith with their friends. Many even make new friends at the Youth Rally. The experience with God is in the context of a fun, energetic event.”

For the 2021 Rally, the Diocese is thrilled to bring David Calavitta and Kelly Colangelo. For inspirational musical entertainment, the Francis Cabildo Band will perform.

Calavitta is a passionate Catholic in love with Christ and his Church and currently serves as the director of Creative and Marketing for Life Teen International. Colangelo has dedicated her life to bringing others into a radical relationship with Christ. She speaks internationally, has appeared on EWTN’s Life on the Rock, and has been a contributor to Life Teen and Chastity Project blogs. She currently serves as the director of Youth Ministry at a parish in northwest Florida. Meanwhile, Francis Cabildo is a singer-songwriter and worship leader from Southern California who hopes to bring people closer to the Lord through his music.

All the faithful within the Diocese are asked to support this important event with their prayers. Raise your voices to the Lord for our Youth!

For further information or to register youth, please contact your local Youth Director, Director of Religious Education, Scout Leader, or Campus Minister.

To watch a video promotion of the 2021 Diocesan of Venice Youth Rally, please visit

Joshua Mazrin can be reached at 941-484-9543 or


Our Lady of the Rosary honored

At the concluding Mass of the inaugural Diocese of Venice Traveling Rosary Congress Bishop Frank J. Dewane stressed the importance of prayer – citing the rosary as prayer which allows for an intimate conversation with God.

“We find throughout Scriptures that persistence and perseverance is necessary for each of us in our prayer life,” said Bishop Dewane on Oct. 7, 2021, the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. “Many pray the rosary every day and it has become an integral part of your life. A devotion to Our Lady through the rosary provides strength, drawing us closer to the Lord.”

The Bishop described the rosary as a prayer which developed over time, with the combination of the beads telling the story of God’s whole message, each building to open one’s heart to a great love of the Lord. As a result, praying the rosary helps create a pathway for everyone to open a conversation with the Lord, an essential component in one’s Faith life.

For example, St. Mother Theresa often referred to the power of rosary, calling everyone to pray it and live it and persevere. And the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said: “The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known.”

This is why we meditate on the Mysteries and on the prayers, Bishop Dewane explained. “By doing so you become part of this history. Our Lady calls us to prayer and to acknowledge her Son. You do this by being the instruments of the Lord and calling others to come forth. Miracles will happen within us and within those around us because of our prayers and communications with the Lord.”

The Diocesan Traveling Rosary Congress took place at nine Parishes and commenced on Sept. 30, with opening Masses at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral. At each location, the opening Mass was followed by 24 hours of Perpetual Adoration and hourly praying of the rosary before ending with Mass. With the many difficulties in the world today, whether they be hardships of antiquity or new troubles, the Rosary Congress was presented as a unique opportunity to place all prayer intentions and the needs of the faithful into the loving arms of the Mother of God. Other Parishes which participated in the Travelling Rosary Congress were: St. John the Evangelist in Naples; St. Martha in Sarasota; Our Lady of the Angels in Lakewood Ranch; Christ the King in Sarasota; St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples; St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Parrish; and Epiphany Cathedral.

The Diocese of Venice has continued to foster its devotion to the Blessed Mother. Our Lady of Mercy is the Patroness of the Diocese. Under this patronage, the Diocese was formally consecrated to Our Lady during Advent of 2017. The fruits of this consecration have been tremendous as Our Lady offers her special care through her powerful intercession. With these past years dedicated to St. Joseph, beginning with the Diocese of Venice’s Year of St. Joseph (March 19, 2020), and now in the Universal Church’s year dedicated to St. Joseph (Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021), the Rosary Congress was timed to set the Holy Family as an example for all families.

The Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary directly commemorates the 1571 naval Battle of Lepanto. The Holy League (a naval coalition of European Catholic maritime states) defeated the vastly superior Ottoman navy in the Gulf of Patras near modern day Greece, overcoming tremendous odds after Pope Pius V called upon all Catholics to pray the rosary for victory. This victory successfully halted the spread of the Ottoman Empire into Rome and beyond. The Feast Day is also referred to as Our Lady of Victory.

Other commemorations

As October is dedicated to Our Lady, and Oct. 7 is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, Diocesan Catholics schools have taken the opportunity to help instill a great appreciation for praying the rosary at all grade levels.

For example, the third graders at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral celebrated Rosary Day on Oct. 7. Students had fun creating and praying the Rosary. Students also played games and participated in a variety of rosary activities, including forming a living rosary where each students had a part.

Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria in Ave Maria held an Our Lady of Rosary Procession from the school to the Parish Church about a ½ mile away. The high school boys carried an Our Lady of Rosary statue while the high school girls led the praying of the rosary along the way. Everybody processed reverently, praying together. Once at the church, Our Lady was placed in front of the pulpit, everyone participated in Mass.

At Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers, the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary is cause for celebration, as Our Lady is Patroness of Guatemala. A Mass was celebrated on Oct. 7 and a parish-wide celebration took place on Oct. 10 with a large procession through the Parish parking lot leading into Mass. The Mass was followed by festivities outside with food and music celebrating the Guatemalan culture all in honor of Our Lady.

Conference promotes virtues of family

“Incredible!” “Life-changing!” “Impactful!” “Educational!” “Just what we needed!”

This high praise was offered by some of the 120 couples from across the Diocese of Venice – newlyweds to those married more than 50 years and everywhere in between – who took part in one of the two simultaneous “Together in Holiness” Marriage Enrichment Conferences on Oct. 2, 2021.

Offered by the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life in partnership with the St. John Paul II Foundation of Houston, Texas, the Conferences took place at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota and St. Agnes Parish in Naples. And were built around the theme: “Family, a School of Love.”

The purpose of the Together in Holiness program is centered “on serving couples who are in the midst of the real life, everyday grind of marriage and family, and aren’t merely trying to survive their marriage but are looking for a way to thrive in their marriage,” explained Charlotte Sacco, a Program Coordinator who led the Sarasota Conference for the St. John Paul II Foundation.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane opened the Conference in Sarasota noting the importance of the attending and that such offerings will become more frequent “as marriages and families are the backbone of who the Church is; who the Church always has been; and who the Church will be going forward.”

Bishop Dewane said he was humbled to stand before the couples and the vocation they choose to live which “takes a tremendous amount of grace and commitment. You live that out in showing your love as you go out into the community and Parishes by the example you give, by the life you live. This is seen in the dedication you have one to the other and as the family unit. You give a tremendous example as a witness to who Jesus Christ is to you both.”

At the closing Mass in Naples, the Bishop had the Conference participants stand to be recognized and then blessed them. He added that the power of marriage is that it is a bond between man and woman, unified by God.

Lisa Cotter, who was the keynote speaker at both Conferences, said that in order to build a Domestic Church, the goal of parents in this crazy world must be to recognize how much children need them. But it is more than that, it is “how much our children need us to show them the joy of living the Catholic Faith. And not just that it is this thing you have to go to for Mass on Sunday, but the joy and peace that comes with living within the designs and influence of God. You want your kids to be happy; but if you really think about it, what you want them to be holy and closer to the Lord so they have peace and joy in their lives that surpasses their circumstances.”

Cotter provided parents with six focused concepts to grab onto and run with to make their home a “School of Virtue.” These included: be intentional; tell stories; start small; live community; pray; and evaluate frequently.

“You have to answer the question; how do we make our home a place where our children learn how to live so they can gain freedom to live a virtuous life?” Cotter said. “This is needed even more as the world becomes more secularized.”

Additional speakers from the St. John Paul II Foundation challenged the couples to work together to address the needs of the family creating goals for helping to build up the “School of Virtue” within their individual families.

Two Diocesan priests also address the Conference – in Sarasota, Father Eric Scanlan, Pastor of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, and in Naples, Father Murchadh O’Madagain, Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in North Fort Myers.

Diocese Family Life Coordinator Carrie Harkey said that bringing in the St. John Paul II Foundation to the Diocese was part of the Bishop’s continued emphasis on better forming married couples to live out their vocation in holiness and joy.

Harkey added that she was thrilled with this initial Conference and the positive response from participants and said that similar offerings will be made available in the future to all couples who desire to grow in holiness and strengthen their marriage and family life.

New online course assists parents as primary teachers of the Faith

By John Carkeet, Special to the Florida Catholic

How are you, as a Catholic parent, fulfilling the promise you made at your children’s baptism to teach the faith to your sons and daughters?

The Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life and the Diocesan Institute of Catholic Studies and Formation can help Catholic parents fulfill that promise through “Empowering Parents as Teachers of Faith,” a three-week online course beginning Oct. 11, 2021, that inspires parents to practice the irreplaceable role they have in passing on the faith to their children.

“Empowering Parents as Teachers of Faith” will explore societal trends impacting children and what the Church proclaims about parenthood. The course will also explain the process of conversion and demonstrate how parents may apply this process to help their children develop a personal relationship with the Lord.

“The Church’s teachings have always put parents as the primary evangelizers and teachers of their children,” said Carrie Harkey, Diocesan Family Life Coordinator. “This course equips parents with practical tools and resources to accomplish the duties of forming their children.”

Harkey, a mother of three, designed the course alongside Dr. John Gresham, Executive Director of the Institute, in a manner that will effectively share relevant knowledge, generate fruitful discussion, and maximize online convenience.

“The Diocese understands firsthand that parents have busy schedules,” said Gresham, a father of five and grandfather of four. “That’s why this course comprises short, pre-recorded lessons that can be accessed anytime, anywhere and on any device.”

In addition to structured lessons, “Empowering Parents as Teachers of Faith” also provides an online forum for parents to ask questions, share best practices and acquire relevant resources. The forum also opens opportunities for parents to actively participate in a faith-based community that integrates the Church’s teachings into modern home life.

At the end of the course, the Diocese will facilitate a physical connection for all parents who registered by hosting a complimentary picnic for them and their families. Featuring hot food, fun games, and sweet treats, the outdoor social will take place Nov. 14 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.

“’Empowering Parents as Teachers of Faith’ was designed by parents for parents to help them grow in their relationship with Jesus,” Harkey said. “I pray that this course will give parents the knowledge and confidence to help mold their children as models of Christ’s teachings.”

Register for “Empowering Parents as Teachers of Faith” by Oct. 11 for only $25 at

John Carkeet is the Marketing Coordinator Diocese of Venice in Florida Education Department and can be reached at 941-484-9543 or


Diocesan Rosary Congress Sept. 30 to Oct. 7

By Joshua Mazrin, Special to the Florida Catholic

“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times” (St. Padre Pio).

To utilize this weapon for our times, the Diocese of Venice is hosting a traveling Rosary Congress at nine different Parishes beginning the evening of Sept. 30, 2021 and concluding on the evening of Oct. 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. A Rosary Congress is a prolonged time of Eucharistic Adoration during which time the Rosary is recited every hour.

In the Diocese of Venice, the Rosary Congress will spend one day at each of the nine Parishes, beginning at 6 p.m. with an opening Mass followed by Perpetual Adoration throughout the night and the following day. Each hour the Rosary will be said for intentions such as the Church, the Faithful of the Diocese of Venice, our country, and difficulties for all throughout the world. This year we especially pray to renew our own consecration of ourselves and our Church to the Blessed Mother and for a renewed love for Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. At the end of each day (following the night and day long Perpetual Adoration), a closing Mass, 24 hours later will be held at 6 p.m.

The Rosary Congress will begin at both Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral on Sept. 30. It will then move to St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples, St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, Christ the King Parish in Sarasota, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Parrish, and will then conclude at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will be celebrating the closing Mass at 6 p.m., Oct. 7. (See complete schedule below.)

As one of the seven last things Jesus Christ said to us from the Cross, “Behold your mother” turning our gaze toward the Mother of God, who is our Mother. “Behold your son” spoken to Our Lady shows the maternal care into which we are placed from then and through all eternity. These messages were amongst the most important things Jesus had to say to us regarding our earthly pilgrimage toward heaven, namely, that Our Lady looks out for Her children, that Her intercession is powerful, and that we need Her.

The Diocese of Venice has continued to foster its devotion to the Blessed Mother. Our Lady of Mercy is the Patroness of the Diocese. Under this patronage, the Diocese was formally consecrated to Our Lady during Advent of 2017. The fruits of this consecration have been tremendous as Our Lady offers her special care through her powerful intercession. With these past years dedicated to St. Joseph, beginning with the Diocese of Venice’s Year of St. Joseph (March 19, 2020), and now in the Universal Church’s year dedicated to St. Joseph (Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021), the Rosary Congress is a time to set the Holy Family as an example for all families.

With the many difficulties in the world today, whether they be hardships of antiquity or new troubles, the Rosary Congress presents a unique opportunity to place all prayer intentions and the needs of all the Faithful into the loving arms of the Mother of God.

To offer these intentions to Mary in the presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar serves to open the gates of heaven for the maximum grace possible. There is no better time spent, besides time at the Holy Mass, than time spent before Jesus in the Eucharist. Being in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is so powerful it prompted St. Alphonsus Liguori to say, “Know also that you will probably gain more by praying 15 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day” and, “Certainly amongst all devotions, after that of receiving the sacraments, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament holds first place, is most pleasing to God, and most useful to ourselves.”

During the Rosary Congress, all are afforded the blessed opportunity to present their petitions to Mary as they come to the foot of her Son, adoring Him just as the shepherds did at His Nativity. In the presence of Jesus and Mary, the Rosary is the unsheathed sword by which the prayers of the faithful will prompt Jesus and Mary to overcome the evils of today. In short, if there are any prayers you need answered, any at all, you can rest assured that Jesus and Mary will hear you, and the Rosary Congress is an impactful and unique opportunity to avail yourself to that grace.

More information regarding the Diocesan Rosary Congress may be found at

Joshua Mazrin is the Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization and can be reached at 941-484-9543 or

Diocese of Venice Travelling Rosary Congress

Sept. 30 to Oct. 7, 2021

Each location:

Opening Mass at 6 p.m.

Adoration with Rosary each hour from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Closing Mass 6 p.m. to conclude the 24 hours.


Thursday, Sept. 30, 6 p.m.

Incarnation Parish, 1901 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota

St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 S.W. 20th Ave., Cape Coral

Friday, Oct. 1, 6 p.m.

St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples

St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota (modified schedule 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Scriptural Rosary.)

Saturday, Oct. 2, 6 p.m.

Our Lady of the Angels Parish, 12905 E. SR 70, Lakewood Ranch

Sunday Oct. 3, 6 p.m.

Christ the King Parish, 1900 Meadowood St., Sarasota

Monday, Oct. 4, 6 p.m.

St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 6 p.m.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, 12001 69th St. E., Parrish

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 6 p.m.

Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave., Venice

Closing Mass, 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 7,

Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave., Venice, celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane.


Journey with St. Joseph through the month of September

The Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life is introducing a 30-day St. Joseph Devotional for the month of September as a way to continue to mark the celebration of the Year of Amoris Laetitia Family and ongoing “Year of St. Joseph.”

Devotionals are used to encourage spiritual growth, explained Diocesan Family Life Director Carrie Harkey. “By setting aside time each day for prayer and meditation one grows in their relationship with God. A few minutes a day leads to great spiritual gain.”

All wishing to participate will receive a daily email throughout the month containing a short reflection and prayer, Harkey added. “By inviting St. Joseph into daily life, partakers will become better acquainted with the person, the call, and the mission of this great Saint.”

The Diocese is using “Blessed St. Joseph: A 30-Day Devotional on the Person & Mission of the Chosen Father of Our Lord” by Rick Sarkisian for this outreach.

Because Saint Joseph is Protector of the Universal Church, Bishop Frank J. Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to a “Year of St. Joseph” in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic beginning March 19, 2020, the Feast Day of St. Joseph.

The Diocese dedication to a “Year of St. Joseph” was extended to continue until Dec. 8, 2021. This was in keeping with Pope Francis creating a Universal “Year of St. Joseph” from Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021. The announcement of the Holy Father coincided with the 150th anniversary of the Saint’s proclamation as Patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1870 in his decree Quemadmodum Deus.

Pope Francis said he was establishing the year so that “every member of the faithful, following his example, may strengthen their life of faith daily in the complete fulfillment of God’s will.”

When speaking about the “Year of St. Joseph,” Bishop Dewane encouraged, “all to take his life as our model for fulfilling our personal call to holiness. It may be tempting to only think of St. Joseph as a figure in the nativity set. But reflection on this extraordinary Saint and the important role he played as protector and guardian of the Holy Family is needed now more than ever as the family today is surrounded by secular culture’s contrary message of selfishness, individualism, and immorality.”

St. Joseph is known as the Patron Saint of the Universal Church, a happy death, families, fathers, expectant mothers, explorers, pilgrims, travelers, immigrants, home sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers and working people. Many cities and countries are dedicated to him. In the Diocese of Venice several locations are named in honor of St. Joseph, including the following: St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton; St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton; St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Moore Haven; San Jose Mission in Fort Myers and Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid.

“Through examining the various titles given to St. Joseph and the model of virtues he displays; one is aided to become imitators of him witnessing to the family, Parish, workplace, and the world,” Harkey said.

These reflections, found in the 30-Day Devotional, can be used by individuals, as daily family prayer, or in Parish groups. To join this 30-day journey to become better acquainted with the Foster Father of Our Lord register at Registering will also place you on the Office of Family Life mailing list to ensure you are made aware of future opportunities focusing on marriage and family.

In addition, the Diocese of Venice has created a quick-reference website for key elements of the ongoing “Year of St. Joseph,” including information about the locations named after the Saint, which can all be found at

For more information about this devotional and for other questions, please contact Carrie Harkey at

Two Institute courses starting soon

The Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, in partnership with the Diocese of Venice Office of Evangelization, is launching a new series of courses: “Feasting on God’s Word: Encounter with Sacred Scripture.”

These courses are designed for Catholics hungry to know more about the Bible. Each will last 10 weeks and encompass prayer, reading, study and discussion of Scripture.

“In this program, we will be teaching classes on both the Old Testament and New Testament with some online and some in-person at host Parishes,” Dr. John Gresham, Executive Director of the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation said. “These offerings are for personal enrichment and have no graded assignments – the only homework is reading the Bible. As a student progresses, they will come away with a richer and deeper understanding of Scripture.”

The series begins this fall with two courses available, an online course on the Gospels and an in-person course on the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). As structured, someone taking all six classes (three Old Testament and three New Testament) in the series will be able to cover the entire Bible in three years.

Gresham will be offering the online course “The Good News of Jesus Christ in the Four Gospels,” which begins on Sept. 13, 2021 and concludes on Nov. 21. Students can log on any time each week to watch the pre-recorded videos and to participate in the online discussion. Gresham is a convert to the Catholic Church and brings a rich knowledge of Scripture. He has taught at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St, Louis, Missouri, and Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.

Joshua Mazrin, Diocesan Director of Evangelization, is offering an in-person course titled, “Creation and Covenants: A Study of the Pentateuch.” Students will be guided through the Books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Classes are Monday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the St. Thomas More Parish Spirit Center Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive Sarasota from Sept. 13 to Nov. 29 (except Sept. 27 and Oct. 11). Mazrin has an advanced theology degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville with additional advanced studies at Ave Maria University. He integrates Scripture, Theology, and Spirituality in his teaching.

Each 10-week course costs $100 payable online when you register. To register, visit the Institute website at or call 941-766-7334.

The Old Testament and New Testament courses are not the only opportunity to learn from the Diocesan Institute. Read further to learn about a graduate level program, an online course about St. Joseph and an at home program for all.

Graduate level course offering

Registration is still open for a 16-week graduate level online course starting Aug. 24, that introduces students to the principles, practices, and sources of Catholic Theology. The course, “What is Catholic Theology? (Ecclesial Nature and Mission of Theology),” counts as a pre-requisite for those beginning the online MA in Theology and Christian Ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Franciscan offers students from the Diocese of Venice a discounted tuition for this online MA. This course is also available to those who wish to attend for their own personal enrichment. For cost and other information and to register for the course visit or call 941-766-7334.

Online St. Joseph Course still available

The Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation invites you to celebrate

During this ongoing “Year of St. Joseph” the Institute created a self-paced online course “Encountering St. Joseph with St. John Paul II and Pope Francis.” The class is still available for those interested and students can work at their own pace and includes short, pre-recorded videos, questions for personal reflection or group discussion, recommended resources and more.. The course covers John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on the Person and Mission of St Joseph (Redemptoris Custos) and Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter on St Joseph (Patris Corde). This course can be taken individually or in a group. The course fee is $35, and again, to register or for more information, please visit or call 941-766-7334.

Franciscan at Home Online Workshops

The Institute also presents “Franciscan at Home,” online workshops for all who want to grow deeper in the Catholic Faith. This is a program sponsored by Diocese of Venice Parishes at no cost to the individual. Workshops are available on parenting, youth outreach, prayer, Catholic social teaching, Theology of the Body, Scripture and much more. Many workshops are available in Spanish. For more information, please call the Institute at 941-766-7334, or visit