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.
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 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.
Throughout Scriptures we are reminded to care for widows and widowers who are protected by God. For this reason, the Bishop Frank J. Dewane is celebrating a Mass for all widows and widowers at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 20 at Epiphany Cathedral, 310 Sarasota Street, Venice. A dinner will follow in the Parish Hall.
Bishop Dewane said this Mass is an important opportunity to recognize those who have suffered the loss of a spouse but remain strong in their faith.
The concept for the Mass grew out of the annual Mass honoring couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries. Those Masses, which will be, March 2 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and March 16 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs, are extraordinarily popular, however each year there are empty spaces in the pews when a spouse passes away.
“Widows and widowers are not forgotten but are in fact recognized and in particular revered by the Church,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Book of Revelation says the Lamb will shepherd and lead those who grieve to the springs of life-giving water and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. This reminds us that we can persevere…”
The celebration will include a display of photos available for viewing and be part of the Mass for widows and widowers. Should an attendee wish to share a photo for the display, they can either bring the image to the event, email it to email@example.com, or mail it to Diocese of Venice, Attn: Family Life Office, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, Florida 34285.
The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound with Bishop Frank J. Dewane as Celebrant 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 airs at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass airs at 8:00 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). Please check your cable provider for channel listings. Leaflet missals are available upon request by calling 941-486-4714 or by writing: TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. For more information, contact Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2018 Christmas Appeal
Catholic Charities launches the annual Christmas Appeal during December 2018 and January 2019. 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. For more information, please call 941-488-5581.
Bishop Blesses Christmas Tree
During the first week of Advent, Bishop Frank J. Dewane blessed the Catholic Center Christmas Tree Dec. 6 during a prayer service with the employees of the Catholic Center in Venice. The tree was then decorated and various holiday treats were offered.
Mass at Dawn continues through Dec. 23
Following the Filipino tradition, several parishes have hosted all or part of the so-called Mass at Dawn (Simbang Gabi). This novena of Masses in celebrated preparation for Christmas. In the Diocese, the full novena was available at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte and began Dec. 15. Three Diocesan Filipino priests celebrated the opening Mass. Additional one-day Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo opportunities took place Dec. 16 at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral, as well as Dec. 21 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs. Although this tradition is not exclusive to Filipinos, its observance is very much highlighted and distinctive of the Philippine Catholic culture.
Mass Celebrating Haitian Independence Jan. 1
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. Most Rev. Désinord Jean, Diocese of Hinche, Haiti, will be the Principal Celebrant and Homilist. There is a reception after the Mass in the Parish Hall.
“Lord Teach Me To Pray” Series begins Jan. 8
Are you longing for a deeper relationship with Jesus? If so, the “Lord Teach Me To Pray” prayer series rooted in Ignatian spirituality is for you. The first part of the three-part series, “Praying Christian Virtues,” is being offered for women for 12 weeks beginning Tuesday, January 8, at St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota. For more details, please email Veronica at email@example.com.
Fashion Show Jan. 12
All are invited to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center at 1 p.m. Jan 12, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice, for an afternoon of fashion, food and fun. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. with an opportunity to bid on auction items. Lunch will be a Caesar Salad with your choice of salmon of chicken. Great Christmas gift! For more information or to buy tickets please visit www.olph-retreat.org or call 941-486-0233 ext. 3002.
Couples Date Night Jan. 15 and 17
The Office of Family Life is hosting two Parenting workshops. Catholic Parenting is challenging! Learn specific tips and tricks that helped hundreds of families thrive! Jim and Maureen Otremba have been presenting for over 20 years and have given presentations to Parishes and Diocese around the country. The workshops are 6 p.m., Jan. 15 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers, and from 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at Our Lady of the Angels Parish, 12905 E. State Road 70, Lakewood Ranch. The cost is $25 for materials. Registration is needed. Pizza dinner and drinks will be provided. Our Lady of the Angels will have babysitting available. For more information and registration go to www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar.
Spirituality of Retirement workshop Jan. 16
The Office of Family Life is hosting a workshop at 1 p.m., Jan. 16, at St. William Parish Ministry Hall, 750 Seagate Drive, Naples. The Universal Call to Holiness invites us to “the fullness of the Christian life and the perfection of charity” (Lumen Gentium). For Catholics in their retirement years, this invitation takes on new joys and challenges as their wisdom increases and defining life characteristics such as career, mobility, and relationships undergo transition. This workshop provides strategies for retired Catholics to enrich their identity as cherished members of the Body of Christ. Rooted in our baptismal call to holiness and drawing on the riches of the Eucharist, the presentation incorporates current research on brain biology, generativity, and wellness. Participants will gain an enhanced knowledge of the gift they are to the Body of Christ along with ways to share their gifts with their faith community. Suggested donation at the door. Please register by Jan. 14 either online at www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar or call St. William at 239-261-4883.
Faith and Ale Lee County Jan. 17
Faith and Ale is an outreach for men to learn more about their faith and grow closer to Our Lord. The next gathering is 6:00 p.m. Thursday, January 17, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. The speaker is David Casper, a retired Hall of Fame American football player. Locations will vary throughout the 2018-19 season. To register, or for more information, please visit www.faithandale.com.
Blue Mass in Naples Jan. 26
St. Agnes Catholic Church, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples will celebrate a Blue Mass in honor of Law Enforcement and First Responders, Active and Retired on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. This year’s guest homilist will be Deacon Bob Montelongo of the Chicago Police Department. Please join us as we honor their sacrifice and service to our community. A luncheon will immediately follow in the Parish Hall. Please RSVP at 239-592-1949 for the reception.
Mooney Lady Cougar Weightlifting team debuts
The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Lady Cougar Weightlifting Team made its debut in November. This new Sarasota team consists of 15 inaugural participants and will be competing against teams at competitions throughout the region.
Making gingerbread houses
The Bishop Verot Catholic High School National Honor Society welcomed second and third graders to the Fort Myers campus Dec. 6 from St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers. It was a fun day of creating beautiful Gingerbread Houses and Christmas Cookies, and a little snacking too.
Bringing music for weary travelers
String musicians from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice entertained weary travelers at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Dec. 4 with a holiday concert. Musicians from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota also had their own holiday concert a few days later. Great job everyone.
The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone but more so for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The rush of memories can make it feel as if the loss is happening all over again.
To help the bereaved, the Office of Family Life offered three “There is Hope: Surviving the Holidays” workshops led by Deacon Henry deMena of St. Agnes Parish in Naples, who has extensive training experience as a bereavement counselor.
Deacon deMena tried to help the bereaved make sense out of what doesn’t make sense: grief. The workshops took place Nov. 13 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs, and Nov. 15 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and Incarnation Parish in Sarasota.
Deacon deMena spoke about how the grieving process is an emotional roller coaster and spiritually one can find peace at times and then find anger. None of this is unusual. While prayers can bring comfort, they cannot magically take pain away.
“As humans we might feel God has abandoned us when trying to deal with the loss of a loved one,” Deacon deMena said. “It’s OK, because God has broad shoulders. He can handle you being upset with Him. The more you can pray and talk to the Lord, the easier it will be to help Him find you. God wants to share His love and comfort with us.”
The holidays are difficult because anxiety and stress levels are running high for everyone. Anything that can be done to reduce the effort and stress of the season is recommended.
The first Thanksgiving or the first Christmas after a loss is a stark reminder for the bereaved that the deceased is no longer there in a specific and powerful way. Fortunately, as time passes the recovery for the bereaved from the holiday is quicker.
“You need to expect and accept the pain of the day,” Deacon deMena said of holidays. “Feel what you need to feel, not with others want you to feel.”
Deacon deMena offered a variety of suggestions on how to get through the holidays by planning ahead for any activity to help avoid surprises. One thing not to do during the holidays is pretending everything is the same or fine, or to not talk about the loved one as if they never existed. This actually is more painful for the bereaved.
Other topics included common grieving feelings and misunderstandings; bereaving time frames; holiday bereavement for children/teens; coping techniques; and the power of prayer.
Workshop attendees shared their own stories of grief and the challenge of dealing with well-intentioned friends and family who are offering advice.
One gentleman from Bonita Springs explained how he is trying to cope with the recent loss of his wife of more than 50 years. “There is a hole in my life. Thanksgiving and Christmas just seem so overwhelming.”
Deacon deMena stressed the need for the bereaved to express their emotions and not hide them. He suggested several ways to incorporate the memory of the lost loved one in some way at a gathering can overcome some difficulties friends or family might have when bringing up the deceased.
“Doing the holidays different is okay,” the Deacon said. “Things are not the same. There is no reason to act as if they are.”
Deacon DeMena will be holding an Hour of Remembrance Prayer Vigil at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12 at St. Agnes Parish Chapel, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. This is an hour before the Lord in prayer and music for all who are suffering or grieving in any way.
For more information about bereavement counseling, please contact Deacon deMena at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who are interested in becoming a Parish bereavement volunteer, the Diocese Office of Family Life is hosting a training called “There is Hope: Bereavement Training.” This will focus on training parish bereavement volunteers and those who speak with the bereaved and is not a workshop to help someone who has recently lost a loved one. Deacon deMena holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling with extensive training and experience in Bereavement. The training will be held Jan. 24-25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., both days, at St. Ann Parish, 985 3rd St. S., Naples. The cost is $25 per person which includes lunch for both days and materials. More information can be found at www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar The registration link is: https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/bereavement-training-jan2019 and please register by January 21.