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. Contact Kim Elsmore at email@example.com for questions about the training.