Last chances to participate in the Synod

Do you want to have a say in the future of the Universal Church? If so, then there are only two opportunities left for the Faithful to have their voices heard during the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” as requested by His Holiness Pope Francis.

You can sign up now for the last in-person Diocesan Listening Session from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, May 23, 2022, at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (English and Spanish); or for the Virtual Listening Session via Microsoft TEAMS from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 25. To register for either or both, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions.

There have been 10 Diocesan Listening Sessions to-date, with the most recent May 16, at St. Agnes Parish in Naples. These Listening Sessions have been available to offer the Faithful the opportunity to provide input into the future of the Universal Church. Each Session asks participants to discern the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. The feedback has been both positive and passionate.

“For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” is a worldwide effort for a deeper communion, fuller participation, and greater openness to fulfilling our mission in the world. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the input of the Faithful – with an open heart, mind and soul – is critical as the Universal Church contemplates the future.

The information gathered at the Diocesan Listening Sessions, as well as from direct or follow-up comments from the Faithful, will be synthesized into a document which will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and ultimately the Vatican. Similar Listening Sessions are being held across the country and around the globe.

Those interested in attending any of the Sessions are encouraged to confirm their attendance by registering at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions. (NOTE: to participate in the Virtual Listening Session, you MUST register, so a link can be provided).

For any questions or comments regarding the Listening Sessions or the Synod, please email synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Final Synod Listening Sessions in May

Time is running out to have your voice heard during the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” as requested by His Holiness Pope Francis.

To ensure everyone has a voice, the faithful are encouraged to consider attending one of the final four Listening Sessions in May; three of which will be in person, with a Virtual Session to close out the Diocesan Phase.

To date, eight Listening Sessions, starting in February, have been completed throughout the Diocese with hundreds having their voice heard in this process. Each Session has the goal of discerning the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. The feedback has been both positive and passionate.

“For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” is a worldwide effort for a deeper communion, fuller participation, and greater openness to fulfilling our mission in the world. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the input of the faithful is critical as the Universal Church contemplates the future. The Faithful are encouraged to respond to the Synod with an open heart, mind and soul, the Bishop added.

Each session is being recorded to allow for proper documentation. The information gathered at the Diocesan Listening Sessions, as well as from direct or follow-up comments from the faithful, will be synthesized into a document which will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and ultimately the Vatican. Similar Listening Sessions are being held across the country and around the globe.

The format of the Listening Sessions includes an opening prayer and remarks before lively table discussions. Each Session concentrates on questions inspired by 10 Synod themes supplied by the Vatican. Participants are also able to share additional comments privately by emailing synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Listening Session locations were selected based of geography and population to cover as much of the Diocese as possible and several have been offered in both English and Spanish.

Upcoming in-person Sessions will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Monday, May 9, St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring (Eng./Sp);
  • Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (Eng./Sp);

Please note, there will also be a Virtual Listening Session from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 25.

Those interested in attending any of the Sessions are encouraged to confirm their attendance by registering at www.dioceseofvenice.org. A link will be provided for those interested in participating in the Virtual Listening Session.

For any questions or comments regarding the listening sessions, please email synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Earlier Listening Session

Diocesan Phase for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”

To date, eight in-person Listening Sessions have been completed, and they include:

  • (Completed) Feb. 9, St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota (Eng.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 16, Epiphany Cathedral, Venice (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 22, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, Bradenton (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 3, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 14, St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 16, Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 24; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225, Golden Gate Parkway, Naples (Eng./Sp.).
  • (Completed) March 28, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples (Eng.).

EASTER: The Summit of the Catholic Faith

For the Easter Season – Spread the Good News

Throughout the Universal Church the faithful gathered for a joyous celebration on Easter; that is the Resurrection of Our Lord, the Summit of the Catholic Faith. Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities.”

This celebration comes after the holiest of weeks which began with the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and included the institution of the Eucharist (Communion) during the Last Supper, Institution of the Sacrament of Holy Orders as well as the betrayal by Judas on Holy Thursday and the suffering and death of Our Lord on Good Friday. The Resurrection on Easter completes the journey for Jesus but it is just the beginning of a new journey of belief and hope for the Faithful, Bishop Frank J. Dewane explained during the Easter Vigil Mass on April 16, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

“For more than two thousand years humanity has never known a night so powerful as this night which represents the greatest noble night when the power of death was overcome – conquered that night by Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane said.

The Bishop noted the Gospel reading from the Vigil provides guidance to carry the message of Easter forward. The Gospel of Luke (24:1-12) tells the story of the women who were going to care for the body of Jesus, thought to be deceased, in the Jewish custom and found the stone rolled away from the tomb. The Gospel then reads: “but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.’ And they remembered his words.'”

Bishop Dewane said we all need to look back to Scripture and recall those words, at that moment. “All of us need to ponder the power of the Resurrection in our life. We need to have hope. Yes, we can be afraid at times, but we cannot be deterred. The women who came to the tomb of Jesus were afraid, but they had hope. We must allow the same to happen to us, as with shouts of joy, proclaim the Risen Lord, whose power can roll back the stones – those obstacles to living out a true life of faith in Jesus Christ. This Risen Lord gives us the grace we need to go forward to be the messengers of Christ’s Word – the messenger of the Resurrection of the Lord – Alleluia! Christ is Risen!”

The Easter Vigil begins in darkness, the Easter fire is kindled and the Paschal (Passover) Candle lit. The Candle is brought into the darkened church with the proclamation that Christ is our Light as the flame is shared and the light spreads.

During this Vigil Mass, the faithful hear the story of Salvation proclaimed in numerous Scripture readings first from the Old Testament (Genesis and Exodus) and then from the New Testament. It is also at this time at the Vigil Mass that the Bishop and priests baptize and confirm Catechumens and Candidates. There were 397 women and men who entered fully into the Catholic Church at Parishes throughout the Diocese.

One of these candidates was Samantha Valerie Caballero who received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion from Bishop Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral. Caballero was emotional after becoming fully Catholic. “I feel blessed to have grown close to the Lord, Jesus Christ in my life,” she said afterwards.

The celebration of Easter is not confined to a single day; in fact, throughout the next 50 days the Easter Season is celebrated “in joyful exultation as one Feast Day, or better as one ‘great Sunday.’”

The first eight days after Easter make up what is called the Octave of Easter and is a festive time. On the 40th day of the Easter Season, Catholics celebrate the Ascension of the Lord (May 26 – the celebration is moved to the following Sunday, May 29). The days that follow are a time to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday (June 5).

Paschal Triduum celebrated throughout the Diocese

Faithful gathered at Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice for a celebration of the Paschal Triduum (April 14-17, 2022).

The Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday), has its center in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Sunday of the Resurrection (Easter).

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring included the commemoration when Jesus Christ established the Sacrament of Holy Communion prior to His arrest and crucifixion. It also observes His institution of the priesthood. This Liturgy included the presentation of the oils blessed and consecrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during the April 12 Chrism Mass, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, which will be used for the Sacraments in the Parish throughout the year.  Later was the traditional washing of the feet, reenacting Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples. Following the Prayer after Communion, the Mass concluded with a procession to transfer the Holy Eucharist to the place of repose in the Parish Hall. This procession led out the main doors of the church and to the hall. This action left the tabernacle vacant until the Easter Vigil.

On Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, the faithful at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples participated in the Liturgy which included the reading of the Passion from the Gospel of John. Next was the presentation of the cross, brought forth by the priest and unveiled as the priest sang: “This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the salvation of the world,” and the congregation responded: “Come let us adore.” The faithful were then encouraged to come forward to venerate the cross. This was done by either touching, bowing, or genuflecting.

Either prior to, or after, the Good Friday Liturgy, many Parishes hosted the Stations of the Cross, sometimes led by children or including a dramatic retelling. (See related story on Page 3.).

On Holy Saturday, the only Mass of the day is the Easter Vigil, which begins in darkness. However, several Parishes did host a blessing of the Easter Baskets/food. This custom traditionally blesses food to be consumed at the first meal of Easter.

During the Easter Vigil, the Paschal Candle was lit and catechumens and candidates received the Sacraments and entered fully into the Catholic Faith. This year 397 did so throughout the Diocese.

On Easter Sunday, several Parishes celebrated Mass at sunrise while all added extra Masses to accommodate the increased numbers common for this holiest of days.

Many Parishes also hosted fun for children which often included Easter Egg hunts.

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula hosted their Easter Festival after the final Easter Sunday Mass. There, hundreds of plastic eggs with goodies were scattered across the lawn for eager children to pluck up, while 300 Easter baskets filled with donated items were distributed to families.

Diocesan Listening Sessions feedback continues

Three-quarters of the way through the Diocesan Phase of “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission” and the feedback reflects the passion the faithful have for the Universal Church.

Participants come to the Diocesan Listening Sessions focused and ready to share where they believe the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church today. The latest Listening Sessions took place in Naples on March 24, 2022, at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish and March 28 at St. John the Evangelist Parish. Discussions were both positive and passionate.

The format of the Listening Sessions includes an opening prayer and brief remarks from Bishop Frank J. Dewane, with the focus shifting to lively table discussions. Each Session concentrates on questions inspired by 10 Synod themes supplied by the Vatican. Participants are also able to share additional comments privately through the Synod email, synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Among the 10 themes under consideration is “Sharing Responsibility.” This is described by the Synod as follows: “The synodal process calls each member of the People of God to equally participate and take responsibility for the method of listening and dialogue being called by the Spirit. The participation of each member of the faithful is required to further the mission of the Church.” Other themes include: “Companions on the Journey,” “Listening,” “Speaking Out,” “Celebration,” and more.

Bishop Dewane has stressed during each Session how important it is to respond to the Synod, and the questions posed, in the context of what the Holy Spirit is asking of us, and can only be accomplished with an open heart, mind and soul. Bishop Dewane encouraged the faithful in attendance to share their dreams for the Church, and when the floor was open for a free discussion, many shared their hopes and dreams for the Universal Church.

Each session is being recorded to allow for proper documentation. The information gathered at the Diocesan Listening Sessions, as well as from direct or follow-up comments from the faithful, will be synthesized into a document which will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and ultimately the Vatican. Similar Listening Sessions are being held across the country and around the globe.

The St. Elizabeth Seton and St. John the Evangelist Listening Sessions were the seventh and eighth of 12 planned through May. Due to Holy Week and the Easter celebrations, the next Listening Sessions will take place in May in Sebring, Naples and LaBelle. Locations for the Sessions were selected based on geography and population to cover as much of the Diocese as possible.

For additional Synod details, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org. To register for any of the Listening Sessions, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions.

“For A Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”

Listing of 12 Diocese of Venice Listening Sessions

  • (Completed) Feb. 9, St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota (Eng.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 16, Epiphany Cathedral, Venice (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 22, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, Bradenton (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 3, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 14, St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 16, Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 24; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225, Golden Gate Parkway, Naples (Eng./Sp.).
  • (Completed) March 28, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 9, St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring (Eng./Sp);
  • Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (Eng./Sp);
  • Virtual Session from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 25.

To register for a Listening Session of the Virtual Session, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions. Email synod@dioceseofvenice.org for any questions or comments regarding the Listening Sessions.

 

 

Equipping the Family: Having Critical Conversations

The consequences of pornography for the internet generation are being discussed with more frequency at every level, including in the Catholic Church. Pornography is one of the leading causes of abuse, adultery, divorce, addictions and human trafficking: it is, in short, a pervasive evil inflicting grave wounds on our families.

“It has been a year since the Diocese of Venice celebrated its first annual Safe Haven Sunday, but this was just the beginning of the pursuit to directly address the harmfulness of pornography to marriages, families, the culture and particularly to our youth and young adults,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane. “Therefore, on Sunday, March 27, 2022, the Diocese will continue efforts by celebrating the second annual Safe Haven Sunday.”

This weekend of awareness will provide free resources to parents and grandparents so as to give them confidence in how to talk to their children and grandchildren about internet dangers, as well as their personal online and offline choices. To assist in these efforts, each household attending Mass the weekend of March 26-27 will receive a copy of “Confident: Helping Parents Navigate Online Exposure.”

“Confident” is a step-by-step conversation guide that includes: information about the prevalence of pornography use today; a four-step process for discussing pornography with a child or teen; scripts for conversing with a child about pornography in the light of Biblical sexuality; information about porn use versus porn addiction; and a plan for protecting your home and devices.

The content for Safe Haven Sunday was created by Covenant Eyes, a company that provides internet accountability software. Their goal is to equip people with tools that offer protection online and encourage accountability and trust in the fight against temptation.

“It is my prayer that the resources provided to you on Safe Haven Sunday will teach parents and grandparents how to effectively address pornography in the home and encourage the steps it takes to make our homes safe havens for all,” Bishop Dewane said.

Safe Haven Sunday was developed in direct response to the 2015 statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “Create In Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography.” The document states: “The use of pornography by anyone in the home deprives the home of its role as a safe haven and has negative effects throughout a family’s life and across generations.”

The USCCB statement discusses Church teaching on sexuality, the human person and chastity and explains why pornography is sinful and harmful. It also covers the effects of pornography on the culture and individuals.

“The Church’s teaching on the harm and sinfulness of pornography is grounded in the greater ‘yes’ or affirmation of the inviolable dignity of the human person revealed fully in Christ and the gift of human sexuality and marriage in God’s plan,” the Bishops wrote.

The statement encourages parents to be cautious about media in the home. “Be vigilant about the technology you allow into your home and be sensitive to the prevalence of sexual content in even mainstream television and film and the ease by which it comes through the internet and mobile devices,” the Bishops wrote.

For more information about the issue of pornography and its impact on the family, please visit https://cleanheart.online/diocese-venice-0. This is a customized page specific to the Diocese of Venice which contains resources for parents, educators, clergy, and all those who struggle; all content is in line with Catholic Teaching.

For questions or more information about Safe Haven Sunday, please contact Carrie Harkey, Diocesan Coordinator of Family Life, at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Diocesan Phase of Synod prayer and schedule updated March 4 2022

 

Prayer for the Synod: Adsumus Sancte Spiritus (We stand before You, Holy Spirit)

We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.

With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts;

Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.

We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder.

Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.

Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life

and not stray from the way of truth and what is right.

All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time,

in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever.

Amen.

“For A Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”

Listing of 11 Diocese of Venice Listening Sessions

  • (Completed) Feb. 9, St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota (Eng.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 16, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W. Venice (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 22, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, 2850 75th St. W., Bradenton (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 3, St. Andrew Parish, 2628 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral (Eng./Sp.);
  • Monday, March 14, St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers (Eng.);
  • Wednesday, March 16, Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., Punta Gorda (Eng.);
  • Thursday, March 24; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225, Golden Gate Parkway (Eng./Sp.).
  • Monday, March 28, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 9, St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring (Eng./Sp);
  • Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (Eng./Sp).

To allow for the most participants, please register for only one Listening Session at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-synod-listening-sessions. A virtual Listening Session is in the planning stages and will be announced soon. Email synod@dioceseofvenice.org for any questions or comments regarding the Listening Sessions.

Looking ahead to 2022 in the Diocese of Venice

Opportunities abound for the faithful of the Diocese of Venice to grow closer to the Lord as the new year begins while continuing to deal with the impacts of the global COVID-19 Pandemic. A variety of Diocesan events are scheduled or in the planning stages while at the same time numerous Parishes are in the process of either completing or beginning major construction work. Therefore, 2021 is sure to be an exciting year for Catholics across Southwest Florida.

In the coming months there will be the Ordination to the Priesthood of three men, the Diocesan Phase of the Synod on Synodality, Masses for couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries, a first-time joint Men’s and Women’s Conference, a continuing initiative to curb the impacts of pornography on society, opportunities to promote the sanctity of life, and learning experiences of various types.

During the first half of 2022, taking center stage will be the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” Specifically, there will be a series of listening sessions which will take place in each part of the Diocese and to be announced in the next few weeks. The goal of these sessions is to discern the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. This Diocesan Phase was inaugurated with an opening Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Oct. 17, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Coming in March is one of the most valuable opportunities to grow in the Faith, a first-ever joint Women’s and Men’s Conference. This year, the Conference agenda has been supercharged with dynamic speakers addressing relevant topics within the Church for Catholic men, women and their families. The 2022 Diocese of Venice Men’s & Women’s Conference is Saturday, March 5, at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center, 75 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda. Speakers include Trent Horn, Matthew Leonard, Emily Wilson, Dr. Michael Dauphinais, and Nicole Caruso with several breakout sessions geared specifically toward men or women. The large venue is ideal for allowing all participants to grow closer to the Lord. In addition, there will opportunities to participate in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession all day. Bishop Dewane will conclude the day by celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Doors open at 8 a.m. with the day beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding with the closing Mass at 4 p.m. To register, visit https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-menswomens-conference. If you have any questions, contact the Diocesan Evangelization Office at 941-484-9543 or evangelization@dioceseofvenice.org.

For all couples celebrating a significant wedding anniversary (25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, or more than 50 years of marriage) in 2022, Bishop Dewane will be the celebrant of two Masses in your honor. The Masses will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 12 at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs, and at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 19 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Avenue, Venice. The Masses will be followed with a lunch and include the opportunity for complimentary anniversary photos taken with Bishop Dewane. To register, please contact your local parish office for reservations no later than a week prior to the event you choose to attend.

The Office of Respect Life will be busy throughout 2022 with a variety of activities, all to raise awareness about important issues regarding the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. First up is the 24th annual Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life on Tuesday, Jan. 18, outside of the Planned Parenthood in downtown Sarasota. Bishop Dewane will celebrate Mass at 8:30 a.m. at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota. A bus will shuttle participants to the abortion center on Central Avenue to circle the block in prayer as many times as desired. The walk coincides with the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade court decision which paved the way for legalized abortion in the U.S.

In addition, there are two Parish-based prayer walks Saturday, Jan. 22. Members of the Ave Maria Parish Respect Life Outreach, along with Ave Maria University and Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc., will be hosting a March for Life from the Ave Maria University football field 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Special guests include Bishop Dewane and Pro-Life speaker Pam Stenzel. The same day, the St. Leo the Great Parish Respect Life Outreach in Bonita Springs is hosting its 3rd Annual Walk for Life on U.S. 41 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Participants are asked to park in the Parish parking lot at 28290 Beaumont Road and everyone will meet on nearby U.S. 41.

Later in the year, there will be an opportunity to participate in the national 40 Days for Life Spring Campaign during Lent in Fort Myers and Sarasota, then the Fall Campaign (October) at multiple locations in the Diocese.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., will be hosting several events to support its more 30 than programs throughout the Diocese. First up on Wednesday, Jan. 19, is the “Celebration of Hope Luncheon” to benefit the programs in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties, The Luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m., at the Lexington Country Club, 16257 Willowcrest Way, Fort Myers. For tickets to this event, please contact Victoria Guevara at victoria.guevaranunez@catholiccharitiesdov.org or call 239-334-4007 ext. 2100.

In the beginning of February, make plans for an elegant evening at the “Together Again” Catholic Charities Ball, which supports the programs of Catholic Charities in Sarasota, Manatee, Highlands, Glades, DeSoto and Hardee counties. The Ball is 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5, at the Ritz-Carlton, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota. For tickets or to sponsor the event, please visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/event-on/ or call 941-909-7817.

Coming later in February is the Our Mother’s House Annual Wine Tasting, Auction & Dinner Dance at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Venice Community Center, 326 Nokomis Ave. S., Venice. Funds raised by this event will ensure that Our Mother’s House is able to offer the support needed to the mothers and their children as they journey towards self-sufficiency. For more information, please contact Lisa Ventura at 941-485-6264 ext. 1500 at lisa.ventura@catholiccharitiesdov.org. For tickets, please visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/event-on/.

Next among the Catholic Charities events in early 2022 is the Emerald Ball 2022. This evening supports the Catholic Charities programs in Collier County and will take place at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 10, at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. For more information or to sponsor the event, please contact Rosa Aspilcueta 239-455-2655 ext. 3100 or emeraldball@catholiccharitiesdov.org, or visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/event-on/.

Continuing on the success of the first Safe Haven Sunday in 2021, the Diocesan Office of Family Life is working on developing the second phase of the initiative for the fall of 2022. This phase help to raise awareness about the harmfulness of pornography in the family and society. Pornography creates unsafe environments for children and confuses others about attitudes towards sex and marriage. This day of awareness describes the impacts pornography can have on marriages, families, and culture, while providing helpful resources for all. Detailed information will be shared with the faithful about how to combat this scourge in the weeks leading up to Safe Haven Sunday.

In the coming months, Bishop Dewane will preside over a variety of celebrations which occur each year, including the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent, March 6, when Bishop Dewane welcomes those in Parish RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) programs from throughout the Diocese who will be fully entering the Church at the Easter Vigil; a Mass for Victims of Abuse will take place in April – National Child Abuse Awareness Month; later in the year a Veterans Day Mass at Sarasota National Cemetery, a Red Mass for legal professionals and more. As earlier mentioned, three men will be Ordained to the Priesthood by the Bishop this summer at Epiphany Cathedral.

Throughout 2021 there will be a variety of Parish-based celebrations coming in 20211. Among those is the 40th Anniversary of the founding of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples, which is also going through an expansion project slated to begin in 2022. The dedication of new Parish Life Centers for Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Boca Grande and St. William Parish in Naples will be happening in the first half of the year; and renovations to existing buildings as new Parish Life Centers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee and Our Lady of the Angels Parish Lakewood Ranch are nearing completion. The coming year will be a big one at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Sarasota which is nearing the completion of a major Church renovation and ground will be broken on a new Ministry Center. There will also be a renovation of the baseball fields at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers as well as the expansion of the religious education building at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. Additional smaller, but no less important, projects are slated throughout the Diocese in an effort to benefit current and future generations.

As 2022 moves forward, check the Diocesan website (www.dioceseofvenice.org) frequently for information about these and other upcoming events. As always, check the weekly Florida Catholic e-Edition to read stories and view photos from these and other happenings across the Diocese. If you would like to read the story looking back at life in the Diocese during 2021, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/looking-back-on-2021/.

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 harkey@dioceseofvenice.org.

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.

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