Parishes, schools help bring Saints to life

In the days leading up to and following Nov. 1, 2021, the Solemnity of All Saints, Parishes and Diocesan Catholic schools took time out to put a special emphasis on the Saints.

At some Masses children dressed as their favorite Saint. In some schools, presentations were made to allow the young “Saints” to share the story of these holy men and women of God.

The most popular activity this year was the Trunk-or-Treat which provided a safe environment for the little ones to come and get candy and have a little fun.

Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish in Bokeelia supported the Pine Island event by supplying 162 kids prepackaged bags of candy that had a label that said “Never Stop FALL-O-WEEN Jesus for Heavenly Treats. Have a Happy Halloween from OLMM Catholic Church.” The parishioners donated the candy for the event as the Parish Trunk-or-Treat Theme was: “FALL for Jesus, He Never LEAVES.”

Meanwhile, St. Michael Parish in Wauchula decided to host a carnival/trick-or-treat event in the field behind the Parish. Children dressed as priests, angels and a variety of superheroes and other characters each had to complete a carnival game to receive candy. One game had children try to identify images of saints with only a small hint to help. All the candy was donated by the faithful at St. Raphael Parish in Englewood.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane often describes the saints as women and men who do ordinary things extraordinarily well.

An example of this occurred in Bradenton, where second graders from St. Joseph Catholic School shared candy, homemade cards, and sang their favorite songs for the residents at nearby Truewood Assisted Living. Thanks to a donor who supplied candy, the students also enjoyed Trick or Treating throughout the facility.

The Beta Club of St. John Neumann Catholic School in Naples also did a little thing well when they delivered treats to the faculty and teachers at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples in thanks for their dedication to education. Each bag also featured a bible verse chosen by the Beta Club – “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” James 1:12.

Back at the high school, the seniors escorted pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students from St. Ann and St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Schools for trick-or-treating to each of the classrooms.

Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers hosted kindergarten students from St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers on Oct. 28 for pumpkin decorating and a few treats.

At Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria the children in grades Pre-k through third came to Mass on Oct. 29 dressed as their favorite saint. After Mass had concluded, the costumed children took turns announcing to the assembled students, teachers, parents and visitors which saint they were.

On the Solemnity, Nov. 1, St. Andrew Catholic School students wore a wide variety of “saint” costumes to Mass with many Blessed Virgin Mary’s, several angels, and a few Popes.

Pope Francis said true happiness does not come from being young, rich, or successful, as the world thinks, but from the counter-cultural idea to follow Jesus Christ. The Holy Father made his remarks during a special Angelus address for the Solemnity of All Saints, celebrated by the Catholic Church on Nov. 1, 2021. This year the obligation to attend Mass was abrogated in the United States because the Solemnity fell on a Monday.

In addition, schools also took time out on All Soul’s Day, Nov. 2, to pause to remember deceased family and friends. Middle school-aged students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton created images made from sugar with prayers for deceased relatives and friends written on the back of each one. This was part of a special Family Night celebrating Día de los Muertos on Oct. 29.

At Bishop Verot, for many years Fathers Joe and John Beattie, Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, would have a book for staff and students to record the names of loved ones to remember on All Souls Day. That tradition continues to this day with students and staff invited to participate this year.

Parishes also did the same with several dedicating evening Masses to the reading of the names of deceased parishioners from the previous year. The entire month of November is dedicated to all the Souls in Purgatory.

Equestrian Order celebrates Feast Day

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on Oct. 25, 2021, the Feast of Our Lady of Palestine, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Dewane praised the Knights and Dames for their commitment to the protection of the Holy Land and for having the courage to stand up as examples of men and women of faith who through their thoughts and hearts commit to service in response to the call of the Lord.

The Bishop spoke about the continuing struggles of Christians in the Holy Land, something the Knights and Dames of the Order are very familiar with. Of particular concern is the loss of faith among the younger generations which has created a disconnection from the peaceful teachings of Jesus Christ. The Bishop urged the Knights and Dames to be part of the greater solution of inspiring the younger generations to remain in Holy Land.

The annual Mass fell on the Order’s Patroness Feast Day, Our Lady of Palestine, which was approved by the Holy See in 1933. The Feast Day asks all to join in praying to the Virgin Mary for special protection of Palestine and the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Sir John J. DeStefano, KGCHS, the President of the Diocese of Venice Section of the Equestrian Order, helped organize the Mass and expressed his gratitude to Bishop Dewane for his continued support of the Knights and Dames of the Order.

The Equestrian Order is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives which are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The Order is present in nearly 40 countries worldwide.

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre exists within the local Dioceses and works closely with the Universal Church in unity of prayer and communion of purpose. Knights and Dames of the Order care greatly for the fate of this land, and endeavor to sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

In exercising its mission in support of the Christians in the Holy Land, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre spiritually and financially supports structures pertaining to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (schools, seminars, centers), both through stable and continuous projects as well as projects that can vary from year to year depending on the needs.

Worldwide there are about 22,000 Knights and Dames of the Order in 52 countries. In 1926 the Order was founded in the United States of America, and has today grown to 10 lieutenancies, with the Southeastern Lieutenancy comprising of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

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.

Relic aids in enhancing Parish Feast Day celebration

St. Therese Parish in North Fort Myers celebrated its Patronesses Feast Day on Oct. 1, 2021, with a Mass and celebration, the first Feast Day since the Parish obtained a First-Class Relic of the Saint.

Father Jan Antonik, Parish Administrator, told a large gathering how honored and blessed the Parish was to have a First-Class Relic of St. Thérèse, something he strived to acquire since his appointment in early 2020. The relic was gifted to the Parish courtesy of Father Bob Kantor, Pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Naples, where it had been on display in the St. Agnes Adoration Chapel for many years. Bishop Frank J. Dewane approved and facilitated the transfer of the relic between the two Parishes

In North Fort Myers, the relic is now on display in front of a stained-glass window of St. Thérèse, and rests in a glass reliquary, the base of which has an engraved single rose and a plaque thanking Father Kantor and St. Agnes Parish.

“This relic allows us to be closer to our Patroness, St. Thérèse, who shared with us how to allow God to work through us using simple acts of kindness toward others and is an inspiration,” Father Antonik said. “She was so blessed with wisdom and spirituality. What took St. Thomas of Aquinas decades and thousands of pages, St. Thérèse accomplished in her little book – her diary, “The Story of a Soul.’”

St. Thérèse was a Carmelite nun who was born in 1873. She entered a cloistered life at the age of 15, living in near obscurity at a convent in Lisieux, France and died at the age of 24. She was canonized in 1925 and in 1997 St. John Paul II proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church in light of holiness and the influence of her teaching on spirituality in the Church.

Also, known as “St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face,” “The Little Flower of Jesus” or “The Little Flower,” she had a simple yet powerful message of doing small things every day and doing them well, which still resonates in the hearts of millions today. Her “Little Way” of allowing God to work through her life has become a guiding light for many.

Following Mass, single roses were distributed for the faithful to give to others as a “little way” of spreading the Love of Christ to others. Many also paused to view the relic and/or light a candle. A reception was held as part of the Feast Day celebration.

“St. Thérèse means so much to me and to my whole family,” Carmelita Moreno explained. “We prayed to ‘The Little Flower’ and it helped my niece overcome a childhood illness when we thought we would lose her. St. Thérèse’s simple way also helps guide my own life, making it easier to overcome the burdens of the world.”

News Briefs for the Week of Oct. 8, 2021

Mass to Open Diocesan Phase of Synod

As a part of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” Pope Francis has invited every Diocese in the world to inaugurate the beginning of the Synod with an opening Mass. In the Diocese of Venice, this opening Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at 2:30 p.m., Oct. 17, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this Mass. In this Diocesan Phase of the Synod, Catholics in the Diocese of Venice are encouraged to participate in listening sessions, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

Bishop meets Pope Francis

Bishop Frank J. Dewane had the opportunity to greet and meet with Pope Francis following the General Audience in the Vatican’s Pope Paul VI Hall on Sept. 29, 2021. Bishop Dewane spoke briefly with the Holy Father who in return asked about what is taking place in the Diocese of Venice. The Bishop was in Rome to witness the Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate of Diocesan Seminarian Christian Chami on Sept. 30, 2021.

Ministry of Acolyte conferred on Seminarian

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Jacob Gwynn was conferred to the Ministry of Acolyte on Sept. 26, 2021 at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. The principal celebrant for the Mass was Bishop Luis R. Zarama of the Diocese of Raleigh. As an Acolyte, Gwynn is now charged with assisting at the celebration of the Eucharist, purifying the sacred vessels and, when needed, to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion. As part of the Rite, the Bishop placed the paten, which contains the hosts for the celebration of Mass, in the hands of the candidate. He then said, “…take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his Church.”

Blessing of the Animals

Many Diocesan Parishes and Schools hosted a Blessing of the Animals to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4, 2021. While many Parishes hosted the blessings during the preceding weekend, schools opted to either have the blessing before school or prior to the end of the day. The variety of animals was immense, from horses to hamsters, parrots to rabbits as well as nearly every assortment of dog and cat imaginable. It was evident that these creatures were well loved and an important part of each family.

Rosary making educates children

Kindergarten and first graders at St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota used part of religion class on Sept. 29, 2021 to make rosaries. It was at that time the students learned how October is the month of the Holy Rosary and both October and May are months in which we give special honor to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Cloistered Religious Sisters celebrate Feast Day

On Wednesday, Aug. 11, Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the Poor Clare Sisters at the San Damiano Monastery on Fort Myers Beach.

The Mass was celebrated on the Feast Day of St. Clare of Assisi, foundress of the Poor Clare Order and a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi.

The small group of women Religious live a cloistered life and pray for the faithful in the Diocese of Venice, something Bishop Dewane said is a blessing for the Diocese.

“I express my gratitude for your presence, your prayers, your witness, your testimony and you are living as a community of women religious who live by a severe rule,” Bishop Dewane said. “You live in the Lord, and the Lord lives in you.”

Abbess Sister Mary Frances Fortin and the other Religious Sisters at the Monastery expressed their appreciation for the Bishop’s presence, particularly on the Feast Day of their Founder, which is an annual occasion. They noted that the continued support of the Bishop and the faithful of the Diocese are a comfort to them.

The Poor Clare Nuns are a religious community of women begun 800 years ago when Clare Offreduccio, a young noble woman of Assisi, Italy, cast off her rich garments and donned the simple garb of St. Francis to live as he did the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Long before this dramatic moment, Francis, while rebuilding the little church of San Damiano, exclaimed to those passing by, “Come and help me in building the monastery of San Damiano because ladies will dwell here who will glorify Our Heavenly Father throughout His Holy Church by their celebrated and holy manner of life.”

Clare and her sisters joyfully embraced a life of poverty, prayer and contemplation, solitude and seclusion that they might serve the Lord and His church through this holy manner of living as Francis had foretold. This life continues today in the San Damiano Monastery on Fort Myers Beach.

The San Damiano Monastery is located on the same property as Ascension Parish on Fort Myers Beach which that have called their home since 1988. The Monastery became independent in 2009. Although the Sisters never solicit donations, many parishioners bring them groceries and send them money each month. There is a daily Mass which is open to the public.

The daily life of the Poor Clare Sisters is set into a traditional monastic framework of prayer and work. Holy Mass and Liturgy of the Hours are the anchor of their day. Outside these times, the Sisters engage in all the ordinary tasks of life in a spirit of sisterly sharing, joy and peace. A Sister might be found packing up an order of hosts for one of the local parishes, taking care of the altar, sweeping the cloister walk or doing some laundry. Or you may find a Sister at a desk, doing bookkeeping, answering mail, preparing spiritual cards or planning the liturgy.

You can contact the Poor Clare Sisters by calling 239-463-5599, emailing prayer requests to, or learn more about Mass times or their daily life by visiting

Donations in support of the Poor Clare Sisters can be sent to: San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare, 6029 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931.


News Briefs for the Week of Aug. 20, 2021

Bishop celebrates Mass for Parish

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the faithful of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte in what was to be a Parish Feast Day celebration on Aug. 15, 2021. While the Mass was on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there was planned celebration after Mass to honor the Patron Saint of the Parish, St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose Feast Day is Aug. 14. Bishop Dewane noted the sacrifice of St. Maximilian Kolbe a Polish Franciscan friar who was active in the promotion and veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and was martyred in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland when he volunteered to die in the place of a stranger. Bishop Dewane said the devotion of the Saint to his faith and to his fellow prisoners is well documented and should serve as an example for all to follow. The man saved by St. Maximilian Kolbe’s sacrifice survived the Holocaust and was present for the Saint’s beatification and canonization. While the after-Mass celebration was cancelled, present was Father Mark Heuberger, founding-Pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish and current Pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton. Current Pastor Father Teofilo Useche said the threat of Tropical Storm Fred and the ongoing Pandemic caused the celebration to be cancelled.

Naples Parish hosted State Knights for Conference

St. Agnes Parish in Naples hosted the 139th Supreme Convention virtually for the Florida State Council Delegation from Aug. 3-4, 2021. Father Bob Kantor, Pastor of St. Agnes, is the Knights State Chaplain, and participants watching the Supreme Convention as a group. While together, the State Exemplification Team conducted a ceremony Aug. 3, welcoming new Knights and elevating existing ones to the third degree, 12 in all. Father Kantor also celebrated Mass for the State delegation.

Fort Myers and Sarasota 40 Days for Life campaigns begin Sept. 22

The Fall 40 Days for Life campaign begins worldwide on Sept. 22, 2021 through Sunday, Oct. 31, including in Fort Myers and Sarasota. Prayerfully discern where God is calling you. Is it to peaceful sidewalk prayer? Fasting? Adoration? Please consider the many ways in which you can participate. For information about the Fort Myers 40 Days for Life visit for location and details or to sign up. Also consider joining the monthly respect life meetings on the third Wednesday of the month in the Parish Life Center at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers following the 8 a.m. Mass (approximately 8:45 a.m.). All are welcome! Contact Maureen at 239-823-6800 with questions. For information about the Sarasota 40 Days for Life, go to or contact Rich at or 941-923-0752.

Congreso Pro Vida

Registrations are now open! The Archdiocese of Miami is hosting the 6th national Congreso Pro Vida at St. Thomas University the weekend of Oct. 29-31, 2021 (first time in Florida!) Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities will join Archbishop Thomas Wenski for the event and will be a keynote speaker. See for details including registration, hotel, schedule, and speakers. Simultaneous interpretation in English or Spanish will be available via headsets. For questions, contact Sylvia Jimenez at or call 941-412-5860.

 Congreso Pro Vida

¡Ya están abiertas las inscripciones! La Arquidiócesis de Miami está organizando el 6° Congreso Pro Vida Nacional en la Universidad de St. Thomas el fin de semana del 29 al 31 de octubre de 2021 (¡primera vez en la Florida!). El arzobispo Joseph Naumann, presidente del Comité de Actividades Pro-Vida de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de EE. UU. se unirá al arzobispo Thomas Wenski en el evento y será el orador principal. Visite para obtener detalles, incluido el registro, el hotel, el horario y los oradores. Interpretación simultánea de las presentaciones en inglés o español estarán disponibles a través de auriculares. Si tiene preguntas, comuníquese con Sylvia Jimenez at o al 941-412-5860 o

Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal

Every day, Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice serves the most vulnerable population by feeding, housing, empowering, and striving to help those in need. This summer, you can leave your footprint by helping your neighbors. The Catholic Charities Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal is asking for your support. Donate to your choice of assistance, such as food, shelter, education or other support. The giving is easy! Your gift will make a positive impact on our less fortunate brothers and sisters! Please visit or mail a check to Catholic Charities,1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Labor Day Pig Roast

Join the Epiphany Cathedral Knights of Columbus for a Labor Day Pig roast, Sept. 6, 2021, at the Knights Hall, 512 Substation Road, Venice. Doors open at 3 p.m., dinner buffet starts at 4 p.m. Menu includes roasted pig, plantains, barbecue beans, potato salad, cole slaw, dessert, iced tea, lemonade, water. Cost is $20 per person. Beer and wine available. Credit cards accepted. Register at or call Nancy Kraszewski at 281-814-9954.

CCW Vocation Fund fundraiser

Support and encourage our future priests by contributing to the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Vocation Fund by joining them in celebrating Priesthood Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Send a donation to the VDCCW Vocation Fund “In Honor of” the priest(s) in your Parish. Our Diocese is educating 16 MEN in various seminaries so your donation of any amount will be a great help! To take part, please send $1.00 for each card in addition to your donation. The extra $1.00 covers the cost of the “IN HONOR OF” card(s) and mailing them to you so you can deliver to your Priest(s). Your donation amount will not be revealed to the Priest(s). And please remember that this is a gift that keeps on giving!  Please send $1.00 plus your donation made out to “VDCCW Vocation Fund” to: Cornelia Zanetti, 5808 Gulf Drive, #204, Holmes Beach, FL 34217. Questions? Please email

Diocesan Marriage Conference Oct. 2

The Diocese of Venice in Florida and the St. John Paul II Foundation announce the “Together in Holiness Marriage Conference” that will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 2, 2021, at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples and St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota. The speakers are Kevin and Lisa Cotter. For more details contact Carrie Harkey at

Stepping into Marriage with Children

The Diocese Office of Family Life is offering a free half day workshop for couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation. This program takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools for success.  The program is being offered 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Oct. 9, 2021, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs, and 9 a.m. to noon, Nov. 6, 2021, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. To register

White Mass in Naples Oct. 16

A White Mass and lecture for physicians and medical professionals will be 8:30 a.m., Oct. 16, 2021, at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. A blessing of the stethoscope will also be held. Please wear your white coat. Following Mass, a lecture and breakfast will take place in the Parish Center. The lecture is entitled “Spiritual Leadership in a Secular Healthcare Setting” presented by speaker Paul Hiltz followed by a discussion with Dr. Gloth and other panelists. There is a $50 fee per person (reduced rates for physicians in training and non-physician health professionals). Register and pay online at For more information, please contact Maggie Brady 239-592-1949. (1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit)



Catholic Schools St. Joseph Devotional Project concludes

Teaching the lessons of the St. Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church, has been a priority in the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Venice for the past year.

Therefore, Bishop Frank J. Dewane marked the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, 2021, with a Mass in Bradenton at the Catholic school named for the Saint.

Streamed live to all Diocesan Catholic schools, the Bishop took the time to recognize the work that went into the Diocese Department of Catholic Education St. Joseph Devotional Project and the students who made the initiative a success. The concept promoted a devotion to St. Joseph, while at the same time encouraging an ongoing devotional life of both children and adults to St. Joseph.

One of the most beloved of all saints who is featured in countless works of art, Bishop Dewane reflected on how on March 19, 2020, he consecrated the Diocese of Venice to a “Year of St. Joseph” in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“I dedicated the Diocese to St. Joseph, the Protector, so that that faithful, including the students throughout the Diocese, would be safe,” the Bishop continued. “One year later we are here to give honor and Glory to God to commemorate the Solemnity of St. Joseph together.”

A model of obedience of what God asks of him, Bishop Dewane said St. Joseph freely and willingly accepted a vision he was given in life… “to be the foster father of Jesus but also the head of the Holy Family; the provider and the Protector. In this season of Lent, we must all strive to follow the example of St. Joseph and his love of Christ that he magnified so clearly.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Dewane led the students (both in person and viewing online) in the Act of Consecration to the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph.

Noting that Pope Francis created a Universal “Year of St. Joseph from Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021, Bishop Dewane said that like St. Joseph, “we must continue to devote ourselves to living a life that is dedicated to Jesus. Take St. Joseph as a role model going forward.”

More about the Schools St. Joseph Devotional Project

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Diocese Catholic Education, said the Diocesan consecration and “Year of St. Joseph” provided the ideal platform to introduce the devotion and to strengthen Catholic culture in each of the Diocesan schools.

The foster-father of Jesus Christ is an ideal Saint to whom to have a devotion, Father Belmonte explained. St. Joseph is also guardian and protector of the Church and Her Faithful. He is a figure who led by example, while also offering powerful prayer and protection.

The goal of the St. Joseph Devotional Project was to provide age-appropriate catechesis for students so that they can carry with them a life-long devotion to St. Joseph, Father added.

Praising the effort to teach students about St. Joseph, Bishop Dewane recognized the Junior Catechists – students who served as leaders in their respective Catholic schools, sharing classroom lessons about St. Joseph and a Catholic devotion to him. Many were present for the Solemnity Mass in Bradenton and were accompanied by parents, grandparents, teachers and principals.

Each primary school selected two eighth grade Junior Catechists, a boy and a girl, to spearhead the devotion in the classroom. For the 12 weeks of the project, each week had new themes centered on the role of St. Joseph. The first week consisted of teaching about the saint and learning a Prayer to St. Joseph. Later themes included “Delight of Saints,” “Our Spiritual Father,” “Young Husband of Mary,” and more.

An art contest was incorporated into the St. Joseph Devotional Project, which Father Belmonte noted had more than 500 entries and ultimately six winners. The students were asked to express their idea of who St. Joseph was according to his respective titles – Protector of the Universal Church, foster father of Christ, Most Chaste Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and many others.

Veronika Bateneva, sixth grade, Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice was one of the art contest winners and brought her grandfather to the Mass. “It was such an honor to be recognized. I tried to incorporate what I know of St. Joseph into what I created.” Her artwork was of St. Joseph protectively holding the Child Jesus. St. Joseph is also holding a lily, the symbol of the Most Chaste Heart, on his chest.

The winning artists were recognized with an award and the honor of having their artwork used on prayer cards for the students of the Diocese. On the reverse of the cards is either an “Act of Consecration to the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph,” or a “Consecration to St. Joseph of Children by their Parents.”

Art award winners are: Ian Morales, second grade, St Catherine Catholic School, Sebring; Emmanuel Ronquillo, fourth grade, St. Joseph Catholic School, Bradenton; Emareen Ramirez, fourth grade, Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, Venice; Veronika Bateneva, sixth grade, Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School; Eleanora Del Sole, seventh grade, Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School; and Emma Underwood, eighth grade, Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School.

Feast of St. Joseph Mass in Italian

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Bishop Dewane also celebrated Mass at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The Mass was celebrated in Italian and was organized by the Italian American Club of Venice and is an annual tradition.

Following the conclusion of the Mass, the Bishop blessed a “St. Joseph Table,” piled with wrapped bread. The tradition of the “St. Joseph Table” of food (“la tavala di San Giuseppe”) has its origins in Sicily as part of a Middle Ages celebration of the ending of a drought where food – bread in particular – is brought to be shared among the townsfolk. The Mass was livestreamed and is available for viewing at


Lent: A time to renew our hearts

The Lenten Season always has special meaning, it is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in preparation of celebrating the Paschal Mystery of our Faith.

In the midst of ongoing impacts during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Pope Francis reminds us that it is “a favorable time to prepare to celebrate with renewed hearts the great mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the cornerstone of our personal and communal Christian life. We must continually return to this mystery in mind and heart, for it will continue to grow within us in the measure that we are open to its spiritual power and respond with freedom and generosity.”

Lent lasts for 40 days – excluding Sundays – from Ash Wednesday (Feb. 17, 2021) to the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, which this year falls on April 1. It is a reminder of Christ’s 40 days of temptation and fasting in the desert, and of Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the desert.

The Season of Lent has a twofold character: first, by recalling or preparing for baptism and secondly, by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the word of God and devote themselves to prayer, to celebrate the paschal mystery.

Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the three traditional disciplines of Lent. The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ. Tips to achieving this include praying the rosary, going to Mass more often, reading the Bible, and going deeper in our relationship with Christ. In addition, give alms and volunteer your time, as a way to profoundly reflect the Light of Christ while assisting our brothers and sisters in Christ.

During Lent, it is also common to participate in a retreat or pray the Stations of the Cross, allowing the opportunity for one to refocus on the Lord in different ways. While the Pandemic may have curbed some of these opportunities, please check with your local Parish for these and other Lenten activities.

At the Easter Vigil (April 3), a group of catechumens and candidates will be coming into full communion with the Church. Bishop Frank J. Dewane presides over the celebration of the Rite of Election. This annual tradition is a formal Rite during which catechumens are presented and their names are entered into the Book of Elect. Normally one ceremony takes place each year, but due to concerns related to the Pandemic, the Rite of Election in 2021 will occur in four locations over two weekends. The first pair on Feb. 21, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and St. Catherine Parish in Sebring, and then on Feb. 28, at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers and St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples.

The precept of confessing grave sins and receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Lenten Season indeed merits recalling for all the Faithful. To facilitate this requirement, every Parish in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present from 4-8 p.m., Friday, March 26, and 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 27. Additional times for the Sacrament are also offered so that the Faithful may find ample opportunity to receive God’s mercy. Parishes also could combine to have an evening prayer service with additional priests present to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Check with your local Parish for additional reconciliation times.

Dates of note

On Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments has provided guidance on the distribution of ashes amid the Pandemic. Ashes will be sprinkled on the top of the head of the faithful, rather than applying a cross on their foreheads which necessitates contact. The formula will be said only once, at the beginning of the distribution, applying it to all in general: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Following this, the guidance states that the Priest then cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask and distributes the ashes to those who come forward. The Priest takes the ashes and sprinkles them on the head of each one in silence.

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, March 19. The Solemnity of St. Joseph comes in the midst of the ongoing Diocese of Venice “Year of St. Joseph.” Bishop Dewane consecrated Diocese to the Saint on March 19, 2020, in the context of the Pandemic. The Saint is the Protector of the Universal Church. This celebration will continue through Dec. 8, 2021 in the wake of Pope Francis’ dedicating a “Year of St. Joseph.”

On the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, March 25, many Parishes add additional Mass to accommodate this day. The day also marks the start of the annual Novena for Mass for Life, a special opportunity to meditate on the progressive development of Our Lord in His mother’s womb.

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, March 28, is the day the Church remembers Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. The commemoration with the blessing of the palms and procession, is a ritual action that marks our own entry into Holy Week. Due to the Pandemic, great care will be taken in the distribution of the palms and will vary by Parish. Please contact your local Parish for questions.

During Holy Week, the annual Chrism Mass take place at Epiphany Cathedral at 10:30 a.m., March 30. The Chrism Mass is the largest gathering of priests in the Diocese and a time when they join Bishop Dewane in a celebration of the unity of the priesthood and when the holy oils used in the Sacraments are blessed and consecrated.


Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, and Good Friday, April 2, are days of fast and abstinence. All Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence from meat.

Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics between the ages of 18 years and 59 years (inclusive). On a fast day one full meal is allowed. Two smaller meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. In the context of observing the fast, eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. If possible, the fast on Good Friday is to continue until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” is to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily His Resurrection.

Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age and older on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent, including Good Friday.

(Note: If a person is unable to observe the above regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, they are urged to practice other forms of self-denial that are suitable to their condition.)

Bishop helps Parish celebrate Feast Day

While the faithful sang music proclaiming the arrival of Jesus Christ at Christmas and the three kings at the Epiphany, a Eucharistic Procession circled the property of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish and Catholic School in Naples.

This procession took place on the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Jan. 3, 2021), with Bishop Frank J. Dewane carrying the monstrance, and served as the opening of two days of celebrations in honor of the Feast Day of St. Elizabeth Seton on Jan. 4, 2021.

Carey Ford said it was wonderful to take part in a traditional Eucharistic Procession, bringing her back to her youth when her home Parish in Ohio had such public displays of Faith several times a year. “We are out here to honor Christ, something St. Elizabeth Seton did in the way she lived her own life. Also, everyone can see who we are as Catholics, particularly at a time when many are staying away, whether from the pandemic or for other reasons.”

St. Elizabeth Seton is patroness of Catholic schools, seafarers, those rejected or persecuted for their faith, orphans and widows and was the first native-born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church. Bishop Dewane noted that the Lord spoke to her at different points in her life as a wife, mother, widow, religious and teachers.

“The Lord called her through different moments of her life and despite many hardships which could have turned her attention away she didn’t forget about the call of the Lord,” the Bishop said. “Just as the three kings followed a star at the Epiphany, she followed a star and once she received the gift of Faith, it was Christ and the Lord who brought her through the stages in her life to ever more profoundly encounter Him. As St. Elizabeth Seton did, we must open ourselves up to be accessible for an encounter with the Lord.”

St. Elizabeth Seton Parish Administrator Father Casey Jones led adoration in the church following the Eucharistic Procession. For the Feast itself, a relic of St. Elizabeth Seton was on display and the church was open to silent prayer.

St. Elizabeth Seton was born before the American Revolution and grew up in New York as part of a prominent Episcopalian family. She married in 1794 and had five children. Discovering Catholicism while in Italy, where her husband died, she eventually returned to the U.S. and entered the Catholic Church in 1805. Later, she moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she entered religious life and founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, the first community for religious women established in the U.S. She also began the first free Catholic girl’s school in the country, which formed the foundation for the modern Catholic education system. She died in 1821 and was canonized on Sept. 14, 1975.