Pregnancy clinics celebrate 50 years

Community Pregnancy Clinics, Inc. (CPCI), celebrated its “Legacy of Life” with a 50th anniversary Gala on April 6, 2024, in Naples.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane offered the invocation for the event, and proceeds will go to support CPCI’s four clinics, two mobile vans, and continued Pro-Life outreach which has helped save thousands of babies from the evil that is abortion.

Scott Baier, CEO of CPCI, said that the first clinic started in 1973 as a grassroots effort from St. Ann Parish in Naples, in the wake of the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision which paved the way to allow open access to abortion. Since that time the work of CPCI to help end abortion – one mother, one father, and baby at a time, has remained unchanged.

“By helping our mothers feel loveable, we make them more love-able, able to choose life for their babies and avoid the pain and suffering that would have come with the choice for abortion,” Baier said.

There are CPCI clinics in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, and Gainesville which provide free ultrasound, counseling, and support services for young families in crisis. To reach people where they live, work, and go to college, two mobile vans offer similar services.  The ultrasounds used in the various clinics and vans are provided courtesy of the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative.

CPCI also runs programs that educate young women and men about sexual and relationship health, which aim to help prevent unplanned pregnancies that often result in an abortion.

To learn more about the work of Community Pregnancy Clinics, please visit

Galas support Catholic Charities programs

Helping mothers who might otherwise be homeless become self-sufficient and productive members of the community is what Our Mother’s House is all about, while the Boca Grande Preschool provides a nurturing and educational haven for children.

These two programs of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., were showcased during special events in the past week. The annual Wine Tasting, Auction & Dinner event to benefit Our Mother’s House was held Feb. 29, 2024, at the Venice Community Center in Venice. The Beach Ball benefitted the Boca Grande Preschool, and was held March 4, at the Gasparilla Inn Beach Club in Boca Grande.

Hundreds showed their support for Our Mother’s House. Attendees made bids on silent auction items and an enthusiastic live auction.

Shannon Hoyt, the Program Director for Our Mother’s House, said for more than three decades the program keeps getting better at promoting self-sufficiency and pushing young mothers towards independence. When young mothers face homelessness, the impact is greater than many realize, including on an emotional and behavioral level. In addition, the young child feels what their mom is going through.

“Your support of Our Mother’s House is having an impact,” Hoyt said. “We couldn’t do what we do for mothers and their children without your help.”

The Boca Grande Preschool is situated on the serene campus of Our Lady of Mercy Parish and is dedicated to providing exceptional early education and childcare services for families residing or working on Gasparilla Island. The school staff is committed to providing a high-quality learning environment, catering to children aged 1 to 5, and offering a comprehensive preschool curriculum that stimulates intellectual, social, and emotional growth. The property received extensive damage from Hurricane Ian in 2022 and all major repairs have been completed.

Both the Beach Ball, as well as the Wine Tasting, had successful “Gift from the Heart” appeals.

To learn more about the Preschool, please call 941-964-2885 or email

For more information about Our Mother’s House or to help, please call 941-485-6264 or email

Support both programs by visiting

“Serving All” – Sarasota Ball marks 40th anniversary of Catholic Charities

Serving neighbors with help and hope, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., in Sarasota and Manatee counties strives each day to go out and assist those in need, whether it is an easy problem to fix, or something more complicated.

To ensure that the less fortunate of the community continue to receive the needed assistance, hundreds of like-minded individuals gathered together for the 2024 Catholic Charities Ball, Feb. 17, 2024, at Michael’s on East in Sarasota.

“Thank you for your generosity in making a valuable and essential contribution to what Catholic Charities can do throughout the year as its programs help many people, our neighbors in need, each day,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who was the guest of honor for the evening. “I am grateful for your support, and the goodness you represent by your presence.”

Catholic Charities continues to serve the less fortunate in our community, serving as an emergency support for individuals and families, offering them the help they need to make themselves whole again, Bishop Dewane said.

“The staff of Catholic Charities does remarkable work, and I thank them for their hard work,” Bishop Dewane said. “The people with Catholic Charities witness every day the worst of situations and the best of people as they step forward to help our brothers and sisters in need. They are seen as the presence of Christ in the world, just as they see the presence of Christ in those they help.”

Catholic Charities provides a wide range of services, including emergency assistance, food and housing assistance, counseling and mental health services, and programs for seniors and children.

This help includes shelter for single mothers and their children in need at Our Mother’s House in Venice, and the continuing Hurricane Ian recovery throughout the Diocese. Catholic Charities continues to offer direct financial help and assistance, as well as mental health counseling to those still reeling from the impacts of the 2022 hurricane.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Catholic Charities, which coincided with the founding of the Diocese in 1984. This added a special significance to the evening, said Bridget Spiess, who served as Chair of the Catholic Charities Ball.

Bridget Spiess, Chair of Catholic Charities Ball, welcomed everyone and said she was pleased with the continued support people have for Catholic Charities and the positive impact its many programs have upon the community. Other event committee members included Sandy Anderson, Virginia Auster, Dawn Burgess, Beth Cannata, Mary Beth Cotran, Sabrina Gison, Christina Hall, Judy Kozlowski, Leah Mihm, William Rex, Marilee Roberts, Alan Rose, Ana Weatherly, and Siobhan Young.

Throughout 2023, Catholic Charities assisted more than 335,000 people in need, providing a wide range of services throughout the 10-county Diocese of Venice.

The opportunity to support Catholic Charities does not end with the Sarasota Ball. If you would like to support Catholic Charities directly, please visit

Additional upcoming events will benefit regional or specific programs of Catholic Charities. These events will include a cocktail hour, live and silent auctions, fine dining, dancing, and live entertainment. The list of events is as follows:

  • Our Mother’s House Wine Tasting, Auction and Dinner Dance, 5:30 p.m., Feb. 29, Venice Community Center, 326 Nokomis Ave. S., Venice. The event will benefit the mothers and children at Our Mother’s House, a 2-year transitional living program located in the heart of Venice, dedicated to empowering single mothers and their young children. Tickets are $90. Register online at For more information, 941-485-6264 or email
  • Venetian Charity Ball, 6 p.m., March 9, at St. Leo the Great Parish Hall, 28290 Beaumont Rd., Bonita Springs. The theme is “Restoring Our Community.” This event supports the programs in Lee, Hendry, and Glades counties, the communities hardest hit by Hurricane Ian in 2022. Tickets are $250. Register online at For more information, call 239-334-4007 ext. 2100 or email
  • Emerald Ball, 5:30 p.m., March 14, at Ritz-Carlton Tiburon Golf Resort, 2600 Tiburon Dr., Naples. This event celebrates 40 years of Catholic Charities in Collier County. Tickets are $400. Register online at For more information, call 239-455-2655 or email

For additional information about the good works of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., please visit

Celtic Ball supports St. John Neumann

There was a Bourbon Street for the annual Celtic Ball which was held on Feb. 21 at Club Pelican Bay in Naples benefiting St. John Neumann Catholic High School.

The event included a Mardis Gras theme and décor which added to the festive atmosphere. There were live and silent auctions, an elegant dinner and live music.

Neumann Senior Rhea Hussey spoke on behalf of her fellow Celtics. She shared her journey of overcoming obstacles from being seriously ill and bed ridden as a freshman, to now being one of four House Captains, a leader of not just the senior class, but the entire school.

“I have been given the chance to participate in numerous service activities, to learn in an environment of unparalleled academics and thrive in a place where I formed irreplaceable friendships; there is no place I would rather be,” Rhea said. ”I will always be grateful to the Neumann family for allowing me to learn, grow and truly shape myself into the person I always wanted to be.”

The Celtic Ball Honorary Chairs were Jo and Tom O’Reilly. Tom O’Reilly praised the school for forming students not just academically, but spiritually, noting that his children and now grandchildren are students at Neumann.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane applauded the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco who serve at St. John Neumann for their unfailing commitment to education and for the example they are for their students and the entire school community.

“Neumann is a bright star in Naples,” Bishop Dewane said. “To the parents and benefactors of St. John Neumann; I thank you for recognizing the good work that is happening here. A Catholic School is more than its faculty and staff, it is about coming together and supporting a program that helps to grow the next generation of leaders in the community and in the faith.”

Three February events support Catholic Charities programs

Three distinctive events took place during February to help support the programs of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc.

First up on Feb. 15 was the always fun Boots and Bandannas at Kingsway Golf and Country Club in Lake Suzy. This western-themed evening includes plenty of cowboy hats, boots and lots of bandannas. This was 18th year for this event, which was held to support of the Catholic Charities programs in DeSoto County including Casa San Juan Bosco farmworker housing, St. John Paul II Villas senior housing and much more. Father Jerome Carosella, Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish on Boca Grande and who serves on the Catholic Charities Board, provided the invocation. There were live and silent auctions and The Kollections performed toe-tapping country and western music that brought many to the dance floor.

The following weekend was the annual Mardis Gras Madness at Art Ovation in Sarasota. The evening reflected its namesake as many guests wore colorful masks and jewelry. The proceeds went to Bethesda House, a comprehensive program in Sarasota which supports people living with HIV/AIDS.

Next up was the annual Our Mother’s House Wine Tasting and Dinner Dance on Feb. 27 at the Venice Community Center. The event included live and silent auctions, music and fun all to help support the Catholic Charities program which has been providing housing to homeless mothers and their children since 1987. The mission of the program is to offer single mothers and their children a safe and secure environment in which to achieve increased self-sufficiency through education, vocational training, and personal growth.

The highlight of the evening came when a former resident, Joanna, who lived at Our Mother’s House from 2009-2011, shared her story. She credited Our Mother’s House for helping to overcome great personal obstacles to now having a better life, raising her daughter while working as a surgical assistant. Following a standing ovation, the lively “Gift from the Heart” portion of the evening generated excitement and raised lots of money for the program.

To learn more or to support these and other programs of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc, please visit

School Gala recognizes legacy of Sister Frances

For the past 25 years Sister Frances Lolar, Religious Sister of Mercy, has been a steady and commanding presence at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The Cathedral Director of Religious Education (DRE) since 1994, Sister Frances will be retiring in the coming months leaving behind a lasting legacy.

That legacy was recognized with her being bestowed as the 2020 Shining Star Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient during the Feb. 15 Epiphany Gala at Plantation Golf and Country Club. The event benefited Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School; a place held dear to the heart of Sister Frances.

In announcing the award, it was noted that Sister Frances is a tireless presence within Epiphany Parish while helping it live out its mission to be the heart and hands of Christ. She has deeply influenced and significantly contributed to the mission and vision of Catholic education – even serving for a time as acting-Principal. “She has faithfully demonstrated a lifetime of servant leadership through the giving of her time, talent and treasure.”

Born and raised in the farming country of County Laois, Ireland, it was appropriate that a bagpiper escorted her into the Gala.  Hearing the call to a religious life while still in high school, Sister Frances professed her vows on September 8, 1957 in Bally Mahon, as a Sister of Mercy.

In 1960, she moved to the U.S. to become a Catholic school teacher in Columbia, Mo., then later she went on to a position as a Catholic principal in Lake Worth, Fla. It was in 1994 when she was appointed DRE at the Cathedral, a position that covers a wide range of responsibilities. Her work includes coordinating the teaching of the Sacraments, especially Confirmation, First Confession and First Communion, thus providing her opportunities to get to know the parents as well as students, dozens each year. Beyond this, she also coordinates the Parish Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) formation classes, which bring new Catholics into the Church. Adults, she says, never finish learning about their faith.

Everyone attending the Gala knew that Sister Frances, a quiet, humble and unassuming woman was a deserving recipient of the Shining Star award. They also know she is much more than a DRE; she is someone who lives her life of faith to its fullest in all her words and actions, an example for all to follow. Congratulations Sister Frances!