News from around the Diocese late March 2020

Blood drive a success

St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, in conjunction with the Knights of Columbus Council 12178, helped make a blood drive on March 21 a huge success.

With the fears of the pandemic keeping people home, the blood drive was authorized by authorities to continue considering the urgent need for blood. Using the Ministry Center, Naples Community Hospital Healthcare System Community Blood Center bus was parked outside and classrooms in the building were used to process donors.

Precautions were made to ensure the health and safety of all. The Blood Center follows universal precautions and following guidelines issued from CDC and FDA to keep our donors safe.

Grand Knight Randy Thomas was initially worried no one would participate in the blood drive. With an initial sign-up of 21 donors, about 100 arrived to give blood. Because of the demand, and to ensure everyone stayed as prescribed social distancing, some donors made an appointment to donate blood later as need will continue.

“It is wonderful how the people of St. Peter’s stepped up, even during time of uncertainty. Really wonderful,” Thomas said.

St. Peter Pastor, Father Gerard Critch, stopped by to offer words of encouragement and to bless the Blood Center workers, volunteers and donors.

St. Vincent de Paul Society still helping

The St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Society districts throughout the Diocese of Venice may have shuttered their famous thrift stores, but they continue to help people in need.

Courtesy FOX-$

Responding to the pandemic, various programs that make a difference for those in need, such as meals on wheels, financial assistance and food pantries continue to operate under modified conditions which ensures both the health and safety of members, but also that of the the public at-large.

An example of this is opening food pantries for limited hours and by appointment and delivering food to the elderly twice a week instead of each day limiting personal contact and risks for all.

Those needing help or wanting to assist, are encouraged to contact their local SVdP Society offices for details.

Bradenton food pantry operating, needs donations.

Volunteers at the St. Joseph Food Pantry in Bradenton are focused on ensuring there is enough food for all in need. Busy on any day of year, the food pantry is the largest in Manatee County serving more than 1,200 individuals and families each month, there has been an immediate demand for more for whatever the pantry can provide.

An appeal for food the week of March 23 brought a huge response and helped to temporarily restock the shelves, but the need remains strong. Donations of nonperishable food are needed, but specific needs include the priorities right now is for donations of pasta, rice, potatoes, cereal, peanut butter and jelly, as well as canned meat and fish.

Precautions are being taken for those making donations and handling the food. People are being asked to make drive-up donations from 9 a.m.-noon, Tuesday through Thursday. Cars are to enter the church parking lot at 2704 33rd Ave. W. From there, signs are posted to direct people to the appropriate drop-off location. Call if you have any questions 941-756-3732.

Men’s Conference Fight the Good Fight of the Faith!

How can one be a good Catholic father, husband, brother, son or man in a modern world?

The answer to this and other questions was found Feb. 8 during the 2020 Diocese of Venice Men’s Conference at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. The Conference theme was: “Fight the Good Fight of the Faith!” (1 Timothy 6:12).

Hundreds of men gathered to hear from nationally known speakers Mark Hart, Chris Padgett and Father Donald Calloway, Marian Father of the Immaculate Conception.  The talks offered spiritual guidance and inspiration as well practical advice for the Catholic men.

Jim Burke of Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers enjoyed the day, saying the speakers touched on key points when talking about how to stay connected to the faith through the reading if Scripture, prayer and becoming more active in Parish life.

“As a father and almost a grandfather, I worry about my family more than ever, whether or not they are practicing the Catholic Faith,” Burke explained. “I heard things that resonated with me. It boils down to me knowing and understanding the Church better so I can share that knowledge.”

At the beginning of the day Joshua Mazrin, Diocese Director of Evangelization, told the men to have fun and enjoy a nice Saturday when they can be removed from all of their worldly obligations, but added the day was to be about taking “the time to encounter the Lord, to learn more about your Faith, and to grow in fellowship with one another.”

Charlie Vincenzo of St. Therese Parish in North Fort Myers found hope by being around other like-minded men who want the best for their own lives, the lives of their family and the life of Holy Mother Church. “Society seems to want to do away with all religion, when what it really needs are warriors to stand up and fight these battles for our Faith.”

Father Calloway, a convert who has a special affinity for the Holy Family, stressed that when we struggle to understand and overcome difficulties in our life, it is crucial to turn to the Lord for comfort and guidance. In our efforts to find the Lord, turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, through intercessions and following their example.

“We need the Lord in our lives now more than ever,” Father Calloway said. “One way the Church is stressing to do that is through Mary and one of the greatest saints, St. Joseph, step-father of Jesus. His is an example to us, someone we need in our life, for our family and household… Joseph was a spiritual warrior; the terror of demons, pillar of families, warrior of domestic life; guardian of virgins; patron of the Church; and your spiritual father.”

Padgett, a father of nine who is a native of the Diocese of Venice where he entered the Church in 1999, shared his own challenges and experiences in learning about the Catholic Church. Bringing a comedic aspect to his talk, Padgett stressed how being a man of God isn’t about athletics or power tools, it is that we are all called to greatness and this is best demonstrated in our willingness to sacrifice and serve.

Hart, executive vice president of Life Teen International, stressed that having a strong faith life begins with the study of Scriptures. “It is how we come to know God… Even if you just read the parts in the Mass (of Scripture read out as the first, second, responsorial psalm and Gospel), you have 167 hours of reading. That is a good place to start.”

Throughout the day the men enjoyed spiritual fellowship, a burger fest, food trucks and outdoor games. The day also included the opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The closing Mass was celebrated by Father Eric Scanlan, Administrator of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, filling in for Bishop Frank J. Dewane who was unable to attend because he was participating in a “Ad Limina” visit to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

News Briefs from around the Diocese Jan & Feb 2020

Diocesan group enjoys Catholic Days at the Capitol

During the Jan. 28-30 Catholic Days at the Capitol, Bishop Frank J. Dewane gave a legislative briefing to participants from across Florida. A group of nearly 50, including students from each Diocesan Catholic high school traveled for this important lobbying opportunity.

 

Seminarian becomes Lector

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Daniel Scalan was among a group of first-year students at Pontifical North American College in Rome, to receive the Ministry of Lector on Jan. 11. Archbishop Bernard Hebda, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was the main celebrant and homilist. As part of the rite, the Archbishop placed the Holy Scriptures in the hands of each candidate and said, “Take this book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of his people.”

National Order of Malta leadership meets in Naples

The Order of Malta – American Association, held and Board of Counsellors meeting in Naples in late January. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the group on Jan. 27 at St. William Parish.

 

 

Register now Mission Possible Immokalee 2020

The very popular Mission Possible Immokalee 2020 trip registration for high school students is NOW OPEN! Organized as a joint effort of the Diocese Mission Office and Office of Evangelization, students will work on service projects from June 8-12, assisting at Catholic Charities of Collier and Lee Counties sites, Guadalupe Social Services and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The mission trip is $199 and includes meals, lodging and transportation to work sites. For more information, please contact the Diocese of Venice Mission Office at 239-241-2233. All registration must be through Youth Ministers at your local Parish or Catholic School.

Bishop recognizes Knights of Bikes

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass at St, Agnes Parish in Naples on Jan. 26, the Sunday of the Word of God. During the Mass, Bishop Dewane offered a special recognition for the Knights on Bikes, a club of Knights of Columbus which includes avid motorcycle enthusiasts. Members took part in the opening and closing processions of the Mass. At the conclusion, the Bishop blessed special key chains with a cross. Each member wears a vest with patches that read: “In God We Trust and Ride” and “In Service to One. Inservice to All.”

Parish honors first responders

St. Agnes Parish in Naples, honored Law Enforcement Officers, Fire Fighters, and First Responders, both active and retired with a Blue Mass on Jan. 25. Dozens of officers attended with their families to honor first responders who died in the line of duty and to pray for the safety of those still serving. The guest homilist was Father Sean Connor, Chaplain of the Boston Police Department. During the final blessing Father Michael Orsi, Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes, blessed medals of St. Michael the Archangel to give out to all the first responders for protection.

North Port Show of Shows

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. and the Knights of Columbus hosted The Goldtones Jan. 25 at the first ever North Port Sugar Bowl Show of Shows. Playing songs from 50s and 60s The Goldtones entertained an enthusiastic crowd at the North Port Performing Arts Center at North Port High School. The Sugar Bowl Fund helps support families in crisis, providing emergency financial assistance for low-income families in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. The Sugar Bowl Fund is a community partnership between Catholic Charities and the local Knights of Columbus Councils. The goal of the fund is an attempt to keep families together, self-sufficient and relieved of some of the pressures that cause greater hardship. Financial assistance can include help for car repairs, medical bills, utilities, rent or mortgage payments as well as relocation fees. The North Port Show of Shows was the first in this part of the area, similar events have been taking place for several years in Venice each fall and in Bradenton each Spring.

Jammin’ for the Mamas a success

About 130 guests showed up at the Boca Royale Golf and Country Club in Englewood for a “jawsome” night of fun, food, music and fundraising with the Shark Sisters! The Jammin’ for the Mamas event featured the popular local music trio and all proceeds benefited Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities which serves homeless mothers and their children and helps them to achieve self-sufficiency.

Thanksgiving brings out best in people

Thanksgiving is all about gathering family together and a time to reflect and give thanks for all the gifts and graces the Lord has bestowed on one’s life.

For those who struggle paycheck to paycheck or are on the brink of homelessness, thanksgiving has a different meaning. It can mean loneliness, despair and hunger as most places that would offer a caring meal are closed for the holiday weekend.

Several efforts throughout the Diocese helped to bring a bit of joy into the lives of many.

To meet the need in Manatee County, the St. Joseph Food Pantry in Bradenton uses the first three days of Thanksgiving Week to distribute special bags of food to more than 1,200 individuals and families.

On the first day, Nov. 25, a long line stretched around the building as people patiently waited to receive their bags of food. Each of those receiving a bag was already on a list of eligible recipients. The St. Joseph Food Pantry serves as the central distribution hub for the needy in the entire county and operates year-round.

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School students.

A huge team of volunteers sorted donated food and packed the bags while others checked in families and still others passed out the bags of food. The bags came in sizes for individuals, small families, medium-sized families, and large families.

Barb Ricalzone has been helping at the food pantry for years and handed out the larger bags of food on the first and busiest distribution day. “It gives me a good feeling to be able to help. The smiles and kind words from everyone is rewarding. I love to help people and I know this really makes a difference.”

One of the recipients of the bags, Christine, who fell on hard times when she was laid off several months ago and feared that she would not be able to have a real Thanksgiving dinner for her family. As she held a big bag of food, and her oldest son held the bag with the turkey, she smiled and thanked as many of the volunteers as she could as tears rolled down her cheeks. “Thank you so much! Happy Thanksgiving! Bless you all!”

“I never thought I would ever need to come to a food pantry in my life,” Christine said. “What these people are doing is incredible. They put a smile on the face of my whole family.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was in Sarasota on Thanksgiving Day where he joined the Knights of Columbus Council 3358 for the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for the community.

The Bishop gave the opening blessing and praised the Knights for their outstanding annual outreach to the community. Bishop Dewane then helped on the food line. This annual event is in its third decade and provides about 600 hot meals for many people who have nowhere else to go on Thanksgiving. An additional 200 meals were delivered to the homeless in the area. Earlier, Bishop Dewane celebrated Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch.

In Immokalee, the faithful of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples offered “Thanksgiving in the Park” which provided more than 2,000 hot meals. Some 100 volunteers helped prepare the meal and even more served the food on Thanksgiving Day in a spot adjacent to the Immokalee Airport.

Several other parishes had Thanksgiving dinners for the faithful who had no family in the area, including at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples which served about 300.

Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese participated in these efforts with food drives that benefited Catholic Charities, the St. Joseph Food Pantry and other community feeding programs.

For example, the students at St. John Neumann Catholic High School donated more than 11,500 cans of food to help the working poor families of Collier County to the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center of Catholic Charities in Naples.

“As a result of their generosity, our families will be supported in a very big way,” said Mary Shaughnessy, District Director Catholic Charities of Collier County.

Meanwhile, the students from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota delivered food to Bethesda House, a Catholic Charities program for people impacted by HIV/AIDS, as well as to the Incarnation Parish St. Vincent de Paul Society. Students, parents, faculty members and administrators also helped to feed more than 200 homeless residents of Sarasota on Nov. 27 at the 19th Annual Sarasota Downtown Ministerial Association Day Before Thanksgiving Luncheon.

Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School Student Council in Venice motivated the students to donate nearly 2,000 items for the Mayors’ “Feed the Hungry” campaign.

These are just a few of the examples of how Catholics across the Diocese of Venice turned their personal thanks into giving to others.

Ultrasound blessed in Port Charlotte

The Knights of Columbus have done it again. For the 18th time since 2012 a Knights Council has raised the funds to facilitate the purchase of an ultrasound machine for a local pro-life pregnancy center.

The Ponce de Leon Council 8074 of Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda recently donated an ultrasound to the Pregnancy Careline Center in Port Charlotte. The new machine was blessed during a ceremony on Nov. 8.

To raise the money, the Council conducted a “Baby Bottle Campaign” handing out thousands of bottles to parishioners at Sacred Heart Parish for the faithful to put their loose change, cash or checks.

Knight Steve Kowalski spoke on behalf of the Council during the ceremony and credited the hard work of the Knights in getting the message out about the importance of the campaign and then to the parishioners for raising $18,000 in a matter of weeks.

“They are the ones who gave us the opportunity to succeed,” Kowalski said. “With a match from the Supreme Council, we were able to purchase a state-of-the-art machine for Pregnancy Careline Center.”

The Phillips 3D/4D Color, ClearVue 850 Ultrasound Machine can detect movement very early on in a pregnancy. “This is so important for the young ladies,” Kowalski added. “Some 85 percent of women who are considering an abortion change their mind once they their child move. We wanted to provide the opportunity to show movement as early in the pregnancy as is currently possible, so we worked with the Pregnancy Careline and the Supreme Council to get this machine.”

Maria Betancourt, Executive Director, Prenancy Careline Center, said she has seen firsthand the difference an ultrasound has made for a mother who was considering an abortion.

“I can’t say enough to those who donated their change and much more, and to the Knights for this generous gift,” Betancourt added.

The ultrasound dedication included a number of Knights who were crucial to the success of the “Baby Bottle Campaign” and the machine was blessed by Father Mario Kono, Parochial Vicar of Sacred Heart Parish and Council Chaplain.

Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director, who connects pro-life pregnancy centers with Knights Councils interested in raising money for an ultrasound, represented Bishop Frank J. Dewane who was unable to attend the ceremony.

Berdeaux congratulated the Ponce de Leon Council for their effort and added that she was impressed in that the money was raised in just a few weeks.

Through the Ultrasound Initiative, the Supreme Council provides a 50 percent matching grant and has helped to place more than 1,000 ultrasounds into pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation.

Veterans Day Mass honors military service and sacrifice

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

It was in 1919 when the first celebration of Veterans Day took place. It was then known as Remembrance Day as Nov. 11, 1919 marked the anniversary of the end to World War I, the “war to end all wars.”

On the 100th Anniversary of Veterans Day, and for the 10th year in a row, the Diocese of Venice celebrated a Catholic Mass at Sarasota National Cemetery with more than 1,300 people in attendance.

“What a wonderful day,” said Charles Thatcher of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Sarasota who served with the U.S. Marines from 1958-1967. He was wounded in combat while serving in Vietnam and was medically discharged. Wearing a pin with the Marine Corps emblem, Thatcher said he is happy that the Diocese pays tribute to the veterans with the annual Mass at the National Cemetery.

“This Mass is an important reminder,” Thatcher added. “Once we served and took off the uniform and entered civilian life many people tend to forget about what we sacrificed. My sacrifice was the loss of a few fingers and part of my sight. I have friends who lost everything. They are who we really honor, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we all enjoy.”

Father Edward Martin, who served 20 years as a U.S. Army Chaplain and is Temporary Administrator of St. Isabel Parish in Sanibel, celebrated the Mass for Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who was unable to attend due to a commitment at the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. More than a dozen Priests and several Deacons joined Father Martin.

Father Martin thanked the veterans for their service in defense of liberty, something enjoyed to this day thanks to those who served and sacrificed for this nation dating back to George Washington.

“Our freedom and liberty are ultimately our greatest responsibility,” Father Martin said. “We are free because we have men and women heroes who are champions of courage and choose to put their very lives on the line to protect that freedom.”

Adding to the dignity and ceremony of the day were active and retired veterans – some of whom attended in uniform, as well as the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus who formed a Color Corps, and many other Knights who were there to support the veterans.

The Sarasota National Cemetery celebration concluded with a procession, escorted by the Knights of Columbus Color Corps, to the nearby graves as those in attendance sang “God Bless America.” Priests, Deacons, and the Knights of Columbus Color Corps and all present, gathered in silent prayer before “Taps” was played on a bugle.

There are 20,900 veterans and eligible family members currently interred in the National Cemetery and more than 19 million military veterans in the United States.

The Diocese of Venice coordinates the Catholic Mass at the National Cemetery with the support of the Knights of Columbus. One of the graves is that of Father Robert G. Tierney, a former assistant at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, who served in the U.S. Navy. Father Tierney died in 2006 and was one of the first people buried in the cemetery.

News briefs from the Diocese for late October 2019

Local pastor to serve in leadership role with national priest group

Father Jiobani Batista, Pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston, was elected secretary of The National Association of Hispanic Priests (ANSH) during the association’s 30th annual convention that was held in New York City from Oct. 7-10.

Priests from across the United States attended this year’s convention, entitled “Time for Priestly Reform and Renewal,” as part of a three-year program for the renewal, fraternity and continuing education of priests working in a variety of ministries in dioceses across the country.

Adopt a Family for Christmas

You can make Christmas brighter for a mother and her baby! Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities in Venice is looking for volunteers to Adopt a Family for Christmas. The program provides shelter and guidance for single mothers and their children who would otherwise be homeless. The mission 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 resident families have provided a wish list of items they can use and wrapped gifts need to be returned to Our Mother’s House by Monday, December 9. For more information, please contact Case Worker Rita Millner at 941-485-6264, ext. 102.

Early Learning Center has special visitors

Officers from the Sarasota Police Department recently made a special visit to St. Martha’s Early Learning Center of Catholic Charities. The preschool students enjoyed a fun learning experience with the men and women in blue. Sarasota Police Officers discussed with the children what an emergency is and how to dial 911. They handed out Junior Police Officer badges and coloring books. “The officers also joined us for a dance party,” said Catholic Charities Program Director Jamie Van Dyke. “Every one of the students now plan on being a police officer when they grow up!”

International Festival held in Naples

St. Agnes Parish in Naples hosted the 10th Annual International Festival on Oct. 20. More than 20 nations were represented with food and music as well as many wearing traditional attire, and the entertainment for the day also had an international flavor. A parade of flags was one of the highlights.

 

 

Students wear orange for Unity Day

Students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers wore orange on Oct. 23, Unity Day, in support of bullying prevention. This event has students of all ages stand against bullying, while being united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion. The school has been participating in Unity Day for many years.

 

 

Knights support Honor Flight program

Representatives of the San Marco Knights of Columbus Assembly 2514 presented a check for $2,000 in October to Collier Lee Honor Flight. Collier Lee Honor Flight was established in 2013, its mission is to transport veterans from Collier and Lee counties to Washington, DC to visit the memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices. A typical mission will visit the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Air Force Memorial, Marine Corps Memorial, and Arlington Cemetery. Top priority is given to World War II and Korean War era veterans, and to any veteran of any war that has a terminal illness. Veterans travel by a chartered commercial jet, and police escorted buses while on the ground. A typical mission will have 70 to 75 veterans. Trips are provided at no cost to the veterans.

Shoes donated to Catholic Charities program

Catholic Charities of Collier County is grateful to the Rotary Club of Naples Bay for supplying free shoes to clients at the Family Counseling Center and Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center. The Rotary Club sponsors their Kids Kicks for Shoes Program that provides shoes for needy children in Collier County.

Diocesan news briefs late October 2019

White Mass and lecture held for medical professionals

St. Agnes Parish held its annual White Mass for medical professionals in Naples, on Oct. 18, the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist and patron of doctors. A lecture titled “Spirituality and Health: Complete Doctoring” presented by Dr. Michael Gloth followed in the Parish Hall.

 

 

Mobile Medical Clinic blessed

Father Augustine Twum Obour, Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, blesses the new Mobile Medical Clinic of Community Pregnancy Clinics on Oct. 20. The van, which offers free ultrasounds to pregnant moms, was made possible by a donation from the Knights of Columbus and will be used throughout the region.

 

 

Verot earns Apple Distinguished School Certification

Bishop Verot Catholic High School has earned Apple Distinguished School Certification for 2019-2022. According to Apple: “Apple Distinguished School leaders, faculty, and the extended community have a clear vision for how their technology-rich environments support learning goals. School leaders have established elements for continuous innovation that include culture, team, capacity, community, finance, and measurement. Supporting their school’s vision is an ongoing process that requires thoughtful planning, practice, and improvement along the way. They use iPad and Mac products to inspire student creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. And they cultivate environments in which students are excited and curious about learning.”

St. Mary Academy named Best Special Needs School in region

St. Mary Academy in Sarasota has been named by Family Living Magazine as the Best Special Needs School in Sarasota, Bradenton and Venice. The schools provide skilled teaching to students with learning disabilities. To mark this achievement, the school had a celebration that included outdoor games, food and fun.

 

 

Junior high students have fun in Wauchula

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula hosted an Oct. 5 festival for junior high students. The day includes lots of fun and games, but also include speakers who stressed the need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, time for prayer and the Mass.

 

 

 

Mooney featured on Tampa morning TV show

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota hosted FOX-13 Tampa Bay on Oct. 17. The honor coincides with the ongoing celebration of Mooney’s 60th Anniversary. The sports teams and cheerleaders led a pep rally, and the TV crew also showcased the newly renovated stadium and field.

 

 

Goldtones Tickets Now on Sale
San Antonio Parish Knights of Columbus announce that tickets are now on sale for Florida’s famous Doo-wop group the Goldtones’ concert. The concert will be 7 p.m.,  Jan. 31 in the Holy Trinity Hall, 24411 Rampart Blvd, Port Charlotte. General Admission tickets are $15. In addition to all the old familiar Doo-wop favorites, they will also be singing your favorite Motown hits. Last year sold out early, so get your tickets now at 800-838-3006, or online at: BrownPaperTickets.com

News briefs from Around the Diocese September 2019

Mooney Golfer No. 1 in Florida, ranked nationally

Noah Kumar is captain of the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Golf Team in Sarasota and has now cracked the top 100 nationally and is ranked 90th with Junior Golf Scoreboard. The Florida High School Athletic Association ranks Kumar the No. 1 high school golfer in the State of Florida. During his senior season with Cardinal Mooney, Kumar has an 18-hole tournament stroke average of 67.33, with six straight low round first place medal wins in a row. His nine-hole stroke average is 35.5 with a career low of 31. Kumar has been playing tournament golf since he was 10-years-old. He qualified to play in the U.S. Junior Amateur this past July and came in 12th in stroke play. Keep up the good work Noah!

Bishop celebrates Mass for Ave Maria University

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the faculty and student of Ave Maria University in Ave Maria on Sept. 23, delayed from Sept. 2 when the Mass was cancelled because of Hurricane Dorian. During the mass the Bishop encouraged the students to grow in their faith and to carry the message of the Lord into the world. At the conclusion of the Mass, the Bishop presided over a commissioning ceremony for nine new theology professors, during which each took an oath and vowed to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church.

Scout 10 Commandment Hike held Sept. 21

Scouts from across the Diocese of Venice gathered Sept. 21 for a 10 Commandments Hike at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The more than 100 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and American Heritage Girls learned about the 10 Commandments at different stations located along the internal road of the property. The Scouts were presented with an achievement badge for participation at the end of the day.

CCW Eastern Deanery holds retreat

The Council of Catholic Women of the Eastern Deanery took part in a bi-lingual retreat Sept. 21 at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park. More than 70 women from parishes Hardee, Highlands, Hardee, Glades and Hendry counties took part. The retreat included presentations by a number of priests as well as group prayers with the praying of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Bishop celebrates Mass for NET retreat in Bradenton

A National Evangelization Team (NET) Ministries group held a one-day retreat for middle school students on Sept. 29 at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton. The retreat included several talks by youth ministers who travel across the nation trying to inspire young people to open themselves up to the Lord. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Mass for the retreatants and offered words of encouragement to the middle-schoolers for participating in the day and to the NET team for coming to the Diocese.

Laps for Life held Sept. 28

The Our Lady of Victory Knights of Columbus Council 3358 welcomed more than 200 to the 2nd Annual Sarasota Laps for Life at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. The event was opened by a blessing for Deacon William Ladroga and the runners and walkers followed a path for three laps to complete the 5K event. The top finishes finished in 17:35 minutes. The event helped to raise money to purchase for a new ultrasound for My Choice Pregnancy Center in Sarasota.

Bishop celebrates Red Mass

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the annual Red Mass on Oct. 2 at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota. The Mass is held in honor of all members of the legal profession and has a history which dates back centuries. The most famous such Mass is held for the U.S. Supreme Court on the first Sunday in October. The Florida Bishops also celebrate a Red Mass for lawmakers in Tallahassee during the annual legislative session.

Pets blessed on Feast of St. Francis

A variety of pets wait to be blesses on Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota.

Pets great and small were blessed Oct. 4 on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota. Administrator Father Eric Scanlan blessed everything from hermit crabs, ferrets, fish, birds, snakes, lizards, dogs and cats brought in by the students and parishioners.

Solemn Mass commemorates 9-11

Bob Reddy – Naples – It has been eighteen Septembers since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. shocked the world. Images of destruction, death and fear were seared into the minds of those who watched from afar and are felt deeply in the souls of those who were there in person.

St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples hosted an annual Mass on Sept. 11 to commemorate the 18th anniversary since the terror attacks on the U.S. It was in 2001 when terrorist hijacked four airliners and ultimately destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, damaged the Pentagon and caused another airliner to crash in Pennsylvania killing nearly 3,000 and bringing horror to the nation and world.

The main celebrant for the Mass was Father Gerard “G” Critch, Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle, who served as a chaplain next to the fallen towers during the recovery operations. “For those of us who were on the rescue and recovery mission, like myself, this is a very difficult Mass,” Father Critch said as he struggled to continue. “Let’s face it – even after 18 years it doesn’t get easier.”

The opening procession was led by bagpipers playing “Amazing Grace,” followed by retired officers of the New York Police Department and members of the Fire Department of New York.

Propped on the steps of the altar was a display of the 9-11 Cross, made from the steel of the World Trade Center which is normally in the Parish Chapel. In addition, there was a piece of rubble from the Pentagon.

During the Mass, Father Critch asked all to pray for those who lost their lives in 2001, and all those in the past 18 years who have suffered in different ways in the aftermath of that horrific day and seek comfort in their lives. “We cry out to the God of healing love to give us His mercy,” Father added.

Even 18 years later, Father Critch noted that to endure we must have a solid foundation upon which to draw strength, to draw consolation, and underpinning all of this foundation “is Love, which Jesus offers to all of us.”

After the conclusion of the Mass, a retired New York City firefighter spoke about how when a member of the Fire Department of New York dies, the code 5-5-5-5 is broadcast to all stations over the radio. A fire bell was subsequently rung in this manner to not only honor 343 firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001, but to all who died.

A display in the narthex from the Gulf Coast Retired Firefighters Association included a beam from the World Trade Center as well as posters which showed the faces of all first responders who were killed in New York City on 9-11. Outside was a fire engine from New York City with an emblem from 9-11 noting the attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.

The annual Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Parish came about when Father Critch was assigned to the Parish in 2008 and some of the retired first responders from New York renewed old friendships. The 9-11 Cross was donated to the Parish soon afterwards and the Masses on Sept. 11, now known nationally as Patriot’s Day, have become a central piece of the annual commemorations for many in Collier County.

Father Critch was serving at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton in 2001 when a doctor in New York City asked that he come to serve as a chaplain for the triage team. The team comforted and supported the first responders who were actively searching for survivors from the collapse of the Twin Towers. The team was based in the historic St. Paul’s Chapel, which had sat in the shadow of the World Trade Center.

As a young priest, Father Critch served in missions in the Caribbean in the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanoes and thought he could handle any disaster. Those experiences did little to prepare him for his time in New York City following 9-11.

For two weeks, the Chapel was his home, sleeping in the pews when he could with the sound of heavy equipment reverberating outside 24-hours-a-day. During this time, Father blessed the workers as they entered the disaster site, provided the Sacrament of Reconciliation, presided over funerals for victims, and was also called on to bless the remains of those recovered at a nearby Brooks Brothers clothing store which served as a temporary morgue.

Janet Springer knew several people who died in the World Trade Center attacks and is always moved to tears during the annual commemorative Mass. “It is a beautiful Mass in honor of those who were taken away so needlessly,” Springer said. “I always take time to touch the 9-11 Cross because it helps connect me to that day, because I don’t ever want to forget.”

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