The 14th Annual Catholic Mass on Veterans Day made a successful return to Sarasota National Cemetery as Bishop Frank J. Dewane prayed for those currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, those who have died, and their families.
More than 850 people attended the Mass which was celebrated in 2022 at St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota due to the threat of a tropical storm.
Bishop Dewane thanked the veterans for their service in defense of freedom, a freedom enjoyed to this day thanks to those who served and sacrificed throughout this nation’s history and for those who continue to serve, answering the call of their country.
“We gather here today at this National Cemetery in a unique expression of the Church of the Diocese of Venice,” Bishop Dewane said. “To those who came before us, may God bless them all. They are remembered deeply in this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”
Reflecting upon the vocation of servicemen and servicewomen who give themselves “for the love of their country and the love of others, seeking peace, protecting, and cherishing the common good,” the Bishop continued. “We become even more sensitive to the role of those in the military as well as live in a time when there are a number of touchpoints throughout the world that are in great conflict.”
“It is a vocation of both patriots and peacemakers,” Bishop Dewane said. “We have to acknowledge that and respect it. They give their lives so that you and I today live in a relative peace, and so that generations into the future will live in that peace.”
Bishop Dewane said the prayers of the Mass are offered in gratitude for what the veterans have sacrificed for, the greater good of society, noting that it is important that we be attuned to this, as we owe them. In some cases, these men and women in uniform do not return home, leaving a void and sadness in someone’s heart.
“Let us remember those who serve us and have served us, asking the Lord to care for them and their families,” Bishop Dewane concluded.
Prior to the opening of the Mass, all veterans – active and retired – were asked to stand and be recognized. This was followed by the singing of the National Anthem.
Before the concluding prayer of the Mass, Bishop Dewane led everyone in reciting a Prayer for Peace. 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, the Knights of Columbus Color Corps, and all present, gathered in silent prayer before “Taps” was played on a bugle.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. (Ret.), Charles Voight, a 5-year veteran who served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq and is a parishioner at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota, expressed his gratitude for the Mass.
“This means a great deal to me, and to all veterans,” Voight said. “We each served our country and would gladly do it again, but it’s a service that is not always recognized. Serving in combat was an experience which deepened my faith. My trust in God helped me to get through some difficult times.”
There are more than 25,000 veterans and eligible family members currently interred in the National Cemetery and some 18.5 million military veterans in the United States.
The Diocese of Venice coordinates the Catholic Mass at the National Cemetery with the backing of the Knights of Columbus and is grateful for the help and support of Sarasota National Cemetery.
Prayer for Peace
Lord of all, in this time of strife and suffering, we come before you with heavy hearts, seeking your divine intervention. We lift up to you the victims of the Holy Land conflict, asking for your mercy and healing touch.
Prince of Peace, grant solace to those who are in pain, strength to those who are weary and hope to those who are in despair. Let your guiding light shine upon all, that they may find a path to reconciliation and understanding.
Mary, Mother of Mercy, wrap your mantle of love around those who are suffering, and intercede for them before your Son. May your gentle compassion be a source of comfort and consolation.
We implore you, O God, to inspire leaders and all involved to seek avenues of peace and dialogue. Soften hearts that are hardened by hatred and division, and instill in them a desire for unity and harmony.
St. Francis of Assisi, patron of peace, pray for us. Help us to be instruments of your peace in this troubled world. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we pray.