News Briefs for week of Sept. 14, 2020

World Day for Migrants and Refugees to be Celebrated on September 27

The Vatican has designated Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020 as the World Day for Migrants and Refugees. The theme chosen by Pope Francis for the 106th observance of this day is “Forced like Jesus to Flee” a focus on the plight of internally displaced persons. The Holy See has a website,, which includes a video message from Pope Francis. In the message, he states: “To preserve our common home and make it conform more and more to God’s original plan, we must commit ourselves to ensuring international cooperation, global solidarity and local commitment, leaving no one excluded.”

‘Fifth Sunday Rosary’ a success

Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers hosted a “Fifth Sunday Rosary” in their Parish Chapel on Sept. 13, 2020. Spread apart due to social distancing requirements, the Knights of Columbus led the event.

Car Show Cookout in Lakewood Ranch Oct. 17

The Knights of Columbus of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, 12905 State Road 70 E., Lakewood Ranch, is hosting a Car Show Cookout, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Oct. 17, 2020. It is a great day for family and friends; see the cards in the show and enjoy the cookout. There will be a live DJ, trophies for car entries and door prizes. All profits go to charity. The cost is $20 to show your car (all cars welcome), and $5 donation to vote and door prizes. For more information, please call 941-752-6770.

6th Annual Virtual 5K Walk/Run for Life Oct. 24-25

St. Agnes Parish in Naples is holding its 6th Annual Virtual 5K Walk/Run for Life on the weekend of Oct. 24-25, 2020. The Run/Walk for Life is an event with the main purpose of promoting a respect for life message and raising funds for pro-life causes while encouraging healthy living (body and soul). You can complete the 5K (or more) on either Cot. 24 or Oct. 35. Gather your family and make this a fun, healthy activity. The cost is $20 per person. Those who compete will receive a commemorative short. For more details and registration, please visit

Year of Saint Joseph

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in the context of the Coronavirus, consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of St. Joseph. The Bishop announced a “Year of St. Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. St. Joseph, often referred to as the Protector, can be our protector during this time of the pandemic. To pray a Novena to St. Joseph please visit the Year of St. Joseph webpage at

Hurricane prayer

As the busy 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season continues (June 1-Nov. 30), a prayer is presented here by which one asks God for protection and safety from the storms that often threaten Southwest Florida. With the formation of nine storms, it has already been a busy season of watching the tropics with new storms seemingly forming and threatening each day . We all remember the devastating effect of Hurricane Irma from 2017 and what was witnessed when Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle in 2018, everyone in the Diocese of Venice knows and understands the power of these storms and the suffering which follows in their wake.

Prayer for Safety in Hurricane Season

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed Your order and returned to its former quietude. You are still the Master of land and sea.

We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control: the Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land, and spread chaos and disaster.

During this hurricane season we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with passing of time.

O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son on our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem, where a stormless eternity awaits us. Amen.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis. The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit to donate to your Parish. The Faithful may also contribute through usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.


While the celebration of public Mass resumed May 18, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect through Nov. 1, 2020 for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home. Please check the Diocese of Venice website for any updates.


The Diocese of Venice will continue livestreaming the Mass through the Diocese website ( and Facebook pages from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily as the dispensation to attend Mass remains.

Sunday Televised Mass

The Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, Please check local listings for channel information.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website at Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for an Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website,, also posts the daily Mass readings.

Act of Spiritual Communion

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Sarasota Knights Council shines during pandemic

Knight of Columbus Council 15332 of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota has not let a pesky global pandemic cause the group to miss a step in fulfilling its obligation of service to the Church and community.

The Council was already actively using virtual meeting technology before the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the group went into “hyper-mode,” remaining ahead of the curve when everything shut down, explained Grand Knight Dr. Steven Wyer.

“We first worried about members having trouble adapting to the technology,” Wyer explained, “but these men embraced the new ‘toys’ and we now ‘meet’ several times each week.”

The virtual connection has been crucial for many members who have struggled with various impacts from the pandemic, Wyer said. This has included a “Leave no neighbor behind” initiative which directs those in need to resources which offer emotional and financial support.

Council meetings include a Saturday “Cocktail Hour” for socializing and Sunday praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Most other meetings take place virtually while some small gatherings of less than 10 members are held in large dining areas to ensure social distancing.

Council 15332 recently received the distinction of Star Council, the international organization’s top award for local councils. The Star Council Award recognizes excellence in the areas of membership, fraternal insurance benefits, faith formation programs, and service-oriented activities. Council 15332 has received this award every year since its founding in July 2011.

Incarnation Administrator, Father Eric Scanlan, said the recognition as a Star Council is well deserved. “The Knights have been a great support to our Parish during the last few months of the pandemic. They were quick to adjust to the changing reality of the COVID limitations… It has been a real witness to their strong faith and concern for one another, our Parish and the local community.”

The Knights recently organized a contactless food drive which brought in 2,000 pounds of food to help support the efforts of the St. Vincent de Paul Society Incarnation Conference. Wyer said the success of the food drive has encouraged the Council to begin planning for more.

In addition to the Star Council Award, the Knights were recognized as the top council in the 10-county Diocese of Venice. Earlier in the summer, the Council received eight major awards from the Florida State Council.

To earn these honors, during the past year alone, the Council participated in national and local prayer vigils for life; undertook construction, painting, and/or cleaning projects around the Parish; hosted monthly bingo, pancake breakfasts and trivia; conducted youth activities for Incarnation Catholic School students; and awarded a graduating eighth-grade student a scholarship to Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School. In spite of the pandemic, the Knights have been able to contribute nearly $25,000 to charitable organizations, begin a raffle program focused on raising $10,000 for the Incarnation School STREAM Program, provide financial support to two Diocesan Seminarians, and much more. While fund raising events are not taking place, Wyer said members have stepped-up to donate monthly to meet demand.

To learn more about or to join Knights of Columbus Council 15332, please contact Council Chancellor Matt Dowell at 941-504-6418 or visit

News briefs for week of Aug. 31 2020

New Online Course

The Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is launching a new online course entitled “Ecclesial Nature and Mission of Theology” beginning Sept. 7. This is a required background course for an online Master’s Degree in Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. The 15-week course provides a basic introduction to the study of Catholic Theology and is being offered at a substantial discount. For more information on the course please visit the website at, contact Dr. John Gresham, Director of the Institute or call 941-766-7334.

40 Days for Life Sept. 23-Nov. 1

The 40 Days for Life national fall campaign begins on Wednesday, Sept. 23, and runs until Sunday, Nov. 1. The Diocese of Venice will host this important peaceful prayer vigil at two locations, Sarasota and Fort Myers, seeking an end to abortion in the U.S. You can protect mothers and children by joining this worldwide mobilization to pray and fast for an end to abortion! The Sarasota vigil is 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily outside the regional headquarters of Planned Parenthood, 736 Central Ave. For details, contact Rich at 941-923-0752 or and sign up at The Fort Myers vigil is 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 6418 Commerce Park Drive. Contact Paula and Rick at or visit For additional information about Respect Life activities with the Diocese of Venice, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or

Virtual Laps For Life Sept. 12-Oct. 3

The Sarasota Laps For Life is going Virtual for 2020! Join the Knights of Columbus of the Sarasota and Bradenton area for this special cause by completing a timed distance of 5K (3.1 miles) in your neighborhood, park, or other favorite outdoor location, anytime between Sept. 12 and Oct. 3. Proceeds from Laps For Life benefit My Choice Pregnancy Center, a women’s health support center. Sign up and submit your results at then tag us in your pictures at #SarasotaLapsForLife on Facebook and Instagram. Life is NOT cancelled: Be Safe, Go Virtual!


Night in Havana Gala Auction

The St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School “Night in Havana” Gala scheduled for Sept. 26 is now a Streamlined Virtual Event! You can place bids on auction items remotely to win beautiful gift baskets, gift certificates, and other fabulous items in a week-long bidding fun from Sept. 21 to Sept. 26. Please join in for this exciting event as together to help overcome the challenges of the pandemic while supporting this great school. For more information, please contact Dr. Dianne Fabii at 239-455-2262 or Mobile bidding registration can be found at

Priesthood Sunday fundraiser

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women invites you to join in celebrating Priesthood Sunday, September 27, in a special and lasting way by supporting the VDCCW Seminarian Fund. Do this by sending the priests of your Parish a Vocation Fund “IN HONOR OF” card. Please remember that this is a gift that keeps on giving! The Diocese of Venice is educating 16 men in various seminaries. A donation of any amount will be a great help. The donation amount will not be revealed to the recipient. To take part, please send $1.00, plus your donation, payable to “VDCCW Vocation Fund” to Cornelia Zanetti, 5808 Gulf Drive, #204, Holmes Beach, FL 34217. Please email with any questions.

News briefs for week of Aug. 24, 2020

New Parish DREs attend training session

Anne Chrzan, Diocese of Venice Director of Religious Education hosted a training session on Aug. 21, 2020 for new Parish directors at the Catholic Center in Venice. The seven new DRE’s have been with the Diocese for varying lengths of time, but the restrictions mandated by the COVID-19 Pandemic made meeting in person challenging. Previous sessions occurred through virtual meetings.  The meetings were intended to inform each of the new employees what is expected of them as they serve as part of their Parish, Diocese and Universal Church.

Neumann senior garners Key Club honor

Congratulations to Hector Fernandez, a senior at St. John Neumann Catholic High School, for being recognized by the Florida District of Key Club International with the “Leader of Leaders” award! Hector will serve as the Division 22 Lieutenant Governor for the 2020-21 school year and oversee the 11 Key Clubs in Collier County. He was chosen amongst the 72 other Lieutenant Governors from around the state to receive this award during their first Board Meeting with the Florida District.

VDCCW fundraiser supports seminarians

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women invites you to join them in celebrating Priesthood Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in a special and lasting way. Do this by sending the priests of your Parish a Vocation Fund “IN HONOR OF” card as proceeds will go toward the VDCCW Seminarian Fund. Please remember that this is a gift that keeps on giving! The Diocese of Venice is educating 16 men in various seminaries. A donation of any amount will be a great help. The donation amount will not be revealed to the recipient. To take part, please send $1.00, plus your donation, payable to “VDCCW Vocation Fund,“ to: Cornelia Zanetti, 5808 Gulf Drive, #204, Holmes Beach, FL 34217. Questions? Please email

Virtual Laps For Life

The Sarasota Laps For Life is going Virtual for 2020! Join the Knights of Columbus of the Sarasota and Bradenton area for this special cause by completing a timed distance of 5K (3.1 miles) in your neighborhood, park, or other favorite outdoor location, anytime between Sept. 12 and Oct. 3, 2020. Proceeds from Laps For Life benefit My Choice Pregnancy Center, a women’s health support center. Sign up and submit your results at then tag us in your pictures at #SarasotaLapsForLife on Facebook and Instagram. Life is NOT cancelled: Be Safe, Go Virtual!

Night in Havana Gala Auction

The St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School “Night in Havana” Gala scheduled for Sept. 26, 2020 is now a Streamlined Virtual Event! You can place bids on auction items remotely to win beautiful gift baskets, gift certificates, and other fabulous items in a week-long bidding fun Sept. 21-26. Please join us for this exciting event as together we overcome the challenges of the pandemic while supporting our great school. For more information, please contact Dr. Dianne Fabii at 239-455-2262 or Mobile bidding registration can be found at

Online Directed Retreats at OLPH

During the current health crisis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice offers online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In these online retreats, Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estadilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking to you. A Bible and journal should be available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds. The cost is: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48. All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to participate in an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at and a code will be provided for your online registration as well as an application. For planning purposes, please allow 7 days from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

St. Jude Food Pantry

The St. Jude Parish Food Pantry, 3930 17th St., Sarasota, is open and distributing food Wednesdays from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., following all social distancing protocols. Please bring an ID and do not exit your vehicle. Volunteers will load cars. Please call 941-955-3934 if you have any questions or visit:

Wauchula Food Pantry

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula is home to a food pantry located at 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula. The pantry has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 Pandemic response. To accommodate those who work, the food pantry is open Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.  If you need food at a different time or would like to support the efforts to assist the community, please call the Parish at 863-773-4089.

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.