School honors law enforcement during National Faith & Blue Weekend

By John Carkeet, Special to the Florida Catholic

The words resonated across the Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School’s recreation field as hundreds of students, faculty, and their guests in dark blue uniforms recited the prayer to St. Michael:

St. Michael the Archangel,

defend us in battle.

Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,

and do thou,

O Prince of the heavenly hosts,

by the power of God,

thrust into hell Satan,

and all the evil spirits,

who prowl about the world

seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

The prayer concluded the opening ceremony for Epiphany Cathedral School’s (ECS) celebration of National Faith and Blue Weekend conducted Oct. 7, 2021 on its campus in Venice. The event recognized Faith and Blue’s campaign to develop safer and stronger communities across the nation by unifying law enforcement professionals with their local faith-based organizations.

“Faith and Blue helps the Venice community understand that the values of its police officers are aligned with the people they have sworn to serve and protect,” said Lt. Andy Leisenring, director of the Venice Police Department’s special operations bureau. “The department is grateful for the opportunity to visit Epiphany Cathedral School and celebrate a common culture of service and respect.”

Organized by ECS third grade teacher Erin Phillips, in conjunction with the Venice and North Port police departments, the event showcased a myriad of crime fighting tools, gadgets, vehicles and equipment. The officers invited every student to sit in a police car, climb aboard a patrol boat, and activate their sirens. The students also learned about crime scene investigation and met one of Venice PD’s K9s. Even McGruff the Crime Dog earned his 15 minutes of fame as dozens of students showered him with hugs and high fives.

“Giving children a hands-on experience is the best way to show that (we) are here for their safety,” said Sgt. Scott Smith with the North Port Police Department. “It’s important to show them firsthand that we do a lot more than what they see in the media.”

Smith, whose daughter, Reagan, entered her fourth year at ECS, believes the connection between ECS and the Venice law enforcement community is made stronger by their shared values and beliefs.

“Both the Epiphany Cathedral School and the local law enforcement community build stronger relationships by striving to do what’s right,” said Smith, a 25-year veteran of the North Port and Bradenton Police Departments. “We share God’s word through good deeds that promote peace and respect. ECS infuses these values in its curriculum. That’s why I enrolled Reagan here … so that she may excel academically and grow in the Catholic faith.”

Nicole Loseto, Principal of Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, punctuated Smith’s observations that faith and service form the foundation of safe and vibrant communities.

“This event shows students that service and our Catholic identity extends beyond the ECS campus,” said Loseto. “Epiphany Cathedral School is part of a larger community that supports and safeguards them. One day this same community will look to these same students for their service and leadership as Disciples of Christ.”

Concluding on a note of gratitude, students gave handwritten thank you cards to every man and woman wearing a badge that day. Usually stoic faces gave way to smiles as the officers opened and read the cards aloud to one another.

“That’s how Epiphany Cathedral School and the Diocese of Venice cares for those who care for the community,” said Loseto. “Faith and Blue Weekend is just one example of how service is rooted in the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church and its schools.”

In addition to Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, many Diocesan Catholic Schools and Parishes celebrated National Faith and Blue Weekend from Oct. 7-10 with recognition coming in the form of prayers, formal ceremonies. and many to the men and women who are dedicated to protecting and serving the community.

St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral hosted a ceremony honoring local members of law enforcement. Students gave each guest a St. Michael the Archangel pin and greeted them with fist bumps and “Thank You’s!”

St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton had a visit from the Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue. The students shared the tradition at the school of praying for first responders, and when they hear a siren, they stop what they are doing and immediately pray for the victims and the first responders. The firefighters were very touched to learn that the students remember them in prayer.

John Carkeet is the Marketing Coordinator for the Diocese of Venice Office of Catholic Education, and he can be reached at 

New Briefs for Week of Oct. 7, 2020

Diocesan seminarians reach milestones

Three Diocese of Venice seminarians studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach recently reached significant milestones in their discernment of a vocation to the priesthood. Seminarian Jacob Gwynn was conferred as Lector; Juan Contreras as Acolyte, and Alejandro Giraldo Roldán received both Lector and Acolyte. The Mass was celebrated on Sept. 27, 2020 by Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, Bishop of St. Augustine and Chair of the Seminary Board of Trustees. The day was significant in that is was both Priesthood Sunday and the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul, for whom the Seminary is named. First, as part of the Rite for Lectors, the Bishop 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.” Then as part of the Rite for Acolytes, the Bishop placed the paten, which contains the hosts for the celebration of Mass, in the hands of each candidate. He then said, “take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and His Church.”

Parishioners pray rosary with deputies

Dozens of faithful from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte gathered to pray on Sept. 26, 2020 at the District 3 offices of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. Participants prayed for the protection of the deputies and their families. The group prayed the rosary and a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, while also presenting deputies with St. Michael the Archangel medals.

2 Rosary Rallies in Bradenton Oct. 10

Bradenton will be the host of two separate America Needs Fatima Rosary Rallies, at noon, Oct. 10, 2020. The rallies are at the foot of the cross on the Manatee River at DeSoto National Memorial Park, 8300 DeSoto National Memorial Parkway, and Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, 2850 75th St. W. Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blanket, umbrella and your Rosary. For details on the DeSoto National Memorial Rally, please call Marie at 941-795-0413 and for the Parish Rally, please call 941-795-1228.

Faith & Wine Lee County going virtual

The new season of Faith & Wine Lee County returns 7 p.m., Oct. 22, 2020 with a virtual event livestreamed from the groups Facebook page. The presenter is Liz Larson, who will share her life-changing experience following the devastating diagnosis of her unborn child. Registration is not necessary but encouraged so everyone can register for “door prizes.” For more information, please visit

Oktoberfest coming to Lehigh Acres

St. Raphael Parish, 2514 Lee Blvd., Lehigh Acres, is hosting Oktoberfest, at 6 p.m., Oct. 24, 2020. This traditional event will include music, authentic German menu, raffles and prizes, as well as a cash bar. The event is sponsored by Knights of Columbus County 6265. Tickets are $20 per person, or $38 per couple. For more information, please call 239-369-8317 or visit

Luncheon to Feature Olympian Nancy Kerrigan

Let’s celebrate this opportunity to socialize again and support Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. with an “It’s Time to Dress Up Again!” event featuring superstar and 2-time Olympic Medalist, Nancy Kerrigan. The luncheon, 11:30 a.m., Nov. 18, 2020, Plantation Golf and Country Club, 500 Rockley Blvd., Venice, is hosted by Champagne Tennis and Kerrigan will speak about her life and career. Tickets are $60 per person and include two-course lunch and a drink (red or white wine, mimosa). Tables limited to 6-8 guests and all CDC restrictions will be strictly enforced. To purchase tickets online, please visit; or send a check to Our Mother’s House, PO BOX 2240, Venice, FL 34284. For more information, please call 941-485-6264 or