Divine Mercy Sunday: Prayer Service for Forgiveness and Healing

The Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, completes the Octave of Easter, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the blessing of His continuing presence in our midst. The Gospel reading for Divine Mercy Sunday (April 11, 2021) recalls the encounter between St. Thomas and Jesus after the Resurrection.

For many in the Diocese of Venice, the Feast of Divine Mercy takes on a powerful meaning when they participate in a private or public prayer called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and is a time to remind the faithful that the Lord’s Mercy has no end.

This year, the marking of Divine Mercy Sunday at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice incorporated a prayer service for healing and forgiveness for anyone who has been touched by a pregnancy loss.

“Sometimes in a loss – whether it is through a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion – so much is going on; the hurt is so strong one might believe they can’t approach the Lord,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said. “Divine Mercy Sunday is here to remind us to call upon the Lord for the forgiveness, compassion, and mercy regardless of how we got there.”

“While one might be afraid to approach the Lord in the context of shame or fear, Divine Mercy Sunday is about the all-encompassing power of God to forgive,” the Bishop added. “Just as the Apostles were locked in the upper room with fear when Jesus Christ appeared to them, we lock ourselves in – so alone – thinking the Lord can’t forgive us. No matter what it is we lock inside, this must not prevent us from seeking forgiveness.”

Father Shawn Monahan, OMV, Epiphany Cathedral Parochial Vicar, who counsels women who have suffered the loss of a child through abortion, stillbirth and miscarriage, also reflected on the power of Divine Mercy Sunday.

“The mercy is never with condemnation and always with compassion,” Father Monahan said. “Healing takes time, so we must be patient with ourselves in the process, in walking with the Lord, and tuning our ears to hear His voice and to trust in His love and mercy.”

Divine Mercy Sunday is a tradition in Parishes throughout the Diocese and the world, celebrating the mercy of Jesus as recalled to us by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a religious sister who lived a humble life to whom Jesus appeared. St. Faustina was born in Krakow, Poland and lived from 1905-1938 being canonized by St. Pope John Paul II in 2000 and at that time declared the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.

The image of the Divine Mercy was created by St. Faustina who was told to paint the image of Jesus as she saw Him. The painting has the saying at the bottom: “Jesus, I trust in You.” The rays emanating from Jesus represent water – which makes souls righteous — and blood — which is the life of souls, Jesus told St. Faustina.

Among the practices associated with the devotion are its novena, the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy (a series of prayers organized similarly to a rosary), the Hour of Great Mercy (a time of prayer traditionally celebrated at 3 p.m.), and a plenary indulgence granted to those who receive the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Epiphany Cathedral service included the singing of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation as well as a display of the Divine Mercy image and a relic of St. Faustina.

Epiphany Cathedral has a long history of celebrating St. Faustina as a devotion to her dates to the founding of the Diocese of Venice in 1984 when a weekly Mass in Polish began there. Earlier on Divine Mercy Sunday, a Mass in English, Polish and Spanish was celebrated and afterwards was also the opportunity for prayer before the relic of St. Faustina.

A video of the full service can be found at https://vimeo.com/536429647

Mass for victims of abuse to be celebrated April 16

For the 14th consecutive year, during Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month – April, the Diocese of Venice will be offering Mass to pray for the victims of abuse. The Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and take place at 8 a.m., April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass will be live-streamed, and all are welcome to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

The Diocese of Venice, and its entities, take very seriously the safety of all young people and vulnerable adults. To this end, the Diocese, with a zero-tolerance policy, works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults.

“As Christian adults, we have a moral responsibility and are entrusted by God with the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of minors and vulnerable adults,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Diocese of Venice is steadfast in its commitment to providing a comprehensive program to protect the most vulnerable from all types of abuse while raising awareness to prevent abuse from happening in the first place.”

In 1983, recognizing the alarming rate at which children continued to be abused and neglected and the need for innovative programs to prevent child abuse, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives proclaimed April National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In keeping with continued efforts to nationally promote awareness of child abuse and neglect, the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined in this effort.

Each year the Diocese conducts Safe Environment Program training sessions for thousands, including clergy, religious and laity who work or volunteer in the Diocese.

As minors and vulnerable adults participate in activities within or sponsored by the Diocese, the mission of the Safe Environment Program is:

  • To provide required education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, and for parents, as to the issue of abuse of children including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.
  • To provide required training programs for children and young people in our Catholic schools and religious education programs. This includes age-appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety and information about improper touching and relationships. Children are not expected to be fully knowledgeable about child abuse or of the laws governing care of children, but they need to know when they should seek assistance from a trusted adult.
  • To thoroughly screen and evaluate the background of all diocesan employees – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children and young people.
  • To hold those who minister in the name of the Church in the Diocese of Venice, all diocesan employees (clergy, religious and laity) and those volunteers who work with children and young people, to Christ-centered and professional codes of conduct.

Since 2002, the Diocese has engaged a professional company to conduct background screening through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with results available to the Diocesan Safe Environment Coordinator within 24-48 hours. There have been more than 50,000 background screenings and in excess of 57,000 persons trained in Safe Environment. In the last five years alone, 14,755 individuals were background screened and more than 15,000 trained in safe environment. While all Diocesan staff and volunteers go through Safe Environment training, only those who work with minors or vulnerable adults must be fingerprinted and trained in Safe Environment prior to beginning employment or volunteering.

The mission of the Diocese of Venice Safe Environment Program is to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working with minors, and parents, about the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. In addition, the Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools.

The Diocese of Venice annually undergoes a comprehensive audit by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese is in compliance with current directives.

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or how to sign up for a Safe Environment class, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.


During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB encourages the faithful to recite the Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just:

You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross. Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo;

Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


News Briefs for the week of April 9, 2021

Livestream moves from Catholic Center to Epiphany Cathedral Parish

After more than a year of livestreaming the Mass from the Catholic Center, since April 1, 2021 the livestream of the daily and weekend Masses is broadcast at 8 a.m. from Epiphany Cathedral Parish. You will be able to find the Masses on the Cathedral Facebook page found at www.facebook.com/epiphanycathedral.

Evangelizing Catechesis: Survey of the new Directory for Catechesis

The Diocese Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is offering an online course surveying the new how-to guide, the Directory for Catechesis, published by the Vatican in 2020. This new edition of the Directory emphasizes how to incorporate evangelization throughout the entire process of catechesis. This course is for Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, catechists, schoolteachers, adult faith formators, RCIA teams, parents — anyone who teaches the Faith. Co-teachers of the course are Dr. John Gresham, Director of the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, Anne Chrzan, Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Venice, and Joshua Mazrin, Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice. The six-week course starts April 19, 2021. There is a $25 fee to take the course. Visit the Institute website for more information and to register at www.institute-dov.org or contact the director for more information: john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Parent Cyber Security Presentation

The Offices of Family Life and Religious Education are hosting a free parent event “Protecting God’s Children Online in a Hyper Digital Age.” Cyber security expert Liz Repking will cover keeping kids safe from cyber bullying, online predators, sexting, online gaming, and how to help children create an escape plan when trouble arises. There are two opportunities to attend: April 14, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice, and April 15 at St. Francis Xavier Parish, 2057 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers. Both presentations are from 6:30-8 p.m. Registration by April 10 is required for planning purposes.  https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/protecting-gods-children-online-in-a-hyper-digital-age.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Workshop

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Directors of Religious Education, Youth Ministers, Principals and Teachers how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or are in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders. The course will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., April 29, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 1 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, 833 Magellan Drive, Sarasota. Advanced registration is required, and the cost is $25 which includes the book, lunch and certificate of completion. For registration and payment visit www.dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/workshop-on-youth-mental-health-first-aid.

Monthly Days of Prayer and Private Retreats

Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) Retreat and Spirituality Center, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice, offers a Monthly Day of Prayer on the second Wednesday and the second Sunday of each month. The upcoming dates are April 14, May 9, and May 12. The day begins at 9:30 a.m. with continental breakfast and includes two conferences, lunch, Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, and opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, private meditation and prayer. The day concludes at 3:15 pm. In addition, OLPH offers 1-, 3-, 5-, and 8-Day private individual retreats in a safe and tranquil setting.  These retreats include exploration of the matters of the heart, daily hours of contemplation and meditation, daily meetings with a Spiritual Director/Priest, moments of recreational activity, Mass and availability for Confession. For more information or to register, call Denise Riley at 941-486-0233, ext. 3004, or visit our website at www.olph-retreat.org.

Magnificat Breakfast for Women

The next Magnificat breakfast for women is being held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., April 24, 2021 at the Holiday Inn Airport, Gulf Coast Town Center, Fort Myers. The guest speaker is Margaret Adams, a member of St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers and will share her spiritual journey. Seating is limited. No walk-ins or payment at the door! Advanced registration ONLY. Masks are required. Please send a $23 check, payable to Magnificat Fort Myers, to Margaret Mengle, 5017 Westminster Dr., Fort Myers, FL. 33919 (239-826-7475). Your mail request must be postmarked by April 13 or make reservations online at https://magnificatfortmyers.com/order-tickets/ by April 19.


Red Mass celebrated for legal community

The 12th annual Red Mass for judges, lawyers, lawmakers, their families and staff, was livestreamed on Oct. 28, 2020 from the Catholic Center in Venice.

The Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, invokes the blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit upon those in the legal community. Bishop Dewane called upon the Holy Spirit to guide the work of all those involved in the formation, implementation and judgement pertaining to the law.

“As judges, lawyers and legal experts, your vocation is a most noble one and it ensures the good order of society,” the Bishop continued. “The work that you carry out pertains directly to express God’s will, God’s love for all people through justice which is due to every human being. The law is indeed a noble vocation.”

The Mass was organized by the Catholic Lawyers Guild and while the faithful were not present, the livestreaming in fact allowed more to access the celebration and hear the words of Bishop Dewane.

The Bishop took the opportunity to note that the law of the land and the law of the Gospel should balance each other. “The Founding Fathers were well aware that the law of the land is based on the law of God. However, God’s law is one that goes beyond the letter of the code of the Constitution, and that is why you (in the legal profession) play a crucial role in the life of the law as Catholic lawyers and judges and as men and women of Faith.”

Bishop Dewane said those in the legal profession are on the front line when it comes to protecting religious freedom, human life, dignity and many other rights. It is his prayer that all strive to make a difference by what is said and done with their responsibilities and by the way each offers leadership in the legal profession.

Evelyn Moya, executive director of Cenacle Legal Services Inc., said that since Bishop Dewane celebrated the first Red Mass in the Diocese on March 14, 2008, at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, the interest and participation among the laity have steadily increased.

Moya noted that with a history intimately connected with medieval European royalty and the appeal to Divine sustenance by those entrusted with governance, legislation and public service; the Red Mass is assured of continued observance.

“Technology may increase the popular knowledge and understanding about the Red Mass,” Moya added. “The first virtual Red Mass celebrated by Bishop Dewane was viewed by over 250 people, many who were seeing a Red Mass for the first time. I myself shared the livestream to my family and friends abroad… There is awesome power in prayer. And splendor in any celebration where the Holy Spirit is invoked.”

In the United States, the Red Mass tradition was inaugurated in 1928 at Old Saint Andrew’s Church in New York City. Each October, before the start of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new term, a Red Mass is celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Florida Bishops celebrate a Red Mass for the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee each year.

Bishop Dewane concluded his remarks by saying “May we all continue to be connected to the Light of the Eucharist and reconnect ourselves to the noble profession that is the law.”

To view the Mass, please visit www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice/videos.

Updated Diocese prayers and resources during the Pandemic

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 https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ 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, 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 (www.dioceseofvenice.org) and Facebook pages from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily as the dispensation to attend Mass remains.

Sunday Televised Mass

Bishop Frank J. Dewane raises the host during the Mass at St. Ann Parish in Naples in January, 2020.

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, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

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 https://dioceseofvenice.org/a-year-of-st-joseph/.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org. 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, www.usccb.org, 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.