News Briefs for the Week of February 2, 2024

Mooney runner named Florida Gatorade Player of the Year

Addison Dempsey, a senior at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, has been named the 2023-24 Gatorade Florida Girls Cross Country Player of the Year. Dempsey is the first Gatorade Florida Girls Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from Cardinal Mooney.  The award, announced Jan. 22, 2024, celebrates the nation’s top high school athletes for excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community.   The 5-foot-5 senior capped her 2023 campaign by racing to 18th place at the Foot Locker South Regional Championships, clocking a time of 17:39.22 as the state’s top finisher at the event. Dempsey established four new course records this past season, breaking the tape with a personal-best 5K time of 17:20.20 at the North Port XC Invitational. She won eight races during the fall and was Florida’s top finisher at the prestigious Adidas XC Challenge, where she took third.  She earned a bronze in the November Florida High School Athletic Association Girls Class 2A 5K. She earned a silver in the same event in 2022. A volunteer on behalf of the Boys and Girls Club, which assists local, underserved kids and provides them a safe environment, Dempsey has also donated her time as a coach at youth soccer camps and as part of running trail clean-up projects. Dempsey has maintained an impressive 3.88 GPA in the classroom.

School holds memorable night in the “Scottish Highlands”

The annual Celtic Ball, supporting St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, took place at the school on Jan. 27, 2024. The theme of the night was the “Scottish Highlands.” Bishop Frank J. Dewane applauded the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco who serve at St. John Neumann for their unfailing commitment to education and for the example they are for their students and the entire school community. Bishop Dewane also thanked the parents for entrusting their children’s education and future to St. John Neumann. The evening included a live and silent auction, and guests were provided with Scottish cloaks, while some men wore traditional kilts.

Mass honors law enforcement, fire fighters and first responders

To honor and remember the service of active, retired and fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders who offer their lives in service to the community to keep us all safe and well, St. Agnes Parish in Naples hosted the annual Blue Mass on Jan. 27, 2023. The opening procession was led by music from the Southwest Florida Guns ‘n Hoses Pipes ‘n Drums corps with bagpipes and drums, the Knights of Columbus Color Corps, and Columbiettes. Msgr. Steven P. Hurley, of Wilmington, Delaware, was the homilist for the Mass. He was a policeman in Maryland for eight years before following a vocation to the priesthood. After the Mass, each active and retired first responder present was asked to come forward to receive a token of appreciation. Law enforcement officials received a St. Michael the Archangel Medal, firefighters a St. Florian Medal, and a special medal was also presented for all other first responders. A barbeque, hosted by the Knights of Columbus, followed in the Parish Hall.

National Marriage Week, and World Marriage Day!

The observances of National Marriage Week from Feb. 7 -14, 2024, and World Marriage Day, Sunday, Feb. 11, are opportunities to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family. The theme for 2024 is “Love Beyond Words.”  For resources from the USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth to help celebrate and live the great gift of married life, please visit Celebrate National Marriage Week 2024 – For Your Marriage. Resources are available in both English and Spanish.

Health Care Ethics Conference Feb. 17

Medical professionals, students, and interested laypeople are invited to the first annual Converging Roads health care ethics conference on Feb. 17, 2024, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs! This one-day conference will offer continuing education credits for health care professionals with presentations centered on the theme of Catholic Medicine in a Secular Society. For information, contact Carrie Harkey at, and to register, go to

2024 Catholic Charities Ball Feb. 17 in Sarasota

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., invites all to the 2024 Catholic Charities Ball, 6 p.m., Feb. 17, 2024, at Michael’s On East Ballroom, 1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota. The theme is “Serving All,” and supports the programs of Catholic Charities in Sarasota and Manatee counties. This year also marks the launch of the new Long-term Recovery Program, which is actively helping families still recovering from Hurricane Ian and other natural disasters. Tickets are $400 a person. The evening will include a cocktail hour, live and silent auctions, fine dining, dancing, and live entertainment. Register at For more information, 941-376-7845 or email

Few spots remain for Eucharistic Congress pilgrimage with Bishop

Join Bishop Frank J. Dewane on a Pilgrimage to the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. Only eight spots remain! This once-in-a-lifetime 5-day gathering will take place in Indianapolis July 17 – 21, 2024. The National Eucharistic Congress represents the culmination of the Church’s three-year effort to put an emphasis on the Real Presence of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharistic.  It is a pivotal moment in the Church, and a unique opportunity for participants to draw into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Our Lord. For pilgrimage details, please visit Questions? Contact Carrie Harkey,


Marriage conference provides inspiration, renewal to hundreds

The Diocese of Venice, “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference, presented in partnership with the Diocese Office of Family Life and the St. John Paul II Foundation, took place Oct. 21, 2023, at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers and was a great success.

More than 125 couples, representing 31 Parishes, took part in this event which was intended to allow couples to grow together in holiness, learn to form their children in the Catholic Faith, enjoy a day of quality time with their spouse, and witness dynamic presentations. Many married couples brought their families, with nearly 50 children enrolled in childcare throughout the day. In addition to married couples, many engaged couples also participated.

The day included the Mass, celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

One couple from Naples who has been married for 15 years with three children said they went to the event looking for a more Christ-centered focus on their marriage and they were impressed not only by the speakers, but by the supportive atmosphere the day offered. “It was wonderful. Each speaker offered something of value that will enrich us as a couple, and as a family going forward.”

Bishop Dewane addressed the couples, and was impressed by the numbers and encouraged by their enthusiasm, particularly in a society in which marriage is viewed as almost countercultural, but in the faith context is supported by the Holy Spirit and the Grace of God.

“As couples, you can speak of that more eloquently than I can, because you live that commitment daily – day in and day out,” Bishop Dewane said. “Know that the Lord sees the goodness you are – the witnesses you are for others. Each of you are called to open your hearts, minds, and souls to what it is that the Lord asks of you. Let the Holy Spirit have a role and presence in your lives; providing counsel, fortitude, and courage in your relationship; that element of truth. It is in this concept that the sacred covenant will never be broken, because it is what the Lord put before you.”

This year’s conference theme was “Family, the Church in Your Home” and featured national speakers Haley Stewart and Greg Schutte, as well as local speakers Michael and Nancy Dauphinais.

The focus of the day was on the centrality of the Eucharist as a source of grace in married life, which fits well with the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival initiative of the U.S. Bishops.

What’s Next

For couples who wish to continue enriching their marriage – whether or not they attended the conference – a “Together in Holiness” Formation series is being offered. The Formation series creates small groups of four to six couples who gather “to explore a particular theme based on the life, teaching and witness of St. John Paul II.” At the local gatherings, couples share a meal, watch a brief video and have guided prayer, Scripture and discussion led by a St. John Paul II Foundation-trained couple. If you would like to participate in or learn more about the “Together in Holiness” Formation series, contact


To learn more about other Diocese of Venice initiatives in support of Marriage and Family, contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 or

News Briefs for the week of August 25, 2023

World Youth Day topic at recent Theology on Tap

World Youth Day 2023 was the topic of discussion at the most recent Theology on Tap on Aug. 17, 2023, at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. An outreach of the Diocese Young Adult Ministry, Theology on Tap takes place on the third Thursday of each month with a variety of speakers addressing topics relevant to the Catholic Faith. In August, the guest speakers were Transitional Deacon Thomas Gregory Dougherty, a Diocesan seminarian in his final year of studies at St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts; and Stephanie Lovetere, the Youth Ministry Coordinator at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Each shared their experiences on the trip to Portugal with a group of 52 from the Diocese, including Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Marthamaria Morales, Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry who also organizes Theology on tap. The monthly gathering also includes food and refreshments. The next scheduled date is Sept. 21, and will feature Father Christian Chami, Parochial Vicar at St. Jude Parish, Sarasota.  For any questions, please email Marthamaria Morales at

Second Collection for Maui, Hawaii Aug. 26-27

Devastating wildfires swept through the Maui region of Hawaii on Aug. 8, 2023, causing much destruction and a loss of life for a large number of residents, particularly in Lahaina.  As we are all called to help our brothers and sisters in need, a second collection will take place in the Diocese of Venice the weekend of August 26 and 27. The proceeds of the collection will be sent to Catholic Charities Diocese of Honolulu to assist in their efforts to address the needs of the citizens in the affected area. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

Decline to Sign Petition for dangerous Pro-Abortion ballot initiative

An extremely grave initiative is underway in Florida that seeks to erase pro-life protections by inserting language into the Florida State Constitution banning regulation of abortion. Abortion activists are working to gather petition signatures to have a pro-abortion constitutional amendment placed on the statewide ballot in the November 2024 election. To do so, they need nearly 900,000 signatures and are working right now in communities across Florida to collect them. Floridian Catholics should not sign the petition. Please also continue your prayers for the protection of the unborn and spread the word to your spheres of influence.

High school retreat serves community

Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers hosted its annual Freshman Retreat on Aug. 17, 2023. Freshmen, along with senior leaders, enjoyed a great morning getting settled into their rooms, listening to discussions, and enjoying breakfast. They then headed out to various service sites throughout the community in order to give back and appreciate the Christian Service aspect of the freshmen retreat.

STREAM skills used in school project

Fifth-grade students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples used engineering, teamwork, math and technology skills in their first STREAM activity of the school year on Aug. 22, 2023. Each student was amazed to learn their handmade rubberband/yarn device was an actual tool! The objective was to build a tower first using only their dominant hand, then building the tower with their non-dominant hand. Students learned, smiled, and worked together as disciples of Christ.

Vocabulary “treasure hunt”

Using “Christ is Us” books, second grade students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers practiced their vocabulary words on Aug. 18, 2023. The lesson was a “treasure hunt” as the students try to find and define key “gem” words in the text of the books. When finished with their search, they presented to their groups and used cooperative learning structures for added reading lessons.

“Heart of Discipleship” retreat helps ministry students

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School ministry students in Sarasota attended a retreat on Aug. 22, 2023, at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch. The students spent the day exploring the “Heart of Discipleship” while coming together as a team.  Students heard from various speakers including teacher, alum and Deacon Jack Milholland of Our Lady of the Angels Parish. The lesson learned was: “God is good! All the time!”

Day of Reflection for Sacramental Marriage Sept. 9 in Naples

The Office of Marriage and Family Life will be hosting a Day of Reflection for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church.  A specially prepared team will share their experiences and information enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of marriage.  This event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 9, 2023, at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Avenue, Naples. The cost of $50/couple covers all retreat materials and lunch.  Pre-registration is required at Should you have questions or require additional information contact Carrie Harkey at, or call 941-484-9543 ext. 4748.

Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal coming to an end

Every day, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., serves its most vulnerable population by feeding, housing, empowering, and helping all in need. This summer, you can be the one that makes a difference. Your acts of kindness have the power to transform lives and leave a positive impact in our community. The Catholic Charities Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal is coming to a conclusion soon. Your gift will make a positive impact on our less fortunate brothers and sisters! Please visit or mail a check to Catholic Charities, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Formation Program in Spanish

The next session of the Hispanic Apostolate’s Formation Program is scheduled to begin on Sept. 29, 2023. The topic of study will be focused on the “National Eucharistic Revival” and there will be a total of seven classes held from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm. on Fridays. (During Lent classes will move to Thursdays beginning February 15th.). The cost for all the classes is $35 including the book. Those who register and attend a minimum of 6 classes either at one of the participating parishes or online using our APP ( will receive a Diocesan Certification.

Programa de Formación en Español

La próxima sesión del Programa de Formación a cargo del Apostolado Hispano comenzará el 29 de setiembre del 2023. El tema de estudio estará enfocado en el “Avivamiento Eucarístico Nacional” y habrá un total de 7 clases que se darán los viernes por la noche de 7:00 pm a 9:00 pm. (Durante la Cuaresma las clases se trasladan al jueves a partir del 15 de febrero). El costo de todas las clases es de $35 incluyendo el libro. Las personas que se registren y atiendan un mínimo de 6 clases ya sea en una de las parroquias participantes o vía online usando nuestro APP ( recibirán una Certificación Diocesana.

Help available for Hurricane Ian survivors

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice, Inc. has partnered with St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services in the Disaster Case Management Program to offer services to individuals and families impacted by Hurricane Ian. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, visit, email, or call 941-799-6779.

News Briefs for week of August 18, 2023

Knights honor clergy

The Knights of Columbus of Saints Cosmas and Damian Council 13341 of Bradenton hosted a Clergy Appreciation Dinner on Aug. 12, 2023, at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch. Among the honorees were Bishop Frank J. Dewane; Father Sebastian Szczawínski, Pastor of Our Lady of the Angels; Father Shawn Roser, Parish Parochial Vicar and Diocesan Vocations Director; Msgr. Joseph Stearns who is retired but assists at the Parish; Deacon Jack Milholland; and Deacon G. Thomas Harencher. The evening included dinner for more than 200 and each of the honorees was presented with a commemorative compass. Grand Knight Jerry Graceffo Jr. said it was appropriate for the Knights to honor the clergy who serve the spiritual needs of the faithful is many different ways.

High school welcomes new assistant director

Bishop Verot Catholic High School has announced the hiring of a new Assistant Director of Special Events, Donor & Alumni Relations. Crystal Melton will lead Bishop Verot’s events and alumni relations efforts as the school continues to have record enrollment and growth. Melton brings with her experience in the field of events, fundraising and community relations. Melton earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. She previously was on the Verot School Board and the chair of the Curriculum & Academic Affairs Committee for the school. Most recently, she was a teacher and Director of Development at St. Andrew Catholic School.  Melton grew up in Alaska and Virginia, before moving to Florida in 2010 with her husband and their two children. Her daughter is a Verot Alum and her son is an 8th grader at St. Andrew Catholic School, and a future Viking.

Support our seminarians

Support, encourage and educate future priests through the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Seminarian Fund. Join the VDCCW in celebrating Priesthood Sunday on September 24, 2023, in a special and lasting way by sending your Parish Priest a Seminarian Fund “IN HONOR OF” card. This is a gift that keeps on giving. The Diocese is currently educating 13 men in various seminaries and a donation of any amount would be a great help (The donation amount will not be revealed to the recipient). To take part, please send your donation, made out to VDCCW Seminarian Fund (plus $1 to cover postage and printing) to: Cornelia Zaneƫti, Seminarian Fund Guardian, 5808 Gulf Drive, #204, Holmes Beach, FL 34217.

Early bird registration for the Marriage Conference

Registration is now open for the Oct. 21, 2023, Diocese of Venice “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference, presented in partnership with the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life and the St. John Paul II Foundation. This marriage enrichment conference will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. All Catholic married and engaged couples throughout the Diocese of Venice and beyond are welcome. Grow together in holiness, learn to form your children in the Catholic Faith, enjoy a day of quality time with your spouse, witness dynamic presentations! The day will include the Mass and the availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This special event is for all couples, engaged, newlywed or long married! On-site childcare will be provided. Early bird couple registration is $54, ($64 after Aug. 28). To register, please visit Please contact Carrie Harkey at for further information.

Catholic Charities event to benefit programs in DeSoto County

The 2023 Boots and Bandannas event to benefit the programs of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., in DeSoto County will take place, at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, at Our Lady of Angels Parish, 12905 SR. 70 E., Lakewood Ranch. Enjoy a fun night of great food, live auction, and live music by Andy Pursell and his band.  Kick up your heels for a great cause with programs such as a food pantry, farmworker and senior housing, youth and afterschool educational enrichment programs, financial and housing assistance and disaster response and recovery.  For more details, and to register for Boots and Bandannas 2023, please visit,

Red Mass for legal professionals to be held in Sarasota

The Red Mass, a medieval tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, is observed annually in the Diocese of Venice. The Red Mass will be celebrated at 5:30 p.m., Oct. 18, 2023, at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange St., Sarasota. Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop will be the main celebrant. A reception hosted by the Catholic Lawyers Guild (CLG) follows immediately at the Fr. Fausto Parish Hall. The first recorded Red Mass was held in the Cathedral of Paris in 1245. The popular name “Red Mass” refers to the traditional red vestments of the clergy and the judges when convened at the royal courts in Europe. Prayers at the Red Mass are offered to invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon those who serve in law and the administration of justice. Hence, lawyers, judges, public officials, law enforcement officers, and law students are specifically invited to participate at the Red Mass, although everyone is welcome to attend. In the United States, an annual Red Mass is held in Washington, D.C., before the opening of the U.S. Supreme Court. Similarly, Red Mass is held at the start of the legislative session in Tallahassee. The first Red Mass in the Diocese of Venice was held in March 2008 at St. Martha. At the Red Mass, prayers are for wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord, to help us through these challenging times. For further information, please contact Atty. Paul Consbruck at 866-558-7285; 941-966-6706 or

News Briefs for the week of July 14, 2023


After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Jerome A. Carosella, retired as Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, Boca Grande, effective July 17, 2023, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, Boca Grande, and other appointments on the Board of Trustees with the Diocesan Pension Plan and Catholic Charities.

Father Anthony Hewitt, appointed as Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Boca Grande, effective July 17, 2023, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Fort Myers.

Father Steven Clemente, appointed as Administrator of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Fort Myers, effective July 17, 2023, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. William Parish, Naples.

Father Grzegorz Klich, appointed as Parochial Vicar of St. William Parish, Naples, effective July 17, 2023, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of Ascension Parish, Fort Myers Beach.

Father Robert Tatman, appointed as Parochial Vicar of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Fort Myers, effective July 17, 2023, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. Jude Parish, Sarasota.

Father Christian Chami, appointed as Parochial Vicar of St. Jude Parish, Sarasota, effective July 17, 2023, after completion of his Licentiate Studies at the Pontifical University of Saint Anselm in Rome.

Bishop celebrating anniversaries in July

The month of July holds a special meaning in the heart of Bishop Frank J. Dewane as it is the month in which he was ordained to the priesthood (July 16, 1988), and ordained as a Bishop (July 25, 2006). The priestly ordination anniversary is 35 years, while the Bishop ordination is 17 years.

Bishop Dewane was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Green Bay and served in a Parish as well as on the Diocesan Tribunal. The Bishop was then appointed in 1991 to serve as a member of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York City, during which time he represented the Holy See at several international conferences. In 1995, he was transferred to the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” and was later appointed Under Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Bishop Dewane was named Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida by Pope Benedict XVI on April 25, 2006.

Please pray for Bishop Dewane on his respective 35th and 17th anniversaries. Anyone wishing to send their congratulations to the Bishop can do so at

Ave Youth Conference welcomes Bishop

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on July 9, 2023, at the conclusion of the REVEALED Conference in Ave Maria. The Mass included more than 400 high school students from across Florida and beyond who were participating in the three-day conference at Ave Maria University. The youth were encouraged to open themselves to God’s love and His Kingship, making the Lord their King guide in their life.

Totus Tuus continues to share the love of Christ

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. During the week of July 9-14, 2023, the team was at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle. The weeklong Parish summer catechetical program assists parents and parishes in evangelizing and catechizing the youth by complementing the work they are already doing at the Parish and at home. The program is offered at 11 Parishes throughout the summer in the Diocese of Venice with four sessions now completed. The week-long camps are divided into two sessions, with the day camp for students entering grades 1 – 6, and the evening camp for middle school and high school students entering grades 7 – 12.

The remaining Parishes hosting the program are as follows:

  • John XXIII in Fort Myers and St. Patrick in Sarasota, July 16-21;
  • Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and Our Lady of the Angels in Lakewood Ranch, July 23-28.

Some parishes still have limited openings for this program. To inquire, please contact the individual Parish religious education office by visiting For further information regarding this program, please visit

Sarasota parishioner earns Gold at Special Olympics

Congratulations to Mollie O’Connell, of St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, for earning a Gold Medal the 2k Cycling Time Trial race at the Special Olympics held in Berlin, Germany, on June 21, 2023, with a winning time of 5:56.78. The Special Olympics were held from June 17-25, with more than 7,000 athletes competing in 26 sports. Well done, Mollie!

Bradenton student plays lacrosse for a cause

St. Joseph Catholic School student, Cooper Kolbe, plays on a competitive lacrosse team with a higher purpose. The team is called Owen’s Heroes, which was named for a 5-year-old who has type 1 diabetes. The team plays and raises money for research and to help families of children struggling with juvenile diabetes. Cooper is the team goalie and this summer, Owen’s Hero’s made it all the way to the Youth Lacrosse World Series competing against 25 teams from around the world. After the tournament, Owen’s Heroes was ranked #11 in the world. What a great experience, and what a great cause these young athletes have embraced!

4th of July Parade held in Ave Maria

The 7th annual Ave Maria Parish “God Bless America” Independence Day Bike and Golf Cart Parade was a huge success with hundreds of participants of all ages. The parade concluded in the Ave Maria Piazza in front the Parish church.

Natural Family Planning Week July 23-29

Natural Family Planning Awareness week is July 23-29, 2023.  The dates of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week highlight the anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (July 25) which articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love, and responsible parenthood. Find information through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website at For more information or to attend a free introductory session contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 or

Execution Prayer Vigils Aug. 3

James Barnes is scheduled to be executed in Florida at 6 p.m. on Aug. 3, 2023. Barnes was sentenced to death for the 1988 murder of a young woman named Patricia Miller in Melbourne, and he has been on Florida’s death row since 2006. Prayer vigils will be held at 5:30 p.m., Aug. 3, at San Pedro Parish, 14380 Tamiami Trail, North Port, and at 5:30 p.m., Aug. 3, at the outdoor Last Supper table at Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., Punta Gorda. All are invited to attend! If you are not able to attend, please pray for Barnes and his family as well as Miller and her family, and all tasked with his execution.

Vocational Retreat in Arcadia in August

St. Paul Catholic Church is hosting a one-day “Encounter with Christ” Vocational Retreat, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Aug. 26, 2023, for males and females ages 15 to 30. The retreat will take place in the Parish Hall located at 1208 East Oak St., Arcadia. The cost for the day is $20 and includes meals and materials. Pre-registration is available by emailing For further information contact the Parish office at 863-494-2611.

Surviving Divorce program

If you or someone you know is navigating the challenges of a separation or divorce, consider participating in the Surviving Divorce Program developed by Rose Sweet, a well-known Catholic author, and speaker. The 12-week program begins at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 17, 2023, at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave., Naples. To register, contact Michael Dana at or 301-332-9055.

News Briefs for the week of June 9, 2023

Students learn about how corporation operates

Members of the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Scholars Academy learned about color, fabric quality, lab testing, trends, concept design, visual merchandising, and technology while touring the Fort Myers campus of Chico’s headquarters in May 2023. These students had a front-row seat to see how a large clothing retail company operates, as the students learned how to connect their academic paths to future career opportunities.

STREAM summer camp in Bradenton

St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton is hosting a summer camp which focuses on learning STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math) skills. The first day of the camp was June 5, 2023, and activities included making morphing creations, enjoying books, and participating in “Math and Movement.”

Young adult outreach opportunity

St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers hosts a once a month gathering for young adults called Rooted, in the church at 4 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month (June 11, 2023). This includes praise and worship, along with Eucharistic Adoration. In addition, the outreach program is looking to expand it’s offerings to young adults, such as for college students, those 20-30, young adults who are married with/without children (children welcome), and older adults aged 30 years and up. If you are interested in helping to organize, lead, or participate in this effort, please contact Kelly Evers, St. John XXIII Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, at or 239-561-3022.

Day of Reflection for Sacramental Marriage June 17

The Office of Marriage and Family Life will be hosting a Day of Reflection for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church on two separate dates. This day of reflection will be 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 17, 2023, at St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 SW 20th Ave., Cape Coral. A specially prepared team will share their experiences and information enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of marriage. The cost of $50/couple covers all retreat materials and lunch.  Pre-registration is required at Marriage Preparation Seminar 2023 (  Should you have questions or require additional information contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 ext. 4748, or

Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal

Every day, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., serves its most vulnerable population by feeding, housing, empowering, and helping all in need. This summer, you can be the one that makes a difference. Your acts of kindness have the power to transform lives and leave a positive impact in our community. The Catholic Charities Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal is asking for your support. The giving is easy! Your gift will make a positive impact on our less fortunate brothers and sisters! Please visit or mail a check to Catholic Charities, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Ordination to the Priesthood July 15

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacons Alejandro Giraldo Roldan and Daniel Scanlan. The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 15, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the lives of Deacons Alejandro and Daniel as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Volunteers Needed for Prison Outreach

Join the team of Diocesan volunteers who enter county jails and state prisons within the 10-county Diocese of Venice to do pastoral outreach, distribute the Eucharist and facilitate programs. Priests, Deacons, and lay volunteers are encouraged to assist in this ministry. Volunteers will first participate in an orientation program before entering the facility and will “shadow” experienced volunteers until you feel comfortable. Times and days vary by facility. Please contact Joe Mallof at 224-217-7139 or Bob Hiniker 863-558-0407 to learn where you can fit into this joyful opportunity.


New Evangelization Director brings extensive experience

James F. Gontis cherishes the opportunity to multiply the good of the Catholic Faith in his new position as Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization.

Starting his new role on Aug. 1, 2022, Gontis brings to the Diocese his diverse experience in the evangelization and catechetical field. Most recently Gontis served in the Diocese of Harrisburg, first as Director of Religious Education and then for the last five years as Director of Evangelization and Catechesis.

In Harrisburg, he oversaw classes, workshops and presentations on theological and Catholic teachings, evangelization and much more and previously directed Adult Religious Education and related programs and workshops.

Gontis explained that his role as Director of the Department of Evangelization – which includes the Office of Family Life and the Office of Youth and Young Adult Outreach – is to draw people closer to God.

“Faith cannot be in the abstract but has to be lived out in the here and now,” he said. “I am grateful to serve the Church in this beautiful area, helping to remind everyone the role we all have – as the baptized – to live our Faith as God calls. We do this through the way we live, what we say, and what we do. It is easy to say and hard to do. But we must respond, confident that the Lord gives us sufficient grace to do what He asks; to live for the Glory of God and get into heaven, while bringing with us as many others as possible.”

Gontis earned a M.A. in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and before that a degree from Adams College (University) in Colorado. He was a teacher in Farmington, New Mexico and Fountain Springs, Pennsylvania, before taking a Diocesan position in Harrisburg.

Married for 25 years and counting, Gontis has eight children. Three are still in school, while the five oldest children are in college or working. His parents live in Punta Gorda, and a sister is also nearby, so he was not unfamiliar with the area before recently moving his family to the Sarasota area.

The Office of Evangelization is currently organizing a Diocesan Eucharistic Congress and Youth Rally for March 24-25, 2023, a large event in Fort Myers that is part on the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival. The Revival is an initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to reaffirm a devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

In addition, the office is also hosting a “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference on Oct. 22 in Fort Myers as well as planning a Diocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2023 in Portugal. Please visit for information about these and other events.

“As important as those events are, evangelization is not just about these mountaintop experiences,” Gontis explained. “The Parish is the primary focus of our work, building up the Faith – this is done through programs that reach out to support marriage, as well as youth and young adults. We know the family is a foundation of the Church, but at the same time we will work hard to keep youth and young adults engaged in the Faith, reminding them that they are not only the future of the Church, but they are also the present of the Church, crucial to the renewal of the Faith.”

James Gontis is the Diocesan Director of Evangelization and can be reached at 941-484-9543 or

News briefs for the week of Aug. 12, 2022

Retired priest dies

Father Edward A. Kearns Jr., a longtime priest in the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, died July 11, 2022, at the age of 86 in Sarasota. Father Kearns was born in Paterson and attended Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., and Immaculate Conception Seminary in Mahwah, N.J. He was ordained May 25, 1963 in Paterson. He served as Parishes in Parsippany, Boonton, Oak Ridge and was founding Pastor of a Parish in Three Bridges, N.J. He retired to Sarasota in 1998 and assisted part-time at St. Thomas More Parish. He is survived by a sister, numerous nieces and nephews and grandnieces and nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Three Bridges on Sept. 10, 2022.

2022 Sarasota Laps for Life 5K in October

The Knights of Columbus Our Lady of Victory Council 3358 is hosting the 2022 Laps for Life sunrise beach run/walk in support of SOLVE maternity homes in Bradenton, Sarasota and Englewood. The run/walk is 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 8, at Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota. The respect life event brings people of all ages and backgrounds together in support of at-risk women during and after pregnancy. Enjoy the family fun and post-race celebration with music, free food and games at the playground and pavilion area. The race will be chip-time and the first 200 registrants are guaranteed an event shirt. The cost is $40 for adults and $20 for ages 9-13 (under 9, free). To register, create a team or donate online, please visit

Statewide Culture of Life Conference

The Diocese of St. Petersburg is hosting the 2022 annual Culture of Life (Respect Life) Conference at the Bethany Center in Lutz on Oct. 14-15, 2022. It includes an opening prayer and one session on Friday evening starting at 7 p.m. with the main conference on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s theme is Commitment to Care. Conference attendees will be informed, inspired and equipped to understand, engage with and respond to some of the most pressing issues of the culture. Topics will include gender ideology and youth, political commitments, Walking with Moms in Need, end of life, death penalty and human trafficking. For details and registration, see If you are interested in a possible bus trip to attend the conference, contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or

40 Days for Life Fall Campaign begins soon

The Fall Campaign of 40 Days for Life begins Sept. 28, 2022, and ends Nov. 6. Check with your Parish coordinator to join your Parish’s day on the sidewalk or go to – look under the locations tab for Sarasota or Fort Myers. Your presence can be a powerful sign to women in need that better options are available to her.  Questions? Contact Jeanne Berdeaux at or 941-374-1068.

Looking for a movie with a positive message?

“LIFEMARK” is a powerful film that celebrates adoption, reconciliation and love. It will run in many local theaters for one week, September 9-15. Inspire by a true story, it stars Kirk Cameron.  Watch the trailer, find local theater times and ticket information at Groups of 25+ can purchase discounted tickets through the website.  Questions? Contact Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux at or 941-374-1068.

Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal continues

Every day, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., serves its most vulnerable population by feeding, housing, empowering, and helping all in need. This summer, you can be the one that makes a difference. Your acts of kindness have the power to transform lives and leave a positive impact in our community. The Catholic Charities Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal is asking for your support. The giving is easy! Your gift will make a positive impact on our less fortunate brothers and sisters! Please visit or mail a check to Catholic Charities, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Marriage Conference coming in October

Registration is now open for the Diocese of Venice Oct. 22, 2022, “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference, presented in partnership with the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life and the St. John Paul II Foundation. To register, please visit A video message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane can be found at This marriage enrichment conference will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. All Catholic married and engaged couples throughout the Diocese of Venice and beyond are welcome. Grow together in holiness, learn to form your children in the Catholic Faith, enjoy a day of quality time with your spouse, witness dynamic presentations! The day will include the Mass and the availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This special event is for all couples, engaged, newlywed or long-married! On-site childcare will be provided. For more information, please contact Carrie Harkey at

Support after abortion – Project Rachel

Most women who choose abortion eventually realize that they made the wrong choice and face a lifetime of regret. Even if they confess this sin to a priest, they often find it difficult to accept God’s forgiveness and forgive themselves. Project Rachel is the Catholic Church’s program to help women and men come to terms with an abortion decision and find the hope and healing they need. For confidential help in English and Spanish, call 941-412-5860 or email

Want to Help a Pregnant Mother in Need?

Maybe she’s being evicted or having her electricity turned off. Imagine being in her shoes, perhaps with other young children in the home. Think about what happens to food in a refrigerator without power for even a few hours. Your donation can assist pregnant women in need with rent, utilities, and other necessities. Send your donation to Catholic Charities Pennies for Babies Fund, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. No administrative fees are taken so your money goes directly to those in need who have been screened by case managers. Questions? Contact Jeanne Berdeaux at or 941-374-1068.

“Two Become One” Seminar Sept. 10

The last of the “Two Become One” Sacramental Marriage Retreats is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2022, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. Registration is at 9:00 a.m. and the seminar ends at 5:00 p.m. A specially prepared volunteer team share their experiences and information with the intention of enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of a Sacramental Marriage. The retreat is designed to be completed after the couple has done the initial consultation with their priest. For the prerequired registration, please visit If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 or

Do You Need Help?

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance, or tele-mental health counseling, please call 941-355-4680 in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands Counties; 239-390-2928 in Charlotte, Lee, Hendry, and Glades Counties; and 239-793-0059 in Collier County between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 pm., Monday to Friday.

Equipping the Pro-Life Church

Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc., which has pregnancy resource clinics throughout the Diocese, is hosting two conferences to equip the Pro-Life Church on Tuesday, September 13. The first one is from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Bonita Springs, and the second is 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Bradenton. The featured speaker at both events is Seth Gruber, who is a professional public speaker focused on equipping Christians and pro-life advocates to make a persuasive case for their pro-life beliefs in the public square. His approach, while not shying away from the moral question of abortion, focuses on giving participants the tools needed to effectively and lovingly engage others on the issue of abortion. Participants will learn how to effectively build a culture of life within their community. There is no cost to attend. All priests, deacons, ministry leaders, and Pro-Life advocates throughout Southwest Florida are encouraged to attend. To register for either event, please visit or call 239-262-6381.

Catholic Women’s Bible Study begins in September

Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton will be hosting a 20-week study “Blessed Conversations: Rooted” beginning Wednesday, September 14, through March 29, 2023. This study for women contains lessons and short videos on seven topics: the virtues; ways to pray; God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the seven Sacraments; the 10 Commandments; the Our Father; and the Beatitudes. Each lesson includes a layperson summary of Catechism selections; short Scripture passages from the Old and New Testaments; a reflection by the author; and questions for discussion. Rooted is a study from Blessed is She, a Catholic women’s online outreach. The cost is $25 for books and materials. The Wednesday gatherings are at 9:45 a.m. in the Moretti Center, 2850 75th St. W., Bradenton. Childcare is provided (donations appreciated). To learn more please call the Parish at 941-795-1228 or visit

Registration Open for golf tournament

The registration is open for the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School 2022 Annual Golf Tournament on Monday, October 10 (rain date, October 17) at the Laurel Oak Country Club in Sarasota. Registration starts at 10:00 a.m., with a shotgun start at 12:00 p.m. The cost is $775 per foursome (early bird registration by September 12, is $725 per foursome). The cost includes golf, a boxed lunch, cocktails, buffet dinner and prizes. There will also be a 50/50 helicopter ball drop ($10 per chance/open to all). The tournament benefits the CMHS Adopt-A-Student Financial Assistance Program. For tickets and sponsorships, please contact Amy Gorman at or visit


Looking back on 2021

The continuing global pandemic did little to curb the important work of spreading the Good News of the Lord to the faithful throughout the Diocese of Venice in 2021.

While some events were modified, delayed or even postponed, the Diocese was blessed to have two men Ordained to the Priesthood; welcome hundreds into the Church at the Easter Vigil; start a massive robotics program in its Catholic schools; host a successful Youth Rally, as well as Women’s and Men’s Conferences; honor the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony; continue to pray for victims of abuse; honor our veterans; prayer walks for an end to abortion; assist tens of thousands with food and other support; evidence major enrollment gains in its Catholic schools; dedicate a new Parish Church and Retreat Center Shrine; continue to expand the outreach to the Hispanic Catholic community; inaugurate the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” and conclude the “Year of St. Joseph.”

This list is just a small sample of what took place across the Diocese of Venice in 2021, all while the Diocese as well as the Parishes and Catholic schools modified operations to ensure that everyone remained safe. Each activity during the year was carefully planned to ensure participants would benefit from participating and ultimately working to the goal of helping the faithful grow ever closer to the Lord.

While taking time to look back covers many pivotal events in the life of the Diocese, the following is by no means a comprehensive listing of the initiatives and events which take place throughout the Diocese.

Priestly Ordination and Vocations

One of the most important building blocks of the Catholic Church is the ordination of men to the priesthood. The Diocese of Venice was blessed to have two men ordained in 2021 presided over by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral. Three other seminarians were ordained to the Transitional Diaconate in 2021 and are expected to be ordained to the priesthood in 2022.

Also encouraging is that there are currently 16 active seminarians in the Diocese, including the transitional deacons. The Vocation’s Office hosts several informational trips to the seminaries in Florida for prospective young men.

Chrism Mass and Celebration of Jubilarians

During Holy Week the priests of the Diocese gathered for the annual Chrism Mass; a powerful sign of unity with more than 100 priests on the altar with Bishop Dewane at the Cathedral. This annual Mass is one of the most critical and unifying moments for the Diocese during Holy Week. At the Chrism Mass, priests and deacons who celebrate milestone anniversaries were honored. To accommodate the latest guidance on social distancing and limiting the size of gatherings at the time, only priests and Permanent Deacons and their wives were present for the Mass. The public was able to view this Mass via livestream.

Catholic schools

The Diocese of Venice uniformly strengthened STREAM education in 15 Diocesan Catholics Schools through an investment in a partnership with FIRST®, a global robotics community, “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” placing students ahead of the curve in primary fields while continuing to promote core Catholic virtues. A gift of 500 robots and curricular resources were presented by Bishop Dewane to Diocesan Catholic Schools on March 10, 2021. Since that announcement Catholic schools throughout the Diocese have been enhancing STREAM-based learning and taking the time to continuously engage students through playful learning activities to think critically and solve complex problems, regardless of their learning level.

Also of good news, a report from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCC) has revealed that the Diocese of Venice leads all other Arch/diocese in enrollment gains in the past year. This trend also wipes out enrollment losses that occurred due to the pandemic. The Diocesan numbers – a 15.2% enrollment increase in elementary schools and 8.9% percent increase in secondary schools – compare favorably to the rest of the state.

Throughout the year, many schools implemented programs to improve sustainability through water conservation and energy reduction effort all in the spirit of Laudato Si, an encyclical from Pope Francis on the care for our common home.

Respect Life Outreach

The Diocese of Venice had huge numbers participate in prayer vigils at abortion facilities throughout the Diocese of Venice. With this topic gaining national attention due to laws restricting access to abortion in Texas and Mississippi and pending decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, the vigils took a renewed sense of urgency. A focused prayer walk takes place each January in Sarasota to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, while two 40 Days for Life campaigns take place at multiple locations each Lent and again in the fall to coincide with October, National Respect Life Month.

Honoring the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

As the sanctity of marriage continues to be attacked from many different levels, Bishop Dewane takes time out each year to honor the men and women who have dedicated their lives to living the Sacrament of Marriage. Two Mass are held during the year which the Bishop celebrates for couples enjoying significant wedding anniversaries; many celebrating more than 50 years of marriage and some more than 70 years. These couples represent a shining example of this important Sacrament in the face of many attacks on this vital institution. In addition, the Diocese hosted the inaugural Marriage Enrichment Conference in October in Sarasota and Naples. The goal was to help form married couples to live out their vocation in holiness and joy.

Safe Haven Sunday

To help bolster the family, the Diocese also participated in the first ever Safe Haven Sunday in March 2021. Safe Haven Sunday was set aside so as to give focused time and resources to address the harmful effects of pornography on youth, marriages, and families. Resources to protect individuals, marriages and families were given to families attending Masses that weekend. This was followed up by a series of Cyber Safety workshops for parents, religious educators, and principals.

Catholic Charities

Each year the programs of Catholic Charities within the Diocese of Venice assists thousands of individuals and families and through the pandemic the numbers remained high as inflation has caused housing and food prices to skyrocket further impacting families. More than a million pounds of food was served to some 150,000 individuals at food pantries throughout the Diocese. Catholic Charities also hosted several volunteer vaccinations sites in rural communities with great success. An additional 2,000 received mental health counseling through in-person and tele-mental health programs. Nearly as many received some sort of emergency financial assistance. This support was in addition to the 30 other programs Catholic Charities has at locations throughout the region and ranges from afterschool tutoring to senior care.

Year of St. Joseph

Because St. Joseph is Protector of the Universal Church, Bishop Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to a “Year of St. Joseph” in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic beginning March 19, 2020. The Diocesan dedication to a “Year of Saint Joseph” was extended to continue until Dec. 8, 2021. This was in direct support of Pope Francis creating a Universal “Year of Saint Joseph” from Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021. Among the activities which took place to honor St. Joseph, the Diocesan Office of Family Life introduced a 30-day St. Joseph Devotional for the month of September 2021, as a way to continue to mark the ongoing “Year of St. Joseph,” as well as the celebration of the Year of Amoris Laetitia Family.

Synod on Synodality

Bishop Dewane inaugurated the beginning of the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” with an afternoon Mass on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral. Participating in the Mass were Diocesan priests, as well as some 300 people representing many Parishes, various movements, and many other groups. During the Diocesan Phase there will be a series of listening sessions which will take place in each part of the Diocese in the coming months. The goal of these sessions is to discern the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. Two episodes of the Bishop radio show, “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane,” were dedicated to covering the intricacies of the Synod.


Two major dedications took place in the first half of 2021. First was the Dedication and Blessing of a new Parish Church for St. Paul Parish in Arcadia on March 21, 2021. The building more than quadrupled the capacity of the previous church and offers room for future Parish offices, classrooms and a Parish Hall. The project followed strict guidelines to ensure the building is energy efficient is the context of Laudato Si. A centerpiece feature of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice was dedicated and blessed by Bishop Dewane before an enthusiastic crowd on June 6, 2021. The Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a fitting memorial to the Blessed Virgin who serves as the exemplar for all to follow.

Other items of note

  • For the 14th consecutive year, during Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month – April, the Diocese of Venice offered a Mass to pray for the victims of abuse at Epiphany Cathedral. Normally there are two Mass, but the pandemic necessitated only one Mass in 2021. So as to accommodate a larger audience, the Mass was live-streamed. 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.
  • The 12th Annual Veterans Day Catholic Mass made a successful return to Sarasota National Cemetery as Bishop Dewane prayed for those currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, those who have died, and their families. More than 500 people attended the Mass which was celebrated in 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice out of caution because of the pandemic and the threat of a hurricane.
  • For the past four years the Hispanic Ministries outreach of the Diocese of Venice has strived to meet the needs of those desiring to be better formed in their Faith. The Spanish-language Faith Formation Program recently distributed certificates of completion to 219 students who have completed an educational program to better understand the teachings of the Catholic Faith, bringing the four-year total to more than 1,500. Spanish Faith Formation Program sessions were developed following the local consultation process of the V Encuentro in 2016 and 2017.
  • The Diocese also hosted successful Women’s and Men’s Conferences as well as a full-scale Youth Rally with some 1,000 attendees. Each of these events was necessarily scaled back in 2020.
  • A Catechetical Conference, hosted by Diocese of Venice Department of Education and spearheaded by the Office of Religious Education, provided an understanding as to how to bring Jesus Christ into the classroom as a catechist according to Church teachings. The bilingual Conference was Sept. 25, 2021, and offered catechetical leaders, catechists, religion coordinators and religion teachers a training day aimed at helping them to grow spiritually and professionally.

While 2021 brought great challenges to many, including to the Diocese of Venice, the Catholic Church remains strong and 2022 looks to be a time of celebration and hope.

Stay tuned to learn about the events of 2022 coming in the Jan. 14, 2022 e-Edition of The Florida Catholic.

Marriage prep seminar enlightens

Couples from all across the Diocese of Venice recently attended a marriage prep “Day of Reflection” seminar specially designed for engaged couples preparing for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

A volunteer team of married couples, clergy, and Natural Family Planning instructors shared their experiences and information Nov. 13, 2021, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The intention of the seminar was to enable the 18 couples to become more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of a Catholic marriage.

The morning began with a presentation on the theology of sacramental marriage by Father Vincent Huber, FSSP, a Parochial Vicar at Christ the King Parish in Sarasota.

The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a supernatural calling by God for couples to strive to live holy, permanent, fruitful and lifelong marriages, explained Carrie Harkey Diocese Family Life Coordinator whose office sponsored the seminar.

“The role of husband and wife in a marriage is to help one another on this pilgrimage through life to get to heaven,” Harkey said. “Following this firm foundation, couples explored how the Christian Faith is meant to challenge us to become holier. The Church’s moral teachings are aimed at happiness.”

Couples then spent private time around the OLPH grounds with discussion prompts and had the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The afternoon was focused on life skills that lead to successful, holy, happy marriages. Couples also heard a presentation on Natural Family Planning from Margaret Kelly, FCPI- NFP.

Recognizing that finances are a normal and natural challenge in a marriage, the couples explored how the four Cardinal Virtues, habits that help us make good decisions – Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance – can be used to make sound decisions.

Finally, the day wrapped up focusing on living as a Catholic family. Deacon Ron and Silvia Dains, as well as Keith and Carla Geurts, couples representing decades of marriage experience, shared their tips and advice for lifelong success. It was stressed that married love between spouses, rooted in Christ, flows out into family life, friendships, and the world.

One participant commented that the experience was a “great time to step away from daily life and put our decision to marry in proper perspective.”

For more information about the seminar or to participate in one of the days being held in 2022 contact, please Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 or