Marriage conference draws rave reviews

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. 22, 2022, at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers and was a huge success.

More than 100 couples 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.

The day also included the Mass, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

One couple from Naples said they were impressed not only by the speakers, but by the supportive atmosphere the conference offered. “This was such a nourishing environment for us and a great boost for our marriage.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane addressed the couples, impressed by the numbers and encouraged by their enthusiasm in a society in which the very definition of marriage is under attack and calls for a modern form of spiritual battle as a response.

“Know that the Lord sees the good you have set out to do this day by being here as a couple, as spouses,” Bishop Dewane said. “You continue to do that spiritual battle – against everything that is around us in society that really attacks your very vocation – that concerns me a great deal. I do believe the vocation of marriage is under attack which is destroying the moral fabric of society. This conference is present so that you, together, can work on building this beautiful vocation back up.”

The first presenter was Father Shawn Monahan, OMV, Associate Director of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice, whose talk was titled, “The Holy Eucharist: The Source and Summit of Marriage and Family Life.”

Father Monahan explained how when a couple gets married, Christ also makes a promise to them to help live out that vocation and to empower them to mirror His love for His bride the Church profoundly through the Eucharistic embrace which is both at the heart of Christian life and the Sacrament of Marriage. “It takes three to get married, Father said. “And God is the third person.”

Christopher J. Stravitsch, Chair of the St. John Paul II Foundation, talked about “A Family that Prays Together.” Building upon what St. John Paul II taught, Strevitsh said families have a “priestly mission” that includes living a life of prayer together in the home – husband and wife together.

Damon and Melanie Owens, cofounders of Joyful Ever After, also spoke and their topic was “To Love and to Cherish: Deepening Love and Intimacy in Marriage.” Their presentation focused on the significance of cherishing the most important person in one’s life, their spouse, even in the face of the challenges and demands of daily family life.

What’s Next

Couldn’t make the conference? Looking for other opportunities for marriage enrichment? As a complement to the conference, the St. John Paul II Foundation and the Diocese of Venice invite all married couples to participate in the Together in Holiness Formation series: year-round marriage enrichment for small communities of spouses.

Highlights of the Formation series include short and beautifully-made videos with national speakers, themes that are based on the life, teaching, and witness of St. John Paul II, and Bring it Home activities that translate learning into living. The series is also available for Spanish-speaking couples through captioned videos and translated materials. Click here to view a trailer!

To get involved, please complete an interest form here. For questions, please email Program Coordinator Charlotte Sacco at charlotte@forlifeandfamily.org.

 

 

News Briefs for the week of Oct. 14, 2022

Special Hurricane Ian collection to be held Oct. 22-23

Bishop Frank J. Dewane is calling on to continue to support the efforts of the Diocese of Venice and Catholic Charities in response to the destruction of Hurricane Ian. Several Parishes have lost Church buildings, and others have facilities severely damaged by the storm. In addition, many people throughout the region have endured significant suffering. To respond to these calamities, Parishes in the Diocese of Venice will take up a special collection the weekend of Oct. 22-23, 2022. The collection will help provide for the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church, as well as the efforts of Catholic Charities in providing both immediate and long-term assistance to those impacted. It is asked that, in face of such significant loss, those who are able consider donating to help our brothers and sisters in Christ in their time of great need.

Retired priest dies in Avon Park

Father Leo Frechette, who was a retired priest that assisted at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park since 2007, died at the age of 93 in Sebring on Oct. 5, 2022. Father Frechette was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1955, and was a priest of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire where he served for 40 years until his retirement in 1995. A Mass of Christian Burial was held Oct. 13, 2022, at Our Lady of Grace Parish.

 

Diocesan Rosary Congress a success

The 2022 Diocesan Rosary Congress was a huge success, even with Hurricane Ian causing a few Parishes to cancel or alter their participation. Initially, 19 Parishes were registered to offer a 24-hour period of Eucharistic Adoration, hourly praying of the rosary and the celebration of the Mass. Diocesan Evangelization Director James Gontis said that while five of 19 Parishes were forced to cancel their participation because of Ian, the balance enthusiastically stayed a part of the Congress. “It was a beautiful outpouring of Faith at each location,” Gontis said, noting several had large groups while others ensured that each hour of the 24 was covered by at least one person.

Last chance to register for Oct. 22 Diocesan Marriage Conference

Recognizing that this is a time of suffering and trial for many, we continue to pray for those affected by Hurricane Ian. As we move forward with the mission of Christ in the Diocese of Venice, we hope you will join us at the “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference, presented in partnership with the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life and the St. John Paul II Foundation, is Saturday, Oct. 22. To register for the conference , please visit https://forlifeandfamily.org/events/th22-vnfl/. 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 and witness dynamic presentations! The day will include Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This special event is for all couples, engaged, newlywed or long married! On-site childcare will be provided. For further information, please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseovenice.org.

Veterans Day Mass

On Veterans Day, Friday, November 11, the Diocese of Venice will hold a Memorial Mass in honor of the men and women who have served our country and continue to serve and protect us today. This is the 13th year the Diocese has held a Mass on Veterans Day. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will celebrate the Mass at 3:00 p.m. at the Sarasota National Cemetery, 9810 State Road 72/Clark Road, approximately five miles east of I-75. The priests, deacons and Knights of Columbus in the Diocese will join Bishop Dewane for this important event. All are invited to attend, and active military personnel are asked to wear their uniform. Attendees are also encouraged to wear sunscreen and bring a hat. There is ample seating and parking at the cemetery. Please contact Gail Ardy at ardy@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-486-4714 for further information.

World Youth Day 2023 Registration Open

Registration is now open for World Youth Day 2023 to Lisbon, Portugal. You are invited to join Bishop Frank J. Dewane for the trip to Lisbon with two nights in Fatima. This 11-day pilgrimage is from July 29 to August 8, 2023. The theme for World Youth Day 2023 is “Mary arose and went with haste”. (Luke 1:39) Travel arrangements are facilitated by Peter’s Way Tours. Space is limited and registration must be completed by Monday, October 31. For more information, travel and registration details, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/evangelization/world-youth-day-2023/.

General Election

Be an informed voter on November 8, 2022. Catholic Faithful are urged to see beyond party politics, to analyze political campaigns critically, and to choose political leaders according to principle, not just self-interest. The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) has created a guide offering information about Catholic teaching on moral and social concerns facing our nation and state. The guide includes questions to help voters evaluate candidate positions on key issues for the 2022 general election. Consider using this tool for prayer and reflection before casting your ballot. Click FCCB Voter Guide/Guía de la FCCB para el Votante – Diocese of Venice for the FCCB Voter Guide and the Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Comparison.

 Elecciones Generales

Sea un votante informado el 8 de noviembre de 2022. Se insta a los Fieles Católicos a ver más allá de la política partidista, a analizar críticamente las campañas políticas y a elegir a los líderes políticos de acuerdo con los principios, no solo con el interés propio. La Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Florida (FCCB) ha creado una guía que ofrece información sobre la enseñanza católica sobre las preocupaciones morales y sociales que enfrenta nuestra nación y estado. La guía incluye preguntas para ayudar a los votantes a evaluar las posiciones de los candidatos sobre temas clave para las elecciones generales de 2022. Considere usar esta herramienta para la oración y la reflexión antes de emitir su voto. Haga clic en FCCB Voter Guide/Guía de la FCCB para el Votante – Diocese of Venice para la FCCB Guía del Votante y comparación de Candidatos a Gobernador de Florida.

Scam Alert

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, the possibility of being contacted by someone posing to be a contractor or offering aid is heightened. There are those who will take advantage of the vulnerable during a crisis such as seen with the hurricane. Please be diligent that you are corresponding with a legitimate person or business before handing over any money or personal information. You may also be contacted with a request for money and the email will appear as though it is from one of our priests or Diocesan employees. Please make direct contact with the person by calling the Parish and asking to speak with the priest or sender of the email, and do not reply to the email or text.

News Briefs for the week of Sept. 30, 2022

Appointments

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

Father Leszek Trojanowski, as Parochial Vicar of Holy Cross Parish, Palmetto, effective September 23, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of San Pedro Parish, North Port.

Father Christian Chami, returning to Rome to complete his Licentiate Studies at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm, effective September 23, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto.

Bishop Dewane also announces the new members to the Presbyteral Council, as a result of the most recent elections and appointments, are the following:

Father John Fitch, Representative of the Central Deanery

Father Eric Scanlan, Representative of the Northern Deanery

Father Hugh McGuigan, O.S.F.S., Religious Representative

Father Shawn Roser, Member-at-Large

Father Lawton Lang, Member-at-Large

Father Thomas Carzon, O.M.V., Appointed Representative

Father John Nghia Hoang, Appointed Representative

Congratulations to the new members. At the same time, an expression of gratitude is extended to those who served on the Presbyteral Council in their respective categories:

Father Jarek Sniosek

Father Joseph Gates

Father George Ratzmann

Father Jayabalan Raju

 

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Fort Myers, Cape Coral

“Find Christ in others” was the challenge put forth by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on the students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers and St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral on Sept. 22, 2022. Bishop Dewane celebrated Mass at both schools as part of an ongoing effort to visit each school in the first two months of school. Afterwards, the Bishop took time to speak to the eighth graders, answer their questions and encourage them to attend nearby Bishop Verot Catholic High School.

Scouts participate in 10 Commandment Hike

More than 70 Scouts from across the Diocese of Venice took part in the annual 10 Commandment Hike on Sept. 24, 2022, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The Scouts walked the grounds, go from station to station where they were taught the lessons of the 10 Commandments, not just what they are, but also how not to violate them. Diocesan Scout Religious Award Coordinator Bob Paquette said he hoped the Scouts would gain valuable lessons that they can apply to their everyday life. A special patch was presented to each Scout after they were blessed by Diocesan Scout Chaplain Father Lawton Lang of St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota.

New Stations blessed in Cape Coral

Bishop Frank J. Dewane blessed newly installed Stations of the Cross at St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral on Sept. 22, 2022. The blessing took place after a Mass for students at St. Andrew Catholic School and included the eighth-graders, parents and parishioners. The Stations were repurposed from the original outside Stations which were around the perimeter of the Parish property. The former Stations were imbedded into stone and placed in the newly landscaped prayer garden on the southeast side of the church. The garden includes benches surrounding a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a lighted path leading to each Station.

20 Parishes hosting Diocesan Rosary Congress Oct. 1-7

On Oct. 7 each year we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in honor of the Blessed Mother. This year 20 Parishes in the Diocese of Venice will be participating in a Rosary Congress from Oct. 1, to Oct. 7, 2022 (All schedules subject to change due to Hurricane Ian). During the Rosary Congress, the host Parishes (at least two in each Deanery) will provide the hourly praying of the Holy Rosary as well as Eucharistic Adoration. Many of the Parishes taking part will also have the celebration of the Mass at the opening and closing of a 24-hour period of Adoration. Several Parishes will make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available during specific times of the Rosary Congress. To find the complete listing of host Parish and their contact information, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/diocesan-rosary-congress-oct-1-to-7.

Marriage retreat held in Arcadia

A Spanish-language marriage retreat took place Sept. 25, 2022, at St. Paul Parish in Arcadia. There were 60 couples who heard from speakers about the importance of having Christ accompany the couples as they live out their Sacramental Marriage, joined in union with God. Father Luis Pacheco, Administrator at St. Paul, said the retreat was a blessed time for all of the couples.

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 www.dioceseofvenice.org 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 gontis@dioceseofvenice.org.

News Briefs for the Week of August 19, 2022

Our Mother’s House director retires

Joyce Scott, who for 17 years has led Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., has retired. A reception in her honor was held on July 15, 2022. During her time at Our Mother’s House, the program has seen three major expansions. The mission of Our Mother’s House is to offer single mothers and their preschool-age children transitional housing in a safe and secure environment to achieve increased self-sufficiency through education, vocational training, and personal growth.

Priest founder of Diocesan Marriage Tribunal dies

Father Dennis C. Klemme, who helped establish the Diocese of Venice Marriage Tribunal, and was a longtime priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and died Aug. 9, 2022, at the age of 90. Father Klemme was born in West Alice, Wisconsin, studied at St. Francis Minor and St. Francis Major Seminaries in Milwaukee. Father was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 1957. Father Klemme served in Parishes in the Archdiocese for several years before further studies as a Canon Lawyer at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Father was assigned to the Archdiocese Matrimonial Tribunal and Chaplain at the Carmelite Monastery in Pewaukee. In early 1985, Father Klemme was loaned to the newly established Diocese of Venice to use his experience to set up a Marriage Tribunal, gaining many friends. He returned to the Archdiocese in 1988 and was appointed as Judicial Vicar, a position he served in until retirement in 1999. In his later years, he continued to assist at Parishes and minister to the Carmelite Monastery. A Mass of Christian Burial was held Aug. 18, 2022, at the Basilica and National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in Hubertus.

Priest appreciation dinners coming soon

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women invites all to one of two Priest Appreciation Dinners the group is hosting. The dinners are intended to honor all priests serving in the Diocese. The first dinner is 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Hall, 1301 Center Road, Venice, while the second is at the same time on Friday, October 7, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. The dinner is $45. For those interested in attending either dinner, please contact Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or pennyln99@aol.com.

Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal ending soon

Every day, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., serves its most vulnerable population by feeding, housing, empowering, and helping all in need. Time is running out for you to give a gift 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 www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or mail a check to Catholic Charities, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

First Responders Mass

The Knights of Columbus Saints Cosmas and Damian Council 13341 is honored to sponsor the First Responders Mass at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 10, Our Lady of the Angels Parish, 12905 E. State Road 70, Lakewood Ranch. The Mass will honor the work of public safety personnel, including law enforcement officials, firefighters, and emergency medical service personnel. This Mass is a way to recognize the sacrifice of first responders and to remember those who have given their lives in service to their communities. All are welcome.

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 www.40daysforlife.com (look under the locations tab for Sarasota or Fort Myers). Your presence can be a powerful sign to women in need that there are better options available. Questions? Contact Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Support CCW Seminarian Fund

Support, encourage and educate future priests through the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Seminarian Fund. Join the VDCCW in celebrating Priesthood Sunday on Sept. 25, 2022, in a special and lasting way by sending your Parish 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 Zanetti, Seminarian Fund Guardian, 5808 Gulf Drive #204, Holmes Beach, FL 34217. If you have any questions, email Cornelia Zanetti at corniez@aol.com.

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 http://srqLapsforLife.net.

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 www.dosp.org/culture-of-life-conference/. If you are interested in a possible bus trip to attend the conference, contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

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 https://forlifeandfamily.org/events/th22-vnfl/. A video message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane can be found at www.dioceseofvenice.org/together-in-holiness-marriage-conference-october-22-2022. 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 Reconcilliation. 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 harkey@dioceseovenice.org.

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 http://srqLapsforLife.net.

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 www.dosp.org/culture-of-life-conference/. If you are interested in a possible bus trip to attend the conference, contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

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 www.40daysforlife.com – 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 Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org 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 www.lifemarkmovie.com. Groups of 25+ can purchase discounted tickets through the website.  Questions? Contact Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org 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 www.catholiccharitiesdov.org 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 https://forlifeandfamily.org/events/th22-vnfl/. A video message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane can be found at www.dioceseofvenice.org/together-in-holiness-marriage-conference-october-22-2022. 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 harkey@dioceseovenice.org.

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 project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org.

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 Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org 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 https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/two-become-one-2022. If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 or harkey@dioceseofvenice.org.

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 www.supportcpci.com 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 www.sspeterandpaul.org.

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 agorman@cmhs-sarasota.org or visit www.cmhs-sarasota.org.

 

Diocese to expand support for couples and families

The Diocese of Venice recognizes the importance of forming all married couples, from newlyweds to empty nesters, to live out their call to holiness and joy in the Sacrament of Marriage! As St. John Paul II famously said, “As goes the family, so goes the nation, and so goes the entire world in which we live.”

To promote greater support and formation for couples, the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life and the St. John Paul II Foundation are working jointly to bring “Together in Holiness” to the entire Diocese. “Together in Holiness” is a comprehensive marriage enrichment initiative that includes an annual, one-day Conference series for couples, as well as a year-round Formation series for couples in Parishes, schools, and small communities.

“The Diocese of Venice continues to value the ongoing collaboration with the St. John Paul II Foundation in support of marriage and family,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane. “It is precisely the fruits that flow from the “Together in Holiness” Conference and the ongoing follow up Formation series, that the Sacrament of Marriage is all about. Through its Office of Family Life, the Diocese invites all couples to participate in these life-enriching opportunities.  Married couples are a sacramental representation of love, joy, and commitment, so I am thankful that “Together in Holiness” assists our married couples to contribute to the renewal of the family, Church and society.”

The second annual “Together in Holiness” Marriage Enrichment Conference will take place on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, the Feast of St. John Paul II, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be hosted at St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. Couples will enjoy a day of quality time with their spouse accompanied by 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. Access to on-site childcare will be provided.

The inaugural “Together in Holiness” Marriage Enrichment Conferences on Oct. 2, 2021, in Sarasota and Naples drew some 120 couples.

Here are just a few of the positive comments from previous attendees:

  • “Incredible!” “Life-changing!” “Impactful!” “Educational!” “Just what we needed!”
  • “It was truly a great event, very inspiring and applicable to the everyday life. It helped me to take a fresh look at my marriage and the relationship with my husband.”
  • “We both got a lot out of the entire day. It was a day of connecting – with each other, with other couples, with own selves, and, most importantly, with God.”

Complementing the one-day conference, the “Together in Holiness” Formation series offers year-round marriage enrichment to small communities of spouses that equips them with the formation, encouragement, and practical tools to grow together in holiness and to form their children in the Catholic Faith.

The “Together in Holiness” Formation series is a 7-part series based on the life, witness, and teachings of St. John Paul II on marriage and family life. Highlights include short, compelling video presentations with national speakers, Host Couples who facilitate discussion, and a “Bring it Home” component that translates learning into living. The Formation series is also available for Spanish-speaking couples through translated materials and captioned videos.

To register, please visit https://forlifeandfamily.org/events/th22-vnfl/. A video message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane can be found at www.dioceseofvenice.org/together-in-holiness-marriage-conference-october-22-2022.

For more information, please contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 or at  harkey@dioceseovenice.org.

Parish Mission and day camps bring delight

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula has been busy! For two weeks in mid-June, the Parish held day camps for children and evening missions for the adults all while hosting 28 men and women who are discerning a vocation to a religious life.

Daily, between June 13 and June 24, 2022, more than 100 children arrived at the Parish to take part in a camp which included Mass, prayer, and lots of fun indoor and outdoor activities. The evenings were for the parents who came to hear talks and take part in Mass as part of the “Holy Mission – Save Your Soul.” The response from the children and adults was overwhelmingly positive.

Present to assist were 13 novice sisters, who are discerning a vocation for the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, and 15 seminarians who are discerning for the Incarnate Word religious order in Washington, D.C. They were joined by the four women religious and the priests of the Parish.

The busy two weeks culminated on June 24, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is celebrated annually on the Friday after Corpus Christi Sunday. The closing evening Mass included prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and even a renewal of wedding vows for many couples.

A Sacred Heart Procession was held with a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus led in the rain around the Parish property as the faithful sang and prayed. The procession concluded in front of a new cross which was erected to commemorate the Holy Mission. The priests present led everyone in prayer and blessed the cross. All then took part in a farewell reception in the Parish Hall to thank the novice sisters and seminarians for being present at St. Michael Parish, and also to pray for them as they continue their discernment into a religious life.

Religious Liberty Week June 22-29

The Feast of Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher on June 22, 2022, marks the start of Religious Freedom Week, a call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for all Catholics across the United States to pray, reflect and take action in support of Religious Freedom.

It is appropriate that the week begins on such a day, as Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher are remembered for being martyred in 1535 for standing up for the Sanctity of Marriage and the Freedom of the Church in opposition to England’s King Henry VIII.

Continuing through the Solemnity of Ss. Peter & Paul the Apostles on June 29, the Religious Freedom Week theme is “Life and Dignity for All.”

“This year, as we approach the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is especially mindful of the debates around our country about abortion,” the Conference said in a June 2 statement promoting Religious Freedom Week 2022. “The Catholic Church plays a crucial role in bearing witness to the gospel of life and serving all who will be affected by these discussions and their outcomes.”

The USCCB provides “Pray-Reflect-Act” resources at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek, one for each day on different religious liberty topics. This year, the topics focus on themes that intersect with life issues, including – Walking with Moms in Need; Church Vandalism; Adoption and Foster Care; Taxpayer Funding for Abortion; Religious Freedom in China; Pregnancy Resource Centers; Health Care Workers; and Free Speech.

The Diocese of Venice joins with other Dioceses to promote Religious Freedom Week. Bishop Frank J. Dewane encourages the faithful of the Diocese to educate themselves about the issues of religious freedom but to be aware of the threats faced both domestically and abroad.

Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director, said that if the faithful don’t stand up for religious freedom, government officials at all levels will continue to try to erode the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. This will mean that practicing one’s faith will be regulated into a mere freedom to worship, confining the practice of faith and worship within the four walls of the Church, well outside of public discourse and the public square.

For this reason, the U.S. Bishops said in their statement that a major area of concern continues to be “freedom for Catholic institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and child welfare service providers, to carry out their missions with integrity. In particular, protecting Catholic adoption and foster care will become even more vital, as we take new steps in building a culture of life and dignity for all in the United States.”

“To build a culture of life and dignity for all, the Church must support women and children,” the U.S. Bishops said. “In 2020, the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities launched Walking with Moms in Need. This initiative ministers at the local level by having parishes be places where pregnant and parenting women can find support and accompaniment.”

“This is a critically important program as the overturning of Roe v Wade becomes a strong possibility by summer,” Berdeaux said. “Helping individuals facing an unexpected pregnancy and those who have had an abortion are what we do as Catholics. See www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife for details on both Walking with Moms in Need and Project Rachel, the Church’s post-abortion healing program.”

Materials prepared by the USCCB for Religious Freedom Week are made available to help people understand religious liberty from a Catholic perspective, reflect on the application, pray about particular issues, and act on what they learn by advocating for policies that promote religious freedom.

Through prayer, reflection, and public action during Religious Freedom Week, the USCCB hopes to promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths.

The USCCB materials can be found in English (https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/religious-freedom-week) and in Spanish (https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/semana-de-la-libertad-religiosa).

Connect with the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty by texting “FREEDOM” or “LIBERTAD” to 84576 and sign up for the First Freedom News, the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty’s monthly newsletter.

A Sign of Hope: 15,756 years of Sacramental Commitment

More than 300 couples celebrating 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 50+ years of marriage were recognized and honored by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during a Mass Feb. 19, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, the second of two such Masses within the Diocese of Venice.

The combined years married for the couples present in Venice was well over 15,756, with 57 couples present celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and five couples each celebrating 70 or more years.

Bishop Dewane called it a beautiful sight when he looked out upon so many couples who give a fantastic witness of their sacramental commitment.

“All of you represent love, joy and commitment to each other in a sacramental way, as a sign of hope,” Bishop Dewane said. “You were called to make a sacrifice, to live out the sacramental commitment, the important vocation that contributes greatly to the Church and to society as a whole. You are an example to others, not just to your children and grandchildren but to society that looks to you for guidance, inspiration and hope.”

The longest couple married present in Venice were Donald and Nonna Rassier of Epiphany Cathedral, who will be celebrating 74 years together on Oct. 2, 2022. Four additional couples, celebrating 70 or more years, were present for the Mass including: Carl and Natalie Pensak, Raymond and Gayle Bickowski, both 70 years; Thomas and Dolores Martorana, 71 years, and Leon and Ann Reser, 73 years.

The first Anniversary Mass was held Feb. 12, at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs and included 180 couples. The couples present for the two Masses combined for a staggering 24,570 years of marriage. The Anniversary Mass is held in two locations each year to accommodate the large and growing number of participating couples and in recognition of the difficulty for some couples to travel great distances.

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