Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Venice

The students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice have an important homework assignment, one given by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during Mass on Nov. 20, 2020.

Bishop Dewane assigned the task of praying more. This, of course, includes the prayers said during Mass but to go beyond that. Prayer, the Bishop said, is a way to talk with the Lord, “Tell God what you are concerned about. Share your fears and worries. But also share what you are happy about and be sure to give thanks to the Lord so as to acknowledge the gifts you have been given by God.”

The Bishop stressed the importance of prayer as a way to grow closer to the Lord, particularly now, during the time of a global Pandemic.

“We need to be praying that the pandemic will come to an end,” Bishop Dewane added. “We need to pray for members of our family, our class, and our school that all will be kept safe from the Pandemic.”

While prayer in Church is easy, the challenge comes when one leaves the “Temple of the Lord.” This is why the Bishop explained that “with the presence of our souls and Jesus within us, we too are ‘Temples of the Lord.’ As we would give respect to the Lord to pray in His church, we also need to pray to the Lord out of respect for having created each one of us.”

After the Mass, there was a ceremony to induct students into the National Junior Honors Society. After which the Bishop spoke to the eighth graders and answered their questions.

Mass honors Veterans

Even while the world continues to deal with the impacts of a global Pandemic, time must be taken to remember those men and women who faithfully served in defense of this country so that all can continue enjoy the freedoms we hold dear.

The annual Diocese of Venice Memorial Mass held on Veterans Day had an altered format because of the Pandemic, taking place at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice for a small group of people while being livestreamed, versus an outdoor event at Sarasota National Cemetery.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane noted the difference saying a Mass at the National Cemetery was impractical given restrictions on the size of the crowd due to the Pandemic. This was the first time since the Mass began in 2010 that the celebration was not held at Sarasota National Cemetery. In the end it turned out to be fortuitous that the outdoor event was rescheduled to be indoors as Hurricane Eta chose Nov. 11, 2020 to strike the west coast of Florida.

“We may be a little bit wet, but the reason we are gathered together does not change,” Bishop Dewane said. “We are here to thank all the men and women who served, and continue to serve, in the armed forces for what they have done so that we can live as we do today. We also comfort those who mourn, honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Bishop Dewane noted that a veteran is called upon to do many things, as they proclaim liberty to captives, bringing glad tidings to the lowly and telling them they are free. Even when their active service is complete, veterans continue to give back to the community in which they live. At the same time, the Bishop said praise should also go to the families of those who serve, who make their own sacrifices in support of veterans.

Pope Francis spoke at an American Cemetery in Italy, a few years back, and reflected upon the vocation of soldiers as they are called to be both patriot and peacemaker. While it is sometimes difficult to do both at the same time, the Holy Father said soldiers are necessary in the world and their vocation allows virtue to flourish.

Ultimately, Bishop Dewane explained that the service of veterans for the common good merits tremendous respect for which we should all offer our heartfelt appreciation.

Members of the Knights of Columbus Color Corps were present at the Mass to bestow honors. The annual Mass is organized by the Diocese of Venice with support from the Knights of Columbus.

Dennis Warren, Past Grand Knight of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Council 13639, said many Knights, including himself, have served in the armed forces. This adds special significance to the annual Mass and is an important opportunity for the organization to join the Bishop in honoring all veterans.

“It is a privilege for all Knights to be part of this annual Mass,” Warren said. “While this year we could not all be together, this important tradition continues.”

Memorial Mass held for Deacons and their wives

November is an appropriate time to remember those who have died, that they may someday be accepted into heaven.

For this reason, Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the Permanent Deacons and their wives to participate in a Memorial Mass each year as a time to pray for, honor and remember the Deacons and their wives who have before us. The 2020 Mass was celebrated on Nov. 3 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice and was livestreamed for those who were unable to attend in person. Today, there are more than 60 Permanent Deacons, many seasonal, living and serving throughout the Diocese.

The goal of the Memorial Mass is to bring together those Deacons, and their wives, serving today while honoring the memory of those who have served in the Diocese of Venice since its founding in 1984. The purpose is not to just remember the Deacons, and their wives, but to express gratitude to all for their answering the call of the Lord in a precise way, Bishop Dewane explained.

As part of this annual tradition, during the Prayer Intentions, the names of those who have passed away during the previous year are solemnly read as candles are lit in their honor. Included in the list of names this year were Deacon Walter Brady, Deacon Francis Head and Deacon Don Healy, as well as Jo Caliguire, Gladys Cole and Helen Schaupp.

“We are comforted by a hope-filled promise that everyone who lives in Christ will be raised on the last day,” Bishop Dewane added. “Each one has responded to the invitation of the Lord to live in a certain way and be a beacon of hope in the community. Take that hope and live it by reaching out to the community of believers.”

Deacon Tom Caliguire, who assists at San Pedro Parish in North Port, said the Memorial Mass was important for him ashe copes with the loss of his wife Jo earlier in 2020. “We are blessed to have Bishop Dewane here and his continuing care and support for the Diaconate. It means so much.”

Prison outreach does well during Pandemic

The Diocese of Venice is stepping up to provide a pre-recourded Catholic Mass at prisons throughout the State of Florida is helping incarcerated men and women gain spiritual strength during a time when they are isolated as never before.

This was the message given from Florida Department of Correction (FDOC) State Chaplain Johnny Frambo to Diocesan Prison Outreach Volunteers during a gathering on Oct. 30, 2020 at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte.

“Since the COVID began, you have done a great deal,” Frambo explained. “You didn’t get behind the fence; but you were behind the fence in so many other ways.”

Frambo explained how the Diocesan Prison Outreach, with the direct support of Bishop Frank J. Dewane, worked to provide a variety of resources to the FDOC to ensure that there was continued access to religious materials and programming that volunteers would normally provide.

The effort included the donation, from a member of the faith community, of televisions as well as the ability to create and upload programs to prison tablets through a program called JPAY. Each state inmate is provided with a tablet through JPAY which provides controlled access for content such as emails, video visitation and other services without wireless services.

This effort was facilitated by Diocesan Prison Outreach Co-Coordinators Bob Hiniker and Joe Mallof, with the assistance of Anne Chrzan, Diocese Director of Religious Education. Items for upload include the Mass and religious education programming and other materials which focused on the teachings of the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This meant that the effort was developed from scratch and uploads to the tablets through the FDOC. This religious education programming is part of a larger effort to increase access to Catholic content for prisoners in the state facilities during the Pandemic and beyond.

“Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to help those men and woman to hear your spiritual voice and guidance during this time of inner discovery and self-improvement before they go back into the world and restart their lives as transformed individuals,” Frambo concluded.

Before the COVID-19 global Pandemic effectively shut down access by volunteers to prisons and jails, some 150 volunteers, including 26 priests and 11 deacons, assisted with religious education and formation at 10 jails, six state prisons and four work camps. These volunteers normally provide a variety of religious programs, such as Bible study, religious education and assistance with formation before receiving the Sacraments including as Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation, as well as the Mass. Bishop Dewane regularly visits prisons for Mass and confers the Sacraments when possible.

Hiniker shared an update on how each prison and jail policy has evolved in recent months with some allowing limited volunteer access while others remain off limits.

“We have adapted many of our programs in the best way possible, but we are limited based on the restrictions each facility has,” Hiniker added.

Bishop Dewane, who celebrated Mass for the volunteers, praised the group for choosing to answer a specific call from God to serve the incarcerated, those who are often marginalized or forgotten by society.

“They are as much a part of this Diocese as anyone else and must have access to pastoral care, which you provide through your selfless dedication as volunteers,” Bishop Dewane said. “You do not go there to solve what put them there. It is not important why they are there. It is important that they are placed before us and we have to be that instrument of the Lord – the evidence of God’s love to others.”

Hiniker and Mallof also presented information about two different outreach programs that are starting to be introduced in the state prisons including grief sharing and an effort to help the incarcerated transition to life after prison.

The Grief Share program is a 13-week process designed to help the incarcerated deal with different types of grief they may face, such as for whatever crime they may have committed, for the loss of freedom, for the loss of connection to family, the death of loved ones and much more.

The Bridges to Life is a re-entry program which promotes healing for the incarcerated and for victims, aiding and placing them in the positive mindset that they will be able to succeed and become productive citizens again. This mentoring effort also helps to prepare those about to be released for the realities of the modern world of technology and transitioning back into society and the workforce. A key component of this effort is the prepare former inmates how to answer questions about their incarceration on job applications and then to handle job interviews.

If you are interested in learning more about the Diocesan Prison Outreach, or perhaps becoming a volunteer, please contact Bob Hiniker at hinbob5@hotmail.com or Joe Mallof at mallofjt@comcast.net.

Virtual Mass to Honor Veterans

Each year the Diocese of Venice holds a Memorial Mass on Veterans Day in honor of the men and women who have served our country and continue to serve and protect us today. The restrictions regarding public gatherings at the Sarasota National Cemetery have precluded holding the Mass at that beautiful site.

This year, the virtual Memorial Mass to be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, will be held at 3p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. The Mass will be livestreamed so all may participate and can be found at www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice.org/videos. You do not need to have an account to view the Mass.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said it is a special privilege that the Diocese of Venice celebrates this Mass for the intention of our veterans each year. “While we will not be able to gather this year in person at Sarasota National Cemetery, it is important to continue the tradition of honoring the sacrifices of the soldiers who fought for the many freedoms that we enjoy today.”

Organized by the Diocese of Venice, with the support of the Knights of Columbus, the annual Mass started in 2010, just two years after the National Cemetery was dedicated. Since that time, the cemetery and Mass have grown. In 2019, some 1,500 attended the Mass. More than 24,000 veterans and their spouses are interred in the National Cemetery since opening.

Please contact Gail Ardy at ardy@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543 for further information.

Red Mass celebrated for legal community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News briefs from week of October 26, 2020

Virtual Diocesan Concert Series begins Nov. 6

The Diocese of Venice is proud to announce that a virtual concert series will be offered to the faithful at noon on the first three Fridays of November 2020. The concerts will be livestreamed from select Parishes in the Diocese and offer a broad selection of Catholic music. This is being offered as many remain home due to the ongoing global pandemic and miss the richness of music. The series begins at noon, Nov. 6, 2020 and will return on Nov. 13 and Nov. 20. Each segment will be live and last approximately 30 minutes. Anyone can view the live stream through the Diocese of Venice Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice. You do not need to register to view live events on Facebook. For more information, please contact Gail Ardy at 941-484-9543 or ardy@dioceseofvenice.org.

Equestrian Order celebrates Feast Day

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on Oct. 27, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The annual Mass is held as close as possible to the Order’s Patroness Feast Day, Our Lady of Palestine, which is Oct. 25 and was approved by the Holy See in 1933. Following the Mass, two Knights and two Dames were presented with honors from the Order by Bishop Dewane. The Feast Day asks all to join in praying to the Virgin Mary for special protection of Palestine and the holy city of Jerusalem. The Equestrian Order is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and for all the activities and initiatives which are necessary to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The Order is present in nearly 40 countries worldwide.

Adopt a family for Christmas

Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities is looking for people who want to make Christmas special for single mothers and their babies by providing gifts from their wish list. If you are interested in adopting a family for Christmas or want to donate a gift, please contact Rita Millner, Case Worker for Our Mother’s House at 941-485-6264, or email rita.millner@catholiccharitiesdov.org. All wrapped gifts must be delivered before Dec. 9, 2020. Our Mother’s House is committed to helping homeless mothers and their children achieve self-sufficiency.

Students take action to prevent bullying

An Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School student makes a pledge to promote unity during a rally to end bullying on Oct. 21, 2020 in Venice.

Diocese of Venice Catholic School participated in the annual Unity Day on Oct. 21, 2020, to take action in their world and stand up against bullying. At Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice, students wore orange to school and took a pledge of acceptance, kindness, and inclusion.

Students in this second grade class at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers write positive, kind and thoughtful notes about their classmates as part of Unity Day, a effort to promote kindness and stop bullying.

In addition to wearing orange, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers students in a second-grade class wrote a positive, kind and thoughtful thing about each student in the class and placed it in their kindness buckets. These were just a few of the activities which took place at Diocesan Catholic schools.

If you need help from Catholic Charities

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Services have expanded to include assistance in applying for state and federal benefits if you have lost work due to the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

Food distribution from Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Monday-Friday, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee, the Soup Kitchen is providing meals-to-go;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-10:30 a.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 Oak St., Arcadia;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers.

How to Help

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is in urgent need of your financial support during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Parish donations

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

 Dispensation

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about the experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation given to attend Sunday Mass has been extended through Nov. 27, 2020, and depending on conditions, perhaps longer. At the same time, Bishop Dewane invites the Catholic Faithful who are able, to return to their Parish for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Please check the Diocese of Venice website for any updates.

Livestreaming

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

Diocesan Catholic schools get into swing of new year

A few rain showers, rainbows, a power outage, Mass, an eye on the tropics and thousands of students filing into the classrooms were just some of the highlights of the first week in the Diocese of Venice Catholic schools academic year.

Opening the schools amid a global Pandemic posed many challenges, but the comprehensive planning, hard work and the dedication of the staff at the Diocesan and local levels made the transition to in-person instruction proceed smoothly, explained Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Education.

“It has been a great success,” Father Belmonte exclaimed. “We couldn’t be happier with how everything is going. There were typical first-week-of-school issues that were easily resolved.”

Students adapted to the new morning routines of temperature checks, and the need for lots of hand washing, social distancing as well as the wearing of face coverings. Whenever parents or students had concerns, faculty and staff were quick to provide answers with most questions focusing on the new policies implemented because of the pandemic.

Diocesan Catholic schools began instruction on Aug. 17, 2020, with more than 85 percent choosing in-classroom versus online options. Throughout the first week, Father Belmonte said many who first opted to learn from home have returned to school. At Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers about half of the 70 students who initially intended online instruction, returned to the school by the end of the first week.

Some of the morning car lines were impacted by rain which then brightened with sunshine and a rainbow, with a bonus double rainbow near Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota.

The opening of St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral was going well until a local power outage made the beginning of school on Aug. 20, 2020 exciting. Power was quickly restored and then everyone went to participate in the first Mass of the academic year. Parish Administrator Father Eduardo Coll celebrated Mass for the students, which was live streamed for the students who have chosen virtual instruction.

At St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, Our Lady of the Angels Chapel was opened for Adoration, something that is available throughout the day for students. The lunch period, which is usually in the student center, was spread throughout much of the campus to allow for spacing while students ate without their face coverings.

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota was creative in the classroom layout with some rooms utilizing half the desks for one group of students, and the other half for use by different students later in the day. Large tents were also set up during the week and will be used for academic or dining areas as needed.

With social distancing necessary, morning prayers have taken on a new look. At St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers, the teachers meet in the school courtyard, spread apart before going out to greet the incoming students. When students arrive in their classrooms, announcements and prayers are broadcast throughout the school and streamed live for those learning from home.

To learn more about Diocese of Venice Catholic schools, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/education.

Cardinal Mooney graduation outdoors

The roar of the crowd at LECOM Park on July 31, 2020 was not for a Bradenton Marauders minor league baseball game but for the graduating seniors of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School.

The class of 133 is an impressive group, earning more than $10 million in scholarships and nearly all will be attending college in the coming weeks. Delayed from its original date in late May due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, some were not present for the graduation because of college or work commitments, but each was recognized during the Commencement Exercises.

The night before the commencement, on July 30, 2020, the Class of 2020 was given a proper send off for Catholic high school students, with a Baccalaureate Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at Incarnation Parish.

“With the pandemic, so much has changed for all of us and we find ourselves in a very unique situation,” Bishop Dewane said. “As a class, likely all of you here have become closer while at the same time being 6-feet apart. It’s something unique and something you will always remember.”

While the Bishop noted that the graduates may feel they are a little less fortunate than some other classes because of opportunities lost and graduating during a global pandemic and economic crisis.

“At the same time, despite that difficulty, the Lord calls us together to celebrate in the way that we can celebrate who you are and who you are becoming as a man or woman of God,” Bishop Dewane continued. “You have to have the grace to respond to those changes in your life… Use the gifts you have gained, received and earned at Cardinal Mooney and go forward and build upon those to be your strength as you go forward facing life anew.”

During the graduation, masks were worn and social distancing occurred whenever possible as friends and family were spread out in the stands at LECOM Park. The graduates initially sat along the third base line. When their names were called, each graduate came forward crossing the infield to behind the pitcher’s mound where Principal Ben Hopper was there to hand out the diplomas. The graduates were also congratulated by Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Education and Father Eric Scanlan, Cardinal Mooney Chaplain and Administrator of Incarnation Parish. The Commencement Address was given by Dr. William Soscia, Mooney Class of 1984.

The loudest applause during the Commencement came when Hopper presented a diploma to graduate Michael Bavaro. Bavaro was a star lacrosse player who broke several vertebrae in a March 2020 boating accident and requires the use of a wheelchair.

News Briefs for week of July 13 2020

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate Aug. 15

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will ordain to the Permanent Diaconate seven men at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The candidates are: Jeffrey Ball of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria; Enrique (Rick) Castro of St. Cecilia Parish, Fort Myers; Ramiro Hernandez of St. Michael Parish, Wauchula; Jack W. Milholland Jr. of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Lakewood Ranch; Roberto Pagán of Jesus the Worker Parish, Fort Myers; Vern W. Smith of St. Martha Parish, Sarasota; and Dr. William Soscia of St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow. All are invited and encouraged to attend.

CCW supports Catholic Charities

Representatives of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women recently presented a check to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. for their homeless prevention program. The presentation took place on June 23, 2020 at the Catholic Center in Venice. VDCCW President Brenda Dolan and Board Member Ellen Bachman presented the check for $7,000 to Philomena Pereira, CEO of Catholic Charities. Bishop Frank J. Dewane was also present as a show of support for both the VDCCW and Catholic Charities. The money is part of an annual effort of the VDCCW and will go toward the numerous programs that provide housing and also prevent people from becoming homeless.

Support After Abortion Virtual Conference

Join the Support After Abortion Healing Network Virtual Conference 2020: Building and Strengthening Abortion Healing Worldwide – Thursday, July 30 to Saturday, August 1.  See and hear online over 40 presenters: clergy, authors, curriculum leaders and those who have been impacted by abortion as they share their wisdom, insights and personal stories. Don’t be surprised that Support After Abortion resides in the Diocese of Venice and some of the presenters live here as well. There is no charge to watch any of the presentations during the three-day virtual conference by visiting www.supportafterabortionvirtualconference.com/home. See the website for a premium upgrade for access to each of the presentations for 90 days. (NOTE: Any priest interested in a free 90-day premium pass – a $49.99 value – can request one by e-mailing Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or calling 941-374-1068.)

Online Master’s in Bioethics Offered

St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens is offering a new Master’s in Bioethics to be earned in four semesters. The comprehensive program is designed for graduates to be equipped to address all relevant bioethical issues of our time; to serve as consultors; to give workshops; develop Parish programs; and to train others to do the same. All courses are taught according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The program is four consecutive semesters (fall, spring, short summer, fall and students who start in the fall of 2020 will be graduating in December of 2021. The program consists of two courses per semester for a total of 30 credits and are fully available online. For more information, contact Father Alfred Cioffi, Director of the Institute for Bioethics, St. Thomas University, at 786-489-9369 or acioffi@stu.edu.

Year of Saint Joseph

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

Wauchula Food Pantry

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

Free Rosary Repair Service

Send your broken rosaries in a padded envelope to Betty and Dick Holden, 7930 Estero Blvd. #502, Fort Myers, FL 33931. Rosaries will be repaired and returned within the week of receipt. Donations of old rosaries are also accepted which will be repaired and sent to missions. Include a note indicating repair or donation. For more details, please call 239-463-3993 or email holdenbnd@gmail.com.

Dispensation

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

Livestreaming

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

Sunday Televised Mass

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

Parish donations

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

Online Resources

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

Act of Spiritual Communion

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

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

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

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

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