Prayers sought to heal victims of clergy abuse

For the past 14 years Bishop Frank J. Dewane has held a Mass to petition for the Lord to heal and protect the victims of clerical abuse while giving the grace for all to act in helping end this scourge.

“Whatever procedure, educational announcement, commitment we make, or administrative mechanisms we put forward are all powerless compared to the strength of our prayers through our gathering at this Holy Sacrifice, at this Table of the Lord, asking the Lord to heal the victims of abuse,” Bishop Dewane stated.

The Bishop celebrated Mass April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice with the specific intention of praying for victims of child abuse. The Mass takes place annually in April, which is National Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month, as Bishop leads the faithful in praying for an end to child abuse, and specifically the clerical abuse which has been a scourge on the Catholic Church.

In asking the Lord to heal all victims of abuse, the Church is also called to be part of the solution in addressing sexual abuse.

“The gravity of the phenomena of abuse is known to all, and the evil is clearly seen as something that scars individuals for life,” Bishop Dewane said. “For the sins that the Church has committed – including the exploitation of truly vulnerable individuals that are scarred for life – we ask the Lord’s forgiveness. Because we believe in the sanctity of the individual, the person, must always be foremost our priority consideration.”

The Bishop noted that much has been improved in the Church’s handling of abuse cases since 2002 when wide-ranging mechanisms were put in place to help protect children and the vulnerable, but it did not stop the abuse completely. In addition, the refusal to act or efforts to conceal abuse cases by some in power have undercut the Church’s credibility.

“For this I stand before you and acknowledge the human dimension of the Church – clergy and Bishops – have failed without a doubt. That is why we have to continue to face this,” Bishop Dewane continued. “While things have greatly improved – one case is one case too many.”

The Bishop reminded everyone that as faithful Catholics we each have our individual role in helping to end abuse.

“Bishops can never say enough about the pain and sorrow that has been caused by the tragedy of abuse; a tragedy of broken fidelity and trust toward individuals,” Bishop Dewane said. “I ask for forgiveness from those who have been harmed, scandalized, dispirited; those who have been sexually abused by clergy and bishops. The sorrow and pain of those who we serve is clear and it is we who have to act as soon as we learn of something in a most responsible and expedient way.”

Among the continuing actions taken by the Diocese of Venice to combat child abuse is the Safe Environment Program. This includes thoroughly screening and evaluating the background of all diocesan employees – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children and young people. In addition, the program educates thousands about the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.

The Bishop also explained the role of the Diocesan Review Board, a consultative body that independently advises the Bishop regarding the assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests. The Review Board consists of lay professionals and a Diocesan priest and makes recommendations of action. The Bishop does not participate in the Review Board process.

As strong as these efforts are in creating a safe environment within the Diocese, Bishop Dewane says it is up to everyone – each according to their role – to come face to face with the reality of child abuse in the Church and in society as a whole.

“We also have to be honest that many people have been hurt gravely and severely and each one of us must do our part in helping the healing process of all victims while also being aware of our individual responsibilities in preventing this scourge from continuing.”

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

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

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE

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

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just: You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

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

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

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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

UNA ORACIÓN DE SANACIÓN VÍCTIMAS DE ABUSO

Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo; Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

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

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

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

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

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

Dispensation from obligation to attend Mass lifted effective May 1, 2021

Returning to Mass and Parish Life during Covid-19

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about their experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will be lifted in the Diocese of Venice beginning May 1, 2021. Below is a letter to the Faithful in English and Spanish announcing this change. For the revised guidelines in English updating Parish safety protocols which includes the need to continue to wear masks at Mass, as well as at all Diocesan and Parish activities, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/daily-resources/diocese-of-venice-responds-to-novel-coronavirus-covid19/ and in Spanish visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/hispanic-apostolate/.

April 9, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers (Acts 2:42).

This Scripture passage reminds us that the Easter Season is an apt time to renew our fidelity to those essential actions that define us as the Body of Christ. Preeminent among these activities is gathering with the Church to celebrate the Most Holy Eucharist on Sundays and Holy Days.

In March of last year, because of the many unknowns that came with the Covid-19 Pandemic, and to protect the most vulnerable among us, after consultation I decided to take the unprecedented step of suspending public Masses and granting a general dispensation to the Catholic Faithful of the Diocese of Venice from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Together with our fellow citizens, I urged Catholics to exercise caution to protect the health of all. I thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this difficult time.

As the Faithful returned to in-person worship when restrictions were loosened, the Diocese’s Clergy and Faithful performed exceptional service in maintaining safety protocols. In recent weeks as vaccines have become available, the news in Florida is encouraging, even more members of the Faithful have returned to our Parishes for Sunday Mass. Our Holy Week and Easter Liturgies were particularly edifying examples of commitment to Christ and the Eucharist. Furthermore, life in Southwest Florida has returned to some level of normalcy; restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues are open, and people of all ages seem willing to return to ordinary activities.

It is apparent that circumstances now allow almost all Catholics to attend Mass safely. Therefore, beginning May 1, 2021, the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation will be lifted in the Diocese of Venice.

At the same time, the Faithful should note this obligation does not apply to those who are ill, or others as outlined in the revised guidelines accompanying this letter. The revised guidelines adjust safety protocols to acknowledge that most Catholics can return to in-person worship at their Parish churches.

During this year dedicated to St. Joseph, the Faithful are encouraged to turn to his intercession for protection and courage. Let us be mindful in prayer of those who are no longer with us and those who continue in their recovery. May God bless you and your family.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

 Venice in Florida

 

9 de abril de 2021

Queridos Hermanos y Hermanas en Cristo,

Se dedicaron a la enseñanza de los Apóstoles y a la vida comunitaria, a partir del pan y a las oraciones (Hch. 2:42).

Este pasaje de las Escrituras nos recuerda que el Tiempo de Pascua es un momento propicio para renovar nuestra fidelidad a aquellas acciones esenciales que nos definen como el Cuerpo de Cristo. Entre estas actividades destaca la asistencia a la Iglesia para celebrar la Santísima Eucaristía los Domingos y Días de Obligación.

En marzo del año pasado, debido a las muchas incógnitas que vinieron con la Pandemia de Covid-19, y para proteger a los más vulnerables entre nosotros, después de una consulta, decidí dar el paso sin precedentes de suspender las Misas públicas y otorgar una dispensa general a los Fieles Católicos de la Diócesis de Venice de la obligación de asistir a Misa los Domingos y Días Santos de Obligación. Junto con nuestros conciudadanos, insté a los Católicos a actuar con cautela para proteger la salud de todos. Agradezco a todos por su paciencia y comprensión durante este momento difícil.

Cuando los Fieles regresaron a las Celebraciones en persona después de no tener restricciones, el Clero y los Fieles de la Diócesis realizaron un servicio excepcional, mantenimiento los protocolos de seguridad. En las últimas semanas, a medida que las vacunas están disponibles, las noticias en Florida son alentadoras e incluso más Fieles han regresado a nuestras Parroquias para la Misa Dominical. Nuestra Semana Santa y las Liturgias de Pascua fueron ejemplos particularmente edificantes de compromiso con Cristo y la Eucaristía. Además, la vida en el Suroeste de Florida ha vuelto a cierto nivel de normalidad; los restaurantes, las tiendas y los lugares de entretenimiento están abiertos y las personas de todas las edades parecen estar dispuestas a volver a sus actividades normales.

Es evidente que las circunstancias ahora permiten que casi todos los Católicos asistan a Misa de manera segura. Por lo tanto, a partir del 1 de mayo de 2021, se levantará en la Diócesis de Venice la dispensa general de la obligación de asistir a Misa los Domingos y los Días de Obligación.

Al mismo tiempo, los Fieles deben tener en cuenta que esta obligación no se aplica a aquellos que están enfermos u otros, como se describe en las pautas revisadas que acompañan a esta carta. Las pautas revisadas se ajustan a los protocolos de seguridad para reconocer que la mayoría de los católicos pueden regresar a las celebraciones en persona en sus Iglesias Parroquiales.

Durante este año dedicado a San José, se anima a los Fieles a acudir a su intercesión en busca de protección y coraje. Pidamos en la oración por los que ya no están con nosotros y por los que continúan en su recuperación. Que Dios le bendiga a usted y a su familia.

Sinceramente tuyo en Cristo,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Obispo de la Diócesis de

Venice en Florida

 

Mass for victims of abuse to be celebrated April 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE

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

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

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

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

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

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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

UNA ORACIÓN DE SANACIÓN VÍCTIMAS DE ABUSO

Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo;

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

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

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

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

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

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

 

Couple celebrate nearly 15,000 years of marriage

The gathering of married couples for a Mass is a time of celebration and reflection.

The celebration of their achievement of commitment and living out the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony came in the form of the annual Diocesan Masses honoring couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries. The time for reflection came afterwards when the massive number of years the combined couples have been married was announced: 14,747.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the second pair of Diocesan Anniversary Masses on March 6, 2021 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs noting that the event is a favorite, one he looks forward to each year.

“The view from my position is inspiring to me and to others who are in awe of the accomplishment you have achieved,” Bishop Dewane said. “You are living examples of the graces of love, fidelity, kindness and fruitfulness bestowed upon you by Christ. I honor you, and the Church honors you as witnesses to a beautiful vocation which younger generations see and admire.”

Some 170 couples attended the two at Masses at St. Leo the Great. The longest married couple present was Vincent and Teresa Principe of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples. On May 13, 2021, they will celebrate 70 years together.

Paul and Mary Schmidt of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples have been married 50 years and were impressed to see other couples married much longer. “I thought we reached a big milestone,” Mary Schmidt laughed. “We have some work to do to get to that many years, but I think we have a chance.”

That chance is because the couple works daily to keep their marriage strong. They have four children and four grandchildren who look up to them for guidance regarding many things, with marriage being one.

“We have overcome our struggles through our faith in the Lord and our trust in each other,” Paul Schmidt said. “Without those, you don’t stand a chance.”

Masses are celebrated each year in the northern and southern sections of the Diocese of Venice so as to accommodate those wanting to attend. In 2021, extra Mass were scheduled to allow for social distancing due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The first two Masses were celebrated Feb. 6 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

During the Mass, the married couples renewed their wedding vows. In addition, each couple was presented with commemorative certificates, signed by the Bishop, for their enduring commitment to marriage.

A reception followed the Mass with lunch and the opportunity to have complimentary pictures taken with the Bishop in the Parish Hall.

Students encouraged to sacrifice during Lent

In order to sit at the table of the Lord, we must all make sacrifices.

“The challenge is to do what Christ asks,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane told students during a number of Lenten Masses he celebrated at schools throughout the Diocese of Venice in early March. “We need to take seriously our prayers, fasting, and almsgiving, following the example of Christ.”

Just as Christ served as our Savior, so must we all go out and serve our brothers and sisters in need. “It is the Lord who asks you to respond to this call,” Bishop Dewane continued. “It is not always easy, but this is a time of sacrifice, and Lent is the perfect opportunity to respond and live out that call to serve others as Children of God. Can you do that?” The students at each Mass gave a resounding: “Yes!”

Each Lent, Bishop Dewane takes the time to celebrate Mass at as many Diocesan Catholic schools as possible. The goal is not only to highlight the importance of the Lenten Season, but to also show support for the students and schools as they continue through their academic year.

After each Mass for elementary schools, the Bishop met privately with the eighth graders. First encouraging the group to continue their education at a Diocesan Catholic high school, and then Bishop Dewane also fields any and all questions from the students.

The Bishop celebrated Masses for students at St. John Neumann Catholic High School and St. Ann Catholic School in Naples on March 3, 2021; for St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples on March 4; and then for St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte on March 5. Additional Masses will take place later in March.

 

Catholic Schools Week showcases faith-based education

Behind all of the fun and games which take place during the celebration of Catholic Schools Week each year is faith, which shines forth in everything that is done at all 15 of the Diocesan Catholic schools.

Catholic Schools Week 2021 ran from Jan. 31- Feb. 6 with each day focused on different themes, including celebrating the students, faculty and staff, families, Parish, vocations, community and nation.

Using those broad topics as a springboard for different activities, the more than 4,600 students took part in fields days, STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math) activities, academic competitions, collections for the needy, chances for prayer and reflection as well as the celebration of Mass.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Education for the Diocese of Venice, celebrated Mass at several Diocesan schools throughout the week. Father delivered the message of how Catholic schools are places of big dreams, bigger than academic or athletic success, but in fact they are where students will grow and deepen in their Faith.

“You are Catholic School students, born to follow your dreams, born to stand out, not stand back,” Father Belmonte told students at St. John Neumann Catholic High School on Feb. 2, 2021. Father stressed that Catholic school students must be known for their Faith. This obligation manifests itself in the way each student prays and believes; in how they make the world a better place; the service they render to the poor and needy; their intellect; and in the peace and love that they desire.

“Everyone should have evidence of the dreams that you have,” Father continued. “We long for Jesus Our Savior. We will meet Our Lord in this church right here at this altar. Let us receive Him into our hearts and souls, realizing this dream every time we celebrate the Most Holy Eucharist.”

In addition to participating in Mass during the week, schools also prayed the rosary. At St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton students wrote prayers for safety during the Pandemic, as well as prayers for their families, teachers, friends and country. The prayers were linked together to form a chain that circled the campus as a reminder that God is with them each day. At the Donahue Academy of Ave Maria, the entire student body participated in an outdoor Eucharistic Procession.

Each school had a day focused on celebrating vocations with most inviting a priest or religious to speak to students. This was done either in person or through a video chat. This time of sharing allowed the students to learn that these men and women have similar interests, but also how they chose to serve God by answering a call to a life in the priesthood or religious life. Some schools wrote letters to the priests and area religious, thanking them for the support of the faith-life at the school.

Throughout the week many schools also helped to give back to the community by collecting food, blankets or toiletries which were then presented to area charitable organizations.

This is only a small sample of what took place during Catholic Schools Week 2021 with the Diocese. Check with each school’s social media accounts to see descriptions and images from throughout the week.

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

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.

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