May dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s path of faith and hope serves as an example to all.

This is just one of the reasons that the Universal Church dedicates the Month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The month serves as an opportunity to reflect upon the season of the Liturgical Year which largely corresponds with the fifty days of Easter. Therefore, time should be taken to reflect on Our Lady’s participation in the Paschal mystery and in Pentecost with which the Church begins.

Pope Francis said “the message of hope contained in God’s blessing was fully realized in a woman, Mary, who was destined to become the Mother of God, and it was fulfilled in her before any other creature.” The Holy Father added that “our journey of faith is the same as that of Mary, and so we feel that she is particularly close to us.”

May is also the time when young Catholics often receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time and is appropriately when Mother’s Day is celebrated. Parishes and Catholic Schools in the Diocese have May Crowning ceremonies in which a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is given a crown of flowers.

On May 3, 2023, Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided at a May Crowning ceremony for the Diocesan staff of the Catholic Center in Venice. The ceremony included prayers, songs and sought the intercession of Mary for all throughout the Diocese of Venice.

Bishop Dewane also said May is the perfect time for the faithful to renew a commitment to the “simple and effective” prayer of the Mysteries of the Rosary (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous). Our Lady has 117 titles but selected this title at Fatima: “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” St. Francis de Sales said the greatest method of praying is to “Pray the Rosary.”

“Praying the Mysteries of the Rosary strengthens us in faith, in our vocation and in our mission,” Bishop Dewane added. “By her example of humility and openness to God’s will, she helps us to transmit our faith in a joyful proclamation of the Gospel to all, without any reservation.”

Pope Paul VI wrote an encyclical in 1965 citing the Month of Mary devotion as a means of obtaining prayers for peace. May is the “month which the piety of the faithful has been especially dedicated to Our Blessed Lady,” Pope Paul VI wrote, and May is the time for a “moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world [pay] to the Queen of Heaven. During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of their homes, offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God’s mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance.”

The Christian custom of dedicating the month of May to the Blessed Virgin arose at the end of the 13th century. In this way, the Church was able to Christianize the secular feasts which were wont to take place at that time. In the 16th century, books appeared and fostered this devotion.

Pope Francis, in his 2018 Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, described the Blessed Virgin Mary as follows: “She is that woman who rejoiced in the presence of God, who treasured everything in her heart, and who let herself be pierced by the sword. Mary is the saint among the saints, blessed above all others. She teaches us the way of holiness and she walks ever at our side. She does not let us remain fallen and at times she takes us into her arms without judging us.”

For this reason, Pope Francis has called upon the faithful to consecrate themselves to Mary. The Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine worship defines consecration to Mary as an overt recognition of the “singular role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, of the universal and exemplary importance of her witness to the Gospel, of trust in her intercession, and of the efficacy of her patronage.”

In the past, several popes have consecrated the Church and the world to Mary. Pope Pius XII consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 31, 1942.

St. John Paul II – who consecrated the entire Church and world to Mary three times during his pontificate – taught that by consecrating oneself to Mary, we accept her help in offering ourselves fully to Christ.

May Crowning honors Mary

Historically, May is a month dedicated by the Catholic Church to Mary, the Mother of God. As is well known, Mary plays an important and irreplaceable role in the spiritual life of the Church.

To honor the role the Blessed Virgin plays in the life of the Church, many Parishes and Catholic schools in the Diocese have May Crowning ceremonies during which a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is given a crown of flowers. May is also the time when young Catholics often receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time.

One example of this tradition was found St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte. A May Crowning prayer service took place in the school courtyard on May 6, 2022, presided over by Father Phillip Scheff, Parochial Vicar.

The prayers, songs and intercessions were led by the second graders, dressed in white to commemorate that they were to receive their First Holy Communion in May. The prayer service opened with each second grader bringing a flower forward to place before the statue of Mary. The actual crowning of Mary was by Betty Nolan, Student Government President.

St. Charles Borromeo Principal Tonya Peters said the students pray for the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary each day, and the May Crowning ceremony is part of a month-long focus during which the students learned more about Our Lady and her role in the Church.

In addition, at Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish, the entire student body took part in a procession May 2, 2022, from the school to the Parish Church, about a half-mile. The students were led by the school Pro-Life Club, reciting the rosary as well as singing. Father David Vidal, Pastor of Ave Maria Parish, presided over the procession and following prayer service and crowning.


Meanwhile, at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, the May Crowning took place on May 8, 2022. A statue of Mary, which sits in a grotto outside of the Parish Hall, was crowned in a ceremony after Mass and included families and many children.

These are just a few examples of how the Blessed Virgin Mary is being honored throughout May in Diocesan Parishes and Catholic schools.

Celebrations of Mary includes Crowning

It is a Catholic tradition to honor Mary, our Heavenly Mother, during the month of May by placing on her statue a crown of flowers to signify her honor as Queen of Heaven and Earth. This devotional ceremony is a favorite tradition at Parishes and Catholic schools throughout the Diocese.

The May Crowning gives the faithful, but children in particular, an opportunity to especially honor the Blessed Mother of Jesus, and to give thanks to her for bringing our Savior into the world.

Typically, “May Crownings” include a procession with children, dressed in their best for this special day, a hymn, a devotional prayer, and the crowning of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a wreath of flowers. During the Pandemic, adjustments were made.

The practice of crowning an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary gained popularity in the 19th century. There are many reasons why queenship has been attributed to Mary; some of the most common reasons are as follows: first, she is the Mother of the Son of God, who is the messianic King. Also, Mary is the perfect disciple of Christ; she consented to God’s plan; she listened to God’s Word and kept it in her heart; she remained steadfastly in close union with her Son, all the way to the foot of the Cross; and she persevered in prayer with the Church. Thus, in an eminent way, she won the crown of glory that is promised to those who follow Christ.

For example, on May 12, 2021, St. Joseph Catholic School held its May Crowning in the main courtyard, which includes a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a rosary garden. Second graders, those who were soon to receive the Sacrament of First Holy Communion, brought flowers to place in a vase before the statue while the school choir sang in honor of the Blessed Mother.

St. Joseph Parish Pastor Rafal Ligenza led the prayer service reading from the Gospel of Luke, telling of the story of the Annunciation of Mary. Father also led the children in a Litany of Mary, calling on the Blessed Virgin, in her many titles, to pray for them all. This was followed by the crowning of the statue. Father then led the students in the Act of Consecration to Mary.

Principal Deborah Suddarth said students pray for the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary each day throughout the year with a particular focus on Mary throughout May when students learn more about Our Lady and her role in the Church.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane led a prayer service to Mary on May 3, 2021 for the staff of the Diocese Catholic Center in Venice. This annual tradition includes reciting of prayers and signing hymns in honor of Our Lady.

Pope Francis said the Blessed Virgin Mary’s path of faith and hope serves as an example to all. Therefore, time should be taken to reflect on Our Lady’s participation in the Paschal mystery and in Pentecost at which point the Church has its beginning.

Pope Francis said “the message of hope contained in God’s blessing was fully realized in a woman, Mary, who was destined to become the Mother of God, and it was fulfilled in her before any other creature.” The Holy Father added that “our journey of faith is the same as that of Mary, and so we feel that she is particularly close to us.”

Bishop Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary during Advent of 2017. The consecration was the culmination of the structured 33-day “Diocesan Advent Journey to Jesus through Mary.” By this Act of Consecration, the faithful confided the Diocese and its good works to Our Lady so as to fulfill more readily the will of her Divine Son for His Church.

Our Lady is an important symbol throughout the Diocese. Our Lady of Mercy is the Patroness of the Diocese of Venice and is the name of a Parish in Boca Grande. In addition, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice bears Her name, and numerous other Parishes are named in honor of Our Lady including: St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Longboat Key; Our Lady of the Angels, Lakewood Ranch; Our Lady of Grace, Avon Park; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Immokalee; Our Lady of Light, Fort Myers; Our Lady of Miraculous Medal, Bokeelia; Our Lady of Lourdes, Venice; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Osprey; Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Sarasota; and Our Lady Queen of Heaven, LaBelle.

On the Monday following Pentecost, May 24, 2021, the Church will celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as “Mother of the Church” as directed by Pope Francis. The Memorial for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, was added to the Roman Calendar by Pope Francis after carefully considering how the promotion of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this particular title might encourage growth in “the maternal sense of the Church.”

One week later, on May 31, is the Feast the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary which marks the visit of the pregnant Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.


News briefs for the week of May 11 2020

Seminarians graduate

Deacon Franckel Fils Aime graduated from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach on May 7, 2020, while Seminarian Jacob Gywnn graduated May 5, 2020, from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. Deacon Fils Aime will soon be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Venice while Gwynn will be given a pastoral assignment at a Parish within the Diocese for the summer. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both graduations were low-key events with minimal participation and no family present.

May Crownings

St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish hosted a May Crowning on May 10, 2020, Mother’s Day, on Longboat Key. Social distancing protocals were in place as some sitting in their vehicles, others of chairs.

In a time of social distancing the traditional May Crownings have taken on a different form this year. St. Joseph Catholic School students Wesley and Cecilia were able to honor Mary on May 2, 2020, for an unofficial May Crowning at the St. Bernard Catholic Church grotto in Holmes Beach. On May 10, 2020, Father Robert Dziedziak, Pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish on Longboat Key, led a May Crowning prayer service in the Parish prayer garden with the faithful able to be present while still maintaining appropriate social distancing.

These two St. Joseph Catholic School students from Brandenton pray during a May Crowning at St. Bernard Parish in Holmes Beach in early May.


Retreat Center offering online Preached Retreats

During the current health crisis, many people who would like to make a retreat must remain at home for an extended period of time. As long as the crisis lasts, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice will offer online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Like Father Lanteri, we can all use this time for our spiritual growth.

In these online retreats. Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estradilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to you, to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking.  You should already have a Bible and journal available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds.

The cost, which has been significantly discounter, will be as follows: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48.

All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to make an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at and a code will be provided for your online registration.  You will need to fill out an application for approval. Please allow 7 days to arrange from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

Scam Alert targeting parishioners

It has once again been brought to the attention of the Diocese of Venice that parishioners have received text/email messages from people pretending to be priests and requesting donations in the form of gift cards and/or wire transfers. The messages often greet the person by name and have the priests name in the closing signature of the message; this is a well-crafted and targeted attack on the Church across the country which has hit our Diocese again. These text/email messages are ‘spoofed’ fakes that should not be responded to or taken seriously by anyone. The best defense against this sort of scam is to raise awareness in the community and not respond or open any worrying attachments. It is Diocesan policy that no priest or staff within the Diocese request donations in the form of gift cards, PayPal, MoneyGram, etc.

There is already an established process in place on how parishioners can make donations and participate in the life of the Parish. Whenever a parishioner is worried about any request for money from the parish or a priest, they should immediately call their parish and under no circumstances should they respond to these scam requests.

Year of St. Joseph resources online

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, Bishop Frank J. Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of Saint Joseph in the context of the Coronavirus and announced a “Year of St. Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021.  St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of the Universal Church, fathers, workers and the sick and dying. A number of resources, including a Novena to St. Joseph, have been made available on the Diocesan website –

Bradenton Food Pantry

The St. Joseph Parish Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave. W., Bradenton, is open and distributing food from 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays, following all social distancing protocols. Cars will be directed through the parking lot and trunks will be loaded by volunteers in protective gloves and masks. Call 941-756-3732 if you have any questions. You do not need to be a regular client to receive food. To make a donation of money or food, please visit

Venice Catholic School Community project

Jennifer Falestiny, Curriculum Coordinator at the Diocese of the Venice, created the Camillus Project, a STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics) oriented campaign to print and deliver face shields and ear savers to those serving on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis. Named after the patron saint of hospitals, nurses and the sick, the design files were shared to each school with 3D printer in hopes of being to deliver these shields to local medical professionals.