Diocesan Eucharistic Conference deepens faith, brings joy

Renewed with a passion for the Most Holy Eucharist, nearly 1,400 of the faithful participated in the Diocese of Venice Eucharistic Conference in Fort Myers on March 16, 2024.

“We gather for a special occasion in the life of the Diocese – to acknowledge the presence of Christ in our midst, but particularly always present with us in the form of His Body and His Blood,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which opened the Conference.

“Know the Lord sees your desire to come to know Him more profoundly, to seek refuge in Him during difficult times in our lives,” Bishop Dewane said. “He knows you already; He knows why you are here today.”

Bishop Dewane called upon the faithful to summon the Grace of the Lord from within to become a true disciple of the Lord and let the Bread and Wine we receive at Communion remind us of the presence of Christ.

“Let us pray that this day will be an opportunity for you to be reached ever more by the Lord. Let us reach down deeper within ourselves, to become that full blown disciple of Jesus Christ. To go forward in our lives, proclaiming and evidencing Jesus Christ, His Presence, His Body and His Blood, as truly part of the lives we live,” the Bishop concluded.

The event, part of a nationwide effort called for by all the Catholic Bishops of the United States to revive belief in, and reverence for, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist, began with Mass, celebrated by Bishop Dewane at St. Cecilia Parish – and the church was at capacity, before continuing at neighboring Bishop Verot Catholic High School.

The day included private and group Adoration, the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and thought-provoking talks by nationally known Catholic speakers, in both English and Spanish. The reaction from Conference participants was inspiring.

“What a wonderful day,” said Sharon Brown from Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers. “My love for Jesus has never been greater.”

“We are one Church, united in Christ through the Most Holy Eucharist,” said Anita Thompson of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte. “You couldn’t ask for a more perfect day to celebrate the Catholic Faith.”

Corina Sanchez of Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers said the entire day was a beautiful experience, which included the opening Mass, celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, inspirational talks, the opportunity to be among the faithful from across the Diocese, and the concluding group Eucharistic Adoration.

“Everything was perfect,” Sanchez said. “Jesus was with us all today.”

The keynote speaker for the Conference was acclaimed author Steven Ray, who presented on “Defending the Eucharist: Baptists Accept the Real Presence.” Ray spoke to all attendees, with a simultaneous Spanish translation offered, sharing his story of awakening from mocking the Catholic belief in the Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist to the awakening and now vigor with which he has defended the Catholic Faith, and the Real Presence, for the past 25 years.

Crystalina Evert, founder of Women Made New Ministries and the co-founder of Chastity Project, and guest and the host on TV programs for EWTN, spoke on “How the Eucharist Can Heal, Restore, and Protect You, Your Family, and Your Parish,” while Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress, spoke on “What God Did and What God is Doing: The Need for a Eucharistic Revival and Your Place in One.”

 

Father Elvis Gonzalez, a National Eucharistic Revival preacher based in Miami, presented “The Eucharist: Source and Transforming Force of Family Life.” Kathia Aranga, Director of the Office for Hispanic Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and President of the National Hispanic Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the United States and Canada, spoke on “Holy Eucharist as the Center of Parish and Family Life.” Both of these talks were presented in Spanish.

Each speaker offered the faithful the opportunity to become part of the greater National Eucharistic Revival and to leave with their hearts and minds aflame for the love of Jesus, His Catholic Church, and especially His Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist.

The Diocesan Eucharistic Conference drew upon the success of the 2023 Diocese of Venice Eucharistic Congress which brought more than 4,000 Catholic school students, youth, and adults together for two days of events. What’s next? The National Eucharistic Revival will hold a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in July. Bishop Dewane will be leading a pilgrimage group from the Diocese.

For more information, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org.

Hundreds hear speaker on National Eucharistic Revival

The importance of the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival was the focus of a talk on Jan. 18, 2024, at St. William Parish in Naples.

More than 600 people were inspired by Dr. Mary Healy, a theologian, best-selling author, and professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, during her talk titled, “The Holy Spirit and the Eucharist.”

Healy talked about the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year movement of the U.S. Bishops, including Bishop Frank J. Dewane, to restore understanding and devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist here in the United States. The movement is currently in its Parish-phase, which includes organizing Catholic speakers, more time for adoration, Eucharistic processions, and other exciting events.

Importantly, for this movement, the Bishops chose the term revival over renewal, Healy said. A renewal is a human effort to do things better or to correct them, while revival means, bringing alive what was dead.

“What the Bishops are doing in this National Eucharistic Revival is an energetic, creative and fervent effort that is ultimately God’s work, because He wants to bring His Church alive,” Healy said. “The world needs to see the Church alive.”

This revival is also defined as a sovereign work of God in answer to sincere prevailing prayer – a divine visitation. Healy said this is what we all need to be praying for during these three years because the sovereign work of God is greater than any catechetical program or any Eucharistic Congress.

“During the Revival, God will fill His people with the Holy Spirit, and the graces of the Holy Spirit will awaken us,” Healy said. “Therefore, during the Revival, God awakens hunger in those who don’t know Him, or in those who have walked away from Him, and He awakes a hunger in His people to evangelize to bear witness to Christ. Hunger breeds hunger, and it’s explosive.”

The crowd at St. William Parish was captivated by Healy’s talk and responded enthusiastically when she called on each of them to carry the message of the National Eucharistic Revival in their heart and into the world.

The Diocese of Venice has been actively participating in the National Eucharistic Revival having hosted numerous events with the Most Holy Eucharist as a central theme, including a Diocesan Eucharistic Congress in 2023. The second Diocesan Eucharistic Conference is March 16, at Bishop Verot Catholic High School, 3398 Sunrise Drive, Fort Myers. All are invited to attend the all-day event of faith and fellowship, featuring inspirational Catholic speakers. English and Spanish sessions will be offered. The day will include the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as well as Eucharistic Adoration, and confessions. Space is limited so early registration is encouraged. For more information and to register, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/eucharistic-conference-2024/.

The National Eucharistic Revival will culminate in the first National Eucharistic Congress in the United States in almost 50 years. This historic gathering will take place in Indianapolis from July 17 to 21, 2024. Bishop Dewane is leading a pilgrimage to the National Congress. If you are interested in joining the pilgrimage, please learn more by visiting https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/evangelization/pilgrimage-to-national-eucharistic-congress/.

National Eucharistic Revival continue

Placing a greater emphasis on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist has been the ongoing focus of the National Eucharistic Revival, is an initiative called for in June 2022 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

In support of the National Eucharistic Revival, Bishop Frank J. Dewane directed that the resources of the Diocese of Venice focus on engaging the faithful through a series of events celebrating the Most Holy Eucharist.

Foremost of these events was the March 2023 Diocesan Eucharistic Congress. During the Congress, an estimated 4,400 (middle school students, youth and adults) participated in three unique events during the course of two days, at a venue on the Fort Myers riverfront. “What a wonderful time to be together celebrating our Faith in the Most Holy Eucharist,” Bishop Dewane said at the opening of the Congress.

The high point for the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress included the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being celebrated each day (one for youth, one for adults).

There were also three group Eucharistic Adorations (two outdoors for the younger participants and one indoors for the adults); a 1,600-person-strong public Eucharistic Procession in the streets of Fort Myers; inspirational talks in both Spanish and English; live music; and fellowship as participants shared the beauty of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Other Diocesan activities throughout the year further supported efforts to celebrate the Source and Summit of our Faith, the Most Holy Eucharist. The Office of Evangelization promoted the Traveling Rosary Congress in October 2023. This Rosary Congress was a unique opportunity to place all prayers and the needs of the faithful into the loving arms of the Mother of God, including a the intention to recognize the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Hosted by 31 Parishes, many had 24 hours of adoration and prayer with different ministries scheduled each hour. Even when the Rosary Congress didn’t last 24 hours, the gatherings always included the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and the praying of the Holy Rosary.

Additionally, there was a concerted effort to expand the That Man Is You (TMIY) Catholic men’s program from its base of two Parishes. Training sessions throughout the summer bore fruit as 11 new Parishes signed on to start this important weekly outreach in September. At those Parishes, the number of participants has been well beyond what was expected and the effect on the Parish life has been noted by several Pastors. The resonance of the program stems from its focus to honestly address the pressures and temptations that men face in our modern culture, especially those relating to their roles as husbands and fathers. Each weekly session has a segment focused on the Most Holy Eucharist and often follows Mass.

Also, throughout 2023, the Office of Marriage and Family hosted a series of events promoting the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, each with a theme stressing the Most Holy Eucharist. This included the two annual anniversary Masses, celebrated by Bishop Dewane, held to honor couples who have dedicated their lives to God and their marriage. The Masses, held in the northern and southern parts of the Diocese to accommodate the large response, recognize couples enjoying significant wedding anniversaries; with many of those present celebrating more than 50 years of marriage while some marked more than 70 years. Between the two Masses, the 630 couples represented a combined 32,500+ years of marriage. Bishop Dewane stressed that the marriages of those present were bound by God, noting how these couples represent a shining example of the important Sacrament of the Eucharist. The 2024 Anniversary Masses will take place at 11 a.m. Feb. 3, at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs, and 11 a.m. Feb. 24, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. A reception follows these free event. Registration is handled through local Parishes.

The Diocese of Venice hosted the third “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference in Fort Myers in October. Again, the theme focused on the Most Holy Eucharist, and the important role in building, and strengthening, a holy marriage. More than 125 couples, representing 31 Parishes, took part in this event. The day included the Mass, celebrated by Bishop Dewane, the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and the availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The conference allowed couples to grow together in holiness and their closeness to the Lord; to learn to form their children in the Catholic Faith; to enjoy a day of quality time with their spouse; and to witness dynamic presentations. Plans are already underway for the 2024 conference to take place this fall.

In 2023, the focus of the National Eucharistic Revival switched to Parish outreach. Parishes throughout the Diocese organized Catholic speakers, adoration, Eucharistic processions, and other exciting events.

With the support of the Office of Evangelization and Department of Communications and the USCCB committee for the National Eucharistic Revival, a number or resources have been provided to Parishes. This was done to refresh the teaching of the faithful about the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist, and its history dating back to the Last Supper of Christ. Resources also include details about the importance of Eucharistic Adoration, and a list of speakers who are available to speak on this topic.

As a result, many Parishes have expanded their adoration time. Several Parishes have added new days, or extended existing hours, all with positive results. A few Parishes have even begun an adoration focused on teens and families, with participation correspondingly increasing. Through early 2024, several Parishes have brought in numerous high-profile guests to speak about the Most Holy Eucharist and Real Presence, with many more scheduled in the coming months. The attendance at these presentations has been impressive. Resources for this outreach can be found at https://dioceseofvenice.org/eucharistic-congress/year-of-parish-revival/.

Building on the success of the first Diocesan Eucharistic Conference, the second Conference is set for March 16, at Bishop Verot Catholic High School, 3398 Sunrise Drive, Fort Myers. All are invited to attend the all-day event of faith and fellowship, featuring inspirational Catholic speakers, including nationally acclaimed Catholic speaker and author Steven Ray, Crystalina Evert, Father Elvis Gonzalez, Katia Aranga, and Tim Glemkowski. English and Spanish sessions will be offered. The day will include the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as well as Eucharistic Adoration, and confessions. Space is limited so early registration is encouraged. For more information and to register, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/eucharistic-conference-2024/.

The National Eucharistic Revival will culminate in the first National Eucharistic Congress in the United States in almost 50 years. This historic gathering will take place in Indianapolis from July 17 to 21, 2024. Bishop Dewane is leading a pilgrimage to the National Congress which the Bishop describes as “a pivotal moment in the Church, and a unique opportunity for participants to draw into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Our Lord.”

The cost of the Diocese of Venice pilgrimage package is $1,049. With the package, pilgrims receive the National Eucharistic Congress 5-day pass, which provides access to all speakers and events, as well as four nights’ accommodations in a 4-star hotel within walking distance of the convention center. Please note, the pilgrimage package does not include transportation or meals. Space is limited! Learn more by visiting https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/evangelization/pilgrimage-to-national-eucharistic-congress/.

Please visit the Diocese of Venice website, https://dioceseofvenice.org/, to learn about any additional information about the Diocesan activities to promote the National Eucharistic Revival, and check with your Parish to learn more about local Eucharistic events!.

Hundreds Venerate Jesus in Eucharistic Procession

Reciting prayers and singing hymns, hundreds participated in a public Eucharistic Procession through the streets around St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples on Oct. 22, 2023.

This procession consisted mostly of the faithful from nearby St. Elizabeth Seton Parish and was led by their Pastor, Father Casey Jones, and is one of several initiatives scheduled as part of “The Year of Parish Revival,” the latest phase of a National Eucharistic Revival. Launched as an initiative of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in June 2022, the National Eucharistic Revival is a three-year movement that aims to deepen Catholics’ love for Jesus through encountering His Real Presence in the Eucharist.

“This event is all about bringing Jesus Christ to the neighborhoods of the people,” Father Jones said. “The message is that our God loves us so much that he comes to us, rather than waiting for us to approach him. Just as Jesus Christ of Nazareth walked the streets of Galilee, He’s still alive and walks among us on our streets… We hope to give a witness to our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist as a sign of Hope to a world that needs a Savior.”

Starting in Neumann’s Our Lady of the Angels Chapel with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Solemn Vespers, the group lined up for the Eucharistic Procession through the surrounding Golden Gate neighborhood. Father Jones said additional processions in other neighborhoods within the Parish boundaries will take place in the coming months. This includes one with the students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School during Catholic School Week in early February 2024.

With a Knights of Columbus Honor Guard and a dozen altar servers carrying candles, Father Jones and Deacon Roberto Landron rotated carrying the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament held high. Four volunteers carried a canopy to protect the Blessed Sacrament during the procession. This canopy served to create a sacred space that is reserved for the priest/deacon carrying the monstrance.

Hymns and prayers, both in English and Spanish, were heard as the group departed the Chapel and meandered their way to four stations where the monstrance was placed on a table and additional prayers were recited.

The National Eucharistic Revival will culminate in the first National Eucharistic Congress in the United States in almost 50 years. In July 2024, more than 80,000 Catholics are expected to join together in Indianapolis for a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage in a celebration of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and our Catholic Faith.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane is leading a Pilgrimage to this 10th National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. This historic 5-day gathering will take place July 17 – 21, 2024. It is a pivotal moment in the Church, and a unique opportunity for participants to draw into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Our Lord.

The cost of the Diocese of Venice pilgrimage package is $1,049. With the package, pilgrims receive the National Eucharistic Congress 5-day pass, which provides access to all speakers and events, as well as four nights’ accommodations in a 4-star hotel within walking distance of the convention center. Please note, the pilgrimage package does not include transportation or meals. Space is limited! Register today using https://ctscentral.rezmagic.com/Booking/Reservation/Start?tripID=5394&CategoryId=52540. Questions? Contact Carrie Harkey, harkey@dioceseofvenice.org.

News Briefs for the week of November 20, 2023

Students encouraged to be “Servants of Christ”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass of the Holy Spirit for students at two Naples Catholic schools on Oct. 9, 2023. St. Elizabeth Seton and St. Ann hosted Bishop Dewane who spoke to students about how the Apostle Paul was called to live his life in a manner worthy of the call he received from Jesus Christ. While St. Paul struggled with the call, he ultimately gave himself over to the Lord to become His servant. Bishop Dewane asked the students at both schools, “How are you going to live as a servant of Jesus Christ?” Following each Mass, the Bishop took time to speak to the eighth graders, encouraging them to be leaders at their school, while also answering questions. Further, the Bishop encouraged the eighth graders to consider going to nearby St. John Neumann Catholic High School.

Students pray for peace

This is homecoming week at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, but the students took time out from the festivities to join in praying for peace in the Holy Land on Oct. 17, 2023, as called for by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and Pope Francis. A morning prayer service was held for the victims and families affected by the recent tragic events in Israel and Gaza. The students at Bishop Verot vowed that every day, they stand united in hope for peace in the world.

“Faith Over Fear” STREAM Day

The students at St. Mary Academy in Sarasota took part in a STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math) Day on Oct. 13, 2023. The theme was “Faith Over Fear,” as students learned the story of David and Goliath. The Biblical account of David and Goliath is one of the most popular stories from Scripture. It is a lesson of courage, faith, and overcoming what seems impossible! The students made catapults to take down Goliath! The creativity was impressive, and the students had a great time working together.

Teachers receive grants

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School teachers in Naples were recipients of 12 Champions for Learning grants from The Education Foundation of Collier County. For the school, these grants will fund a range of needs from class field trips to books, STREAM projects, enrichment activities, and even sewing machines for art class. The teachers awarded were: Megan Schuchman (grade 1), Susan Boga (grade 1), Natalie Donahue (middle school – language arts), Nichole Eastman (grade 5), Christina Grun (art), Michele McFee (pre-kindergarten-3), Charity Winter (resource), and Fabiola Galarraga-Cole (Spanish). Congratulations all!

National Eucharistic Congress pilgrimage with Bishop Dewane

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the Faithful of the Diocese of Venice to join him on a Pilgrimage to the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. This historic 5-day gathering will take place in Indianapolis July 17 – 21, 2024. The National Eucharistic Congress represents the culmination of the Church’s three-year effort to put an emphasis on the Real Presence of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharistic.  It is a pivotal moment in the Church, and a unique opportunity for participants to draw into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Our Lord. The cost of the Diocese of Venice pilgrimage package is $1,049. With the package, pilgrims receive the National Eucharistic Congress 5-day pass, which provides access to all speakers and events, as well as four nights’ accommodations in a 4-star hotel within walking distance of the convention center. Please note, the pilgrimage package does not include transportation or meals. Space is limited! Register today using https://ctscentral.rezmagic.com/Booking/Reservation/Start?tripID=5394&CategoryId=52540. Questions? Contact Carrie Harkey, harkey@dioceseofvenice.org.

Vocations Weekend Oct. 27-29

If you are a young man (high school age or above) and sense that the Lord is calling you to the priesthood, St. John Vianney College Seminary is hosting a free Vocations Weekend. The event begins with pizza and night prayer on Friday evening, Oct. 27, 2023, and ends with Holy Mass and brunch on Sunday, Oct. 29. Join with other discerners from around the state of Florida to experience a glimpse of seminary life, meet the young men who are already studying for the priesthood as seminarians, and join with them in prayer and fraternity during this profound weekend retreat. (The typical schedule for the weekend includes adoration, spiritual talks, daily Mass, personal testimonies from seminarians, meet and greet with the professors, a campus tour, games and sports.) For more information and to RSVP, please visit https://www.venicevocations.org/, or email Father Shawn Roser, Diocesan Director of Vocations at roser@dioceseofvenice.org or call 941-486-4720.

40 Days for Life continues

The 40 Days for Life fall campaign is ongoing and runs through Nov. 5, 2023, seeking a peaceful end to abortion in the U.S. and around the world through the power of prayer. It is the presence of more than one million prayer warriors in 681 cities worldwide – including Fort Myers, Naples, and Sarasota – that will make a difference in this important battle to save the unborn. The prayer vigil in Fort Myers is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 6418 Commerce Park Drive. In Sarasota, the vigil is daily, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (7 days a week), at 736 Central Ave. The Naples prayer vigil is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 1425 Creech Road. For more information, please visit https://www.40daysforlife.com/en/, or contact Diocesan Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Students take part in leadership retreat

A group of select students from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples recently participated in a transformative Salesian Leadership Retreat the weekend of Oct. 6-8, 2023, in New York City. During this enriching experience, the students had the opportunity to cultivate their leadership skills, deepen their spirituality, and forge lasting bonds with their peers. Through various workshops, activities, and reflections, they explored the values of St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello, learning how to become compassionate and effective leaders in our community.

Equestrian Club trots for fun

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Equestrian Club is going strong as it is in its second year. This is a group for horse lovers to learn more about the equestrian sport in a safe and Christian environment. This year the club has partnered with Wolfe’s Born to Ride, a Christian stable in Parrish. On Oct. 7, 2023, two groups of students took part in two-hour rides through Little Myakka State Park. The Wolfes met the students at the park with 10 gentle horses. The group got to walk, trot, canter, go through water, ditches and through and over obstacles. They are planning to do rides like this monthly and even hope to do a moonlight trail ride with parents.

 

 

 

 

Parish renewal key to second phase of National Eucharistic Revival

The National Eucharistic Revival has entered its second year and as planned shifted its focus to Parish level. It is expected that Parishes will increase the Eucharist’s visibility in their communities through an increase in Eucharistic processions and adoration.

Launched as an initiative of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in June 2022, the National Eucharistic Revival is a three-year movement that aims to deepen Catholics’ love for Jesus through encountering him in the Eucharist. The Revival’s second year leads up to a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in July 2024. Having enkindled a missionary fire in the hearts of the American faithful, the Holy Spirit will send the faithful out on mission to share the gift of our Eucharistic Lord as we enter the universal Church’s jubilee year in 2025.

Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Evangelization, and the chairman of the Bishops’ advisory group for the Revival, spoke about the Revival during the June Plenary Assembly of the USCCB in Orlando. Bishop Cozzens outlined how the “small group initiative” in the Parish Year could help deepen people’s relationship to Christ in the Eucharist.

“We all know how much our Church needs to move from maintenance to mission … this is really the heart of what we’re attempting to do,” he said.

In the Diocese of Venice, Bishop Frank J. Dewane and the Office of Evangelization staff have worked hard to help promote the National Eucharistic Revival and plans are in the works to have a unified effort at the Parish level.

“This is a time to grow deeply in your faith, along with others from the Diocese, accompanied by Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane said of the Parish Year. “It is in a precise way, in the Eucharist, the Lord is given to us, and we receive Him. We must also have the strength to spend time in front of the Eucharist. Let the strength that Jesus Christ is; let His presence in the Eucharist, fill your heart, fill your mind, fill your soul. Let these dimensions evidence Christ’s indication of what it is He desires from you and for you to accomplish in your life.”

Parish leaders seeking guidance for the National Eucharistic Revival’s Parish Year now have a 24-page resource to assist their discernment. The “Leader’s Playbook,” released in May, helps Parishes answer the question “what are we being asked to do?” through four “invitations” for the Year of Parish Revival, which began on the solemnity of Corpus Christi June 11, 2023.

To allow better accessibility for all (individuals, families and Parishes) to become part of the Revival, these educational resources can be found at the Diocese of Venice website at https://dioceseofvenice.org/eucharistic-congress/year-of-parish-revival/. This includes resources, available in both English and Spanish, for: Pastors and Parish leaders; teachers and Directors of Religious Education; Children and/or those teaching children; teenagers; young adults; not so young adults; and more. Updated monthly, the links from the site are to informational videos, documents, websites and other information.

The playbook was created primarily for Pastors and Parish leaders. Based on the Revival’s four “pillars,” the playbook’s “four invitations” for the Year of Parish Revival are reinvigorating worship, personal encounter, robust faith formation and missionary sending.

“Parishes can use this manual to strengthen their Eucharistic culture and share the gift of the Eucharist with all people, regardless of where they are on their faith journey,” Bishop Cozzens said.

The Revival’s first year was titled “The Year of Diocesan Revival,” with efforts focused on formation for diocesan leadership and Diocesan-wide events. Within the Diocese of Venice, a Eucharistic Congress and Youth Rally took place March 24-25, 2023, in Fort Myers, when Bishop Frank J. Dewane welcomed more than 4,500 to the event.

The Eucharistic Congress, with a theme “The Word Made Flesh,” encompassed several parts, including three unique sessions. The first was for Diocesan Catholic middle school students; the second part was a Youth Rally for high-school aged teens; and the showcase event was for adult men and women and featured special breakout sessions in English and Spanish as well as for men and women.

A major component of the Congress was the celebrateion of the Mass. In addition, there was private and public Eucharistic adoration, and for the main conference for adults, a Eucharistic procession, led by Bishop Dewane, around the event facility in downtown Fort Myers.

The Revival’s second year, “The Year of Parish Revival,” aims to reach Catholics in their Parishes through renewed attention to the “art” of the Mass, Eucharistic devotions, and small-group faith sharing and formation.

Eucharistic processions — which consist of the Eucharist, typically displayed in a monstrance, followed by the faithful for any length of distance inside or outside of a church — became common forms of public devotion for Catholics at points in the Church’s history when the teaching on the Real Presence was questioned. Catholics believe the Eucharist truly is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, who instituted this Sacrament at the Last Supper.

David Spesia, executive director of the Committee for Evangelization and Catechesis at the USCCB committee spearheading the Revival said, “the goal is really this encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, and to understand that, when He promised He was with us always, the most unique and precious way that happens is with the gift of the Eucharist and the celebration of the Mass.”

The National Eucharistic Revival will culminate in the first National Eucharistic Congress in the United States in almost 50 years. More than 80,000 Catholics are expected to join together in Indianapolis for a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage in a celebration of our Catholic Faith in July 2024.

Our Sunday Visitor contributed information to this report.

Devotion to Most Holy Eucharist promoted in Catholic schools

When students create an image of the Most Holy Eucharist, the results can be inspirational.

Using vivid colors and inspiring imagery, seven Diocesan Catholic schools students were recently honored for their artwork as part of “The Most Holy Eucharist: The Riches of His Glorious Inheritance” devotional project. The theme was approved and encouraged by Bishop Frank J. Dewane as it supports the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The recognition came on April 20, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, where a Most Holy Eucharist Devotional Mass was celebrated by Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese Superintendent of Catholic Education.

Father Belmonte said the goal of this year’s devotional project was to bring students a deeper awareness and more ardent love of our Lord’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

Invited to the Mass were the artists and their families (see below for winning artwork), as well as principals, art teachers and junior catechists from each of the 12 Diocese elementary schools who helped deliver the devotional message to their respective classmates. High school students were taught about the 15 Eucharistic miracles during their theology classes.

Another element of the devotional project was to encourage students to get into the habit of visiting the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist by going to Mass or attending adoration. The Blessed Sacrament visitation tracker was created to allow schools to log their progress from November through April. In the first five months, more than 50,000 visits to the Most Holy Eucharist had been made by the students.

For the art project, seven winning artists were selected from among more than 200 entries from Diocesan Catholic students and were recognized at a reception in the Parish Hall following the Mass. Honorees were selected by representatives from the Diocesan Department of Catholic Education.

Emmanuel Ronquillo, a 6th grader at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton, created an image of Christ crucified with the Most Holy Eucharist emanating from behind the cross to shine its light on the world. “This is what the Most Holy Eucharist is all about – Christ dying on the cross for us all.”

As part of the recognition, the artists received an enlarged framed and printed version of their winning artwork with a ribbon and holy cards. The cards were distributed for use at each school and on the reverse includes the prayer: “Devotional Prayer to the Most Holy Eucharist.”

The Diocesan devotional project during the 2021-2022 academic year was the Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Saints, and during the 2020-2021 academic year it was St. Joseph.

The art contest winners are:

Rosalie Bartsch, kindergarten, Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School, Ave Maria;

Owen Wessal, 3rd grade, St. Catherine Catholic School, Sebring;

Gabriela Wilk, 5th grade, St. Martha Catholic School, Sarasota;

Emmanuel Ronquillo, 6th grade, St. Joseph Catholic School, Bradenton;

Vance Byrd, 9th grade, Bishop Verot Catholic High School, Fort Myers;

Grace Breen, 10th grade, Bishop Verot;

Hailey Renner, 11th grade, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Sarasota.

Teresa Tomeo, a featured speaker at Diocesan Eucharistic Congress

Teresa Tomeo, author and Catholic talk show host, is one of the featured speakers at the Diocese of Venice Eucharistic Congress on March 25, 2023, at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center and Luminary Hotel, 1375 Monroe St., Fort Myers. Tomeo is scheduled to speak twice during the Eucharistic Congress. The first talk is titled, “Rediscovering the Eucharist on my Journey,” and the second is “Becoming a True Daughter of the King by Way of the Eucharist.”

In addition to being an author and syndicated Catholic talk show host, Tomeo is also motivational speaker with decades of experience in TV, radio, and newspapers. In the year 2000, Teresa left the secular media to start her own speaking and communications company, Teresa Tomeo Communications, LLC. Her weekday morning radio program, Catholic Connection, is heard on over 500 Catholic radio stations worldwide and on the Sirius Satellite Network.

Many may know Tomeo from her frequent appearances on the EWTN TV network, where she co-hosts the series, The Catholic View for Women. Tomeo has written more than 10 books and is an international speaker, where she addresses media awareness and activism, as well as sharing her reversion to the Catholic Church. She resides in Southeastern Michigan with her husband, Deacon Dominick Pastore. They travel the world giving marriage and diaconate couples’ retreats.

The theme for the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress is: “The Word Became Flesh” John 1:14. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the “Congress is an opportunity for all the faithful of the Diocese to come together as one, to jointly rekindle a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.”

The event corresponds to the larger, ongoing, National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year revival of devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Doors open at 8 a.m. with the opening prayer at 9 a.m. A portion of this event will be in English and Spanish. In addition, the afternoon will include breakout sessions geared toward men and women. There will be a Eucharistic Procession and the day will conclude with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 5 p.m. Registration is requested by March 3 at https://dioceseofvenice.org/eucharistic-congress/.

Eucharistic Devotional Project begins in schools

Each year, one of the annual initiatives of the Diocese of Venice Department of Education is the development of the devotional lives of our students through a Diocesan-wide devotional project.

The 2022-2023 devotional project is “The Most Holy Eucharist: The Riches of His Glorious Inheritance.” Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education, said the theme was approved and encouraged by Bishop Frank J. Dewane as it supports the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress and Youth Rally on March 24-25, 2023. The devotional project during the 2021-2022 academic year was the Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Saints, and during the 2020-2021 academic year it was St. Joseph.

To get the devotional project off the ground, a training session took place Nov. 4, 2022, at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota. The training included two eighth graders (a boy and girl) from each school who will act as Junior Catechists for this project. Just as they did in previous years, these student leaders will catechize their classmates with a classroom lesson and go classroom to classroom, teaching about our Catholic devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist.

“At our training day, we highlighted the importance of leadership in the faith, evangelization and discipleship,” Father Belmonte said. “We met for Benediction and Adoration, a training session with the students led by our Diocesan Curriculum Director, Jennifer Falestiny. I led the parents who brought their children to the meeting in a presentation on devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist.”

Father Belmonte started the training session for the Junior Catechists with the words of St. John Vianney, “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.”

“The 15-week project is intended to bring to our students a deeper awareness and more ardent love of our Lord’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist,” Father Belmonte said.

The junior catechists were trained and received a Catholic Altar kit complete with miniature chalice, paten, cruets, ciborium, as well as all the elements for learning about the Mass. These eighth-grade leaders will visit classrooms at their schools to teach their classmates about the Most Holy Eucharist. They will teach on how to visit the Blessed Sacrament, encourage their classmates to learn about Eucharistic miracles and track their visits to the Blessed Sacrament.

High school students will be learning about the 15 Eucharistic miracles during their theology classes.

As part of the devotional project, Bishop Dewane gave each school a Lego Mass set, pocket prayer cards and informational cards relating to visiting the Blessed Sacrament.

“Our efforts are part of the National Eucharistic Revival initiated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to rejuvenate belief in the Real Presence among U.S. Catholics,” Bishop Dewane said.

The Catechism teaches us that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324). It is the sanctifying grace which is the point of everything in our Catholic religion. “By learning about the Most Holy Eucharist and teaching how to visit our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, our junior Catechists will help their classmates to participate in the very life of God. St. John Vianney would be very pleased indeed,” Father Belmonte said.

In addition to the student-led classroom lessons, there will be weekly teacher-led classroom activities.

Outside of Mass times, students are encouraged to visit Our Lord in the Tabernacle. With each visit during the 15 weeks, students are asked to say the Devotional Prayer to the Most Holy Eucharist which was provided in a pocket-sized card.

In addition to the classroom aspects, this devotional project has several other components.

There is also a Digital Blessed Sacrament Visit Tracker, a website where teachers can help students keep count of each visit to Our Lord (at Mass, during Adoration, in the school or Parish Chapel) from Nov. 15, 2022, to April 10, 2023. The school with the most visits will be recognized at the end of the devotional project.

Each school also received a Catholic Altar Learning Set for a differentiated STREAM project. In December, the schools will learn about CAD/CAM 3D modeling challenge for students.

Finally, there is an art competition. As in previous years, students will be encouraged to produce art work based on our Catholic artistic tradition around the Most Holy Eucharist.

“With Bishop Dewane, it is my hope that our emphasis on devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist and the study of these various Eucharistic miracles will bring us closer to Our Lord as we visit Him truly present in the Blessed Sacrament,” Father Belmonte said. “May He inspire all of us to emulate the love He has for us to others in our schools and in the world.”

For more information about this Diocesan devotional project, please visit www.dovblessedsacrament.com.

Adoration: Spending time with the Lord

Pope Francis often encourages the faithful to spend more time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Speaking before the 2021 International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, Hungary, the Holy Father said “Let us allow our encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist to transform us, just as it transformed the great and courageous saints you venerate. Let’s make time for adoration… The Eucharist is here to remind us who God is. It does not do so just in words, but in a concrete way, showing us God as bread broken, as love crucified and bestowed.”

For the faithful who attend the First Friday Eucharistic Adoration Holy Hour at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, these words are taken to heart in this devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The First Friday Eucharistic Adoration Holy Hour has a dedicated following of people who find beauty and peace during their time in the presence of the Lord.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said one devotee. “The power is sometimes overwhelming.”

The monthly Holy Hour includes music, intercessions and a procession, and there are several hundred people who attend with the numbers swelling up to 800 during the winter months.

The importance of a devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is the focus of a three-year National Eucharistic Revival in the United States which began on June 19, 2022, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). The Revival will culminate with a national gathering in Indianapolis in July 2024.

The Diocesan Year of the National Eucharistic Revival is from June 19, 2022, to June 11, 2023. During this year, there will be a series of events and retreats that encourage the renewal of the Church “by rekindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.”

A key part of this effort will be a two-day Diocesan Eucharistic Congress and Youth Rally, March 24-25, 2023, at the Conference Center and Luminary Hotel on the riverfront of downtown Fort Myers. The Youth Rally will take place on March 24 and the Eucharistic Congress on March 25. Details of the Eucharistic Congress and other events planned for this Diocesan Year can be found on the Diocese website www.dioceseofvenice.org. To learn more about the larger National Eucharistic Revival, please visit https://eucharisticrevival.org.

On Sept. 2, 2022, the Holy Hour at St. Peter the Apostle began as people gathered in silent prayer. Several dozen red votive candles were placed on stands on either side of the altar, while many candles were placed on the altar for those who had special prayer intentions for the Holy Hour. These candles sat as silent witness, adding a peaceful serenity to the occasion.

Father Wilian Montalvo Tello, IVE, Parochial Vicar at St. Peter the Apostle, lead the Holy Hour service, which included music and prayers in Spanish, Creole and English to accommodate the multicultural nature of the Parish community.

During the Holy Hour, several hymns were sung, and excerpts from Holy Scriptures were read in the three languages.

Then silence.

After the period of silence there were intercessions, which were prepared in advance and the congregation was encouraged to add to them by calling out.

This was followed by a Eucharistic Procession when Father Montalvo carried the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament among the people, as incense rose from the censer. The procession slowly wound its way down each aisle to allow everyone present to be closer to the Lord. As this took place, the Litany of Saints was sung.

The Benediction was given as the Blessed Sacrament was raised. This was followed by the prayer called the Divine Praises. Then everyone was asked to say in unison: “May the heart of Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with most grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen”

At the conclusion of the Holy Hour, Father Montalvo placed the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle and then the closing hymn of “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” was sung and the service was concluded.

While not every Parish in the Diocese has a First Friday Holy Hour complete with music, adoration at Parishes is typically available on the First Friday or on another designated day each month. Meanwhile, many Parishes, such as Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, St. Raphael in Lehigh Acres, St. John the Evangelist in Naples, St. Charles Borromeo in Port Charlotte, St. Michael in Wauchula, and others, have Adoration Chapels where extended adoration is available. Check with your Parish, or nearby Parishes, for adoration hours. For Parish contact information please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org and click the “Find a Parish” link.

X