Former Naples priest dies

Staff Report

Father Thomas J. Gillespie, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales for 68 years and former Parochial Vicar of St. Ann Parish in Naples, died July 27, 2019, at the Oblate community at Childs, Md. He was 87.

Father Gillespie was born Jan. 16, 1932, in Elkins Park, Pa., the son of Francis J. Gillespie and Catherine (McMaster) Gillespie. It was in 1950, when he entered the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales and professed first vows at the end of his postulancy and novitiate on Sept. 13, 1951, followed by perpetual profession on Sept. 13, 1954, and ordination to the priesthood May 31, 1960. Father completed a B.A. in Mathematics at Niagara University and an M.A. in Guidance/Counseling at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Enjoying a rich and varied mix of assignments throughout his 59 years of priesthood, Father Gillespie tried his hand at a number of ministries, including 18 years in secondary education, in Wilmington, Del., and Harrisburg, Pa. He also served as spiritual director at the De Sales School of Theology, Postulant Director, Director of Novices and Religious Superior at both Brisson Seminary and the Salesianum Oblate community.

At the age of 64, Father Gillespie received permission to serve as a missionary in South Africa, historically the first overseas mission to which the Oblates first travelled in 1882. After more than a decade, Father returned to the United States in 2007 to retire. However, in 2008, Father came out of retirement to serve as a Parochial Vicar and later as Priest-in-Residence at St. Ann Parish in Naples, where he stayed until his final retirement in 2017 when he left to live at the Oblate community in Maryland.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held July 31 at Our Lady of Light Chapel, in Childs. Md. Internment followed in the Oblate Cemetery. Father is survived by his twin sisters, Mary Cormier and Van Gillespie.

Poor Clare Sister, 101, dies

Staff Report

6/18/19

Poor Clare Sister Mary Paschal, of San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach, went peacefully home to God on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. She was 101.

Poor Clare Sister Sister Mary Paschal, of of San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach, went peacefully home to God on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. She was 101.

Born Honora Sadlier on March 12, 1918 in Lisheen Cashel Co., Tipperary, Ireland, Sister Mary began her religious life with the Sisters of St. Anne in England shortly after her 18th birthday in 1936. Sister Mary Paschal made her final profession as a Poor Clare on Oct. 4, 1946 and served in various capacities.

It was at the age of 70, when she answered a call for Poor Clare sisters to volunteer to join the newly established San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach, adjacent to Ascension Parish, arriving in Florida on Oct. 7, 1989.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane officiated the Mass of Christian Burial at Ascension Parish on June 3. He described Sister Mary Paschal a profoundly religious woman who committed herself to the service of God early on.

Bishop Dewane spoke of how the Diocese was blessed to have Sister Mary Paschal, along with all of the Poor Clare Sisters, and gave thanks for her generosity of spirit she gave for all those years.

Recalling his many visits to the monastery, Bishop Dewane added that Sister Mary Paschal always greeted him with warmth and humor. One such visit was for Sister Mary Paschal’s 100th birthday celebration which brought hundreds of well-wishers.

Poor Clare Abbess, Sister Mary Frances Fortin, described Sister Mary Paschal’s time at the monastery: “She has served this community cheerfully and faithfully from that time (in 1989), blessing us all with her Irish wit and the wisdom of her many years in religious life. She will be greatly missed by her religious sisters and the many friends and benefactors of this community who have come to know and love her.”

With the Sisters of St. Anne before becoming a Poor Clare, Sister Mary Paschal served the sick and the elderly in this community. During the difficult times of World War II, she transferred to the contemplative life in 1941 when she joined the Poor Clare Nuns at Sclerder Abbey, Cornwall, England. Sister Mary Paschal made her final profession as a Poor Clare on Oct. 4, 1946. She served this community as novice mistress, and abbess. When the monastery of Sclerder closed, Sister transferred to the Monastery of St. Clare in Arundel, England for a short time and then to the Monastery of St. Clare in Darlington, England, before making her final journey to the San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare on Fort Myers Beach.

She is survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Memorials in her name may be made to the San Damiano Monastery of St. Clare, 6029 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, FL, 33931.

Former Director of Diaconate Personnel dies

Staff Report

4/9/19

Deacon Frank Camacho is being remembered fondly for his compassion and reflecting the love of Christ to others. The longtime Director of Diaconate Personnel, as well as serving as a deacon for more than 14 years at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers, passed away March 29. He was 81.

Deacon Frank J. Camacho, former Diocese of Venice Director of Diaconate Formation and Director of Diaconate Personnel, as well as serving for more than 14 years at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers, died March 29. He was 81.

A Mass of Christian burial was held for Deacon Camacho on April 1 at Our Lady of Light Parish. The Mass was celebrated by Parish Pastor Father Hugh McGuigan, OSFS, and other priests of the Diocese. Along with Bishop Frank J. Dewane, more than 50 permanent deacons were present to honor Deacon Camacho for whom they had utmost respect.

Father McGuigan spoke of Deacon Camacho, a dear friend, as a man who lived his life as a servant of the Church fully, and who felt blessed to each day serve the People of God. “There was not limit to the love he gave to the people of Our Lady of Light and beyond.”

Bishop Dewane said that Deacon Camacho was a respected friend and confidant who offered good advice and someone whose judgement was spot on; but had a sense of humor to handle any situation, no matter how difficult.

“I can see he and Lil (his wife who passed away in 2018) coming together again in their eternal lives, with an embrace and good laugh, but with certain joy and love,” Bishop Dewane said. “This man of faith – he knew who Christ was in his life. He knew the image and likeness of God in every person he saw; and he left that impact on us all.”

Deacon David Reardon, the current Director of Diaconate Personnel, spoke on behalf of his fellow deacons and noted that Deacon Camacho was a man who not only loved the Lord as much as other, but he lived that love more completely and in a most integrated and honest way than anyone he has ever known.

“Frank was so in touch with the wellspring of love in the heart of Jesus,” Deacon Reardon said. “It poured out of everything he did, and he gave his heart to everyone with who he came into contact.”

Born in Cambridge, Mass., Deacon Camacho was a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and later worked for the federal government General Services Administration in the Boston area for 37 years before retiring in 1994. He earned a degree from Northeastern University and was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in 1980 for the Diocese of Fall River, Mass. He served at Our Lady of the Cape in Brewster, Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, and as the Assistant Director of the Diaconate in Dartmouth.

Upon moving to Florida in 2003, Deacon Camacho served at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs before moving on to Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers. He also assisted at several other parishes through the years taking on temporary administrative roles when called upon by the Bishop. For the Diocese of Venice, he served as past-President of the Diaconate Council and as the Director of Diaconate Personnel.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Lillian B. Camacho; a son, Joseph Camacho and a daughter, Barbara Peters. He is survived by three children, Leo Almeida, Susan C. Franze and Francine E. Camacho, as well as nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by Father Hugh McGuigan, with Bishop Dewane and other priests present on April 1 at Our Lady of Light Parish. Additional services will be held in Cape Cod, Mass., with burial in Oak Ridge Cemetery, South Dennis, Mass.

Former Director of Education dies

Staff Report – Florida Catholic

1/17/19

Sister Roberta Schmidt, CSJ, former Diocese of Venice Director of Education, died Jan. 2, 2019 at the de Greef Hospice House in St. Louis. Mo. She was 90.

Sister Roberta Schmidt, Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Louis, Mo. Diocese of Venice Director of Education from 1993 to 2008. She died Jan. 2, 2019 in St. Louis.

Sister Roberta, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Louis, Mo., had a 56-year career in education and taught at all levels of Catholic education from elementary school through college and lived her life as a committed witness to the social teachings of the Church and the role of education and formation. She worked in the Diocese of Venice as Director of Education from 1993 through 2008. Perhaps she is best known for her participation in two Civil Rights Marches in the 1960s and for her commitment to social justice issues.

This humble woman said as she neared her 2008 retirement: “It is all about doing the mission of Jesus, which is, living Gospel values, respecting the dignity of people, forming relationships, being a witness to the social teachings of the Church.”

Born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1928, Sister Robert entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet on Sept. 15, 1949, and was received into the novitiate as Sister Ernest Maria on March 19, 1950. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Teresa (now Avila University), and her master’s degree and doctorate from St. Louis University. Prior to coming to the Diocese of Venice, Sister Roberta served in the Archdiocese of Atlanta as Secretary of Education. Previously, she held administrative positions in higher education in the Archdioceses of San Antonio and St. Louis as well as the Diocese of Birmingham. She also taught elementary, secondary and collegiate levels in the archdiocese of St. Louis.

In March 1965, she and two others from her religious order travelled to Selma, Ala., to join hundreds of protesters who responded to a direct appeal to clergy from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and were seeking voting rights for African-Americans in the South. To voice their support the trio joined in marches from Brown Chapel to the courthouse for several days. The sisters were the subject of a Civil Rights documentary and in 2015 the religious women received honorary Doctorates of Human Letters from Avila University (formerly known as the College of St. Teresa), Sister Roberta’s Alma Mater, for their contributions at Selma and to the global community.

“Our role was one of witness,” Sister Roberta said in 2015, the 50th Anniversary of the March. “I was so pleased that they decided to include women as part of that group.”

Under the guidance of Sister Roberta, the Diocese added the Institute for Pastoral Studies and Formation, which offers advanced degrees in theology; St. Mary’s Academy in Sarasota for students with learning disabilities; expanded adult faith formation programs; and St. Catherine Catholic School, the first Catholic School in the Eastern Deanery.

Following her 2008 retirement, Sister Roberta lived peacefully in Venice before moving to St. Louis in 2017 to live at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet motherhouse.

A Memorial Mass will be held Friday, Jan. 11 at 10:30 a.m. at Nazareth Living Center, 2 Nazareth Lane, St. Louis, MO 63129.

Former Pastor in Holmes Beach, Punta Gorda dies

Staff Report – Florida Catholic

The Diocese of Venice mourns the loss of Father Robert J. Mongiello, former Pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Holmes Beach and Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda. Father passed away Thursday, March 22 in Bradenton at the age of 68.

Father Robert Mongiello, former Pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Holmes Beach and Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda, died on March 22, 2018, he was 68.

Father Mongiello was born July 16, 1949, in Mercer, Pa., to Vincent and Pauline (Hinds) Mongiello. He studied at Clarion State College and Edinboro State College, both in Pennsylvania, and for the priesthood at Pontifical College Josephenum in Columbus, Ohio, and at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

Ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Venice on May 15, 1987 by Bishop John J. Nevins, Father first served as Parochial Vicar of St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral and then at Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda. He was elevated to Administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in 1995 and Pastor in 1997, a position he held until 2004. It was in 2004 that he was appointed as Pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Holmes Beach. He retired in 2010.

Father Robert had a great love for music and sang in various choirs in his early life. He is survived by his two sisters, Paula Magargee of Pardeeville, Wis., and Lisa Pettican of Johns Island, S.C., as well as nieces and nephews. Father was preceded in death by his parents.

A Mass of Christian Burial is to take place March 28 at The Beloved Disciple Catholic Church, Grove City, Pa. Burial will be in Findley Cemetery, Mercer. In addition, a Memorial Mass will be held on April 12, at 11 a.m., at St. Bernard Parish, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Diocese of Venice Timothy Fund, which promotes vocations to the priesthood, or the American Diabetes Association.

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