Priest, founder of two Parishes, dies

Father Charles K. Sullivan, founding Pastor of St. Columbkille and St. John XXIII Parishes in Fort Myers, died April 27, 2022, at the age of 85 in Ocala.

Father Sullivan was born the second son of Joseph Sullivan and Ruth Keiter, on Aug. 6, 1936, in Newton, Massachusetts. Ordained to the priesthood on May 1, 1964, at St. Michael Monastery with the Passionate Congregation in Union City, N.J., Father Sullivan served for four years in the northeast leading missions and retreats.

Eventually, Father Sullivan arrived in Florida to become associate retreat director at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center in North Palm Beach. In 1970, Father was the founding Pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Parish in North Palm Beach and served there for 12 years. He returned to New Jersey serving in a merged Parish there before returning to Florida when the Diocese of Venice was erected in 1984.

Father’s first assignment in the Diocese of Venice was as Administrator of St. Isabel Parish in Sanibel (1984-1985) before becoming Administrator of Our Lady of Mercy Mission (now Parish) in Boca Grande (1985-1988). Father Sullivan was then named co-Pastor of San Marco Parish in Marco Island (1988-1990), before being assigned as Pastor of St. Ann Parish in Naples (1990-1993).

It was in 1993 when Father Sullivan helped establish St. Columbkille Parish in south Fort Myers as Pastor. The first liturgies were celebrated in modular units before a Parish Church was built in 1997.

Then in 2002, Father was founding Pastor of St. John XXIII Parish (formerly Blessed John XXIII Mission) in Fort Myers which held its first liturgies at Noonan Elementary. Once again, Father oversaw the construction of a new Parish Church, which was dedicated in 2005.

Throughout his ministry, Father Sullivan was active in prison outreach and a strong supporter of the Cursillo Movement. Shortly after his 70th birthday, Father Sullivan retired from active ministry on Sept. 1, 2006.

A viewing will take place from 5-8 p.m., Friday, May 6 at St. Columbkille Parish, 12171 Iona Road, Fort Myers, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 7 at St. Columbkille.

Please pray for the repose of his soul and the consolation of his family. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in eternal peace.

Retired Pastor from Cape Coral dies

The Diocese of Venice is mourning the loss of Father Timothy Murphy, a retired priest of the Diocese of Venice who passed away March 19, 2022, at the age of 97.

Father Murphy most notably served as Pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral for 21 years and later founded St. Andrew Catholic School.

Born in County Cork, Ireland on March 20, 1924, to Timothy and Ellen (McCarthy) Murphy, Father Murphy was the sixth of seven children. He graduated from Mount Mellary College in County Waterford, Ireland, and All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1960, in Dublin, for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

It was in 1970 when Father came to the Florida to serve in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, which at the time encompassed a large portion of the current Diocese of Venice. Here, Father Murphy served at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers as a Parochial Vicar from 1970 until his appointment as Pastor of St. Andrew in 1976.

Under Father’s direction, the Parish built a new church which was dedicated on Nov. 27, 1983, and was then debt free. As Cape Coral continued to grow and the number of children in religious education classes skyrocketed throughout the 1980s, Father Murphy explored the option of building a Catholic school. St. Andrew Catholic School opened in 1989 and the Sisters of the Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary initially staffed the new school.

Within the Diocese of Venice, Father Murphy was a longtime member of the school board for Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, a member of the Presbyteral Council, Diocesan Treasurer, and then Vicar Forane (Dean) of the Central Deanery (1995-1997) prior to his retirement. In 1984, when St. Pope John Paul II erected the Diocese of Venice in Florida, Father Murphy was a member of an 11-priest committee which oversaw the various activities related to this important occasion. Events supervised included the elevation of Epiphany Church to a Cathedral, as well as the installation of Bishop John J. Nevins as the first Bishop of the new Diocese.

Father Murphy is survived by numerous family members.

The funeral arrangements for Father Timothy Murphy are as follows: Viewing Wednesday, April 6 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at St. Andrew Parish, 2628 Del Prado Boulevard, Cape Coral; Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday, April 7 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Andrew Parish.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Murphy and for the consolation of his family. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in eternal peace.

News Briefs for the Week of February 4, 2022

Hispanic Faith Formation Program begins latest sessions

The Diocesan Hispanic Ministries Formation Program has returned with classes starting in January 2022 at several Parishes. The topic of study for these sessions is “The Christian Virtues” and a total of seven classes will be held weekly through Lent. Those who register and attend 80% of the classes will receive a Diocesan Certification.

Memorial Mass held for former Pastor

A Memorial Mass was celebrated Jan. 27, 2022, for Father Dennis Cooney, longtime Pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, who died April 13, 2020. The death occurred during the early phase of the global pandemic and while a Funeral Mass was celebrated it was limited by the Parish to just 10 people at the time. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Memorial Mass and spoke of Father Cooney’s spirited work in support of life from conception to natural death.  Father Casey Jones, Pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples, delivered the homily.

Pray for Public Officials

Please pray for those public officials who serve within the Diocese of Venice, particularly during the remainder of the Florida Legislative Session scheduled to end on March 11. For a complete list of public officials and the days of the month we are asked to pray for them, please visit

Spring 40 Days for Life in Sarasota and Fort Myers

Join other Christians from Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022, through April 10, for the Spring/Lenten 40 Days for Life peaceful prayer campaign. This campaign encompasses 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion. Stand and peacefully pray during vigils in the public right-of-way outside Planned Parenthood in Fort Myers or Sarasota. Contact your Parish Coordinator for specific information about your Parish’s commitment days. For the 40 Days for Life flier and additional information, please visit or

Memorial Service held for longtime benefactor of Catholic Education

A Memorial Mass was celebrated Feb. 1, 2022, for Leslie S. “Mitzi” Magin, a longtime supporter of the Catholic Church and particularly for Catholic Education in Collier County who died July 13, 2020. The Mass was held at St. Ann Parish in Naples, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the main celebrant. Magin was active in numerous charities, including St. Ann Parish, St. Ann Catholic School Foundation, St. John Neumann Catholic High School, all in Naples, as well as the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation (then known as the Rice School) in Port Charlotte. She was also a longtime member of the Advisory Board for the Emerald Ball, which benefits Catholic Charities of Collier County.

Men’s & Women’s Conference in one month

Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 5, 2022, when the Diocese of Venice will be combining the annual Men’s and Women’s Conferences into a single conference to take place at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center, 75 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda. The conference will host speakers Trent Horn, Matthew Leonard, Emily Wilson and Dr. Michael Dauphinais. The day will focus on the universal call to holiness and the role of the laity in building up the body of Christ, with a special focus on biblical answers to current challenges. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession will be available all day. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will conclude the day by celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Doors open at 8 a.m. with the day beginning at 9:00 a.m. and concluding with the closing Mass at 4 p.m. Please visit for registration.

Longtime Port Charlotte Pastor dies

Father Robert (Bob) Mattingly, a longtime Pastor at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte, died Jan. 7, 2022, at the age of 82.

Father Mattingly was raised in Washington, D.C., and later studied electrical engineering before training at the National Security Agency in computer research before converting to Catholicism. He discerned a vocation to the priesthood and studied at Niagara University in Lewiston, N.Y., and then St. Mary’s Seminary and University as well as Loyola University, both in Baltimore, Maryland. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 18, 1968 for the Diocese of Savannah. He served in Catholic schools and Parishes in the Savannah Diocese before entering the Benedictine Abbey in Pecos, New Mexico where he did retreat work and coordinated the School for Spiritual Directors. It was in June 1990 that he requested assignment within the Diocese of Venice in Florida to be near his aging parents.

Within the Diocese of Venice, Father Mattingly served as Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral and then at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Venice on Dec. 23, 1991. Father Mattingly was appointed Administrator at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish on July 1, 1994, and one year later was named Pastor. He served there until his retirement on June 30, 2006. In his retirement Father continued to assist at Parishes throughout the Central and Northern Deanery of the Diocese and enjoyed reading and traveling.

A Vigil Prayer Service will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 27, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 1441 Spear St., Port Charlotte. A Funeral Mass will take place at 11 a.m., Jan. 28, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish with Bishop Frank J. Dewane as the main celebrant.

Please pray for the repose of the soul and consolation of his family. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in eternal peace.

News Briefs for the Week of Oct. 1, 2021

Scout 10 Commandment Hike held

The Knights of Columbus of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Council 15821, led by Grand Knight Anthony Hopfinger, presented a dialogue with the Cub Scouts about the Ten Commandments held on Sept. 25, 2021, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The Cub Scouts hiked around the Lake of the Blessed Sacrament to 10 different points to discuss the Commandment with the Knights. Patches were blessed and distributed by Father Lawton Lang, Diocesan Scout Chaplain. A light lunch was provided by the staff at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. All were pleased with the weather, the program, and the presentations.

Religious Sister dies

Sister Maria del Carmen Peña, Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco, died unexpectedly Sept. 25, 2021 in Haledon, New Jersey at the age of 87 and a Salesian Sister for 65 years. Sister Carmen retired at the age of 86 after six years of service in the finance office of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples. The high school posted a message of her passing on social media and stated: “She loved our school and we loved her even more.  She was small in stature, but captured a big piece of your heart once you met her. Her legacy will live on through all those who were blessed to know her.  May you rest in peace Sr. Carmen.  No doubt some of the first words she heard was, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’” Born in 1934 in Saltillo, Mexico, Sister Carmen served in various roles of leadership for more than 40 years, including Provincial Treasurer and Provincial Vicar and much more. A Mass of Christian Burial was held Sept. 27, 2021, at the St. Joseph Provincial Center in Haledon, New Jersey.

Latest Catholic Charities vaccination clinic a success

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. continues to reach out to underserved portions of the community by hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics throughout the Diocese. The latest clinic was hosted Sept. 25, 2021 at the Casa San Juan Bosco Farmworker Housing community in Arcadia. Representatives of the DeSoto County Department of Health and Florida Department of Health administered the vaccines with volunteers assisting and handing out gift bags of food and other essentials to all who came. Catholic Charities has hosted more than a dozen vaccination clinics throughout the region.

Interest in science blossoms in Chemistry Club

The after-school St. Catherine Catholic School Chemistry Club explored chemical changes in matter during various scientific experiments at their Sept. 27, 2021 meeting. Everyone in the club loves science.

Students donate care packages

Members of the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School St. Vincent de Paul Society in Sarasota donated more than 100 care packages to the families and clients of Bethesda House of the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Venice, Inc. on Sept. 24, 2021.

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated in school

Students at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by doing research on the different Spanish-speaking countries in the world. Students then created a presentation to share what they learned with the rest of the class on Sept. 21, 2021.

Students learn about Moses

The first grade students of Christine Macaluso at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers learned about the story of Moses in class the week of Sept. 20, 2021. They ended their week by creating colorful drawings of baby Moses in a basket.

Schools hold Boosterthon

St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota held a Boosterthon the week of Sept. 20-24, 2021. One of the highlights was a fun run and other games, topped off by ice cream at the end of the week. Money raised during the week will go toward various programs in the two schools.

Students celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day outside

Pre-K-3 and Pre-K-4 classes at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples celebrated Johnny Appleseed Day with an outdoor class on Sept. 27, 2021. Students sat on blankets while they learned about a man who not only introduced apples to North America but promoted conservation.

News Briefs for Week of Sept. 17, 2021

Civilize it! Campaign Relaunched

It was during the 2019-2020 election cycle that Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, encouraged all to take a Pledge entitled “Civilize It!” for a more enlightened political season.  On September 7, 2021, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) relaunched Civilize it:  A Better Kind of Politics, to address the polarization in society.  Join Catholics across the Diocese of Venice in taking the Civilize It Pledge to engage individuals, families, and communities in a dialogue of bridgebuilding.  Visit and sign the Pledge today.

Civilize It:  A Better Kind of Politics Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where uncivil words prevail, show me how to model love.

Help me remember the God-given dignity of all and invite others to do the same.

Show me how to build bridges and not walls and see first what unites us rather than how we diverge.

Let me seek to understand before asking to be understood.

Give me a listening heart filled with empathy and compassion.

May I be clear in sharing my own position and respectful and civil in describing those of others.

Let me never tolerate hateful ideas.

May I invite all to charity and love.

Lord, help me to imitate your compassion and mercy.

Make me an instrument of your peace. Amen

School benefactor dies

Louis Zazarino, a supporter of St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota died Sept. 4, 2021. He was 78. A devoted parishioner of St Martha Parish in Sarasota, Zazarino took great joy in giving back. He loved dancing, horses, and cars. Those who knew him loved him for his humor, humanity, and humility. He will be dearly missed by his family and children. A social media post from St. Mary Catholic Academy stated, “His legacy as a supporter of Catholic Education will never be forgotten. The Zazarino Center of St. Martha and St. Mary will serve as a reminder of his generosity, love and support forever. May God grant him eternal rest.” A similar post was made by St. Martha Catholic School. A funeral Mass, celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, was Sept. 9, 2021 at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota.

Venice CCW member named to State Board

Brenda Dolan, Immediate Past President of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, has been installed as President, Provincial Director-Elect Florida Council of Catholic Women (FCCW) Board. The new Board members were installed at the Province Dinner on Aug. 26, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. This was part of the 101st National CCW Convention. In June 2021, Dolan, of St. Therese Parish in North Fort Myers, completed a two-year term as Co-President of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. She was President for two years before that. Several women from the Diocese of Venice also serve on FCCW committees, including Iris Gomez, Legislative Advocacy Co-Chair; Ellen Bachman, Our Lady of Good Counsel Co-Chair; Dolan, By Laws Committee Chair. The current Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women President is Josephine Weiss.

Giving back on Labor Day

Students and faculty from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples gave up some of their Labor Day holiday to help distribute food at nearby St. Elizabeth Seton Parish. Under the portico in front of the Parish Church, the students and faculty helped to load vehicles with food for families in need. Among the helpers were four Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco, who serve at St. John Neumann, including Principal Sister Patricia Roche.

Blizzards in a jar

For students learning in Florida it is pretty rare for them to experience a blizzard, but with a little bit of science kindergarteners and first graders at St. Mary Catholic Academy created their own blizzards – in a jar, of course. These students took part in the science experiment during class on Sept. 9, 2021 in Sarasota. Here’s how it works: Because oil is less dense than water, the water will naturally sink to the bottom of the jar. When the Alka-Seltzer is dropped into the jar, its interaction with the water creates pressure in an upward direction, and the oil pushes it back down. This pressure back and forth is part of what creates the snowstorm. The other element is the interaction between water and sodium bicarbonate in the Alka-Seltzer, which generates carbon dioxide gas. The combination of these factors creates a blizzard every time! The students had a blast!

Happy Birthday Mary

On the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sept. 8, 2021, students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers by making their own Mary statues and writing the Blessed Virgin birthday cards.

Science students learn about hurricanes and earthquakes

Students in an Environmental Science class at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers learned about the impact of hurricanes and earthquakes on structures in a Sept. 8, 2021 lab where they created their own houses.

Bishop celebrates Mass at Mooney

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, joined by Father Eric Scanlan, Chaplain of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, receives the gifts presented by students during the school Mass held on September 14, 2021.

Circus Chaplain dies at 75

Father George “Jerry” Hogan, the national Circus Chaplain, and who served seasonally at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, died May 5, 2021 in Massachusetts at the age of 75.

Father Hogan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston for 46 years, served for three decades as the national “Circus Chaplain” under the direction of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Cultural Diversity’s Subcommittee on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers (PCMRT). Bishop Frank J. Dewane is the Episcopal Liaison of the PCMRT.

As part of his service as national “Circus Chaplain,” Father Hogan was affiliated with St. Martha Parish in downtown Sarasota, which was designated as the “National Circus Parish” by the PCMRT. Splitting his time between his home in Massachusetts and Sarasota, Father was frequently on the road ministering to different circus troupes and performers.

Born on April 13, 1946 in Woburn, Massachusetts, he studied at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts and was ordained to the priesthood on May 18, 1974 for the Archdiocese of Boston. It was in 1990 when he was approached to assist in the “Circus Ministry,” and Father Hogan often returned to St. Martha and served as host for the annual gathering of PCMRT pastoral workers each January. Since 2013, Father Hogan spent several months each winter assisting at St. Martha before returning to Massachusetts.

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated May 10, 2021 at St. Michael Parish in North Andover, with burial following at Calvary Cemetery, Woburn. St. Martha Parish will have a Memorial Mass for Father Hogan at 10:30 a.m., May 22, 2021.

Retired, founding Pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea died

The Diocese of Venice is mourning the loss of Father Edward Pick, the retired founding Pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish in Longboat Key, who passed away March 27, 2021 at the age of 86.

Born on February 22, 1935 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Father Pick grew up in Florida and returned to Ohio to attend St. Gregory Seminary and Mount St. Mary of the West Seminary (now known at the Athenaeum of Ohio) in Cincinnati. He was Ordained to the Priesthood on May 28, 1960 in Cincinnati.

Since his ordination, Father Pick served in the Archdiocese of Miami and the Diocese of St. Petersburg with Parishes in Lake Worth, Miami, North Miami, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale.

Having been incardinated in the Diocese of Venice since its inception in 1984, Father Pick was Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda from 1968 to 1973 and served briefly at Our Lady of Mercy Mission on Boca Grande before becoming the founding Pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish in Longboat Key in 1973.

Masses at St. Mary, Star of the Sea were originally celebrated in a fire station before the current church was built in Manatee County, just north of the Sarasota County line. He served at the Parish from November 21, 1973 until his retirement on May 1, 2008.

Known as a “gentle giant,” referring to his 6-foot 6-inch frame, Father Pick actively supported area Catholic schools and traveled up north seeking support for Diocesan migrant programs. Within the Diocese of Venice, he served as Dean of the Northern Deanery and was appointed a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy of Sepulcher by St. Pope John Paul II. In his retirement, Father Pick continued to assist at the Parish.

Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.

Please pray for the repose of his soul and the consolation of his family. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in eternal peace.

News Briefs for the week of February 26, 2021

Mooney Girl’s Basketball reaches first State Final

The Lady Cougars of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in the State Final! The team won the Class 3A State Semifinal over The Master’s Academy of Oviedo on Feb. 24, 2021 at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.  The Cougars will be competing in the State Final against Miami Country Day on March 5, a game which was postponed from Feb. 26. The team took the Class 3A Regional Championship over the Community School of Naples in Naples on Feb. 19. The Lady Cougars are 20-8 this season and appearing in their first State Final.

Retired priest dies

Father Carl A. Birarelli, a retired priest who assisted at Parishes in Sarasota and Manatee counties died on February 12, 2021, in Sarasota. He was 94. Born in Everett, Massachusetts, Father Birarelli was ordained in June 15, 1958 and was a Priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati until his retirement in 1994. Throughout his ministry he served in several parishes throughout the United States and Canada. Within the Diocese of Venice, he assisted at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton and Incarnation Parish in Sarasota. He is survived by many nieces and nephews who were extremely devoted to him throughout his life and ministry. A Mass of Christian Burial was held Feb. 22 at Our Lady of the Angels. Burial followed at Palms Memorial Park in Sarasota.

Safe Haven Sunday March 7

Pornography is one of the leading causes of addictions, abuse, adultery, divorce, and even human trafficking: it is, in short, a pervasive evil inflicting grave wounds on our families. Pornography creates unsafe environments for children and confuses others about attitudes towards sex and marriage. It is a moral issue. For this reason, March 7, 2021 has been designated as Safe Haven Sunday in the Diocese of Venice. This day for awareness will give an opportunity to address the harmfulness of pornography in marriages, families, and culture, while providing helpful resources for all. Detailed information about the implementation of this program will be shared in the coming weeks through your Parishes. Join the Safe Digital Family Challenge by texting SECURE to 66866 to receive seven days of emailed digital tips to create a safe haven in your home. If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Harkey, Diocesan Coordinator of Family Life at or 941-484-9543.

Longtime Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs dies

Father Joseph F. Connolly, Third Order Regular Franciscan (TOR), Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota, died Jan. 16, 2021, at the age of 79.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the death of Father Connolly was a loss for the Diocese and in particular Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, where he served as Pastor for 24 years.

“Father Connolly was a priest who had a passion for his ministry,” Bishop Dewane said. “Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Connolly, for the people of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs who found inspiration by his good work, and for his family for whom this loss is particularly personal.”

Born on Aug. 9, 1941, in Springfield, Mass., Father Joe, as most called him, entered the Third Order Regular community in September 1959. He professed first vows on July 1, 1962. Educated at St. Francis College (now university) and St. Francis Seminary in Loretto, Pa., Father Connolly was ordained May 18, 1968 in Loretto.

After ordination he was assigned to a teaching position in Fairless Hills, Pa., where he eventually became principal. While teacher and principal he served on weekends in parishes in the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., including in Willingboro, and for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at a parish in Fairless Hills. From there, Father Connolly served at a parish in Cinnaminson, N.J.

It was in 1994 when Father Connolly was assigned to the Diocese of Venice where he was Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton from 1994-1996. Father was then appointed as Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota in late 1996 where he served until his death.

While at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Father Connolly was instrumental in forming the Mission of what became Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch and was on the Fundraising Board for Bethesda House of Catholic Charities in Sarasota. A special Padre Pio Shrine was dedicated on parish property February 23, 2006, at the direction of Father Connolly and funded by the Saint Padre Pio Society. This Shrine has since become nationally recognized.

For the Diocese of Venice, Father served on the Presbyteral Council, the College of Consultors, and was the longtime Spiritual Advisor of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.

Known for making fettucine alfredo for guests, something he said was the only dish his fellow seminarians liked while he was in formation. In a 2004 interview with the Florida Catholic, Father Connolly was asked what person, other than Christ, he admires most. His reply was, “St. Francis of Assisi, although I don’t measure up to him, either.”

He was honored as a Golden Jubilarian at the 2018 Chrism Mass and on that occasion, Father noted with time he had gained a renewed perspective on his sacramental ministry. Reflecting on his own years as priest, Father said that “after 50 years of faithful service we jubilarians come to realize just how much God loves us; how Jesus works through us; and how the Holy Spirit still inspires us.”

In his final months of ministry, Father Connolly had a serious illness and was unable to celebrate Mass publicly out of health concerns and he regularly posted video messages to the faithful about his progress in recovery and how his prayers were always focused on the faithful and their spiritual wellbeing.

The Funeral arrangements for Father Connolly T.O. R., are as follows:

Viewing – 4-7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, 833 Magellan Drive, Sarasota;

Mass of Christian Burial – 11 a.m., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, at the Parish.