Permanent Deacon Ordained in Palmetto

As his wife and three sons looked on, Craig J. Dutka became a changed man, transforming from a member of the laity to a Permanent Deacon of the Diocese of Venice.

Dutka processed into Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto on June 18, 2022, dressed in the white alb of a candidate. It wasn’t until Bishop Frank J. Dewane laid his hands upon the head of the candidate that Dutka was officially ordained a Permanent Deacon. During this moment, in silence, Bishop Dewane placed his hands on Dutka’s head and prayed for an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The imposition of the Bishop’s hands confers grace and spiritual power.

Deacon Dutka came to the Diocese of Venice on a spiritual journey from New Jersey, where he entered the permanent diaconate program in the Diocese of Metuchen, and one year shy of ordination there was forced to leave the program when he lost his business and moved to Florida. Undeterred, he was accepted as a Permanent Deacon candidate in the Diocese of Venice as long as he completed additional formation.

This led to the moment of his ordination, which Deacon Dutka said was made possible by his complete faith in the Lord, with the assistance of Bishop Dewane and others in the Diocesan Diaconate Formation Program, family and friends. He also credited the prayers and blessings of his wife and three sons with the achieving of his dream of becoming an ordained servant of the Lord.

During his homily, Bishop remarked that the new Deacon’s “soul has been indelibly marked; be conscious of the change that has taken place within you. As a Deacon you are loved by Jesus Christ in a particular way that comes with a grace from your response to His call. Be the instrument of Jesus Christ in response to that love.”

Bishop Dewane called on Dutka to be the leaven in the community and to be a pillar in their Parish while calling others to the Faith. “The Lord will give you the words,” he said. “Your life experiences will add meaning to those words and serve you well. Do the will of God from your heart and serve the people with love and joy.”

During his homily, the Bishop also took time to thank Dukta’s wife, Eileen, for her effort in joining her husband sacramentally, through marriage, on this spiritual journey. He noted that the partnership they have, and the support from the whole family has helped to shape the new Deacon into who he is today: a man of God.

At the start of the formal Rite, the candidate was called before Bishop Dewane by Father Kristian Villafana, temporary Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, and then presented to the Bishop for his examination. The election by Bishop Dewane includes the following prayer: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose this, our brother, for the Order of the Diaconate.” The gathered deacons, priests and faithful responded: “Thanks be to God.”

After the homily, the part of the Rite called the Promise of the Elect took place, when Dutka came forward, and the Bishop asked him whether he was willing to accept the responsibilities of the ministry: to live in humble charity, to hold fast to the Mystery of the Faith, to celebrate the liturgy of hours with and for the People of God, and to maintain and deepen his prayer life. To each question, the Candidate Dutka responded, “I do.” Then he approached and kneeled before Bishop to give his promise of obedience to the Bishop and his successors.

Next in the Rite was the Litany of the Supplicants when Dutka prostrated himself before the altar as the assembled kneeled. The Litany of Saints was then sung. At the conclusion, the Bishop outstretched his hands and recited a prayer. Next was the Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Ordination.

Father Villafana then placed a Deacon’s stole and a dalmatic on Deacon Dutka. Once vested, Dutka knelt again before the Bishop and then the last part of the Rite, the Handing On of the Book of Gospels took place. The Mass continued as usual at this point with the newly ordained Deacon Dutka serving as Deacon of the Altar.

The mission of the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of Venice is to: serve as ministers of charity, leading in identifying the needs of others and striving to meet those needs; serve as ministers of the Word, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching and teaching in the name of the Church; serve as ministers of the Sacrament of Baptism; witness marriages; conduct wake and funeral services; and lead the faithful in prayer.

The Diocese was blessed to have seven men ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in 2020, and an additional 13 men are in diaconate formation class for possible ordination in 2025.

News Briefs for the Week of June 24, 2022

Appointments

After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Joseph Clifford, has taken an assignment in the Diocese of Lansing, as Chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI, effective February 2, 2022.

Father Piotr Paciorek, retired as Parochial Vicar of Ave Maria Parish, effective May 31, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of Ave Maria Parish.

Father Chester Domaszewicz, retired as Pastor of St. Bernard Parish, effective June 1, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Pastor of St. Bernard Parish.

Msgr. Patrick Dubois, has been appointed as Vicar Forane of the Northern Deanery, effective June 17, 2022.

Ordination to the Priesthood July 16

Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacons Christian Chami, David Portorreal, and Michael Young. The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., on Saturday, July 16, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the lives of the Deacons as well as the Diocese of Venice. The event will be livestreamed via the Epiphany Cathedral Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EpiphanyCathedral – you do not need to be a subscriber to view the ordination.) A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Where is Totus Tuus this Week?

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. During the week of June 20-24, 2022, the team was at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle. The weeklong Parish summer catechetical camp program assists parents and parishes in evangelizing and catechizing the youth by complementing the work they are already doing at the parish and at home. This summer the program is offered at eight parishes in the Diocese of Venice with two sessions now completed. The camp program takes place for grades 1-5, Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and for grades 6-12, Monday – Thursday from 7:30 p.m.to 9:45 p.m. Several parishes still have openings for this program. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the parish hosting the program or Anne Chrzan at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org. The remaining Parishes hosting the program are as follows:

  • St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory Street, Sebring, June 27-July 1.
  • St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers, July 11-15.
  • St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th Street West, Bradenton, July 18-22.
  • St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, July 25-29.
  • St. Patrick Parish, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, August 1-5.

Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help June 27

All are welcome to attend the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 11:15 a.m., Monday, June 27 in the St. Joseph Chapel on the grounds of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 S. Moon Drive, Venice to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In preparation, you are invited to pray a novena starting Saturday, June 18. The daily prayers are published on the website at www.olph-retreat.org. The Fall 3-night, 5-night, and 7-night private, directed retreat schedule is also published on the website. To learn more about a private retreat and to register, please visit www.olph-retreat.org or call 941-486-0233.

Independence Day Bike and Golf Cart Parade

The Knights of Columbus Ave Maria Assembly 3862 is hosting the 6th annual “God Bless America” Independence Day Bike and Golf Cart Parade, at 10 a.m., Monday, July 4, 2022. The ceremony starts in the Piazza of the town and will include a reflection from an Ave Maria veteran on the “Blessing of Freedom,” then patriotic songs, prayers for our country, then a “Blessing of the Bikes.” The parade, which will include bikes, trikes, golf carts, skateboards, strollers (decorated or not), will be led by a fire truck and pass through several neighborhoods, ending approximately 2 miles later back in the Piazza where there will be treats available. All are welcome. For more information, contact Dominick Micillo at 904-536-1480.

Mooney grad takes Junior golf title

Wyatt Plattner, a recent graduate of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, won the 50th Southern Junior Championship at the Country Club of Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2022. To take the title, Plattner notched four birdies on the back nine holes to post a final-round 67, earning a three-shot win in the 54-hole event at 9-under-par 201. The Mooney grad will play at the college level at the University of Cincinnati beginning this fall.

Volunteers needed in Naples

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Naples is looking for thrift store volunteers. If you would like to offer your time as a cashier, sorter, receiver or customer assistance representative for SVdP Naples, call Samantha at 239-775-2907 ext. 1014 or email info@svdpnaples.org.

Youth Conference July 8-10

The 14th annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference – “Fearless” – is being held July 8 to10, 2022. Featured talks are by Father Rick Martignetti, Father Joseph Lugalambi, Father Rich Pagano and Chris Padget. The event includes the talks, Mass, Adoration, praise and worship, fellowship, and opportunities for confession. The cost is $175 and includes lodging, all meals, a t-shirt and more. To register, call 239-348-4725, aveconferences@gmail.com or www.aveconferences.com.

Adoption services available

Catholic Charities Adoption Services is a state-wide agency that provides counseling to birth parents, and provisions or resources to meet the needs of birth parents considering adoption planning. If you or a loved one would like to learn more, please call Joan Pierse at 941-355-4680.

Men’s Support after Abortion Program

One in 4 women will have experienced at least one abortion by age 45. A man is connected to every pregnancy and abortion. Men are hurting from their abortion experiences too. Men often push down their experience or cover it up with unhealthy behaviors. For six weeks beginning on Saturday, July 9, 2022, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples, Father Mark Harris will team up with Nathan Misirian from Support After Abortion to co-facilitate a program just for men wounded, angry or hurt by abortion. If you (or someone you know) are a man ready for healing, or you know someone who is, confidentially call 941-412-5860 today or email project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org to register for this series.

Volunteer to Help Pregnant Mothers

Looking for a way to help pregnant women in need?  Your tax-deductible donation will help with rent, utilities, or other necessities.  Give to the Catholic Charities Pennies for Babies Fund, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285 where no administrative fees are taken from any donations. Questions?  Contact Jeanne Berdeaux, Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Permanent Deacon to be ordained June 18

There were many times throughout the life of Craig J. Dutka when he could have turned away from his Faith, breaking his strong connection with Christ. But that is not the Catholic man Dutka has become. Instead, he is on the threshold of achieving the dream of being Ordained to the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Venice.

The Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate is at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 18, 2022, at Holy Cross Parish, 506 26th St. W., Palmetto.

Dutka came to the Diocese of Venice from the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey. It is where he was born and raised and started his own family. After hearing a call to become a Permanent Deacon, Dutka entered the Diaconate training program in New Jersey, taking requisite advanced classes at Seton Hall University and progressing well even though he had little background in sacred theology.

However, that dream of service to the Church as a Permanent Deacon was put on hold when Dutka lost the business he founded and ran for 17 years. With a financial crisis and a need to ensure the future of his family, he dropped out of the diaconate formation program and eventually moved to Florida to find work in his field as an electrician and project manager.

“Although fear abounded,” Dutka explained, “God always tells us to: ‘Trust Me in all things.’ My trust in God is absolute. I felt very alone as my class moved forward toward ordination. However, God has been so good to me, and the trajectory of my life could have gone in a negative direction; but my Faith and my family helped me get through the junkyard that was that point in my life.”

So, when his New Jersey classmates, whom he identifies as brothers, were each ordained as Permanent Deacons in 2019, Dutka was there to pray and cheer for them.

At the same time, his life in Florida was settling down and he reached out to the Diocese of Venice Permanent Diaconate Formation program leaders seeking to learn about his options. Dutka said that although he had competed nearly all of his formation in New Jersey, he was practical in the reality that he might have to go through an entire seven-year process a second time.

“Deacon Bill Ladroga (then Permanent Diaconate Formation Director) was hesitant because of my age and the fact that no one in the Diocese of Venice knew who I was,” Dutka said. “A letter from my Bishop (Most Rev. James F. Checchio) to Bishop Dewane opened the door to a personal interview.”

Bishop Dewane was impressed with Dutka’s determination and understood his unique circumstances. Ultimately, Bishop Dewane offered Dutka entrance into the Diocese of Venice formation program with the stipulation that he make the commitment with his whole heart and soul, and was willing to complete at least two additional years of study, at which point his petition for ordination would be reviewed.

“I immediately agreed because at that point I was willing to do 7 more years of formation,” Dutka said. “I joined the Venice formation class of 2025 and was worried that I wouldn’t have anything in common with my new brothers, but it was the opposite… I gained a great deal of love and support from them, and they learned from me. The Diaconate is a brotherhood of service that creates a strong bond.”

Dutka credits Bishop Dewane, Deacon Ladroga, Deacon Bob Gaitens (current Permanent Diaconate Formation Director), as well as Father Kristian Villafaña, Temporary Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, with helping him make it through. They each offered guidance and had faith and confidence in him to succeed, he said.

Although he has overcome many obstacles in his life, from being born in a taxi during a snowstorm, losing both parents in a short period of time when he was a teen, to losing his business and more, Dutka said he always counts himself as blessed.

“I have had a calling within the Church. My journey might serve to inspire others to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit tells you ‘This is or isn’t what you are going to do with your life,’ you have to listen and have Faith.”

Dutka grew up and worked in Monroe, New Jersey, before coming to Florida. He currently works as a project manager at Willis Smith Construction and is married to his wife of 22 years, Eileen. He has three boys, Shane, Brett and David.

The Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate of Craig J. Dutka is open to the public and all are welcome and encouraged to attend. The ordination is 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 18, 2022, at Holy Cross Parish, 506 26th St. W., Palmetto.

News Briefs for the week of May 13 2022

Appointments

After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Jayabalan Raju, Parochial Vicar of Epiphany Cathedral Parish, Venice, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective April 22, 2022.

Father Fausto Stampiglia, S.A.C., V.F., retired as Pastor of St. Martha Parish and other Diocesan responsibilities, effective May 14, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Pastor of St. Martha Parish.

Father Jerzy (George) Suszko, S.A.C., is appointed as Pastor of St. Martha Parish, effective May 14, 2022. At the same time, he is relieved of his duty as Parochial Vicar at St. Martha Parish.

Father Marcin Koziola, is relieved of his duties as Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, effective May 2, 2022.

Father Kristian Villafaña, is appointed as Temporary Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, effective May 2, 2022.

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate June 18

All are invited and encouraged to attend the Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate for the following candidate: Craig Dutka of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto. The Ordination will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 18, 2022, at Holy Cross Parish, 506 26th St. W., Palmetto. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow.

Sarasota Beach Volleyball team State Champs

Congratulations to our Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Girls Beach Volleyball team from Sarasota, they are State Champions for the Sunshine State Conference! The team beat Merritt Island High School on April 30, 2022, at Hickory Point Beach in Taveras. The team then fell in the quarterfinals of the FSHAA State Tournament on May 7, 2022, at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The team finished the season with a 22-2 overall record.

Fort Myers tennis team takes second at State

Congratulations to the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Viking Girls Tennis team in Fort Myers. They made Verot history today, earning 2nd place in the State Championship on April 29 at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry! The ladies entered the State Tournament at the 6th seed and took down two teams before falling in the Final to Gulliver Prep. Way to go ladies!

Pitcher throws Perfect Game

St. John Neumann Catholic High School Freshman Sophia Escobar pitched a Perfect Game on April 26, 2022, against South Fort Myers High School. She also struck out 14 batters during the game. A Perfect Game means Sofia did not allow any walks, hits or runs. Well done!

Venice school is STREAM Accredited

Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice is officially a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) Accredited Catholic School in the Diocese of Venice. Accreditation became official on April 26, 2022, from the Florida Catholic Conference of Bishops Accreditation Committee. The process of being certified has taken six years and the school credits its teachers for dedicating unit and lesson plans to the process.

Youngest students have fun measuring

Pre-kindergarten students, the youngest at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring, had fun on May 9, 2022, learning how to measure different objects. This lesson is helping to prepare these young minds for more advanced math in Kindergarten and beyond.

Two Seminarians ordained Transitional Deacon

Alan Baldarelli Jr. and Michael Young followed different calls of the Lord in their lives, but their answers were the same, leading the two Diocese of Venice seminarians on a journey toward the priesthood. The pair reached a major milestone along that path on April 2, 2022, when they were ordained as Transitional Deacons.

Deacons Baldarelli and Young were among 11 ordained at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Boca Raton by Most Rev. David L. Toups, Bishop of the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas. The men, from different Dioceses across Florida, are studying at both St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach and Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.

With a broad smile on his face throughout his ordination, Deacon Baldarelli moves forward comfortable in the knowledge that he is truly following the call of the Lord in his life.

“I feel very confident in my vocation call,” he said. He explained that the personal perspective gained from his previous work life before entering seminary, as well as seminarian pastoral assignments in Parishes, all combined to bring him to this joyful point in his spiritual journey.

Deacon Young said that this milestone is all part of a bigger journey. “I am in awe; one step closer to being able to save souls. This is all much bigger than me and I am blessed to be here.”

The first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church, deacons perform many services to the Church in conjunction with the ministries of priests and bishops. In Parish life, deacons may preside at baptisms, weddings and rites of Christian burial, assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel and deliver homilies.

In his homily, Bishop Toups explained how Jesus was the Good Shepherd, and we must always be good sheep and follow the voice, and for the 11 men, that call is as deacons, and soon to be priests, all done with humble confidence and trust in the Lord.

“Jesus knows you and loves you,” Bishop Toups said. “You are not alone. He has called you for this time – from the womb of all eternity – He has called you to serve and evangelize a world in a global pandemic, at war in Europe, and in a post-Christian culture that desperately needs the Good Shepherd even if they don’t even know it.”

Citing the example of Pope John Paul II, who died 17 years to the day of the ordination, as an example of someone who let nothing deter his efforts to serve the Lord, Bishop Toups noted how all those called to a vocation to priesthood are uniquely called to the period of history in which they live and then to respond heroically. “We need such heroes for today.”

“You are called to shepherd and feed because our world is starving,” the Bishop continued. “Brothers, first, be good sheep every day and be aware always that Jesus knows you and He loves you. As you turn to Him, the Good Shepherd; listen to His voice in prayer; trust Him to lead you; and then you will be shepherds worthy of the name.”

Following the homily, the men approached Bishop Toups one-by-one, knelt and promised respect and obedience to his Bishop and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, the men then lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints.

The ordinations were complete after each man again approached the Bishop who imposed his hands on the candidate and proclaimed a prayer of consecration, to confer the Holy Spirit to guide their ministries.

The Deacons then received a stole and dalmatic (the exterior garb of a deacon), signifying the Office of Diaconate and the deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Next, the newly ordained Deacons knelt before the Bishop who presented them with the Book of the Gospels, and said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” The reception of the Book of Gospels is a symbol of their new ministry of proclaiming the Gospel and preaching. The Rite of Ordination concluded with the fraternal kiss of peace.

Deacon Baldarelli, 39, has been studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary since 2016. He previously graduated from John Carroll University in Ohio earning a degree in marketing. He worked in sales for 11 years prior to becoming a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice. As a seminarian, he had summer pastoral assignments at Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto and St. Paul Parish in Arcadia, and then completed a pastoral year at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. He said he benefitted from the sage wisdom of each of his priestly mentors.

Deacon Young, 55, has been studying at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary which specializes in formation for later vocations. He served in the U.S. Navy before becoming a law enforcement officer and special/enforcement agent. He later worked as a reentry program case manager for men and women transitioning from the Federal Bureau of Prisons back into society. He earned a degree from John Wesley College in North Carolina and is a former member of a religious community who has now transitioned to candidacy for the Diocesan priesthood. Within the Diocese of Venice, he served pastoral summer assignments at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice.

Please pray for these men as they continue their spiritual journey.

Seminarian ordained as Transitional Deacon

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Christian Chami took a major step toward his dream of becoming a priest when he was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate during a Mass Sept. 30, 2021 at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter, in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican.

Celebrated by Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., the ordination of 20 men from the Pontifical North American College is one of the final steps toward priesthood.

Present for the ordination were Deacon Chami’s immediate family and a few from his extended family. Also present in Rome was Bishop Frank J. Dewane who was one of the principle concelebrants; Father Alexander Pince (ordained in July 2021 and is completing his studies in Rome); as well as Diocesan Seminarians Daniel Scanlan (the cross-bearer for the Ordination Mass) and Joseph Doherty who are both studying at the Pontifical North American College.

Deacon Chami, 28, was born in Montreal, Canada, and was raised in Naples, and is a graduate of Florida State University where he first heard the call for a vocation to the priesthood.

“It popped up once at 17, but I really didn’t want to be a priest then, and the Lord also gave me a grace to wait,” Deacon Chami said. “I was well formed by the Brotherhood of Hope at Florida State, a religious order which runs the Catholic Student Union. They taught me how to pray with Scripture, pray silently, and how to properly discern.”

He became a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice in 2016, first attending St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami before being selected to get his advanced studies at the Pontifical North American College. There he earned a degree in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University and is working on his license in sacramental theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm.

During the ordination, the new Deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy, and obedience to their Diocesan Bishops. The new Deacons will have an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before being ordained to the priesthood in their home Dioceses. As part of the ordination rite, the Bishop placed the Book of Gospels in the hands of each candidate being ordained and said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

In his homily, Cardinal Gregory pointed out that although the first Deacons of the Church did not have to go through years of formation and pass exams in Scripture, Moral Theology, Church History, and Liturgy, Deacons then as now were required to “demonstrate by their lives that they were men of integrity, responsibility, holiness, and trustworthiness.” He emphasized that “public ministerial office for people of Faith is no casual undertaking – for the ancients and most certainly not for us.” With that in mind, he affirmed that the Church has always held its clergy to high standards of holiness and personal responsibility. The Cardinal added that a Deacon must be “a man of charity, (with) real and heartfelt compassion and concern for the poor, the neglected and the marginalized members of our world. A Deacon without a heart for charity will be a hollow and worthless son.”

Deacon Chami said that he was mostly at “peace with the ordination, but every once in a while, the weight of ordination would make itself felt. I mean, our Faith is a mystery, so the reception of such a weighty Sacrament in the Diaconate which is the confirmation of a man by sacred orders to Christ’s servanthood is pretty heavy. Thankfully I know the Good Lord will do the heavy lifting.”

Since joining the Diocese as a seminarian, Deacon Chami has served pastoral assignments at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs, Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers.

Please pray for Deacon Chami and each of the Diocese of Venice Seminarians who continue in discerning their vocation and formation for the priesthood.

Catholic News Service contributed information to the report.

Two join Presbyterate – Ordination draws large crowd

In a public response to a “call to holiness,” Transitional Deacons Mark Harris and Alexander Pince were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on July 31, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice as more than 500 people rejoiced.

The newly ordained responded to a particular call in their life and evidenced their response in a profound way by coming forward for ordination. The two men reflected afterwards about the powerful emotion of the moment that brought about an inner calm. They also expressed the genuine joy and love for the Lord they each witness.

The poignant and emotional Rite places Fathers Harris and Pince in a new role as they are raised to the Order of the Presbyterate where they will now celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, confer the Sacraments and teach the Gospel.

Bishop Dewane congratulated the ordinandi for answering the call to holiness and advancing in their formation through prayer, discernment, guidance and direction. This helped them grow closer to the Lord while at the same time reminded each they are called to reflect and magnify Christ and bring others closer to the Lord.

Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a priest is transformed and marked indelibly as an instrument through which others receive the Sacraments, Bishop Dewane added. It is through ordination that Harris and Pince have a new beginning, configured to Christ.

“Let the holiness of your life be an example to the People of God; to those you encounter,” Bishop added. “Let it be evident that you are a holy man – live the life the Lord calls you to be – to be holy.”

Bishop Dewane concluded his remarks explaining to Harris and Pince, “Holy Mother Church reminds you that you do this while united to the Body of Christ. Know that nobody can do this alone. It is not always easy. At some times you will be a bit fearful as was stated in our first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah. At other times you will feel a little bit imprisoned by this as our second reading from St. Paul noted. But pause and remember the Scriptures read on this day and know that it is the Lord who has chosen you. That you are living the life, the gift, the sacrament, that the Lord has given to you. May you be blessed always as you go forward.”

When the Rite of Ordination began, the elect were called forth by Father Shawn Roser, Diocesan Vocations Director, and upon hearing their names, each stood and answered “Present.” After the homily, individually, the ordinand knelt before the Bishop so as to promise respect and obedience to him and his successors. They then prostrated before the altar for the Litany of Supplication/Litany of Saints. The whole assembly joined in the prayer which invoked God’s Grace and the intercession of the Saints in heaven.

The Bishop then laid his hands on the head of each man and prayed silently. Next was the Prayer of Ordination. These combine to form an essential part of the Liturgy of the Sacrament of Holy Orders

Next, the newly ordained priests were vested in the stole and chasuble, vestments which are worn when celebrating the Eucharist and symbolize their responsibility and authority in service to Christ. Father Harris was vested by Father Jerry Kaywell, Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda. Father Pince was vested by Msgr. Roberto Garza, former Rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami.

The palms of the new priests were then anointed with the Sacred Chrism by Bishop Dewane, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make their ministry fruitful. Next, the Bishop presented each new priest with the chalice and paten which they are called to present to God in the Eucharistic sacrifice saying: “Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.” He repeated this commission, once each for the newly ordained priests.

The Rite of Ordination ended with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to each newly ordained priest, welcoming them into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. The priests present then followed the Bishop’s example. The newly ordained then joined Bishop Dewane at the altar to the applause and joy of all present.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist then followed. The new priests joined all the priests for the first time in concelebrating the Eucharist with Bishop Dewane, reciting together the words of Consecration. For the first time, they offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, acting in the person of Christ. From this sacrifice their whole priestly ministry will draw its strength.

During the ordination, Deacons Harris and Pince freely presented themselves to serve God, the Church and the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, and his successors. They also made a promise to celibacy and a promise to obedience. The reward for that choice is to have their life filled with the message of God.

In addition to family and friends, also present at the ordination were more than 50 priests, men and women religious, permanent deacons, the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.

The Ordination Mass was followed by a reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall where the newly ordained priests were available to greet the public and impart their priestly blessings on them.

Bios of the new priests

Father Harris, 54, was born in Miami and spent his childhood alternating between living in Florida and Connecticut. He earned degrees in Commercial Art and then Business Marketing and Management from Florida Metropolitan University, before earning a Master’s in Education from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., and worked at interior design, marketing, career development and teaching.

Becoming a seminarian in 2017, Father Harris studied at St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts where he graduated in May 2021. He previously served summer assignments at Epiphany Cathedral, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice and Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers. His first Mass was celebrated Aug. 1 at Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda and his first assignment is as Parochial Vicar of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples.

Father Pince, 30, was born in Concord, New Hampshire, to a large family and is the middle of seven children. He graduated from Ave Maria University in Ave Maria with majors in business and economics and worked for a few years before answering the call of service to the Lord.

During the summer of 2015, Deacon Pince started as a Diocesan seminarian with studies at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, earning a philosophy degree. He then studied in Rome, Italy, earning a Sacred Theology Bachelor’s Degree (STB) from the Gregorian University. He will soon be entering the second year of a two-year Licentiate program specializing in moral theology at the University of the Holy Cross in Rome. His summer assignments included Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostle Parish in Bradenton, Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers, St. William Parish in Naples, St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota and St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral. He will serve as Temporary Parochial Vicar at St. Andrew Parish before returning to Rome to complete his studies.

Large family grounds future priest

The middle of seven children, 30-year-old Transitional Deacon Alexander Pince had two people, his mother and an uncle who is a Diocesan priest, who were strong witnesses of Faith, ultimately inspiring him to choose a vocation to the priesthood.

“I was blessed to have been given the Faith from my parents (David and Margaret Pince), and from when I was a child, my mom took us to daily Mass,” Deacon Pince explained of his life growing up in Concord, New Hampshire, with a very large extended family with dozens of first cousins. “That habit continued through my high school years. I started altar serving after my first Communion at the age of six, and I looked up to our Parish priest, who earnestly cautioned me: ‘altar serving isn’t kid stuff.’”

His uncle, a Diocesan priest for the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont, visited the Pince family on his days off bringing the human side of a relatable priest. As a child he would play the role of the priest with his siblings as the congregation. He jokingly remembers his mother’s insistence that he use a pretzel as a pretend host, and to call it a “pretzel” to avoid any unintentional blasphemy.

Homeschooled with a Catholic curriculum through high school, then college years attending Ave Maria University earning degrees in business and economics, Deacon Pince pushed the idea of becoming a priest to the back of his mind.

During the years after college, while working in finance and then at Ave Maria University, he described as “the Lord’s gentle yet consistent invitation to follow Him as a priest… because the Lord was quite persistent. The breaking moment came in May of 2015 when I went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. During those days, His call was so clear that I gratefully relented and decided to enter seminary.”

Deacon Pince explained that his spiritual journey may sound like a life sentence in prison to someone who doesn’t understand. “But, on the contrary, this decision was a moment of profound relief and grace because it began the fulfillment of the deepest longing of my heart.”

Without ever looking back, Deacon Pince opted to pursue his vocation to the priesthood with the Diocese of Venice, noting the choice of where to enter was easy. “I loved my time as a student at Ave Maria and loved the area. But even more than that, I was living in the Diocese when the vocational call became very tangible. I actually believe that I was called to serve as a priest for this Diocese.”

Transitional Deacons Pince and Mark Harris have both answered that call to a vocation to the priesthood and will be ordained by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 31, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

During the summer of 2015 Deacon Pince started as a Diocesan seminarian with a Spanish immersion course in Guatemala followed by studies at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami where he earned a philosophy degree. He then went on to study in Rome, Italy, and earned a Sacred Theology Bachelor’s Degree (STB) from the Gregorian University. He will soon be entering the second year of a two-year Licentiate program in Rome at the University of the Holy Cross in Moral Theology.

While a seminarian for the Diocese, he served summer pastoral assignments at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostle Parish in Bradenton, Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers, St. William Parish in Naples, St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota and St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral. He also spent a summer at a pilgrimage center in Jerusalem, Israel.

As the July 31 ordination approaches, Deacon Pince said he cannot wait to celebrate Mass, and noted that he is very humbled at the prospect of becoming an instrument of God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Asked about what type of priest he hopes to be, he answered, “When it comes down to it, I simply want to be a priest that is faithful to Christ and the Church, and to do what Jesus asks of me. I’d like for people to see Christ in me, and to live out my priesthood generously and joyfully.”

Please pray for Deacons Pince and Harris as they approach their priestly ordination.

 

All are invited to attend the Ordination. Afterwards, there will be a reception will in the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall. If you are unable to attend, the Mass will be livestreamed at 11 a.m. July 31 through the Epiphany Cathedral Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EpiphanyCathedral (you do not need to register to view the ordination).

 

To read the previously published profile of Deacon Mark Harris, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/news.

Seminarians ordained Transitional Deacon

José Grullón and David Portorreal followed different calls of the Lord in their lives, but their answers were the same, leading the two Diocese of Venice seminarians on a journey toward the priesthood. The pair reached a major milestone along that path on April 17, 2021 when they were ordained Transitional Deacon.

Deacons Grullón and Portorreal were among nine ordained at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Boca Raton by Most Rev. William A. Wack, CSC, Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. The men, from different Dioceses across Florida, are currently studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

Deacon Grullón said he was thrilled about the Ordination, acknowledging how it is only the end of one stage in his priestly formation which is opening many different opportunities of service to the Lord that come with this new ministry.

“Priestly ministry is all about relating to the Lord and translating that experience daily in a way that the people of God are also inspired to grow closer in their relationship with Him,” the new Deacon added. “I love being able to serve the people in different capacities: service in itself is a way in which I encounter the Lord through others.”

For Deacon Portorreal, the experience of Ordination was both exciting and surreal. “Time is flying by and there’s so much to learn, but I’m grateful. I look forward to serving the People of God to the best of my ability.”

As he continues in his studies and discernment, Deacon Portorreal prays that he will become a loving, compassionate, competent, and holy priest who is present to the faithful.

The first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church, deacons perform many services to the Church in conjunction with the ministries of priests and bishops. In Parish life, deacons may preside at baptisms, weddings and rites of Christian burial, assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel and deliver homilies.

In his homily, Bishop Wack explained how Jesus Christ is revealed in them and through them. “Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, is present to us in word and sacrifice. Now, He calls you to be bearers of the word and servants of the Gospel.”

In their promise of celibacy, Bishop Wack said they are single heartedly devoted to God and His Church. While this commitment may seem strange to outsiders, it allows them to open up to others in a very radical way and thoroughly joyful way. Later, when they prostrate themselves on the floor before the altar, in the midst of their family and friends, it is a sign of complete surrender and obedience.

“I’m sure you join me as you marvel not so much as what you are doing today but what God is doing to you,” Bishop Wack continued. “This is about what God is doing in you. We celebrate God’s work in you and through you today. The Spirit conforms you more fully to Christ, the One who came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for the many… You may ask, how can I know the Lord, experience His presence, or know God loves me. You are God’s answer to those questions – Here I am, send me.”

Following the homily, the men approached Bishop Wack one-by-one, knelt and promised respect and obedience to his Bishop and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, the men then lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints.

The ordinations were complete after each man again approached the Bishop who imposed his hands on the candidate and proclaimed a prayer of consecration, to confer the Holy Spirit to guide their ministries.

The Deacons then received a stole and dalmatic (the exterior garb of a deacon), signifying the Office of Diaconate and the deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Next, the newly ordained Deacons knelt before the Bishop who presented them with the Book of the Gospels as a symbol of their new ministry of proclaiming the Gospel and preaching. The Rite of Ordination concluded with the kiss of peace.

Deacon Grullón, 33, was born and raised in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. He earned university degrees in business in the Dominican Republic and worked in a financial institution as a credit analyst. Born a Baptist, Deacon Grullón entered the Catholic Church in 2012 having been inspired by studying the history of Christianity. Once a Catholic, he began serving in his local Parish in different capacities, participating daily in the Eucharist, and the example of hard-working priests made him consider the priesthood. He studied philosophy at Pedro Francisco Bonó Institute in Santo Domingo, which is affiliated to the Pontifical Gregorian University that conferred his degree.

It was in 2017 when Deacon Grullón entered the United States to study at St. Vincent De Paul Regional Seminary for the Diocese of Venice. As a seminarian, Deacon Grullón has had pastoral assignments at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle and Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, as well as assisting at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples during other breaks from school.

Deacon Portorreal, 49, grew up in Ohio attending Jesuit-run Catholic schools in Cleveland before entering film school at Florida State University. He moved to Los Angeles to try to break into the film industry trying to sell screenplays, get acting jobs and even tried his hand as writer/director. The seeds of a priestly vocation were planted in grade school and as the years passed there was a growing restlessness that the Ministerial Priesthood was what God wanted in his life.

Initial studies for priesthood for Deacon Portorreal began for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at St. John Seminary in Camarilla, California, but his parents are retired in Florida and so he transferred to become a seminarian within the Diocese of Venice. As a seminarian, Deacon Portorreal has had pastoral assignments at St. William Parish in Naples and St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

Please pray for these men as to continue their spiritual journey.

Seminarian becomes Transitional Deacon

Surrounded by nearly his entire extended family, Alexander Pince was overwhelmed with emotion before, during and after his ordination to the Transitional Diaconate Aug. 29, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, presiding over the Rite, informed Pince that ordination makes him a minister of the Word, Altar and Charity. “Be a servant of all… You come here freely and have worked hard to put yourself in this particular place, making a commitment to be of service to the Lord and those around you.”

Pince has chosen to live his life in a particular way, Bishop Dewane continued. “Live this life you have chosen to the fullest… Take comfort in prayer which should become the center of your daily life.”

Deacon Pince explained afterwards how the emotions of joy, blessings, and supreme happiness accompanied him throughout the day. “What a beautiful and blessed experience,” he said.

Deacon Pince, 29, was born in Concord, N.H., and is the fourth of seven children. He is a graduate of Ave Maria University and is currently studying at Pontifical North American College in Rome where the ordination was originally scheduled. However, due to the global pandemic, the location and date were changed to allow family and friends to attend while international travel restrictions persist.

As part of the Rite, Pince was called forward as a candidate and presented to the Bishop for examination and then election. Following the Homily, in a series of questions, Pince knelt before the Bishop and promised respect and obedience to the Bishop and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, he then lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints.

Following the Litany, the candidate again knelt before the Bishop who imposed his hands on the candidate and proclaimed a prayer of consecration, to confer the Holy Spirit to guide his ministry. Next, Pince received a stole and dalmatic (the exterior garb of a deacon), signifying the office of Diaconate and the Deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Deacon Pince returned to kneel before Bishop Dewane, at which time the Book of Gospels was placed in his hands and the Bishop said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” The Rite of Ordination concluded with the sign of peace.

The first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church, a Deacon performs many services in the Church in conjunction with the ministries of priesthood and of the Episcopate. In Parish life, Deacons may preside at baptisms, weddings and perform funerals and burial services, assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel and deliver homilies. The new Transitional Deacon has an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2021.

The first public Mass for Deacon Pince was Aug. 30, 2020 at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, with his uncle and inspiration, Father Peter Williams, serving as the main celebrant. After his first Mass, Deacon Pince baptized his infant cousin, the newest member of his extended family.

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