Notes of encouragement sent to nursing home residents

At the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and its corresponding isolation of nursing home residents, one woman at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton knew she had to act.

“We are here on this earth to help each other,” explained Kathe Hughes, who tries to live her life like that each day. Therefore, she started a card/letter writing campaign to residents at five area nursing homes. “They are not able to have visitors and I knew they were so isolated, so I thought this would be a way to reach out.”

Hughes started her effort with notes or cards which were short “uplifting, encouraging and religious, plus a few with jokes.”

The response from the nursing homes was so positive and demand for more became overwhelming for just one person to handle, Hughes explained. She knew she did not want the letter writing to be a one-time effort, so she mentioned her work to staff at the Parish, which created a new Parish program called the Letter Writing Outreach. Now members of the Bible study, the Catholic Women’s Association as well as the prayer shawl group are all actively involved.

Fast-forward to July and amazingly more than 950 cards and notes have been delivered with more coming in each week.

The cards and notes are generic, and people drop their sealed messages off at the Parish offices, where Hughes regularly collects and immediately delivers them. She leaves the bundles outside to ensure they are handled safely by the facility.

Many start their participation by using old greeting cards they don’t use at home before transferring to writing longer notes. Because of privacy laws, the names of the recipients are unknown, but Hughes said that does not matter. “It is the message and support behind the message that matters. We care. They know that.”

Hughes also recently took on the mission to deliver 150 notes of support and encouragement from herself to the Bradenton Police Department, just another example of living her life helping others in ways large and small.

A letter writing effort is something she suggests anyone, or any Parish, can easily accomplish by simply reaching out to area nursing homes and asking if they accept cards and how many residents they have. Meanwhile, Hughes is already planning on expanding her efforts in anticipation of the Christmas holidays.

Naples Parish shows gratitude to Pandemic Heroes

Priests, doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks and so many others have stepped-up to put their own safety on the line during the ongoing response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Many have asked how they can show their gratitude and appreciation for these Pandemic Heroes for their compassion, devotion and service to the community. In response, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples has partnered with its health and wellness partner, Blue Zones Project of Southwest Florida, to provide just the right type of acknowledgment.

The Parish is asking the Faithful to share the first name and job title of these heroes. It could be a healthcare worker that recently took care of them or someone they love. Or maybe it is the essential worker at a grocery store, restaurant, religious organization, or utility company whose actions have ensured our continued health and livelihood.

In addition to compiling the names and jobs, which will be posted weekly in the bulletin and online, the Parish will sound its bells each day at 2:20 p.m. in their honor. In addition, the names and occupations will also be listed in the Blue Zones Project newsletters.

Parish Business Manager Jean-Paul Boucher said the “Daily Bellagram” is a way to say, “Thank You!” to those courageous individuals who often go unrecognized while unfailingly answering the call to serve the community.

“With every facet of our lives transformed by the COVID-19 Pandemic and the international response required to save lives, Blue Zones Project and St. John wanted to find a way to positively unite our community in North Naples,” Boucher said.

More than two dozen names were posted in the first week or so. Among those being honored are priests, nurses, pulmonary/critical care specialists, pharmacists, physical therapists, grocery store workers and many more.

If you know of someone you would like to honor, please email bellagram@sjecc.com with the first name of the individual, along with their occupation or your reason for the gratitude, and they will be prayed for and thanked on a daily basis by the Parish and the Naples Community.

News Briefs for week of July 13 2020

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate Aug. 15

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will ordain to the Permanent Diaconate seven men at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The candidates are: Jeffrey Ball of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria; Enrique (Rick) Castro of St. Cecilia Parish, Fort Myers; Ramiro Hernandez of St. Michael Parish, Wauchula; Jack W. Milholland Jr. of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Lakewood Ranch; Roberto Pagán of Jesus the Worker Parish, Fort Myers; Vern W. Smith of St. Martha Parish, Sarasota; and Dr. William Soscia of St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow. All are invited and encouraged to attend.

CCW supports Catholic Charities

Representatives of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women recently presented a check to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. for their homeless prevention program. The presentation took place on June 23, 2020 at the Catholic Center in Venice. VDCCW President Brenda Dolan and Board Member Ellen Bachman presented the check for $7,000 to Philomena Pereira, CEO of Catholic Charities. Bishop Frank J. Dewane was also present as a show of support for both the VDCCW and Catholic Charities. The money is part of an annual effort of the VDCCW and will go toward the numerous programs that provide housing and also prevent people from becoming homeless.

Support After Abortion Virtual Conference

Join the Support After Abortion Healing Network Virtual Conference 2020: Building and Strengthening Abortion Healing Worldwide – Thursday, July 30 to Saturday, August 1.  See and hear online over 40 presenters: clergy, authors, curriculum leaders and those who have been impacted by abortion as they share their wisdom, insights and personal stories. Don’t be surprised that Support After Abortion resides in the Diocese of Venice and some of the presenters live here as well. There is no charge to watch any of the presentations during the three-day virtual conference by visiting www.supportafterabortionvirtualconference.com/home. See the website for a premium upgrade for access to each of the presentations for 90 days. (NOTE: Any priest interested in a free 90-day premium pass – a $49.99 value – can request one by e-mailing Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or calling 941-374-1068.)

Online Master’s in Bioethics Offered

St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens is offering a new Master’s in Bioethics to be earned in four semesters. The comprehensive program is designed for graduates to be equipped to address all relevant bioethical issues of our time; to serve as consultors; to give workshops; develop Parish programs; and to train others to do the same. All courses are taught according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The program is four consecutive semesters (fall, spring, short summer, fall and students who start in the fall of 2020 will be graduating in December of 2021. The program consists of two courses per semester for a total of 30 credits and are fully available online. For more information, contact Father Alfred Cioffi, Director of the Institute for Bioethics, St. Thomas University, at 786-489-9369 or acioffi@stu.edu.

Year of Saint Joseph

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in the context of the Coronavirus, consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of St. Joseph. The Bishop announced a “Year of St. Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. St. Joseph, often referred to as the Protector, can be our protector during this time of the pandemic. To pray a Novena to St. Joseph please visit the Year of St. Joseph webpage at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

Wauchula Food Pantry

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula is home to a food pantry which has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 Pandemic response. To accommodate those who work, the food pantry is open Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., at 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula. If you need food at a different time or would like to support the efforts to assist the community, please call the Parish at 863-773-4089.

Free Rosary Repair Service

Send your broken rosaries in a padded envelope to Betty and Dick Holden, 7930 Estero Blvd. #502, Fort Myers, FL 33931. Rosaries will be repaired and returned within the week of receipt. Donations of old rosaries are also accepted which will be repaired and sent to missions. Include a note indicating repair or donation. For more details, please call 239-463-3993 or email holdenbnd@gmail.com.

Dispensation

While the celebration of public Mass resumed May 18, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect through Sept. 1, 2020 for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home. Please check the Diocese of Venice website for any updates.

Livestreaming

The Diocese of Venice will continue livestreaming the Mass through the Diocese website (www.dioceseofvenice.org) and Facebook pages from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily as the dispensation to attend Mass remains.

Sunday Televised Mass

The Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis. The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish. The Faithful may also contribute through usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org. Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for an Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

Act of Spiritual Communion

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Drive-by farewell overwhelms retiring priest

After 22 years serving at St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales Father Stanley Dombrowski knew now was the time to retire.

“I had a great run, but it was time,” said Father Dombrowski, who will soon turn 73. He started at St. Cecilia as Parochial Vicar in 1998 before becoming Pastor in 2001 with his retirement effective July 1, 2020.

To mark his retirement, the Parish staff decided to hold a drive-by farewell on July 2, 2020, wherein the parishioners could drive into the parking lot and heap their praises on Father from their vehicles.

The unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 Pandemic forced this unusual, but successful farewell in lieu of a traditional farewell party. Vehicles arrived long before the celebration was to commence, and the line was so long it created a temporary traffic jam on nearby roads.

As much as a party, cake and speeches would have been more traditional, the drive-thru allowed each family to have a few moments to personally thank Father for his service and to pray for a blessed retirement. The impact one priest had upon the faithful at St. Cecilia was evident in the decorated vehicles and words of kindness.

One driver summed it up best for many: “No words can express what you mean to our family. We love you.”

Father Dombrowski wore a funny hat and was all smiles as he greeted every family by name, recognizing grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren who have been part of the Parish for many years. Jokingly, he reminded everyone that although he is retired, he will still help out at St. Cecilia. “I have the 7:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Mass this Sunday.”

Afterwards he said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. “That was wonderful. It brought back such strong memories.”

Father Dombrowski made his first profession with the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in 1979 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1983. He first served as a teacher in Wilmington, Delaware, then as campus minister at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales in Pennsylvania. He later served as a U.S. Navy Chaplain before arriving at St. Cecilia in Fort Myers.

New Superintendent begins, Diocese welcomes three new Principals

July is a time for transitioning within Catholic schools across the Diocese of Venice as the most recent academic year is over and a new one is quickly approaching.

On July 1, 2020, Jesuit Father John Belmonte assumed his role as the Superintendent of Catholic Education of the Diocese of Venice, a move announced in May 2020. Prior to coming to the Diocese of Venice, Father Belmonte was Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Joliet since 2010 and earlier served at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and St. Ignatius Preparatory High School, Chicago, Illinois.

The Diocesan Catholic Schools also recently announced three new principals effective in July.

Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice announced the return of Nicole Loseto as Principal, returning to the school where she taught for years and served as assistant principal before December 2019 when she took the top post at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring. She has 18 years of educational experience and holds two Masters’ degrees – one from Touro College in New York (Education and Special Education) and a second from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio (Educational Leadership).

Filling her vacancy at St. Catherine Catholic School is Dr. Christine Higgins, who arrives after serving at Cardinal Newman Catholic High School in West Palm Beach since 2004, first as a teacher and then as Principal for the past eight years. She has attended Florida Atlantic University where she holds a B.A. in Mathematics “Cum Laude,” a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and a Ph. D. in Curriculum and Instruction. She previously lived in Sebring as a child.

The final addition is Dr. Jack Chavez, who will be taking

over as Principal of Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota. Chavez mostly recently served as Principal of St. Mary Nativity Catholic School in Joliet, Illinois. An historian, businessman and lifelong musician, he holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Indiana State University, an MBA and an M.S.Ed from Purdue University and a Bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University.

Welcome to all of the new leaders of Catholic Education in the Diocese of Venice!

Graduating in a time of Pandemic

Each graduating class points to one moment or event during their senior year that will serve to inexorably unite the group for years to come.

A banner adorns the facade of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, honoring the graduating Class of 2020.

For the Class of 2020, the COVID-19 Pandemic is obviously that event/moment. The impact not only caused schools to close and introduce new meaning to phrases like distance learning and quarantine, but it altered each graduating seniors’ perspective of themselves and the world in which they live.

The four Diocese of Venice Catholic high schools accommodated their students with Zoom classes and altered graduations plans.

The Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria held their graduation June 5, 2020, a week late. The graduation took place in the Parish Church, following the Baccalaureate Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. Each of the graduates sat with their immediate family only and were separated by at least one pew.

This Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School graduating senior proudly stands with her mother in front of a graduation sign delivered to their home on April 23, 2020.

Arrangements are being made to ensure local health and safety guidelines are followed for the in-person graduations at the other three Catholic high schools. For example, the Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers (Mass, July 17 and graduation, July 18), the graduation may be switched to the school’s stadium. St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples (Mass and graduation July 23), will hold both events in the church with limited access. Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota (Mass, July 30 and graduation July 31) is holding its graduation at LECOM Park, the Bradenton spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Because of social distancing requirements, each graduation will limit the number of guests, meaning some family members will not be able to attend. To help lessen the impact, each of the graduations will be streamed live on social media.

The graduates have expressed a feeling of loss or emptiness by missing key moments of the last semester. Whether it was the prom, class trips, awards ceremonies, even the last days and chances to say farewell in person. Delayed and social distancing graduations add to the unusual nature of the final months of their high school lives.

Inevitably, not all students will be present for graduation. In fact, one student watched her graduation from afar for the Donahue Academy ceremony.

Anne Klemeyer of Cardinal Mooney is not sure she will be able to watch her own graduation as she has reported to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. She is heartbroken to have missed out on many of the senior year traditions. Klemeyer really enjoyed going to school each day and said it was hard having a last day of school and not even knowing it would be the last.

The last few months of school for Spencer Ebenger of Bishop Verot were described as the most trying time in his young life. “We all worked so hard. we had goals, and it was hard to stay motivated. It really made me appreciate being at school, my friends and the teachers. But it was also a time when I saw the world experiencing the same thing. Everyone came together for the betterment of others. It showed that there is a lot of good in the world.”

The Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria commencement took place June 5, 2020 in the Ave Maria Parish church. Social distancing rules applied as only families sat together.

Distance learning taught the Class of 2020 what life will be like after high school, explained Abbey Lawe of Donahue. “The pandemic caused me to realize just how much of my character, personality and identity was formed by my Catholic school. It has given me a deeper gratitude and sentiment for all that Donahue has given me.”

The leadership of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, including the religious sisters, are on a school bus ready to deliver graduation presents to the Class of 2020 on April 30, 2020.

The most mundane and ordinary things, such as going to school, a restaurant, or simply hanging out with friends is something St. Neumann’s Ryan O’Connor will never take for granted again. “Things that seem so simple can easily be stopped, or come to an end, and because of that we should cherish every moment… I will definitely have this new mindset during the next chapter in my life.”

The Diocese of Venice Catholic High School Class of 2020 learned many lessons from the changing world, including adapting and preparing to face whatever challenges that come their way armed with a faith-based education centered in Gospel values.

News briefs from July 6 2020

Priest becomes U.S. Citizen

Father Rafal Ligenza, Administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton was sworn in as U.S. Citizen on July 6, 2020. A native of Poland, Father Ligenza was ordained to the priesthood in 2011 for the Diocese of Venice by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. Father Ligenza has been Administrator at St. Joseph Parish since January of 2019 and previously served as Parochial Vicar at St. William Parish in Naples and St. Columbkille Parish in Fort Myers. Congratulations Father!

CCW supports Catholic Charities

Representatives of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women recently presented a check to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. for their homeless prevention program. The presentation took place on June 23, 2020 at the Catholic Center in Venice. VDCCW President Brenda Dolan and Board Member Ellen Bachman presented the check for $7,000 to Philomena Pereira, CEO of Catholic Charities. Bishop Frank J. Dewane was also present as a show of support for both the VDCCW and Catholic Charities. The money is part of an annual effort of the VDCCW and will go toward the numerous programs that provide housing and also prevent people from becoming homeless.

Virtual Summer Reading Challenge

A Virtual Summer Reading Challenge is taking place for the students of St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton. Students were sent home books in early June and they are also encouraged to read more books on their own. Students in online reading sessions with guest readers via Zoom. For each book read, the students receive a wristband. During the first week of the reading challenge, the students read 197 books. With each book comes activities and projects. The group kicked off the Fourth of July Weekend by taking a virtual field trip to the Statue of Liberty in New York City, via Google Earth! The students learned the history of the statue and shared the book, “Emma’s Poem” by Linda Glaser. The group ended the morning by learning how to make “fireworks in a jar.” Some students have already completed up to 20 books. Well done!

If you need help

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Services have expanded to include assistance in applying for state and federal benefits if you have lost work due to the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

Food distribution

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Monday-Friday, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee, the Soup Kitchen is providing take-out/meals-to-go;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers;
  • 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, 9-11 a.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 E. Oak St. Arcadia.

Prayer to Overcome Racism

Mary, friend and mother to all, through your Son, God has found a way to unite himself to every human being, called to be one people, sisters and brothers to each other.

We ask for your help in calling on your Son, seeking forgiveness for the times when we have failed to love and respect one another.

We ask for your help in obtaining from your Son the grace we need to overcome the evil of racism and to build a just society. We ask for your help in following your Son, so that prejudice and animosity will no longer infect our minds or hearts but will be replaced with a love that respects the dignity of each person.

Mother of the Church, the Spirit of your Son Jesus warms our hearts: pray for us. Amen.

Dispensation

While the celebration of public Mass resumed May 18, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect through Sept. 1, 2020 for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home. Please check the Diocese of Venice website for any updates on any extension of the dispensation to attend Mass.

Livestreaming

The Diocese of Venice Mass will continue livestream through the Diocese website (www.dioceseofvenice.org) and Facebook pages from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily so long as the dispensation to attend Mass remains.

Sunday Televised Mass

The Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis. The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish. The Faithful may also contribute through their usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org. Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

Act of Spiritual Communion

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Safety During Hurricanes

As the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season continues (June 1-Nov. 30), a prayer is presented here by which one asks God for protection and safety from the storms that often threaten Southwest Florida. With the formation of Tropical Storm Arthur in med-May, it promises to be another busy season of watching the tropics. We must all remember the devastating effect of Hurricane Irma from 2017 and what was witnessed when Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle in 2018, everyone in the Diocese of Venice knows and understands the power of these storms and the suffering which follows in their wake.

 

 

O God, Master of this passing world,

hear the humble voices of your children.

The Sea of Galilee obeyed Your order

and returned to its former quietude.

You are still the Master of land and sea.

We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control:

the Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy,

overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land, and spread chaos and disaster.

During this hurricane season we turn to You, O loving Father.

Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid

and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with passing of time.

O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our beloved Mother, we ask you

to plead with your Son on our behalf,

so that spared from the calamities common to this area

and animated with a true spirit of gratitude,

we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son

to reach the heavenly Jerusalem,

where a stormless eternity awaits us. Amen.

Priest Ordination celebrated in midst of Pandemic

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the ordination of Father Franckel in a Rite of Ordination, an age-old ceremony that was witnessed by the faithful on June 27, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Dewane told Father Franckel that through ordination, he becomes forever raised to the rank of priest in the Body of Christ. With that rank comes great responsibility – to sanctify, to teach, to love and serve just as Christ taught.

“Thank you for coming forward in your response to the call of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane said of the long and sometimes difficult journey made by Father Franckel to reach this moment. “We celebrate you as you are sent forth to preach the Gospel; to be the Good Shepherd of God’s people; and to celebrate the Liturgy, especially the Lord’s Sacrifice on His Table. In doing so you bring together the faithful of the community as you pray with them and for them to the Lord.”

Father Fils-Aime, 41, who was born in the Cornillon region of Haiti in the town of Potino, said he feels blessed by God to be ordained and feels the love of the people of the Diocese of Venice. “I am grateful for all of the prayers and support I have received during this journey and feel I am prepared to serve the people as I continue to trust in God.”

The ordination was a bright moment for the Diocese during this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. All present wore masks and maint

ained social distancing. While there were many family and friends present, the immediate family of Father Franckel was not able to attend as they were home in Haiti, unable to travel. To help bridge that gap in distance, the ordination was streamed live through social media.

To start the Rite of Ordination, Diocese of Venice Vocations Director Father Shawn Roser called Deacon Franckel forward as he presented himself for ordination to the Bishop. The Bishop, on behalf of the entire Church, accepted Franckel and called him to ordination as a Priest by saying: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and Our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose Franckel Fils-Aime, our brother, for the Order of the Priesthood.”

During the Rite of Ordination, Fils-Aime knelt before Bishop Dewane to express his desire and willingness to be ordained as a Priest and to fulfill the responsibilities that come with ordination, which included a promise of respect and obedience to the Bishop and his successors. Fils-Aime then lay prostrate before the altar for the Litany of Supplication (Litany of Saints).

After this solemn act of prayer, the Sacrament of Ordination was conferred when Franckel again knelt before Bishop Dewane, whom in silent prayer, imposed his hands on the head of the ordinand. Each priest then came forward to pray over Father Fils-Aime. Next, Bishop Dewane, with his hands outstretched, prayed the Prayer of Ordination.

Father Franckel was then vested in stole and chasuble by Father Timothy Navin, Pastor of San Marco Parish in Marco Island, the location of his first pastoral assignment as a seminarian of the Diocese. The hands of Father Franckel were then anointed with the Sacred Chrism by the Bishop, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make his ministry fruitful.

Next, the Bishop presented Father Fils-Aime with the chalice and paten which all priests are called to present to God in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Rite of Ordination is concluded with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to the newly ordained priest, welcoming him into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. Bishop Dewane introduced Father Franckel to all those present to enthusiastic applause.

Journey to ordination

A recent graduate from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Father completed more than 14 years of priestly discernment and formation. He first entered seminary in the Dominican Republic studying to become a Franciscan Capuchin Friar. He spent nine years in formation before discerning a call to Diocesan priesthood in Venice. During this time, he studied in the Dominican Republic and Brazil, eventually earning a philosophy degree from Centro Universitario Franciscano in Brazil.

Father Franckel learned of the Diocese of Venice through holiday visits to the area which included participation in the annual New Year’s Day Mass celebrating the anniversary of Haitian Independence for the Haitian Catholic Community of the Diocese of Venice. There he met Msgr. Patrick Dubois who then arranged an introduction and meeting with Bishop Dewane.

In addition to his pastoral assignment at San Marco Parish, he later held summer assignments at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park, St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, as well as a pastoral year at Epiphany Cathedral.

Along with family and friends, there were faithful from across the Diocese, many from the Parishes where he previously had served. Included among those were also representatives of the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, and the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, as well as Diocesan seminarians who served during the Mass.

The Ordination was followed by a reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall where newly ordained Father Franckel Fils-Aime was available to greet the public and impart his priestly blessing on them.

Vespers and First Masses

On the eve of his ordination, a Solemn Vespers was celebrated at San Marco Parish for then-Deacon Fils-Aime. During this prayer service Bishop Dewane blessed the priestly vestments and chalices which were used by the newly ordained at his first public Masses on June 28, 2020.

The first Mass celebrated by Father Franckel was at San Marco Parish. There, Father admitted that when he first arrived at the Parish in 2015 his English was limited and credits the priests and staff of San Marco for how well he speaks the language, and how poorly, he joked. During the Mass, he added: “The people of San Marco welcomed me with their hearts open and I consider them to be a part of my family,” he said. “I love you all for what you did for me and who you are.”

As is tradition, during the first Mass of a newly ordained priest, another priest delivers the homily. In this case it was Father Jack Costello, Rector of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, who spoke about then-Seminarian Franckel serving a pastoral year at the Cathedral. Father Costello noted how blessed the Diocese was to have a new priest, one who is well prepared to serve the faithful with sincerity and compassion.

The second Mass of the day was in the afternoon, celebrated in Haitian Creole at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers. While there are nine active priests serving in the Diocese from Haiti, Father Fils-Aime was recognized as the first Haitian priest to be ordained for the Diocese in more than 15 years. Father Jean Woady Louis, Parochial Vicar of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto, delivered the homily noting how important it is to have a priest to provide the Sacraments in their native language.

At both Masses, which were streamed live on social media so his family and friends could watch from afar, Father Fils-Aime shared how his parents, Voguel Fils-Aime and Philomène Remy, supported his discernment for a vocation to the priesthood. He expressed regret that his mother, who passed away in 2011, was not alive to see him reach his priestly ordination but was confident she was present in spirit and watching over him.

“It is such a privilege and honor to be called by God and I do not have the words to give thanks to the Bishop for the opportunity to be a priest here in the Diocese of Venice.”

 

Bishop extends dispensation for Mass through Sept. 1, 2020

Encourages all continue to wear masks, follow safety guidelines

The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been extended through at least Sept. 1, 2020 due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic. At the same time Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to thank the Faithful of the Diocese for following health and safety guidelines by the wearing of face coverings and maintaining social distancing.

This announcement was made by Bishop Dewane in a June 26, 2020 letter to the Faithful. “Catholics are encouraged to stay at home if ill or are not comfortable returning to public gatherings for the celebration of Mass.”

The decision, Bishop Dewane wrote, comes after consultation with priests of the Diocese and the decisions addressed will allow everyone to remain focused on the health and well-being of the Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese, as well as those in the larger community, as we move forward. (Visit www.dioceseofvenice.org to read the Bishop’s letter.)

The decisions were also based on the reality that while restrictions due to the Pandemic have been somewhat lessened and, at the same time, confirmed cases are on the rise in Florida.

“The Faithful of the Diocese of Venice are to be commended for their cooperation and compassion during these difficult times. We are all in this together, and your support and assistance are needed and deeply appreciated,” the letter states.

The letter also addresses the use of face coverings during Mass, which remains an essential part of the protocols for remaining open.

While the wearing or not wearing of masks has become a political statement for some, the letter states, “face coverings are essential because of the guidance that wearing a mask lessens the likelihood of transmission of the virus. Therefore, I ask for your cooperation in wearing masks, particularly at Mass and any public gathering at your Parish. Please consider the use of face coverings a mandatory step taken in genuine concern for the well-being of our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Lastly, the letter notes that Pastors/Administrators have been asked to use their discretion as to whether small groups who are gathering for prayer or to coordinate ministries may meet safely while at the same time ensuring that guidance for face coverings and social distancing be observed.

However, the letter continues that it is not yet time for large groups to assemble for social or fraternal purposes to meet safely.

“Let us remember the importance of prayer for those who are affected by the Coronavirus and for a quick end to the threat associated with the virus. Be assured that Our Merciful Father hears and answers our prayers.”

Bishop Dewane concluded the letter expressing his empathy with the difficulties being experienced by everyone during these uncertain times, but to always remember to stand united to safeguard the well-being of all, including the larger community.

Prayer Chain Against Racism held in Naples

A Prayer Chain Against Racism seeking to affirm the equality and dignity of every human person was held in Naples on June 28, 2020. The Prayer Chain was sponsored by the Catholic Parishes of Naples and brought out many on a steamy afternoon.

There were no talks or speeches, as people of all ages gathered to pray while seeking an end to racism in America as well as calling for peace and unity for all, as more than 100 people, including several area priests, participated.

The gathering was held on the west side of Tamiami Trail North (US 41) from Pine Ridge Road (near St. William Parish) as participants spread out to maintain social distancing southward more than a ¼ mile as they held up signs or prayed the rosary.

Signs provided by St. Elizabeth Seton Parish included: “RACISM is a SIN against HUMANITY,” “If You Want PEACE work for JUSTICE” and “ALL Colors in the Image of GOD,” which featured an image of four hands of different colors held together to form a strong bond.

Vehicles passing by honked their horns in support. Some who were stopped at the nearby traffic light asked why everyone was there. “We want to end racism!” one woman shouted back. “We are praying for God’s love to heal the world!” another said. Still another added: “We are all God’s children!”

Representatives, including several priests, from the Parishes in Naples – St. William, St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Agnes, St. Peter the Apostle, St. Ann. St. Finbarr and St. John the Evangelist – were present.

A Statement of Purpose was created for the Prayer Chain, which begins: “We Catholics of Collier County are standing by the roadside on June 28 in silent witness to the reality of racism in our country and, as people of Faith, to witness to the equality and dignity of every human person. We pray that God will transform the hearts of all people in our nation, including our own hearts, to see every human person as a brother and sister of inestimable worth.”

Pope Francis spoke following the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the resulting social unrest in the U.S. and worldwide, condemning the death and calling for an end to racism.

In a June 9, 2020 letter to the Faithful from Bishop Frank J. Dewane about racism and social unrest, he stated: “The Church, Her leaders and the Faithful have an important role in confronting the sin of racism… Responding to the call to defend human dignity, the Church must raise Her voice against every instance of the evil of racism. I add my voice and condemn racism in all its forms.”

Prayer to Overcome Racism

Mary, friend and mother to all, through your Son, God has found a way to unite himself to every human being, called to be one people, sisters and brothers to each other.

We ask for your help in calling on your Son, seeking forgiveness for the times when we have failed to love and respect one another.

We ask for your help in obtaining from your Son the grace we need to overcome the evil of racism and to build a just society. We ask for your help in following your Son, so that prejudice and animosity will no longer infect our minds or hearts but will be replaced with a love that respects the dignity of each person.

Mother of the Church, the Spirit of your Son Jesus warms our hearts: pray for us. Amen.

Oración para superar el racismo

María, amiga y madre de todos, a través de tu Hijo Dios ha encontrado un camino para unirse a todos los seres humanos, llamados a ser un solo pueblo, hermanas y hermanos entre sí.

Pedimos tu ayuda al recurrir a tu Hijo, buscando el perdón por las veces en que hemos fallado en amarnos y respetarnos.

Pedimos tu ayuda para obtener de tu Hijo la gracia que necesitamos para vencer el mal del racismo y construir una sociedad justa.

Pedimos tu ayuda para seguir a tu Hijo, para que el prejuicio y la animosidad no infecten ya nuestras mentes o corazones sino que sean reemplazados por el amor que respeta la dignidad de cada persona.

Madre de la Iglesia, el Espíritu de tu Hijo Jesús alienta nuestros corazones: Ruega por nosotros. Amén.

Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. www.usccb.org/racism

 

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