Dispensation from obligation to attend Mass lifted effective May 1, 2021

Returning to Mass and Parish Life during Covid-19

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about their experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will be lifted in the Diocese of Venice beginning May 1, 2021. Below is a letter to the Faithful in English and Spanish announcing this change. For the revised guidelines in English updating Parish safety protocols which includes the need to continue to wear masks at Mass, as well as at all Diocesan and Parish activities, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/daily-resources/diocese-of-venice-responds-to-novel-coronavirus-covid19/ and in Spanish visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/hispanic-apostolate/.

April 9, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers (Acts 2:42).

This Scripture passage reminds us that the Easter Season is an apt time to renew our fidelity to those essential actions that define us as the Body of Christ. Preeminent among these activities is gathering with the Church to celebrate the Most Holy Eucharist on Sundays and Holy Days.

In March of last year, because of the many unknowns that came with the Covid-19 Pandemic, and to protect the most vulnerable among us, after consultation I decided to take the unprecedented step of suspending public Masses and granting a general dispensation to the Catholic Faithful of the Diocese of Venice from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Together with our fellow citizens, I urged Catholics to exercise caution to protect the health of all. I thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this difficult time.

As the Faithful returned to in-person worship when restrictions were loosened, the Diocese’s Clergy and Faithful performed exceptional service in maintaining safety protocols. In recent weeks as vaccines have become available, the news in Florida is encouraging, even more members of the Faithful have returned to our Parishes for Sunday Mass. Our Holy Week and Easter Liturgies were particularly edifying examples of commitment to Christ and the Eucharist. Furthermore, life in Southwest Florida has returned to some level of normalcy; restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues are open, and people of all ages seem willing to return to ordinary activities.

It is apparent that circumstances now allow almost all Catholics to attend Mass safely. Therefore, beginning May 1, 2021, the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation will be lifted in the Diocese of Venice.

At the same time, the Faithful should note this obligation does not apply to those who are ill, or others as outlined in the revised guidelines accompanying this letter. The revised guidelines adjust safety protocols to acknowledge that most Catholics can return to in-person worship at their Parish churches.

During this year dedicated to St. Joseph, the Faithful are encouraged to turn to his intercession for protection and courage. Let us be mindful in prayer of those who are no longer with us and those who continue in their recovery. May God bless you and your family.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

 Venice in Florida

 

9 de abril de 2021

Queridos Hermanos y Hermanas en Cristo,

Se dedicaron a la enseñanza de los Apóstoles y a la vida comunitaria, a partir del pan y a las oraciones (Hch. 2:42).

Este pasaje de las Escrituras nos recuerda que el Tiempo de Pascua es un momento propicio para renovar nuestra fidelidad a aquellas acciones esenciales que nos definen como el Cuerpo de Cristo. Entre estas actividades destaca la asistencia a la Iglesia para celebrar la Santísima Eucaristía los Domingos y Días de Obligación.

En marzo del año pasado, debido a las muchas incógnitas que vinieron con la Pandemia de Covid-19, y para proteger a los más vulnerables entre nosotros, después de una consulta, decidí dar el paso sin precedentes de suspender las Misas públicas y otorgar una dispensa general a los Fieles Católicos de la Diócesis de Venice de la obligación de asistir a Misa los Domingos y Días Santos de Obligación. Junto con nuestros conciudadanos, insté a los Católicos a actuar con cautela para proteger la salud de todos. Agradezco a todos por su paciencia y comprensión durante este momento difícil.

Cuando los Fieles regresaron a las Celebraciones en persona después de no tener restricciones, el Clero y los Fieles de la Diócesis realizaron un servicio excepcional, mantenimiento los protocolos de seguridad. En las últimas semanas, a medida que las vacunas están disponibles, las noticias en Florida son alentadoras e incluso más Fieles han regresado a nuestras Parroquias para la Misa Dominical. Nuestra Semana Santa y las Liturgias de Pascua fueron ejemplos particularmente edificantes de compromiso con Cristo y la Eucaristía. Además, la vida en el Suroeste de Florida ha vuelto a cierto nivel de normalidad; los restaurantes, las tiendas y los lugares de entretenimiento están abiertos y las personas de todas las edades parecen estar dispuestas a volver a sus actividades normales.

Es evidente que las circunstancias ahora permiten que casi todos los Católicos asistan a Misa de manera segura. Por lo tanto, a partir del 1 de mayo de 2021, se levantará en la Diócesis de Venice la dispensa general de la obligación de asistir a Misa los Domingos y los Días de Obligación.

Al mismo tiempo, los Fieles deben tener en cuenta que esta obligación no se aplica a aquellos que están enfermos u otros, como se describe en las pautas revisadas que acompañan a esta carta. Las pautas revisadas se ajustan a los protocolos de seguridad para reconocer que la mayoría de los católicos pueden regresar a las celebraciones en persona en sus Iglesias Parroquiales.

Durante este año dedicado a San José, se anima a los Fieles a acudir a su intercesión en busca de protección y coraje. Pidamos en la oración por los que ya no están con nosotros y por los que continúan en su recuperación. Que Dios le bendiga a usted y a su familia.

Sinceramente tuyo en Cristo,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Obispo de la Diócesis de

Venice en Florida

 

Divine Mercy Sunday: Prayer Service for Forgiveness and Healing

The Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, completes the Octave of Easter, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the blessing of His continuing presence in our midst. The Gospel reading for Divine Mercy Sunday (April 11, 2021) recalls the encounter between St. Thomas and Jesus after the Resurrection.

For many in the Diocese of Venice, the Feast of Divine Mercy takes on a powerful meaning when they participate in a private or public prayer called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and is a time to remind the faithful that the Lord’s Mercy has no end.

This year, the marking of Divine Mercy Sunday at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice incorporated a prayer service for healing and forgiveness for anyone who has been touched by a pregnancy loss.

“Sometimes in a loss – whether it is through a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion – so much is going on; the hurt is so strong one might believe they can’t approach the Lord,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said. “Divine Mercy Sunday is here to remind us to call upon the Lord for the forgiveness, compassion, and mercy regardless of how we got there.”

“While one might be afraid to approach the Lord in the context of shame or fear, Divine Mercy Sunday is about the all-encompassing power of God to forgive,” the Bishop added. “Just as the Apostles were locked in the upper room with fear when Jesus Christ appeared to them, we lock ourselves in – so alone – thinking the Lord can’t forgive us. No matter what it is we lock inside, this must not prevent us from seeking forgiveness.”

Father Shawn Monahan, OMV, Epiphany Cathedral Parochial Vicar, who counsels women who have suffered the loss of a child through abortion, stillbirth and miscarriage, also reflected on the power of Divine Mercy Sunday.

“The mercy is never with condemnation and always with compassion,” Father Monahan said. “Healing takes time, so we must be patient with ourselves in the process, in walking with the Lord, and tuning our ears to hear His voice and to trust in His love and mercy.”

Divine Mercy Sunday is a tradition in Parishes throughout the Diocese and the world, celebrating the mercy of Jesus as recalled to us by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a religious sister who lived a humble life to whom Jesus appeared. St. Faustina was born in Krakow, Poland and lived from 1905-1938 being canonized by St. Pope John Paul II in 2000 and at that time declared the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.

The image of the Divine Mercy was created by St. Faustina who was told to paint the image of Jesus as she saw Him. The painting has the saying at the bottom: “Jesus, I trust in You.” The rays emanating from Jesus represent water – which makes souls righteous — and blood — which is the life of souls, Jesus told St. Faustina.

Among the practices associated with the devotion are its novena, the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy (a series of prayers organized similarly to a rosary), the Hour of Great Mercy (a time of prayer traditionally celebrated at 3 p.m.), and a plenary indulgence granted to those who receive the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Epiphany Cathedral service included the singing of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation as well as a display of the Divine Mercy image and a relic of St. Faustina.

Epiphany Cathedral has a long history of celebrating St. Faustina as a devotion to her dates to the founding of the Diocese of Venice in 1984 when a weekly Mass in Polish began there. Earlier on Divine Mercy Sunday, a Mass in English, Polish and Spanish was celebrated and afterwards was also the opportunity for prayer before the relic of St. Faustina.

A video of the full service can be found at https://vimeo.com/536429647

Golden Rose Award given to young ladies of Faith

Seeking to recognize the basic tenets of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (VDCCW) – spirituality, leadership and service – a group of young ladies was awarded the first ever Golden Rose Award during a recent luncheon.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who presented the awards to the 2020 and 2021 recipients of the Golden Rose Award on April 10, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall in Venice, congratulated the young ladies for living out a particular call of God in the earlier portions of their lives.

“To those who received the award; you matter to the Diocese in what you do, who you are and most important of all, who you are becoming as young ladies,” Bishop Dewane said. “You are leaders, and you have a call to be there at the Table of the Lord. We are all called, but what you do is distinctive. I urge you to continue to be active in your Parish, your school, your community and in the Church.”

Explaining how much they are appreciated, the Bishop said their actions bring a spirit to their Parishes, which is of a natural energy and reflection of Faith which will serve to inspire others to follow their lead.

“The biggest celebration in your life of service is who you are becoming,” Bishop Dewane added.  “Go forward with that idea of service in the Church. Make your mark. Take the ownership of who you are and truly become more that woman of God you are called to be.”

Felicia Gal, of St. William Parish in Naples is a graduating senior of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples who also turns 18 in a few weeks was thrilled when she heard the news. “When I found out I was nominated it was as a huge surprise,” Felicia said. “I do work with summer camps and sing at Mass as a cantor’s assistant, but don’t do that for recognition. It really is an honor to be here.”

Felicia’s mother, Maria Gal, explained that Felicia always wanted to be involved in activities at the Parish and in helping others. “I am so proud.”

Ellen Bachman, VDCCW Co-President, helped bring the Golden Rose Award to Venice having learned about similar recognition taking place by CCW group in other Dioceses. Bachman said the “write-ups on these girls were both amazing and inspiring. They are our future Church.”

Bachmann also read a congratulatory letter from Jean Kelly, the National CCW President, who said the foundation these young ladies have begun as active Catholic women will serve them well into the future.

Each Golden Rose Award recipient was presented with a certificate and golden rose. They will also receive a membership into the National Council of Catholic Women and a congratulatory packet all courtesy of the VDCCW.

Brenda Dolan, VDCCW Co-President, recognized the hard work of Anne De Camillo, President of St. William Parish CCW, who served as Chair of Golden Rose Committee.

“We are here today to honor these young ladies who exhibit those miraculous gifts and graces,” Dolan proclaimed. “There is a lot on your shoulders. Your values and commitment and the things you do let us know our Church and our country will continue to flourish.”

To Golden Rose Award process began in 2020 when the VDCCW asked Parishes in the Diocese to submit the name of a girl from their Parish whose lifestyle exemplifies the mission statement of the National Council of Catholic Women – Spirituality, Leadership and Service. There were 26 Parishes that responded. The 2020 award ceremony was postponed due to the Pandemic and not all were able to be present for the luncheon.

Those receiving the award for 2020 were: Alexandra Solis, St. Michael Parish, Wauchula; Emily Sansone, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Cape Coral; Mary Fiore, San Antonio Parish, Port Charlotte; Chloe Springer, St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers; Miriam Sandoval, St. James Parish, Lake Placid; Emmalee Brown, Epiphany Cathedral, Venice; Arianne Matson, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, Parrish; Valerie Castellan, St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples; Amber Rae Dyer, San Pedro Parish, North Port.

Those receiving the award for 2021 were: Naissa Esperace, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral; Sofia Herrero, St. Cecilia Parish, Fort Myers; Kylie Morgan Jones, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Myers; Gabriela Vasquez, St. Katharine Drexel Parish; Adriana Iofida, San Antonio; Lillian Brodeur, Our Lady of Light Parish, Fort Myers; Nicoy Jacas, Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda; Sonia Hernandez, St. Michael Parish; McKayla Cantrell, Epiphany Cathedral; Krystyna Mioduszewski, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Venice; Julia Ann Glaser , Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, Sarasota; Chloe Manes, St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton; Katherine Lumpkin, St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Sarasota; Felicia Gal, St. William Parish; Anna Bialkowski, St. Agnes Parish, Naples; Molly O’Brien, St. John Neumann Catholic High School, Naples; Trinity Nicole Forget, St. Ann Parish, Naples; Anne Marie Swafford, Resurrection Parish, Fort Myers.

Bonita Springs man finalist for CCUSA Volunteer of Year

When most people retire in Florida, they might envision golfing, fishing or lounging on the beach, but that’s not what Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. volunteer Tim Gunderman would choose to do most days, which is why he’s nominated for Volunteer of the Year by Catholic Charities USA and is one of 36 finalists.

After moving to Bonita Springs from North Carolina, the former construction company owner noticed that Hurricane Irma had been very unkind to several migrant farmworkers’ homes in the area. Much of the damage from the storm was still evident with blue tarps on roof tops and other interior issues left unresolved.

Gunderman, who knows all things construction, was quick to spring into action and assisted with getting estimates for repairs, and assured Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., that each job was performed by a reputable company who guaranteed the work. He soon developed a friendship with families he calls, “the poorest of the poor.”

“These are the pickers, the packers, and such, and they’re not represented – people we rely on to get our food,” said Gunderman, from a Bonita Springs farmworker migrant camp, where he also volunteers to deliver food to families who do not have cars.

During the Pandemic when many locations were closed, Gunderman realized while working to repair the damaged mobile homes from Hurricane Irma, there were also hungry people who did not have transportation to pick up food for their families during this health crisis. It was a one-two punch to the families who were now out of work due to the Pandemic.

Gunderman, who joined the Order of Malta several years ago, soon crossed paths with Rebecca Maddox, owner of Three60 Market in Naples, who was donating food to organizations during the Pandemic.

Gunderman quickly began donating money to the cause of food production by Three60 Market, and through Catholic Charities volunteering offered to drive to the farmworker migrant camps a few days a week across Southwest Florida to bring nutrition to the hungry.

In a video to promote Gunderman’s nomination, Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida says Tim is “contagious” with his passion, and Catholic Charities CEO Philomena Periera says Tim sees the “Face of Jesus” in all he meets.

Gunderman has put in 1980 hours during this last year as a volunteer for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc.

“I grew up in a modest home, Okay. We had one bathroom.  I’m healthy, my kids are educated, what more do we need,” said Gunderman, as he handed out sandwiches, chips, and Easter coloring books and crayons to the families who lined up to see him this day.  “If I have the opportunity, I can give back.  You know, how much money do you need?” Gunderman said, as he choked up.

Click here (https://vimeo.com/532460138) to view the full video of Tim Gunderman’s work for Volunteer of the Year for Catholic Charities USA.

News Briefs for the week of April 16, 2021

2 Diocesan Seminarians to be ordained Transitional Deacons April 17

Diocese of Venice Seminarians José Grullón and David Portorreal are among a group of nine who will be ordained as Transitional Deacons at 11 a.m., April 17, 2021 at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. His Excellency, Bishop William A. Wack, CSC, Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, will ordain the men and the liturgy will be livestreamed at www.svdp.edu/live from St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton. As newly ordained Deacons, these men will be assigned to Parishes where they will exercise their ministry in preparation to become priests in the following year. Among many duties, they will preach, perform baptisms, witness marriages, as well as preside over wakes and funerals.

Cape Coral students at state competition

A team of seven St. Andrew Catholic School students from Cape Coral competed on March 13, 2021 in the Florida Odyssey of the Mind State Competition at the Orlando Convention Center. The team took the judges to a magical storybook land by building a life-sized magical beanstalk which appeared to grow using a combination of springs, magnets, and an intricate pulley system.  They proudly took 4th place in the State Finals and will be moving on to compete in The Odyssey of the Mind World Finals which will take place in Orlando in the upcoming months. These students began preparing their solution in September of 2020 and have worked hard throughout the course of the 2020-2021 school year. Team members were: Addison Baker, Kiley Lebid, Ryan Peterson, Ellianna Trunkett, Ana Cerna, Laura Cerna and Isabella Smith.

Evangelizing Catechesis: Survey of the new Directory for Catechesis

The Diocese Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is offering an online course surveying the new how-to guide, the Directory for Catechesis, published by the Vatican in 2020. This new edition of the Directory emphasizes how to incorporate evangelization throughout the entire process of catechesis. This course is for Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, catechists, schoolteachers, adult faith formators, RCIA teams, parents — anyone who teaches the Faith. Co-teachers of the course are Dr. John Gresham, Director of the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, Anne Chrzan, Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Venice, and Joshua Mazrin, Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice. The six-week course starts April 19, 2021. There is a $25 fee to take the course. Visit the Institute website for more information and to register at www.institute-dov.org or contact the director for more information: john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Marriage Prep Retreat for Couples over 55 coming soon

The Office of Family Life is hosting a one-day sacramental marriage preparation retreat for those couples over 55 years of age who are preparing for marriage or convalidation, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 24, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. Lunch is included. The program builds an appreciation for the joy of Sacramental Marriage while offering insight and tools to address the unique challenges and responsibilities. Registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/two-become-one.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Workshop

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Directors of Religious Education, Youth Ministers, Principals and Teachers how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. The course will be held on April 29, 2021 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, and on May 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, 833 Magellan Drive, Sarasota. Advanced registration is required, and the cost is $25. Visit www.dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/workshop-on-youth-mental-health-first-aid for registration. The cost includes the book, lunch and certificate of completion.

Porn: Seven Myths Exposed event May 4

The porn industry has taken our culture hostage! The Diocese of Venice Family Life Office is hosting an event at 6:30 p.m., May 4, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall, 399 Sarasota St., Venice, to address and educate teens, parents and all others on the tyranny of pornography in our society. Matt Fradd is the speaker who has authored and coauthored several books, and creates and hosts the podcast, “Pints with Aquinas”. There is no cost to attend. For further information, please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Stepping into Marriage with Children

Did you know 60 percent of second marriages fail and the failure rate increases to 70 percent when there are children from a previous marriage in the home. The difficulties of parenting and stepparenting seemingly insurmountable are often the root cause of such failures. A free half day workshop, organized by the Diocese Office of Family Life, entitled “Stepping into Marriage with Children” is designed for those couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation, and will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 15, 2021 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. This workshop takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools to meet unique challenges. There is no cost to attend but registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/stepping-into-marriage-with-children. For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Year of the Family

On March 19, 2021, the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the joy and beauty of familial love, Pope Francis inaugurated the year “Amoris Laetitia Family” which will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the next World Meeting of Families in Rome. When announced, the Dicastery said in a statement, “The Pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families”. To learn more about the effort and the initiatives occurring in the Diocese of Venice during this commemorative year visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/year-of-the-family/.

Tele-Mental Health Counseling Services available

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. is offering Mental Health Counseling for adults and children provided by licensed mental health therapists. If you or someone you know are feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed or helpless, Catholic Charities can help. For more information, please call 239-455-2655.

Vaccines for Homebound Seniors

Seniors and/or their caregivers can sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in their home by sending their request by email to HomeboundVaccine@em.myflorida.com. Also, Senior Friendship Centers (Sarasota, Venice, Fort Myers and Arcadia) has organized a program to connect seniors with volunteers who can drive them to their scheduled vaccine appointment. Anyone needing a ride to their vaccination appointment should contact Lillian Cleveland, Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 941-556-3223 or lcleveland@friendshipcenters.org. The above is for information purposes only and are independent programs. Inquiries should be directed to the email/phone numbers for each program.

EASTER: The Summit of the Catholic Faith

Throughout the Universal Church the faithful gathered for a joyous celebration on Easter; that is the Resurrection of Our Lord, the Summit of the Catholic Faith.

This celebration comes after the holiest of weeks which began with the entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and included the suffering and death of Our Lord. The Resurrection on Easter completes the journey for Jesus when death was conquered but also the beginning of a new journey of belief and hope for the faithful, Bishop Frank J. Dewane explained during the Easter Vigil Mass, April 3, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

The Easter Vigil which takes place on Holy Saturday night, “is the greatest and most noble of all solemnities and it is to be unique in every single Church,” according to the Roman Missal. The Vigil began in darkness before the Easter fire was kindled and the Paschal (Passover) Candle was lit and brought into the darkened church with the proclamation that Christ is our Light.

During this Mass, the faithful hear the story of Salvation proclaimed in numerous Scripture readings. It is also at this time when priests confer the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation for the Catechumens and Candidates. At Parishes throughout the Diocese, there were 330 women and men who entered fully into the Catholic Church.

Two of these candidates were sisters Martha Lee McGuffin Mahoney (St. Teresa of Avila) and Valerie Ann McGiffin Amundson (St. Teresa of Calcutta), and they both first received the Sacrament of Confirmation and then the Sacrament of First Holy Communion from Bishop Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral.

Mahoney said she felt gratitude in her heart and became emotional when Bishop Dewane made the sign of the cross with Holy Oil on her forehead. “I feel blessed and loved.”

Amundson said she was drawn to the Catholic Faith by commitment of the Church to never waver in what is taught and passed down through the centuries. “It was also the Catholic spirit that drew me in. I had concerns about falsehoods I heard about Catholics, but those quickly went away when I realized that we are all called to live out the teachings of Christ.”

Bishop Dewane explained how the Easter Candle, flickering at the foot of the altar, represents Jesus Christ, a light that shatters the darkness, a darkness more profound than what was inside the Cathedral, but within one’s life and heart.

“We have to take this opportunity to carry home with us these words from Scripture; to place them into our hearts and into your heart and to be the light, often in the midst of darkness,” the Bishop continued. “Be attentive in your life to the economy of Salvation as you are to the economy of finances.”

We are all called to be that voice and that witness. Take this opportunity at Easter to recognize the joy of the resurrected Lord, Bishop Dewane stressed. The resurrection is the restoration of the covenant the Jewish people had with God and is now restored.

“Salvation is here for you and me,” the Bishop concluded. “Go forward with shouts of joy. It has to be who you are, going forward with the Risen Christ who is within our midst, who is with us as a community of believers to keeps us safe.”

Easter is the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead, culminating in his Ascension to the Father and sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. There are 50 days of Easter from the first Sunday to Pentecost.

The first eight days make up the Octave of Easter and are celebrated as Solemnities of the Lord. On the 40th day of the Easter Season, Catholics celebrate the Ascension of the Lord (May 13, which is moved to the following Sunday on May 16), and for the nine days following, prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (May 23).

Mass for victims of abuse to be celebrated April 16

For the 14th consecutive year, during Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month – April, the Diocese of Venice will be offering Mass to pray for the victims of abuse. The Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and take place at 8 a.m., April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass will be live-streamed, and all are welcome to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

The Diocese of Venice, and its entities, take very seriously the safety of all young people and vulnerable adults. To this end, the Diocese, with a zero-tolerance policy, works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults.

“As Christian adults, we have a moral responsibility and are entrusted by God with the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of minors and vulnerable adults,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Diocese of Venice is steadfast in its commitment to providing a comprehensive program to protect the most vulnerable from all types of abuse while raising awareness to prevent abuse from happening in the first place.”

In 1983, recognizing the alarming rate at which children continued to be abused and neglected and the need for innovative programs to prevent child abuse, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives proclaimed April National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In keeping with continued efforts to nationally promote awareness of child abuse and neglect, the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined in this effort.

Each year the Diocese conducts Safe Environment Program training sessions for thousands, including clergy, religious and laity who work or volunteer in the Diocese.

As minors and vulnerable adults participate in activities within or sponsored by the Diocese, the mission of the Safe Environment Program is:

  • To provide required education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, and for parents, as to the issue of abuse of children including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.
  • To provide required training programs for children and young people in our Catholic schools and religious education programs. This includes age-appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety and information about improper touching and relationships. Children are not expected to be fully knowledgeable about child abuse or of the laws governing care of children, but they need to know when they should seek assistance from a trusted adult.
  • To thoroughly screen and evaluate the background of all diocesan employees – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children and young people.
  • To hold those who minister in the name of the Church in the Diocese of Venice, all diocesan employees (clergy, religious and laity) and those volunteers who work with children and young people, to Christ-centered and professional codes of conduct.

Since 2002, the Diocese has engaged a professional company to conduct background screening through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with results available to the Diocesan Safe Environment Coordinator within 24-48 hours. There have been more than 50,000 background screenings and in excess of 57,000 persons trained in Safe Environment. In the last five years alone, 14,755 individuals were background screened and more than 15,000 trained in safe environment. While all Diocesan staff and volunteers go through Safe Environment training, only those who work with minors or vulnerable adults must be fingerprinted and trained in Safe Environment prior to beginning employment or volunteering.

The mission of the Diocese of Venice Safe Environment Program is to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working with minors, and parents, about the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. In addition, the Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools.

The Diocese of Venice annually undergoes a comprehensive audit by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese is in compliance with current directives.

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or how to sign up for a Safe Environment class, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE

During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB encourages the faithful to recite the Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just:

You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross. Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

UNA ORACIÓN DE SANACIÓN VÍCTIMAS DE ABUSO

Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo;

Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

 

Paschal Triduum celebrated throughout the Diocese

Faithful gather at Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice for a celebration of the Paschal Triduum (April 1-4, 2021).

The Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday), has its center in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Sunday of the Resurrection (Easter).

Through the implementation of health and safety precautions, including social distancing and the wearing of masks, the 2021 celebrations were a stark difference from the Triduum of 2020 when churches were closed to public Mass during the early days of the global Pandemic.

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. William Parish in Naples included the commemoration when Jesus Christ established the Sacrament of Holy Communion prior to His arrest and crucifixion. It also observes His institution of the priesthood. This Liturgy included the presentation of the oils blessed and consecrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during the March 30 Chrism Mass which will be used for the Sacraments in the Parish throughout the year.

Later, was the traditional washing of the feet. A procession with the Holy Eucharist to transfer the Eucharist to the place of reposition in the Parish Hall followed the Prayer after Communion. This procession led out the main doors of the church and then around to the rear where the hall is located. Along the way were tiki torches to light the path.

On Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, the faithful at St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston participated in the Stations of the Cross prior to the Liturgy which included the reading of the Passion from the Gospel of John.

Stations of the Cross at a few Parishes were led by children and in many cases the presentation was scaled-back due to the Pandemic. For example, thousands typically participate in the Stations at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee. The Liturgy was celebrated in English, Spanish and Creole and still drew a large crowd. Different in 2021, health and safety precautions required that the Veneration of the Cross took place without physically touching the crucifix.

An Easter Triduum Retreat at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice drew more than 30 people. Led by Director of Spirituality Father Mark Yavarone, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, the retreat started with supper on Holy Thursday and ended with breakfast on Easter Sunday following the celebration of a Sunrise Easter Liturgy.

On Easter, to accommodate the expected crowds and to ensure social distancing, Parishes throughout the Diocese added extra Masses and some even set up tents outside.

Forty is Fabulous – Naples Catholic School starts year of celebration

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples kicked off the start of their 40th Anniversary with an outdoor event on March 27, 2021 commemorating four decades of excellence in Catholic education!

The celebration included a student talent show, book fair, time capsule, school history table, student artwork, games, silent auction, and an evening concert with Paul Todd.

It was a fun and successful day for the school, finally bringing an opportunity for students, families, and parishioners to come together in fellowship and support of the community after such a challenging year.

Principal Maria Niebuhr said the 40th Anniversary celebration brought the opportunity to look back with pride over the great accomplishments of the school and its students.

The Mission Statement of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School “is to nurture the development of each student to achieve their spiritual, intellectual, physical and social potential. Catholic values and traditions are incorporated with academic excellence in an atmosphere of faith, discipline and love.”

The school’s history dates to 1981, when four classrooms were built and three portables installed on Parish land on Golden Gate Parkway, thanks to the faithful who wanted their children to have a quality faith-based education in a safe, family-friendly environment. The school offers high academic standards, as well as spiritual nourishment and growth for students.

Hurricane Irma dealt a devastating blow to the campus in September 2017 when the school sustained severe damage, resulting in elementary classes being moved to portable trailers. Students returned to a renovated building with many upgrades in 2019.

Today there is one classroom for each grade serving approximately 225 students in grades PK3 through 8. The campus includes a media center, computer lab, resource rooms, art room, and more. The 13,000 square foot gymnasium was completed in the spring of 2011.

“We are proud of the continued performance of our faculty and staff, as well as the involvement, participation and support of its parents,” Niebuhr said.

Though forced to virtual learning in the spring of 2020, Seton has been open for in-class instruction since the start of the current 2020-2021 Academic Year. The school recently introduced its “Campus Expansion Program,” which includes plans to build a much-needed administration building with single point of entry, provide for additional classroom space to accommodate the school’s growing enrollment, and other facility enhancements. From Seton’s humble beginnings, the commitment to the tradition of excellence in Catholic education continues.

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School is currently open for enrolment for the 2021-2022 Academic Year. For more information about how to support the school or to enroll a students, please visit www.saintelizabethseton.com.

News Briefs for the week of April 9, 2021

Livestream moves from Catholic Center to Epiphany Cathedral Parish

After more than a year of livestreaming the Mass from the Catholic Center, since April 1, 2021 the livestream of the daily and weekend Masses is broadcast at 8 a.m. from Epiphany Cathedral Parish. You will be able to find the Masses on the Cathedral Facebook page found at www.facebook.com/epiphanycathedral.

Evangelizing Catechesis: Survey of the new Directory for Catechesis

The Diocese Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is offering an online course surveying the new how-to guide, the Directory for Catechesis, published by the Vatican in 2020. This new edition of the Directory emphasizes how to incorporate evangelization throughout the entire process of catechesis. This course is for Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, catechists, schoolteachers, adult faith formators, RCIA teams, parents — anyone who teaches the Faith. Co-teachers of the course are Dr. John Gresham, Director of the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, Anne Chrzan, Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Venice, and Joshua Mazrin, Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice. The six-week course starts April 19, 2021. There is a $25 fee to take the course. Visit the Institute website for more information and to register at www.institute-dov.org or contact the director for more information: john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Parent Cyber Security Presentation

The Offices of Family Life and Religious Education are hosting a free parent event “Protecting God’s Children Online in a Hyper Digital Age.” Cyber security expert Liz Repking will cover keeping kids safe from cyber bullying, online predators, sexting, online gaming, and how to help children create an escape plan when trouble arises. There are two opportunities to attend: April 14, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice, and April 15 at St. Francis Xavier Parish, 2057 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers. Both presentations are from 6:30-8 p.m. Registration by April 10 is required for planning purposes.  https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/protecting-gods-children-online-in-a-hyper-digital-age.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Workshop

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Directors of Religious Education, Youth Ministers, Principals and Teachers how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or are in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders. The course will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., April 29, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 1 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, 833 Magellan Drive, Sarasota. Advanced registration is required, and the cost is $25 which includes the book, lunch and certificate of completion. For registration and payment visit www.dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/workshop-on-youth-mental-health-first-aid.

Monthly Days of Prayer and Private Retreats

Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) Retreat and Spirituality Center, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice, offers a Monthly Day of Prayer on the second Wednesday and the second Sunday of each month. The upcoming dates are April 14, May 9, and May 12. The day begins at 9:30 a.m. with continental breakfast and includes two conferences, lunch, Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, and opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, private meditation and prayer. The day concludes at 3:15 pm. In addition, OLPH offers 1-, 3-, 5-, and 8-Day private individual retreats in a safe and tranquil setting.  These retreats include exploration of the matters of the heart, daily hours of contemplation and meditation, daily meetings with a Spiritual Director/Priest, moments of recreational activity, Mass and availability for Confession. For more information or to register, call Denise Riley at 941-486-0233, ext. 3004, or visit our website at www.olph-retreat.org.

Magnificat Breakfast for Women

The next Magnificat breakfast for women is being held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., April 24, 2021 at the Holiday Inn Airport, Gulf Coast Town Center, Fort Myers. The guest speaker is Margaret Adams, a member of St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers and will share her spiritual journey. Seating is limited. No walk-ins or payment at the door! Advanced registration ONLY. Masks are required. Please send a $23 check, payable to Magnificat Fort Myers, to Margaret Mengle, 5017 Westminster Dr., Fort Myers, FL. 33919 (239-826-7475). Your mail request must be postmarked by April 13 or make reservations online at https://magnificatfortmyers.com/order-tickets/ by April 19.

 

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