Rosary Makers promote devotion to Mary

By tradition, the Catholic Church dedicates each month of the year to a certain devotion, with the month of October being dedicated to the Holy Rosary, one of the best known of all Catholic devotions.

Throughout the Diocese of Venice, there are Parish-based rosary maker groups which dedicate their time to ensuring the rosary is available for all.

One of the newest of these groups is based at Our Lady of the Angeles Parish in Lakewood Ranch. Founded in 2019, there are more than a dozen who are active in the rosary makers outreach.

“Our mission is quite simple,” outreach founder Susan Nedeau said. “To promote the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary through prayerfully making and teaching others to make cord and bead style rosaries.”

The rosaries are distributed throughout the Parish, the Diocesan Mission Office, various missions in the U.S. and abroad (mostly Africa), charitable organizations, groups that work with incarcerated, nursing homes, and assisted living communities. In just one year, the group has distributed more than 3,000 rosaries.

The global Pandemic did not prove to be much of a challenge for the group, as they developed a system for supplies to be picked up and dropped off, Nedeau explained. They also went from communicating by email to gathering twice a month socially distanced in the Parish parking lot.

“We all brought a chair, our masks and our rosaries,” Nedaeu said. “We would offer special intentions and pray our rosary together and pick up fresh supplies. This was an incredible morale booster especially for our members who live alone… We did not miss a beat!  We even experimented and learned how to make twine-knotted rosaries, the single decade rosary/chaplet and rosary bracelets.”

Throughout October, the rosary maker group has been placing announcements in the Parish bulletin to allow everyone to know about this creative outreach while also encouraging others to join.

While the Our Lady of the Angels Rosary Markers are relatively new to this unique outreach, the group at St. William Parish in Naples has been going strong for 27 years.

In that time, the group has made and distributed nearly 2.5 million rosaries, said Sandy Turner, President of the St. William Rosary Makers. In 2020 alone, more than 50 dedicated rosary makers at St. William have made some 50,000 rosaries. In addition, there are some who make rosaries on occasion while still others who provide support for the overall effort.

The group annually provides rosaries for participants in the annual Diocesan Youth Rally (1,200 for 2020), nursing homes, hospitals, the Universal Living Rosary Society based in Texas, as well as to a group which helps to bring hope for impoverished children in New York City.

“We’re still producing many rosaries during the Pandemic,” Turner said. “The shipping to missionaries overseas stopped, but we are still making them. We don’t meet like we have in the past, but we still do the work. For many, the act of making a rosary is part of a powerful personal devotion to the Blessed Virgin.”

Pope Francis, speaking at the Vatican on Oct. 7, 2020, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, invited “everyone to rediscover, especially during this month of October, the beauty of the prayer of the rosary, which has nourished the faith of the Christian people through the centuries.”

The Holy Father said that the Blessed Virgin Mary has urged the recitation of the rosary in her apparitions, “especially in the face of the threats looming over the world… Even today, in this time of Pandemic, it is necessary to hold the rosary in our hands, praying for us, for our loved ones and for all people.”

The Our Lady of the Angels and St. William Rosary Makers are just two examples of the dedicated people who work tirelessly to ensure, even during a pandemic, that rosaries are made available to all who desire one. Both groups rely on donations for supplies and mailing costs to keep doing their work.

How to help

To support the Rosary Maker groups mentioned in this article, please send your donations to:

Our Lady of the Angels Parish, c/o Rosary Makers, 12905 E. SR 70, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202;

St. William Parish, c/o Rosary Makers, 601 Seagate Drive, Naples, FL 34108.

News Briefs for week of October 20, 2020

Students learn about growing a garden

How does your garden grow!? Students in grades K-4 at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples are participating in the Jr. Master Gardener 4-H program through the University of Florida. As part of the Science curriculum, these virtual classes teach students about plants and gardening and provide hands-on experiences to help expand our STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, mathematics) Program.

Pregnancy Clinic celebrates 500th ultrasound

Community Pregnancy Clinics, Inc. (CPCI), which has Pro-Life facilities in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota and Gainesville, announced that the Sarasota office performed its 500th ultrasound on Oct. 8, 2020. The clinic, which opened in 2017, has established its presence as a trusted provider of life-affirming pregnancy and reproductive healthcare in the community. The ultrasound in Sarasota revealed a 14-week-old baby waving hello. CPCI thanks the Knights of Columbus for their generosity in providing Sarasota’s ultrasound machine. This gift has revealed the beating hearts of over 500 babies to their parents. To congratulate the CPCI Sarasota team or to learn more about the good work of CPCI, you can send an email to sarasota@communitypregnancyclinic.com.

40 Hour Adoration

Christ the King Parish, 1900 Meadowood St., Sarasota, is hosting a 40-hour Adoration beginning at 1 p.m., Oct. 25, and ending with a Procession at 6 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27. All are invited to join at any time during these 40 hours of silent Eucharistic Adoration. The devotion is intended as reparation to our Dear Savior for the outrages committed against Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and for the sins of our nation which cry to heaven for vengeance. For more information, please call 941-924-2777 or email office@christthekingsarasota.org.

Outdoor concert to honor veterans

St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, welcomes all to their annual Veterans Day Concert to be held outdoors on the Parish grounds at 6 p.m., Nov. 18, 2020. Tickets are $30 and seating is limited and will be socially distanced. You also have the option to view the concert online for $15. All proceeds benefit the Parish Catholic Faith Appeal. For tickets, please call 321-209-1381 or 239-677-5347.

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 https://dioceseofvenice.org/a-year-of-st-joseph/.

Prayers and Resources briefs

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.

Dispensation

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about the experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation given to attend Sunday Mass has been extended through Nov. 27, 2020, and depending on conditions, perhaps longer. At the same time, Bishop Dewane invites the Catholic Faithful who are able, to return to their Parish for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. 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 at 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.

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.

Celebrating the Month of the Rosary in different ways

A determined group in Bradenton braved the rain to be sure to participate in the annual America Needs Fatima Public Square Rosary Crusade on Oct. 10, 2020 in front of Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish seeking prayers for our country.

A dozen such prayer rallies were scattered throughout the Diocese of Venice, joining some 21,000 others nationwide. The goal of the America Needs Fatima rallies is to win the heart and soul of America for Mary by spreading Our Lady’s Fatima message and promoting devotion to Her Immaculate Heart.

The rallies are scheduled at noon on the closest Saturday to the different recorded Our Lady of Fatima apparitions, the last of which occurred Oct. 13, 1917. While rallies earlier in 2020 were cancelled because of the global pandemic, the number of nationwide October rallies exceeded all expectations and appropriately take place during the Month of the Holy Rosary.

One of the participants in Bradenton said that now, more than ever – with a global pandemic and social unrest in the U.S., prayers are needed for our nation to seek the intercessions of Mary and make God a more central part of life. While the rain kept some away, she added the presence of people praying the rosary on a major road is an important image for all to see. As some drivers and passengers waved or honked their horns in support, others looked curiously upon the group. “We are making a difference by being out here. It’s wonderful.”

The rosary rally in Parrish, organized by the Knights of Columbus based at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, gathered at the intersection of U.S. 301 and Fort Hammer Road. At the same time a group of more than 50 prayed at the Venice Beach pavilion where organizers said prayer intentions were for every federal, state, county and local government worker.

A few days earlier, Oct. 7, 2020 marked the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and once again several commemorations took place.

Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers held a vigil and celebration on Oct. 6-7, as the Feast Day is a national holiday for the Guatemalan Catholic community. The pandemic curtailed the usual larger Parish-wide fiesta. However, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales Father Patrick O’Connor explained the vigil and commemoration were too important to cancel altogether.

“We still held our Las Mañanitas (prayers and song in honor of Our Lady) and Mass,” Father O’Connor explained. “Afterwards, there was a small reception and people were provided with bags of food and drink so they could continue the celebration at home with their family.”

Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice had a special dedication of sacred art, a painting depicting Our Lady of Fatima, which was placed in the school office lobby. Father Richard and Father Robert Beligotti donated this artwork to the school, Principal Nicole Loseto explained. Tom and Nancy Murphy donated the frame in memory of Nancy’s sister, Lois. Father Richard Beligotti led the blessing and dedication ceremony which was streamed live to the entire school.

Meanwhile, students and faithful from throughout the Diocese joined the Diocese of Venice in participating in a virtual rosary event hosted by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The event was led by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, President of the Conference, who had called for this moment of prayer with the intention of uniting Catholics across the country at this time when there is much unrest and uncertainty.

Naples Parish wins global Stewardship Award

St. Agnes Parish in Naples has been honored with the Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Memorial Parish Stewardship Award by International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC).

The award is presented each year at the International Catholic Stewardship Council annual conference – held virtually the week of Oct. 5, 2020. The award is given to the Parish which best exemplifies a long-term commitment to stewardship as a way of life. Its purpose is to recognize a Parish that has embraced every aspect of stewardship and has shown evidence of spiritual growth and community outreach.

According to the ICSC, the recipient of this award must have initiated and developed this way of life at a comprehensive level that embraces stewardship of time, talent and treasure across all Parish groups. The Parish’s on-going conversion to stewardship will be evidenced by its growth in spirituality and its witness and outreach to the larger community.

“It was a big deal for us,” said Father Bob Kantor, St. Agnes Pastor who credits his fellow clergy, Parish staff and the faithful for helping make this honor possible. “Hopefully others learning about it will receive some encouragement.”

This year the Conference was virtual instead of being held in California as originally planned. Father Kantor addressed the plenary session on Oct. 6, 2020, and Gloria Carter, Deacon Roberto Landron and Dominick and Rita Cavuoto conducted a webinar the same afternoon as part of the Conference.

“This is a great accomplishment to be selected from Parishes all over the world,” said Gloria Carter, Parish Stewardship Coordinator who helped prepare the St. Agnes application for the award. “A considerable amount of time and energy has gone into producing the requirements of achieving this honor.”

Documentation provided for the award covered different areas of promoting stewardship at the Parish and included: stewardship brochures, calendars and newsletters; Parish handbooks; commitment cards; welcome postcards, letters and packets; invitations to newly registered parishioners; outreach mission statement; and much more.

Named in honor of Archbishop Murphy, Bishop of Great Falls from 1978-1987 and Archbishop of Seattle from 1987 until his death in 1997. He was an ardent supporter of the International Catholic Stewardship Council and attended many of its annual conferences.

Since St. Agnes was formally established in 2007, the Parish has gone from 16 outreach programs to 80.

While earning this award is a great honor for St. Agnes, Carter added, “This does not mean that we stop Stewardship,” she said. “Stewardship is not a program, it is a Way of Life and as life continues, so does Stewardship. It is up to all of us as individuals to bring Jesus Christ to others; to live out Stewardship in our daily lives. As baptized Catholics we have become Disciples of Jesus and as such we are required to bring the teaching of Jesus to others. Living as good holy people says more to others than the world ever could. Remember to thank God for all our gifts and talents and see how much we can accomplish together.”

To view the St. Agnes Parish submission for the Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Memorial Parish Stewardship Award submission, please visit : http://www.stagnesnaples.org/110.

News Briefs for the week of Oct. 16, 2020

Memorial Mass on Veterans Day to be livestreamed

Each year the Diocese of Venice holds a Memorial Mass on Veterans Day in honor of the men and women who have served our country and continue to serve and protect us today. The restrictions regarding public gatherings at the Sarasota National Cemetery has precluded holding the Mass at this beautiful site. This year, the Mass to be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, will be held at 3 p.m., Nov. 11, 2020. The Mass will be live streamed so that all may participate on this important day at facebook.com/dioceseofvenice.org/videos. You do not need to have an account to view the Mass. Please contact Gail Ardy at ardy@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543 for further information.

UnBall virtual event Nov. 12

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice invites everyone to participate in The UnBall, a Virtual Charity Ball to raise funds to help stop human trafficking. Mark your calendar and join at 7 p.m., Nov. 12, 2020. Due to the pandemic and the postponement of the Venetian Ball, the Venetian Ball Committee created The UnBall virtual event. Join Catholic Charities for an hour-long event to raise awareness and stop modern day slavery. Human trafficking is not in the shadows or in faraway nations, it happens in plain sight in our community. Listen to a survivor-leader share her inspirational story and learn how you can make an impact. The UnBall supports the programs and services of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Lee, Hendry, and Glades counties which include Positive Youth Development Program, Senior Support Coordination Program, Anti Human Trafficking Assistance Program, immigration services, food assistance, and pantries, baby supplies, and disaster response and recovery. For more information, please contact Janet Pavelack at janet.paverlack@catholiccharitiesdov.org, 239-334-4007 ext. 2101 or by visiting www.catholiccharitiesdov.org.

Mooney student helps hurricane victims

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Senior Mallory Albritton started a relief effort to help farmers and ranchers in Louisiana after Hurricane Laura hit in late August 2020. Mallory coordinated a BBQ fundraiser to make money and buy supplies they needed for the farmers. She helped raise almost $8,000. Mallory, and other supporters from Sarasota, delivered all the supplies on Oct. 1, 2020, before the same region was hit by Hurricane Delta on Oct. 10,

Student assemble 1,000 PPE packets for community

Students of Catholics in Action Club at Bishop Verot Catholic High School assembled 1,000 PPE (personal protective equipment) packets on Oct. 2, 2020 in Fort Myers which will soon be distributed to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. and throughout the community as needed.

Neumann golf team finishes regular season undefeated

Congratulations St. John Neumann Catholic High School Celtic Boys Golf Team for recently finishing their regular season undefeated. The team also placed third in Districts, Next up for the Naples team will be the regional competition the week of Oct. 19, 2020.

Surviving Divorce Retreat Nov. 21 in Fort Myers

The Diocese Office of Marriage and Family Life is hosting a Surviving Divorce Retreat, 9 a.m.-3 pm., Nov. 21, 2020, at Resurrection Parish, 8121 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers. The retreat is open to all and will feature speaker Rose Sweet with a talk titled, “Surviving Divorce: Hope and Healing for the Catholic Family.” The cost is $15 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Please register at www.dioceseofvenice.org/divorce. For more information, please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org.

Pet blessings abound

For the past six months Eleanor Warring has relied on her best friend more than ever.  Sammy, a 7-year-old terrier poodle mix was one of more than a dozen dogs present for the annual Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 3, 2020 at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch.

Warring lost her husband of 58 years in 2016 when Sammy was nearly 3 years old and the two have been nearly inseparable since. The companionship has been valued more since the pandemic began, which is why Warring wanted to be certain Sammy received a proper blessing with Holy Water from Deacon Jack Milholland.

Sammy remained still throughout the prayer service which consisted of readings from Scripture, prayers and intercessions followed by a general blessing and then individual blessings as Deacon Milholland worked his way through the crowd.

“I would bring him to Mass if I could,” Warring explained. “That is why this blessing is so special. I find great comfort with Sammy and find great comfort in the Church.”

The Blessing of the Animals traditionally occurs on Oct. 4, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of animals and the environment. St. Francis loved the birds near his hometown and even allowed himself to be displaced from a place of shelter in deference to a donkey. The Saint wrote a Canticle of the Creatures, an ode to God’s living things, “All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures.”

The celebration of the Blessing of the Animals celebrates the sacredness of all God’s creation. In the spirit of Saint Francis, the celebration honors animals that share our lives and touch our hearts. It also acknowledges and encourages respect for all of creation.

With requirements of social distancing, many of the blessings throughout the Diocese were on a smaller scale than in the past, but their importance seemed just as crucial. At St. Columbkille Parish in Fort Myers, Father Lorenzo González held a drive-thru blessing, as did Father Casey Jones at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples. Meanwhile the blessing at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples by Father Gerard Critch was held in a courtyard.

In the wake of the pandemic, many became much closer to their pets. Whether the pets are furry, feathered, scaled or finned, they helped their owners cope with the isolation and loneliness brought on by the quarantine, or the need to remain home for work and/or school.

2020 World Mission Sunday Oct. 18

By Father Bob Kantor – Special to the Florida Catholic

This World Mission Sunday comes amid a pandemic affecting the whole world and so much else happening in our nation. Each year, parishes take up a collection that provides for more than a thousand mission dioceses in territories that cover more than half of the globe. This year will be no different. The World Mission Sunday collection is the weekend of Oct. 17-18, 2020. Unfortunately, with fewer people in the pews it is likely to translate to lighter support of the priests, religious and lay pastoral leaders who proclaim the Gospel, build the Church and serve the poor and most vulnerable. Their work is both a witness to Christ and a practical help. If you are able, please be generous.

Some mission experiences for the people of our Diocese have been understandably curtailed during the pandemic. The Mission Impossible: Immokalee summer experience for teens was cancelled in June. Tentative plans for an international mission experience for young people in the Caribbean remain on the drawing board. Missionaries who were supposed to travel to half of the Parishes in the Diocese in November as part of the Diocese of Venice Mission Cooperative Plan were cancelled. Second collections will be taken up in those Parishes, who host a missionary every other year as part of the plan.

Despite all these challenges, we are still called to mission!  Pope Francis has challenged each of us to live our lives of faith as missionary disciples, spreading the good news of Jesus Christ in creative ways, pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones to share the Faith. In his message for World Mission Day 2020, the Holy Father notes that this year is marked by the suffering and challenge posed by Covid-19. “Like the disciples in the Gospel were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm.  We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other,” the Holy Father said.

Pope Francis calls us to an awareness of others, not thinking only of ourselves.  Regarding our call to mission, he added “the invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbor presents itself as an opportunity for sharing, service and intercessory prayer. The mission that God entrusts to each one of us leads us from fear and introspection to a renewed realization that we find ourselves precisely when we give ourselves to others.”

How can we make a difference today and tend the oars of the boat we all feel being tossed about these days? Your generosity on World Mission Sunday is one concrete means of offering help that is greatly needed around the world. Christ also offers a very personal call to each of us. To the extent we can, in the ways we can in these times of less personal contact, bringing Jesus to the world is even more critical. Where there are suffering hearts and anxious spirits, we can be the ones to reflect the peace of Christ and the soothing of the Spirit to an ailing world.

A global pandemic, contentious elections and social unrest have many people seeking answers and trying to effect solutions that they hope will improve present conditions.  Without God, is this possible? Without justice, peace and love undergirding any initiative, can it really work? Perhaps this year more than ever, our own nation can be thought of as mission territory, where you and I can bring Christ to bear where he has been ignored or forgotten. Perhaps these challenging times will lead to a more profound World Mission Sunday than ever, one where we not only make our greatly needed sacrificial offering, but also contribute something profound from our very lives for God and neighbor.

By Father Bob Kantor is the Diocesan of Venice Director for the Propagation of the Faith (Mission Office) and Pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Naples. To learn more about the Diocese Mission Office, please call 239-592-1949 or email missionoffice@dioceseofvenice.org.

Catholic Energizer Making it Happen

Susan Laielli – Special to the Florida Catholic

If you have ever needed bereavement services from St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers, chances are you have been hugged, supported, and loved by 88-year old Claire Johnson.

Since 2008, Johnson has been supporting the grieving of the Parish from the beginning of the planning process until the last song plays at the funeral for a loved one.

“I tell them when they come in, it’s ok, go ahead and cry. It’s part of the healing process and it is very therapeutic,” said Johnson, from the Parish library, where she meets those coming in to plan a funeral. “Some of them have never planned a funeral before, there is a lot to know.”

A nurse for 40 years, Johnson understands the grieving process and works very hard to meet a family’s needs because she admits as a volunteer for the Bereavement Ministry, she wants everything to be just right for those suffering the loss of a loved one. It was not that long-ago she was in their shoes.

Moving to Florida in 1970, Johnson lived in four foreign countries and nine states with her husband George, who retired from the U.S. Air Force after 20 years of service. The pair met in high school at the age of 15 in Lawrence, Mass., and were married for almost 55 years before his death.

“I came to St. Cecilia’s Parish to join a friend after being a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish since 1974,” said Johnson. “After my husband died 13 years ago, I couldn’t go back. It was too hard.”

Suffering the loss of a loved one can change a person forever. Johnson believes the Holy Spirit began working on her more than a decade ago to move into the Bereavement Outreach at St. Cecilia, where she joined many others and quickly learned what needed to be done.

It is not surprising then that Johnson obtained her master’s degree in Public Health at the age of 64 and went to work for the Lee County Health Department for many years, before retiring and volunteering for the Church full-time.

“I attend every funeral with the family, because it’s important they know they have an advocate until the service is completed,” said Johnson, who also serves as the Sacristan for the Masses.

One might think that is quite enough to keep a person busy, however, she also volunteers as a Eucharistic Minister to the Homebound, operates as a sous-chef for the Lenten fish fry, conducts private home visits for hospice patients and prays the rosary at their bedside. She also leads the Rosary Group on Tuesdays following daily Mass.

As a decorator and coordinator for the former Senior Lunch at the Parish, she says the name was changed to Lunch Bunch. It sounds nicer.

“I am part of an excellent, caring team of bereavement ministers – and I’m very blessed!”

 

 

New Briefs for Week of Oct. 7, 2020

Diocesan seminarians reach milestones

Three Diocese of Venice seminarians studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach recently reached significant milestones in their discernment of a vocation to the priesthood. Seminarian Jacob Gwynn was conferred as Lector; Juan Contreras as Acolyte, and Alejandro Giraldo Roldán received both Lector and Acolyte. The Mass was celebrated on Sept. 27, 2020 by Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, Bishop of St. Augustine and Chair of the Seminary Board of Trustees. The day was significant in that is was both Priesthood Sunday and the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul, for whom the Seminary is named. First, as part of the Rite for Lectors, the Bishop placed the Holy Scriptures in the hands of each candidate and said, “Take this book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of his people.” Then as part of the Rite for Acolytes, the Bishop placed the paten, which contains the hosts for the celebration of Mass, in the hands of each candidate. He then said, “take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and His Church.”

Parishioners pray rosary with deputies

Dozens of faithful from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte gathered to pray on Sept. 26, 2020 at the District 3 offices of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. Participants prayed for the protection of the deputies and their families. The group prayed the rosary and a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, while also presenting deputies with St. Michael the Archangel medals.

2 Rosary Rallies in Bradenton Oct. 10

Bradenton will be the host of two separate America Needs Fatima Rosary Rallies, at noon, Oct. 10, 2020. The rallies are at the foot of the cross on the Manatee River at DeSoto National Memorial Park, 8300 DeSoto National Memorial Parkway, and Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, 2850 75th St. W. Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blanket, umbrella and your Rosary. For details on the DeSoto National Memorial Rally, please call Marie at 941-795-0413 and for the Parish Rally, please call 941-795-1228.

Faith & Wine Lee County going virtual

The new season of Faith & Wine Lee County returns 7 p.m., Oct. 22, 2020 with a virtual event livestreamed from the groups Facebook page. The presenter is Liz Larson, who will share her life-changing experience following the devastating diagnosis of her unborn child. Registration is not necessary but encouraged so everyone can register for “door prizes.” For more information, please visit www.faithandwineleecounty.com.

Oktoberfest coming to Lehigh Acres

St. Raphael Parish, 2514 Lee Blvd., Lehigh Acres, is hosting Oktoberfest, at 6 p.m., Oct. 24, 2020. This traditional event will include music, authentic German menu, raffles and prizes, as well as a cash bar. The event is sponsored by Knights of Columbus County 6265. Tickets are $20 per person, or $38 per couple. For more information, please call 239-369-8317 or visit www.koc6265.org.

Luncheon to Feature Olympian Nancy Kerrigan

Let’s celebrate this opportunity to socialize again and support Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. with an “It’s Time to Dress Up Again!” event featuring superstar and 2-time Olympic Medalist, Nancy Kerrigan. The luncheon, 11:30 a.m., Nov. 18, 2020, Plantation Golf and Country Club, 500 Rockley Blvd., Venice, is hosted by Champagne Tennis and Kerrigan will speak about her life and career. Tickets are $60 per person and include two-course lunch and a drink (red or white wine, mimosa). Tables limited to 6-8 guests and all CDC restrictions will be strictly enforced. To purchase tickets online, please visit www.ccdov.ejoinme.org/ItsTimetoDressUpAgain2020; or send a check to Our Mother’s House, PO BOX 2240, Venice, FL 34284. For more information, please call 941-485-6264 or omh@catholiccharitiesdov.org.

Witnesses for life make a difference

Whether there are 200 people, or two, the impact of the peaceful 40 Days for Life prayer vigil seeking an end to abortion in the U.S. is meaningful and real.

This was the message delivered by Shawn Carney, 40 Days for Life co-founder and President, when he appeared at an evening vigil in Fort Myers on Sept. 22, 2020, and then in Sarasota on Sept. 23, 2020, the first day of 40 Days Fall Campaign. It was an honor to have Carney present in the Diocese as he helped start what became 40 Days for Life in 2004 while still in college in Texas. From a local prayer vigil, the fall and spring campaigns have included more than one million people in 1,000 cities in 66 countries resulting in the closure of 107 abortion facilities.

“Your peaceful, joyful, prayerful presence out here is a simple, effective and beautiful reminder that there is hope for every woman who drives in here,” Carney said of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility. “You get to come out here and be that witness… You are a beautiful witness that stands in opposition to the sterile lobby just a few yards away. You are the light versus the darkness; the hope versus the hopeless; the joy versus despair. No one coming to that facility finds joy.”

A group of more than 200 gathered in front of the Planned Parenthood at 6418 Commerce Park Drive, Fort Myers, for the opening vigil, a number made even more impressive because it occurred during a global pandemic.

Carney was unsure what the response would be for 40 Days for Life in the wake of the pandemic and social unrest. He need not have worried, because a record 588 cities will have prayer vigils this fall. Since the first nationwide 40 Days for Life in 2007, of which the Diocese of Venice-led vigil in Sarasota was the second to join. During that time, 17,226 babies are confirmed to have been saved, Carney said.

Fort Myers 40 Days Fall Campaign organizers Rick and Paula Hellenbrand have been leading the vigil for the past 10 years and noted that two people cannot do it alone, that it takes a community to have success.

“As one of those women who came to one of these facilities, as my parents drove me to my abortion, no one was there,” an emotional Paula Hellenbrand said. “We have worked hard and overcome many obstacles to make sure we never have an empty sidewalk again as long as they are doing abortions inside this place. Thank you for being out here.”

Second time vigil participant April Couch of Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers said she was moved by the powerful testimony of the Hellenbrands, Carney and the other speakers and planned to share the message to her friends.

“When I first came out here last year, I thought it would be hard,” Couch explained. “In reality, it was very rewarding knowing that I was doing what the Lord wants of all of us, to stand up for the unborn because they cannot defend themselves against the injustice of abortion.”

Opening prayer for the vigil was offered by Father Ananda Reddy, Parochial Vicar at St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral, while the closing prayer was offered by Father Saji Ellickal Joseph, M.C.B.S., Parochial Vicar at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers.

Other speakers included recent transplant to Southwest Florida Jim Havens, of Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network and iCatholic Radio; Gabrielle Gabbard, a teen from Collier County who made headlines when she tried to start a Pro-Life club at her Naples high school; as well representatives from Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc. (CPCI) which had their mobile medical clinic present while the Sarasota opening vigil with Carney took place at the clinic there.

The Fort Myers campaign is 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 6418 Commerce Park Drive. If you have questions, contact Paula and Rick at 40DaysforLifeFM@gmail.com.

The Sarasota campaign is 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, 736 Central Ave. If you have any questions, contact organizer Rich Owens at 40DFLSarasota@gmail.com.

The 40 Days for Life Fall Campaign continues in Fort Myers and Sarasota through Nov. 1, 2020. Many Parishes in the Diocese of Venice have designated days during which the faithful participate, however participants are welcome at any time. No registration is required to participate, but you can do so by visiting https://www.40daysforlife.com/.

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