Naples Parish Life Center dedicated and blessed

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

3/29/19

The new Pulte Family Life Center at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples was dedicated and blessed by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on March 16.

The building is dedicated to the memory of Bill Pulte, a builder of homes who passed away in 2018. Representatives of the Pulte family were present for the ceremony and led the ribbon-cutting.

Bob Pulte, Bill’s son, said the legacy left behind by the Family Life Center is something the Parish community will use and enjoy for years to come. “Please know what this place and this community meant to my father,” Bob Pulte said.

Bishop Dewane described the Pulte Family Life Center as a place where all will come to know the presence of Christ, to experience friendship and joy, and to grow in Christ’s love.

Following the dedication ceremony, the Bishop, joined by St. John the Evangelist Parish Pastor Father Tomasz Zalewski, blessed the building with holy water.

The Center is 29,277 square-feet and encompasses a café, two fitness rooms, a gym with courts for basketball, volleyball and more, as well as a community room that can be subdivided. In addition, there are offices and maintenance areas. There is also a playground and two bocce ball courts. The front lobby has a large cross and a quote from St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Teach us to give and not count the cost.” The facility was designed by Studio+ Architects and the construction done by Gates Construction.

This new space is home to the growing Catholic Youth Organization – which focuses on engaging younger parishioners; and the new Catholic Adult Organization which is a set of programs to enrich and engage every age of adult, from 18 to 118, in body, mind, soul, and spirit.

Following the blessing, the Bishop celebrated the Mass in the gym, which is serving as a temporary overflow worship space while hurricane repairs on the Parish Church continue.

How to become a 24/7 Catholic

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

3/29/19

It is the responsibility of those who know what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ to take the fire and to keep building upon that and share it with others.

Teresa Tomeo, author, journalist and radio host, delivered this message to the fourth annual joint gathering of Faith and Wine of Lee County/Faith and Ale which was held March 21 at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers. The basis of her topic was on her latest book: “Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic.”

“Like a choir, we need to practice and always learn something new about our faith and help others do the same,” Tomeo said.

Like so many others, Tomeo grew up and went to Catholic School in the Detroit area but when she went to college and lost herself. It was when she started diving into the teachings of the Church, especially about women, she asked herself: “Where have I been all of these years?”

“I could not believe how deep and beautiful the Church was; and how much I didn’t know,” she added. “In order to grow in a relationship with God and find purpose and meaning, we must integrate faith into our daily lives… While essential, dedicating one hour of our lives to Sunday Mass alone won’t satisfy our deep longing for more.”

Joan Chance said she appreciated the insight and perspective Tomeo provided during the presentation. “She was funny and said some things that made me think and reassess how I live my own faith.”

This was the last of five seasonal gatherings for Faith and Wine Lee County which is a community of faithful women who come together socially uniting all backgrounds and ages to develop friendships and to support one another as they apply the Gospel to their lives. Events for the women’s outreach run from October through March. For more information about the group, please visit www.faithandwineleecounty.com.

Faith and Ale, the outreach to help men learn more about their faith and grow closer to the Lord, meets monthly from October through April. The last event of the season is April 11, featuring John Knuth, coach and Catholic author, and the topic will be: “Coaching 100 Days with Jesus.” The gathering begins at 6 p.m., and will be held at St. John XXIII Parish, 16060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. Tickets are $10 and available at www.faithandale.com or at the door.

News briefs from Around the Diocese March 15 2019

Bishop serves as Grand Marshal to Marco St. Patrick’s Parade

Bishop Frank J. Dewane served as the Grand Marshal for the 2019 Marco Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 3. The parade included a variety of floats and various musical performers including the St. John Neuman Catholic High School Band from Naples.

Parish celebrates 20 years

Our Lady of the Angels Parish Lakewood Ranch celebrated their 20th anniversary with a Mass and party on Feb. 24. Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the principal celebrant for the Mass with current, past and neighboring priests concelebrating. It was noted that the faith community, which has been in a new parish church for about a year, has grown thanks to the efforts of the priests and of the strong support of the people who make Our Lady of the Angels what it is today.

Order of Malta retreat brings in Archbishop

Archbishop Jerome Listecki, of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, was the retreat master for an Order of Malta retreat in Naples from March 1-3. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the knights and dames of the order on March 1 at St. Ann Parish and was joined by Archbishop Listecki.

St. Andrew student saves father, receives “Do The Right Thing Award”

Kendall Sullivan, a seventh grader at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, was recently honored at the Cape Coral “Do The Right Thing” Awards. She was recognized for her fast thinking and calm demeanor in a very stressful situation when her father had a medical emergency while driving here and a her younger sister to school. After a minor traffic accident, the quick-thinking student was able to remove the keys from the ignition and turn off the car. She then explain to bystanders and emergency medical personnel about her father’s medical history which was credited with helping him make a full recovery. She was presented the ‘Do the Right Thing Award” for being able to prevent injury to her family and others on the road all while putting her fear aside.

Two Diocesan teams going to state Odyssey of the Mind competition

The St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton and St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral both qualified teams for the state Odyssey of the Mind competition at the University of Central Florida in April! The teams did well in regional qualifiers on March 2 competing against more than 100 schools from across the area. Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving program where teams work together to solve complex problems.

Parish holds annual Gala

St. Jude Parish in Sarasota held their annual Gala Feb. 15 at Michael’s on East. The theme of the evening was “One World, One Family,” and in addition to fine dining, there was dancing, photo booth, raffles and live auction, including for Father Celestin Gutierrez’s famous paella dinner.

Epiphany Cathedral students participate in Kids Heart Challenge

Students at Epiphany Cathedral School know that February celebrates St. Valentine and is American Heart Month by participating in the Kids Heart Challenge which educates them on how their heart works, ways to stay healthy and how to make a difference in the lives of others. American Heart Association Youth Marketing Director, Emily Helter visited the Venice to the school on Valentine’s Day to speak with the 2nd & 3rd grade class about the fundraiser and ways to stay heart healthy.  This year the student’s goal is to raise $5,000 with the school raising $8,000 in the past two years. The Kid’s Heart Challenge fundraiser culminated with a school-wide event with jumping rope, hula hooping, dance and many fun activities designed to illustrate that being active is both fun and life-saving.

Thanksgiving celebrated around the Diocese

Staff Report – Florida Catholic

12/4/2018

The Thanksgiving holiday brings people together for a meal with the opportunity to thank the Lord for all that has been provided during the past year.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane helps serve a hot meal at the Knights of Columbus Council 3358 in Sarasota for the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for the community.

While Thanksgiving is typically a celebration of the family, many take the opportunity to help those in need, whether it is through bags of food or offering a hot meal, the outreach throughout the Diocese is impressive.

The Young Vincentians from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota delivered more than 1,000 pounds of food to Bethesda House, a Catholic Charities program for people impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee and the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center in Naples both offered baskets of food to hundreds of needy families. This included food that would not only be used for the holiday itself but could feed a family of four for up to a week.

One mother, who received a gift basket from the Judy Sullivan Center, noted that the food was much appreciated as it would allow her to provide a special meal for her two children at Thanksgiving. “I’m just so grateful to everyone who provided the food. It means so much to my children too.”

The St. Joseph Food Pantry handed out more than 1,200 bags of food Thanksgiving Week in Bradenton.

At St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, volunteers handed out more than 1,200 bags of food in three days. Meanwhile, the Young Vincentians from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota delivered more than 1,000 pounds of food to Bethesda House, a Catholic Charities program for people impacted by HIV/AIDS. At St. Columbkille Parish in Fort Myers, more than 120 turkeys and other items were donated to St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston and St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Moore Haven.

Volunteers at St. Columbkille Parish in Fort Myers load turkeys for delivery to parishes in Clewiston and Moore Haven just before Thanksgiving.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was in Sarasota on Thanksgiving Day when he joined the Knights of Columbus Council 3358 for the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for the community. The Bishop gave the opening blessing and helped on the food line. This annual event is in its third decade and this year provided about 600 hot meals for many people who have nowhere else to go on Thanksgiving. An additional 200 meals were delivered to the homeless in the area. Earlier, Bishop Dewane celebrated Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch.

In Immokalee, the faithful of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples offered “Thanksgiving in the Park” which provided more than 2,000 meals. More than 100 volunteers helped prepare the meal and then serve the food on Thanksgiving Day.

Several other parishes had Thanksgiving dinner for the faithful, including at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples which served about 300.

These were just a few examples of what took place throughout the Diocese of Venice Thanksgiving week.

Punta Gorda Youth Tweet the Holy Father

Staff Report – Florida Catholic

11/15/2018

A simple exercise for a Parish youth group turned into an outpouring of heartfelt emotion about the Universal Church, their Faith and Pope Francis.

Rita J. Sheridan, Director of Youth Ministries at Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda, organized her 6th-8th graders to compose messages – or Tweets – that would be sent to Pope Francis through his Twitter social media account.

Sheridan heard about other youth groups doing this exercise and believed it would be a good idea. The results were amazing.

“After I read each of them, I was so moved that I set up the Twitter account and sent them off to the Pope,” Sheridan said. “They really couldn’t believe I would actually do this!”

Sheridan was pleased with the thought and effort the students made during this project.

“It was a great exercise and the kids truly spoke from their hearts,” she said.

The following are just some of the Tweets created by the youth from Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda:

  • “Dear Pope Francis – when I go to Church I feel safe against all evil on Earth. I honor you for religious freedom. I get connected to the Church when I pray and I am with my family.” – Nicholas
  • “Dear Pope Francis – I feel special at Church because I sing at Mass. It’s only me and three other girls. Almost all my family that goes to church at the 4 o’clock Mass helps in the Mass. Thank you for trying to stop the shootings. Love.” – Tristen
  • “Dear Pope Francis – My name is Aaron and I’d like to tell you that when I go to Church I feel connected to the Church. I appreciate your work. I’m connected to the Church because I love to learn about God. God bless you, Pope Francis.” – Aaron
  • “Dear Pope Francis – When my mother, brother and I walk into Church we feel welcomed by God. I truly follow what you stand for which is love, caring and having a beloved heart. I follow yours and God’s Word for these top three special things. I plan on serving in the U.S. Navy to protect these top three things including religious freedom so we can continue to follow God and follow his word in the future. Thank you for being the true head of our Christian Catholic religion. I truly follow you wholeheartedly… dearly loved and truly follower.” – no name provided
  • “Dear Pope Francis – As I walk into Church I feel welcomed. Along with many other emotions including the breaking of my religious solitude and the acceptance into God’s arms. I honor you because of your efforts and success in helping people into Christianity or accepting them for who they are no matter the religion or Faith of said person. I feel as if you connect me to the Church by showing me there is nothing to be afraid of as you and God accept me into your arms even if others don’t accept me for who I am. I like your approach on how you want to save the environment and how you unite people together to make a change. Thank you.” 8th grader – no name provided

To date, the youth have not received any responses from Pope Francis, but Sheridan explained that this is understandable as the Holy Father (or his staff) likely see countless messages each day.

Seton faithful back – HOME

Church destroyed by Irma reopens

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

4/10/18

Alleluia! Alleluia! were the words which adorned the altar at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples on Easter Sunday. The words reflect the celebration that Christ Our Lord is Risen. However, on this holiest of days, the meaning was even more profound as Sunday Mass was celebrated in the Church for the first time since Hurricane Irma struck more than six months previous.

“Wonderful!” “It’s true, we are home!” “Our prayers have been answered!” “What a glorious moment!” These are just some of the comments made as people entered the Church for the first time on Easter Sunday. Most looked up, knowing that on Sept. 10, 2017, when the fierce winds of Irma struck, a large section of the roof was blown off allowing water to flow in and severely damage the sanctuary.

Ann and Brian Morris evacuated when Hurricane Irma threatened but never could have imagined the damage the storm would cause to the Parish Church. “This is the center of our lives,” Brian explained. “Our condo was okay, but our Church, where we go every week to pray to Our Lord, was badly damaged. It was so sad and really hard to deal with. This is a great day for us and for everyone at St. Elizabeth Seton. We are where we are supposed to be: Home!”

Martie Granieri sings in the Parish Choir and was overjoyed that the Church opened in time for Easter. “Christ is where you find Him. He was in our gymnasium (which served as a temporary Church while repairs were made), He is where we gather in His name,” Granieri said. “But this place; the Church, is where we know Him best. We are so happy to be back.”

In addition to a roof repair, the ceiling and floor had extensive water damage. Water and debris also damaged the pews. While the work was being done, some changes were made to the layout of the Church including making the interior brighter. Most significantly, the tabernacle was placed directly behind the altar, and a crucifix with a corpus was placed above. The previous crucifix was relocated to the opposite wall, while a Last Supper painting was moved to one of the niches along the south wall. Statues of saints were also added around the perimeter of the Church to complement to extensive stained-glass windows which were undamaged.

The Church reopened on Holy Thursday, exactly 200 days after the last Mass was celebrated on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, the day before the hurricane blasted ashore.

“We are very Blessed by Almighty God to be here,” said Father Russell Ruggiero, Parish Administrator, prior to Easter Sunday Mass to a standing room only crowd. “It is as people said, it is a Resurrection.”

Eschewing any recognition for getting the Church repaired, Father Ruggiero said the “congratulations are to you, not to me. I did nothing. I just tell other people what needs to be done.” He noted that the patience of the parishioners of St. Elizabeth Seton was only exceeded by the outpouring of support in the recovery effort through the sharing of time, talent and treasure.

Gesturing to the crowd and to Church itself, Father concluded by saying: “This is for you. This is your Parish. I am only here temporarily. My joy is that you are all happy and that you are back home.”

Divine Mercy Sunday: “Jesus, I trust in You”

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

4/10/18

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 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. Each year dozens of parishes throughout the Diocese hold Divine Mercy services and novenas. The popularity of Divine Mercy has been noticed and embraced by the many diverse communities throughout the Diocese.

Divine Mercy Sunday became a tradition in a few short years as parishes throughout the Diocese and the world celebrate the mercy of Jesus 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 who at that time declared the Second Sunday of Easter is 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 the plenary indulgence granted to those who receive the Eucharist and celebrate reconciliation on Divine Mercy Sunday.

At Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday included a traditional afternoon prayer service. This included a blessing of the image of Mercy, prayer of consecration to the image of Mercy, the singing of Chaplet of Divine Mercy, veneration of the image of Mercy, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Adoration, Benediction, the Divine Praises and a closing hymn. An image of the St. Faustina painting was on display during the prayer service.

For Joan Conway, participating in the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration has become something she looks forward to each year as the Divine Mercy image is one that speaks to her deeply. As such, she participates in the Novena of Divine Mercy beginning on Good Friday and looks forward to the prayer service on the Second Sunday of Easter.

“It is truly a great way to transition from Lent into the Easter Season,” Conway said. “The bridge carries me through the Passion of the Lord, the Resurrection and now His appearing before the Disciples and being merciful to St. Thomas. So wonderful to participate in that is such a special way.”

The Solemnity of Divine Mercy Sunday is a time to remind the faithful that the Lord’s Mercy has no end.

 

In St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that “every time we are forgiven, we are reassured and encouraged, because each time we experience more love, and more embraced by the Father. And when we fall again, precisely because we are loved, we experience even greater sorrow – a beneficial sorrow that slowly detaches us from sin.”

 

The celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on the theme of how God’s Mercy can overcome sin and, as the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments states, “a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind [sic] will experience in the years to come.”

EASTER: The Summit of the Catholic Faith

For the Easter Season Spread the Good News

By Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

4/10/18

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. Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities.”

   This celebration comes after the holiest of weeks which began with the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and included the institution of the Eucharist (Communion) during the Last Supper, Institution of the Sacrament of Holy Orders as well as the betrayal by Judas on Holy Thursday and the suffering and death of Our Lord on Good Friday. The Resurrection on Easter completes the journey for Jesus but it is just the beginning of a new journey of belief and hope for the Faithful, Bishop Frank J. Dewane explained during an Easter Vigil Mass on April 15 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

“Tonight, represents a great night. When the power of death is conquered by Jesus Christ. When we have been given that promise of eternal life,” Bishop Dewane said.

The Bishop noted the Gospel reading from the Vigil provides guidance to carry the message of Easter forward. The Gospel of Mark (16:1-7) tells the story of the women who were going to treat the body of Jesus in the Jewish custom and wondered along the way about how to remove the stone over the tomb. Determined to go on despite their own doubts, they found the stone rolled to the side and the Gospel then reads: “On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, ‘Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.'”

Bishop Dewane said we all need to look back to Scripture and recall those words, at that moment. “It is not just a story from the past. These words, from Jesus Christ, are for you, and for me. We have to read them anew and understand it is what Christ has told us.”

By listening to the what the Lord teaches, we let the love of Christ into your hearts. Therefore, we can approach the tomb ourselves, “with the same determination as the women who came to the tomb did,” the Bishop continued. “Don’t be afraid. Go forward. If we move forward with that same determination, the Lord will provide an angel to help you remove that stone. Remember to do what he told you. It’s in Scripture. Let it be in our hearts and let us live those words we have been told.”

The Easter Vigil began in darkness before the Easter fire is kindled and the Paschal (Passover) Candle lit which was 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 that the priests baptize and confirm any Catechumens and Candidates. There were 398 women and men who entered fully into the Catholic Church at parishes throughout the Diocese.

One of these candidates was Carlee Smith who received the Sacraments of Baptist, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion from Bishop Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral. Smith was overwhelmed with tears of joy at becoming fully Catholic. “It is happiness that this special day has arrived,” Smith said as she held her daughter afterwards.

The celebration of Easter is not confined to a single day, in fact, throughout the next 50 days the Easter Season is celebrated “in joyful exultation as one Feast Day, or better as one ‘great Sunday.’”

The first eight days after Easter make up what is called the Octave of Easter, and is a festive time. On the 40th day of the Easter Season, Catholics celebrate the Ascension of the Lord (May 8, which this year is moved to the following Sunday, May 13). The days that follow are a time to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday (May 20).

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