Faithful line up for Confession

Staff Report

A steady stream of the faithful at St. Jude Parish in Sarasota waited patiently for their opportunity to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the last weekend before Holy Week.

This scene was repeated at Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice after Bishop Frank J. Dewane, with the agreement of the Presbyteral Council, designated April 12 (4-8 p.m.) and April 13 (9 a.m.-noon) as time for Confession at each Parish. This was done to allow the faithful ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Lenten Season.

The response was so impressive at some parishes that the confession times were extended upwards of two hours to accommodate the need.

Maria Cortez of St. Jude Parish tries to go to confession at least once a month but admitted she had lapsed since the start of 2019.

“I let unimportant things get in the way of my love for Christ,” Cortez said. “I am not a saint, and this is good for me to be here. With Holy Week here, I knew it was time to return to the confessional and ask for forgiveness.”

Pope Francis often remarks about the healing power of the confessional and urges the faithful to go as often as possible. Parishes and Missions in the Diocese of Venice have regular reconciliation times throughout the year, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org for contact information on the parish or mission nearest you.

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.

May dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s path of faith and hope serves as an example to all.

This is just one of the reasons that the Universal Church dedicates the Month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The month serves as an opportunity to reflect upon the season of the Liturgical Year which largely corresponds with the fifty days of Easter. Therefore, time should be taken to reflect on Our Lady’s participation in the Paschal mystery and in Pentecost at which point the Church has its beginning.

Pope Francis said “the message of hope contained in God’s blessing was fully realized in a woman, Mary, who was destined to become the Mother of God, and it was fulfilled in her before any other creature.” The Holy Father added that “our journey of faith is the same as that of Mary, and so we feel that she is particularly close to us.”

For this month of May, Pope Francis has called for lay people to use their creativity for the good of others, especially the most disadvantaged. The Holy Father applauded laity who bravely provide “reasons for hope to the poorest, to the excluded, to the marginalized… Let us pray together this month that the lay faithful may fulfill their specific mission, the mission that they received in Baptism, putting their creativity at the service of the challenges of today’s world.”

May is also the time when young Catholics often receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time. Parishes and Catholic Schools in the Diocese have May Crowning ceremonies in which a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is given a crown of flowers. On May 4, St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy in Sarasota joined together for a Mass and May Crowning which was a public commitment by the students to pray for the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the month. As part of the crowning ceremony, bouquets of flowers gathered from each classroom were brought forward and placed in vases before the altar and statue of Mary. On May 7, Bishop Frank J. Dewane led a May Crowning prayer service for the staff of the Catholic Center in Venice.

To honor Our Lady in a special way in 2018, the Diocese of Venice Office of Evangelization invites everyone to the May 19 “Walk to Our Lady: A Marian Pilgrimage to the May Crowning.” This will be a 6.6-mile walk and public display of the faith from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice, to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 South Moon Drive and will be followed by a May Crowning and lunch. (For more details, see information below.)

The Month of May should also be used as a time to renew a commitment to praying the Mysteries of the Rosary (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous). Our Lady has 117 titles but selected this title at Fatima: “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” St. Francis de Sales said the greatest method of praying is to “Pray the Rosary.”

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Dec. 24, 2017, Bishop Dewane, in unity with the priests and faithful of the Diocese of Venice, formally consecrated the Diocese to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The consecration was the culmination of the structured 33-day “Diocesan Advent Journey to Jesus through Mary.” By this Act of Consecration, the faithful confided the Diocese and its good works to Our Lady so as to fulfill more readily the will of her Divine Son for His Church.

Our Lady is an important symbol throughout the Diocese. Our Lady of Mercy is the Patroness of the Diocese of Venice and is the name of a Parish in Boca Grande. In addition, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice bears Her name, and numerous other parishes are named in honor Our Lady including: St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Longboat Key; Our Lady of the Angels, Lakewood Ranch; Our Lady of Grace, Avon Park; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Immokalee; Our Lady of Light, Fort Myers; Our Lady of Miraculous Medal, Bokeelia; Our Lady of Lourdes, Venice; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Osprey; Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Sarasota; and Our Lady Queen of Heaven, LaBelle.

Pope Paul VI wrote an encyclical in 1965 citing the Month of Mary devotion as a means of obtaining prayers for peace. May is the month during which the piety of the faithful has especially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Paul VI wrote, and May is the time for a “moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world [pay] to the Queen of Heaven. During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of the home, offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God’s mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance”

The Christian custom of dedicating the month of May to the Blessed Virgin arose at the end of the 13th century. In this way, the Church was able to Christianize the secular feasts which were to take place at that time. In the 16th century, books appeared and fostered this devotion.

Pope Francis notes the Blessed Virgin Mary has always been present in the hearts, the piety and above all the pilgrimage of faith of the Christian people. “Our pilgrimage of faith has been inseparably linked to Mary ever since Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave her to us as our Mother, saying: ‘Behold your Mother!’ These words serve as a testament, bequeathing to the world a Mother. From that moment on, the Mother of God also became our Mother! The “woman” became our Mother when she lost her divine Son. Her sorrowing heart was enlarged to make room for all men and women, whether good or bad, and she loves them as she loved Jesus.”

WALK DETAILS

Walk to Our Lady: A Marian Pilgrimage to the May Crowning: Saturday, May 19, 7:30 a.m. check-in, 8 a.m., walk, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. In a public display of Faith and Devotion to the Blessed Mother, participants will process while praying the rosary 6.6 miles to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 S. Moon Drive, Venice. Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office will escort. Water, granola bars and bathrooms along the way. May Crowning prayer service will take place at conclusion of walk. This will be immediately followed by lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers. A bus will be available to provide shuttle transportation back to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. Free, but advanced registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.org and click on the Upcoming Events link. Contact Gail Ardy, ardy@dioceseofvenice.org, or Susan Laielli, laielli@dioceseofvenice.org, 941-484-9543.

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