Advent: Season of Preparation and Expectation

Ordinary Time is coming to an end and the Season of Advent is upon us. This Season, which marks the beginning of the Liturgical Year of the Church, commences on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, and will come to an end on Christmas Eve.

Pope Francis reminds us that “we have a beautiful promise that introduces us to the Season of Advent: ‘Your Lord is coming!’ Let us never forget this! God is near, and He is coming!”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said Advent is “an invitation to pause in silence to recognize the signs of the coming of the presence of the Lord. It is a time of anticipation and of prayer.”

Advent has a two-fold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnity of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming.  For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.

“A time of preparation, Advent describes Advent as relates to the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas,” Bishop Dewane said. “Let us resolve to help bring Him into the hearts of those we encounter throughout each day. Let us take advantage of what is new in the Advent Season as the Universal Church prepares for the birth of Christ. And let us grow in Faith during this portion of the Liturgical Year on our journey toward Salvation.”

The Advent Season in the Church is different from the Christmas Season. The First Sunday of Season is Dec. 3, and it runs through the vigil of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec. 24). The Christmas Season in the Church runs from First Vespers of the Nativity of the Lord up to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on Jan. 8, 2024.

Because the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas fall on consecutive days, the faithful are reminded that there is an obligation to attend Mass for both days, and this must be satisfied by attendance at two separate Masses. A single Mass does not satisfy both obligations.

After the annual celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the Church has no more ancient custom than celebrating the memorial of the Nativity of the Lord and His first manifestations.

As earlier noted, the focus of the Advent Season is preparation. This is done through prayer, quiet reflection, weekday Mass attendance and even fasting, Bishop Dewane explained.

Taking time to quietly reflect and grow in Faith can be a challenge. Yet we are called to put distractions aside, even for a few minutes a day, which allows the love of God to fill one’s life with joy. Many Parishes in the Diocese offer extended times for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

A key symbol in Churches for this Season is the Advent Wreath. The light emanating from the candles on the Advent Wreath serve to break through the darkness, reminding us of the Light of Christ that we anticipate during this Holy Season. The liturgical color of Advent is a particular shade of purple, a color which is most often associated with royalty. This color is used to symbolize the anticipation of the birth of Christ, who is our King and Savior.

Each Sunday of Advent, an additional candle of the wreath is lit, with the rose-colored candle lit on the Third Sunday of Advent. Best known as Gaudete Sunday, this celebration derives its name from Scripture: “Gaudete in Domino semper” (“Rejoice in the Lord always”) and marks the mid-point in the Season. Bishop Dewane said that the change in color provides encouragement to rejoice during ancient Season that was originally marked by penance, as we continue our spiritual preparation for Christmas.

Aside from the Sundays of Advent, the Church also celebrates two important Marian feasts, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8 (observed as a Holy Day of Obligation), and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, Dec. 12. We are also called to seek the intercession of the saints as we make this journey towards Christmas, particularly those saints whose feasts we celebrate during Advent, such as St. Ambrose, St. Nicholas, St. Juan Diego, St. Lucy, and St. John of the Cross. They model for us the way to salvation and assist us in our own pilgrimage to heaven.

Feasts of All Saints and All Souls: their special meaning for Catholics

During the month of November, the Church remembers in a particular way all those who have died, as She celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints and that of All Souls’ Day.

All Saints’ Day is celebrated each year on Nov. 1, a day on which we honor all the Saints in heaven, both those known and unknown. All Saints’ Day is also a Holy Day of Obligation, meaning all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that day.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said, “the celebration of All Saints’ Day reminds us that we are all called to holiness, to become Saints, and we can accomplish that by striving to follow God’s commands and being united with Him in love. To be holy, to be a Saint, means allowing God ‘to live his life in us’ as Mother Teresa taught.”

Pope Francis said the Saints were not “starched,” picture-perfect conformists, but were “countercultural and revolutionary.” The Holy Father added that the multitude of men and women honored on the feast of All Saints lived according to the Eight Beatitudes, which made them decidedly out of place in the world.

Having a Saint to pray to is an important component of one’s faith life, Bishop Dewane said. One can pray to the Saint after whom you are named, but if someone is not named after a Saint, praying to the Saint of one’s chosen middle, or even the Saint of one’s Confirmation is appropriate. An alternative is to pray to the Saint after which your Parish is named, or even one who is a patron of a particular profession or interest you are pursuing.

There are four Diocesan Parishes which have Feast Days in November. First, Nov. 4 is the Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop (Parish and School in Port Charlotte); Nov. 10 is the Memorial of St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church (Parish in Bonita Springs); Nov. 13 is the Memorial of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (Parish in Parrish); and Nov. 22 is the Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr (Parish in Fort Myers).

“Learn about these Saints that are a part of your life,” Bishop Dewane said. “Read about the extraordinary story behind their being named a Saint. As Pope Francis often states, the Saints can offer examples for our lives. This greater accessibility to a particular Saint can help enhance one’s prayer life and opens our hearts to seek their intercession when we are lost in the world.”

The commemoration of the Feast of All Souls, or the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, is celebrated on Nov. 2, for all the souls who await the joys in heaven.

“It is encouraged that you pray for immediate family members, those closest to you, who have gone before us. Continue to pray for them as they make their way to Heaven, to be with Jesus Christ, Our Lord,” Bishop Dewane said. “Through the prayers of the faithful on earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven. May all those who have died in faith share the joys and blessings of the life to come.”

During November, it is encouraged to have a Mass offered for the intention of the soul of someone who has died. In addition, an indulgence is granted the faithful who devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the dead. This indulgence is applicable only to the souls in purgatory. This indulgence is a plenary one from Nov. 1 through Nov. 8 and can be gained on each one of these days.

World Youth Day pilgrims share experiences

A group of Diocesan World Youth Day 2023 pilgrims from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice shared stories about their epic and faith-filled journey to their supporters during a gathering on Sept. 12, 2023.

Five teens, four priests and two adults, reflected upon their 11-day journey to Portugal, joining Pope Francis and 1.5 million others from around the world for a life-changing experience. They were among 52 pilgrims from the Diocese, including Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who travelled from July 29 to Aug. 8.

The evening was designed as a way for the pilgrims from the Cathedral to express their gratitude to the parishioners whose generosity allowed so many to go to World Youth Day. Stephanie Lovetere, Youth Director at Epiphany, organized the event.

As a slideshow of images and videos rotated on a screen, the pilgrims each reflected on highlights of the journey, including stops at Fatima, the site of a famous Marian apparition, as well as Santarem, the location of one of the earliest recognized Eucharistic Miracles, then in Lisbon for the main World Youth Day activities which included encounters with Pope Francis.

Christian DiGioia, a senior at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, said it was an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to go to World Youth Day.

“It didn’t hit me until we were in Fatima, as everything was happening so fast and we were all tired from flying and taking a bus, and then we were with a large group, praying the rosary, outside of the big Fatima Basilica and Shrine. What a faith-filled and joyful experience,” DiGioia said.

Others shared similar experiences with one teen saying how the frequent encounters with youth from different countries helped to reassure them about their faith, noting how language barriers meant nothing when words such as Jesus and Mary were sung or spoken, and the faith connection was made stronger.

One young man explained that a faith journey for teens today can be very lonely. However, being amongst 1.5 million other youth who are excited about their faith lit something within him – it is a gift he will carry with him for the rest of his life, he said.

The youth also enjoyed seeing Pope Francis, either during an opening ceremony or riding in the Popemobile, and hearing his inspirational words during the closing Mass.

Adult chaperone Krista Lopez, who journeyed to Portugal with her daughter, Tatiana, saw how the young people were “on fire for the Lord. None of them were faking it.”

Tatiana Lopez said the pilgrimage was “outstanding” and described how she and other Diocesan pilgrims had youth from around the world sign a Portuguese flag, with many adding inspirational messages.

“I also made a pledge to myself to pray for the supporters back here at Epiphany Cathedral who made this experience possible,” Tatiana said. “I am so blessed, as this is the closest time to my faith I have ever had, and it remains strong within me.”

Also sharing their experiences were Cathedral Parochial Vicars Fathers Alex Pince and Kris Piotrowski, as well as retired twins Fathers Richard and Robert Beligotti. The twin priests offered the closing praying for the gathering.

Several supporters told the pilgrims how impressed they were to hear about their experiences, and were enthralled how the young people conveyed not just the stories but the true emotional impact of the journey to Portugal.

Msgr. Patrick Dubois, Cathedral Rector, concluded the presentation by thanking the supporters for their willingness to understand the benefit of sending so many to World Youth Day from the Cathedral as possible.

To the pilgrims, he said, “Treasure your experience and share this with your friends. And take what you gained and continue growing in your faith.”

Universal Diocesan Confession times ahead of Holy Week

With Holy Week just days away, it is not too late to ponder how well prepared we are for the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday.

One way to help in this effort is through participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

To facilitate this requirement, every Parish in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Friday, March 31, 2023, and from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 1. These opportunities, facilitated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, are made available so that the faithful may find ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the Lenten Season.

Bishop Dewane said that many people view the idea of confessing one’s sins as so unbearable that they either completely avoid the Sacrament or go infrequently.

“It is heartbreaking to hear stories from those who have avoided confession for many years after carrying around a burden,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is heartwarming to talk to people of all ages who go to confession and are relieved and overjoyed at the benefits. Some even scold themselves for missing such a beautiful Sacrament for so long.”

Throughout the Lenten Season, Parishes have offered extended hours for the Sacrament, in addition to offering Penance Services, where multiple priests from the region were made available to hear the confessions of a large number of people.

Pope Francis often speaks about the healing benefits of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, saying that he goes about once every two weeks. On March 17, Pope Francis spoke about the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“In Confession, let’s give God first place,” the Holy Father said. “Once He is in charge, everything becomes beautiful and confession becomes the Sacrament of joy, not of fear and judgement, but of joy.”

As the Catechism teaches, the priest is acting in Persona Christi, the person of Christ, within the confessional. So, like presenting oneself at the altar to be nourished by Christ in the Eucharist, a person going to Confession, is not ultimately confessing to a priest, but confessing to and receiving forgiveness from Jesus Christ.

“The Lord comes to us when we step back from our presumptuous ego… He can bridge the distance whenever, with honesty and sincerity, we bring our weaknesses before him,” Pope Francis said. “He holds out his hand and lifts us up whenever we realize we are ‘hitting rock bottom’ and we turn back to him with a sincere heart. That is how God is. He is waiting for us, deep down, for in Jesus he chose to ‘descend to the depths.’”

The Pope emphasized that God waits for us, especially in the Sacrament of Penance, where he said the Lord touches our wounds, heals our hearts, and leaves us with inner peace.

Please contact your local Parish for additional available confession times.

Solemnity of Christ the King Nov. 20

On the last Sunday of each liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, or Christ the King.

Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 with his encyclical Quas primas (“In the first”) to respond to growing secularism and atheism. He recognized that attempting to “thrust Jesus Christ and His holy law” out of public life would result in continuing discord among people and nations. This solemnity reminds us that while governments come and go, Christ reigns as King forever.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops notes that this Solemnity is a fitting moment in the liturgical year to promote the Church’s teaching on religious freedom. The USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty “urge[d] that the Solemnity of Christ the King – a feast born out of resistance to totalitarian incursions against religious liberty – be a day specifically employed by Bishops and priests to preach about religious liberty, both here and abroad.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said this year’s commemoration of Christ the King Sunday has a special meaning for the people of the Diocese of Venice.

“On the Solemnity of Christ the King, in these trying times in which so many still suffer from the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, let us be mindful of hope,” Bishop Dewane said. “Hope, like faith, is a gift from God. On this day, we can ask Christ the King, the first to rise from the dead and head of the Church, to strengthen in us the hope that is essential to our faith, the hope that pushes us forward even when facing difficulty. In prayer, let us acknowledge that Christ is our King, and with Christ all things are possible. By truly knowing that our origin and end is in Jesus Christ Our King, we find hope, peace, justice, freedom, and happiness.”

Pope Francis said in a 2021 address about Christ the King, “His kingship is truly beyond human parameters. We could say that he is not like other kings, but he is a King for others.”

The Holy Father said that Jesus was a king who liberated His followers, freeing us from being subject to evil.

“His Kingdom is liberating, there is nothing oppressive about it,” Pope Francis continued. “He treats every disciple as a friend, not as a subject… Christ wants to have brothers and sisters with whom to share His joy… We do not lose anything in following Him — nothing is lost, no — but we acquire dignity because Christ does not want servility around Him, but people who are free.”

As stated by Pope Pius XI, Christ’s kingship is rooted in the Church’s teaching on the Incarnation. Jesus is fully God and fully man. He is both the divine Lord and the man who suffered and died on the Cross. One person of the Trinity unites Himself to human nature and reigns over all creation as the Incarnate Son of God. “From this it follows not only that Christ is to be adored by angels and men, but that to him as man angels and men are subject, and must recognize his empire; by reason of the hypostatic union Christ has power over all creatures” (Quas primas, 13).

For more information and resources about the Solemnity of Christ the King, please visit

Assumption: a beautiful reflection on Mary Most Holy

“At the conclusion of Her earthly life, the Mother of Christ was raised in soul and body to Heaven, that is, in the glory of eternal life, in full communion with God,” said Pope Francis when describing why on Aug. 15, 2022, the Church celebrates one of the most important feasts dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary: the Solemnity of Her Assumption.

Pope Francis said that “Mary’s Assumption is a great mystery that concerns each one of us; it concerns our future. Mary, in fact, precedes us on the way on which all those go that, through Baptism, have bound their life to Jesus, as Mary bound her life to Him. That one of us dwells in the flesh in Heaven gives us hope: we understand that we are precious, destined to rise again. God does not allow our bodies to vanish into nothing. With God, nothing is lost… It is beautiful to think that the humblest and loftiest creature in history, the first to win heaven with her entire being, in soul and body, lived out her life for the most part within the domestic walls, she lived out her life in the ordinary, in humility.”

While the Blessed Virgin has entered into heavenly glory, the Holy Father added that “this does not mean that She is distant or detached from us; the Assumption should bring eternal hope to the faithful… May we not be robbed of hope, because this strength is a grace, a gift from God which carries us forward with our eyes fixed on heaven. Mary is always there… she accompanies them, suffers with them, and sings of hope with them and brings victory over death.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Assumption as follows: “The Immaculate Virgin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of death.”

This Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the oldest celebration of Our Lady. The original celebration, known as the “Memory of Mary” or “Falling Asleep” of Mary for it initially centered on the end of her earthly existence, is commonly known as her “dormition.”

Soon the name was changed to the “Assumption of Mary,” since there was much more to the feast than the end of her earthly life. The belief that Mary had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven dates to the Apostles.

It was clear from the beginning that there were no relics of Mary to be venerated, and that an empty tomb stood on the edge of Jerusalem near the site of the end of her earthly existence or dormition. That location also soon became a place of pilgrimage. (Today, the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary stands on the spot.)

In 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church, therefore, an ancient belief became Catholic Doctrine and the Assumption was declared a truth revealed by God.

The declaration of the dogma was to “make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective,” Pope Pius XII stated in a proclamation.

The proclamation went on to say that the definition of the Assumption “will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it (reflects and builds up) the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds.”

It was also expected that the faithful would be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother and that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers, be more and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out the heavenly Father’s will and to bringing good to others.

Pope Francis said the current devotion the faithful throughout the world have toward the Blessed Virgin confirms the earlier expectations of Pope Pius XII. “We pray to Mary in a particular way, through the Rosary. This prayer brings us closer to the Blessed Mother and to her Son. We join in her suffering and her glory and rejoice looking to eternity and giving us hope that we, too, will follow Our Lady when our life is ended.”

All the feast days of Mary mark the great mysteries of her life and her part in the work of redemption. The central mystery of her life and person is her divine motherhood, celebrated both at Christmas and a week later (Jan. 1) on the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) marks the preparation for that motherhood, so that she had the fullness of grace from the first moment of her existence, completely untouched by sin. The Assumption completes God’s work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption. (Note: As the Solemnity falls on a Monday in 2022, it is not obligatory to attend Mass.)

Final Synod Listening Sessions in May

Time is running out to have your voice heard during the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” as requested by His Holiness Pope Francis.

To ensure everyone has a voice, the faithful are encouraged to consider attending one of the final four Listening Sessions in May; three of which will be in person, with a Virtual Session to close out the Diocesan Phase.

To date, eight Listening Sessions, starting in February, have been completed throughout the Diocese with hundreds having their voice heard in this process. Each Session has the goal of discerning the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. The feedback has been both positive and passionate.

“For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” is a worldwide effort for a deeper communion, fuller participation, and greater openness to fulfilling our mission in the world. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the input of the faithful is critical as the Universal Church contemplates the future. The Faithful are encouraged to respond to the Synod with an open heart, mind and soul, the Bishop added.

Each session is being recorded to allow for proper documentation. The information gathered at the Diocesan Listening Sessions, as well as from direct or follow-up comments from the faithful, will be synthesized into a document which will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and ultimately the Vatican. Similar Listening Sessions are being held across the country and around the globe.

The format of the Listening Sessions includes an opening prayer and remarks before lively table discussions. Each Session concentrates on questions inspired by 10 Synod themes supplied by the Vatican. Participants are also able to share additional comments privately by emailing

Listening Session locations were selected based of geography and population to cover as much of the Diocese as possible and several have been offered in both English and Spanish.

Upcoming in-person Sessions will take place from 6:30-8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Monday, May 9, St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring (Eng./Sp);
  • Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (Eng./Sp);

Please note, there will also be a Virtual Listening Session from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 25.

Those interested in attending any of the Sessions are encouraged to confirm their attendance by registering at A link will be provided for those interested in participating in the Virtual Listening Session.

For any questions or comments regarding the listening sessions, please email

Earlier Listening Session

Diocesan Phase for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”

To date, eight in-person Listening Sessions have been completed, and they include:

  • (Completed) Feb. 9, St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota (Eng.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 16, Epiphany Cathedral, Venice (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 22, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, Bradenton (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 3, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 14, St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 16, Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 24; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225, Golden Gate Parkway, Naples (Eng./Sp.).
  • (Completed) March 28, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples (Eng.).

“Pope’s Rabbi” shares stories of friendship, interreligious dialogue

A friendship lasting a quarter-century finds its roots in the Second Vatican Council Declaration Nostrae Aetate (On the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions), the important document that called for a fresh and positive relationship between the Catholic and Jewish Faiths.

Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Pope Francis have served as examples of friendship and interreligious dialogue because they have lived out the call of Nostrae Aetate which acknowledges the Church’s bond with the Jewish people.

Rabbi Skorka was the keynote speaker at the April 3, 2022, gathering of the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples. The presentation was co-sponsored by the Diocese of Venice and Jewish Federation of Greater Naples.

“One of the values I learned from my parents and grandparents was that speech between peoples should reflect the way that people ought to relate to each other with moderation, sincerity and honesty,” Rabbi Skorka explained, noting that the friendship with Pope Francis began as an open exchange of ideas with then Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. Rabbi Skorka was the leading Rabbi in Argentina as Rector of the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano (Latin American Rabbinical Seminary), in Buenos Aires.

The Rabbi explained that the Holocaust, and its lasting impacts, was a reality that marked his being since childhood.

“The travails of the Jewish people took palpable form in my family which was decimated by the massacre (of the Holocaust). It was not merely historical fact as a Jew I should remember; what stays with me was the sadness which overwhelmed the members of my family and the many members of the community in which I was a part. The Shoah and anti-Semitism were not simply recounted to me; it was an experience that also shaped me by being imparted by many who suffered in their native Europe.”

When he began his rabbinical studies, Rabbi Skorka learned a great deal about Nostrae Aetate, which was released in 1965 by St. John XIII. While the document was short, it served as a profound and absolute apology for years of divisiveness between the Catholic and Jewish faiths.

Inspired by the knowledge and understanding that no religion is an island, Rabbi Skorka openly wrote about the need for interfaith dialogue. One such article brought the Rabbi and Archbishop into contact, forming a lasting bond centered on the belief that the only way to overcome hatred was through the encounter of the members of different religions and cultures.

The Rabbi went on to say that Pope Francis has a profound ability to identify with the Jewish experience. This was evident in his instinctive understanding from the very beginning that dialogue between Catholics and Jews would become untenable if Catholics harbored any thought of “converting” Jews to Jesus Christ.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane also addressed the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue gathering, talking about the noble mission of the group.

Bishop Dewane said that the advancement of Catholic-Jewish relations comes directly from Nostrae Aetate, which should be celebrated. The document changed the landscape of the Church and was done with prudence and love, started a completely new conversation within the Catholic Church.

This new moment in the Church’s history had its roots in a renewed study of Hebrew and Christian Scripture and other theological developments that had occurred at the Second Vatican Council.

Bishop Dewane explained how Pope John Paul II led a revolution that transformed relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people. Pope John Paul II was the first Pope to visit a Jewish synagogue and the Western Wall. He then established diplomatic relations with Israel, applying the term “beloved elder brothers” when referring to the Jews.”

The Bishop explained that the development of Nostrae Aetate’s principle themes reshaped specific expression of Catholic Teaching, which had posed obstacles to Jewish-Catholic relations.

“The long road ahead is marked by our two communities of faith in a relatively short time since the Second Vatican Council and has yielded immense fruit and I believe there are practical ways in which we can build on these developments,” Bishop Dewane continued. “We need to share our concerns on an increasingly hostile culture and especially a growing antagonism toward people of faith… We can find a common purpose in standing up against these acts as people of faith… Any one act against faith is too much. We all need to speak up, each one within our tradition, within our faith perspective. In this environment we face today we must also see increased positive collaboration to deepen friendships as we moved forward together.”

Michael Feldman, member of the Catholic Jewish-Dialogue served as the program emcee. Other speakers included Rabbi Frank Muller, Father Bob Kantor of St. Agnes Parish, as well as Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Co-Chairs Luba Rotsztain and Martin Gauthier.

Diocese joins in Act of Consecration for peace

Bishop Frank J. Dewane led the Act of Consecration from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, on March 25, 2022, as a “gesture of the Universal Church” to invoke an end to the violence and suffering of the innocents during the war in Ukraine.

Pope Francis wrote to all the Bishops in the world, asking them to join him in offering “a solemn Act of Consecration of humanity, and Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” The Act of Consecration took place on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, when the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive and bear “the Son of the Most High” through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In a nearly full Cathedral, including students from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, Bishop Dewane remarked how important it was that the faithful gather “as a people of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, in response to the Holy Father. We gather to pray for the conflict going on in the Ukraine and the suffering that has been inflicted upon the people of Ukraine. It is a Consecration of humanity, as the Holy Father put it – in particular for those in Russia and Ukraine. This is a gesture of not just the Pope, Bishops, or priests, but of the Universal Church.”

The Act of Consecration began at noon, to coincide with the prayers in Rome of the Holy Father. The Diocesan prayer service was livestreamed and available on the Cathedral website and on social media (also available at Simultaneously, Parishes and Catholic schools throughout the Diocese held their own Prayer services.

For example, students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring joined in the Consecration by praying the rosary. Students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers gathered in their courtyard to recite the Act of Consecration. At Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, the faithful, as well as students from Incarnation Catholic School joined together. The Consecration also included time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Pope Francis said during remarks from Rome that the consecration “is no magic formula but a spiritual act… It is an act of complete trust on the part of children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their Mother, reposing all their fears and pain in Her Heart and abandoning themselves to Her.”

The Holy Father added that the Act of Consecration “means placing in that pure and undefiled heart, where God is mirrored, the inestimable goods of fraternity and peace, all that we have and are, so that She, the Mother whom the Lord has given us, may protect us and watch over us.”

Bishop Dewane added that the Act of Consecration “is about people who are suffering. The Lord calls us to be His instruments and to pray and to call upon our Faith; to call upon Christ; to call upon the saints; to intervene to relieve that suffering that we see so much of – also intervene in that war in Ukraine.”

Following the Act of Consecration, Bishop Dewane said that we should all continue to pray the Act of Consecration, particularly “when you see the images that all of us have been inundated with through media. It is then that we need to stop, move away from that media, and say a prayer for those who suffer.”

Bishop Dewane then celebrated the Mass for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

The practice of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. During the third apparition, on July 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary told three visionaries that God sought to establish the devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in the world, stating that if this request was not granted, Russia would “spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.” Pope Francis, and previous Popes, have led various consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for example, St. John Paul II’s consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984.

The monument sign and the entrances of Catholic Center and Epiphany Cathedral, both in Venice, have small Ukrainian flags as a sign of unity with the people of Ukraine.

Bishop Dewane has stressed the importance of continued prayer for those suffering. Also, the Diocese of Venice has made it possible for the faithful to contribute toward charitable relief and assist in providing humanitarian aid, as well as necessary recovery efforts.

Donations may be sent to the Diocese of Venice, with “Ukraine” indicated in the memo or note line at the following address: Diocese of Venice in Florida, Ukraine Relief, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285, or visit and click the donate button.

Diocese to join Pope Francis in solemn Act of Consecration March 25

Karen Barry Schwarz – Special to the Florida Catholic

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will join Pope Francis on Friday, March 25, 2022, in “a solemn Act of Consecration of humanity, and Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

The Consecration will take place at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice, beginning at noon with the Prayer of Consecration and followed by the Mass. All are invited to participate. The Consecration and Mass will also be livestreamed via Facebook.

At around the same time – 5 p.m. in Rome – Pope Francis will be reciting the Prayer of Consecration in St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis has invited all of the world’s bishops to join him in this important moment of prayer.

“It is asked that all the Faithful offer prayer at that time, or some time on March 25, to join in the Consecration,” said Bishop Dewane. (Please visit for the text for the Act of Consecration in English and Spanish.)

The practice of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. During the third apparition, on July 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary told three visionaries that God sought to establish the devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in the world, stating that if this request was not granted, Russia would “spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.” Pope Francis and previous popes have led various consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, including Pope St. John Paul II’s consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984.

March 25 marks the Solemnity of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive and bear “the Son of the Most High” through the power of the Holy Spirit.

To view the live streamed Mass that Bishop Dewane will celebrate at noon on Friday, March 25, please visit In addition to prayer, should some want to offer financial assistance for humanitarian aid and recovery efforts in the Ukraine, please visit