News Briefs for the week of May 10, 2023

Catholic Center hosts prayer service for Blessed Virgin

The staff of the Diocese of Venice Catholic Center took part in a prayer service, led by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 8, 2024. Bishop Dewane noted how the month of May is dedicated to Our Lady and it is appropriate to honor her seeking the Blessed Virgin’s intercession on our behalf. During the prayer service, the Catholic Center staff prayed Litany of Our Lady of Loretto, the Hail Mary, and sang the Salve Regina.


Pro-Life training sessions May 13 and 15 

If you’d like to volunteer to help educate people on the truth about the pro-abortion amendment on the November ballot, plan to attend a training opportunity within the Diocese of Venice in May (one of two). The first training is Monday, May 13, 2024, from 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., at St. Patrick Parish Hall (new location), 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota.  The second session is also from 11:45 a.m., Wednesday, May 15, at St. John XXIII Parish Center, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. Lunch will be included at both sessions.  Register online at for either session. If you have questions, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or

Students learn about business and finances

Fourth and fifth grade students from St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota took part in a school trip to experience a day in the workplace at JA BizTown in Tampa on April 30, 2024. JA BizTown combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to a simulated town where students receive hands-on experience as both employees and consumers, paying rent, taxes and utilities, purchasing insurance, depositing paychecks and buying other business products, handling customer service, and more. The interactive, project-based program not only teaches students how to manage their own personal finances and the importance of becoming a successful professional within the community, but it also empowers them to take responsibility for their professional and educational futures.

Fort Myers Catholic youth to participate in national Spelling Bee

The faithful of St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers will be cheering on one of their own during the 96th Scripps National Spelling Bee from May 28-30, 2024. David Nicasio, 13, who is an active member of St. Cecilia, as an altar server, lector, as well as in the middle school and youth groups, won a series of local competitions to qualify as one of 245 students from across the nation to reach the national Spelling Bee. The competition has four levels: preliminaries, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. The competition will air on the ION network from 8-10 p.m. May 29 and 30. The earlier rounds will be available on ION Plus, a digital platform. Just for making the National Spelling Bee, David will receive a number of gifts and prizes related to learning. Prizes increase to a top prize of $50,000 and a championship trophy for the winner.

Retreat For Mothers Grieving the Loss of a Child

Red Bird Ministries, a non-profit Catholic grief support ministry is hosting a Grieving Mother’s Retreat from June 7 – 9, 2024, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice. This retreat is for women who have experienced the loss of a child from pregnancy through adulthood.  Mothers will be helped in addressing the profound healing that needs to happen while also honoring the memory of the child throughout their grief journey. Please visit for information and registration.

Ordination to the Priesthood June 8

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacon Thomas Gregory Dougherty.  The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 8, 2024, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice.  All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the life of Deacon Greg as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Catholic-Jewish gathering remembers Kristallnacht, addresses recent violence in Holy Land

It was on the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, when members of the Nazi party sponsored anti-Jewish riots (pogroms) which attacked Jewish persons and destroyed Jewish owned property in Germany and Austria. Known as “Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass,” this event is regarded by historians as “the Night the Holocaust began” in Europe, which ultimately led to the murder of more than six million Jews.

To remember those events and to stand united in saying “Always Remember!” “Never Forget!” and “Never Again!” the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County hosted its 20th annual “Kristallnacht: The Night of Broken Glass” on Nov. 5, 2023, at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples. The event was co-sponsored by the Diocese of Venice and Jewish Federation of Greater Naples, GenShoah of SWFL, and the Holocaust Museum and Janet G. and Harvey D. Cohen Education Center.

On behalf of the Diocese, Bishop Frank J. Dewane said it is necessary to come together to remember Kristallnacht and the Holocaust which followed, but the commemoration takes place in a global context. This is as the world witnesses the contemporary events of the Oct. 7 terror attacks by Hamas on Israeli citizens, as well as an alarming rise of anti-Semitism nationally and within the Diocese of Venice.

“In the present global setting, dialogue, diplomacy, and reaching understanding are more difficult and yet ever more needed,” Bishop Dewane said. “Finding receptive ears that listen to the voices that express nuanced perspective, however, is a challenge. The present circumstances give possible rise to disagreements between Catholics and Jews if we are not careful and attentive.”

With its purpose to engage Jews and Catholics in understanding their past history and advancing the causes of mutual understanding and appreciation of their differences as well as their commonalities, Bishop Dewane praised the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue and its important work.

Bishop Dewane stressed how Pope Francis, a lifelong promoter of Catholic-Jewish relations, immediately and unequivocally condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 brutal violence, and called for the immediate release of hostages, and further supported Israel’s right to self-defense.

“We must all pray that world leaders find just solutions that lead to peace,” Bishop Dewane said. “There is a futility of war. It has no victors, only victims. We must all pursue the gift of peace by any means possible.”

Further, the Bishop said it is not in anyone’s interest to allow the forces of violence and hatred to ignite resentment among people of faith and silence the moral voice of religion.

“The spiritual bonds that unite us through the One True God must be observed. It must allow us to speak candidly to one another, and to stand together for justice, peace, and freedom of humankind,” the Bishop concluded.

Nearly 1,000 attended the commemoration, which included calls for peace and unity among the people of the world. There were also prayers for the victims of the Holocaust and Oct. 7 attacks, as well as for all who are subjected to religious persecution.

A poignant moment during the annual commemoration was a candle lighting ceremony. Six candles were lit by Gen Shoah (second and third generation Holocaust survivors). Each lit their candle for the victims of the Holocaust and for a brighter future. A seventh candle was lit for the victims of the Oct. 7 terror attacks.

In addition, Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer, of Bat Yam Temple of the Islands in Sanibel, shared the story of how the Torah – the books of the Hebrew Bible – was a survivor of the Holocaust from the present-day Czech Republic, and was then spared damage during Hurricane Ian in September 2022 when the island and temple were flooded.

The event’s keynote was by Rabbi David Maayan, assistant director of the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies at St. Leo University in Tampa. The topic: “Theologies of the ‘Other’: Catholics and Jews After the Holocaust.”

The commemoration concluded with the singing of “God Bless America,” and Bishop Dewane leading everyone in a moment of silence for peace.

Among the dignitaries participating in the commemoration were, Michael A. Feldman, co-founder of the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida; Dr. Nat Ritter, Board Chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples; Marty Gauthier, Dialogue Catholic co-chair; Yvonne Holtzman, Dialogue Jewish co-chair and member of Gen Shoah; Rabbi Ariel Boxman of Temple Shalom; Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer, Bat Yam Temple of the Islands; Shelley Lieb, co-chair of Gen Shoah; Rabbi Adam Miller, Temple Shalom; Rabbi Ammos Chorny, Beth Tikvah; Father Robert Kantor, Pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Naples; Father Robert Garrity, of Ave Maria University; and Father Casey Jones, Pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton, the host Parish. Also present were more than two dozen youth who are in the Confirmation program at St. Agnes Parish.