Opportunities to stand witness for Life

The listing below are events planned with the Diocese of Venice during the coming months to help promote a Pro-Life culture.

Catholic Days at the Capitol

The Diocese of Venice is organizing a trip to the annual Catholic Days at the Capitol in Tallahassee from March 7-9, 2023. The three-day trip joins faithful from across Florida and includes a legislative briefing on important bills relating to human life and dignity, a breakfast with legislators and the Florida Bishops, tours of the capitol and museum, scheduled visits with legislators and the annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit with the Florida Bishops and public officials. Bus transportation is provided at no cost as long as space is available. Register by Feb. 6 at https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/respect-life/catholic-days-at-the-capitol/. For further details contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life

The 25th Annual Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life is Feb. 7. The event begins with the 8:30 a.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave. A bus will shuttle people from the church to 7th Street where walkers will circle the block around Planned Parenthood in prayer. The shuttle will run between 9 a.m. and noon. Light refreshments will be available near the bus stop on 7th Street. Questions? Contact Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Fort Myers Prayer Walk for Life

Join others on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, for the Fort Myers Prayer Walk for Life, beginning with the 8 a.m. Mass at St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. A bus will shuttle participants to the area in front of Planned Parenthood at 648 Commerce Park Drive (parking is limited) where students will lead the rosary to kick off the 40 Days for Life Spring Campaign. Contact Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068 for additional information.

40 Days for Life Sarasota and Fort Myers

There will be two locations within the Diocese to participate in the 40 Days for Life Spring/Lenten Campaign in Sarasota and Fort Myers which begins Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22 and concludes on Palm Sunday, April 2. This Campaign encompasses 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion. Stand and peacefully pray during vigils in the public right-of-way outside Planned Parenthood in Fort Myers or Sarasota. Contact your Parish Coordinator for specific information about your Parish’s commitment days. For the 40 Days for Life flier and additional information, please visit www.40daysforlife.com/sarasota or www.40daysforlife.com/fortmyers.

Chastity talk for youth

Teens, grade 7 and older (and their parents), are invited to hear national speaker Pam Stenzel provide her informational talk, “The Courage to be Chaste Teens,” at 6 p.m., Feb. 23, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish Hall, 12001 69 St. E., Parrish. Contact the Parish Office at 941-776-9097 for additional information.

Bishop leads Rosary on Immaculate Conception

National Night of Prayer for Life held

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic


For the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary several Pro-Life activities took place.

First, Bishop Frank J. Dewane led the praying of the Rosary at a prayer vigil in Fort Myers and that day many Parishes held National Night of Prayer for Life observances.

More than 150 people participated in a prayerful procession and praying of the Rosary in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion center in Fort Myers, found at the intersection of College Parkway and Winkler Road.

Students from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers carried a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the procession from a nearby parking lot to the shopping plaza where the abortion facility is located. Members of the Knights of Columbus Color Corps escorted the students and the statue.

Paul Muri, who helped organize the procession and prayer vigil, said it is important to gather in honor of Our Lady on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary while seeking to create a culture of life. The Solemnity pertains to the conception of the Virgin Mary in the womb of Her mother St. Anne, wherein she (Mary) was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin by God’s grace in view of the merits of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Dewane led everyone in the reciting of the Rosary, with Ashley La Mar providing the descriptions of each Joyful Mystery.

Following the Rosary, the Bishop thanked everyone for participating in the prayer vigil.

“We are called to take time in the Advent season to prepare ourselves for Christmas and the coming of Our Lord,” Bishop Dewane said. “You have certainly given a demonstration of that today. Keep up the good work! God bless you!”

National Night of Prayer for Life

The annual National Night of Prayer for Life took place on the evening of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8). At several parishes within the Diocese of Venice, the faithful joined in prayer with Catholics throughout the country in an effort to bring the world back to Christ and to bring about an end to abortion so as to restore life, liberty, faith and peace.

San Pedro Parish in North Port, St. Agnes Parish in Naples, and San Marco Parish in Marco Island participated in the entire vigil, which began the evening at 9 p.m. and continued until 1 a.m. The evening spanned the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8 and continued into the anniversary of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s first apparition to St. Juan Diego on Dec. 9. It was in 1531, that Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the Unborn, first appeared to St. Juan Diego and shared Her message of life.

Prayer services typically consisted of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the Rosary and other vocal prayers, intercessions, silent meditation and Benediction. Prayers were offered to end abortion and all offenses against the dignity of the human person, to make reparation for these sins and for the healing of those who are suffering. The goal of the National Night of Prayer for Life is intended to help build the culture of life and civilization of love in our nation.

The prayer vigil was designed to unite the two days which pronounce this important message of life from Our Lady. The Hour of Unity was at midnight in Florida. The overriding intent of the evening was to have the faithful across the United States be joined in prayer to end abortion as well as to restore God’s blessings of life and religious liberty in America.

Other Parishes held prayer services throughout Dec. 8, typically following the Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

At St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, Pastor Father Dennis Cooney stressed the importance to continue to pray for a culture of life. Members of the Youth Group led the praying of the rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

To commemorate the 46th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which paved the way for legalized abortion in the U.S., a Mass will be celebrated at 8:30 a.m., Jan. 22 at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave., for a greater respect for life. The Mass will be followed by a peaceful Prayer Walk for Life at the nearby Planned Parenthood abortion facility at 736 Central Ave. For more information about Respect Life activities within the Diocese of Venice please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-441-1101 or berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

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 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.