Priestly Ordination July 16 – All invited to witness important moment for Diocese

The Diocese of Venice relies on dedicated men who have committed their lives to serving God. Three such men will be ordained to the priesthood on July 16, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Transitional Deacons Christian Chami, David Portorreal, and Michael Young have completed their priestly formation and have been called to ordination by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who will be the ordaining prelate. The ordination will be at 11 a.m., at the Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice.








In addition to Bishop Dewane, the Mass will include a number of priests, deacons, religious, family and friends from across the Diocese. All are invited to attend the Mass and a reception following the ordination in the Epiphany Parish Center.

“This is one of the most beautiful and rarely seen Sacraments in the Church,” Bishop Dewane explained. “The Diocese of Venice is blessed that these men have responded to the Call to Holiness, which comes with great responsibility and accountability. At ordination these men are joined to the Bishops in the priestly office and are called to serve God’s people.”

Venice Diocesan Director of Vocations, Father Shawn Roser, added that the ordination is the final step to priesthood, but it is not the conclusion of their priestly formation. “This is just the beginning.”

Deacon Chami, born in Montreal, Canada, raised in Naples since the age of 4, is a graduate of Florida State University where he first seriously heard the call for a vocation to the priesthood. His family is originally from Lebanon.

An accomplished swimmer in high school, Deacon Chami found through adversity that there was more to life than “looking at the bottom of the pool. The Lord always works in mysterious patterns… I would reach new heights as a swimmer and get hurt. It was then I realized that I needed to put God at the center of my life. So, I started asking; let me know Jesus, in a way I had never known before.”

While at Florida State, Deacon Chami credits the Brotherhood of Hope, a religious order which runs the Catholic Student Union in Tallahassee, with teaching him how to pray with Scripture, pray silently, and how to properly discern.

“I just had this moment where I realized that saying yes to becoming a priest or religious brother didn’t cause a sadness in me,” Deacon Chami added. “Rather it was joy. Because ultimately I’d be living and working with the Lord – and I wasn’t losing anything, rather I was gaining something that I hadn’t seen before.”

Since joining the Diocese as a seminarian, Deacon Chami graduated from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and then studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Within the Diocese, he has served pastoral assignments at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs, Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers.

Deacon Portorreal grew up in Northeast Ohio attending Jesuit-run Catholic schools and then graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, before entering film school at Florida State University. He moved to Los Angeles to break into the film industry trying to sell screenplays, get acting jobs and even tried his hand as writer/director. But the seeds of a priestly vocation were planted in grade school and as the years passed there was a growing restlessness that the Ministerial Priesthood was what God wanted in his life.

“There was always this restlessness,” Deacon Portorreal said about his calling, admitting that he focused on other things first but wasn’t finding peace. “I was told by a formation director in Los Angeles that I was never going to truly know the answer until I formally discern. I decided to leave my life behind and move forward with those seeds planted way back when. I like to say that God is the great course corrector; so all of the different twists and turns in my life the Lord has led me to this moment where I am at the cusp of being a priest and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Deacon Portorreal began his discernment with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at St. John Seminary in Camarilla, California. But his parents are retired in Naples, so he eventually transferred to become a seminarian within the Diocese of Venice. As a seminarian, Deacon Portorreal has had pastoral assignments at St. William Parish in Naples and St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

Deacon Young was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in Mississippi before settling in North Carolina. He too heard the call to the priesthood from a young age, but also pushed it to the back of his mind when he joined the U.S. Navy and served for four years. It was there that he appreciated his faith more profoundly as access to a priest was rare while onboard a ship at sea.

When Deacon Young left the Navy, he became a law enforcement officer and special/enforcement agent. He later worked as a reentry program case manager for men and women transitioning from the Federal Bureau of Prisons back into society.

He described his calling to the priesthood as a series of moments when he received reinforcement to move forward, first with a career and then to a life in service to the Lord. “Some people have a calling early and some later in life. When you are ready, you know it. I always had good spiritual advisors who planted the seeds of my discernment, beginning with my parents. The advice was always to stay strong in the Faith, and here I am.”

Deacon Young earned a degree from John Wesley College in North Carolina and is a former member of a religious community who then transitioned to the Diocese of Venice. He recently graduated from Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, which caters to second-career vocations. Within the Diocese of Venice, he served pastoral summer assignments at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice.

While Transitional Deacons Chami, Portorreal and Young are being ordained on July 16, there are another 13 men in the Diocese who are at various stages in their priestly formation, either in college or at a seminary where they have begun studies toward the ordained priesthood. The seminarians are currently engaged in various summer pastoral assignments.

Seminarians are supported by the Diocese of Venice through the Catholic Faith Appeal, the Knights of Columbus, the Council of Catholic Women and the generosity of individual parishes and parishioners. Parishioners from around the Diocese are encouraged to help support the seminarians in their studies and choice of vocation.

To contribute to the education of the seminarians, send a check to the Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285 or go to For more information about the seminarians or Vocations, contact Father Roser at 941-484-9543.


Pastor remembered for humor and service

A Mass of Christian Burial for Father Patrick C. Organ, Pastor for 31 years at San Pedro Parish in North Port, brought forth his family, brother priests and the lay faithful to pay homage to the man who humbly served in persona Christi for 51 years totally.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the main celebrant and Father Leo Riley, Pastor of San Antonio Parish in Port Charlotte, offered the homily. Dozens of priests were also present for the solemn occasion, honoring their brother for his service in this life and sending him forth into his next life. Reflecting his Irish birth, the Mass included several songs from his native land, including bagpipers.

Father Organ was 77 when he died on June 9, 2022, after a brief illness. This was just a few months short of his formal retirement. As Bishop Dewane noted during the June 21, 2022, Mass, the Diocese was grateful for the service of Father Organ, and the impact he made on the people at San Pedro and beyond.

“Father made a contribution here and it continued to the last,” Bishop Dewane said. “When Father Pat was there, you knew he was there. You had a blessing here at San Pedro Parish to know that you knew he was here, and more importantly, he knew you were here. That is why he was here. That is why he didn’t want to go anywhere, because his ‘family’ was here. Yes, he spoke often about his family back in Ireland and his growing up there… I know Father Pat looks down upon all of you, grateful, ‘How kind of them, they were always so good.’ He wanted to remain, but at some point, he realized it was time to move on; not too far away, but the Lord decided ‘Yes, you are going to move; you are going to come home.’”

Born in Ennistymon, County Clare, Ireland in 1944, Father Patrick C. Organ was the eldest of five children. Having attended Ennistymon Christian Brothers Seminary and St. Kieran’s Seminary in Kilkenny, Ireland, he was ordained on June 13, 1971, for the Archdiocese of Miami.

Father Organ served at Parishes in Lake Worth, Miami, Coral Springs, and Hollywood. Within the Diocese of Venice (established in 1984), Father served as Parochial Vicar at San Marco Parish on Marco Island, St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte, and then as Pastor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish. It was on May 21, 1992, when Father arrived as Pastor of San Pedro and found a “home and family.” In addition, through the years, Father also served on various Diocese of Venice boards and committees. He will be missed.

News Briefs for the Week of June 24, 2022


After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Joseph Clifford, has taken an assignment in the Diocese of Lansing, as Chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI, effective February 2, 2022.

Father Piotr Paciorek, retired as Parochial Vicar of Ave Maria Parish, effective May 31, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of Ave Maria Parish.

Father Chester Domaszewicz, retired as Pastor of St. Bernard Parish, effective June 1, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Pastor of St. Bernard Parish.

Msgr. Patrick Dubois, has been appointed as Vicar Forane of the Northern Deanery, effective June 17, 2022.

Ordination to the Priesthood July 16

Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacons Christian Chami, David Portorreal, and Michael Young. The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., on Saturday, July 16, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the lives of the Deacons as well as the Diocese of Venice. The event will be livestreamed via the Epiphany Cathedral Facebook page ( – you do not need to be a subscriber to view the ordination.) A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Where is Totus Tuus this Week?

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. During the week of June 20-24, 2022, the team was at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle. The weeklong Parish summer catechetical camp program assists parents and parishes in evangelizing and catechizing the youth by complementing the work they are already doing at the parish and at home. This summer the program is offered at eight parishes in the Diocese of Venice with two sessions now completed. The camp program takes place for grades 1-5, Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and for grades 6-12, Monday – Thursday from 7:30 9:45 p.m. Several parishes still have openings for this program. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the parish hosting the program or Anne Chrzan at The remaining Parishes hosting the program are as follows:

  • St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory Street, Sebring, June 27-July 1.
  • St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers, July 11-15.
  • St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th Street West, Bradenton, July 18-22.
  • St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, July 25-29.
  • St. Patrick Parish, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, August 1-5.

Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help June 27

All are welcome to attend the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 11:15 a.m., Monday, June 27 in the St. Joseph Chapel on the grounds of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 S. Moon Drive, Venice to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In preparation, you are invited to pray a novena starting Saturday, June 18. The daily prayers are published on the website at The Fall 3-night, 5-night, and 7-night private, directed retreat schedule is also published on the website. To learn more about a private retreat and to register, please visit or call 941-486-0233.

Independence Day Bike and Golf Cart Parade

The Knights of Columbus Ave Maria Assembly 3862 is hosting the 6th annual “God Bless America” Independence Day Bike and Golf Cart Parade, at 10 a.m., Monday, July 4, 2022. The ceremony starts in the Piazza of the town and will include a reflection from an Ave Maria veteran on the “Blessing of Freedom,” then patriotic songs, prayers for our country, then a “Blessing of the Bikes.” The parade, which will include bikes, trikes, golf carts, skateboards, strollers (decorated or not), will be led by a fire truck and pass through several neighborhoods, ending approximately 2 miles later back in the Piazza where there will be treats available. All are welcome. For more information, contact Dominick Micillo at 904-536-1480.

Mooney grad takes Junior golf title

Wyatt Plattner, a recent graduate of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, won the 50th Southern Junior Championship at the Country Club of Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2022. To take the title, Plattner notched four birdies on the back nine holes to post a final-round 67, earning a three-shot win in the 54-hole event at 9-under-par 201. The Mooney grad will play at the college level at the University of Cincinnati beginning this fall.

Volunteers needed in Naples

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Naples is looking for thrift store volunteers. If you would like to offer your time as a cashier, sorter, receiver or customer assistance representative for SVdP Naples, call Samantha at 239-775-2907 ext. 1014 or email

Youth Conference July 8-10

The 14th annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference – “Fearless” – is being held July 8 to10, 2022. Featured talks are by Father Rick Martignetti, Father Joseph Lugalambi, Father Rich Pagano and Chris Padget. The event includes the talks, Mass, Adoration, praise and worship, fellowship, and opportunities for confession. The cost is $175 and includes lodging, all meals, a t-shirt and more. To register, call 239-348-4725, or

Adoption services available

Catholic Charities Adoption Services is a state-wide agency that provides counseling to birth parents, and provisions or resources to meet the needs of birth parents considering adoption planning. If you or a loved one would like to learn more, please call Joan Pierse at 941-355-4680.

Men’s Support after Abortion Program

One in 4 women will have experienced at least one abortion by age 45. A man is connected to every pregnancy and abortion. Men are hurting from their abortion experiences too. Men often push down their experience or cover it up with unhealthy behaviors. For six weeks beginning on Saturday, July 9, 2022, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples, Father Mark Harris will team up with Nathan Misirian from Support After Abortion to co-facilitate a program just for men wounded, angry or hurt by abortion. If you (or someone you know) are a man ready for healing, or you know someone who is, confidentially call 941-412-5860 today or email to register for this series.

Volunteer to Help Pregnant Mothers

Looking for a way to help pregnant women in need?  Your tax-deductible donation will help with rent, utilities, or other necessities.  Give to the Catholic Charities Pennies for Babies Fund, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285 where no administrative fees are taken from any donations. Questions?  Contact Jeanne Berdeaux, or 941-374-1068.

Longtime Pastor of San Pedro Parish in North Port Dies

Funeral Arrangements Included

The Diocese of Venice mourns the passing of Father Patrick C. Organ, who has served as Pastor of San Pedro Parish in North Port since 1992. Father Organ died June 9, 2022, in Sarasota after experiencing some health challenges; he was 77.

Father Organ served in the Diocese of Venice for 39 years and was a priest for 51 years.

The funeral arrangements for Father Patrick Organ are as follows:

A viewing will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, June 20, at San Pedro Parish, 14380 Tamiami Trail, North Port.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Tuesday, June 21, at San Pedro Parish.

The Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, expressed his profound sadness at the loss of Father Organ.

“Let us keep the soul of Father Patrick in our prayers. As a longtime parish priest and Pastor, Father participated in many important moments in the pastoral and sacramental life of his parishioners. Baptisms, first communions, weddings, and funerals, he was there for it all; it pained him greatly to bear witness to the sad moments and gave him great happiness to share in the joyous moments.

“This is what we shall remember: Father’s big heart, and his profound commitment to serving others as a priest.  We will also always remember his fine sense of humor and his pride in his Irish heritage! May he rest in peace!”

Bishop Dewane also expresses his deepest condolences for the parishioners of San Pedro Parish who are also suffering from this great loss. “Know you are in my prayers during this difficult time, and may you find comfort in the knowledge that Father Patrick is now on his journey to Our Lord.”

It was on May 21, 1992, when Father Organ was appointed as Pastor of San Pedro, following four years as Pastor of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish in Bokeelia (1988-1992). Under the direction of Father Organ, San Pedro Parish flourished and was well-positioned for future growth: A Parish Life Center with education space was completed in 1995, and further renovations added space for youth outreach in 2010. The Parish currently has 1,826 families.

Before his passing, Father Organ was planning to retire in August, and was looking not only to experience new adventures but also to staying involved with San Pedro Parish, a place that, after 31 years, he called his “home and family.”

Born in Ennistymon, County Clare, Ireland in 1944, Father Patrick C. Organ was the eldest of five children. Having attended Ennistymon Christian Brothers Seminary and St. Kieran’s Seminary in Kilkenny, Ireland, he was ordained on June 13, 1971, for the Archdiocese of Miami.

Father Organ served at Parishes in Lake Worth, Miami, Coral Springs, and Hollywood. Within the Diocese of Venice (established in 1984), Father served as Parochial Vicar at San Marco Parish on Marco Island, St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte, and then as Pastor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish. In addition, through the years, Father also served on various Diocese of Venice boards and committees.

Details regarding funeral arrangements are pending and will be posted on the Diocese of Venice website at as well as on social media.

Retired religious priest dies

Carmelite Father Niles Gillen, Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, died at the age of 90 on May 25, 2022, in Nokomis. Father Gillen served as Parochial Vicar at St. Raphael Parish in Englewood from 2002 until his retirement in the summer of 2012. Father Niles then retired locally, continuing to assist at Parishes, remaining in the area until his death.

Father Gillen was born to (the late) James Gillen and (the late) Margaret (Fox) Whelan on September 15, 1931, in Chicago, Illinois. His given name at baptism was James Joseph. He attended St. Columbanus School in Chicago, Illinois, and Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, Illinois. After graduating from high school, he entered the Carmelite pre-novitiate program in Niagara Falls, Ontario. He entered the Carmelite novitiate in New Baltimore, Pennsylvania, and professed simple vows on Sept. 1, 1951, taking the religious name of Niles.

Father went on to study at Mount Carmel College in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York, as well as at Whitefriars Hall in Washington, D.C. Professing solemn vows with the Carmelites Sept. 15, 1954, he was ordained a Carmelite priest on May 26, 1956, in Chicago. Father Gillen continued his studies at Fordham University in New York; and at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire before his first assignment in 1957 as teacher and guidance director at a school in Chicago.

In 1961, Father Gillen became principal at a high school in Joliet, Illinois, and in 1966 was named Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Joliet, a position he served in for the following 20 years. Following a 1986 sabbatical, Father Niles was named pastor of a Parish in Louisville, Kentucky. It was in 2002, after another sabbatical, when Father Gillen was assigned as parochial vicar at St. Raphael Parish in Englewood.

Father remained at St. Raphael until his retirement in the summer of 2012. The Parish Hall was named in his honor. Father continued to assist at St. Raphael as well as at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Osprey, which is run the Order of Carmelites.

A Funeral Mass for Father Gillen will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 4, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, 425 S. Tamiami Trail, Osprey. Additionally, a wake will be held June 8, 2022, at the National Shrine of St. Thérèse, 8423 Bailey Road, Darien, Illinois, which will be immediately followed by a Funeral Mass. Burial will be at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Chicago.

Father Gillen is survived by a brother. Please pray for the repose of his soul and consolation of his family. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in eternal peace.

“Smile! God Loves You!” Sarasota Pastor of 31 years retires

With a radiant smile and infectious positivity, not to mention his Italian accent, Pallottine Father Fausto Stampiglia retires from St. Martha Parish in Sarasota leaving behind a legacy that is nearly impossible to comprehend.

For the past 31 years, as Pastor of St. Martha, Father Stampiglia – known as Father Fausto to all – served the faithful with all his heart, impacting the lives of countless individuals and families, being there for moments great and small.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1960, now 86, Father Fausto enters retirement comforted by the knowledge that he did the best he could while shining the light of the Lord into the world. A favorite phrase – “Smile, God Loves You!” is on a plaque of his bust on the wall outside the Parish Hall named in his honor, with the rest of the quote saying – “and so do your Parishioners.”

This feeling of love for Father Fausto has been evident throughout his many years and became more prevalent as his retirement approached in recent months.

Comments posted to social media when the official date for Father Fausto’s retirement was made public included: “You will be missed in this role – you have touched so many in our community.”  “You will always have a special place in our hearts. Thanks for everything you’ve done for me and my family.” “Your messages of Christ’s love and infinite ability to forgive us were deeply appreciated!” “Your entire life has been about serving God through us, His children.” “Father Fausto’s legacy is one of great care for generations of students. We pray his retirement be filled with blessed days and good health! Well done, Father Fausto, you have been a good and faithful servant.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane reflected on the impact of Father by stating: “Father Fausto deserves great recognition and praise for the pastoral work he has accomplished in his years of service with the Diocese of Venice. He has been a blessing to the Diocese of Venice and to St. Martha Parish. Most may only know him as the Pastor of St. Martha, but he contributed in so many other areas. His compassion and love for all is always evident. While he is retiring and his cheerful presence will be missed, the legacy Father Fausto leaves behind will be remembered for generations. Father was a legend in his own time!  I know that he will continue the good work of our Lord in his life going forward in all that he does.”

The humble Italian understands how much people care for him and deeply appreciate his service as Pastor at St. Martha. He recently reflected on his life, from growing up in war-torn Italy where he sought shelter from bombings from the age of five to nine; to his entering religious life at 16 with the Society of Catholic Apostolates (Pallottines); then to his scholarly studies then to assignments teaching first in Italy then in East Harlem, New York, then to Albany, New York. Then he became the expert at starting or reinvigorating Permanent Diaconate Programs at several different Dioceses.

That is what brought Father Fausto to the Diocese of Venice in 1986.

Living at St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota, Father Fausto worked at the Catholic Center and assisted at Parishes in Sarasota while expanding the Permanent Diaconate program and helping to establish the Institute for Catholic Studies and Faith Formation.

As the Diocese expanded and new Parishes were erected, the Pallottines, with Father Fausto as Pastor, were asked to take over St. Martha Parish in downtown Sarasota in 1991. When he arrived at St. Martha, the Parish was in debt, and St. Martha’s school was facing a possible closure.

With Father Fausto’s charm, patience and humble approach to each problem, the Parish soon got out of debt and the school started adding students. Honesty and directness helped during this process as Father Fausto sought donors to support his plans for the future. This included building a new school on property several miles east of the Parish.

While going through that process, Father saw a need and supported the establishment of a new school for students with learning disabilities, the current St. Mary Academy (then known as Dreams Are Free Academy).

Father also supported the Spanish-speaking Catholics in the area, having been assigned to several Spanish-language Parishes in his early priesthood, and helped to establish St. Jude Parish.

Throughout the years at St. Martha, Father helped establish the Vietnamese and Tridentine Rite Masses, and has always been a strong supporter of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., including St. Martha Early Learning Center for needy pre-school children, and Bethesda House (a outreach for victims of AIDS), which sit across from the Parish Church. He was also active in creating Casa Santa Marta I & II (low-income housing for seniors), as well as a Caritas outreach.

During his service to the Diocese of Venice Father Fausto has also been Vicar Forane (Dean) of the Northern Deanery since 1991, Theologian to the Bishop, Director of the Permanent Diaconate, an ex-officio member of the Presbyteral Council, a member of the College of Consultors, Liturgical Commission, and Diocesan School Board, as well as the Diocesan representative on the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Ethics Committee. He is also a Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.

At the conclusion of the “Year for Priests,” in 2010, Father Fausto was honored with the Papal Medal of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For Church and the Pope) from then-Pope Benedict XVI by Bishop Dewane. The Papal Medal is the highest recognition for a Religious Priest and was presented for his exemplary service and for his dedication to the people of St. Martha Parish and to the Diocese of Venice.

Throughout his service to the Church, Father has been with the faithful at every moment of life, from births to deaths and everywhere in between.

To help smooth his transition from Pastor to retirement, the last official act Father Fausto had as Pastor occurred on May 14, 2022, presiding over the First Holy Communion of the students from St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy. At his side was his successor, fellow Pallottine Father Jerzy (George) Suszko. In the following few weeks, he was also present as an assisting priest at Confirmation and at Masses for the students at St. Martha and St. Mary before the close of the Academic Year.

Although he often has the energy of people half his age, Father’s retirement comes in his mid-80s, a time when most people would relax. That is not Father’s style.

First on his agenda is a trip to his home in Rome, Italy, to see family and friends for the first time since the start of the pandemic. While in Italy, Father will also visit the superiors of his religious order, Society of Catholic Apostolates (Pallottines).

Upon his return to the U.S., he will vacation at national parks in the American West, something he has done for decades. After that, he will assist at St. Martha whenever he is needed.

“I will be living in Sarasota and remaining at St. Martha,” Father Fausto explained. “I’m going to help. It is part of being a religious priest. The Pallottines are staying here so I will be here. This is my home; my family.”

Collection to support Faithful, chaplains in military

At Sunday Masses the weekend of May 14-15, 2022, Faithful in the Diocese of Venice will have an opportunity to contribute to a special collection for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).

Father Robert R. Cannon, Ch, Col, USAF (Ret.), knows first-hand the value of such a gift from anyone who can contribute. Not only is Father Cannon a priest of the Diocese of Venice, he is also the AMS’s Chancellor in Washington, DC. He is a vital contact for fellow Catholic priests serving worldwide as U.S. Military Chaplains, a position Father held for almost 30 years.

“It’s hard to describe how a Catholic priest affects so many people,” Father Cannon says, “just by being a priest on a base and people learn who you are, you immediately have a flock. You’re their shepherd. They don’t even have to know you. As soon as they see that Roman collar you have thousands of people that are going to be trusting you and looking for support from you. Your very presence is a great consolation and comfort to Catholic military members and families.”

But Catholic priests are increasingly in short supply on active duty these days because of attrition: aging chaplains are retiring faster than they can be replaced. Twenty-five percent of the U.S. Military’s nearly 1.2 million men and women on active duty are Catholic, but the Military’s 192 active-duty Catholic priests make up just seven percent of the Chaplain Corps. In response to the shortage the AMS, along with partner Dioceses and religious communities, has developed a thriving “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program,” in which dozens of men are now in formation to become priest-chaplains and help relieve the shortage. This includes Diocese of Venice Seminarian Jacob C. Gwynn, who was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy on Jan. 22, 2021, at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. He is a Chaplain Candidate Program Officer, pursuing serving God and country as a Chaplain.

The AMS, which receives no government funding, has no network of local parishes to take up collections, and depends entirely on private giving for survival, now faces a $3.5 million seminary bill over the next five years. That’s in addition to the archdiocese’s annual operating budget of more than $7 million to provide religious education and faith formation for military families, an active archive of sacramental records, a tribunal to handle anomalous marriages, annulments, and other issues of canon law, travel for AMS Bishops, and other forms of pastoral care for Catholics in uniform and veterans receiving care in the nation’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers.

Seeing the AMS’s growing need for support back in 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the special collection in Parishes nationwide every three years. The first collection was taken up in 2013 with others to follow in 2016, 2019, and now, 2022.

Father Cannon was ordained in 1978 for the Diocese of St. Petersburg but became a priest of the Diocese of Venice when St. John Paul II erected the new Diocese in 1984. Father became a Chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 1986 and was asked by the USAF Chief of Chaplains to go on extended active duty in 2003. Before his active duty, Father Cannon held several positions, including Dean of Students and Adjunct Professor of Social Sciences at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, Diocesan Judicial Vicar, and Rector of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

He vividly recalls leaving his position as rector to answer the call to serve those who serve in faraway places. “I admit that I cried driving I-75 with a packed car up to Washington, D.C. I had come to love the people, the Cathedral. I certainly was able to relate to military personnel when they had to leave their families.”

As Father Cannon knows all too well, time and resources are precious commodities for a Catholic priest on active duty in the U.S. Military. Priests like Father Cannon can provide the time, but only the Faithful can provide the resources through the 2022 national collection on May 14-15. If you wish to contribute directly to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, visit

Story courtesy of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

Mary, the example for all to follow

When it comes time to reflect upon Mother’s Day, there is no greater example than the Mother of Jesus.

Pope Francis said to be a mother is a great treasure through an unconditional and sacrificial love for their children, which was shown so clearly when the Blessed Virgin Mary presented Jesus at Christmas, a gift to the world.

Mary’s example provides an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the role of all mothers in society and the Church, the Pope explained, noting how despite all of the “symbolic glorification” we give to motherhood, it is still under-valued.

To be a mother is a gift, the Pope said, and explained that through their sacrifices, mothers assist in helping society to overcome its self-centered tendencies, as well as its lack of openness, generosity and concern for others.

“In this sense motherhood is more than childbearing; it is a life choice entailing sacrifice, respect for life, and commitment to passing on those human and religious values which are essential for a healthy society,” he said.

Reflecting upon the motherhood of Mary, Bishop Frank J. Dewane recently devoted the April 2022 Relevant Radio show “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane” to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“We must look to the faith of Our Lady,” Bishop Dewane said. “Our Blessed Mother had to do some very difficult things to stay under the cross as her Son hung there. I don’t know what more can be asked of a mother than to have to observe the death of her child.”

It is appropriate that Mother’s Day falls in the month of May, many of the Marian apparitions are linked to the month, which is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church opted to dedicate the month to Mary.

Bishop Dewane stressed that the Faithful must look at radically changing their life, but with a certain zeal, or fire, welling up from within, similar to how the Blessed Virgin answered “Yes!” to the call of the Lord at the Annunciation.

“Our human nature doesn’t always drive us to do these things,” the Bishop continued. “But when we take the time to spiritually reflect and allow the Lord to enter in, and allow Our Lady to be our guide, we can make a big difference.”

During the radio show, Bishop Dewane and special guest Father Tom Carzon, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, reflected upon the different Marian apparitions.

“Our Lady is always calling us to repentance,” Father Carzon said. “She’s preparing us. She’s calling us back to the Gospel.  And in the midst of things – even when suffering comes – just as she was standing by Jesus at the Cross – she’s standing with us.”

Marian apparitions in the Ukraine, Rwanda and other places of conflict and oppression, serve as not just a warning, but a comfort that Our Lady is always present, Father added.

“It’s like these things, tragic as they are, they are not beyond God’s reach, or outside of God’s hands,” Father Carzon said. “Mary helps us by that presence. It is so powerful – she shows up as we need her.”

Bishop Dewane noted that some apparitions are witnessed by many or some are by a few, but the messages are clear, bringing comfort and healing. “When something brings people together in Faith, it has to be recognized that something good is happening.”

The Patroness of the Diocese of Venice is Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which is also the name of the Diocese’s primary retreat center in Venice. In addition, there are a dozen Parishes dedicated to Our Lady. In the coming weeks, there are two major celebrations of Mary, including the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima (May 13), as well as the newly instituted Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, on June 6, the Monday after Pentecost, which was recently created by Pope Francis.

If you would like to listen to the April “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane” radio show, the program is available at

The monthly radio program on Relevant Radio can be heard at 8:30 a.m. on the last Friday of each month (May 27, 2022), at 106.7 FM and 1410 AM in Fort Myers and 93.3 FM and 1660 AM in Naples.

Priest, founder of two Parishes, dies

Father Charles K. Sullivan, founding Pastor of St. Columbkille and St. John XXIII Parishes in Fort Myers, died April 27, 2022, at the age of 85 in Ocala.

Father Sullivan was born the second son of Joseph Sullivan and Ruth Keiter, on Aug. 6, 1936, in Newton, Massachusetts. Ordained to the priesthood on May 1, 1964, at St. Michael Monastery with the Passionate Congregation in Union City, N.J., Father Sullivan served for four years in the northeast leading missions and retreats.

Eventually, Father Sullivan arrived in Florida to become associate retreat director at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center in North Palm Beach. In 1970, Father was the founding Pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Parish in North Palm Beach and served there for 12 years. He returned to New Jersey serving in a merged Parish there before returning to Florida when the Diocese of Venice was erected in 1984.

Father’s first assignment in the Diocese of Venice was as Administrator of St. Isabel Parish in Sanibel (1984-1985) before becoming Administrator of Our Lady of Mercy Mission (now Parish) in Boca Grande (1985-1988). Father Sullivan was then named co-Pastor of San Marco Parish in Marco Island (1988-1990), before being assigned as Pastor of St. Ann Parish in Naples (1990-1993).

It was in 1993 when Father Sullivan helped establish St. Columbkille Parish in south Fort Myers as Pastor. The first liturgies were celebrated in modular units before a Parish Church was built in 1997.

Then in 2002, Father was founding Pastor of St. John XXIII Parish (formerly Blessed John XXIII Mission) in Fort Myers which held its first liturgies at Noonan Elementary. Once again, Father oversaw the construction of a new Parish Church, which was dedicated in 2005.

Throughout his ministry, Father Sullivan was active in prison outreach and a strong supporter of the Cursillo Movement. Shortly after his 70th birthday, Father Sullivan retired from active ministry on Sept. 1, 2006.

A viewing will take place from 5-8 p.m., Friday, May 6 at St. Columbkille Parish, 12171 Iona Road, Fort Myers, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 7 at St. Columbkille.

Please pray for the repose of his soul and the consolation of his family. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in eternal peace.

Paschal Triduum celebrated throughout the Diocese

Faithful gathered at Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice for a celebration of the Paschal Triduum (April 14-17, 2022).

The Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday), has its center in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Sunday of the Resurrection (Easter).

The Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring included the commemoration when Jesus Christ established the Sacrament of Holy Communion prior to His arrest and crucifixion. It also observes His institution of the priesthood. This Liturgy included the presentation of the oils blessed and consecrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during the April 12 Chrism Mass, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, which will be used for the Sacraments in the Parish throughout the year.  Later was the traditional washing of the feet, reenacting Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples. Following the Prayer after Communion, the Mass concluded with a procession to transfer the Holy Eucharist to the place of repose in the Parish Hall. This procession led out the main doors of the church and to the hall. This action left the tabernacle vacant until the Easter Vigil.

On Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, the faithful at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples participated in the Liturgy which included the reading of the Passion from the Gospel of John. Next was the presentation of the cross, brought forth by the priest and unveiled as the priest sang: “This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the salvation of the world,” and the congregation responded: “Come let us adore.” The faithful were then encouraged to come forward to venerate the cross. This was done by either touching, bowing, or genuflecting.

Either prior to, or after, the Good Friday Liturgy, many Parishes hosted the Stations of the Cross, sometimes led by children or including a dramatic retelling. (See related story on Page 3.).

On Holy Saturday, the only Mass of the day is the Easter Vigil, which begins in darkness. However, several Parishes did host a blessing of the Easter Baskets/food. This custom traditionally blesses food to be consumed at the first meal of Easter.

During the Easter Vigil, the Paschal Candle was lit and catechumens and candidates received the Sacraments and entered fully into the Catholic Faith. This year 397 did so throughout the Diocese.

On Easter Sunday, several Parishes celebrated Mass at sunrise while all added extra Masses to accommodate the increased numbers common for this holiest of days.

Many Parishes also hosted fun for children which often included Easter Egg hunts.

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula hosted their Easter Festival after the final Easter Sunday Mass. There, hundreds of plastic eggs with goodies were scattered across the lawn for eager children to pluck up, while 300 Easter baskets filled with donated items were distributed to families.