First public Sunday Mass since mid-March brings joy, hope

As the faithful left Mass at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice on May 24, 2020, there was a feeling of joy and hope. The joy came from the return to public Sunday Mass after a two-month absence. The hope was that this small step means that lives are closer to returning to normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, it was fitting that the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord was the moment the faithful returned to the regular Sunday Mass for the first time since March 15, 2020. The Solemnity includes the reading from the conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew called the “Great Commissioning” – when the Lord gives instructions and sends forth the Disciples into the world to spread the Good News.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who lifted the suspension of public Mass effective May 18, 2020, celebrated the 11 a.m. Mass on May 24, 2020 at the Cathedral, noting it was a pleasure to be back before the faithful after such a long absence.

“It is gift from the Lord that we are able to come back to our churches and our Parishes,” Bishop Dewane said. “At the same time, we have to acknowledge that Christ calls us to be a people of hope. During this time of the pandemic we must remain believers and hope for the best – for one another, for ourselves, but most of all for our Faith. We have to have hope in Jesus Christ.”

Brad Gaines attended the Vigil Mass at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers and was very happy to be back.

“It is such a blessing to be here for Mass,” Gaines said. “It brings me great comfort, just like I had been every weekend since I was born, at least until the pandemic hit. I never realized how much I would miss being at Mass, in the presence of the Lord and singing hymns with others.”

The reopening of public Mass came with some restrictions as churches were only allowed to accommodate up to 50 percent of normal capacity while maintaining appropriate social distancing. As expected, many decided to remain home because they are older, are vulnerable to illness. or they are not fully comfortable to return. For this reason, Bishop Dewane extended the dispensation of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass through June 28, 2020.

For those who did go to Mass, signs were posted reminding everyone of social distancing regulations. Greeters kept doors propped open and ushers directed people to available seating as half of the pews in churches were blocked off. All Parishes required that masks be worn. There were no missals in the pews, thus the music selections were more common, making it easier for people to participate. Hand sanitizer was readily available and between Masses extra cleaning took place.

Many Parishes also created instructional videos to prepare the faithful for what to expect when coming to Mass, such as which entrances would be open and providing directions on receiving Holy Communion while wearing a mask.

Fran Kingman admitted she was wary about going to Mass until she saw the instructional video on the precautions being taken at Epiphany Cathedral.

“I so wanted to come back and was very worried,” Kingman said. “I soon realized that the Cathedral was taking this situation seriously. For me, wearing a mask at church is strange but a small price to pay. Honestly, I would rather do that from now on if it meant keeping the churches open for Mass.”

At the Cathedral, and many other Parishes, Holy Communion was made available in the afternoon for those who watched the Mass through a live stream and did not feel comfortable being at Mass in the church. Such accommodations were made to ensure the Sacrament remained available to all during these unique times.

During the pandemic, the live streaming of Mass became commonplace. While some Parishes have opted to stop or reduce the number of live streaming Masses, the Diocese of Venice will continue to offer its live stream service (available on Facebook or at from the Catholic Center at 9:15 a.m. daily through June 28, 2020.

Public celebration of Mass resumes May 18

The following is a letter from Bishop Dewane to the faithful, dated May 12, 2020: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Bishop Frank J. Dewane raises the host during the Mass at St. Ann Parish in Naples in January, 2020. The public celebration of the Mass in the Diocese resumes May 18, 2020.

As we rejoice in our Easter Faith, my prayer is that the new life we have in Christ will bring you and your family hope and comfort. The Coronavirus has brought numerous challenges. Our common efforts to mitigate the disease have asked us to sacrifice and adjust to new realities for the good of all. United in Christ, we continue to face the present difficulties with courage and compassion. So many have persevered in faith and charity and our Parishes have remained beacons of God’s love and grace. For this, I am profoundly grateful to God and to the Priests and Faithful of the Diocese of Venice.

After much prayer and discernment, and having consulted with the priests on the Presbyteral Council, it has been determined that public celebration of the Mass in the Diocese of Venice can resume. Therefore, I am announcing that the celebration of Holy Mass with a congregation present, will begin on May 18, 2020 and moving forward.  All other non-liturgical activities at Parishes remain suspended until it is determined that these activities can safely resume; thank you for your understanding on this point.

Out of concern for the safety of all involved, our Pastors have been asked to follow established directives and guidelines. These limit the size of the congregation to 25% of occupancy, maintain social distancing guidance, and ask the Faithful’s cooperation to wear facemasks and bring with them hand sanitizer for their use. The Faithful are also asked to receive communion in the hand. These are extraordinary times and I ask for your patience and good will as Parishes reopen for public celebrations. Further, schedules may need to be adjusted and some Priests or liturgical ministers may not be able to participate publicly because of age or health conditions.

As Parish churches reopen for Mass, I remind those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time, that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect until June 28, 2020. Parishes have been asked to continue livestreaming until the dispensation is lifted. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home.

The Faithful of the Diocese of Venice have remained resolute in their faith during these unprecedented times, vibrantly expressing their Spiritual Communion with Christ and His Church. Still, I am aware that there is a hunger for the Eucharist. My prayerful hope is that, strengthened by the Bread come down from Heaven, you will emerge from these times with stronger faith. As we return to Holy Mass, let us with the psalmist, raise our voices in praise of God: I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

Venice in Florida


April 17, 2020 letter from Bishop Dewane to the Faithful

April 17, 2020

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

During Easter Season, as the Church rejoices in Our Lord’s Resurrection, my prayer is that you and your family are safe and strengthened by God’s grace in these uncertain times. You will recall that I promised to give an update regarding the Coronavirus and our efforts in the Diocese of Venice to ensure the health, safety, and the spiritual wellbeing of all our Catholic Faithful.

The decision to suspend public celebrations of the Liturgy was among the most difficult I have had to make as your Bishop. The decision required the Diocese to weigh the needs of public health in a time of pandemic against the great sacrifices that a suspension would require of the Christian Faithful and our Priests. Knowing it would be difficult for you not to fully participate in the Holy Mass or gather with your fellow Parishioners for other activities, was something I sincerely understood. It was also on my mind that your Priests would need to labor strenuously and find innovative ways to compassionately care for Parishioners.

It has been edifying to see how the Catholic Faithful, led by their Priests, have embraced these challenges and found creative ways to give witness to our spiritual communion in Christ. Throughout these days, I have been privileged to hear many stories from Parishioners about how they have, in their homes, remained Faithful to their life of prayer and worship of God. The efforts of parents, caregivers, Catholic School teachers, catechists, Parish staff and so many of our people, have made the difficulties being experienced an opportunity for heroic acts of Christian Charity and love. Priests are to be acknowledged for the pastoral ways in which the Holy Mass and the Sacraments have been offered to the Faithful; at the same time, placing themselves at risk to attend the sick and dying. Likewise, I am grateful to the Parishioners who have continued their generous stewardship towards the Parishes and Schools of the Diocese which face financial challenges in these present circumstances.

In a particular way, let me express my appreciation to the many families who, from home, united in their Parish Holy Week and Easter Liturgies. All the Faithful can be proud of the efforts made during these difficult days to maintain spiritual communion and practice their Catholic Faith. Trusting in Our Lord who abides with us, we have found hope and strength to weather the hardships.

No matter how difficult this time has been for many of us, I ask you to prayerfully intercede for those who have died from the Coronavirus and for their family and loved ones who grieve. Likewise, please lift-up in prayer healthcare workers and others, who, with dedication, are combating this disease and compassionately caring for the sick and dying. Pray also for wisdom for our public officials that they may guide us with competence and concern.

Please know that the Diocese appreciates the sacrifices you have made and is looking forward to the time when public celebrations of Holy Mass can resume. With me, Diocesan Officials are monitoring public health data as a process of planning begins. It is necessary to determine how and when your Parish can resume normal operations safely, while maintaining careful vigilance to protect those at greater risk of serious illness. The upcoming weeks will indeed require patience. Only after necessary steps are taken, can there be certainty regarding when to begin a phased return to normal Parish activities and public gatherings.

Likely, the present circumstances regarding public Masses will last for the near future. Celebrations of Confirmation, First Communion, and reception into the Church for Catechumens and Candidates will continue to be postponed until it is feasible to reschedule them with some certainty. Parishes will keep the Faithful updated as greater clarity regarding Diocesan plans is possible.

Let us remember that with Faith, our sufferings and sacrifices can be a source of redeeming grace. If we offer our sufferings to God and unite them with the Passion of Our Lord, we will be made stronger in Faith and greater witnesses to the hope that is ours in the Risen Christ.

As we commemorate Divine Mercy Sunday, let each one of us put aside our doubts and united as a believing people, express with new resolve: “Jesus, I trust in You!”

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop the Diocese of

Venice in Florida

Online classes on matter of faith becoming more common

Buoyed by the success of online daily and Sunday Mass, and while there is no physical location to attend a religious education class, several Parishes across the Diocese have turned to online courses.

These courses offer a broad opportunity for the faithful to continue to grow closer to the Lord through the shared experience of learning.

For example, Dr. David Glasow, of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and Theology teacher at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, used Facebook Live to provide six nights of commentary for the online Bible study program “Genesis to Jesus” from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

Meanwhile, Father Shawn Monahan, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, and Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral, lead a three-part series called “Rejoice in the Resurrection – How we can live more the Risen Life Jesus invites us to live.” The sessions, also available on Facebook, followed the Divine Mercy Chaplet from the Cathedral Adoration Chapel in Venice.

At Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota, Parochial Vicar, Third Order Franciscan Father Timothy Harris, leads a regular online reflection, as does Father Joseph Gates, Administrator at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Parrish.

These are just a few of the examples of how Parishes and priests are working to stay connected with the Faithful. To find these, and more, online presentations, either visit your parish website, or go to the associated Facebook pages. Most of the talks will remain online indefinitely.

Chrism Mass: A Virtual Sign of Unity – Holy Oils Blessed and Consecrated

The Chrism Mass, a Holy Week tradition when Holy Oils are blessed and consecrated and priests from across the Diocese stand united with the Bishop, took on a different form this year but the significance and meaning of what took place were not diminished.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, joined by priests representing each of the four Deaneries of the Diocese of Venice, celebrated the Chrism Mass on April 7, 2020, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. To accommodate the latest guidance on social distancing and limiting the size of gatherings, present on the altar were the Bishop, five priests and three permanent deacons.

“Nothing can stand in the way of the celebration of the Word of God,” Bishop Dewane said at the start of the Mass. “I am grateful that we have the opportunity for the priests and the lay faithful to tune in and witness this celebration. The oils that are blessed and consecrated during this Mass are not only for us priests to use when conveying the Sacraments, they are for you, the faithful.”

Held during Holy Week each year, the Chrism Mass would typically bring together the entire Presbyterate (all active priests in the Diocese) and would be witnessed by more than 1,000. Present for the Mass would be religious, deacons, student representatives from each of the 15 Diocesan Catholic schools, Knights of Columbus Color Corps and Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta as well as the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher.

While no one was able to be present in person as witnesses to the Mass, Bishop Dewane said the Word of God and the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ, together, unite us whether everyone is together in person or remotely.

The Chrism Mass marks a celebration and is an expression of unity of the priests with their Shepherd, the Bishop of the Diocese. By having all the priests of the Diocese come together – this year virtually – on the eve of the Easter Triduum, reminds priests of their calling to act in the person of Christ – In persona Christi.

During the Renewal of Priestly Promises the representative priests stood as one, and spoke with one voice saying, “I am,” three times in response to questions asked by Bishop Dewane. These same questions were asked of them during their Ordination to the Priesthood.

Bishop Dewane publicly thanked the priests for their continued service to the People of God throughout the Diocese of Venice for what they do each day, and in particular during the ongoing response to the pandemic. “I miss very much your presence here today… However, when we do gather, the Word of Lord is there… the words that have been said and heard today have great meaning for us.”

While addressing the priests directly, Bishop Dewane cited the readings of the day from the Prophet Isaiah, Book of Revelations, and the Gospel of Luke, which identify those who are called to be priests.

The first reading states that those who “shall be named priests of the Lord, ministers of God, you shall be called.” “The operative word being named,” Bishop Dewane said. “This is profoundly a part of our vocation. The idea of being named is also found in the Prophet Jerimiah 1:5 which states, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I dedicated you a prophet to the nations I appointed you.’”

From the second reading from the Book of Revelation, the idea of who has been made or created who has made us into a kingdom of priests. The operative word there is made – the idea of being created.

Finally, the Bishop continued, the Gospel of Luke, where the idea of you and I being sent has a special meaning, He has sent me – the operative word being sent.

Bishop Dewane said to the priests: “The idea of being made is something that is truly ongoing, a work in progress. The strength of Christ is given to you and it has made your identity as a priest. It makes you new in the Lord, over and over again.”

As part of being called to the priesthood, Bishop Dewane said the priests are sent to follow where the Lord leads them, and to go forth humbly, joyfully and prayerfully.

“You are sent by the Lord through every Eucharist you celebrate; sermon you preach, truth that you teach; child or adult you baptize; confession you hear; sinner you absolve; marriage you witness; dying person you prepare for their last journey – each one of you have been sent to continue on this priestly journey.”

In an appeal to the faithful, Bishop Dewane asked them to assist the priests, not just during this difficult time caused by the pandemic, but during all times and all difficulties. “We, as a body of priests, need to be uplifted.”

As noted at the beginning of his homily, Bishop Dewane concluded by reminding the priests that it is the Word of God that carries with intention, a meaning and a purpose for them and for the people of God entrusted to their care. “Know, as the faithful, they trust you, they need you, they love you, and so do I. May God bless you all.”

From Jerusalem to Rome, and to Dioceses around the world, Pope Francis and local Bishops carry out the annual Chrism Mass, which is celebrated during Holy Week, on or before Holy Thursday. In the Diocese of Venice, the Chrism Mass is traditionally celebrated on the Tuesday of Holy Week to accommodate the priests who need to travel great distances. This year was no different.

Sacred Chrism Oil

The holy oils which were blessed and consecrated April 7, 2020, during the Chrism Mass at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Seen from left to right, the Oil of Sick, Sacred Chrism and the Oil of the Catechumens.

The Chrism Mass takes its name from the Sacred Chrism Oil, the most eminent of the holy oils, which the Bishop blesses and consecrates for use by Parish priests of the Diocese.

The Order of the Blessing of the oils and consecration of the Sacred Chrism takes place at different times during the Mass. Vested in white, Bishop Dewane, raised hands over the urns on a table near the altar and first blessed the Oil of the Sick at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer. Following the Prayer After Communion, the Bishop blessed the Oil of the Catechumens.

Before the final blessing, the final portion is the consecration of the Sacred Chrism Oil. First balsam is poured into the oil and then mixed. The balsam is added so that it gives the oil a sweet smell intended to remind those who encounter it of the “odor of sanctity.” All of the faithful are called to strive for sanctity. The Bishop then extended his hands toward the vessel containing the oils, and at one point asked the priests to raise their right arm in prayer, and said the prayer of consecration. The celebration is brought to a close with a final blessing.

The Oil of the Sick is used for those who seek anointing, and the Oil of the Catechumens, which is imposed on those preparing for baptism, are simply “blessed,” by the Bishop, while the Sacred Chrism is “consecrated.”

Longtime Pastor in Lehigh Acres dies

Father Dennis Cooney, longtime Pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres died April 13, 2020. He was 71.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the death of Father Cooney was a loss for the Diocese and in particular St. Raphael Parish, where he served as Pastor for 19 years.

“Father Cooney was a priest who had a passion for his ministry,” Bishop Dewane said. “Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Cooney, for the people of St. Raphael who found inspiration by his good work, and for his family for whom this loss is particularly personal.”

The death of Father Cooney is particularly difficult during this time when the public celebration of Mass has been suspended in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. A memorial Mass will be held at a later date.

Father Cooney was born in 1947 in Brooklyn, NY., to a devoutly Catholic family and attended Catholic schools before entering Our Lady of Hope Junior Seminary in Newburgh, N.Y. and then Oblate College in Washington, D.C. for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Ordained in 1974 at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, the first assignment for Father Cooney served for several years as Parochial Vicar at Immaculate Conception Parish in Washington. From there he studied at Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL). Father Cooney then taught at the Oblate College before serving for seven years as a preaching missionary on the Oblate Mission Band. Following this service, her returned to Oblate College where he served as president and instructor from 1990 to 1992.

Father Cooney entered the Diocese of Venice in July 1994 and was incardinated into the Diocese in 1996. From 1994-2000 he served as Parochial Vicar of Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton. It was in 2000 when Father Cooney was appointed as Administrator of St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres and as Pastor on June 27, 2001.

As Pastor of St. Raphael Parish, Father Cooney added an outdoor Stations of the Cross, erected a Shrine to the Unborn and later added statues of St. Michael and St. Gabriel the Archangels to the Prater Garden, joining statues of St. Raphael and St. Tobias. For the Diocese of Venice, Father Cooney was Moderator for the Respect Life Office and taught theology as part of the Diocesan Diaconate Formation Program.

A dynamic speaker of theological issues, Father Cooney was called upon to speak to numerous groups in the Diocese. He also served as the spiritual advisor for the Naples Founders Club of Ave Maria University; spiritual director for the faculty and students at Ave Maria University; Chaplain for the Naples Chapter of Legatus; and served on the Board of Directors of Priests for Life.

Father Cooney is survived by numerous family and friends.

2020 Diocese of Venice priest jubilarians

The annual Chrism Mass is a time during Holy Week when the sacred oils used for the Sacraments throughout the year are blessed and consecrated and the priests of the Diocese of Venice gather united under one Bishop. The Mass is also an appropriate time to recognize priests who are celebrating significant milestones in their priesthood.

While the Chrism Mass was celebrated on Tuesday, April 7 of Holy Week in a modified form due to crowd restrictions brought on as a precaution against the pandemic – with Bishop Frank J. Dewane and representative priests from each of the four Deaneries in the Diocese – the five priest jubilarians were recognized, if not actually present.

The priests have 200 years of combined experience amongst them, with three marking their Golden Jubilee and two their Silver Jubilee.

While they were not present at the Chrism Mass, they must still be recognized for reaching such important milestones. The Golden Jubilarians are Msgr. Philip W. Hill, Msgr. Frank C. McGrath and Father James P. Meyers. The Silver Jubilarians are Father Marcial Y. Garcia and Father Antony T. Lukka. See their complete biographies below.

Golden Jubilees

Msgr. Frank C. McGrath

Msgr. Frank C. McGrath was born in 1944 in New Britain, Connecticut, and raised in Stratford. He attended St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut, and later St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland. Ordained for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, on May 9, 1970, Msgr. McGrath served at the Cathedral for several years and at parishes in Ridgefield, Westport, Stratford and Darien. Msgr. McGrath also became the Diocesan Director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and was assigned outside of the Diocese to serve in the Office of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal with residence in Brussels, Belgium. Msgr. McGrath then served at Word of God Convent Community and a Parish in Ann Arbor within the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, before returning to the Diocese of Bridgeport. There he served in two parishes and as Director of Clergy Personnel. Msgr. McGrath also served as a fire chaplain from 1990 through 2014 in Michigan, Connecticut and New York City. For the Diocese of Venice, since 2014 Msgr. McGrath has been serving as Chaplain of the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples.

Msgr. Philip W. Hill

Msgr. Philip W. Hill was born in 1945 in Grand Island, Nebraska, and earned degrees from Cathedral College in New York City, New York; St. Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, N.Y.; Gregorian University and Lateran University in Rome, and Fordham University School of Law, the Bronx, N.Y. Msgr. Hill was ordained Dec. 18, 1970 at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. As a priest for the Archdiocese of New York, he served at parishes in Scarsdale and Poughkeepsie, as well as vice-official for the Metropolitan Tribunal. Msgr. Hill also served as a U.S. Army Chaplain working at the Pentagon Army Chief of Chaplains Office during the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, as well as at posts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. His most recent assignment in the Army was as Command Chaplain at Fort Belvoir in Virginia before retiring as a colonel. Msgr. Hill came to the Diocese of Venice in October 2019, first assisting at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch and since January 2020 assisting at Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda.

Rev. James P. Meyers

Father James P. Meyers was born in 1944 in Omaha, Nebraska, and discerned his vocation to the priesthood while studying at Mt. Michael Abby, Elkhorn, Nebraska, and went on to study at Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri, and Theological College of Catholic University, Washington, D.C. Father Meyers was ordained on May 30, 1970 in Omaha for the Archdiocese of Washington. He served at parishes in Washington. D.C., as well as in Silver Springs, Bethesda, Leonardtown and Rockville in Maryland. For the Archdiocese he also served on the Priest Council and as Dean. In the Diocese of Venice, has assisted at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

Silver Jubilees

Rev. Marcial Y. Garcia

Father Marcial Y. Garcia was born in 1963, in Bani, Dominican Republic, the oldest of 12 children. He studied at St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Santo Domingo, and was ordained June 3, 1995, in Bani. He served at parishes in Santo Domingo and San Cristobal until 2001. Father Garcia joined the Diocese of Venice in 2001 first serving at St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston from 2001-2011, and then at Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto from 2011-2013. He was then priest-in-charge of Hispanic Ministry at St. Elizabeth Seton and St. Agnes Parishes in Naples in 2013, then at St. James and Santiago Mission in Lake Placid. He is the current Pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Moore Haven and St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Mission in Okeechobee.


Rev. Antony T. Lukka

Father Antony T. Lukka was born in 1965 in Kanjirapally, Kerala, India, the eighth of nine children. Father earned degrees from Gandhi University in Kerala, and discerned a vocation to the priesthood at Papal Seminary in Pune, India. He was ordained May 30, 1995 for the Diocese of Kanjirapally, and served at parishes in Koruthode, Anakkal, Karikkattoor and Enamely, and also as assistant principal then principal at a junior college in Anakkal. He came to the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, in 2001 serving at parishes in Assinis, Cooks and Merenisco, Michigan, as well as assisting in prisons, nursing homes and hospitals. For the Diocese of Marquette, he served as a member of the Presbyteral Council and College of Consultors. Father Lukka came to the Diocese of Venice in 2016 and is a Parochial Vicar at St, William Parish in Naples.

Pastor installed in Sarasota

There are moments in the life of each Parish that are well remembered: the dedication of a new building, significant anniversaries, and of course, the installation of a new Pastor.

For the faithful of St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota, such a day occurred Dec. 1, the First Sunday of Advent, when Father Gordon Zanetti was installed as Pastor by Bishop Frank J. Dewane.

The First Sunday of Advent was an appropriate time to install a Pastor, because it not only marked the start of a new Liturgical Calendar, but a Pastor signifies the next chapter in the life of St. Thomas More Parish.

Bishop Dewane encouraged the faithful to offer advice to their new Pastor but also know that he will be called to make difficult decisions that not everyone will always appreciate.

“He needs your support in many ways but in particular through prayer,” Bishop Dewane said.

As part of the installation, the priest begins with selected words leading to the start of the Creed when he is then joined by the faithful. At the end of the Creed, the new Pastor has extra lines which are exclusive for him. In addition, the Pastor makes an Oath of Fidelity to the Bishop and his successors; formalized by the placing of his hand upon the Book of Gospels.

Following the installation, two members of the Parish, representing the entire congregation, served as official witnesses and signed the formal documents, copies of which are left at the Parish, placed in the Diocesan archives, as well as in the Parish file kept at the Diocese.

Bishop then introduced the new Pastor to a rousing applause. Afterwards Father Zanetti took the time to hug his mother, Cornelia Zanetti, who was present along with faithful from his previous assignment, St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral. At the conclusion of the Mass, Father Zanetti thanked Bishop Dewane for his installation and commented on how welcoming the Parish community has been since the day he was first assigned.

After the installation, a reception was held in the Parish Chelsea Center.

Two priests die

Staff Report

A former Fort Myers Pastor and a longtime priest assisting at a parish in Bradenton recently died.

Father Thomas E. Murphy, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, who served as Pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers (1994-2001) and as Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers (1990-1994), died Oct. 25, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pa. He was 71.

Father James H. Archambault, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford who had assisted at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton since 1997 until his health no longer allowed, died Oct. 21, 2019. He was 80.

Father Murphy was born in 1947 and professed his first vows with the Oblates in 1967, perpetual profession in 1970 and was ordained to the priesthood on May 15, 1976. He held degrees from Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales and from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Father Murphy served at schools in Philadelphia, Reading, Pa., and Alexandria, Va. as well as at parishes in Philadelphia and mostly recently in Cape May, N.J. Within the Diocese of Venice, Father Murphy was Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Light Parish when it was founded in 1990 and then was named as Pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in 1994 where served until 2001.

Preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Father Murphy is survived by two sisters, several nieces and nephews, grandnieces and nephews, and two great-grandnieces. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Oct. 28 in Rydal, Pa. and internment will be in the Oblate Cemetery in Childs, Md.

Father Archambault was born Dec. 23, 1938, in Waterbury, Conn., and studied at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Conn., as well as at St. Mary Seminary and St. Mary University in Baltimore, Md. He was ordained May 4, 1967 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Hartford, Conn. Following ordination, Father Archambault served in the same state at Parishes in Bristol, Windsor Locks, Manchester, and New Britton, and chaplain at a hospital in Waterbury. Upon his retirement in 1987, he moved to Florida where he served as an assistant priest at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton.

Predeceased by his parents and his brother, Father Archambault is survived by a sister-in-law, nieces, nephews and several grandnieces/nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial, celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and concelebrated by priests of the Diocese, took place Oct. 28 at St. Joseph Parish. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to the St. Vincent de Paul Ministry at St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th St. W., Bradenton, FL 34205.

Please pray for the repose of the souls of Fathers Murphy and Archambault and the consolation of their families.

Priestly Ordination: United to the Sacrifice of Christ

Bob Reddy – Venice –

The presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice in Florida grew by one with the Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Carlos Encinas.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the ordination of Father Carlos in a Rite that was filled with long tradition and witnessed by hundreds Oct. 5 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

The Bishop told Father Carlos that through ordination, he becomes forever “United to the Sacrifice of Christ.” That unity is also with the Bishop and the Universal Church led by Holy Father Pope Francis.

“You are called to be that Church as you go out and strive to minister to the people of God,” Bishop Dewane continued. “Be the example of the Good Shepherd and go out and find the lost sheep who have the strayed by being the Light of Christ to others who might be in darkness.”

To start the Rite of Ordination, Diocese of Venice Vocations Director Father Shawn Roser called Deacon Carlos forward as he presented himself for ordination to the Bishop. The Bishop, on behalf of the entire Church, accepted Carlos and called him to ordination as a Priest by saying: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and Our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose Carlos Encinas, our brother, for the Order of the Priesthood.”

During the Rite of Ordination, Encinas knelt before Bishop Dewane to express his desire and willingness to be ordained as a Priest and to fulfill the responsibilities that come with ordination, which included a promise of respect and obedience to the Bishop and his successors. Encinas then lay prostrate before the altar for the Litany of Supplication/Litany of Saints.

After this solemn act of prayer, the Sacrament of Ordination was conferred when Carlos again knelt before Bishop Dewane, whom in silent prayer, imposed his hands on the head the ordinand. Each priest then came forward to lay their hands upon the head of Father Encinas. This was followed by Bishop Dewane, with his hands outstretched, praying the Prayer of Ordination.

Father Carlos was then vested in stole and chasuble by Father Gerard Critch, Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples where Encinas had recently served as Transitional Deacon. The hands of Father Carlos were than anointed with the Sacred Chrism by the Bishop, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make their ministry fruitful.

Next, the Bishop presented Encinas with the chalice and paten which all priests are called to present to God in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Rite of Ordination is concluded with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to the newly ordained priest, welcoming him into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. Bishop Dewane introduced Father Carlos to all those present to enthusiastic applause, before all priests came forward to offer the sign of peace.

In addition to families and friends from Argentina, there were faithful from across the Diocese, many from the parishes where he previously had served. Included among those were also representatives of the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, and the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, as well as Diocesan seminarians who served during the Mass. Father Carlos was also pleased that a number of priests and fellow graduates from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, many of whom were ordained earlier in the year, were able to attend.

The Ordination was followed by a reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall where newly ordained Father Carlos Encinas was available to greet the public and impart his priestly blessing on them.