Diocesan Priest Honored 

Susan Laielli – Special to the Florida Catholic

The Very Rev. Fausto Stampiglia, S.A.C., V.F., Pastor of St. Martha Catholic Church in Sarasota, was honored as a “Good and Faithful Servant” by the Sarasota Ministerial Association (SMA) at its 20th Anniversary Luncheon in Sarasota on May 26, 2021.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane attended the luncheon and gave a special blessing for Father Stampiglia, who was handed the “Good and Faithful Servant Award” by previous recipients.

Father Stampiglia, who celebrates 30 years as Pastor of St. Martha Parish this year, was joined by Deacon Pat Macaulay and Administrative Assistant Sarah Brinn, both of St. Martha Parish, Father Celestino Gutiérrez, Pastor of St. Jude Parish, Deacon Humberto Alvia of St. Jude Parish, and Rabbi Howard Simon, and his wife Rona of Sarasota.

Chaplain Tom Pfaff, President of the Ministerial Association says Father Fausto is a very deserving and dedicated priest who has been with the organization since the early days of its founding.

“He was reluctant to accept this year’s award, but about a year after we started the Association, Father Stampiglia joined as a member,” Pfaff said. “He builds pathways among faith-based organizations and the Sarasota community.”

Father Stampiglia was born and raised in Rome, Italy and ordained there on Nov. 27, 1960, as a priest of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, known as the Pallottines. Father has the distinction of being the first Pastor of St. Martha Church who belongs to a religious order.


Chrism Mass: A Sign of Unity

The Chrism Mass is a Holy Week tradition when Holy Oils are blessed and consecrated while priests from across the Diocese stand united with the Bishop.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, joined by the priests of the Diocese of Venice, celebrated the Chrism Mass on March 30, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. To accommodate the latest guidance on social distancing and limiting the size of gatherings, only priests and Permanent Deacons and their wives were present for the Mass. The public was able to view this Mass via a livestream.

“Gather here for this Chrism Mass, quite different from a year ago for all of us, indeed a much better vision for me seeing all of you,” Bishop Dewane remarked at the opening of the Mass as seeing more than 120 priests present. “We gather here for an important reason, to bless and consecrate the oils to be used throughout the Diocese in the sacramental life of the Church.”

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 on the eve of the Easter Triduum, reminds each of their calling to act in the person of Christ – in persona Christi.

During the Renewal of Priestly Promises the 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. “Reflect that a year ago we were not able to gather – and not able to do many things because we simply didn’t know. We have come to realize there are things we can do. We can gather to give glory and praise to God.”

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

“The idea of being made is something that is truly ongoing, a work in progress,” the Bishop continued. “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.”

At 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.

The Chrism Mass takes its name from the Sacred Chrism oil, which the Bishop blesses and consecrates for use by Parish priests of the Diocese throughout the coming year.

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” – the faithful are called to strive for sanctity. The Bishop then extended his hands toward the vessel containing the oils 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 the Anointing of the Sick, and the Oil of the Catechumens, which is imposed on those preparing for Sacrament of Baptism, are simply “blessed,” by the Bishop, while the Sacred Chrism is “consecrated.” The Sacred Chrism is used for Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders as well as the consecration of altars and dedication of churches.

The Chrism Mass brings together the entire Presbyterate (all active priests in the Diocese) and would normally be witnessed by more than 1,000 people, including religious, 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.

Recognized during the Chrism Mass were priests and deacons celebrating 50 and 25 years since their ordination. The priest Golden Jubilarians were: Father Roger L. Charbonneau; Father Donald H. Henry; Father Paul F. McLaughlin; Father Patrick C. Organ; and Father Patrick Oliver Toner. The priest Silver Jubilarians were: Father John M. Belmonte, SJ; Father John F. Costello; and Father Pawel Kawelec. The deacon Silver Jubilarians were: Deacon Gary Christoff; Deacon Michael F. Cristoforo; and Deacon David R. Jerome. A complete biography of each jubilarian can be found at https://dioceseofvenice.org/news/.

Retired, founding Pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea died

The Diocese of Venice is mourning the loss of Father Edward Pick, the retired founding Pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish in Longboat Key, who passed away March 27, 2021 at the age of 86.

Born on February 22, 1935 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Father Pick grew up in Florida and returned to Ohio to attend St. Gregory Seminary and Mount St. Mary of the West Seminary (now known at the Athenaeum of Ohio) in Cincinnati. He was Ordained to the Priesthood on May 28, 1960 in Cincinnati.

Since his ordination, Father Pick served in the Archdiocese of Miami and the Diocese of St. Petersburg with Parishes in Lake Worth, Miami, North Miami, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale.

Having been incardinated in the Diocese of Venice since its inception in 1984, Father Pick was Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda from 1968 to 1973 and served briefly at Our Lady of Mercy Mission on Boca Grande before becoming the founding Pastor of St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish in Longboat Key in 1973.

Masses at St. Mary, Star of the Sea were originally celebrated in a fire station before the current church was built in Manatee County, just north of the Sarasota County line. He served at the Parish from November 21, 1973 until his retirement on May 1, 2008.

Known as a “gentle giant,” referring to his 6-foot 6-inch frame, Father Pick actively supported area Catholic schools and traveled up north seeking support for Diocesan migrant programs. Within the Diocese of Venice, he served as Dean of the Northern Deanery and was appointed a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy of Sepulcher by St. Pope John Paul II. In his retirement, Father Pick continued to assist at the Parish.

Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.

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.

2021 Diocese of Venice priest and deacon jubilarians honored

The Diocese of Venice honored Golden and Silver anniversary priests and deacons during the annual Chrism Mass on March 30, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

A reception following the Mass in the Cathedral Parish Hall includes reflections from Golden Jubilarian Father Patrick Organ, pastor of San Pedro Parish in North Port, and from Father Jack Costello, Rector of Epiphany Cathedral.

Golden Jubilee

Rev. Roger L. Charbonneau

The middle child of three boys, Father Roger L. Charbonneau was born in 1944 in Newport, Vermont to Romeo and Albertine Charbonneau. He attended St. John Vianney Seminary in Barre, Vermont and St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts. Ordained for the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont on May 22, 1971, Father Charbonneau was assigned to Parishes in Burlington, Montgomery Center, Troy, Lowell, Colchester, Enosburg Falls, Sheldon Springs, Franklin, Barton, Orleans and Enosburg Falls. For the Diocese of Burlington, Father also served in the Diocesan Tribunal as Defender of the Bond, Director of the Propagation of the Faith, on the Presbyteral Council and Personnel Board. Retiring to Florida in 2015, Father Charbonneau serves for the Diocese of Venice in the Tribunal and assists at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota.

Rev. Donald H. Henry

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1944, Father Donald H. Henry is the second of four children. Having attended St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Father was ordained to the Priesthood on March 27, 1971 for the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Father Henry served at Parishes in Allentown, Schuylkill Haven, Orefield, Summit Hill, Pottsville, and Easton before joining the Diocese of Venice in 1994, being incardinated into the Diocese in 1998. Father served as Parochial Vicar at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples until 2001, before being assigned as Pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota where he remained until his retirement in 2015. Within the Diocese of Venice, Father Henry also served on the Pastor Peer Review, Diocesan Priest Personnel and the Priest Convocation Committees. In retirement, Father continues to assist at St. Thomas More and at a local retirement community.

Rev. Paul F. McLaughlin

Father Paul F. McLaughlin was born in 1943 in New Haven, Connecticut, the youngest of five children. Having attended St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Joseph College, Mill Hill, England; and the Seminary of Our Lady of the Angels in Albany, New York, Father was ordained on May 22, 1971 for the Diocese of Hartford, Connecticut. Father McLaughlin served at a Parish in Hartford before becoming a U.S Navy Chaplain where he achieved the rank of Captain. Father Paul was incardinated into the Diocese of Venice on August 15, 1990. From 2008 until his retirement in 2013, Father Paul served as Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton.


Rev. Patrick C. Organ

Born in Ennistymon, County Clare, Ireland in 1944, Father Patrick C. Organ is 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, 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 Bokeelia. Since 1992, Father Organ has served as Pastor of San Pedro Parish in North Port. Father also served on the Diocese of Venice Review Board.


Rev. Patrick Oliver Toner

Father Patrick Oliver Toner was born in 1944 in Trim, County Meath, Ireland, the second child of Patrick and Philomena Toner. After attending St. Francis Franciscan College in Pilltown, County Meath and the Jesuit Seminary, Milltown Park, Dublin, Ireland, he was ordained on July 16, 1971 in Dublin for the Carmelite Order. Father Toner served for the Order in Kildare Town, Ireland, as well as at Parishes in Davis, California and Tampa, Florida. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Venice on April 26, 1999 and had served in the Diocese of Venice as priest in residence and later as Parochial Vicar at St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral from 1980 to 1988. Since September 1988, Father Toner has been a Parochial Vicar at Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers.


Silver Jubilee

Rev. John Belmonte, SJ

Born in 1963 in Chicago, Illinois, Father John Belmonte is a member of the Society of Jesus. His parents, Joseph and Suzanne (Spicer) Belmonte, also have a son, Joe, who is Father’s twin and a younger son, Matt. Father John attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Loyola University of Chicago. Ordained on June 14, 1996 for the Jesuit Order, Father served as a teacher in Milwaukee and Chicago, and as a Principal in Milwaukee before becoming Superintendent of Catholic Education for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois in 2010. After leaving the Diocese of Joliet last year, Father Belmonte joined the   Diocese of Venice as Superintendent of Catholic Education.


Rev. John F. Costello

The eldest of eight children, Father John F. Costello was born in 1950 in Boston, Massachusetts. Father attended Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont, and St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida, and was ordained on October 25, 1996 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice for the Diocese of Venice. Prior to becoming a priest, Father Costello was a Christian Brother for 25 years. For the Diocese of Venice, Father served as Parochial Vicar at St. William Parish in Naples, as Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton and has served as Rector of Epiphany Cathedral since 2008. Father Jack also served on the Pastor Peer Review Committee and on the Advisory Board for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center.


Rev. Pawel Kawalec

Father Pawel was born in Staracowice, Poland in 1970 to Andrew and Urszula (Backo) Kawalec. Father was ordained to the Priesthood as a Missionary Priest of the Society of Christ in Poznan, Poland, on May 21, 1996. In September 2004, Father Pawel emigrated to the United States and served as a priest in residence at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice before being assigned to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Venice.  Subsequently, he served at Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Bradenton and Holy Cross Parish, Palmetto. Father was incardinated into the Diocese of Venice in December 2005.  Since 2015, Father Pawel has been a Parochial Vicar at St. Catherine Parish, Sebring, Florida.


Deacon Silver Jubilee

Deacon David R. Jerome, DDS

Deacon David R. Jerome, DDS, was born in 1937 in Buffalo, New York. He studied at Canisius College in Buffalo, State University of New York at Buffalo Dental School, and Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, New York. Ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on June 16, 1996 for the Diocese of Buffalo, Deacon Jerome served at a Parish in Lancaster, New York, as well as for the Diocese of Buffalo Family Life Department. For the Diocese of Venice, Deacon Jerome serves at St. Finbarr Parish in Naples. He is married to Norene (Tuck) Jerome, and they have three children and 12 grandchildren. Deacon David is a retired dentist and dental educator.


Deacon Michael F. Christoforo, MD

Born in 1936 in New York City, New York, Deacon Cristoforo studied at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, and Marquette University School of Medicine in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Deacon Michael was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on April 27, 1996 for the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois. He served at a Parish in Rockford and then for the Diocese of Venice at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples and San Marco Parish on Marco Island before retiring in 2019. Married to Donna Jean (Dermody) Christoforo, he has three sons and five grandchildren. Deacon Michael is a retired physician.



News Briefs for the week of February 26, 2021

Mooney Girl’s Basketball reaches first State Final

The Lady Cougars of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in the State Final! The team won the Class 3A State Semifinal over The Master’s Academy of Oviedo on Feb. 24, 2021 at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.  The Cougars will be competing in the State Final against Miami Country Day on March 5, a game which was postponed from Feb. 26. The team took the Class 3A Regional Championship over the Community School of Naples in Naples on Feb. 19. The Lady Cougars are 20-8 this season and appearing in their first State Final.

Retired priest dies

Father Carl A. Birarelli, a retired priest who assisted at Parishes in Sarasota and Manatee counties died on February 12, 2021, in Sarasota. He was 94. Born in Everett, Massachusetts, Father Birarelli was ordained in June 15, 1958 and was a Priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati until his retirement in 1994. Throughout his ministry he served in several parishes throughout the United States and Canada. Within the Diocese of Venice, he assisted at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton and Incarnation Parish in Sarasota. He is survived by many nieces and nephews who were extremely devoted to him throughout his life and ministry. A Mass of Christian Burial was held Feb. 22 at Our Lady of the Angels. Burial followed at Palms Memorial Park in Sarasota.

Safe Haven Sunday March 7

Pornography is one of the leading causes of addictions, abuse, adultery, divorce, and even human trafficking: it is, in short, a pervasive evil inflicting grave wounds on our families. Pornography creates unsafe environments for children and confuses others about attitudes towards sex and marriage. It is a moral issue. For this reason, March 7, 2021 has been designated as Safe Haven Sunday in the Diocese of Venice. This day for awareness will give an opportunity to address the harmfulness of pornography in marriages, families, and culture, while providing helpful resources for all. Detailed information about the implementation of this program will be shared in the coming weeks through your Parishes. Join the Safe Digital Family Challenge by texting SECURE to 66866 to receive seven days of emailed digital tips to create a safe haven in your home. If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Harkey, Diocesan Coordinator of Family Life at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

News briefs for the week of Jan. 26, 2021

Children’s Festival held in Wauchula

The annual Children’s Festival was held at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula on Jan. 23, 2021. The Festival brings children from kindergarten through fifth grade to the Parish for a day of prayer and fun.

The day included Mass, a Eucharistic Procession, as well as presentations about how they can grow in their Faith. In addition, there were various games, many of which had a faith-based theme. The women religious who serve the Parish, Sisters Servant of Lord and the Virgin of Matara, organized the festival.

“A Seminarian Story” sixth installment available

The Diocese of Venice in Florida Office of Vocations launched a video series titled, “A Seminarian Story,” to celebrate the 16 Seminarians currently in formation. The first four videos have been released and more will follow approximately every few weeks. The most recent video is about Seminarian David Portorreal who is doing formation at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

Developed with the assistance of the Diocese Communications Department, the goal of the series is to inspire others to follow in the path to the priesthood or religious life, as well as encourage the faithful to continue to support the seminarians as they continue their formation process at different seminaries. “A Seminarian Story” featuring David Portorreal can be found at https://vimeo.com/443069438.

Men’s & Women’s Conferences 2021

Registration is now open for the 2021 Men’s & Women’s Conferences! The Men’s Conference will feature speakers Patrick Madrid and Joel Stepanek on Saturday February 20th.

The Women’s Conference will feature speakers Kimberly Hahn and Mary Ann Weisinger-Puig on Saturday March 13. Both conferences will be held at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (doors open at 8:00 a.m.) with Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Confession available all day. To register, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/adultconferences.

Anniversary Masses

All couples celebrating 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, or more than 50 years of marriage are invited by Bishop Frank J. Dewane to an Anniversary Mass in their honor to be celebrated in two locations. This year, considering the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, each location will have two Masses to allow for appropriate social distancing. The Masses are 10 a.m. and noon on Feb. 6, 2021, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice, and 10 a.m. and noon, March 6, 2021, St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. All registration is being handled through your local Parish. Please reserve seats at least one week before the Mass you wish to attend.

Begin your year with Jesus in the Eucharist

What better way to begin 2021 than in the presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament? The Office of Evangelization will be hosting several evenings of Eucharistic Adoration with Confession available, music, reflection, and time for silent prayer. Jesus, who makes “All Things New” will bring a newness to your faith in this new year. Locations include Our Lady of Light Parish, Fort Myers, Feb. 2; Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Lakewood Ranch, Feb. 3; St. John the Evangelist Parish, Naples, Feb. 4; Incarnation Parish, Sarasota, Feb. 11; and St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton, Feb. 16. Adoration begins at 7 p.m. and goes until 8:30 p.m.

Bibles presented to Bradenton students

Father Rafal Ligenza, Administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, presented bibles to each of the seventh and eighth graders at St. Joseph Catholic School on Jan. 21, 2021. Father Ligenza presented the bibles as gifts from the Parish and then prayed with the students.

Encountering God in Prayer: A Lenten Journey

Spend this Lent growing in prayer! “Encountering God in Prayer: A Lenten Journey” is a theological and practical online course offered by the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation. The course will guide you through the rich and beautiful teaching on personal prayer found in part four of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Short video lectures, online discussions, prayer exercises and other learning activities will constitute the class content. Students log in each week at times most convenient to them. The instructor, Dr. John Gresham, Executive Director of the Institute, has extensive experience teaching on prayer in courses, workshops, and retreats. The course is $25 and runs from Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 to April 5. For more information, visit www.institute-dov.org, call 941-766-7334 or email john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Water bottle stations make an impact

Each Diocesan Catholic school strives to be good steward of God’s creation, including making every effort to limit the amount of trash. At St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, water bottle filling station were installed to cut down on the waste caused by plastic water bottles. On Jan. 22, 2021 Neumann Senior Tommy Anderson was recognized as the 10,000th water bottle filler at one of the stations on campus. Principal Sister Patricia Roche, Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco, presented Anderson with a certificate during morning prayers/announcements. The stations were installed thanks to the Home and School Association. Since the start of the Academic Year, 31,609 water bottles have been saved from entering the landfill.

Verot student to attend Congress of Future Medical Leaders

Eric Avin, a ninth grader at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, will serve as a Delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders this March. The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students striving for a career as a physician or in a medical research field. The event is designed to honor, inspire, motivate and direct some of the brightest students in the country and to provide a path, plan and resources to help them reach their goal. He was chosen based on the recommendations of a teacher and a Nobel laureate, and on his academic achievement, leadership potential and determination to serve humanity in the field of medicine. During the two-day virtual Congress, Eric will have the chance to hear Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners talk about leading medical research; learn about cutting-edge advances and the future in medicine and medical technology and much more.

Safe Haven Sunday

Pornography is one of the leading causes of addictions, abuse, adultery, divorce, and even human trafficking: it is, in short, a pervasive evil inflicting grave wounds on our families. Pornography creates unsafe environments for children and confuses others about attitudes towards sex and marriage. It is a moral issue. For this reason, March 7 has been designated as Safe Haven Sunday in the Diocese of Venice. This day for awareness will give an opportunity to address the harmfulness of pornography in marriages, families, and culture, while providing helpful resources for all. Detailed information about the implementation of this program will be shared in the coming weeks through your Parishes. If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Harkey, Diocesan Coordinator of Family Life at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Faith and Wine Lee County Feb. 25

The next gathering of Faith and Wine Lee County will be a virtual Zoom event beginning at 7 p.m., Feb. 25, 2021. The speaker is Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, who will present “Small Things with Great Love: To Love like Mother Teresa.” To see the complete line-up of speakers, or to register, visit https://faithandwineleecounty.com.


Longtime Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs dies

Father Joseph F. Connolly, Third Order Regular Franciscan (TOR), Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota, died Jan. 16, 2021, at the age of 79.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the death of Father Connolly was a loss for the Diocese and in particular Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, where he served as Pastor for 24 years.

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

Born on Aug. 9, 1941, in Springfield, Mass., Father Joe, as most called him, entered the Third Order Regular community in September 1959. He professed first vows on July 1, 1962. Educated at St. Francis College (now university) and St. Francis Seminary in Loretto, Pa., Father Connolly was ordained May 18, 1968 in Loretto.

After ordination he was assigned to a teaching position in Fairless Hills, Pa., where he eventually became principal. While teacher and principal he served on weekends in parishes in the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., including in Willingboro, and for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at a parish in Fairless Hills. From there, Father Connolly served at a parish in Cinnaminson, N.J.

It was in 1994 when Father Connolly was assigned to the Diocese of Venice where he was Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton from 1994-1996. Father was then appointed as Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota in late 1996 where he served until his death.

While at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Father Connolly was instrumental in forming the Mission of what became Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch and was on the Fundraising Board for Bethesda House of Catholic Charities in Sarasota. A special Padre Pio Shrine was dedicated on parish property February 23, 2006, at the direction of Father Connolly and funded by the Saint Padre Pio Society. This Shrine has since become nationally recognized.

For the Diocese of Venice, Father served on the Presbyteral Council, the College of Consultors, and was the longtime Spiritual Advisor of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.

Known for making fettucine alfredo for guests, something he said was the only dish his fellow seminarians liked while he was in formation. In a 2004 interview with the Florida Catholic, Father Connolly was asked what person, other than Christ, he admires most. His reply was, “St. Francis of Assisi, although I don’t measure up to him, either.”

He was honored as a Golden Jubilarian at the 2018 Chrism Mass and on that occasion, Father noted with time he had gained a renewed perspective on his sacramental ministry. Reflecting on his own years as priest, Father said that “after 50 years of faithful service we jubilarians come to realize just how much God loves us; how Jesus works through us; and how the Holy Spirit still inspires us.”

In his final months of ministry, Father Connolly had a serious illness and was unable to celebrate Mass publicly out of health concerns and he regularly posted video messages to the faithful about his progress in recovery and how his prayers were always focused on the faithful and their spiritual wellbeing.

The Funeral arrangements for Father Connolly T.O. R., are as follows:

Viewing – 4-7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, 833 Magellan Drive, Sarasota;

Mass of Christian Burial – 11 a.m., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, at the Parish.

Long-time Pastor in Avon Park dies

Father Gerald P. Grogan, Pastor for 27 years at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park, died Jan.10, 2021. He was 82.

Father Grogan was born March 8, 1938 in County Cork, Ireland, the third of seven children. He graduated from St. John’s College Seminary in Waterford, Ireland, and then St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach before being Ordained to the Priesthood on Sept. 11, 1960 in Birr, County Offaly, Ireland, for the Diocese of Miami. Father served in parishes in Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, North Miami, Miami Beach, Homestead, Port St. Lucie and Cocoa Beach, as well as at schools in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. He also later received an advanced degree from Barry University in Miami.

Before the Diocese of Venice was established in 1984, Father Grogan was named Pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park on March 16, 1979 and remained there, overseeing expansions of the Church and additional construction, before retiring on March 8, 2007.

For the Diocese of Venice, Father Grogan was a member of the Presbyteral Council and Priest Personnel Board and coordinator of the pre-Cana program in the Eastern Deanery. After his retirement, Father continued to assist at Our Lady of Grace, as well as at St. James Parish in Lake Placid and St. Catherine Parish in Sebring.

A Funeral Mass for Father will be 11 a.m., Jan. 18, 2021, Our Lady of Grace Parish, 595 E. Main St., Avon Park.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Gerald P. Grogan and for 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.

Retired Monsignor dies

Msgr. Joseph A. Ferraro, a retired priest who served 30 years as a military Chaplain, was a priest of the Diocese of Oakland and in retirement assisted at Parishes in Manatee County, died Dec. 18, 2020 at the age of 79.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1942, as a young man Msgr. Ferraro attended Catholic schools is Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania.  and later attended Holy Trinity College and St. Mary’s Seminary, both in Baltimore, Maryland, and he was ordained to the priesthood May 20, 1967, in Baltimore for the Trinitarian Order (Order of the Most Holy Trinity).

As a priest, Msgr. Ferraro first served as a Prison Chaplain in New Jersey, as well as assisting at St. James Parish in Trenton, New Jersey before becoming a teacher at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.

In 1969 he was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy, which led to a 30-year career as a Navy Chaplain. While a Chaplain, he served with the U.S. Third Marine Division, Vietnam, followed by duty with the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, Okinawa; U.S. Coast Guard Training Center, Petaluma, California; Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan; Construction Battalion Center-Seabees, Port Hueneme, California; Naval Support Activity, Naples, Italy; Oakland Naval Hospital, Oakland, California; and the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, Alameda, California. He was promoted to Captain in 1986. Father also served as Command Chaplain, U.S. Pacific Submarine Force, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California; Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California; and then with the U.S. Naval Forces, Rota, Spain. Msgr. Ferraro was Incardinated to the Diocese of Oakland in 1988.

It was in 1999 that he was selected by St. John Paul II as honorary prelate, garnering the title of Monsignor. That same year Msgr. Ferraro was also awarded the Legion of Merit, a military award of the U.S. armed forces that is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. In 1979, he was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps medal for heroism when he saved the lives of a family in Oxnard, California, which was being held hostage by a distraught woman.

Within the Diocese of Venice, Msgr. Ferraro assisted primarily at Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto as well as at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles in Bradenton and Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch and at St. Patrick Parish in Sarasota. He was recognized as a Golden Jubilarian during the 2017 Diocese of Venice Chrism Mass.

Funeral arrangements are pending. A Memorial Mass will be held at Holy Cross Parish at a later date. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Msgr. Joseph Ferraro and for the consolation of his family.

Priesthood Sunday Sept. 27

It can sometimes be easy to take for granted that when one attends Mass or goes to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a priest will be available every time.

The COVID-19 Pandemic gave the faithful a glimpse of life without access to the Sacraments and it is more important than ever to express one’s appreciation for those Parish priests who answered the call of God to a life in service to His Church.

Therefore, it is appropriate each person take the time on Priesthood Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, to reaffirm the vocation of the priesthood of Jesus Christ and its central place in the life of the Church.

The reality is that without priests the Holy Sacraments could not be conferred. Priesthood Sunday was established as an opportunity to show gratitude to our priests who serve the faithful tirelessly throughout the year, and who are instrumental in the Sacramental life of all.

It is a chance to thank and honor priests in unique ways, praising God for their courage and their generosity. A simple note, a smile or a phone call to assure one’s priest of your loving care and gratitude for his presence in the life of your local Parish will go a long way to serve the greater good of the Catholic Church.

While the pandemic may curb any large celebration of the priesthood, the necessity to celebrate priests remains crucial.

The Diocese of Venice is blessed to have priests for each of its 61 Parishes. Bishop Frank J. Dewane ordained a new priest on June 27, 2020, and another 16 are discerning a vocation to the priesthood in seminary.

However, the need for more priests is a constant concern as the average age of priests serving in the U.S. is 67. This is why men who answer the call to priesthood are working harder than ever before.

A special Prayer for Priests (see below) has been shared with all Parishes in the Diocese of Venice for the occasion of Priesthood Sunday. In addition, the Diocese has available a Pray for Priests calendar, which can be found at www.dioceseofvenice.org/offices/daily-resources/pray-for-priest/.

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (VDCCW) has embraced Priesthood Sunday to help support its Vocation Fund. The idea is that people can send cards “In memory of” or “In Honor of” to their priests as a thank you for their service.

Currently organized for the VDCCW by Cornelia Zanetti, mother of Father Gordon Zanetti, Administrator of St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota, the cards are appreciated by the priests because they know the donations help those who are actively discerning a vocation to the priesthood in the seminary.

“It is my privilege and honor to carry on this ministry for the past five years,” Cornelia Zanetti said. “This ministry is very close to my heart.”

Any donation is appreciated, and the amount will not be revealed to the recipient. To take part, please send $1.00, plus your donation, payable to “VDCCW Vocation Fund” to Cornelia Zanetti, 5808 Gulf Drive, #204, Holmes Beach, FL 34217. Please email corniez@aol.com with any questions.

Prayer for Priests

Lord Jesus Christ, eternal High Priest, You offered yourself to the Father on the altar of the Cross and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gave Your priestly people a share in Your redeeming sacrifice.

Hear our prayer for the sanctification of our priests. Grant that all who are ordained to the ministerial priesthood may be ever more conformed to You, the Divine Master. May they preach the Gospel with pure heart and clear conscience.

Let them be shepherds according to Your own Heart, single-minded in service to You and to the Church and shining examples of a holy, simple and joyful life.

Through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Your Mother and ours, draw all priests and the flocks entrusted to their care to the fullness of eternal life where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.


Oración por los Sacerdotes

Señor Jesucristo, eterno Sumo Sacerdote, tú que te ofreciste al Padre en el altar de la Cruz y por la efusión del Espíritu le dio a su pueblo sacerdotal una participación en tu sacrificio redentor.

Escucha nuestra oración por la santificación de nuestros sacerdotes. Concede a todos los que han sido ordenados al ministerio sacerdotal que sean cada vez más conformes a Ti, Divino Maestro. Que enseñen el Evangelio con el corazón puro y la conciencia clara.

Que sean pastores de acuerdo con tu propio Corazón, una sola mente en el servicio a Ti y a tu Iglesia y ejemplos luminosos de una vida santa, sencilla y alegre.

A través de las oraciones de la Purísima Virgen María, tu Madre y nuestra, atrae e todos los sacerdotes y fieles a su cargo, a la plenitud de la vida eterna donde vives y reinas con el Padre y el Espíritu Santo, un Dios, por los siglos de los siglos.