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.

Amen.

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.

Amén.

Priest Ordination celebrated in midst of Pandemic

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the ordination of Father Franckel in a Rite of Ordination, an age-old ceremony that was witnessed by the faithful on June 27, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Dewane told Father Franckel that through ordination, he becomes forever raised to the rank of priest in the Body of Christ. With that rank comes great responsibility – to sanctify, to teach, to love and serve just as Christ taught.

“Thank you for coming forward in your response to the call of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane said of the long and sometimes difficult journey made by Father Franckel to reach this moment. “We celebrate you as you are sent forth to preach the Gospel; to be the Good Shepherd of God’s people; and to celebrate the Liturgy, especially the Lord’s Sacrifice on His Table. In doing so you bring together the faithful of the community as you pray with them and for them to the Lord.”

Father Fils-Aime, 41, who was born in the Cornillon region of Haiti in the town of Potino, said he feels blessed by God to be ordained and feels the love of the people of the Diocese of Venice. “I am grateful for all of the prayers and support I have received during this journey and feel I am prepared to serve the people as I continue to trust in God.”

The ordination was a bright moment for the Diocese during this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. All present wore masks and maint

ained social distancing. While there were many family and friends present, the immediate family of Father Franckel was not able to attend as they were home in Haiti, unable to travel. To help bridge that gap in distance, the ordination was streamed live through social media.

To start the Rite of Ordination, Diocese of Venice Vocations Director Father Shawn Roser called Deacon Franckel forward as he presented himself for ordination to the Bishop. The Bishop, on behalf of the entire Church, accepted Franckel 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 Franckel Fils-Aime, our brother, for the Order of the Priesthood.”

During the Rite of Ordination, Fils-Aime 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. Fils-Aime 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 Franckel again knelt before Bishop Dewane, whom in silent prayer, imposed his hands on the head of the ordinand. Each priest then came forward to pray over Father Fils-Aime. Next, Bishop Dewane, with his hands outstretched, prayed the Prayer of Ordination.

Father Franckel was then vested in stole and chasuble by Father Timothy Navin, Pastor of San Marco Parish in Marco Island, the location of his first pastoral assignment as a seminarian of the Diocese. The hands of Father Franckel were then anointed with the Sacred Chrism by the Bishop, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make his ministry fruitful.

Next, the Bishop presented Father Fils-Aime 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 Franckel to all those present to enthusiastic applause.

Journey to ordination

A recent graduate from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Father completed more than 14 years of priestly discernment and formation. He first entered seminary in the Dominican Republic studying to become a Franciscan Capuchin Friar. He spent nine years in formation before discerning a call to Diocesan priesthood in Venice. During this time, he studied in the Dominican Republic and Brazil, eventually earning a philosophy degree from Centro Universitario Franciscano in Brazil.

Father Franckel learned of the Diocese of Venice through holiday visits to the area which included participation in the annual New Year’s Day Mass celebrating the anniversary of Haitian Independence for the Haitian Catholic Community of the Diocese of Venice. There he met Msgr. Patrick Dubois who then arranged an introduction and meeting with Bishop Dewane.

In addition to his pastoral assignment at San Marco Parish, he later held summer assignments at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park, St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, as well as a pastoral year at Epiphany Cathedral.

Along with family and friends, 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.

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

Vespers and First Masses

On the eve of his ordination, a Solemn Vespers was celebrated at San Marco Parish for then-Deacon Fils-Aime. During this prayer service Bishop Dewane blessed the priestly vestments and chalices which were used by the newly ordained at his first public Masses on June 28, 2020.

The first Mass celebrated by Father Franckel was at San Marco Parish. There, Father admitted that when he first arrived at the Parish in 2015 his English was limited and credits the priests and staff of San Marco for how well he speaks the language, and how poorly, he joked. During the Mass, he added: “The people of San Marco welcomed me with their hearts open and I consider them to be a part of my family,” he said. “I love you all for what you did for me and who you are.”

As is tradition, during the first Mass of a newly ordained priest, another priest delivers the homily. In this case it was Father Jack Costello, Rector of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, who spoke about then-Seminarian Franckel serving a pastoral year at the Cathedral. Father Costello noted how blessed the Diocese was to have a new priest, one who is well prepared to serve the faithful with sincerity and compassion.

The second Mass of the day was in the afternoon, celebrated in Haitian Creole at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers. While there are nine active priests serving in the Diocese from Haiti, Father Fils-Aime was recognized as the first Haitian priest to be ordained for the Diocese in more than 15 years. Father Jean Woady Louis, Parochial Vicar of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto, delivered the homily noting how important it is to have a priest to provide the Sacraments in their native language.

At both Masses, which were streamed live on social media so his family and friends could watch from afar, Father Fils-Aime shared how his parents, Voguel Fils-Aime and Philomène Remy, supported his discernment for a vocation to the priesthood. He expressed regret that his mother, who passed away in 2011, was not alive to see him reach his priestly ordination but was confident she was present in spirit and watching over him.

“It is such a privilege and honor to be called by God and I do not have the words to give thanks to the Bishop for the opportunity to be a priest here in the Diocese of Venice.”

 

Prayer Chain Against Racism held in Naples

A Prayer Chain Against Racism seeking to affirm the equality and dignity of every human person was held in Naples on June 28, 2020. The Prayer Chain was sponsored by the Catholic Parishes of Naples and brought out many on a steamy afternoon.

There were no talks or speeches, as people of all ages gathered to pray while seeking an end to racism in America as well as calling for peace and unity for all, as more than 100 people, including several area priests, participated.

The gathering was held on the west side of Tamiami Trail North (US 41) from Pine Ridge Road (near St. William Parish) as participants spread out to maintain social distancing southward more than a ¼ mile as they held up signs or prayed the rosary.

Signs provided by St. Elizabeth Seton Parish included: “RACISM is a SIN against HUMANITY,” “If You Want PEACE work for JUSTICE” and “ALL Colors in the Image of GOD,” which featured an image of four hands of different colors held together to form a strong bond.

Vehicles passing by honked their horns in support. Some who were stopped at the nearby traffic light asked why everyone was there. “We want to end racism!” one woman shouted back. “We are praying for God’s love to heal the world!” another said. Still another added: “We are all God’s children!”

Representatives, including several priests, from the Parishes in Naples – St. William, St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Agnes, St. Peter the Apostle, St. Ann. St. Finbarr and St. John the Evangelist – were present.

A Statement of Purpose was created for the Prayer Chain, which begins: “We Catholics of Collier County are standing by the roadside on June 28 in silent witness to the reality of racism in our country and, as people of Faith, to witness to the equality and dignity of every human person. We pray that God will transform the hearts of all people in our nation, including our own hearts, to see every human person as a brother and sister of inestimable worth.”

Pope Francis spoke following the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the resulting social unrest in the U.S. and worldwide, condemning the death and calling for an end to racism.

In a June 9, 2020 letter to the Faithful from Bishop Frank J. Dewane about racism and social unrest, he stated: “The Church, Her leaders and the Faithful have an important role in confronting the sin of racism… Responding to the call to defend human dignity, the Church must raise Her voice against every instance of the evil of racism. I add my voice and condemn racism in all its forms.”

Prayer to Overcome Racism

Mary, friend and mother to all, through your Son, God has found a way to unite himself to every human being, called to be one people, sisters and brothers to each other.

We ask for your help in calling on your Son, seeking forgiveness for the times when we have failed to love and respect one another.

We ask for your help in obtaining from your Son the grace we need to overcome the evil of racism and to build a just society. We ask for your help in following your Son, so that prejudice and animosity will no longer infect our minds or hearts but will be replaced with a love that respects the dignity of each person.

Mother of the Church, the Spirit of your Son Jesus warms our hearts: pray for us. Amen.

Oración para superar el racismo

María, amiga y madre de todos, a través de tu Hijo Dios ha encontrado un camino para unirse a todos los seres humanos, llamados a ser un solo pueblo, hermanas y hermanos entre sí.

Pedimos tu ayuda al recurrir a tu Hijo, buscando el perdón por las veces en que hemos fallado en amarnos y respetarnos.

Pedimos tu ayuda para obtener de tu Hijo la gracia que necesitamos para vencer el mal del racismo y construir una sociedad justa.

Pedimos tu ayuda para seguir a tu Hijo, para que el prejuicio y la animosidad no infecten ya nuestras mentes o corazones sino que sean reemplazados por el amor que respeta la dignidad de cada persona.

Madre de la Iglesia, el Espíritu de tu Hijo Jesús alienta nuestros corazones: Ruega por nosotros. Amén.

Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. www.usccb.org/racism

 

News briefs from the week of June 22 2020

First grader wins national Space Art contest

Artwork of Javier Herrera, a first grader at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers, who won the Living Worlds Space Art Contest sponsored by the University of Notre Dame.

Javier Herrera, a first grader at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers has been named the first-place winner in the Living Worlds Space Art Contest sponsored by the University of Notre Dame. Javier won the K-1st grade category in the contest which asked students to imagine what new and unusual forms of life may exist on other planets. For his top place finish, Javier was presented with a beginner telescope and some science books. His teacher/classroom will receive a $250 gift card to purchase science and art supplies.

A panel of educators and scientists evaluated the artworks based on their artistic creativity, scientific accuracy, and the written explanation. By participating in this contest, it is hoped that students will learn about adaptation, the discovery of planets around other stars, and the diversity of life both on our planet and beyond.

 

LaBelle priest earns Doctorate

Congratulations to Father David Vidal, Administrator of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle, for successfully defending his doctoral dissertation on April 23, 2020, through the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Father Vidal is also a part-time member of St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami Philosophy Faculty as well as one of the adjunct spiritual directors. Father Vidal is a Thomistic scholar whose research and writings deal with the idea of the “Transcendentals” in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Son of current Ave Maria family ordained Transitional Deacon

On June 14, 2020, Salesian Brother Steven Joseph DeMaio (Salesians of Don Bosco) was among seven ordained transitional deacons in Jerusalem. He is originally from Sherman, Conn., but his parents are parishioners at Ave Maria Parish. Deacon DeMaio entered formation in 2010 and made his first vows in 2012 and perpetual vows in 2018. The ordaining prelate was Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, Latin-Rite Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem. The ordinations were celebrated at the Church of All Nations in Gethsemane. This summer he will exercise his ministry at a parish in Belle Glade in Diocese of Palm Beach, about 20 miles east of Clewiston.

 

Food pantry open in Wauchula

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula is the home to a food pantry which has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 Pandemic response. To accommodate those who work, the food pantry is open each Saturday, 7–8:45 a.m., 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula. If you need food at a different time or would like to support the efforts to assist the community, please call the Parish at 863-773-4089.

Community supports Catholic Charities program

The Vilano Community of Sarasota recently held a food drive for Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities in Venice and dropped of the items in early June 2020. The drive also collected items for the babies such as diapers and wipes. The program assists mothers and their young children who might otherwise be homeless with shelter and supportive assistance.

Bradenton food pantry available

The St. Joseph Parish Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave. W., Bradenton, is open and distributing food from 9a.m. to noon Monday-Friday, and 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays, following all social distancing protocols. New clients are welcome to register during regular pantry hours. Call 941-756-3732 if you have any questions or wish to make a donation of money or food. For more information on the St. Joseph Food Pantry go to https://www.stjoepantry.com/.

Catholic Charities Response to Pandemic

If you need help

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

Food distribution

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Monday-Friday, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers;
  • 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, 9-11 a.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 E. Oak St. Arcadia;

How to Help

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is in urgent need of your financial support during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Catholic Charities partnership assists COVID patients

The positive COVID-19 cases in Immokalee surpassed the 1,000 mark on June 11, 2020 according to information provided by the Florida Department of Health.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is collaborating with the Collier County Bureau of Emergency Services Division (BES), to help those infected with the virus who have tested positive and are unable to self-isolate.

First, to help alleviate the spread of the coronavirus, Collier County BES is leasing seven apartments, for 65 days, at Horizon Village, a dormitory in Immokalee for unaccompanied migrant and seasonal workers owned by the Collier County Housing Authority.

The items, purchased with the help of a donor by Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities, will be used to create “Move-In-Kits” for positive COVID-19 cases who receive temporary housing assistance from Collier County in Immokalee while in quarantine.

The reason for this action is that those living in Immokalee live in very simple and extremely close quarters. The efficiency apartments obtained by the county are a safe place for those infected with the virus to quarantine themselves and yet, remain near family and friends.

With this arrangement finalized, Catholic Charities CEO Philomena Pereira was approached by Dan Summers, director of BES, to provide “Move-In-Kits” for those needing the emergency shelter as well as to offer some hot meals and other food they can cook in their temporary homes while in isolation.

Peggy Rodriguez, Program Director of Catholic Charities Guadalupe Social Services in Immokalee, jumped at the opportunity to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in her community.  Rodriguez contacted one of her generous donors, Tom and Fran McCarthy, to learn if they would help fund the “Move-In Kit” project. They most graciously agreed. Rodriguez and her team went shopping to purchase the supplies needed for the “Move-In Kits.”

The “Move-In-Kit” supplies include: bed kits (sheets, blankets, pillows, comforter), bathroom kits (towels, soap, toilet brush, plunger), cleaning kits (glass cleaners, dish soap, disinfectants cleaning products, bleach, broom, dustpan, laundry detergent), kitchen kits (pots, frying pans, glasses, dish set, utensils, coffee maker) and an AM/FM radio. The cost of one “Move-In Kit” is about $150.

In addition, Catholic Charities will be providing a daily hot meal from Guadalupe Social Services Casa Maria Soup Kitchen and other culturally appropriate non-perishable food items for the length of their stay. The apartments each have refrigerators and kitchenettes.

Father Inna Reddy Yeruva, M.o.C., hands out soup to-go at the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen of Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee on June 10, 2020.

Collier County officials said if more space is needed, more rooms can be reserved quickly. Officials are also unsure how many people will ultimately need the temporary sheltering in the coming weeks and months and thus how many additional “Move-In-Kits” will be needed.

Pereira said this partnership with Collier County came out of ongoing discussions on the increasing demands for assistance in Immokalee. The rural farming community has been hit hard by the impacts of the pandemic in two ways. First there have been massive job losses when farms ceased operations. There has also been a spike in positive tests as many of the residents live in communal housing where social distancing and isolation are next to impossible.

Father Inna Reddy Yeruva, M.o.C., hands out soup to-go at the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen of Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee on June 10, 2020.

Guadalupe Social Services is also home to a food distribution point which has seen a massive increase in demand since the crisis began. The food pantry is open 9-11 a.m. each weekday, and the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen is now open for take-out of hot food during the same hours. Other living accommodations are being made as required and requested by needy families and Collier County officials.

Catholic Charities Board Chair Dick Rogan noted that he had a sense of pride with how Catholic Charities has stepped up to assist in Immokalee and complimented Rodriguez’ team for going above and beyond.

Pereira said the community partnership taking place in Immokalee is an example of how Catholic Charities is adjusting its response to the evolving impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as the situation changes in different areas of the Diocese. Primarily, more rural areas are seeing larger numbers of people out of work and an increase in positive cases, so the focus for assistance is shifting.

“It will take all of us joining forces to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to help those who continue to struggle throughout the Diocese of Venice,” she said.

If you would like to assist the efforts of Guadalupe Social Services, or Catholic Charities as a whole, your financial support is urgently need. To help, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

If you need help

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

Food distribution

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Monday-Friday, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers;
  • 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, 9-11 a.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 E. Oak St. Arcadia.

News briefs for the week of June 8 2020

Food pantry open in Wauchula

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula is the home to a food pantry which has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 Pandemic response. To accommodate those who work, the food pantry is open each Saturday, 7–8:45 a.m., at the Parish 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula. If you need food at a different time or would like to support the efforts to assist the community, please call the Parish at 863-773-4089.

Parish continues to support Our Mother’s House

The Peace and Justice Outreach of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch adopted Catholic Charities Our Mother’s House as their charity for the month of May. During that time, the group made three delivers of donations for the babies and young mothers, with each larger than the previous. The donations were much appreciated by the facility which assists mothers and their young children who might otherwise be homeless.

Retired priest celebrates 70th anniversary of ordination

A small celebration marked the 70th anniversary of the Ordination to the Priesthood Father Ireneo Tovar on June 3, 2020, at St. James Parish in Lake Placid.  Father Tovar has been “retired” in Lake Placid for the past 21 years. He has one living sister, a religious sister who is more than 100 years old. He himself is 95 years old and enjoys celebrating Mass at St. James and working in his garden. The Mass was concelebrated by Father Jose Gonzalez, Pastor of St. Catherine Parish in Sebring and Dean of the Eastern Deanery, Father Vincente Clemente, Pastor of St. James, and Father Felix Gonzalez, Parochial Vicar of St. James. Father Tovar was born in Spain, and left Spain against his mother’s wishes because he wanted to become a missionary. He was sent to Africa during World War II to a country then-called Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe, which he loved. He was the first Anglo many had seen. He spent 18 years as a priest there, establishing churches where there had been none. Later he was reassigned to Camden, N.J., where he worked for over 20 years with the Spanish-speaking migrant population, before retiring to Florida.

Online Prayed Retreats

During the current health crisis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice is offering online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In these online retreats, Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estradilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to you, to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking to you. A Bible and journal should be available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds. The cost is as follows: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48. All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to participate in an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at riley@olph-retreat.org and a code will be provided for your online registration as well as an application. For planning purposes, please allow 7 days from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

Scam Alert

It has once again been brought to the attention of the Diocese of Venice that parishioners have received text/email messages from people pretending to be priests or Bishop Frank J. Dewane and requesting donations in the form of gift cards and/or wire transfers. The messages often greet the person by name and have the priests name in the closing signature of the message; this is a well-crafted and targeted attack on the Church across the country which has hit our Diocese again. These text/email messages are ‘spoofed’ fakes that should not be responded to or taken seriously by anyone. The best defense against this sort of scam is to raise awareness in the community and not respond or open any worrying attachments. It is Diocesan policy that no priest or staff within the Diocese request donations in the form of gift cards, PayPal, MoneyGram, etc.

There is already an established process in place on how parishioners can make donations and participate in the life of the Parish. Whenever a parishioner is worried about any request for money from the parish or a priest, they should immediately call their parish and under no circumstances should they respond to these scam requests.

Bradenton Food Pantry

The St. Joseph Parish Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave. W., Bradenton, is open and distributing food from 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday, 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays, following all social distancing protocols. Cars will be directed through the parking lot and trunks will be loaded by volunteers in protective gloves and masks. Call 941-756-3732 if you have any questions. You do not need to be a regular client to receive food. To make a donation of money or food, please visit https://www.stjoepantry.com/.

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