News Briefs for the Week of February 4, 2022

Hispanic Faith Formation Program begins latest sessions

The Diocesan Hispanic Ministries Formation Program has returned with classes starting in January 2022 at several Parishes. The topic of study for these sessions is “The Christian Virtues” and a total of seven classes will be held weekly through Lent. Those who register and attend 80% of the classes will receive a Diocesan Certification.

Memorial Mass held for former Pastor

A Memorial Mass was celebrated Jan. 27, 2022, for Father Dennis Cooney, longtime Pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, who died April 13, 2020. The death occurred during the early phase of the global pandemic and while a Funeral Mass was celebrated it was limited by the Parish to just 10 people at the time. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Memorial Mass and spoke of Father Cooney’s spirited work in support of life from conception to natural death.  Father Casey Jones, Pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples, delivered the homily.

Pray for Public Officials

Please pray for those public officials who serve within the Diocese of Venice, particularly during the remainder of the Florida Legislative Session scheduled to end on March 11. For a complete list of public officials and the days of the month we are asked to pray for them, please visit

Spring 40 Days for Life in Sarasota and Fort Myers

Join other Christians from Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022, through April 10, for the Spring/Lenten 40 Days for Life peaceful prayer campaign. This campaign encompasses 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion. Stand and peacefully pray during vigils in the public right-of-way outside Planned Parenthood in Fort Myers or Sarasota. Contact your Parish Coordinator for specific information about your Parish’s commitment days. For the 40 Days for Life flier and additional information, please visit or

Memorial Service held for longtime benefactor of Catholic Education

A Memorial Mass was celebrated Feb. 1, 2022, for Leslie S. “Mitzi” Magin, a longtime supporter of the Catholic Church and particularly for Catholic Education in Collier County who died July 13, 2020. The Mass was held at St. Ann Parish in Naples, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the main celebrant. Magin was active in numerous charities, including St. Ann Parish, St. Ann Catholic School Foundation, St. John Neumann Catholic High School, all in Naples, as well as the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation (then known as the Rice School) in Port Charlotte. She was also a longtime member of the Advisory Board for the Emerald Ball, which benefits Catholic Charities of Collier County.

Men’s & Women’s Conference in one month

Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 5, 2022, when the Diocese of Venice will be combining the annual Men’s and Women’s Conferences into a single conference to take place at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center, 75 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda. The conference will host speakers Trent Horn, Matthew Leonard, Emily Wilson and Dr. Michael Dauphinais. The day will focus on the universal call to holiness and the role of the laity in building up the body of Christ, with a special focus on biblical answers to current challenges. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession will be available all day. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will conclude the day by celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Doors open at 8 a.m. with the day beginning at 9:00 a.m. and concluding with the closing Mass at 4 p.m. Please visit for registration.

Priest recalled to India

Father Antony T. Lukka has been with the Diocese of Venice for the past six years but will soon be returning to his native India for an assignment as principal of a large school in Enamely, Kerala, India, on the southwestern tip of the country along the Arabia Sea.

Father Lukka will leave his post as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice in early February, having previously served as Parochial Vicar at St. William Parish in Naples and Spiritual Advisor to the English Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

The recall to India brings with it profound sadness for Father Lukka as he will miss the many wonderful people he has come to know and appreciate during his time in the Diocese.

“During my time in the United States I have found a deep love for God through the Blessed Sacrament,” Father explained. “There is a great compassion and generosity in the people here and I return home rejuvenated in all aspects of my life, both physically and spiritually.”

When asked about what he will miss the most of his time in the Diocese of Venice, Father Lukka said it was the visits to the homebound and nursing homes, which he found very rewarding.

“The idea of a nursing home doesn’t really exist in India because there is a family spirit as older generations live with their children,” Father said. “This is the way the Faith is handed down from generation to generation. My grandmother was my strongest example of the Faith and I carry that legacy of compassion with me to this day.”

The eighth of nine children, (two sisters are women religious), Father Lukka was born in Kanjirapally, Kerala, India. He holds advanced degrees in chemistry and education and eventually discerned a vocation to the priesthood and studied at the Papal Seminary in Pune.

Ordained on May 30, 1995, for the Diocese of Kanjirapally, Father Lukka said there is a strong Catholic community there which traces its history to the time of St. Thomas the Apostle, who came to the region in the 1st century to spread the Good News of the Lord. Father is part of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Rite based in Kerela, India, which is in full communion with the Pope and the worldwide Catholic Church. The Syro-Malabar Church is the second largest Eastern Catholic Church after the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

In his first few years as a priest, Father served at Parishes in several communities before being asked to be an assistant principal and later principal at a large school in Enamely. The Catholic school has about 4,500 students from kindergarten – 12th grade, with about 20 percent being Catholic.

During his first stint as principal, Father said it was a joyful, yet stressful experience which eventually led for him to request an assignment in the United States. Through a connection to the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, he received permission to go to Michigan in 2011.

Aside from the obvious culture shock of the U.S., with its wide-open spaces, abundant everything and development which makes life easier, the hardest adjustment for Father was the weather. It was shortly after he arrived that he experienced snow and bitter cold for the first time. “Where I am from, it is very hot and humid year-round, so snow took some getting used to. I even learned to drive in it so I could reach people in need including at two different prisons.”

Eventually, Father sought reassignment and because he had heard wonderful things about Bishop Frank J. Dewane and the Diocese of Venice in Florida, he sent his request, which was accepted.

“It was a little bit about the weather but really I heard about the large Parishes and the growth taking place here in Florida so this was where I wanted to serve the People of God,” Father Lukka said.

Now, upon receiving a request from his home Diocese in India, he is heading home.

“Through the years I have learned to appreciate that you are sent out and go and be where you are at; it is the flow of life which God decides,” Father said. “I will go back to India and be close to my family, taking all the gifts of the Holy Spirit I have received and all I have learned. While I was surprised by the recall and the assignment, I am calm and content, taking the prayers of many well-wishers with me and have an attitude with gratitude.”

Father Lukka will say farewell at all of the Masses at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish on the weekend of Jan. 29-30, 2022, before leaving for India on February 2. After 20 hours of flying time and enduring several quarantines, Father will begin his new position as principal by the end of February.

News Briefs for the Week of January 28, 2022


After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced the following appointments:

 Father Jerzy “George” Suszko, as Parochial Vicar at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, effective January 20, 2022.

Father Jan Antonik, as Pastor of St. Therese Parish, North Fort Myers, effective January 30, 2022, and at the same time, he is relieved of his duties as Administrator of St. Therese Parish, North Fort Myers.

Fun on the 100th day of classes

The St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School community in Naples celebrated its 100th day of classes on Jan. 21, 2022, with a special “dress like you are 100 years old” dress-down day for a donation of 100 cents! All proceeds from the day will be donated to the nearby Golden Gate Senior Center run by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc.

High school hosts 8th grade retreat

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School hosted more than 130 eighth grade students from its partner schools, St. Mary Catholic Academy, St. Martha Catholic School and Incarnation Catholic School, each in Sarasota, and St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton. This Jan. 19, 2022, retreat was more than just a tour of the high school; it was also a chance to learn about what attending Cardinal Mooney would be like. Mooney students led the eighth graders in a variety of activities including prayer, games and team building exercises. Throughout the day, the boys and girls were separated into smaller groups and given the opportunity to ask their hosts questions about the school.

Catholic school marketing workshop held

The Diocese of Venice held a collaboration session and workshop for Catholic schools Marketing & Development Committee personnel on Jan. 24, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The meeting began with a greeting and prayer from Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese. John Carkeet from the Diocese’s Education Department led the sessions, which included several guest speakers. Guest speakers presented information about marketing, branding and social media, and included Mindy Purvis, Catholic Faith Technologies; Monique Day, Target Digital Marketing; Angie Prokes, Digital Diagnosis Marketing; and Kevin Murphy and Jud Cavey from Ave Maria University. Carlee Colonneso, Development Consultant at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton and Carkeet led development and marketing workshop sessions.  The collaboration session and workshop were Part II of a four-part series focused on establishing marketing plans at Diocesan schools.

History and science in the same classroom

Middle school students in American History at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring completed a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) project on Jan. 20, 2022, which focused on the Revolutionary War and the Culper Spy Ring.  Not only did the students learn history, but also the chemistry behind invisible ink, which the Culper Ring used during the Revolutionary War.

Students learn moon phases with Oreo cookies

There are few better ways to teach a lesson to a third-grade student than through the use of food as a prop in the classroom. That is exactly what happened on Jan. 19, 2022, at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples where the students used Oreo cookies to learn about the phases of the moon. This edible prop was easily handled by the students to match the different phases of the moon by splitting apart the two sides of the cookie and removing some of the filing. This exercise also has the benefit of having a handy snack after the lesson was completed.

Longtime Port Charlotte Pastor dies

Father Robert (Bob) Mattingly, a longtime Pastor at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte, died Jan. 7, 2022, at the age of 82.

Father Mattingly was raised in Washington, D.C., and later studied electrical engineering before training at the National Security Agency in computer research before converting to Catholicism. He discerned a vocation to the priesthood and studied at Niagara University in Lewiston, N.Y., and then St. Mary’s Seminary and University as well as Loyola University, both in Baltimore, Maryland. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 18, 1968 for the Diocese of Savannah. He served in Catholic schools and Parishes in the Savannah Diocese before entering the Benedictine Abbey in Pecos, New Mexico where he did retreat work and coordinated the School for Spiritual Directors. It was in June 1990 that he requested assignment within the Diocese of Venice in Florida to be near his aging parents.

Within the Diocese of Venice, Father Mattingly served as Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral and then at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Venice on Dec. 23, 1991. Father Mattingly was appointed Administrator at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish on July 1, 1994, and one year later was named Pastor. He served there until his retirement on June 30, 2006. In his retirement Father continued to assist at Parishes throughout the Central and Northern Deanery of the Diocese and enjoyed reading and traveling.

A Vigil Prayer Service will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 27, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 1441 Spear St., Port Charlotte. A Funeral Mass will take place at 11 a.m., Jan. 28, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish with Bishop Frank J. Dewane as the main celebrant.

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

Avon Park faithful welcome Pastor

An installation of a new Pastor is a punctuation mark in the life of a Parish, a moment defined by its lasting impact on the People of God.

In the context of the Mass on Nov. 21, 2021, the Solemnity of Our Lord, Christ, King of the Universe, Bishop Frank J. Dewane installed Father Ronnie Sison as Pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park.

When Bishop Dewane noted that a Pastor can make a lasting mark on a Parish, the faithful responded with applause when it was suggested that the time in Avon Park could be marked with an exclamation point. “I now know how you feel about your new Pastor, Father Ronnie.”

As well as his installation was received by the faithful at Our Lady of Grace, Bishop Dewane encouraged the faithful to continue to offer advice to their Pastor, but they must accept that he may sometimes make decisions that are not popular.

“As he helps you to become more centered on Christ, be connected to your new Pastor, and be willing to support him and uplift him in his sacred work,” the Bishop concluded.

Father Sison has been serving as Administrator of Incarnation Parish since Oct. 1, 2019, and Bishop Dewane said it was an appropriate time to install him as Pastor. During his time at Our Lady of Grace, Father Sison has overseen the replacement of the roof to the Parish church and hall. Work was completed in October on the renovation of the interior of the church with new flooring and altar space.

During the installation, the priest begins with selected words leading to the start of the Creed at which point he is 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 takes an Oath of Fidelity to the Bishop and his successors; formalized by his placing his hand upon the Book of Gospels.

Following the installation, two members of the Parish, representing the entire congregation, served as witnesses and signed the formal documents, copies of which are left at the Parish, placed in the Diocesan archives and in the personnel file of Father Sison. Bishop then introduced the new Pastor to a rousing applause.

Father Sison was emotional when thanking Bishop Dewane for having the confidence and trust in him as the new Pastor. He also expressed his deepest gratitude for the joyous support the community has given him since his arrival in Avon Park.

After the installation, a reception was held in the Parish Hall.

Inspired Diocesan Youth “Sent” – Rally draws 1,000 for rousing day

Amazing things happen when you put 1,000 teenage Catholics under one roof.

For some 8 hours on Nov. 6, 2021 teens heard from inspirational speakers, rocked to spiritual music, and participated in Eucharistic Adoration and the Mass. At the same time, they bonded with each other and learned how they are an important part of the Universal Church.

Judging by the smiling faces at the end of the day the impact was evidently strong. Most importantly was their instant reaction to the question: “How was the Youth Rally?”

The answers were simple and uncomplicated: “Powerful!” “Awesome!” “The Best!” “Inspiring!” “Impactful” “Unforgettable!” “Poignant!” “Overwhelming!” “Emotional!” “Prayerful!” “Memorable!”

The theme for 2021 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally was “Sent” which comes directly from the Bible – “As you sent me in the world, so I sent them in the world” (John 17:18).

Each speaker, each song, each moment encouraged and challenged the young men and women to examine how they are living out their Faith in their home, with their friends, in their Parish and in society. What they learned is that Jesus Christ does not expect anyone to be perfect in their Faith journey, but they must continue to work to live their Faith better. And when they inevitably face difficulty and may stumble along the way, the teens learned that they shouldn’t be discouraged but instead encouraged that Jesus will be there to accompany them. Many of the youth were inspired to the point that a large number received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which was made available throughout the event.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane told the teens that above all else they must make room for the love of the Lord in their life.

“Allow that to be what fills you. Let that be what sends you out into the world,” Bishop Dewane continued. “And with that love of God, become the bearer of the Faith. Allow yourself to be the instrument that Christ has meant you to be… you have to make that happen. Use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to send you out; but know that it is you who has to then give of what you have to others. May you be filled ever more and learn to give because you have been sent out to communicate God’s Love.”

Bishop Dewane opened the Youth Rally to a rousing ovation from the young men and women. The Bishop said the Rally was the event he missed the most during the pandemic, reminding them how they are a blessed part of their Parish, the Diocese and the Universal Church and they should never forget their place.

“You are God’s gift to this Diocese,” the Bishop added. “You and the young people like yourself bring your talents and gifts, which are a reflection of the Lord. We celebrate those talents and gifts and call on all of you to use them in praise of Lord by the life you live.”

A key point of the day was the large group Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which refocused the teens on the Supreme Sacrifice Our Lord made for all of us. Bishop Dewane lead the Adoration before a temporary altar on the stage. He took time to process through the crowd with the monstrance, allowing each person to come up close and to be personal with Christ.

Other highlights of the day included inspirational music, games, and a chance for fresh air outside the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center. There were also lots of opportunities to take photos and selfies, many of which Bishop Dewane was a part. Displays from religious orders, the Diocesan Respect Life and Religious Education offices, and a Vocations table staffed by active Diocesan seminarians, were also present as well as several groups selling religious articles.

Throughout the day, the 2021 Youth Rally included an exciting line-up of speakers including David Calavitta and Kelly Colangelo. They each shared their unique Faith journey while also offering poignant advice to the teens as to how they can keep their focus on the Lord. Both stressed that the mid-teen years are a critical time as it is when the tumultuous world is trying to lure them down a darker path. At one point the young men were moved to a separate part of the facility thus allowing talks geared more personally toward the young women and men. The split sessions also included vocations talks.

The speakers were accompanied by inspirational music provided by the Francis Cabildo Band as the youth enthusiastically joined in singing each selection.

The 2021 Youth Rally is one of the largest gatherings in the Diocese of Venice each year. Parish and high school groups ranged in size from 4 to 140. The largest groups were from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle, St. Paul Parish in Arcadia, and Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers.

Visit the for a link to a slideshow of more photos

Diocesan Phase of Synod inaugurated with Mass

Bishop Frank J. Dewane inaugurated the beginning of the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” with a Mass Oct. 17, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Participating in the Mass were more than a dozen priests, as well as some 300 people from across the Diocese, representing many Parishes, various movements, Third Orders and many more.

In his opening remarks, Bishop Dewane said: “We ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts, our minds, and our souls, as we begin this journey.” Later, the Bishop said, “In this whole process, we have to make hopes flourish… to stimulate trust, one with the other.”

The Bishop explained that during the Diocesan Phase there will be a series of listening sessions which will take place in each part of the Diocese in the coming months. The goal of these sessions is to discern the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. Bishop Dewane said this process must be based on co-responsibility in the Church, or an accurate synthesis with what was said in a process that is transparent and fair.

The sessions are being planned to allow for the maximum opportunity for as many of the faithful to participate as possible. A complete schedule of the listening sessions will be announced soon.

A reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall was full of anticipation as those present expressed their excitement for the opportunity for the faithful to provide input in planning for the future of the Universal Catholic Church.

Bishop Dewane stressed that the entire process will last more than two years, with the local listening session focused on transparency as the Diocese will record each session to ensure all that is said is heard.

“We want people to speak out, and as the Holy Father likes to say, ‘the Catholic Church is a field hospital;’ we are meeting to start binding up wounds,” Bishop Dewane said. “We will be there to listen, and to do it with a warm heart. We will search for healing and will increase the regard for one another. It is the common mission that we share what is most important.”

The entire effort to gather input from Dioceses around the world is viewed by many Church observers as the most deliberate, long-term and long-range process of seeking input for any Synod up to this point.

“While what comes from our Diocese will go to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), we are not tasked with putting together a document. We are tasked to listen, to get input, put it together and ensure the points that are made at the Diocesan level.

For more details on the Synodal Process, please visit the Diocese of Venice website at a

News Briefs for the Week of October 22, 2021

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Sebring

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring on Oct. 18, 2021. The Mass is the latest in a series of Masses celebrated by the Bishop for students at each of the 15 Diocesan Catholic schools. During the Mass, which took place on the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, Bishop Dewane encouraged the students to focus on developing their prayer life each day.

VDCCW Retreat held

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women hosted a retreat on Oct. 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The bilingual retreat included talks from Father Janusz Jancarz, Spiritual Moderator for the VDCCW and Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice; Father Claudio Stewart, Diocesan Director of Hispanic Ministries, and Father Thomas Heck, a retired priest of the Diocese. The women also participated in Mass, adoration and praying of the rosary.

Students celebrate Chaplain’s birthday

The students at St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota serenaded their Chaplain, Pallottine Father Fausto Stampiglia, to a rendition of “Happy Birthday” on October 15, 2021. The more than 500 students gathered outside, near the main entrance of the two schools, as Father Stampiglia was delighted by the outpouring of love from the students. As a special surprise, in honor of Father, a wall-mounted sculpture of St. Mary and St. Martha with Jesus was unveiled and is now on permanent display outside of the front lobby of the schools. Happy Birthday Father Fausto!

Heading Up ‘STREAM’

The Diocese of Venice Department of Education hosted its first Middle School Robotics Coaches and Teachers training seminar Oct. 15, 2021 at its Innovation & Simulation Teaching & Learning Lab at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice. Led by Jennifer Falestiny, curriculum coordinator at the Diocese of Venice in Florida, the seminar challenged teachers to build Lego robots then program them to complete various logistical and mechanical challenges on a 3D map. The seminar is part of a comprehensive training program to help teachers prepare their students for the FIRST Lego Lead Challenge in 2022. This and other competitions encompass the Diocese of Venice’s Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STREAM) strategic initiatives.

New mural completed in Naples

What an amazing experience for St. Ann Catholic School in Naples to enjoy and participate in the creation of a beautiful mural. Artist Marcus Zotter created the work which spans the wall between two classrooms in the main courtyard. Included in the image is a cross, two doves, angel wings, a dolphin (the school mascot) and a beach. While the mural was being created, art students at St. Ann’s assisted in creating different aspects of the work.

Parent Book Club in Sarasota

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Theology Teacher Timothy Shipe hosted a Cougar Parent Book Club on Oct. 13, 2021 in Sarasota. A large number of parents joined in to study Trent Horn’s, “Why We Are Catholic?” book. The discussions about the Faith were lively and interesting, taking place in the school’s multi-media lab. All are welcome to join. Contact

Students gain engineering skills

Fifth-grade students at Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School built bridges on Oct. 14, 2021, while sixth-grade students used engineering skills to build a ballista, a trebuchet and two kinds of catapults as part of the study of medieval history.

Sophomore retreat in Naples

Sophomores at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples covered the campus Oct. 14, 2021 and enjoyed every aspect of their class retreat. It was a day that included skits and projects, discussions and reflections, prayer and adoration, and, of course, fun and games. In Neumann style, the class of 2024 celebrated Faith, family, sports, school, independence and friendship. “When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away.” – Isaiah 43:2a

Students go on “Safari”

Kindergartners at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota went on an amazing “Nature Safari” Oct. 14, 2021. They trekked to the front field and searched for soil, sun, butterflies, spider webs, grass, flowers and more. They then went to the pond to collect water samples, which they studied using eye-droppers, hand lenses, and mini forceps. It was a great adventure!



Detours Happen When Jesus Calls us on Mission

By Father Robert J. Kantor, V.F., Director, Diocese of Venice Mission Office

Have you ever been on a journey that had unexpected detours?  I once led a pilgrimage in France with a wayward bus driver who never seemed to know where he was going.  Once he took us down a one-way street the wrong way and got us stuck in a narrow alley!  It was one of many miscues that were frustrating then and comical only now.  But God delivered some powerfully graced experiences along the way.  That detour took us further from the great Rouen Cathedral that was our destination but brought us right up to another interesting church not even on our itinerary, named for St. Joan of Arc in the place where she was martyred.

When the age and infirmity of our pilgrims who had suffered multiple falls on uneven cobblestones made it evident our group could not climb to the top of Mont Saint Michel toward the end of our journey, an easier day at a seaside village for shopping and lunch included Mass in a beautiful wooden chapel.  I was disappointed, but God had a reason for the detour.

During our travels, I got to know the bus driver and the many challenges of his life, including the abuse he suffered as a foster child following the early deaths of his parents, and the tragic passing of his own wife and son.  I told him I would offer Mass for them that day and, after many years of blaming God for all his misfortunes, he came to church for the first time in years.  It was a tearful surrendering into the arms of Jesus who knows the suffering of crosses better than anyone.  Had we gone to Mont Saint Michel, he would likely have spent that day back at the bus, waiting for our return.  Instead, he was reconciled with the God who made him and loves him.  This is the mystery of encountering God in the detours of life.

No one can deny that COVID-19 has led to many changes in our lives, detouring us beyond our control. This has included interrupted travel, cancelled family celebrations, curtailed parish events, postponed weddings and funerals, and vacations turned staycations.  And yet, God has delivered graces along these detours.  People, now more than ever, appreciate the power of human contact and relish time with others that we used to take for granted.  Parishes have discovered livestreaming and other creative ways to reach out and remain in contact with parishioners.  And, this World Mission Sunday, some of us will have to try new methods of supporting the never-ending work of the Church to spread the Gospel.  Online giving through our parishes may be one new way for us to ensure that missionaries around the globe continue to receive our support and know that they are not forgotten.

No one sets out on a journey expecting detours, and when they happen most of us don’t welcome them.  But God can use these course deviations to take us out of our comfort zone to new adventures beyond our imaginings.  Blessed are hearts open to a life’s journey led by God, going to destinations more amazing than any we could have ever planned, because they are charted by our magnificent God of detours, a God who calls us on mission.

World Mission Sunday is Oct. 24, 2021. The Diocese of Venice collection for World Mission Sunday is the same weekend of Oct. 23-24.

Father Robert Kantor is the Director of the Diocese of Venice Mission Office, Dean of the Southern Deanery, and Pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Naples. He can be reached at

Two Pastors installed

The Catholic Church relies on its Parish Pastors to lead and to be a guide in the spiritual and everyday life of any Parish. These priests are called to serve in persona Christi bringing the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar of the Lord.

From time to time a Parish requires a new Pastor and on this occasion the Bishop will appoint – after consultation with the Priest Personnel Board – and install this new leader marking a new chapter in the life for the faithful.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane installed Father David Vidal as Pastor of Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria on Oct. 9, 2021, and Father Ricky Varner as Pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral on Oct. 10, 2021.

“A Pastor is called to minster to the spiritual well-being of the faithful and build up the spirituality of a Parish community,” Bishop Dewane said.

The Bishop asked that the faithful listen to their new Pastor and prayerfully accept decisions that are made, “knowing that the Pastor does strive to do what he clearly feels is in the best interest of the entire Parish community.”

As part of the installation process, Bishop Dewane first introduces the priest as Pastor to the parishioners. The priest later begins the Profession of Faith for all to hear, including an additional part solely for him. The new Pastor then recites an Oath of Fidelity and promises to “adhere to the teachings, which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise authentic magisterium.” The installation also includes prayers to provide the new Pastor the wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit to lead the Parish.

The ceremony concluded with the signing of documents by the Bishop, the new Pastor, and two official witnesses of the Parish community, who serve as witnesses for all of the parishioners. Those documents are split between the Parish and Diocese as well as the Pastor’s personnel records.

At the conclusion of the installation Masses, both Father Vidal and Father Varner thanked the faithful at their respective Parishes for being so welcoming and supportive since their arrival as they strive to serve the Lord by administering the Sacraments and helping to bring all close to the Lord.

Father Vidal added, in Spanish, a special thanks to his parents who were watching the Mass via a livestream from Argentina.