Summer camps engage young minds

Staff Report

Throughout the Diocese of Venice there have been a variety of camps taking place to engage thousands of young people during the summer months.

Vacation Bible School at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples was a huge success in June.

The most common of these camps is the Vacation Bible School program which was offered at more than 35 parishes in the Diocese this summer. This weeklong Bible-themed camp focuses on learning the important lessons of Scripture in a fun and engaging way.

 

Students react to an experiement during a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) Camp in June at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral.

For the athlete in many, the local Catholic high schools hosted a variety of sports camps such as soccer, football, basketball, cheerleading and many others.

 

This summer also saw the expansion of STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) camps. More than a dozen took place, either at Catholic schools or in parishes. Some were for a week while others, such as at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice and St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte, lasted all summer. The longer camps stressed different skills and would include field trips to augment the in-class experience.

 

Students participate in a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) Camp in July at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice.

 

These are just some of the examples of the exciting activities parishes and schools have for the thousands of young people in the Diocese during the “slow” season.

 

 

 

 

Girls participate in a July cheerleading camp at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers.

Masses Praying for Victims of Abuse in April

Staff Report

4/9/19

For the 12th year in a row, during Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month – April, the Diocese of Venice will be offering Masses to pray for the victims of abuse. These Masses will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and take place at 8:00 a.m., April 24 at Epiphany Cathedral 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice; and then at 8 a.m., on April 25 at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

The Diocese of Venice, and its entities, take very seriously the safety of all young people and vulnerable adults. To this end, the Diocese works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults with a zero-tolerance policy.

“As Christian adults, we have a moral and legal responsibility and are entrusted by God with the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of minors and vulnerable adults,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Diocese of Venice is steadfast in its commitment to providing a comprehensive program to protect the most vulnerable from all types of abuse while raising awareness to prevent abuse from happening in the first place.”

In 1983, recognizing the alarming rate at which children continued to be abused and neglected and the need for innovative programs to prevent child abuse and assist parents and families affected by maltreatment, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives proclaimed April the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In keeping with continued efforts to nationally promote the awareness of child abuse and neglect, the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined in promoting this effort.

In addition to the Masses, each year the Diocese of Venice conducts Safe Environment Program training sessions for thousands, including clergy, religious and laity who work or volunteer in the Diocese.

As minors and vulnerable adults participate in activities within or sponsored by the Diocese, the mission of the Safe Environment Program is:

  • To provide required education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, and parents, as to the issue of abuse of children including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.
  • To provide required training programs for children and young people in our Catholic schools and religious education programs. This includes age appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety and information about improper touching and relationships. Children are not expected to be fully knowledgeable about child abuse or of the laws governing care of children but they need to know when they should seek assistance from a trusted adult.
  • To thoroughly screen and evaluate the background of all diocesan employees – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children and young people.
  • To hold those who minister in the name of the Church in the Diocese of Venice – all diocesan employees (clergy, religious and laity) and those volunteers who work with children and young people – to Christ-centered and professional codes of conduct.

Since 2002, the Diocese has engaged a professional company to conduct background screening through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with results available to the Diocesan Safe Environment Coordinator within 24-48 hours. There have been more than 35,500 background screenings and 33,700 persons trained in safe environment. In the last five years alone, more than 13,000 were background screened and more than 11,000 trained in safe environment.

The mission of the Safe Environment Program is to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, and parents, about the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. In addition, the Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools.

The Diocese annually undergoes a comprehensive audit from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese of Venice is in compliance with current directives.

For a more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or where the nearest Safe Environment class is being held, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Upcoming Regional Safe Environment Training

Epiphany Cathedral, Venice, 6 p.m., April 25; and 6 p.m., April 27;

St. Catherine Parish, Sebring, 6 p.m., April 25 (in English and Spanish); 6 p.m., April 27 (in English and Spanish);

St. Columbkille Parish, Fort Myers, 6 p.m., May 2; and 9:30 a.m., May 4;

St. Thomas More Parish, 6 p.m., May 9; and 9:30 a.m., May 11;

San Pedro Parish, North Port, 6 p.m., May 16; and 9:30 a.m., May 18;

Our Lady of Light Parish, Fort Myers, 6 p.m., May 16; and 9:30 a.m., May 18;

St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples, 6 p.m., May 16; and 9:30 a.m., May 18;

St. Paul Parish, Arcadia, 6 p.m., May 23 (in English and Spanish); and 9:30 a.m., May 25 (in English and Spanish);

St. John the Evangelist Parish, Naples, 6 p.m., May 23; and 9:30 a.m., May 25;

St. Agnes Parish, Naples, 6 p.m., June 6; and 9:30 a.m., June 8;

Our Lady of Grace Parish, Avon Park, 6 p.m., June 6 (in English and Spanish); and 9:30 a.m., June 8 (in English and Spanish);

St. Patrick Parish, Sarasota, 6 p.m., June 6; and 9:30 a.m., June 8;

Resurrection Parish, Fort Myers, 6 p.m., June 13; and 9:30 a.m., June 15;

St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Port Charlotte, 6 p.m., June 13; and 9:30 a.m., June 15.

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE   (BOX English and Spanish)

During April, the Secretariat encourages the faithful to recite the “Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

”God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just: You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross. Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

UNA ORACIÓN DE SANACIÓN VÍCTIMAS DE ABUSO

Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo; Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz. Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

 

 

Rite of Election – Large number set to enter Church at Easter Vigil

By Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

A large group of women and men who will join the Catholic Church within the Diocese of Venice at the Easter Vigil were recognized during the annual Rite of Election at Epiphany Cathedral on the first Sunday of Lent on March 10. This annual tradition is a formal Rite during which catechumens are presented and their names are entered into the Book of Elect.

The 148 catechumens were joined by an additional 120 candidates who also participated in the formal ceremony and are recognized during the celebration for answering the call to their continuing conversion.

The Rite of Election was presided over by Bishop Frank J. Dewane who complimented each for making the commitment to answer the call of Jesus Christ in a particular way by becoming members of the Church in the Diocese of Venice. “This is where the catechumens and candidates come forward with courage to step up and today proudly say: ‘I am called!’”

The catechumens and candidates who were recognized by Bishop Dewane will be welcomed as part of the Easter Vigil celebration on April 20 at their respective parishes. They represent 40 Parishes in the Diocese of Venice and are accompanied by more than 150,000 people across the country that will also join the Catholic Church this year. St. Peter the Apostles Parish in Naples, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee and Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers had the largest groups of catechumens and candidates.

The decision each made in their life is part of a journey to grow ever closer to the Lord and to become fully a part of the Church of God, Bishop Dewane said. Each came forward for different reasons, but a key first step in this process is developing a personal friendship with Jesus Christ.

Bishop Dewane said this process should be a conversion of the heart, as each catechumen and candidate must prevent outside influences, such as things, people or objects, standing in their way of developing that relationship with the Lord.

“Go forward knowing the Holy Spirit will aid you in this journey,” the Bishop added. “You have been called to be catechumens and candidates… it is human nature to stumble along the way – but keep working to become ever more that man or woman of God you are called to be.”

The catechumens are part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). RCIA is for those who are unbaptized and unchurched, who come to inquire about becoming part of the Roman Catholic Faith. Often catechumens are those who have begun to seek and understand God in their lives and have been led by the Holy Spirit to become Catholic.

RCIA is not simply a course on Catholicism; it is a journey of discovery and faith. This is most commonly done is three distinct phases: discernment, acceptance into the catechumenate and purification and enlightenment.

Each catechumen will go through a series of scrutinies during which they examine their readiness to accept Christ and the Catholic Faith in the form of the Sacraments of Initiation. This time culminates at the Easter Vigil when the catechumens are received through Baptism into the Catholic Church. The final period of the RCIA is the time of “Mystagogy” (post-baptismal catechesis). During the weeks following the Easter Vigil, the newly initiated live more profoundly their experience of Baptism and the Eucharist as they begin the journey of discipleship and their growing union with Christ.

For candidates, those who have been baptized in the name of the Trinity, the Catholic Church does not require re-Baptism. Candidates have already experienced a journey of faith and have some understanding of how Jesus leads us to the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, many have been attending Mass with their families for years but may have never received the Sacrament of Holy Communion or the Sacrament of Confirmation. Candidates, therefore, are in a separate group and are not necessarily required to wait an entire year before being welcomed into the Church.

The candidates are invited to the Cathedral for the Rite of Election as a form of welcome, but because they are already in the Book of the Elect as baptized Christians, they do not bring their names forward; rather they come forward and make the sign of the cross with holy water as a reminder of their Baptism and sign of their continuing conversion.

Everyone is encouraged to pray for and welcome the catechumens and candidates at their own parish as they continue their journey of discovery in their Faith.

Christmas brings light into the darkness

By Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

1/17/19

The Word brought Light into the darkness – Christmas brings the Light of Christ into the world, providing comfort and courage.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Midnight Mass at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice where the Gospel of Luke (2: 1-14), speaks in recognition of Christ and the birth of Our Savior that is still celebrated in the Church more than 2,000 years later.

The Gospel is broken into two important parts, Bishop Dewane explained. The first part sets the time and place when the birth took place, namely in Bethlehem at the time of the census called for by Caesar Augustus.

“This is not just some event that happened at some vague time that is debated,” the Bishop added. The Birth of Christ happened and can be recorded to that specific place and time. This is an historical event!”

A Living Nativity at St. Agnes Parish in Naples on Dec. 16.

This is stressed here as well as in the other Gospels related to the Birth of Christ so as to establish the voracity of the event; so there is no debate or confusion when the story is retold.

The second part of the Gospel is about the shepherds who were given a call to be witnesses to the Birth of Jesus Christ. From them we learn about the simplicity of Jesus being born in the manger to Mary and Joseph and why there was no room at the inn.

“The shepherds are told, ‘do not be afraid,’” Bishop Dewane said. “This message is for all of us. As the shepherds were called to proclaim the Good News of the Lord, so too are we called to take that message into our heart. Let this message provide comfort and courage as we move forward this Christmas Season.”

Students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice play the violin during a Christmas Pageant on Dec. 17.

The Bishop also celebrated the Christmas Televised Mass for the Homebound from Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, and asked everyone to prayer during the Christmas Season for the homebound and those who are alone or might be incarcerated.

Throughout the Diocese of Venice, the Christmas Season was celebrated in a variety of ways. Parishes had Angel Trees from which parishioners could buy gifts for those in need in the community and for Catholic Charities programs. Several Parishes also had a Living Nativity, complete with live animals. The largest of these was a St. Agnes Parish in Naples and included a town laid out in the Parish Hall parking lot and actors portraying key figures in the Nativity Story.

Kindergarteners at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton sing carols Dec. 13 for residents at a nearby senior living facility.

Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese contributed huge numbers of gifts to other children in the region. In addition, many held holiday pageants and concerts with nativity plays a common theme. Children also made gingerbread houses, caroled at nursing homes and others brought holiday cheer to those with disabilities.

News from Around the Diocese November 2018

Wrap-up of news from Across the Diocese in November

Wauchula Children’s Festival a big success

More than 200 children participated in a Children’s Festival at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. Geared toward children aged 3 to 10, there were a number of fun activities and games as well as Mass and prayers.

 

 

 

Successful Vocations Awareness Weekend

The Diocese Vocations Office brought a group of young men to participate in the Nov. 9-11 Vocations Awareness Weekend at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. Led by Vocations Director Father Eric Scanlan, several attended this engaging and prayerful discernment event.

 

 

 

 

Retreat inspires catechists

A Diocesan Catechist Retreat themed: “Root of God’s Healing” took place Nov. 17 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. About 100 catechists participated in the retreat which focused on reenergizing them as they approach the Advent and Christmas seasons. They were reminded that Jesus serves to free and restore them as they work to be the light and witness of the Lord for others.

 

 

 

VDCCW Latina Convocation held

The first ever Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Latina Convocation took place Nov. 17 at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton. About 50 women took part in the gathering which served to educate about the role of the CCW and to inspire them to become more involved in their faith. Iris Gomez, VDCCW Past-President, organized the gathering and Father Juan Carlos Sack, Administrator at Sacred Heart Parish, provide inspirational talks.

 

 

Cities for Life gathering held

Praying for the end to the death penalty, a Cities for Life gathering was held Nov. 30 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte. Cities for Life is a worldwide annual event that was begun in 2002 by the community of Saint’ Egidio in Rome where the Coliseum was lit up during the night. November 30th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the first civil state in the world to do away with the death penalty in Tuscany, Italy in 1786- 229 years ago. About 2,000 cities and 80 countries will call for the end of the use of the death penalty by lighting civic or religious buildings around the world, along with prayer services and educational programs. This was the fourth time the Dioceses of Florida participated in the prayer vigil. Participants in the Port Charlotte gathering saw a video presentation of a talk on the death penalty from the September 2018 Florida Respect Life Conference in Punta Gorda.

 

Sarasota Charity Ball Jan. 26 at The Westin

The Catholic Charities Ball will be held on Jan. 26,  at 6 p.m. at The Westin in Sarasota. All proceeds will benefit the programs and services of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Sarasota and Manatee counties which include Our Mother’s House, St. Martha’s Early Learning Center, Bethesda House, Catholic Charities Family Haven, housing counseling and foreclosure prevention, financial assistance, senior services, professional counseling, refugee services, and immigration services. The evening will include a cocktail hour, auctions, dinner, and dancing. Tickets are $300 a person. For information and tickets visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or call 941-355-4680, ext. 301 or email nmuth@ccdis1.org.

Creating a Safe Environment

Special to the Florida Catholic

Recent events continue to underscore the importance of protecting children, young people and adults from sexual abuse and supporting victims/survivors as they bravely come forward with their reports. All forms of sexual abuse are intrinsically evil, especially those that occur within the Catholic Church. It is the commitment of the Diocese to provide an environment which is safe and nurturing.

The mission of the Safe Environment Program is:

  • To provide required education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, and parents, as to the issue of abuse of children including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.
  • To provide required training programs for children and young people in our Catholic schools and religious education programs. This includes age appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety and information about improper touching and relationships. Children are not expected to be fully knowledgeable about child abuse or of the laws governing care of children but they need to know when they should seek assistance from a trusted adult.
  • To thoroughly screen and evaluate the background of all employees at the parishes, Catholic schools, and other diocesan entities – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children, young people, and vulnerable adults.
  • To hold those who minister in the Diocese of Venice – all employees (clergy, religious and laity) at the parishes, Catholic schools, and other diocesan entities and those volunteers who work with children, young people, and vulnerable adults – to Christ-centered and professional codes of conduct.

Since 2002, the Diocese has engaged a professional company to conduct background screening through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with results available to the Diocesan Safe Environment Coordinator within 24-48 hours. There have been over 35,541 background screenings and 33,700 persons trained in safe environment. In the last five years alone, 13,494 were background screened and 11,257 trained in safe environment.

There are 48 safe environment lay men and women trainers currently active. These trainers teach the safe environment training sessions held in the parishes, Catholic schools, and other diocesan locations. The trainings are offered throughout the year and the list can be found on the Diocesan Safe Environment Website under “Training Schedule,” accessible at www.dioceseofvenice.org. Since January of this year alone, 141 trainings were offered in multiple locations around the Diocese.

Employees (clergy, religious and laity) and volunteers become certified in safe environment after completing a training session. During the sessions, attendees are trained: in the detection of grooming techniques by a potential sex offender; in the detection and prevention of abuse on a child or vulnerable adult; and in the detection of labor and sex trafficking. Additional training includes learning about National Hotline contacts for child, elder, labor or sex trafficking abuse, anti-cyber-bullying and anti-sexting resources, and procedures for reporting grooming techniques and abuse. The training also provides location-specific sex offender registries within a two-mile radius of each Catholic school in the Diocese.

Attendees are also trained in Diocesan Procedures, especially the Code of Pastoral Conduct, the Code of Conduct for Volunteers Working with Minors, the Policy and Procedural Guidelines for the Diocese of Venice in Florida relating to the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, and Electronic Fingerprinting Procedures. These codes, policies and procedures are accessible to the public on the Diocesan Safe Environment Website.

It is the duty of all persons to report abuse. The following are the mandatory steps regarding reporting:

  1. An allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by anyone should be reported immediately to the Florida Department of Children and Families Child Abuse Hotline (800-96Abuse) and/or any Law enforcement agency.
  2. An allegation of elder abuse by anyone should be reported immediately to the Elder Abuse Hotline (800-96Elder) and/or any Law enforcement agency.
  3. An allegation of labor or sex trafficking abuse by anyone should be reported immediately to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-373-7888) and/or any Law enforcement agency.
  4. If the alleged abuser is a Diocesan employee or volunteer, including clergy, also notify Victim Assistance Coordinator at 941-416-6114.

Once a report is made to the Victim Assistance Coordinator, the Diocesan Review Board is notified, primarily compromised of non-Diocesan-employed lay professionals, is notified. The board meets promptly to review the allegation, investigate the case, and make recommendations to the Bishop.

As part of the Safe Environment Program in each Parish and Catholic school, there are 105 Safe Environment Coordinators who coordinate the compliance that persons employed or volunteering with children, young people, and/or vulnerable adults are background screened and safe environment trained prior to their employment or volunteering.

Every five years, employees and volunteers are background rescreened and employees are recertified in safe environment. The Diocese is informed by the State of Florida within 24 hours of the arrest of any of its employees, including clergy.

Every priest or deacon must be background screened at two levels – the State of Florida and the Federal Bureau of Investigation – and become certified in safe environment in order to minister in the Diocese of Venice. These requirements are in addition to a reference check and a letter of good standing from their bishop or provincial superior for religious order priests.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 14,865 children and youth in parish religious education programs and Catholic schools were safe environment trained. Each Parish and Catholic school is yearly audited on its safe environment training for children and youth by the Diocese, and the information in the Diocesan Safe Environment Program is subject to national audits.

Parishes and Catholic schools are also required to publish information on proper reporting to the Department of Children and Families by posters and other forms of communication. The Diocese of Venice works hard to maintain safe environments and to bring awareness about abuse and how to properly report.

The Diocese is committed to providing a comprehensive Safe Environment Program in an effort to protect the most vulnerable from all types of abuse. An important part of this program is prayer. Each year, Bishop Dewane invites all faithful to join him in prayer for the victims/survivors at two special Masses held in April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

We must always endeavor to improve and move forward. An organizational change involves creating a vigilant culture of protection and healing. Anyone interested can become certified in safe environment and aide in maintaining safe environments in every parish, Catholic school, and diocesan entity. For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or to register for the nearest training, please visit the Diocesan Safe Environment Website or contact the Office of Safe Environment Awareness and Certification at 941-484-9543.

 

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