Catechetical Day Conference inspires

The Church calls all who are baptized to be catechists within their families and their communities. Catechesis is a critical way in which we use our Faith to empower one another to learn more about Jesus Christ.

A Catechetical Conference, hosted by Diocese of Venice Department of Education and spearheaded by the Office of Religious Education, provided an understanding as to how to bring Jesus Christ into the classroom as a catechist according to Church teachings.

The bilingual Conference was Sept. 25, 2021 at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, and offered catechetical leaders, catechists, religion coordinators and religion teachers a training day aimed at helping them to grow spiritually and professionally. There were nine workshops and several keynote addresses led by renowned speakers presenting a variety of topics rooted in the theme, “Encountering Christ in the Classroom.”

The response from the more than 300 participants throughout the day was overwhelmingly positive. Many cited the variety of options for workshops, the bilingual nature of the event; as well as the enthusiasm of the speakers as reasons for their enjoyment of the day.

“This is great,” said Sister Rosemary Le, FMI, Director of Religious Education at Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers.

Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education, expressed her prayers that the Conference was an opportunity for catechists to learn how to better share the Good News of the Lord in their classrooms.

“We broadly define the ‘classroom’ to include our homes, churches and workplaces to show that we catechists can empower our communities to love Jesus, emulate his teachings and embrace our Catholic faith at any time and place,” Chrzan said.

The Conference opened with Mass at neighboring St. Cecilia Parish, celebrated by Msgr. Stephen E. McNamara, Vicar General of the Diocese and Pastor of Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers, who was filling in for Bishop Frank J. Dewane. Bishop Dewane was unable to attend the Conference until later in the day.

Workshops ranged from “How to Pray with Children in the Classroom” and “How to Use E-learning Platforms in Religious Education” to “Disciples Making Disciples.” Among the featured speakers were Jared Dees, creator of the website, The Religion Teacher; Ricardo Grzona, founder of Fundación Ramón Pané, a nonprofit organization dedicated to evangelization and spiritual formation; and Dr. Amy Roberts, a classroom methodology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

The day also included the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration.

In addition to the Catechetical Conference, Chrzan also hosted a workshop on Sept. 23, at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) Workshop was led by Dr. Bill Keimig of Franciscan University of Ohio. Kiemig spoke to about 40 catechists regarding the need to follow the proven formal structure of the RCIA process. He noted that by following the process in the way it was created, it ensures that a greater number of new Catholics will remain active in the Faith beyond the first year following the Sacrament Confirmation at the Easter Vigil.

News Briefs for the week of Sept. 24, 2021

Bishop radio show addresses faith and science

Join Bishop Frank J. Dewane, for his monthly radio program on Relevant Radio. “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane,” which can be heard at 8:30 a.m., on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. This month will feature part one of a two-part show on Faith and Science featuring guests Michael Dauphinais, Ph.D., who serves as the Fr. Matthew Lamb Professor of Catholic Theology at Ave Maria University, and Stephen H. Thong, Ph.D., who serves as Chair, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Dept. of Chemistry & Physics at Ave Maria University. Access to listen to the program is available at https://dioceseofvenice.org/our-bishop/relevant-radio-podcasts. The second part of the series will be available on Friday, Oct. 29.

National Migration Week runs through Sept. 26

National Migration Week 2021 will be held from Sept .20, 2021 through Sept. 26, 2021 in solidarity with the Holy See’s observation of the World Day for Migrants and Refugees on Sept. 26. The theme is “Towards an Ever Wider ‘We’” where Pope Francis calls on us to ensure that “we will think no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those,’ but only ‘us’” (Fratelli tutti, no. 35) and this universal “us” must become a reality first of all within the Church, which is called to cultivate communion in diversity. In general, National Migration Week is meant to emphasize the ways in which the migration question is important for the Catholic Church in the United States. Throughout the Week, the Diocese of Venice posted information about the week and messages of support on its social media platforms.

Catechists commissioned

At Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice, catechists were commissioned as part of Catechetical Sunday on Sept. 19, 2021. These religious educators made a promise to hand on the faith and be a witness to the Gospel. The theme for this year was: “Say the Word and My Soul Shall be Healed.”

High school students participate in coastal cleanup

Members of the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Environmental Club participated in the International Coastal Cleanup at Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach on Sept. 18, 2021.

Puppetry skills taught to young students

The St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School 8th grade drama students collaborated to teach 1st graders puppetry skills and reviewed scripts using 1st grade sight words on Sept. 17, 2021 in Naples. Students will perform their puppet show skits for the 1st grade class when they are ready! The other 8th grade drama class practiced skits with kindergarten and 3rd grade students.

Students learn about Safety

The St. Mary Catholic Academy School Resource Officer Laura Markey visited Teacher Erin Fredd’s 2nd Grade Class on Sept. 16, 2021 in Sarasota, and a had a lesson on car safety, bike safety, strangers and so much more. The students were absolutely intrigued by her and the great stories she shared. The students had an opportunity to ask questions and learn about the great things police officers do for our community.

High school college fair big success

More than two dozen different colleges and universities took part in the St. John Neumann Catholic High School College Fair in Naples on Sept. 20, 2021. It was a valuable opportunity for all of the students to speak in person with representatives and ask questions.

An Opportunity to Encounter Jesus in the Classroom

Religious Educators Prepare for Catechetical Day

By John Carkeet, Special to the Florida Catholic

After 18 months of prayer, patience and preparation, hundreds of religious educators across the Diocese of Venice are poised to participate in its Catechetical Day Conference Sept. 25, 2021, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers.

Hosted by the Diocese of Venice Department of Education, the Conference will feature nine workshops and four keynote addresses led by renowned national speakers presenting a variety of topics rooted in the theme, “Encountering Christ in the Classroom.”

“Catechetical Day is an opportunity for religious educators to learn how to increase their skills in sharing the Word of God with their students in the classroom,” said Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education. “We broadly define the ‘classroom’ to include homes, parks, playgrounds, churches, and other public gatherings to show that catechists can teach and inspire students to love Jesus, emulate his teachings and embrace their Catholic faith in all dimensions of their lives.

This Conference will allow catechists to come together in smaller groups and learn new material in English or Spanish. Religious education publishers will also showcase innovative resources to help catechists enhance their students’ learning environment.

The day begins with Jesus at the forefront as Bishop Frank J. Dewane will celebrate the liturgy at St. Cecilia Catholic Church. Attendees will then take a short walk or ride to neighboring Bishop Verot Catholic High School, where they will attend workshops, explore the exhibits, and partake in fellowship over a catered luncheon.

Catechetical Day presents the perfect opportunity to help the catechists within the Diocese of Venice learn new and exciting ways to engage young people with a curriculum centered on the teachings of the Catholic Church. By the end of the Conference, Catechists will be better equipped to share how they encountered Jesus in their lives and help students recognize where He is and can be in their lives.

Jared Dees, creator of the website, The Religion Teacher, which offers a treasure trove of practical resources and effective teaching strategies to religious educators, serves as the Conference’s keynote speaker. Dees, who is also the author of Encountering Jesus in the Classroom, will walk participants through the five-step method of Lectio Divina, one of the earliest forms of prayer.

Ricardo Grzona and Dr. Amy Roberts will also lead engaging presentations entitled, “How to Share Your Faith with Children and Parents.” Grzona, founder of Fundación Ramón Pané, a nonprofit organization dedicated to evangelization and spiritual formation, will present the topic in Spanish. Roberts, a classroom methodology professor at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, will address the audience in English.

With approximately 1,100 catechists serving more than 7,500 children and teens across the Diocese of Venice, the Department of Education designed Catechetical Day to educate catechists and give them the tools and resources for parishioners to grow in the Catholic faith. Chrzan expects record breaking attendance for a Conference that gathers catechists who serve the Church in sharing the Word of God among young people from all walks of life.

Register for Catechetical Day at https://dioceseofvenice.org/events/catechetical-conference or contact Anne Chrzan at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

 

 

News Briefs for Week of Aug. 27, 2021

Bishop blesses Maria Vision offices

Bishop Frank J. Dewane blessed the offices of Maria Vision USA in Ave Maria on Aug. 23, 2021. Maria Vision offers a variety of faith-based programming with a mission to bring the light of the Gospel to the entire world with the vision of Mary Most Holy.

The programming includes the Holy Hour, daily Mass, weekly rosary, guest speakers and presentations. Maria Vision can be viewed in 12 million households in the United States on Direct TV channels 262 and 89 and through its website https://www.mariavision.us/.

Safety Patrol keeps little ones safe

Student Safely Patrols at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers put their leadership skills to the test on Aug. 20, 2021. They greet (often by name) the Pre-Kindergarten-3, PreK-4, and Kindergarten students during morning drop-off. Separating from the ones they love the most can be tough for the youngest Falcons. Patrols assist students to class and ensure they are in the learning mindset when they arrive. For example, one of the Pre-K students didn’t want a walker and instead wanted to be a walker, so Safety Patrol members strapped on a bright yellow safety belt on the young lady, and she walked the Patrol to class. Whatever works, the team often says that welcoming all the smiling faces and exchanging greetings with the students during morning drop-off is the best part of our day. Well done!

Young scientists get hands-on

Scientists at St. Mary Academy in Sarasota participated in a hands-on experiment Aug. 20, 2021, where they used their senses as they smelled, touched and tasted marshmallows. Then the scientists asked questions, wanting to know what would happen if you put a marshmallow in the microwave for 30 seconds. They then recorded their results. The next day they had more questions and asked what would happen if we they marshmallows in different liquids like vinegar, water, soda, and cranberry juice. Students love hands-on experiments.

R.C.I.A. Workshop with R.C.I.A. teams

The Diocese of Venice Office of Religious Education is holding a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) Workshop led by Dr. Bill Keimig from Franciscan University at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs, from 9 am.m to 3 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2021. The workshop will include the following: a walk through the four periods of the RCIA process – pre catchumenate, catchumenate, purification and enlightenment and mystagogy & the neophyte year; a walk through the three aspects of the catechumenal model – liturgical, catechetical, pastoral – with a fixed time in the event on each; plus opportunities for questions and answers. Lunch will be provided at no cost to participants.  Contact Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education for registration information at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

VDCCW Priest’s Appreciation Dinner

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Priest’s Appreciation Dinner is 6:00 p.m., Friday, September 17 at the Venetian River Club, 502 Veneto Blvd., Venice. The cost is $40. RSVP with a check by Wednesday, September 1 to: Ellen Bachman, 52414 Lansdowne Way, Palmetto, FL 34221. For more information, please contact Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or pennyln99@aol.com.

Sarasota Parish has Teen “Service Week”

Service, prayer, music, fun and food.

Combine those things and you have a formula for a successful “Teen Service Week” for youth who are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota.

Robbie Anderson, the Director of Religious Education and Youth Outreach at St Thomas More, brought the idea of a faith-based service week from her previous position in the Chicago area. The group began their week with their regular Sunday night meeting on Aug. 1, 2021 with prayer, music and food.

On each morning of the week of Aug. 2-6, the teens met with assigned leaders at the parish and prayed together. From there, they were sent to different locations to serve the community. Their week started with a Sarasota food pantry, then met with teens from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. In the middle of the week, they assisted at a local soup kitchen and organized the Parishes’ own food pantry.

The longest journey was on Thursday, when they trekked to Immokalee and visited Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and the Catholic Charities offices there, which include a soup kitchen, food pantry and much more. The group also helped in a local environmental cleanup and learned about the difficult working conditions for farmworkers and were educated on unfair wages. The week concluded with the group helping parishioners with small projects around their home.

Anderson said each day began by 7 a.m. and concluded by 9 p.m. At the conclusion of each day, the teens finished with a sponsored meal, played outdoor games and prayed together. As part of the week the youth wrote prayers based on their daily experiences. Examples include the following:

  • “I pray for immigrants who are struggling for an income standard because of their circumstances.”
  • “Please put food on the tables of those in food insecurity.”
  • “God bless those who love and support their communities through organized and consistent efforts.”
  • “That we continue to make a difference in future days and weeks.”
  • “That our work today will make us more compassionate to those who don’t have enough.”
  • “That this week was life changing for all the teens and adults and that what we experienced will motivate us to continue to serve others.”
  • “For a resolution to equality, justice and hunger issues.”
  • “For the homeless people we served today, that they stay safe.”

It was clear to Anderson that the week made a real impact on the youth in various ways.

“At our reflection at the end of the week many said they were made much more aware of the poverty right here in Sarasota that they never imagined existed,” she said. “They were also saying they need to raise awareness of the unfair wages that the farm workers receive.”

Catechists earn Certifications throughout the Diocese.

More than 110 catechists from across the Diocese of Venice spent time during the summer earning basic certifications on topics including: “Scripture,” “Sacraments,” “Morality and Doctrine,” and “Methodology.”

These workshops, presented at 10 different Parishes in June and July were offered by the Diocesan Office of Religious Education through a partnership with Franciscan at Home. At each location there was a moderator who guided the group through the process of following the Franciscan at Home program which included instructional videos, as well as time for personal and small group discussion.

The group settings served to benefit everyone, as observed during one of the July 25, 2021 workshops on “Methodology” which took place at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton. Participants reflected upon the entire summer series and praised the presentation of the work and the opportunity to learn as a group.

“This was very helpful,” said one participant who has been a catechist for more than 20 years. “I learned as much from the videos as from everyone else in the group. It provided me a new and exciting way to approach my students.”

Students covered the broader topics of the day in three one-hour session, breaking the programs broader topics into compressed, manageable parts while at the same time having the opportunity to learn and absorb the lessons in a more formal setting.

Sitting in for a portion of the final session at St. Joseph, their Pastor, Father Rafal Ligenza, praised the group for taking part in the workshops and their willingness to continue to learn the Faith. He expressed confidence in the long-term benefits to those in the Parish religious education programs.

“There is a saying in Poland about teaching,” Father said. “You teach Johnny so that you can form John. What you do will make a difference in the lives of your students whether they are small children in First Communion classes or participating in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). Thank you for what you do.”

Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education, said the Franciscan at Home program helps catechists meet basic certification requirements. The four courses covered during the summer are just a few of the more than a dozen available to all catechists online. The summer offerings were made available in the classroom setting because there had been some hesitancy by some to participate online. Therefore, Chrzan, along with the directors of religious education from eight Parishes, created the four-session summer series.

The topics of “Scripture,” “Sacraments,” “Morality and Doctrine,” and “Methodology” were the focus of the summer sessions, but Chrzan said there are a dozen other Franciscan at Home classes available online. Given the success of the summer classes, it is likely that a similar program will be offered in the future.

“The response was overwhelmingly positive,” Chrzan said. “Not just from the people taking the classes but from the DRE (directors of religious education) who led these sessions.”

Chrzan explained that of the 1,000 or so catechists in the Diocese the Franciscan at Home program offers a quick and easy way to help educators to learn about and be grounded in the Faith. This serves as a foundation for their success, and the success of their students, moving forward.

The Parishes which hosted the summer Franciscan at Home program were St.  Ann and St. John the Evangelist in Naples; Resurrection and St. Cecilia in Fort Myers; St. Katharine Drexel in Cape Coral; Sacred Heart in Punta Gorda; St. Thomas More and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Sarasota; as well as St. Joseph and Sacred Heart in Bradenton (in Spanish).

For more information about upcoming offerings from the Diocese Office of Religious Education, please contact Anne Chrzan at 941-484-9543 or chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

Confirmation bestowed on 1,500 in nine months

Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Christian initiation is completed as the recipients become more perfectly bound to the Church as a true witness to Christ.

Confirmation is a Sacrament which must be understood as a continuation of the Faith journey, begun with Baptism, along with the Eucharist, to constitute a single saving event – Christian initiation, changed by this encounter with the Lord, Bishop Frank J. Dewane explained during a Confirmation Mass on May 30, 2021 for the youth of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula.

This May 30 Mass marked the conclusion of more than nine months of Confirmations presided over by Bishop Dewane. From early September 2020 to the end of May 2021 more than 1,500 received the Sacrament at 40 different Parishes. The total number was significantly higher during the past nine months as Parish Confirmations were necessarily put on hold from March to September 2020 due to the global Pandemic. Confirmation classes from the Spring of 2020 were rescheduled to the Fall when possible, or groups were merged into one larger Mass in 2021.

Bishop Dewane stressed the importance of ensuring the Confirmation Masses took place and scheduling them became a top priority. Some Parishes were forced to divide their groups in half or thirds to ensure social distancing was possible. For example, the St. Michael Parish Mass was held at the new St. Paul Parish Church in Arcadia to ensure all confirmandi, and their families, could participate under one roof.

At that Mass, held on Holy Trinity Sunday, Bishop Dewane told the confirmandi that they were given a great opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, a time when they publicly “give witness to who you are as followers of Jesus Christ. It is part of your Faith journey to live the commitment of believers, a beginning of a new life in the Holy Spirit and to become more the man or woman of God you are called to be.”

This Sacrament imbues the recipient with the Holy Spirit, making the person an advocate for the Lord, Bishop Dewane said. “This becomes a permanent part of who you are. Live your Faith to the fullest. Use these Gifts of the Holy Spirit every day. They must become part of who you are. The more you use them, the closer you will grow to the Lord.”

The Sacrament should not be viewed as the end of the journey, but the continuation of the journey of Faith with the new dimension of the Holy Spirit.

“You stand and give a superb witness by answering the call of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane continued. “However, sometimes standing forward isn’t enough to give that witness to Christ. You need to speak up and say who you are as Catholic men and women. You must have courage to do that.”

The term ‘confirmation’ must remind one that this Sacrament involves growth from baptismal grace, Bishop Dewane explained. “It unites us more firmly with Christ; it completes our bond with the Church; it accords to us the special strength of the Holy Spirit in order to spread and to defend the Faith.”

Before the Sacred Chrism was administered, the Bishop asked the candidates to renew their baptismal promises as a sign of their personal assent to the Faith. This is the giving of their assent to a belief in Christ and His Church. The Bishop also extended his hands over the candidates during the Rite. This action is called, “The Laying on of Hands.” In this action, the Bishop imparts the Holy Spirit upon the candidates, completing the grace of their Baptism.

Finally, the candidates are individually presented to the Bishop with the sponsor placing their right hand on the candidate’s right shoulder. Then with his right thumb, the Bishop makes the sign of the cross on their forehead using the Sacred Chrism and says “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The Sacrament of Confirmation requires comprehensive preparation – often years of study and spiritual growth – as it aims to lead candidates toward a personal attachment to Faith in Christ and to reawaken in them a sense of belonging to the Church.

The Diocese of Venice has a religious education program which emphasizes the importance of the Sacrament of Confirmation with a two-year program. The young women and men go through a process where they complete one phase of their Faith journey and prepare to begin the next phase as full Christians who are called to be more and reflect the love and goodness of Christ in their heart and soul.

Catechists gather for Certification at locations throughout the Diocese

Nearly 100 catechists met over the weekend of June 12 and 13, 2021 at one of 10 Parishes to complete a “Scripture” workshop. These catechists completed the basic certification program from the Franciscan at Home online program.

Anne Chrzan, Diocese of Venice Director of Religious Education, along with the directors of religious education from eight Parishes, created the four-session summer series. Based upon the concept developed by the online courses of Franciscan at Home, three classes on the topic of Scripture were held during a single day for the catechists and teachers.

The remaining sessions will be held on Saturdays and Sundays in June and July.  During each session, the catechists and teachers watch the videos and discuss the questions in small groups instead of watching the videos online at their home. The option of completing the classes online is still available.

Chrzan said the feedback from the first session was very positive.

“Many catechists and teachers enjoyed being with others in person to discuss the material and share their faith with people who are serving in the same ministry at the parish or school,” she said. “They also enjoyed the flexibility of completing three classes in one day.”

The three sessions remaining are “Sacraments,” which is being offered the weekend of June 26 and 27; “Morality and Doctrine,” on July 10 and 11; and “Methodology” on July 24 and 25.

The Parishes hosting this program are St.  Ann and St. John the Evangelist in Naples; Resurrection and St. Cecilia in Fort Myers; St. Katharine Drexel in Cape Coral; Sacred Heart in Punta Gorda; St. Thomas More and Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Sarasota; as well as St. Joseph and Sacred Heart in Bradenton (in Spanish).

For more information or to sign up for future classes, please contact Anne Chrzan at 941-484-9543 or chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

The Eucharist – Deepening ones Union with Christ and the Church

Little girls in beautiful white dresses. Boys in their first suit and tie. These sights are common each spring in churches across the Diocese of Venice as thousands of young people receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist for the first time.

But this isn’t simply a first communion, but hopefully the first of many communions.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living in charity wipes away our venial sins. By giving Himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves to Him.” (CCC 1394)

Primarily, the Eucharist brings one into a deeper union with Christ. Through Baptism, all become a child of God, entering into the Church. The Eucharist then draws the faithful more deeply into union with Christ. The Lord said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56) Through the Eucharist, one may become more and more like Christ, as St. Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

The Catechism says that “the Eucharist makes the Church,” (CCC 1396); meaning that without the Eucharist, there would be no Church, just a collection of men and women that would eventually dissolve through petty bickering and divisions. But through the Sacrament of the Eucharist – the “Sacrament of Unity” – the Church is more than a man-made institution, it is a Divine Institution, Mystically United through Christ. Not merely a social organization or a political party, the Church is one Body.

During a May 8, 2021 First Communion Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, Pastor, Father Rafal Ligenza told the First Communicants that they are starting a new chapter in their lives by opening their heart for Christ.

“You are committing to receiving the Body of Christ and to be in Communion with the Lord forever,” Father Ligenza said. “Yes forever. Not only today, for one week, for one month, but forever… You will receive this miracle into your good hearts and become a most beautiful monstrance because Jesus will be alive in you and you will glorify the goodness of God.”

Father urged the adults present to recall their own First Communion when they heard the words for the first time “The Body of Christ.” “You answered with love in your heart “Amen” and you decided to be faithful to your beloved Jesus and to his invitation to love one another. This is the commitment by those who receive their First Communion today. They made the decision to love Jesus for their whole life.”

Pope Francis said the Eucharist is not simply something that we do: “It is an act of Christ! It is a gift from Christ, Who is made present and gathers us around Him, to nourish us with His Word and His life. This means that the mission and the very identity of the Church spring from this, from the Eucharist… Through the Eucharist, Christ wishes to enter into our existence and permeate it with His Grace, so that in every Christian community there is coherence between Liturgy and life.”

All benefit in a multitude of ways by receiving communion regularly, Pope Francis said. There is a gain of grace against sin, forgiveness of venial sins, and strength for the spiritual life; regular reception of the Eucharist is essential for a strong spiritual life.

The Holy Father encourages the faithful to “live the Eucharist with a spirit of faith and prayer, of forgiveness, of care for the needs of many of our brothers and sisters, in the certainty that the Lord will grant that which he has promised – eternal life.”

Church celebrates Pentecost

The journey of the Easter Season is concluded and the gift of the Holy Spirit has descended to provide the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, fortitude, counsel, piety and fear of the Lord.

Celebrated on May 23, 2021, Pentecost Sunday marks an important transition in the lives of the Apostles and clarifies their mission in creating the Lord’s Church on earth and is traditionally viewed as the “birthday” of the Church. Pentecost, which literally means 50, falls 50 days after Easter and is 10 days after the Ascension of the Lord. As a symbol of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit, the clergy wear red vestments.

“We celebrate that Feast of the Holy Spirit, the lifeblood of our Church; the soul of the Mystical Body of Christ,” said Frank J. Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. “We have to recognize and acknowledge that idea of plurality and unity in the Church. That dynamic plays out in different ways at different times in the life of the Church. The plurality is that all voices are heard and in a modern sense we are diverse, coming from different backgrounds. In that diversity, we must leave room for the Holy Spirit in our world, united in living out a plan according to God.”

Also on Pentecost, those who have been baptized and are seeking to be more fully united to Christ within the Church, receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at cathedrals around the world. At Epiphany Cathedral, Bishop Dewane bestowed the Sacrament upon 59 women and men candidates representing 22 parishes across the Diocese.

These candidates were unable (for whatever reason) to be confirmed at their own Parishes during the past several months. Prior to receiving the Sacrament, the candidates renewed their baptismal promises and the Bishop called upon the Holy Spirit to descend upon and remain with them as they go forward in their lives.

Bishop Dewane thanked the candidates for coming forward to be confirmed and said that the Sacrament of Confirmation must change them as they have been given a new beginning in their lives as they are making a permanent commitment that comes with corresponding responsibilities.

“You can’t go forward as the same person,” the Bishop continued. “You have to be changed as a result of that encounter with Christ in the Sacrament. Go out to give witness about who you are, and who you are becoming. Go forward being doers of your Faith. Develop your prayer life by speaking to Christ as you become ever more that man or women of God you are called to be and remember always to call upon the strength of the Holy Spirit as you go forward in your life.”

During the Sacrament, the Bishop made the sign of the cross on the forehead of each person being confirmed with Sacred Chrism – consecrated at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week – and said: “Be sealed with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.” This Sacrament imbues the recipient with the Holy Spirit, making them an advocate for the Lord.

One woman from St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs expressed her joy of being confirmed by the Bishop. “I feel so blessed to be here, to present myself to the Bishop and become a full participant in the Catholic Faith.”

A younger man from Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton explained how his Faith journey took place with the support of his mother who recognized the importance of receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. “I started the instruction reluctantly but after today I can thank my mother for being there and understanding what I needed in my life.”

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