Bishop responds to pandemic crisis

Bishop Frank J. Dewane has been at the forefront in responding to the ever-evolving coronavirus pandemic within the 10-county Diocese of Venice.

The announcement to suspend all Masses and Parish activities effective March 20, and continuing through at least Easter, was the culmination of a series of meetings, conference calls and consultation from the priests of the Diocese and other advisors, while also following guidance from local, state and federal officials. The dramatic limitations of all public gatherings ultimately affected the decision to suspend Mass.

In a March 18 letter to the faithful, Bishop Dewane explained his decision noting that it “was made after prayer and discernment, as well as hearing from the priests and the Faithful.” The decision to suspend the Mass came several days after Bishop Dewane dispensed all of the obligation to attend Mass during the same period.

“This is acknowledged as a sacrifice for the Catholic Faithful, who have a great love for the Holy Eucharist and depend on the Most Blessed Sacrament for their spiritual lives,” the Bishop wrote in his letter. “Do recall that Faithful Catholics, throughout the history of the Church, have kept the faith alive through trying times. By prayer and devotion, as well as spiritual solidarity with each other, the life of faith continued to be a source of strength and perseverance during persecutions and other times of public crisis.  Tomorrow, on the Feast of St. Joseph, I will dedicate the Diocese of Venice to the care of the Foster Father of Jesus. Let us be united in prayer to St. Joseph for his intercession and protection.”

In the same March 18 letter, Bishop Dewane announced the suspension of all activities in Parishes, including events and religious education programs. Parish offices will have limited staff and it is requested that, when possible, business be conducted by phone or email. Funerals will be limited to immediate family only, weddings – if they cannot be postponed – are to have limited participation, and baptisms will only be celebrated in cases of emergency. Priests are required to take all necessary precautions, so the Anointing of the Sick is being limited to a genuine need for the dying. Diocesan Catholic Schools were placed on an extended Spring Break, returning to virtual learning beginning March 31 for the foreseeable future.

Bishop Dewane has called upon the priests to draw upon the Church’s rich tradition of prayer and devotion to ensure that the spiritual life of parishioners is nourished and remains vibrant through means which are prudently adapted to the current circumstances.

Leading the way, Bishop Dewane recorded a video message to the Faithful encouraging everyone to turn toward prayer. In addition, Mass has aired daily at 9:15 a.m., live from the Catholic Center in Venice, with the Bishop as the celebrant. This Mass in available through Facebook and links to this and many other resources are available through the Diocesan website.

Encouraged by the leadership of Bishop Dewane, most Parishes within the Diocese have begun to live stream the daily Mass on their websites and social media accounts. Many also responded to suggestions to begin offering the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by car beginning March 21, and then late in the week of March 23, outdoor Communion was being offered at some Parishes.

Bishop Dewane also reassured the Faithful that the Diocese will continue to function and serve the community through the outreach of Catholic Charities and other ministries.

“Through prayer and trust be confident in the belief that God does not abandon us in times of peril, in fact, the Lord will draw us close and protect us,” Bishop Dewane said.

“Please continue to pray for everyone impacted by this pandemic – the sick, their caregivers, courageous medical personnel, and those reaching out in charity to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

“Seeking the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in particular, her spouse, St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for protection and guidance through these troubling times,” the Bishop continued. “Through the Word of the Lord, that is Sacred Scripture, it is possible to overcome fear and courageously face the challenging days ahead.”

Religious Education goes online

Religious Education classes across the Diocese of Venice were put on hold with the suspension of all Parish activities through at least Easter.

This does not mean that religious education teachers are not staying connected to their pupils. Through an agreement with the Augustine Institute, both religious educators and students have been granted free access to FORMED, an online religious education resource with thousands of movies, programs, classes and books made available.

Diocese of Venice Director of Religious Education, Anne Chrzan, provided catechists across the Diocese with a resource guide for religious education classes that are now online.

A note was sent to parents to inform them of the opportunity to continue the exploration of the Catholic Faith through the Augustine Institute for free. “FORMED is a great way to help you and your entire family understand, live and share the Catholic faith… (allowing) instant access to faith-fueling, inspiring and informative stories, teaching and more. Feel free to share this link and information with your friends and family.

Additional outreach from the Diocese and Parishes to parents and students will continue as long as in-person classroom instruction is not an option.

Periodic pertinent updates will be forthcoming as soon as possible with regard to those in Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) programs, as well as the status of confirmation classes and others seeking First Holy Communion.

Bishop Dewane letter on Coronavirus response

The following is a letter from Bishop Frank J. Dewane to the faithful of the Diocese of Venice. Below the letter is some additional important information. (Please read the entire contents of this notice.)

March 14, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ,

As Holy Mother Church makes her pilgrimage through the Lenten Season, please be assured of my continuing prayerful encouragement and support. As mentioned in my recent letter, together with our Priests and Diocesan Staff, I have been closely monitoring developments regarding the threat posed by the Coronavirus, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.

For this reason, out of pastoral concern, a dispensation has been issued from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for those effected by the Coronavirus. Now that a national emergency has been declared and the State of Florida has provided further guidance, many of the Catholic Faithful may deem it prudent to avoid large gatherings. Therefore, out of an abundance of spiritual concern, I now extend the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass to all the Catholic Faithful until further notice.

The celebration of the Holy Eucharist will continue in our churches with the necessary precautions. All the Catholic Faithful are asked to observe the Lord’s Day with reverence and in spiritual communion with one another, whether you attend Mass or not during this time.

Let us be united in prayer that God, who is our refuge and strength, will give us courage and perseverance in charity during this time, that we might remain healthy and encourage our brothers and sisters who are ill.

Through the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, may you be kept safe from all harm and uplifted by your Lenten prayer and fasting.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of the Diocese of
Venice in Florida


The following additional precautions are effective immediately throughout the Diocese of Venice:

  • Classes will be suspended in all Catholic Schools within the Diocese of Venice until March 30, 2020.
  • All Parish Religious Education and Youth activities will be suspended until March 30, 2020.
  • Parish events should be postponed or canceled through March 30, 2020.
  • Parish and Diocesan offices will remain open during this time.

The Diocese continues to closely monitor the situation and will issue updates as appropriate on the Diocesan website .

Thank you again for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

Venice in Florida

Winners announced in ‘Disciple of Christ’ showcase

To celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Venice in Florida students at Catholic middle schools were asked to answer the question: “What does it mean to be ‘A Disciple of Christ?’” Each student could respond in one of three ways, through language arts, visual arts or video production.

The response from the students to the 35th Anniversary Student Showcase Competition was impressive and overwhelming as a select committee went through 277 submissions to choose the winners. Announced in mid-January, the winners and honorable mention for each category were as follows:

  • Visual Arts – Winner: Sara Blandon, 8th grader, St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School, Naples; Honorable mention: Taylor Copeland, 8th grade, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, Fort Myers;
  • Language Arts (Essay) – Winner: Ava Irion, 8th grade, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, Fort Myers; Honorable mention: Christopher Wasdin, 8th grade, St. Mary Academy, Sarasota;
  • Video Production – Winner: Jasmine Aviles, 8th grade, St. Catherine Catholic School, Sebring; Honorable mention: Theresa Harwell, 7th grade, St. Martha Catholic School, Sarasota.

As Ava Irion says to start her winning essay: “There are many ways in which a person can be a disciple of Christ.”

This was true with the essay, art and video submissions, reflecting the different ways in which Catholic middle school-aged students view this important idea.

The select committee reviewed each submission and struggle to come up with the winners. The criteria that helped to narrow the choice was based on who most closely related their submission to the contest guidelines and prompt: “What does it mean to be ‘A Disciple of Christ?’”

Jennifer Falestiny, Diocesan Curriculum Specialist, was one of the judges and said the quality of the submissions was impressive. “It was difficult, but we were able to narrow it down to know that we made the right choice.”

Each of the winners will receive a $100 gift card and be presented with a certificate a ribbon and later an ice cream truck will come for a formal celebration. The honorable mention recipients will each receive a ribbon and certificate.

Ave Irion’s essay states that using the traits of Jesus as an example in one’s life is critical to becoming “A Disciple of Christ.” These include kindness, acceptance to others and a strong character. Each can turn an ordinary person into someone who loves Jesus with all of their heart, mind, and soul.

In her video submission, Jasmin Aviles cited the Gospel of Matthew 28: 19-20, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Jasmin went on to say that disciples “are called to love, obey, keep an eye on heaven, and carry crosses. Discipleship has to start somewhere.” (Scan QR code to watch the video, or visit and follow the links to the contest.)

Bishop Frank J. Dewane initiated the idea of being a “Disciple of Christ at the start of the academic year when he went to each Catholic School in the Diocese and celebrated Mass. It was then that he noted how 2019 was the 35th Anniversary of the Diocese so it was appropriate to initiate a new initiative, that they learn how to become “A Disciple of Christ.”

Sara Blandon, winner of the Visual Arts category drew a stunning image of St. Teresa of Calcutta holding a malnourished baby along with an accompanying poem. She wrote that her mind went directly went to the saint when thinking of “A Disciple of Christ.”

The image represents “the love that she put in caring for those who were in need. St. Mother Teresa has exerted a great influence on all individuals. She loved people with all her heart, even those with the worst diseases… With the devotion she gave, she became that true reflection of our Lord. A true disciple is one who gives up everything and helps those who truly need help. But most importantly, a true disciple is one who leads people closer to God.”

The Honorable Mention artwork by Taylor Copeland, 8th grade, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, Fort Myers, is a drawing of St. Dorcas, also known as St. Tabitha, who is noted by scholars as the first woman disciple. Known for helping the sick and poor, when St. Dorcas died, St. Peter came to her and said “Tabitha, get up.” She then opened her eyes.

Beginning with the Advent Season of 2019 and to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Diocese of Venice, the Diocese formally launched a campaign for all to become “A Disciple of Christ.” The campaign is running through the Liturgical Seasons; it began with Advent, then Christmas, and now a portion of Ordinary Time, to be followed by Lent, Easter, and concluding with Pentecost. A Bishop Dewane wrote in a letter to the faithful, these Seasons allow each of us to discover and experience what it means to be A Disciple of Christ. The Liturgical Calendar provides an emphasis on how to live during each Season with its special focus; how to personally follow Jesus and become more united to Him in the daily life of each Liturgical Season.

The call to be “A Disciple of Christ” requires a response from everyone. It may involve speaking out, giving up certain things in your life, or even taking on extra responsibilities, Bishop Dewane wrote. “To be ‘A Disciple of Christ’ does not mean only to follow Him in external practices and the traditions of the Church, but to respond to Jesus from the heart in loving obedience and trust.”

In this regard, Pope Francis said, “We cannot be tepid disciples. The Church needs our courage in order to give witness to truth.”

As Bishop Dewane stated: “You may think, ‘I am already following Christ’ but the call is to intentionally choose to become ‘A Disciple of Christ’ each and every day. Every moment provides an opportunity to be filled with Christ’s love. Allow it to transform your heart and life. Then bring this love to your family, your friends, and as well to your enemies.”

To learn more about being “A Disciple of Christ” and to see more of the winners from the 35th Anniversary Student Showcase Competition please visit

Disciple of Christ: Student Showcase Essay

The Diocese of Venice in Florida congratulates Ava Irion, 8th grader St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers for taking 1st Place (ESSAY) in the Disciple of Christ Diocese of Venice 35th Anniversary Student Showcase! This was chosen by a select committee out of 106 submission based on the content and its closeness to relating to the theme: “What does it mean to be a Disciple of Christ.” The complete essay is here:

By Ava Irion, 8th grade, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

There are many ways in which a person can be a disciple of Christ. If someone is a disciple of Christ, he or she respects and loves all humankind no matter the circumstance. Even more importantly, a disciple of Christ loves God more than their possessions and even more than their family. For example, John 8:31 states that, “A disciple loves others as Jesus has loved him.” By following the Ten Commandments, by helping others in everyday life, and by evangelizing, anyone can become a wonderful disciple of Christ. This is not an easy task, but someone who is a true disciple will surrender everything for God. The following will focus on traits that true disciples display: kindness, acceptance, and character.

To begin, kindness is one of the prime traits that someone needs in order to be a discipline of Christ and to live the way Jesus did. Kindness was displayed by Jesus in many ways throughout his life. He did this by healing, caring, and showing mercy for others. He never judged nor thought that he was better than others. Instead, he helped those who were different. No matter who they were or where they came from, Jesus showed kindness to everyone he came across. Some might think that this would be easy to do, however Jesus even showed immense kindness toward his enemies. Matthew 5:44 explains, “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Jesus followed these words and was kind to those who persecuted him and to those who cursed him. So the challenge is to live and act the way that Jesus did in his life. If we use kindness towards our neighbors, loved ones, and enemies more often in our everyday lives, we will be closer to living as a disciple of Christ.

Next, Jesus showed acceptance to others in his life. Acceptance of those who may look or act differently is very hard to do. However, all people need to be treated with human dignity and respect. Jesus showed acceptance many times in the Bible. One example is in Matthew 8:14 when Jesus touched the untouchable. Back in the time of Jesus, people who were visibly ill were outcasts. They were the “scraps” of the society. However, Jesus still loved them very much. In Matthew 8:14, a leprous man approached Jesus as he was walking up a mountain side. The man begged Jesus to be healed. Jesus broke all of the laws and boundaries as he walked up to the leper man and touched him. In one small, single touch, the leper was healed and was free to live the rest of his life. The man was cast out from society because of his differences but Jesus accepted him. Jesus was the only one who still saw this man as a human and not as some sort of monster. This acceptance from Jesus changed the man’s life. Jesus chose to see him as a real person and not as a plague. This enabled the man to be cured. Acceptance was powerful and life-changing, as it can be in each person’s daily life.

Finally, character is a trait that can turn an ordinary person into someone who loves Jesus with all of their heart, mind, and soul. Character can mean that someone is a role model, and that this person cares for others. Parents are a great example of this, as they are role models to their children. Parents can teach lifelong lessons such as, “Treat others how you want to be treated.” Parents model behavior for their children to learn and to act upon as the children grow into adults. Parents show their children how to treat others with respect. No matter what life throws at someone, that person can look to the character of their parents and think about what they would do in that situation. Another role model with strong character is Jesus. Jesus displayed character by showing forgiveness, love, and compassion. To act like Jesus means to not hold a grudge, to never wish harm to anyone, and to never try to one up someone to feel superior. Jesus forgave the people that killed him. Forgiveness in today’s world might not have to be that extreme, but one should never hold a grudge and should learn to love those who hurt them. The love of Jesus is the most radiant and powerful love ever. People need to love as he does. They need to love their neighbors and love him, with all of their hearts, minds, and souls. Finally, Jesus always had compassion for everyone he came across. Instead of worrying for himself, he thought of others and how he could help them. If humans learn from their parents and demonstrate the great character of Jesus, anyone can become a disciple of Christ.

Overall, a disciple of Christ needs to have the traits of kindness, acceptance, and character. If someone can demonstrate these virtues to others the way that Jesus did, they are becoming a disciple of Christ. The core of being a disciple of Christ is interesting and complex, but, ultimately, it means living like Jesus did. If people truly love Jesus and act with kindness, acceptance, and character, they can be one of the strongest and most amazing disciples of Christ. How will you use these traits to become a disciple of Christ?


To see more about the contest and the overall Disciple of Christ campaign, please visit

How can I be more ‘A Disciple of Christ’ in my own life

Letter from Bishop Dewane:

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Just past the midpoint of Advent, we all have been provided an initial time of fruitful preparation for the coming of Christ into our hearts and homes. As we look toward the end of Advent and the coming of Christmas, the call to become “A Disciple of Christ” in a new way should come to mind each day. This Advent, the Diocese of Venice launched a campaign to be “A Disciple of Christ,” to invite Christ in a personal and transformative way into our hearts that leads us to follow Him intentionally and willfully.  At this time, it is fitting to find newness in our relationship with Christ, to ask oneself, “How can I be more ‘A Disciple of Christ’ in my own life’?”

This beginning allows each of us a fresh start as well as a focal point which, of course, is Christ Himself. In the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa, “He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.” This is what it means to both become and to be a disciple, since it is Christ that we desire and His love that we know. It is never too late to begin anew, to follow Christ and invite Him into our hearts.

The Season of Advent began with the focus on the Second Coming of Christ, when He comes in glory to judge the living and the dead. The portion of the Season which we are entering now sets its gaze on the first coming, the coming of the Christ Child. With roughly a week left of Advent and in view of the quickly approaching Christmas Season, why not up our game? Make the most of the opportunity of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child into our own lives. Our beginning points may be different, as St. Gregory told us, but we continue to move from beginning to beginning so that Christ may be born in our hearts again and again.

The Gospel of Luke tells us of the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement of the coming of Christ. Mary, in a special way, displays what it means to be a disciple, and she is, in fact, the first “Disciple of Christ.” When she hears the Word of God spoken to her, she responds in faith, exclaiming, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word” (cf. Luke 1:38). This is the essence of living the Gospel: “may it be done to me according to your word”; it is an acceptance and a response to God.  In this way, all ought to be “A Disciple of Christ,” eager to receive His call and respond with love and faith. Then let us act and boldly allow Christ to take precedence in our lives in every respect.

Another example to be taken from this is the hearing and listening to God’s Word. How often do we allow the Bible to collect dust on the coffee table or on a bookshelf? Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice, He knows them, and they follow Him (cf. John 10:27). In this Season of preparation and in the following Season of Christmas, open your Bible with your family. “Take and read” as the Lord spoke to St. Augustine.  In this you will find the “words of eternal life” (cf. John 6:68) present in Our Lord who is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (cf. John 14:6) and you will know what it means to be “A Disciple of Christ.”

Looking toward the end of Advent and preparing for the coming of the Christ Child, be always aware of His Second Coming; be prepared to meet Christ as a disciple. Recognize the ways that He gives His love and respond to that love!

I wish you a fruitful remainder of the Advent Season and indeed a very Blessed and Merry Christmas! Know that you are in my prayers and please keep me in your prayers as we prepare for the coming of Christ into our hearts so as to be “A Disciple of Christ.”

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Frank J. Dewane

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


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

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.


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


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


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.