Religious Liberty Week June 22-29

The Feast of Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher on June 22, 2022, marks the start of Religious Freedom Week, a call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for all Catholics across the United States to pray, reflect and take action in support of Religious Freedom.

It is appropriate that the week begins on such a day, as Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher are remembered for being martyred in 1535 for standing up for the Sanctity of Marriage and the Freedom of the Church in opposition to England’s King Henry VIII.

Continuing through the Solemnity of Ss. Peter & Paul the Apostles on June 29, the Religious Freedom Week theme is “Life and Dignity for All.”

“This year, as we approach the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is especially mindful of the debates around our country about abortion,” the Conference said in a June 2 statement promoting Religious Freedom Week 2022. “The Catholic Church plays a crucial role in bearing witness to the gospel of life and serving all who will be affected by these discussions and their outcomes.”

The USCCB provides “Pray-Reflect-Act” resources at, one for each day on different religious liberty topics. This year, the topics focus on themes that intersect with life issues, including – Walking with Moms in Need; Church Vandalism; Adoption and Foster Care; Taxpayer Funding for Abortion; Religious Freedom in China; Pregnancy Resource Centers; Health Care Workers; and Free Speech.

The Diocese of Venice joins with other Dioceses to promote Religious Freedom Week. Bishop Frank J. Dewane encourages the faithful of the Diocese to educate themselves about the issues of religious freedom but to be aware of the threats faced both domestically and abroad.

Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director, said that if the faithful don’t stand up for religious freedom, government officials at all levels will continue to try to erode the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. This will mean that practicing one’s faith will be regulated into a mere freedom to worship, confining the practice of faith and worship within the four walls of the Church, well outside of public discourse and the public square.

For this reason, the U.S. Bishops said in their statement that a major area of concern continues to be “freedom for Catholic institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and child welfare service providers, to carry out their missions with integrity. In particular, protecting Catholic adoption and foster care will become even more vital, as we take new steps in building a culture of life and dignity for all in the United States.”

“To build a culture of life and dignity for all, the Church must support women and children,” the U.S. Bishops said. “In 2020, the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities launched Walking with Moms in Need. This initiative ministers at the local level by having parishes be places where pregnant and parenting women can find support and accompaniment.”

“This is a critically important program as the overturning of Roe v Wade becomes a strong possibility by summer,” Berdeaux said. “Helping individuals facing an unexpected pregnancy and those who have had an abortion are what we do as Catholics. See for details on both Walking with Moms in Need and Project Rachel, the Church’s post-abortion healing program.”

Materials prepared by the USCCB for Religious Freedom Week are made available to help people understand religious liberty from a Catholic perspective, reflect on the application, pray about particular issues, and act on what they learn by advocating for policies that promote religious freedom.

Through prayer, reflection, and public action during Religious Freedom Week, the USCCB hopes to promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths.

The USCCB materials can be found in English ( and in Spanish (

Connect with the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty by texting “FREEDOM” or “LIBERTAD” to 84576 and sign up for the First Freedom News, the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty’s monthly newsletter.

News Briefs for the Week of June 3 2022

Fire department fun

The Naples Fire-Rescue Department visited St. Ann Catholic School on May 25, 2022. In this annual visit, the ladders extended, and blasts of refreshing water sprayed all over delighted students. What a fun time for all the students as the school year ends.

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate June 18

All are invited and encouraged to attend the Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate for the following candidate: Craig Dutka of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto. The Ordination will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 18, 2022, at Holy Cross Parish, 506 26th St. W., Palmetto. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow.

Our Lady of Fatima Rosary Rally June 4

Please join our national “America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally” for the Traditional Family and Public Prayers in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to end abortion which will be held Saturday, June 4, from noon to 1 p.m., at the corner of Daniels Parkway and Daniels Commerce Blvd near Tile Outlet of America and TIAA Bank in Fort Myers. Parking is in an empty lot at Daniels Commerce Blvd. and Commerce Park Blvd. or John Yarbrough Linear Park off Daniels at Metro Parkway. Please arrive 10 minutes early and bring your Pro-Life signs, chairs, water, and umbrellas. For more information, please contact Toni at

22nd Annual Knights Liberty Ball June 18

The Knights of Columbus Assembly 2542 is hosting the 22nd Annual Liberty Ball, June 18, 2022, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. Presented by the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, the evening will honor Knights who are veterans. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with Presentation of Colors at 6 p.m. with dinner to follow. Tickets are $35 and include dinner, two drink tickets and dancing. Dress code for Fourth Degree Knights is tuxedo with Social Baldric, all others, smart casual. This Gala is open to everyone. For ticket or event information, please contact any of the following: Jim Mendolera at 239-390-0346, Frank Haneline, 239-466-6883, or Ron Bekech at 239-437-4999.

Religious Freedom Week 2022

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is once again promoting the celebration of Religious Freedom Week beginning Wednesday, June 22 to Thursday, June 29. Each year the week encompasses the period between the Memorial of Saints Thomas More & John Fisher, through the Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul. The theme for this year is Life and Dignity for All. As we approach the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we are especially mindful of the debates around our country about abortion. The Church plays a crucial role in both bearing witness to the gospel of life and serving all who will be affected by these discussions and their outcomes. Learn how you can pray, reflect, and act to promote religious freedom at

Youth Conference in July

The 14th annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference – “Fearless” – is being held July 8-10. Featured talks are by Father Rick Martignetti, Father Joseph Lugalambi, Father Rich Pagano and Chris Padget. The event includes the talks, Mass, Adoration, praise and worship, fellowship, opportunities for confession and much more. The cost is $175 and includes lodging, all meals, a t-shirt and more. To register, call 239-348-4725, or

News Briefs for Week of May 21, 2021

Wear Red on Pentecost Sunday

The great feast that marks the birth of the Christian Church by the power of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost Sunday, is May 23, 2021. Pentecost means “fiftieth day” and is celebrated 50 days after Easter. Red is the liturgical color for this day and the Faithful are encouraged to wear red to Mass that day. Red is symbolic of the love of the Holy Spirit and recalls the tongues of fire in which the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles that first Pentecost. The color red also reminds us of the blood of the martyrs. These are the believers of every generation who by the power of the Holy Spirit hold firm to the true faith, even at the cost of their lives.

Diocesan CCW Convention June 4-5

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s 34th Annual Convention, with a theme of “What have you done for the least of my people?” (Matt 25:40), will be held June 4 and June 5, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. The cost of the two-day convention is $75, or $65 for one day (lunch included). Each day will include personal development time, dynamic speakers and workshops, as well as providing the opportunity to meet women from around the Diocese along with the President of the Florida Council of Women. For registration information, please contact Bernadette Raftery at 704-968-9580 or or Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or Please register by May 25.

Young students learn the xylophone

PreK-4 and kindergarten students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers enjoyed time learning a new instrument, the xylophone, in class on May 11, 2021. There were different instruments that could play different ranges of notes. Students at Diocesan Catholic schools have access to music programs where they learn both music appreciation and have the opportunity learn to play many different instruments.

Religious Freedom Week coming soon

Solidarity in Freedom takes place from June 22 to 29. The Week begins with the Feast of Ss. John Fisher and Thomas More, ends with the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul and includes the Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist. During Religious Freedom Week, Catholics are encouraged to pray and act each day for religious freedom. The (USCCB) United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pray-Reflect-Act Series aims to help Catholics build solidarity with people of faith who are persecuted and find strength to carry out the mission of the Church here in the United States. For resources and reflections each day of this week, please visit

Verot Gifts of Christ Art Show winners announced

Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers announced the winners of the 1st Annual Gifts of Christ Art Show on May 11, 2021. The Gifts of Christ is a Diocesan-wide Catholic Schools initiative to integrate Catholic values and virtues into the curriculum including in the Arts. Best in Show: Cameron Schockling; First Place, Kerry Dowdle; Second Place, Tanner Filla; Third Place, Ainsleigh Ellis; Principal’s Award, Camila Luna; Honorable Mention, Anna Latell, Ava Lewis and Bridget Holbreck.

Fire truck cools off students

The City of Naples Fire Department Station No. 1 brought one of their ladder trucks to St. Ann Catholic School on May 12, 2021 to help cool off pre-K students on the soccer field. The water canon on the end of a ladder truck doused the students who dashed under the flowing water over and over again. There were also small inflatable pools set up for those seeking less excitement.