News Briefs for the week of May 13 2022


After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Jayabalan Raju, Parochial Vicar of Epiphany Cathedral Parish, Venice, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective April 22, 2022.

Father Fausto Stampiglia, S.A.C., V.F., retired as Pastor of St. Martha Parish and other Diocesan responsibilities, effective May 14, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Pastor of St. Martha Parish.

Father Jerzy (George) Suszko, S.A.C., is appointed as Pastor of St. Martha Parish, effective May 14, 2022. At the same time, he is relieved of his duty as Parochial Vicar at St. Martha Parish.

Father Marcin Koziola, is relieved of his duties as Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, effective May 2, 2022.

Father Kristian Villafaña, is appointed as Temporary Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, effective May 2, 2022.

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.

Sarasota Beach Volleyball team State Champs

Congratulations to our Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Girls Beach Volleyball team from Sarasota, they are State Champions for the Sunshine State Conference! The team beat Merritt Island High School on April 30, 2022, at Hickory Point Beach in Taveras. The team then fell in the quarterfinals of the FSHAA State Tournament on May 7, 2022, at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The team finished the season with a 22-2 overall record.

Fort Myers tennis team takes second at State

Congratulations to the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Viking Girls Tennis team in Fort Myers. They made Verot history today, earning 2nd place in the State Championship on April 29 at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry! The ladies entered the State Tournament at the 6th seed and took down two teams before falling in the Final to Gulliver Prep. Way to go ladies!

Pitcher throws Perfect Game

St. John Neumann Catholic High School Freshman Sophia Escobar pitched a Perfect Game on April 26, 2022, against South Fort Myers High School. She also struck out 14 batters during the game. A Perfect Game means Sofia did not allow any walks, hits or runs. Well done!

Venice school is STREAM Accredited

Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice is officially a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) Accredited Catholic School in the Diocese of Venice. Accreditation became official on April 26, 2022, from the Florida Catholic Conference of Bishops Accreditation Committee. The process of being certified has taken six years and the school credits its teachers for dedicating unit and lesson plans to the process.

Youngest students have fun measuring

Pre-kindergarten students, the youngest at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring, had fun on May 9, 2022, learning how to measure different objects. This lesson is helping to prepare these young minds for more advanced math in Kindergarten and beyond.

2022 Chrism Mass: A Sign of Unity

Renewal of Priestly Promises; Consecration and Blessing of Holy Oils

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was joined by 110 Priests and 30 Deacons from across the Diocese for the annual Chrism Mass on April 12, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

This celebration, which was witnessed by more than 1,000 of the faithful, including more than 350 students from Diocesan Catholic schools, marks the institution of the priesthood by Christ and is an expression of unity of the priests with their Shepherd, the Bishop of the Diocese.

During the Chrism Mass, Bishop Frank blessed and consecrated Holy Oils to be used in Parishes across the Diocese of Venice for the sacramental life of the Church throughout the coming year.

The Chrism Mass, which takes place during Holy Week every year, is one of the most solemn and important liturgies of the Catholic liturgical calendar. The celebration not only brings into focus the historical context of the priesthood but is also an opportunity for the priests to recall their ordination and to reflect upon their ongoing priestly vocation. Having all the priests of the Diocese come together at the Chrism Mass, on the eve of the Easter Triduum, reminds priests of their calling to act in the person of Christ – In persona Christi. This is one of the few times that so many priests are gathered together for the Mass.

During the Renewal of Priestly Promises the gathered priests stood as one, and spoke with one voice saying, “I am,” three times in response to questions asked by Bishop Dewane. These same questions were asked of them during their Ordination to the Priesthood.

Bishop Dewane publicly thanked the priests for their continued service to the People of God throughout the Diocese of Venice for what they do each day. “We have to know the faithful People of God, the people for whom a priest is called to be anointed, and in turn for those he is set to anoint. Allow that joy to penetrate your life, allow it to go deep within your heart. This is a guarded joy –a sense of safety – guarded and guided by God, the Father.”

The Bishop spoke about the poverty, fidelity and obedience as the sisterly guards of priests.

The poverty aspect isn’t only related to money, but the joyful sacrifice each priest makes when answering the call of the Lord in their life by “giving up” – according to the secular world – much to become a priest. But Bishop Dewane said “a priest is given much in return. Don’t look at the poverty; look to the richness the Lord gives.”

The fidelity of a priest is solely to the one Bride, the Church. “It is who you are called to be, precisely the living Church. A priest must share his life, as shepherd of the Parish, day in and day out.”

Regarding obedience, it must always be to the Church, which was set up as a hierarchy. “All are called to live it, know it, and let it be a comfort rather than something else,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is something we must internalize in our life – a strength – called for in union with God. We need to be obedient with our service, our availability, our readiness to go out and allow the Lord to make us the servant we are called to be. It is not easy. No one said it would be easy.”

At their core, priests must be spiritual beings, by having an interior unity through being in Communion with Christ.

“This fundamental Union with Christ is our gift,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Anointed One has anointed us, to still anoint others in the sacraments. This union with the Anointed One must be the hallmark of the things we do. Our response to the filling of the Holy Spirit in your life, in my life, must come from within; allowing us, always in Communion with Him, to act as an instrument of the Lord.”

Bishop Dewane explained how young people are also in search of their own spirituality, a challenge for priests, parents and families. “It is my prayer that you (young people) will begin to live that interior unity of life – you are made in the image and likeness of God – finding idealism, generosity for life and a love for Jesus Christ and His Church.”

The Bishop then challenged the Faithful present for the Mass, and across the Diocese, to be close to their priests – through prayer, through friendship, through supporting him in any way – and in the expressions of proper affection. “This goes a long way in the life of the priest, to let them know that the gift the Lord gave them sometimes takes a lot out of them. It is my prayer that you make them feel that they are the gift – a gift to the Diocese.”

The six Priests and three Permanent Deacons serving or living in the Diocese celebrating the 25th and 50th anniversaries of their ordination were individually recognized by the Bishop for their years of service to Christ and Holy Mother Church.

While the Oil of the Sick and Oil of the Catechumens are blessed, the Sacred Chrism is also blessed consecrated; and each will be used at Parishes throughout the year in the administration of the Sacraments.

The annual Chrism Mass, which is celebrated on or before Holy Thursday, takes place in every Diocese in the world. In the Diocese of Venice, the Chrism Mass is celebrated on the Tuesday of Holy Week to accommodate the priests who need to travel substantial distances.

In attendance for this special occasion were religious men and women; seminarians; the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem; the Knights and Dames of the Sovereign Order of Malta; the Color Corps of the Knights of Columbus; approximately 350 students representing most of the Diocesan Catholic Schools; members of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women; as well as the Faithful of the Diocese of Venice.

Sacred Chrism Oil

The Chrism Mass takes its name from the Sacred Chrism Oil, the most eminent of the three holy oils, which the Bishop consecrates and blesses for use by Parishes of the Diocese. Bishop Dewane described the oils as “Oils of Gladness” which represent the indelible mark each bestows.

The blessing of the oils takes place at different times during the Chrism Mass. Vested in white, Bishop Dewane raised hands and first blessed the Oil of the Sick at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer as it was held by the Deacon. Following the Prayer After Communion, the Bishop blessed the Oil of the Catechumens.

Next, the final portion of the Rite is the blessing and consecration of the Sacred Chrism Oil. First balsam is poured into the oil and then mixed. The balsam is added so that it gives the oil a sweet smell intended to remind those who encounter it of the “odor of sanctity.” All of the Faithful are called to strive for sanctity. Next, the Bishop breathes on the Sacred Chrism “to symbolize the Holy Spirit coming down.” At a particular point in the consecration of the Sacred Chrism, all the priests present joined the Bishop in extending their right hand toward the Chrism, as the Bishop concluded the prayer of consecration.

The Oil of the Sick, used for those who seek anointing, and the Oil of the Catechumens, which is imposed on those preparing for baptism, are “blessed,” by the Bishop. The Sacred Chrism is “blessed and consecrated.” The verb “consecrate” is applied to the action of making holy the chrism and indicates its use to spiritually separate, sanctify and purify its recipients.

After Mass, the oils were given to each Pastor to use in their Parish.


A reception was held in the Parish Hall following the Mass to honor Priests and Deacons celebrating their jubilee in 2022.

Father Hugh McGuigan, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, Pastor of Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers, spoke for the priest jubilarians. Father McGuigan marks the silver jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood in 2022 and described his journey first for 23 years as an Oblate Brother before becoming a priest. He also expressed his gratitude to Bishop Dewane and the Diocese for the support of the Ministry of the Oblates as they serve the Diocese at four Parishes.

Deacon Raymond Barrett spoke on behalf of the jubilarian Deacons, marking his 50th anniversary of ordination, as part of one of the earliest diaconate classes in the U.S. Deacon Barrett spoke about how his service evolved through the years to include prison and hospital outreach and then assisting for two decades at a retired priest nursing home.

Also celebrating 50 years were Msgr. Joseph Stearns, who assists at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch; Father Adrian Wilde, O. Carm., who is Prior of a Carmel at Mission Valley in Nokomis, Father David Foley assists at Parishes in Collier County.

Additional silver jubilarians were Father Patrick O’Connor, OSFS, Pastor of Jesus the Worker Parish and San Jose Mission in Fort Myers, Father Leszek Sikorski, a U.S. Navy Command Chaplain, Deacon Henry de Mena who serves at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, and Deacon Mark Miravalle, who teaches at Ave Maria University.

Retreat Center Celebrates Quarter Century

For more than a quarter century Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat and Spirituality Center in Venice has been bringing visitors closer to the Lord in its majestic setting along the banks of the Myakka River.

To celebrate its years of service as the main Retreat Center for the Diocese of Venice, a “Butterfly Ball” was held Feb. 19, 2022, at the St. Thomas More Parish Chelsea Center in Sarasota. The elegant evening included a live and silent auction as well as a “Gift from the Heart” appeal.

Irene Bauer, who was there when the idea of OLPH was being developed, said the Retreat Center “is like a portal to heaven, an open heavenly gate that brings souls closer to Jesus.”

Established by Bishop John J. Nevins, the groundbreaking for OLPH was in 1995 and buildings were added through the years. During its early years, OLPH was run by Redemptorist Father Charlie Mallen and Sister Carmella DeCosty, Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. The Retreat Center continues to flourish under the leadership of Bishop Frank J. Dewane and the succeeding religious orders who have taken the helm of leading the center including the Carmelites and now the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.

Bishop Dewane said OLPH was the second location he visited in the Diocese upon his appointment as Bishop. “I realized immediately; it is holy ground.” He credited Bishop Nevins, Father Mallen and Sister Carmella with having the vision and the determination to bring an idea to life with its expansive grounds, many places for contemplation, and beautiful St. Joseph Chapel, allowing visitors the opportunity to encounter the Holy Spirit.

The Bishop also thanked everyone present for their support of OLPH that evening and through the years. “Your assistance will allow OLPH to remain the sacred and spiritual haven that it is today and will continue to be for many years to come.”

Father Mark Yavarone, OVM, current OLPH Director, reflected upon how blessed he is to see the transformation of retreatants who spend time on the grounds. Whether as part of a large group retreat or an individual directed retreat, the transition from the noises of the outside world to the peaceful retreat center grounds help them get rid of the clutter, opening them up to hear the Lord.

With the exception of the founding Director, Father Mallen, all past and present Directors and Administrators were in attendance at the “Butterfly Ball.” The past Directors included Redemptorist Father Peter Sousa, Carmelite Father J.J. McCarthy, Oblates of the Virgin Mary Fathers Sean Morris and Shawn Monahan. Currently serving is Father Yavarone and assisting is Father Lino Estadilla, OVM. Sister Carmella was Administrator of OLPH for 18 years, and Denise Riley has held that position since 2013.

Today, in addition to the seven buildings on site, retreatants can spend time enjoying the beautiful grounds, which include a Rosary Walk, Way of the Cross, prayer decks and an outdoor Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help which was dedicated to Father Mallen by Bishop Dewane in June 2021.

OLPH offers a variety of individual and group and retreats as well as Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. For more information about OLPH, please visit or call 941-486-0233.

News Briefs for the Week of January 21, 2022

Children’s Festival draws 118

The St. Michael Parish 2022 Children’s Festival was celebrated with 118 children from kindergarten to fifth grade. The children played games, ate ice cream, learned about our Mother Mary and loving Jesus through Mary, had the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, attended Mass, and prayed the rosary with a procession.

Electric lesson
Third grade students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring explored different forms of energy during a lesson on Jan. 13, 2022. One of the more joyful parts of the experiments was learning about static electricity when they used a few balloons to cause some hair to stand on end.

Students thank officers
It was in December 2021 when a group of St. Francis Xavier Catholic School students received assistance crossing a busy intersection with the aid of the Fort Myers Police Department in their patrol cars and using their lights and sirens to the delight of the children. As a way of thanks, the fourth graders invited members of the Fort Myers Police Department to personally thank them for their support and service in celebration of Law Enforcement Appreciation Day on Jan. 7, 2022.

Mission Religious Sister bound for South Pacific

The South Pacific, home to idyllic remote islands, is often considered by many to be a tropical paradise and the ideal vacation destination.

A vacation will be far from the mind of Sister Maria Madre de le Alborada Quizhpe, a Servant Sister of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara, when she begins her long journey to Wagina Island in the Diocese of Gizo in the Solomon Islands. That is the location of her next missionary assignment.

Sister Alborada will be leaving her current assignment on Dec. 20, 2021, after three years at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. She will have the opportunity to visit her home in Ecuador for the holidays and then in early January 2022, she will fly to the Solomon Islands which are southeast of Papua New Guinea and was the location of extensive fighting throughout World War II. Upon arriving, Sister, and two fellow missionary sisters from her Religious Order, will be in COVID-19 quarantine in a hotel for 21 days.

After that long delay, it is a plane ride and a boat ride to where her new home will be, Wagina Island. The island is home to approximately 1,700 people who speak Pidgin and Kiribati and where English is seldom used. The Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, which includes the Servant Sisters, have been given the task to evangelize the island, with the first priest arriving in early 2018.

While the journey will be long in time and distance, it pales in comparison to how long Sister Alborada has been waiting for clearance to go to Wagina Island. She was weeks away from leaving is the first quarter of 2020 when the global pandemic put everything on hold, until now.

“It is when God wants you to be there,” Sister explained. “It is time. I did my best here in Florida, and am sad to leave, but I am happy to be going, as my next missionary adventure awaits.”

Sister Alborada is no stranger to missionary work in remote places, having served for eight years in Guyana before arriving in the Diocese of Venice in 2018.  While in Wauchula, Sister said “the people of St. Michael welcomed me as part of their family, and they are a part of mine. In a way, they will be taking this journey with me.”

Part of her time has been running the food pantry, which became an even greater task during the global pandemic as the needs dramatically increased. “It was a physical and mental workout and a special time when you see the need and have the opportunity to help people in a fundamental way.”

Admittedly, her favorite part of life in Wauchula has been as a catechist, teaching young children about the Catholic Faith.

Sister described that experience: “Teaching the little ones is special, because you know how much they can learn. When you place before them good information, they will never forget about that. And the little faces when they realize who is God. Wonderful! Or when you are telling of the story of the Angel appearing before the Blessed Virgin Mary. They don’t question. They have such pure minds. It’s amazing when their little eyes just shine when they learn something new. Beautiful!”

While in Wauchula she learned from her fellow Religious and the faithful new and fun ways to evangelize, such as through festivals and games. In her return to a more remote missionary life, Sister will be helping with catechism and formation in her new Parish and beyond.

“As a missionary, you have to help people keep the Faith alive because Father is not always there,” Sister Alborada said. “We are going to have a kindergarten next to the Parish Church and begin religious education classes while also helping with the health center.”

While much of her work will be focused in one location, there are several Chapels on the island where she will visit and evangelize either alone or with other sisters or the priest.

In preparation for her journey, Sister Alborada has been praying a 30-day Novena to St. Joseph. She has also been gathering a variety of supplies for her missionary work and for her basic needs. The island is so remote that a two-hour boat ride and similar plane ride just gets one to the nearest large town. It is also very expensive to ship items and it can take days or weeks for specialized items to arrive, if at all. In addition to water filters, toiletries and clothing, Sister’s admittedly overloaded luggage will include a ciborium, chalice, crucifix, and statues of St. Joseph and Our Lady.

Sister Alborada said the Children’s Christmas Pageant – an annual elaborate nighttime recreation of the Nativity with live animals and a baby is scheduled for Dec. 18 and will be the last big event she sees before leaving Florida two days later.

“It will be wonderful to see, and a little sad. I will be leaving a piece of my heart behind after having the opportunity to be with such wonderful people.”

News Briefs for the Week of Dec 17 2021

School Pro-Life club prays in front of abortion facility

On the Solemnity of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, 2021, the Pro-Life Club of the Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish, prayed in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Fort Myers. The students visit the site regularly and the Solemnity was a ideal time to come forward to be seen standing up for life as the voice of the voiceless – the unborn.

Naples high school hosts retreat

St. John Neumann Catholic High School hosted a DEC – Day Everyone Connects Retreat in Naples the weekend of Dec. 4-5, 2021. They welcomed Cristo Rey Catholic High School of Tampa and Immaculata LaSalle Catholic High School from Miami. Each school is led by Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco. The theme of this retreat was Renewal and New Life, and what better way to celebrate that than with birthday cake! Students took part in Mass, prayed together, and participated in a variety of spiritual exercises as well as team building activities while having lots of fun. It was also the first chance that many students were able to try the newly built and installed low ropes course that Neumann student Hunter Lund built on campus as his Eagle Scout project!

Mooney students spread Christmas spirit with hundreds of toys

The Cardinal Mooney chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society collected new toys to support Andrew’s Toybox in partnership with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. The donated toys by Cardinal Mooney students will benefit the 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida Guardian ad Litem Program. Donations were picked up by the Sheriff’s Department, Dec. 13, 2021. That’s not all, the Sunshine Meadows Nursing Home in Sarasota will be receiving Christmas gifts that are purchased by the Cardinal Mooney staff and families. The 38 residents will be receiving the needed items on their Christmas list. Mooney students also volunteered to assist the Longboat Key Kiwanis fundraiser for the Children’s Charity Scholarship Luncheon on Dec. 4 by assisting guests and serving food to attendees. The Cardinal Mooney band performed for shoppers at the University Town Center on Dec. 6 to showcase members of the band and experience the sounds of the season.

Police escort students – students enjoy lights and sirens

St. Francis Xavier Catholic School reached out to the Fort Myers Police Department Dec. 9, 2021, for a simple request to help their students cross a busy intersection so they could attend an event. Of course, FMPD had to make sure they crossed in style with lights and sirens. The kids were ecstatic to have the officers there escorting them and they officers enjoyed it just as much.

Older students teach about saints to schoolmates

The eighth graders at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice took time out of their busy schedule to teach what they know about the saints to students in other classrooms. On Dec. 7, 2021, the students visited the fifth graders, asking questions such as “What do you know about saints?” or “What qualities do saints possess?” This opened up a lively discussion where it was learned that many saints are known for doing the small things in service to Christ well, something they should learn to emulate in their own lives.

Students organize food and toy drives

The St. Ann Catholic School Student Council sponsored a food drive for St. Matthews House in Naples to help fight hunger and poverty in Southwest Florida collecting all of their items on Dec. 7, 2021. At the same time, the S.O.S. Colombia Christmas Campaign gathered boxes of clothes and toys for Christmas, while collecting money for needy children in Bogota, Colombia.

News Briefs for the Week of Nov. 19, 2021

Parish has Family Weekend

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula had a Family Weekend on Nov. 13-14, 2021. Each day include talks in English and Spanish for the adults and children, fun for the whole family, dinner, prayer time, the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Mass. Some 150 participated each day. Speakers included Alejandra Ruiz, Gregory Stearn, Andrea and Spencer McSorley, Dr. Alenjandro Carvallo and Msgr. Mark Svarczkopf.

School robotics team gets first test

The St. Catherine Catholic School Warriors Robotics Team traveled to Fort Myers on Nov. 13, 2021, to participate in a robotics scrimmage “coopertitions” with other schools. This was a great experience for the students as they learned the fundamentals of operating their robots with the stress of a competition as well as how to work as team. Great Job Warriors!

Anniversary celebrations in Port Charlotte

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School hosted a weekend of activities Nov. 12-14, 2021, as part of the ongoing 60th anniversary celebrations. This included a Food Truck Friday with music for alumni, parishioners and families; an Alumni Cocktail Hour on the Saturday; and then an Alumni and Family Barbeque on Sunday. A great time was had by all.

Disguising turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving

Kindergartens at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers disguised turkeys in art class on Nov. 11, 2021, in the hopes that it would help the turkeys to not be eaten on Thanksgiving. The young artists went all out on their designs.

High school open house draws big crowd

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota hosted an Open House of prospective students and their families on Nov. 10, 2021. Current student ambassadors gave tours of the school and shared their experiences. Faculty and staff were on hand to answer any questions for the more than 140 families. It was a great night sharing all the special things about Mooney.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit the for a link to a slideshow of more photos

Diocesan Phase of Synod inaugurated with Mass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News Briefs for the Week of October 22, 2021

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Sebring

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

VDCCW Retreat held

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

Students celebrate Chaplain’s birthday

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

Heading Up ‘STREAM’

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

New mural completed in Naples

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

Parent Book Club in Sarasota

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

Students gain engineering skills

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

Sophomore retreat in Naples

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

Students go on “Safari”

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