Looking ahead to 2022 in the Diocese of Venice

Opportunities abound for the faithful of the Diocese of Venice to grow closer to the Lord as the new year begins while continuing to deal with the impacts of the global COVID-19 Pandemic. A variety of Diocesan events are scheduled or in the planning stages while at the same time numerous Parishes are in the process of either completing or beginning major construction work. Therefore, 2021 is sure to be an exciting year for Catholics across Southwest Florida.

In the coming months there will be the Ordination to the Priesthood of three men, the Diocesan Phase of the Synod on Synodality, Masses for couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries, a first-time joint Men’s and Women’s Conference, a continuing initiative to curb the impacts of pornography on society, opportunities to promote the sanctity of life, and learning experiences of various types.

During the first half of 2022, taking center stage will be the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” Specifically, there will be a series of listening sessions which will take place in each part of the Diocese and to be announced in the next few weeks. 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. This Diocesan Phase was inaugurated with an opening Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Oct. 17, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Coming in March is one of the most valuable opportunities to grow in the Faith, a first-ever joint Women’s and Men’s Conference. This year, the Conference agenda has been supercharged with dynamic speakers addressing relevant topics within the Church for Catholic men, women and their families. The 2022 Diocese of Venice Men’s & Women’s Conference is Saturday, March 5, at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center, 75 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda. Speakers include Trent Horn, Matthew Leonard, Emily Wilson, Dr. Michael Dauphinais, and Nicole Caruso with several breakout sessions geared specifically toward men or women. The large venue is ideal for allowing all participants to grow closer to the Lord. In addition, there will opportunities to participate in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession all day. Bishop Dewane will conclude the day by celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Doors open at 8 a.m. with the day beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding with the closing Mass at 4 p.m. To register, visit https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-menswomens-conference. If you have any questions, contact the Diocesan Evangelization Office at 941-484-9543 or evangelization@dioceseofvenice.org.

For all couples celebrating a significant wedding anniversary (25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, or more than 50 years of marriage) in 2022, Bishop Dewane will be the celebrant of two Masses in your honor. The Masses will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 12 at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs, and at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 19 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Avenue, Venice. The Masses will be followed with a lunch and include the opportunity for complimentary anniversary photos taken with Bishop Dewane. To register, please contact your local parish office for reservations no later than a week prior to the event you choose to attend.

The Office of Respect Life will be busy throughout 2022 with a variety of activities, all to raise awareness about important issues regarding the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. First up is the 24th annual Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life on Tuesday, Jan. 18, outside of the Planned Parenthood in downtown Sarasota. Bishop Dewane will celebrate Mass at 8:30 a.m. at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota. A bus will shuttle participants to the abortion center on Central Avenue to circle the block in prayer as many times as desired. The walk coincides with the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade court decision which paved the way for legalized abortion in the U.S.

In addition, there are two Parish-based prayer walks Saturday, Jan. 22. Members of the Ave Maria Parish Respect Life Outreach, along with Ave Maria University and Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc., will be hosting a March for Life from the Ave Maria University football field 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Special guests include Bishop Dewane and Pro-Life speaker Pam Stenzel. The same day, the St. Leo the Great Parish Respect Life Outreach in Bonita Springs is hosting its 3rd Annual Walk for Life on U.S. 41 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Participants are asked to park in the Parish parking lot at 28290 Beaumont Road and everyone will meet on nearby U.S. 41.

Later in the year, there will be an opportunity to participate in the national 40 Days for Life Spring Campaign during Lent in Fort Myers and Sarasota, then the Fall Campaign (October) at multiple locations in the Diocese.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., will be hosting several events to support its more 30 than programs throughout the Diocese. First up on Wednesday, Jan. 19, is the “Celebration of Hope Luncheon” to benefit the programs in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties, The Luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m., at the Lexington Country Club, 16257 Willowcrest Way, Fort Myers. For tickets to this event, please contact Victoria Guevara at victoria.guevaranunez@catholiccharitiesdov.org or call 239-334-4007 ext. 2100.

In the beginning of February, make plans for an elegant evening at the “Together Again” Catholic Charities Ball, which supports the programs of Catholic Charities in Sarasota, Manatee, Highlands, Glades, DeSoto and Hardee counties. The Ball is 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5, at the Ritz-Carlton, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota. For tickets or to sponsor the event, please visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/event-on/ or call 941-909-7817.

Coming later in February is the Our Mother’s House Annual Wine Tasting, Auction & Dinner Dance at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Venice Community Center, 326 Nokomis Ave. S., Venice. Funds raised by this event will ensure that Our Mother’s House is able to offer the support needed to the mothers and their children as they journey towards self-sufficiency. For more information, please contact Lisa Ventura at 941-485-6264 ext. 1500 at lisa.ventura@catholiccharitiesdov.org. For tickets, please visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/event-on/.

Next among the Catholic Charities events in early 2022 is the Emerald Ball 2022. This evening supports the Catholic Charities programs in Collier County and will take place at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 10, at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. For more information or to sponsor the event, please contact Rosa Aspilcueta 239-455-2655 ext. 3100 or emeraldball@catholiccharitiesdov.org, or visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/event-on/.

Continuing on the success of the first Safe Haven Sunday in 2021, the Diocesan Office of Family Life is working on developing the second phase of the initiative for the fall of 2022. This phase help to raise awareness about the harmfulness of pornography in the family and society. Pornography creates unsafe environments for children and confuses others about attitudes towards sex and marriage. This day of awareness describes the impacts pornography can have on marriages, families, and culture, while providing helpful resources for all. Detailed information will be shared with the faithful about how to combat this scourge in the weeks leading up to Safe Haven Sunday.

In the coming months, Bishop Dewane will preside over a variety of celebrations which occur each year, including the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent, March 6, when Bishop Dewane welcomes those in Parish RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) programs from throughout the Diocese who will be fully entering the Church at the Easter Vigil; a Mass for Victims of Abuse will take place in April – National Child Abuse Awareness Month; later in the year a Veterans Day Mass at Sarasota National Cemetery, a Red Mass for legal professionals and more. As earlier mentioned, three men will be Ordained to the Priesthood by the Bishop this summer at Epiphany Cathedral.

Throughout 2021 there will be a variety of Parish-based celebrations coming in 20211. Among those is the 40th Anniversary of the founding of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples, which is also going through an expansion project slated to begin in 2022. The dedication of new Parish Life Centers for Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Boca Grande and St. William Parish in Naples will be happening in the first half of the year; and renovations to existing buildings as new Parish Life Centers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee and Our Lady of the Angels Parish Lakewood Ranch are nearing completion. The coming year will be a big one at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Sarasota which is nearing the completion of a major Church renovation and ground will be broken on a new Ministry Center. There will also be a renovation of the baseball fields at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers as well as the expansion of the religious education building at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. Additional smaller, but no less important, projects are slated throughout the Diocese in an effort to benefit current and future generations.

As 2022 moves forward, check the Diocesan website (www.dioceseofvenice.org) frequently for information about these and other upcoming events. As always, check the weekly Florida Catholic e-Edition to read stories and view photos from these and other happenings across the Diocese. If you would like to read the story looking back at life in the Diocese during 2021, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/looking-back-on-2021/.

Respect Life opportunities for 2022

The Office of Respect Life will be busy throughout 2022 with a variety of activities, all to raise awareness about important issues regarding the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.

First up is the 24th annual Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life on Tuesday, Jan. 18, outside of the Planned Parenthood in downtown Sarasota. Bishop Dewane will celebrate Mass at 8:30 a.m. at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota. A bus will shuttle participants to the abortion center on Central Avenue to circle the block in prayer as many times as desired. The walk coincides with the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade court decision which paved the way for legalized abortion in the U.S.

 

Catholics nationwide are preparing to pray 9 Days for Life, the annual pro-life novena beginning this year on January 19. In the Catholic Church, a ‘novena’ consists of prayers or actions over nine successive days. This pro-life novena is an opportunity for recollection and reparation in observation of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the United States.

Sponsored by the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 9 Days for Life began in 2013 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. This is the tenth year the novena is taking place. The overarching intention of the novena is the end to abortion. Each daily intention highlights a related topic and is accompanied by a reflection, educational information, and suggested daily actions. The novena encompasses the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on January 22. All are invited to sign up at 9daysforlife.com. Participants can receive the novena in English or Spanish via email or text message or access it online. Participants can share their pro-life witness and invite their social networks to pray on social media with the hashtag #9DaysforLife.

In addition, there are two Parish-based prayer walks Saturday, Jan. 22. Members of the Ave Maria Parish Respect Life Outreach, along with Ave Maria University and Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc., will be hosting a March for Life from the Ave Maria University football field 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Special guests include Bishop Dewane and Pro-Life speaker Pam Stenzel. The same day, the St. Leo the Great Parish Respect Life Outreach in Bonita Springs is hosting its 3rd Annual Walk for Life on U.S. 41 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Participants are asked to park in the Parish parking lot at 28290 Beaumont Road and everyone will meet on nearby U.S. 41.

Later in the year, there will be an opportunity to participate in the national 40 Days for Life Spring Campaign during Lent in Fort Myers and Sarasota, then the Fall Campaign (October) at multiple locations in the Diocese.

 

Looking back on 2021

The continuing global pandemic did little to curb the important work of spreading the Good News of the Lord to the faithful throughout the Diocese of Venice in 2021.

While some events were modified, delayed or even postponed, the Diocese was blessed to have two men Ordained to the Priesthood; welcome hundreds into the Church at the Easter Vigil; start a massive robotics program in its Catholic schools; host a successful Youth Rally, as well as Women’s and Men’s Conferences; honor the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony; continue to pray for victims of abuse; honor our veterans; prayer walks for an end to abortion; assist tens of thousands with food and other support; evidence major enrollment gains in its Catholic schools; dedicate a new Parish Church and Retreat Center Shrine; continue to expand the outreach to the Hispanic Catholic community; inaugurate the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” and conclude the “Year of St. Joseph.”

This list is just a small sample of what took place across the Diocese of Venice in 2021, all while the Diocese as well as the Parishes and Catholic schools modified operations to ensure that everyone remained safe. Each activity during the year was carefully planned to ensure participants would benefit from participating and ultimately working to the goal of helping the faithful grow ever closer to the Lord.

While taking time to look back covers many pivotal events in the life of the Diocese, the following is by no means a comprehensive listing of the initiatives and events which take place throughout the Diocese.

Priestly Ordination and Vocations

One of the most important building blocks of the Catholic Church is the ordination of men to the priesthood. The Diocese of Venice was blessed to have two men ordained in 2021 presided over by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral. Three other seminarians were ordained to the Transitional Diaconate in 2021 and are expected to be ordained to the priesthood in 2022.

Also encouraging is that there are currently 16 active seminarians in the Diocese, including the transitional deacons. The Vocation’s Office hosts several informational trips to the seminaries in Florida for prospective young men.

Chrism Mass and Celebration of Jubilarians

During Holy Week the priests of the Diocese gathered for the annual Chrism Mass; a powerful sign of unity with more than 100 priests on the altar with Bishop Dewane at the Cathedral. This annual Mass is one of the most critical and unifying moments for the Diocese during Holy Week. At the Chrism Mass, priests and deacons who celebrate milestone anniversaries were honored. To accommodate the latest guidance on social distancing and limiting the size of gatherings at the time, only priests and Permanent Deacons and their wives were present for the Mass. The public was able to view this Mass via livestream.

Catholic schools

The Diocese of Venice uniformly strengthened STREAM education in 15 Diocesan Catholics Schools through an investment in a partnership with FIRST®, a global robotics community, “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” placing students ahead of the curve in primary fields while continuing to promote core Catholic virtues. A gift of 500 robots and curricular resources were presented by Bishop Dewane to Diocesan Catholic Schools on March 10, 2021. Since that announcement Catholic schools throughout the Diocese have been enhancing STREAM-based learning and taking the time to continuously engage students through playful learning activities to think critically and solve complex problems, regardless of their learning level.

Also of good news, a report from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCC) has revealed that the Diocese of Venice leads all other Arch/diocese in enrollment gains in the past year. This trend also wipes out enrollment losses that occurred due to the pandemic. The Diocesan numbers – a 15.2% enrollment increase in elementary schools and 8.9% percent increase in secondary schools – compare favorably to the rest of the state.

Throughout the year, many schools implemented programs to improve sustainability through water conservation and energy reduction effort all in the spirit of Laudato Si, an encyclical from Pope Francis on the care for our common home.

Respect Life Outreach

The Diocese of Venice had huge numbers participate in prayer vigils at abortion facilities throughout the Diocese of Venice. With this topic gaining national attention due to laws restricting access to abortion in Texas and Mississippi and pending decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, the vigils took a renewed sense of urgency. A focused prayer walk takes place each January in Sarasota to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, while two 40 Days for Life campaigns take place at multiple locations each Lent and again in the fall to coincide with October, National Respect Life Month.

Honoring the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony

As the sanctity of marriage continues to be attacked from many different levels, Bishop Dewane takes time out each year to honor the men and women who have dedicated their lives to living the Sacrament of Marriage. Two Mass are held during the year which the Bishop celebrates for couples enjoying significant wedding anniversaries; many celebrating more than 50 years of marriage and some more than 70 years. These couples represent a shining example of this important Sacrament in the face of many attacks on this vital institution. In addition, the Diocese hosted the inaugural Marriage Enrichment Conference in October in Sarasota and Naples. The goal was to help form married couples to live out their vocation in holiness and joy.

Safe Haven Sunday

To help bolster the family, the Diocese also participated in the first ever Safe Haven Sunday in March 2021. Safe Haven Sunday was set aside so as to give focused time and resources to address the harmful effects of pornography on youth, marriages, and families. Resources to protect individuals, marriages and families were given to families attending Masses that weekend. This was followed up by a series of Cyber Safety workshops for parents, religious educators, and principals.

Catholic Charities

Each year the programs of Catholic Charities within the Diocese of Venice assists thousands of individuals and families and through the pandemic the numbers remained high as inflation has caused housing and food prices to skyrocket further impacting families. More than a million pounds of food was served to some 150,000 individuals at food pantries throughout the Diocese. Catholic Charities also hosted several volunteer vaccinations sites in rural communities with great success. An additional 2,000 received mental health counseling through in-person and tele-mental health programs. Nearly as many received some sort of emergency financial assistance. This support was in addition to the 30 other programs Catholic Charities has at locations throughout the region and ranges from afterschool tutoring to senior care.

Year of St. Joseph

Because St. Joseph is Protector of the Universal Church, Bishop Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to a “Year of St. Joseph” in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic beginning March 19, 2020. The Diocesan dedication to a “Year of Saint Joseph” was extended to continue until Dec. 8, 2021. This was in direct support of Pope Francis creating a Universal “Year of Saint Joseph” from Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021. Among the activities which took place to honor St. Joseph, the Diocesan Office of Family Life introduced a 30-day St. Joseph Devotional for the month of September 2021, as a way to continue to mark the ongoing “Year of St. Joseph,” as well as the celebration of the Year of Amoris Laetitia Family.

Synod on Synodality

Bishop 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 an afternoon Mass on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral. Participating in the Mass were Diocesan priests, as well as some 300 people representing many Parishes, various movements, and many other groups. 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. Two episodes of the Bishop radio show, “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane,” were dedicated to covering the intricacies of the Synod.

Dedications

Two major dedications took place in the first half of 2021. First was the Dedication and Blessing of a new Parish Church for St. Paul Parish in Arcadia on March 21, 2021. The building more than quadrupled the capacity of the previous church and offers room for future Parish offices, classrooms and a Parish Hall. The project followed strict guidelines to ensure the building is energy efficient is the context of Laudato Si. A centerpiece feature of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice was dedicated and blessed by Bishop Dewane before an enthusiastic crowd on June 6, 2021. The Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a fitting memorial to the Blessed Virgin who serves as the exemplar for all to follow.

Other items of note

  • For the 14th consecutive year, during Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month – April, the Diocese of Venice offered a Mass to pray for the victims of abuse at Epiphany Cathedral. Normally there are two Mass, but the pandemic necessitated only one Mass in 2021. So as to accommodate a larger audience, the Mass was live-streamed. The Diocese of Venice, and its entities, take very seriously the safety of all young people and vulnerable adults. To this end, the Diocese, with a zero-tolerance policy, works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults.
  • The 12th Annual Veterans Day Catholic Mass made a successful return to Sarasota National Cemetery as Bishop Dewane prayed for those currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, those who have died, and their families. More than 500 people attended the Mass which was celebrated in 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice out of caution because of the pandemic and the threat of a hurricane.
  • For the past four years the Hispanic Ministries outreach of the Diocese of Venice has strived to meet the needs of those desiring to be better formed in their Faith. The Spanish-language Faith Formation Program recently distributed certificates of completion to 219 students who have completed an educational program to better understand the teachings of the Catholic Faith, bringing the four-year total to more than 1,500. Spanish Faith Formation Program sessions were developed following the local consultation process of the V Encuentro in 2016 and 2017.
  • The Diocese also hosted successful Women’s and Men’s Conferences as well as a full-scale Youth Rally with some 1,000 attendees. Each of these events was necessarily scaled back in 2020.
  • A Catechetical Conference, hosted by Diocese of Venice Department of Education and spearheaded by the Office of Religious Education, provided an understanding as to how to bring Jesus Christ into the classroom as a catechist according to Church teachings. The bilingual Conference was Sept. 25, 2021, and offered catechetical leaders, catechists, religion coordinators and religion teachers a training day aimed at helping them to grow spiritually and professionally.

While 2021 brought great challenges to many, including to the Diocese of Venice, the Catholic Church remains strong and 2022 looks to be a time of celebration and hope.

Stay tuned to learn about the events of 2022 coming in the Jan. 14, 2022 e-Edition of The Florida Catholic.

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.

Unraveling the Roots of Men’s Trauma – Post Conference reflection and looking ahead

By Nathan Misirian, Special to the Florida Catholic
Whether you are new or have been active since the start of the Pro-Life movement, it is common to see women as leaders, facilitators, counselors, and participants in healing. Looking more broadly at our culture, the predominant conversation in the media and in politics is that “abortion is a women’s issue.”

However, at the beginning of 2021, the leadership team of Support After Abortion had the vision to reach men who are hurting after abortion. Through two national, consumer research studies that represent the U.S. demographics, men impacted by abortion confidentially completed statistically valid surveys.  It was found that, in fact, men are hurting from abortion and have been stuffing or ignoring their hurt for years. Men shared that:

  • 71% of men said they were adversely impacted by abortion
  • 44% of men shared they did not have a voice in the abortion decision
  • 90% of men did not know where to go for healing after abortion

The Men’s Conference

So, with more than 22 million men having been impacted by abortion in the U.S. and 90% do not know where to turn to heal, Support After Abortion planned and launched the virtual Unraveling the Roots of Men’s Trauma Conference on Oct. 16, 2021.

Enlightened by the consumer research, Support After Abortion invested hours of first-hand interviews with men and clinicians to design and deliver a conference both to teach leaders how to reach men and provide an avenue for men to start their healing process.

Support After Abortion also launched a weekly podcast teaching and exploring how to help men heal from trauma with more than 250 downloads a month.

There were more than 700 people who attended the virtual Conference and 50% were men, a 40% increase in male participants compared to the previous online, live conferences. All the speakers were live and their Ted-talk-style videos are available for free online.

For the Men’s Conference, Support After Abortion worked closely with ecumenical partners to share and promote the message of hope and healing to clergy and leaders.

With an entire day’s worth of new content and insights on helping men heal, some of the most engaging aspects of the conference were the live Q&A between the speakers and the participants. Illustrating the pent-up demand for abortion healing, within the conference’s first hour, participants, both men and women, were sharing their abortion story – most for the first time!  It was heart-moving to watch Conference leaders listen and share compassionately that those impacted by abortion do not have to bear shame or hide any longer. Other participants reached out confidentially through Support After Abortion’s HopeLine (844-289-HOPE) to start their healing process.

Looking Ahead for Men Healing After Abortion

With more than 6,000 views from over 20 countries of the healing content from the one-day conference, Support After Abortion is dynamically leading the charge to sponsor and advocate for more healing programs to be implemented throughout the US and the world.

Lisa Rowe, LCSW and Nathan Misirian, Conference Producer, led a series of train-the-trainer events for leaders based on the Support After Abortion curriculum called Unraveled Roots and Keys to Hope and Healing – a collaborative project with Word Among Us. Leaders not only are introduced to the curriculum, learn and watch how to facilitate but they also join in and experience the dynamics of a healing group for men.

Support After Abortion’s vision remains focused on healing those impacted by abortion, especially men who are seeking but can’t find abortion healing programs. The focus in 2022 is to train more leaders on both curricula and facilitating skills to plan and implement healing groups for men worldwide. To learn more, please reach out to www.supportafterabortion.com.

Novena to Christ the King begins today

For the nine days leading up to the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is suggesting that the faithful pray a novena to Christ the King.

“Let us offer our prayers to Christ the King for the freedom of the Church,” the USCCB urges. Religious freedom allows the Church, and all religious communities, to live out their faith in public and to serve the good of all.

The novena begins Nov. 12, 2021 and concludes on the eve of the Solemnity, Nov. 20. To participate in the novena visit www.dioceseofvenice.org.

The idea behind the novena is that religious freedom is under attack in many places. Worldwide, it is estimated that upwards of 4 billion people (51% of the global population) live in countries that have intense violations of religious freedom.

Domestically, 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 free from government intervention

If anyone wonders why Religious Freedom needs to be defended in the U.S., they need look no further than the frequent headlines about religious institutions being forced to pay for abortions in health care coverage, going against the teachings of the faith in defense of life from conception to natural death. Individuals have faced lawsuits for refusing to perform a service (bake a wedding cake, host an event) for same-sex couples because that violates their personally held faith-based beliefs.

Religious freedom is a human right, essential to the dignity of the human person and the flourishing of all that is noble in us. It should be noted that religious freedom does not exist to protect the government from religion, but religion from government intervention.

Another form of suppressing religious freedom is the disturbing trend in the past 18 months of overt acts of vandalism at Catholic sites globally and in the U.S. Since May 2020, the USCCB stated that more than 100 incidents of vandalism have been reported, including within the Diocese of Venice.

On Oct. 10, 2021, the USCCB responded to the latest such incident in Denver, Colorado, when satanic and other hateful graffiti was scrawled on the walls before Sunday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

In a statement from the USCCB condemning the incident in Denver, it was noted in part: “These incidents of vandalism have ranged from the tragic to the obscene, from the transparent to the inexplicable. There remains much we do not know about this phenomenon, but at a minimum, they underscore that our society is in sore need of God’s grace… where the motive was retribution for some past fault of ours, we must reconcile; where misunderstanding of our teachings has caused anger toward us, we must offer clarity; but this destruction must stop. This is not the way… These are not mere property crimes – this is the degradation of visible representations of our Catholic faith. These are acts of hate.”

The Solemnity of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in his 1925 encyclical Quas primas (In the first), setting aside a special day so that “the Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, destined to be spread among all men and all nations, should with every token of veneration salute her Author and Founder in her annual liturgy as King and Lord, and as King of Kings” [Quas primas 12].

Celebrated on the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, this year the Solemnity is Nov. 21. The USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty has urged “that the Solemnity of Christ the King – a feast born out of resistance to totalitarian incursions against religious liberty – be a day specifically employed by bishops and priests to preach about religious liberty, both here and abroad.”

“For Christians, when our faith is repeatedly marginalized in public life, we can fall into the habit of compartmentalizing our lives,” the USCCB website states in its article “About Christ the King.” “We love Jesus in our private lives, but we shrink from acknowledging the kingship of Christ in social life. When we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, we declare to the world and remind ourselves that Jesus is the Lord of the Church and of the entire universe.”

Once again, if you wish to participate in the novena to the Christ the King, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org.

News Briefs for the Week of November 1, 2021

Rite of Candidacy for two seminarians

William Patrick Long and T. Gregory Dougherty received Candidacy for the Orders of Diaconate and Priesthood at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts on Oct. 27, 2021. Most Rev. Timothy Broglio, Archbishop of the Military Service USA, presided over the Rite for nine seminarians including Long and Dougherty. During the Rite, each man publicly expressed his intention to embrace the formation process for Holy Orders and stated his resolve to fully invest himself to that end. The men will continue in their studies to become Catholic priests.

40 Days for Life ends with Jericho walk

The fall 40 Days for Life prayer campaign to end abortion in the United States came to an end on Oct. 30, 2021 with a symbolic Jericho Walk in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in downtown Sarasota. The Sarasota walk has concluded with the evening walk at sunset for the past several years as supporters gather walk silently around the building until sunset. The evening included prayers and encouragement that the battle for life does not end but continues until all unborn children are saved. The 40 Days for Life fall campaign evening walk started Sept. 22and local local vigils took place in Sarasota and Fort Myers joining similar prayer vigils at cities around the world.

Catholic Medical Association Guild board meets with Bishop

Leadership of the Southwest Florida Guild of the Catholic Medical Association met with Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Oct. 28, 2021 at the Catholic Center in Venice. The leadership provided Bishop Dewane with their annual report on their latest activities.

Cathedral Concert Series resumes

The Epiphany Cathedral Concert Series returned Oct. 28, 2021 with a presentation from the Mirage Piano Trio, with works by Debussy, Bach and Mendelssohn. The next offering is in the planning stages. To learn more call 941-484-3505 or visit www.epiphanycathedral.org/about/events/.

Students visit college to learn about panthers

After completing a section of their science class about the Florida panther, fourth grade students from St. Ann Catholic School in Naples took a field trip to visit the Panther Posse at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero. There the students learned from wildlife experts about the big cats who are native to the area and are an endangered species because of human interaction and encroachment into their habitat. They learned how important they panther is to the delicate balance of nature throughout south Florida.

Students learn how to handle flag from veterans

Eighth-grade students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples took part in flag training on Oct. 26, 2021. Members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post showed the students how to handle the American Flag from unfolding it, raising on a flagpole, and then properly folding it afterwards. As school leaders it is important for the eight graders to know the proper procedure for handling the flag and to learn from experts, military veterans.

Freshmen retreat held in Sarasota

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Senior Peer Ministry class hosted the freshmen retreat “Made in God’s Image” on Oct. 26, 2021 in Sarasota. It was a wonderful day of prayer and bonding with classmates.

Students monitor the weather

Second grade students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring took on the task of building rain gauges using limited resources and materials on Oct. 28, 2021. The gauges use a basic design using the bottom of a 2-litter plastic bottle to monitor the rain and temperature. This is part on an ongoing STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum at the school for students of all ages.

Pregnancy Solutions celebrates new location

With a new location near the Murdock area of Port Charlotte, Pregnancy Solutions has a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to moms and dads experiencing unexpected, unplanned, or even is some cases, unwanted pregnancies.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane took part in an Open House on Oct. 13, 2021 and said a blessing for the continued success of Pregnancy Solutions in their new location at 950 Tamiami Trail, Suite 105. The Port Charlotte previous location was across from an abortion doctor’s office which closed during the summer. The other locations are in Venice and North Port.

“It is great to be with so many like-minded people,” Bishop Dewane said during the Open House. “Bless this center, and all those who walk in. Bless the lives it will contribute to, both the giving of new life, but also for those who need to be restored in spirit and body.”

Jaqueline Zdrojowy, Executive Director of Pregnancy Solutions, welcomed the Bishop, as well as members of the advisory board and other honored guests representing several Diocesan Parishes, the Knights of Columbus and Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.

Pregnancy Solutions is the only Pro-Life pregnancy center in Charlotte County after merging with Pregnancy Careline Center earlier in 2021. Zdrojowy explained how Pregnancy Solutions started operation 20 years ago in 2001 with the help of Sister Mary Judith Delaney, SHCJ, who served at Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda, and in the first year they saw no clients.

Compare that to the first 10 weeks at the new location which included 196 individual visits, including 84 ultrasounds, 99 pregnancy tests and much more, Zdrojowy continued. Other services include offering pregnancy options, adoption referrals, material support, parenting classes, support for men, and after abortion support.

The most encouraging statistic Zdrojowy shared was 72, the number of women who have had a change of heart from being abortion determined to choosing life and carrying their child to term. This has occurred since the start of the year through all of its three locations.

“We are just so excited to partner with you,” Zdrojowy said of the groups which previously supported Pregnancy Careline Center. “You are truly an extension of the local Church and the local Church is the hope of the world. We believe we cannot do what we do without the support of the local Church.”

At Pregnancy Solutions, you do not need insurance to receive the free services which includes ultrasound and pregnancy tests. Free diapers, baby formula, and baby clothes are available for moms and dads who participate in the program classes. All that is needed is a photo ID during the first appointment.

Pregnancy Solutions

Locations:

  • 504 E. Venice Ave., Venice 34285,
  • 950 Tamiami Trail, Suite 105, Port Charlotte 33953,
  • 4500 S. Biscayne Drive, Suite G, North Port 34287.

Website: www.pregnancysolutions.org

Phone for all locations: 941-408-7100

Wish list

Diapers all sizes (newborn to Size 3 is greatest need)

Baby clothes – boys and girls (3T boys greatest need)

2021 Pregnancy Solutions Banquet – The 19th Annual Fundraising Banquet for Pregnancy Solutions of Port Charlotte, the only a pro-life pregnancy center in Charlotte County, is from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 2, at Isles Yacht Club, 1780 West Marion Avenue, in Punta Gorda. The meal is complimentary; an opportunity to make a financial gift will be extended. Visit www.pregnancysolutions.org for details or to donate if you are unable to attend, or call 941-408-7100.

 

Men Need Healing After Abortion

By Nathan Misiran, COO of Support After Abortion, Special to the Florida Catholic

Unsurprisingly, 80 percent of people who seek counseling are females. Greg Hasek, a licensed counselor with more than 20 years of experience, lightly shares that the 20 percent of men who go to counseling are being dragged in by their wives. Most men will tell you that counseling is the very last thing they want to do with their time and will only go if they are in a most precarious situation, usually when their own lives or marriages are hanging in the balance.

Those are the situations that Greg Hasek specializes in, most specifically in situations where men are dealing with addictions, past trauma or PTSD. But Hasek has another specialization: how abortion affects men and those roots run deep. Almost always, men aren’t coming to him for help with the aftermath of abortion. They are seeking him out because of an addiction that has nearly destroyed their lives.

From a counselor’s perspective, finding men who have been harmed by an abortion decision is no easy task. They are not walking into pregnancy centers asking for help. They are not walking into the offices of mental health professionals asking for help to overcome their intense feelings about the abortion, but these men exist in droves.

Think about it: there are nearly one million abortions that happen in the United States alone every year. Even if only a small percentage of the fathers are suffering negative effects from the abortion, that is still a large number.

What does abortion have to do with addictions? They are sometimes a root cause, or they have made the addiction or behavior infinitely worse as the man tries to numb the pain of the abortion decision.

There are many reasons why men won’t seek counseling, much less deal with the pain from an abortion. The two biggest ones, according to Hasek are these:

  1. Our culture hardly ever validates men for the trauma they’ve experienced. The exception would be for war-related PTSD and trauma. But abortion trauma? Not a chance. Men shouldn’t hurt from abortion, our culture says, it’s a woman’s issue.
  2. Men have been conditioned since an early age to suppress feelings and not show emotion. Crying is out of the question. Showing weakness is frowned upon. This doesn’t mean the feelings aren’t there; it just means that men have had to find other outlets, including unhealthy ones, to release pent up emotions.

As a licensed clinician, Greg helps men heal from not only their addictions and unhealthy behaviors and PTSD, but also from the trauma caused by the abortion experience.

Remember that rock thrown into the calm lake? When a man experiences trauma from an abortion, the effects are felt far beyond his own life. His detachment from his partner and his children is very real and very powerful. When his partner was inside the abortion clinic, he felt a double hit to his natural instinct to protect her and to protect his child, that fight response. When he looks at her, he feels like he let her down. He feels like he let his child down. Those failures may predispose him to delve deeper into his addictions, no matter what they may be, and drive him away from his partner and family.

The good news is that there are resources for men hurting from abortion. They need not suffer alone. Support After Abortion is hosting experts like Greg Hasek at their “Unraveling the Roots of Men’s Trauma” free online men’s conference on October 16, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Register now at www.MenHealingFromTrauma.com. Those who participate in the live presentation can ask questions of the presenters.

Have another commitment that day? Register now and have access to the videos later. Many additional videos of Greg Hasek and others are already available at www.SupportAfterAbortion.com.

Prayer warriors bring hope, love for LIFE

As Mary Hackett slowly paced back and forth in front of an abortion facility in Sarasota on Sept. 22, 2021, her prayer was that somehow, she would be a symbol of love and hope and change the mind of all who are considering an abortion.

“I came out here so that young mothers choose life,” Hackett said. “I can only do that through prayer and the hope that the Lord will change her mind with an outpouring of love for that innocent unborn child.”

This is just one person who is standing as a witness for life during the ongoing 40 Days for Life peaceful prayer campaign which began Sept. 22 in Sarasota, Fort Myers and more than 1,000 other cities worldwide and will continue through Oct. 31.

Brian Harkins, a member of the Knights of Columbus from St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota, spoke during an opening prayer service in Sarasota, proclaiming that the prayer warriors are not alone. “We are here to bond and for solidarity; to join others around the world in praying for the unborn; and to pray that the Lord changes hearts and provides healing to people who are going into (all abortion facilities). Your presence here is a sign of great hope.”

Harkins, who was speaking on behalf of Rich Owens, the 40 Days for Life Campaign Director in Sarasota, who was unable to be present, said that everyone must realize that the Pro-Life movement is in a spiritual battle between good and evil.

This battle comes at a time when laws on both ends of spectrum, in favor of life and against life, are being enacted or challenged. The most notable is the Texas “Heartbeat Law,” which is being considered in Florida. Other states, such as New York have passed legislation which allows abortions until the moment of birth. Another law under contention is from Mississippi and will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in December.

Appropriately, the Sarasota campaign began in the parking lot of the offices of Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc. (CPCI), a Pro-Life clinic that provides free prenatal services for women, which sits in the shadow of the Planned Parenthood regional headquarters on Central Avenue near downtown Sarasota. Among the crowd at the beginning of the 40 Days campaign was a newborn, saved through the intervention of Community Pregnancy Clinics.

About 50 people of different faiths gathered for the opening prayer service and during the coming weeks they committed to being a voice for the voiceless on the front lines in front of Planned Parenthood.

Since going national in 2007, 40 Days for Life has carried out more than 6,000 campaigns in 64 countries and “saved 19,322 lives, contributed to the closing of 114 abortion centers and helped 222 workers quit the abortion industry.

Pope Francis spoke about abortion on Sept. 27, 2021 in an address to members of the Pontifical Academy for Life when he said, “There is the discarding of children that we do not want to welcome with the law of abortion that sends them to the dispatcher and kills them directly. And today this has become a ‘normal’ method, a practice that is very ugly. It is really murder.”

The Holy Father said that to understand what abortion is, it helps to pose two questions. “Is it right to eliminate, to take a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? That’s what abortion is.”

The speech marked the second time this month that Pope Francis has spoken out strongly about abortion. On his return flight from Slovakia on Sept. 15, the Holy Father repeatedly said that “abortion is murder” and compared the acceptance of abortion to “accepting daily murder.”

Meanwhile, the 40 Days for Life fall campaign in Fort Myers also got started in front of a Planned Parenthood facility at 6418 Commerce Park Drive, with a Vigil prayer service on Sept. 21.

A separate prayer service, in front of an abortion doctor’s office in Port Charlotte, was held Sept. 23. This doctor has announced his retirement, but it is unclear whether abortions will continue to take place in Port Charlotte, so a few dozen prayer warriors held a peaceful prayer vigil.

Participants in the 40 Days for Life campaign will be joining other like-minded individuals. Some commit to taking part for a few minutes, an hour, or all day as they stand in the public right-of-way. Appropriate signs will be provided at both sites but are not needed to stand and pray. Check with your Parish to learn what hours they have committed to 40 Days for Life, as many often commit to several days of prayer on the front lines.

Those interested in taking part in a local prayer vigil are encouraged to sign up in advance at www.40daysforlife.com (search for Fort Myers or Sarasota). While registration is encouraged, all are welcome to come for any amount of time they can to help save a life.

Catholic News Service contributed to this report.

40 Days for Life Sept. 23-Nov. 1

Sarasota campaign details

When: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily,

Where: 736 Central Ave.;

Contact: Rich 40DFLSarasota@gmail.com

Fort Myers campaign details

When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily;

Where: 6418 Commerce Park Drive;

Contact: Paula and Rick at 40DaysforLifeFM@gmail.com

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