Support After Abortion Virtual Conference Oct. 28-30

It comes as no surprise that in its purest sense, the Pro-Life movement seeks to end abortion. But how to go about doing that is a topic of much discussion with a wide range of programs and approaches — all with varying levels of effectiveness.

God planted the seeds for the formation of a new, innovative and unconventional approach with Support After Abortion’s Board President, Janine Marrone, in 2016 at a Luncheons for Life event she sponsors in the Diocese of Venice. Hearing first-hand the emotional devastation, shame and pain that nearly always follows an abortion, while recognizing the stark fact that 50 percent of women will have a repeat abortion, Marrone started a grassroots effort to heal those who are hurting.

Since its founding in 2017, Support After Abortion (SAA) is on a mission to strengthen healing from the impacts of abortion worldwide. Through its network, the organization fosters collaboration and connections between those impacted by abortion and experts in healing. SAA is a center of excellence that strengthens and elevates programs using innovative approaches, methods, education and research.  Ultimately, we build new perspectives rooted in real-life stories; stories that truly change the way the world views abortion.

To expands its reach, the first SAA Healing Network Virtual Conference in July 2020 was designed to unite and connect advocates for abortion healing and reached 5,600 advocates and leaders in abortion healing in 22 countries and 6 continents. It was so successful that an even bigger event is set to take place Oct. 28-30, 2020.

The conference provides educators, program leaders, counselors, therapists, and clergy with access to meaningful, research-based educational resources to make their organizations, staff and individual roles highly effective. Educational and inspirational sessions will be a mix of live and recorded presentations from 60+ leading abortion healing experts globally.

In fact, you’ll find these familiar faces among the keynote presenters: Bishop Frank J. Dewane; Father Joe Gates, Administrator of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Parrish; Father Shawn Monahan, Oblate of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

In addition, Abby Johnson, the author of the best-selling book and subsequent movie, “Unplanned.” Abby had an eight-year career with Planned Parenthood; one that caused her to ultimately flee the organization and become an outspoken advocate for the pro-life movement.  Abby travels across the globe sharing her harrowing story of her career with Planned Parenthood before becoming an outspoken opponent of abortion. She is the founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry designed to assist abortion clinic workers in transitioning out of the industry.

Registration for the Healing Network Virtual Conference is FREE at  For more information about the Healing Network Virtual Conference or Support After Abortion, please contact Lisa Rowe at 941-468-6148 or

Diocese Respect Life Office partners with Support After Abortion

The Catholic Church’s program for post-abortion healing nationwide is called Project Rachel, named after the Scriptural passage in Jeremiah 31:15-17 – “In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping!  Rachel mourns for her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more. Thus says the Lord:  Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward…There is hope for your future.”

Support After Abortion is an inter-faith organization with Catholic roots that began in Sarasota County. Project Rachel plans to partner with this international agency. Sharing some of its programs with women and men who contact Project Rachel will enhance their healing journey. Its networking opportunities will help people in need find Project Rachel, and its educational resources will assist in our team development. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with their excellent team!

To take the first step toward healing, reconciliation and peace, we ask you to contact the Diocesan Project Rachel Coordinator, Sylvia Jimenez, at 941-412-5860 (cell) or toll-free 888-456-4673, or All contacts are confidential (se hable Español).

News Briefs for week of October 20, 2020

Students learn about growing a garden

How does your garden grow!? Students in grades K-4 at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples are participating in the Jr. Master Gardener 4-H program through the University of Florida. As part of the Science curriculum, these virtual classes teach students about plants and gardening and provide hands-on experiences to help expand our STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, mathematics) Program.

Pregnancy Clinic celebrates 500th ultrasound

Community Pregnancy Clinics, Inc. (CPCI), which has Pro-Life facilities in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota and Gainesville, announced that the Sarasota office performed its 500th ultrasound on Oct. 8, 2020. The clinic, which opened in 2017, has established its presence as a trusted provider of life-affirming pregnancy and reproductive healthcare in the community. The ultrasound in Sarasota revealed a 14-week-old baby waving hello. CPCI thanks the Knights of Columbus for their generosity in providing Sarasota’s ultrasound machine. This gift has revealed the beating hearts of over 500 babies to their parents. To congratulate the CPCI Sarasota team or to learn more about the good work of CPCI, you can send an email to

40 Hour Adoration

Christ the King Parish, 1900 Meadowood St., Sarasota, is hosting a 40-hour Adoration beginning at 1 p.m., Oct. 25, and ending with a Procession at 6 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27. All are invited to join at any time during these 40 hours of silent Eucharistic Adoration. The devotion is intended as reparation to our Dear Savior for the outrages committed against Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and for the sins of our nation which cry to heaven for vengeance. For more information, please call 941-924-2777 or email

Outdoor concert to honor veterans

St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, welcomes all to their annual Veterans Day Concert to be held outdoors on the Parish grounds at 6 p.m., Nov. 18, 2020. Tickets are $30 and seating is limited and will be socially distanced. You also have the option to view the concert online for $15. All proceeds benefit the Parish Catholic Faith Appeal. For tickets, please call 321-209-1381 or 239-677-5347.

Year of Saint Joseph

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in the context of the Coronavirus, consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of St. Joseph. The Bishop announced a “Year of St. Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. St. Joseph, often referred to as the Protector, can be our protector during this time of the pandemic. To pray a Novena to St. Joseph please visit the Year of St. Joseph webpage at

Prayers and Resources briefs

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis. The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit to donate to your Parish. The Faithful may also contribute through usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.


As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about the experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation given to attend Sunday Mass has been extended through Nov. 27, 2020, and depending on conditions, perhaps longer. At the same time, Bishop Dewane invites the Catholic Faithful who are able, to return to their Parish for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Please check the Diocese of Venice website for any updates.


The Diocese of Venice will continue livestreaming the Mass through the Diocese website ( and Facebook pages from the Catholic Center in Venice at 9:15 a.m. daily as the dispensation to attend Mass remains.

Sunday Televised Mass

The Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, Please check local listings for channel information.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website at Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for an Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website,, also posts the daily Mass readings.

Act of Spiritual Communion

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,

and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Celebrating the Month of the Rosary in different ways

A determined group in Bradenton braved the rain to be sure to participate in the annual America Needs Fatima Public Square Rosary Crusade on Oct. 10, 2020 in front of Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish seeking prayers for our country.

A dozen such prayer rallies were scattered throughout the Diocese of Venice, joining some 21,000 others nationwide. The goal of the America Needs Fatima rallies is to win the heart and soul of America for Mary by spreading Our Lady’s Fatima message and promoting devotion to Her Immaculate Heart.

The rallies are scheduled at noon on the closest Saturday to the different recorded Our Lady of Fatima apparitions, the last of which occurred Oct. 13, 1917. While rallies earlier in 2020 were cancelled because of the global pandemic, the number of nationwide October rallies exceeded all expectations and appropriately take place during the Month of the Holy Rosary.

One of the participants in Bradenton said that now, more than ever – with a global pandemic and social unrest in the U.S., prayers are needed for our nation to seek the intercessions of Mary and make God a more central part of life. While the rain kept some away, she added the presence of people praying the rosary on a major road is an important image for all to see. As some drivers and passengers waved or honked their horns in support, others looked curiously upon the group. “We are making a difference by being out here. It’s wonderful.”

The rosary rally in Parrish, organized by the Knights of Columbus based at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, gathered at the intersection of U.S. 301 and Fort Hammer Road. At the same time a group of more than 50 prayed at the Venice Beach pavilion where organizers said prayer intentions were for every federal, state, county and local government worker.

A few days earlier, Oct. 7, 2020 marked the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and once again several commemorations took place.

Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers held a vigil and celebration on Oct. 6-7, as the Feast Day is a national holiday for the Guatemalan Catholic community. The pandemic curtailed the usual larger Parish-wide fiesta. However, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales Father Patrick O’Connor explained the vigil and commemoration were too important to cancel altogether.

“We still held our Las Mañanitas (prayers and song in honor of Our Lady) and Mass,” Father O’Connor explained. “Afterwards, there was a small reception and people were provided with bags of food and drink so they could continue the celebration at home with their family.”

Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice had a special dedication of sacred art, a painting depicting Our Lady of Fatima, which was placed in the school office lobby. Father Richard and Father Robert Beligotti donated this artwork to the school, Principal Nicole Loseto explained. Tom and Nancy Murphy donated the frame in memory of Nancy’s sister, Lois. Father Richard Beligotti led the blessing and dedication ceremony which was streamed live to the entire school.

Meanwhile, students and faithful from throughout the Diocese joined the Diocese of Venice in participating in a virtual rosary event hosted by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The event was led by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, President of the Conference, who had called for this moment of prayer with the intention of uniting Catholics across the country at this time when there is much unrest and uncertainty.

New Briefs for Week of Oct. 7, 2020

Diocesan seminarians reach milestones

Three Diocese of Venice seminarians studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach recently reached significant milestones in their discernment of a vocation to the priesthood. Seminarian Jacob Gwynn was conferred as Lector; Juan Contreras as Acolyte, and Alejandro Giraldo Roldán received both Lector and Acolyte. The Mass was celebrated on Sept. 27, 2020 by Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, Bishop of St. Augustine and Chair of the Seminary Board of Trustees. The day was significant in that is was both Priesthood Sunday and the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul, for whom the Seminary is named. First, as part of the Rite for Lectors, the Bishop placed the Holy Scriptures in the hands of each candidate and said, “Take this book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of his people.” Then as part of the Rite for Acolytes, the Bishop placed the paten, which contains the hosts for the celebration of Mass, in the hands of each candidate. He then said, “take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and His Church.”

Parishioners pray rosary with deputies

Dozens of faithful from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte gathered to pray on Sept. 26, 2020 at the District 3 offices of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. Participants prayed for the protection of the deputies and their families. The group prayed the rosary and a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, while also presenting deputies with St. Michael the Archangel medals.

2 Rosary Rallies in Bradenton Oct. 10

Bradenton will be the host of two separate America Needs Fatima Rosary Rallies, at noon, Oct. 10, 2020. The rallies are at the foot of the cross on the Manatee River at DeSoto National Memorial Park, 8300 DeSoto National Memorial Parkway, and Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, 2850 75th St. W. Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blanket, umbrella and your Rosary. For details on the DeSoto National Memorial Rally, please call Marie at 941-795-0413 and for the Parish Rally, please call 941-795-1228.

Faith & Wine Lee County going virtual

The new season of Faith & Wine Lee County returns 7 p.m., Oct. 22, 2020 with a virtual event livestreamed from the groups Facebook page. The presenter is Liz Larson, who will share her life-changing experience following the devastating diagnosis of her unborn child. Registration is not necessary but encouraged so everyone can register for “door prizes.” For more information, please visit

Oktoberfest coming to Lehigh Acres

St. Raphael Parish, 2514 Lee Blvd., Lehigh Acres, is hosting Oktoberfest, at 6 p.m., Oct. 24, 2020. This traditional event will include music, authentic German menu, raffles and prizes, as well as a cash bar. The event is sponsored by Knights of Columbus County 6265. Tickets are $20 per person, or $38 per couple. For more information, please call 239-369-8317 or visit

Luncheon to Feature Olympian Nancy Kerrigan

Let’s celebrate this opportunity to socialize again and support Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. with an “It’s Time to Dress Up Again!” event featuring superstar and 2-time Olympic Medalist, Nancy Kerrigan. The luncheon, 11:30 a.m., Nov. 18, 2020, Plantation Golf and Country Club, 500 Rockley Blvd., Venice, is hosted by Champagne Tennis and Kerrigan will speak about her life and career. Tickets are $60 per person and include two-course lunch and a drink (red or white wine, mimosa). Tables limited to 6-8 guests and all CDC restrictions will be strictly enforced. To purchase tickets online, please visit; or send a check to Our Mother’s House, PO BOX 2240, Venice, FL 34284. For more information, please call 941-485-6264 or

Witnesses for life make a difference

Whether there are 200 people, or two, the impact of the peaceful 40 Days for Life prayer vigil seeking an end to abortion in the U.S. is meaningful and real.

This was the message delivered by Shawn Carney, 40 Days for Life co-founder and President, when he appeared at an evening vigil in Fort Myers on Sept. 22, 2020, and then in Sarasota on Sept. 23, 2020, the first day of 40 Days Fall Campaign. It was an honor to have Carney present in the Diocese as he helped start what became 40 Days for Life in 2004 while still in college in Texas. From a local prayer vigil, the fall and spring campaigns have included more than one million people in 1,000 cities in 66 countries resulting in the closure of 107 abortion facilities.

“Your peaceful, joyful, prayerful presence out here is a simple, effective and beautiful reminder that there is hope for every woman who drives in here,” Carney said of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility. “You get to come out here and be that witness… You are a beautiful witness that stands in opposition to the sterile lobby just a few yards away. You are the light versus the darkness; the hope versus the hopeless; the joy versus despair. No one coming to that facility finds joy.”

A group of more than 200 gathered in front of the Planned Parenthood at 6418 Commerce Park Drive, Fort Myers, for the opening vigil, a number made even more impressive because it occurred during a global pandemic.

Carney was unsure what the response would be for 40 Days for Life in the wake of the pandemic and social unrest. He need not have worried, because a record 588 cities will have prayer vigils this fall. Since the first nationwide 40 Days for Life in 2007, of which the Diocese of Venice-led vigil in Sarasota was the second to join. During that time, 17,226 babies are confirmed to have been saved, Carney said.

Fort Myers 40 Days Fall Campaign organizers Rick and Paula Hellenbrand have been leading the vigil for the past 10 years and noted that two people cannot do it alone, that it takes a community to have success.

“As one of those women who came to one of these facilities, as my parents drove me to my abortion, no one was there,” an emotional Paula Hellenbrand said. “We have worked hard and overcome many obstacles to make sure we never have an empty sidewalk again as long as they are doing abortions inside this place. Thank you for being out here.”

Second time vigil participant April Couch of Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers said she was moved by the powerful testimony of the Hellenbrands, Carney and the other speakers and planned to share the message to her friends.

“When I first came out here last year, I thought it would be hard,” Couch explained. “In reality, it was very rewarding knowing that I was doing what the Lord wants of all of us, to stand up for the unborn because they cannot defend themselves against the injustice of abortion.”

Opening prayer for the vigil was offered by Father Ananda Reddy, Parochial Vicar at St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral, while the closing prayer was offered by Father Saji Ellickal Joseph, M.C.B.S., Parochial Vicar at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers.

Other speakers included recent transplant to Southwest Florida Jim Havens, of Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network and iCatholic Radio; Gabrielle Gabbard, a teen from Collier County who made headlines when she tried to start a Pro-Life club at her Naples high school; as well representatives from Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc. (CPCI) which had their mobile medical clinic present while the Sarasota opening vigil with Carney took place at the clinic there.

The Fort Myers campaign is 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 6418 Commerce Park Drive. If you have questions, contact Paula and Rick at

The Sarasota campaign is 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, 736 Central Ave. If you have any questions, contact organizer Rich Owens at

The 40 Days for Life Fall Campaign continues in Fort Myers and Sarasota through Nov. 1, 2020. Many Parishes in the Diocese of Venice have designated days during which the faithful participate, however participants are welcome at any time. No registration is required to participate, but you can do so by visiting

News Briefs for the Week of Oct. 1, 2020

Retired Holmes Beach priest dies

Father John H.R. Ellis, former priest-in-charge at St. Bernard Parish in Holmes Beach and College Campus Ministry Director for the Diocese of Venice died Sept. 25, 2020 in St. Cloud, Fla. He was 83. Father Ellis was born in Guelph, Ontario, Canada and was originally ordained an Episcopal priest. On July 13, 1991 Father Ellis joined the Catholic Church and was ordained to the priesthood at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, for the Diocese of Venice. Father Ellis served as the College Campus Ministry Director at 10 college campuses from 1991-1998 and then at St. Bernard Parish in Holmes Beach until his retirement in 2004. He also assisted at several Manatee County Parishes throughout his years serving in the Diocese. He was married to Burgess Ann Lynch. In his retirement, he assisted at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in St. Cloud.

Mooney student named Commended Scholar

Congratulations to Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Senior Michael Lunin for being awarded National Merit Commended Scholar and National Merit Hispanic Recognition Scholar for the 2019 qualifying PSAT. The Sarasota student received a letter in recognition of his outstanding academic promise as he was one of about 34,000 Commended Students being recognized, representing the top 5 percent of high school students who entered into the National Merit Scholarship competition.

2020 Public Square Rosary Crusade Oct. 10 in Fort Myers

Please join in praying for our nation during the 2020 Public Square Rosary Crusade on Oct. 10, 2020 at noon, Planned Parenthood, 6418 Commerce Park Drive, Fort Myers. The Public Square Rosary Crusade is a united effort as our nation is in great need of public prayer, repentance and conversion. We ask God to save America through the Rosary of His Most Holy Mother. Please bring your own rosary and camp chair, if you desire to sit. Rosary programs will be provided. Please contact Barb Quigley, 239-267-7883 for more information.

Retreats and Days of Prayer available at OLPH

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 S. Moon Drive, Venice, is currently offering retreats and single days of prayer in a safe, tranquil setting along the Myakka River.  A Monthly Day of Prayer is offered on both the second Wednesday and the second Sunday of each month (Oct. 11 and Oct. 14, 2020). Choose the date that is more compatible with your schedule. The day begins at 9:30 am with continental breakfast, and includes two conferences, lunch, Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, and opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In addition, a special weekend retreat, “Living our Faith During COVID-19,” will be offered Oct. 16-18, 2020.  Both events can be joined online if you are unable to attend in person.  For more info, call 941-486-0233, or visit and click on “Schedule of Events.”

White Mass Oct. 17 in Naples

St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, will celebrate the annual White Mass in honor of Medical Professionals at 8:30 a.m., Oct. 17 in the Church. The Lecture and discussion that was to follow has been postponed until next year due to COVID 19. There will be a special blessing for the professionals and a blessing of stethoscopes. Please join us as we honor your service and dedication during this year of pandemic!



Respect Life Sunday Collection Focuses on Youth

By Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director,

For the past few years some of the funds received from generous parishioners in the annual Respect Life Sunday (Oct. 4, 2020) special collection have been used to give students from Catholic high schools the unique experience of participating in Catholic Days at the Capitol. This annual three-day trip to Tallahassee draws hundreds of participants from all seven Dioceses in Florida to our state capitol during the two months of the annual legislative session.

They attend a briefing to learn about the bills that are the top priorities for Catholics before visiting their legislators and attending sessions and committee hearings. Finally, they join all the Bishops of Florida for the Red Mass to pray that the Holy Spirit guides and directs members of the legislative, judicial and executive branches of state government in their service to the people of Florida. Many public officials join the Bishops and Catholic Days participants in this special Red Mass, in keeping with a tradition that dates back to the 13th century.

Bishop Verot 2020 graduating senior Anna Latell said, “I gained a lot of knowledge on how the Florida government system functions, and I felt like as Catholics we were able to have a lot of influence in just a few days.” She added, “You should go because it is an eye-opening experience in learning about Florida legislature and the important topics concerning Catholic values.” Another student said, “I enjoyed getting to be on the Senate floor and use the Senate seating.”

Thanks to Senate President Bill Galvano’s staff, the students were able to sit in the Senators’ chairs, conduct a mock debate and vote, giving them a first-hand experience of how the legislative process works.  When asked what they would say to someone thinking about going next year, one student said, “Do it; it was a blast!”

Another important use of funds is to support the Collier Community Abstinence Program (CCAP) which provides free workbooks and materials that impact our Catholic school students in the Diocese of Venice as well as those attending public school. This program promotes abstinence from risky behavior (sexual activity, alcohol and drug use) as the healthiest lifestyle. Parent components help open dialogue within the family. CCAP is developing new video programs for home and school use and a new website ( It’s a virtual world these days!  As news spread about the program and the statistics on the program’s success rate in Collier County, teachers across the country began clamoring for the four workbooks. Continuing to provide these resources free of charge to schools is a funding challenge. We are blessed to have funds from this special collection to help with the expansion of this program.

An agreement was made with world renowned “sexual risk avoidance” trainer Pam Stenzel to speak at our three Catholic high schools and the Donahue Academy in Ave Maria. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this year’s events had to be cancelled, but Pam made a special video for graduating seniors and plans are underway for the current school year.

In his message on Diocesan World Youth Day, Palm Sunday 2020, Vatican News reported that Pope Francis said, “I would like to join you, young people, in calling for a cultural change, based on Jesus’ command to ‘arise.’  He calls us to embrace a reality that is so much more than virtual.”

“Arise!” he adds, is also an invitation to “dream”, to “take a risk”, to be “committed to changing the world, to rekindle your hopes and aspirations, and to contemplate the heavens, the stars and the world around you.”  The Pope then invited young people to “give their passions and dreams free rein, “and, through them, offer the world, the Church and other young people something beautiful, whether in the realm of the spirit, the arts or society… Make your voices heard.” Your generosity enables us to help our young people to answer that call.

The annual Respect Life collection in the Diocese of Venice is the weekend of Oct. 3-4, 2020. Thank you for your generosity in supporting this important collection.

To learn more about the Respect Life activities of the Diocese of Venice, you can contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-484-9543 or




40 Days for Life Sept. 23-Nov. 1 in Fort Myers, Sarasota

The fall campaign of 40 Days for Life begins on Sept. 23, and runs until Sunday, Nov. 1, with local vigils taking place in Sarasota and Fort Myers.

40 Days for Life is an internationally coordinated 40-day campaign that aims to end abortion locally through prayer and fasting, community outreach, and a peaceful all-day vigil in front of abortion businesses. For those not yet ready to be among crowds due to the pandemic, they are encouraged to pray from home and fast for the end of abortion. Others are welcome to come to the sidewalk and social distance to their level of comfort.

Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux said having prayerful witnesses in front of abortion facilities serves as a powerful message of hope for those mothers who may think abortion is the only alternative they have for their unborn child.

The Diocese of Venice has been involved with 40 Days for Life since the campaign went nationwide in 2008 with vigils taking place in the fall – to coincide with October, Respect Life Month – and in the spring – during Lent.

The success of 40 Days for Life has been seen locally when women approach vigil participants and tell their story of how their mind was changed by those present who were there to pray for their unborn child. More than 120 cases of lives being saved have been documented.

It was recently announced that Shawn Carney, President of 40 Days for Life, will be in the Diocese of Venice to support the kick-off of the campaign.

Carney will appear at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 22 for the opening prayer vigil on the sidewalk in front of the Planned Parenthood at 6418 Commerce Park Drive, Fort Myers. The evening prayer service has become an annual tradition in Fort Myers, serving a rallying point for the long 40 days ahead. The Fort Myers vigil takes place 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Saturday.

Co-Coordinator of the Fort Myers campaign, Paula Hellenbrand, said the pandemic is not keeping abortion-minded woman away from abortion facilities such as Planned Parenthood and that participation in 40 Days for Life is as important now as it has ever been.

“I have to believe that in the hard process of making this decision they are also looking for a sign that would encourage them in the right direction,” Hellenbrand said. “We are that sign. We are there to say we care. We are there praying for you and your baby and we are there to help.”

In Sarasota, the vigil is 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily outside the regional headquarters of Planned Parenthood, 736 Central Ave. Carney will appear there at 11 a.m. on the first day, Sept. 23.

Participants in the prayer vigil will be joining other like-minded individuals in communities around the nation and world. Some commit to taking part for a few minutes, an hour, or all day as they stand in the public right-of-way. 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 (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.


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

Fort Myers campaign details

When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday;

Where: 6418 Commerce Park Drive;

Contact: Paula and Rick at

News briefs for week of Aug. 31 2020

New Online Course

The Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is launching a new online course entitled “Ecclesial Nature and Mission of Theology” beginning Sept. 7. This is a required background course for an online Master’s Degree in Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. The 15-week course provides a basic introduction to the study of Catholic Theology and is being offered at a substantial discount. For more information on the course please visit the website at, contact Dr. John Gresham, Director of the Institute or call 941-766-7334.

40 Days for Life Sept. 23-Nov. 1

The 40 Days for Life national fall campaign begins on Wednesday, Sept. 23, and runs until Sunday, Nov. 1. The Diocese of Venice will host this important peaceful prayer vigil at two locations, Sarasota and Fort Myers, seeking an end to abortion in the U.S. You can protect mothers and children by joining this worldwide mobilization to pray and fast for an end to abortion! The Sarasota vigil is 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily outside the regional headquarters of Planned Parenthood, 736 Central Ave. For details, contact Rich at 941-923-0752 or and sign up at The Fort Myers vigil is 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 6418 Commerce Park Drive. Contact Paula and Rick at or visit For additional information about Respect Life activities with the Diocese of Venice, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or

Virtual Laps For Life Sept. 12-Oct. 3

The Sarasota Laps For Life is going Virtual for 2020! Join the Knights of Columbus of the Sarasota and Bradenton area for this special cause by completing a timed distance of 5K (3.1 miles) in your neighborhood, park, or other favorite outdoor location, anytime between Sept. 12 and Oct. 3. Proceeds from Laps For Life benefit My Choice Pregnancy Center, a women’s health support center. Sign up and submit your results at then tag us in your pictures at #SarasotaLapsForLife on Facebook and Instagram. Life is NOT cancelled: Be Safe, Go Virtual!


Night in Havana Gala Auction

The St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School “Night in Havana” Gala scheduled for Sept. 26 is now a Streamlined Virtual Event! You can place bids on auction items remotely to win beautiful gift baskets, gift certificates, and other fabulous items in a week-long bidding fun from Sept. 21 to Sept. 26. Please join in for this exciting event as together to help overcome the challenges of the pandemic while supporting this great school. For more information, please contact Dr. Dianne Fabii at 239-455-2262 or Mobile bidding registration can be found at

Priesthood Sunday fundraiser

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women invites you to join in celebrating Priesthood Sunday, September 27, in a special and lasting way by supporting the VDCCW Seminarian Fund. Do this by sending the priests of your Parish a Vocation Fund “IN HONOR OF” card. Please remember that this is a gift that keeps on giving! The Diocese of Venice is educating 16 men in various seminaries. A donation of any amount will be a great help. The donation amount will not be revealed to the recipient. To take part, please send $1.00, plus your donation, payable to “VDCCW Vocation Fund” to Cornelia Zanetti, 5808 Gulf Drive, #204, Holmes Beach, FL 34217. Please email with any questions.