Sarasota Prayer Walk commemorates dark anniversary

Support of the unborn is a moral stance, not a political one. This was the message shared during the 23rd Annual Prayer Walk for Life in Sarasota Jan. 22, 2021.

This walk coincided with the National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. The day also marked the 48th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision which cleared the way for the legalization of abortion in the U.S. Since legalization, some 60 million babies have been aborted.

A Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane began the day at St. Martha Parish, putting the activities in their proper context of prayer, resolve and hope. This Mass was livestreamed and shared via the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities social media accounts and was available for viewing by those outside of the Diocese.

“Respecting life is not a political issue, but a moral one,” Bishop Dewane stated. “Failing to protect life is a moral evil that threatens the dignity of each and every human being in the world today.”

For this reason, the Catholic Church, U.S. Bishops, priests and the faithful are obligated to continue to speak out for the voiceless because the right to life is God-given, the Bishop added.

“It has to be all of us together,” Bishop Dewane continued. “Abortion is of preeminent priority and we need to continue to be a voice for life in our country. The position of the Church and that of the U.S. Bishop Conference is unchanging and publicly well known. The sacredness of human life must be defended and has been the position of the Conference and Church since the beginning.”

The prayer walk took place in front of the regional headquarters for Planned Parenthood on Central Avenue in Sarasota, the largest abortionist in the nation.

Circling the facility in prayer, approximately 100 took part in the walk with some holding signs seeking the closure of the facility, others calling for all to pray for the unborn.

Carmella Roberts of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch said she was pleased that there were so many people participating in the walk because of many factors that could have prevented participation.

“I’m so glad people didn’t use the excuse of the cold weather, the Pandemic or even a new president to stop coming out for this important walk for life,” Roberts said. “We are out here to raise awareness about what happens here, but also to educate others about the sacredness of all life. Jesus calls us to be here, in His place, to pray for the unborn and for the mothers that they choose life.”

The faithful of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Grove City took part in their own Prayer Walk for Life on Jan. 23, 2021. Participants circled the Parish Church while praying the rosary as witnesses to the dignity of the human person.

In addition, a Prayer Life Chain took place on Jan. 24, 2021 on U.S. 41 in front of San Pedro Parish in North Port. Dozens of faithful, led by Deacon Richard Frohmiller, held up signs for passing motorists to see that read “Jesus Forgives and Heals,” “Adoption is a Loving Option, “Pray to End Abortion,” “Abortion Hurts Women,” and more.

Beginning Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, the faithful will have the additional opportunity to stand up as witnesses for life. There will be two Diocesan locations for the Spring Campaign of 40 Days for Life. Stand and peacefully pray during vigils in the public right-of-way outside Planned Parenthood in Fort Myers or Sarasota. For more information, go to and click on the location nearest you.

For more information about the Diocese of Venice Respect Life Office, please visit, or contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-484-9543 or

2021 to be busy across Diocese

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 larger Diocesan events are scheduled or in the planning stages while at the same time numerous Parishes are in the process of either completing or starting 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 two men, a new initiative to curb the impacts of pornography on society, small and large conferences, Masses for couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries, opportunities to promote the sanctity of life, celebrations of all sorts, as well as the continuation of the “Year of St. Joseph.”

With the blessing of Bishop Frank J. Dewane, such activities will take place throughout the Diocese as part of the continuing effort to emerge with a new purpose in the wake of the darkest days of the Pandemic. All of this will be done while following the guidelines of social distancing, face coverings and extensive sanitizing (cleaning) which continues to take place. These measures remain, not only to ensure the safety of the public attending Mass or other events, but for priests, staff and volunteers who serve throughout the Diocese.

Two of the most important occasions to grow in the Faith are the annual Women’s and Men’s Conferences at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. Each year captivating speakers help bring focus to the faith-life of participants. The Conferences are from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and include Mass with Bishop Dewane, Adoration, the chance for Confession, listening to presenters and enjoying lunch. The Men’s Conference is Feb. 20, 2021, while the Women’s Conference is March 13, 2021. For more information please contact the Office of Evangelization at or 941-484-9543..

For all couples celebrating a significant wedding anniversary in 2021, Bishop Dewane will be the celebrant of Masses in your honor. This year, to allow for appropriate social distancing, each location will have two Masses, 10 a.m. and noon on Feb. 6, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice, and 10 a.m. and noon on March 6, 2021, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. All registration is being handled through local Parishes with seating commitments confirmed at least one week before the Mass you wish to attend.

The Office of Respect Life will be busy throughout 2021 with a variety of in-person and virtual activities all to raise awareness about important issues regarding the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. First up is the 23rd annual Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life on Jan. 22, 2021 outside of the Planned Parenthood in downtown Sarasota. Bishop Dewane will celebrate Mass at 8:30 a.m. at St. Martha Parish, and immediately following, participants will gather for the prayer walk. Space is limited for Mass, so registration is required at The Mass will be livestreamed through the Diocesan Facebook page and will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s 9 Days for Life campaign.

Two weeks later, Feb. 2-3, 2021, the faithful will be able to participate in the Virtual Catholic Days at the Capitol courtesy of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops at Finally, there will be an opportunity to participate in the national 40 Days for Life Spring Campaign during Lent in Fort Myers and Sarasota then for the Fall Campaign (October) at multiple locations in the Diocese.

New this year, the Diocese will be participating in Safe Haven Sunday, March 7, 2021, 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. It is a moral issue, therefore this day of awareness will explain 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 week leading up to Safe Haven Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Diocese continues to be dedicated to celebrating the “Year of St. Joseph,” which began on March 19, 2020, the Feast of St. Joseph. The prayers of the Diocese, as directed by Bishop Dewane, are focused on the Saint who is the foster-father of Jesus and the Protector of the Universal Church. In light of Pope Francis recently dedicating a “Year of St. Joseph,” the Diocesan celebration will continue through December 8, 2021. A “Year of St. Joseph,” webpage ( was added to the Diocesan website for prayers, devotions and general information. Meanwhile, the Diocesan Department of Catholic Education started a St. Joseph Devotional Project to promote a dedication to the Saint while at the same time developing a devotional life of both children and adults into 2021.

In the coming months, Bishop Dewane will preside over a variety of celebrations which occur each year, including the Rite of Election in February when Bishop Dewane welcomes those in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) who will be fully entering the Church at the Easter Vigil, a Mass for Victims of Abuse, and later in the year a Veterans Day Mass, the 25th anniversary celebration of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, a Red Mass for legal professionals and more. It is also expected that two men will be Ordained to the Priesthood by the Bishop in early summer.

Throughout 2021 there will be a variety of Parish-based celebrations to include the 50th Anniversary of the founding of San Marco Parish on March Island; the opening of a new church for St. Paul Parish in Arcadia; the completion of roof repairs for Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton; groundbreakings for Parish Centers at St. William Parish in Naples and Our Lady of Mercy in Boca Grande; the renovation of property that previously functioned churches into Parish Centers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee and Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch; and the completion of extensive audio-visual upgrades to Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers. These are just samples of the ongoing projects and work underway to support Parishes as they take action now for the benefit of future generations.

As 2021 moves forward, check the Diocesan website ( frequently for information about these and other upcoming events. As always, check the weekly Florida Catholic e-Edition to read stories and view images from these and other happenings across the Diocese. If you would like to read the story about life in the Diocese during 2020, please visit www.


Looking back on turbulent 2020

Blessings and joy, which come with each New Year, offer the opportunity to reflect upon what has passed in the previous year with a new perspective.

While 2020 was filled with challenges, suffering and sadness from the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it was also a time of amazing kindness, compassion and an opportunity for spiritual renewal as the faithful found new ways to grow closer to the Lord.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane guided the Diocese of Venice initially through the normal busy times of seasonal activities in the first two months of 2020 before quickly adapting to and addressing the changing realities of the Pandemic and its impact on the faithful for the balance of the year.

Parishes ceased operations temporarily and all reopened two months later under stringent health and safety guidelines. Livestreaming Masses, including with Bishop Dewane, became the norm and many are still available to this day.

The inability to gather physically Church impacted many, in particular the elderly, and efforts were made to reach out (via the mail, email, phone or socially distanced visits) to keep people connected. After Parishes were closed for public Mass on March 20, 2020, there were offerings of outdoor Sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Communion, and, following the lead of Bishop Dewane, many offered a livestreamed Mass. The dispensation for the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for those who were ill, or fearful of illness, was extended into 2021.

While many events were cancelled during 2020, key Holy Week Masses were celebrated by Bishop Dewane and livestreamed from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Bishop Dewane expressed sadness of having these celebrations without the Faithful. In addition, many Diocesan offices, within their area of specialization, reached out with online programming and content which included prayers, devotions, links to information about saints and much more.

The nationwide shutdown threw many out of work creating a crisis, which Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. had never seen before, and responded with its full capacity. In addition to opening six emergency food pantries, Catholic Charities established hotlines to expedite the process of getting help (food, emergency funds or tele-mental health) for the community. From late March through December, Catholic Charities distributed more than 2 million pounds of food and helped more than 170,000 individuals. The generosity of the faithful shined forth during the crisis as requests for donations were answered.

When the restrictions caused by the Pandemic struck, the Diocese of Venice Prison Outreach quickly facilitated virtual access to Mass, which continued throughout the year. In addition, digital religious education programming and other materials on the teachings of the Catholic Church, were made available to prisoners statewide.

Following the lead of the State of Florida, Parishes reopened for public Mass on May 18, 2020. This was accomplished by implementing a variety of guidelines (social distancing, face coverings and extensive sanitizing) not only to ensure the safety of the public attending Mass, but for those priests, staff and volunteers who serve at the Parishes. All of those guidelines remain in effect.

Celebrations, which would have brought large crowds, together were held with all dignity and tradition respected while distancing precautions were taken. Included among these events were the Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Franckel Fils-Aime on June 27, 2020; the Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Venice of seven men on Aug. 15, 2020; and the Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate of Diocesan Seminarian Alexander Pince on Aug. 29, 2020.

Other liturgical celebrations by Bishop Dewane which were made available through a livestream included the Mass for Victims of Abuse, Veterans Day Mass, Red Mass for legal professionals and more.

The annual Diocesan Youth Rally was different from its usual gathering of nearly 2,000. On Nov. 14, 2020, about 100 gathered at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples to hear music, talks and then participate in Mass with Bishop Dewane. At the same time, youth joined virtually from 20 satellite locations across the Diocese.

Diocesan Catholic Schools closed for an extended Spring Break before classes resumed virtually in late March 2020 for the balance of the academic year as everyone adapted to the ever-changing situation.

All Diocesan Catholic Schools successfully reopened for the new 2020-2021 Academic Year in August to both in-classroom and online instruction, including a full slate of athletics. This was accomplished by using lessons learned in the spring, combined with the implementation of comprehensive health and safety protocols. The success of this effort is reflected in the reality that nearly 90 percent of all students are learning in the classroom.

Bishop Dewane declared a “Year of St. Joseph,” effective March 19, 2020, the Feast of St. Joseph, the Protector of the Universal Church. This happened to be the last day of public Masses before the temporary suspension. “Particularly in this time of uncertainty in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is appropriate to seek the intercessions of the saints for guidance and protection,” Bishop Dewane stated. It should be noted that Pope Francis declared a global “Year of St. Joseph” from Dec. 8, 2020 through Dec. 8, 2021. Considering this notice, Bishop Dewane extended the Diocesan year to conclude Dec. 8, 2021.

A “Year of St. Joseph,” page ( was added to the Diocesan website so as to provide prayers, devotions and general information about the foster-father of Jesus. Meanwhile, in December 2020, the Diocesan Department of Catholic Education started a St. Joseph Devotional Project to promote a devotion to the saint while at the same time developing a devotional life of both children and adults.

Before the Pandemic, activities which took place as usual included: a Widows and Widowers Mass on Jan. 26, 2020; a Men’s Conference on Feb. 8, 2020; a Women’s Conference on Feb. 22, 2020; two Wedding Anniversary Masses in February; as well as a Prayer Walk for Life in January. Parish activities slowly restarted in August and have been adjusted to ensure the health and safety of all.

While 2020 brought great challenges to many, including to the Diocese of Venice, the Catholic Church remains strong and 2021 looks to be a time of celebration and hope.

Stay tuned to learn about the events of 2021 coming in the Jan. 15, 2021 edition of The Florida Catholic.

News briefs for the week of Jan. 4, 2021

“A Seminarian Story” fifth installment available

The Diocese of Venice in Florida Office of Vocations launched a video series titled, “A Seminarian Story,” to celebrate the 16 Seminarians currently in formation. The first four videos have been released and more will follow approximately every few weeks. The most recent video is about Seminarian Christian Chami who is doing formation at Pontifical North American College in Rome. Developed with the assistance of the Diocese Communications Department, the goal of the series is to inspire others to follow in the path to the priesthood or religious life, as well as encourage the faithful to continue to support the seminarians as they continue their formation process at different seminaries. “A Seminarian Story” featuring Christian Chami can be found at

Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life

The 23rd annual Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life will be held on Jan. 22, 2021. The day begins with the 8:30 a.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave. A shuttle bus will run after Mass until 3 p.m. to Planned Parenthood, 736 Central Avenue, where participants will circle the block in prayer for an end to abortion. An additional Parish Mass is available at noon. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, space is limited and advanced registration is required by Jan. 11, 2021, at The 8:30 a.m. Mass will be livestreamed as part of the national campaign at Masks will be required. Questions? Contact Jeanne Berdeaux at or 941-374-1068.

Time to Take Holiness Seriously with virtual class

Enjoyed the Catholic Mysticism series and want to go deeper? Or did you miss the opportunity to join us with our first series? You are welcome to join a 10-week Catholic book study on Catholic Spirituality using the book “Knowing the Love of God” by Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. Learn from this true spiritual master with a group of your peers and see how you can actually become a Saint and grow in your spiritual life (no matter the circumstances!). The sessions will be held virtually 10 a.m. each Tuesday beginning Jan. 12, 2021, and concluding March 16, 2021. Please contact Joshua Mazrin for more details at

Catholic Charities Ball Feb. 13

Please join us Feb. 13, 2021, for an elegant evening at one of Sarasota’s beautiful Jewels on the Bay, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Bring your valentine to an elegant evening featuring exquisite cuisine and wine pairing event by Michael’s on East. The beautiful and unique setting of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens reminds us that, despite this pandemic, we are surrounded by God’s majesty and Mother Nature’s glory. The event begins at 6 p.m. with cocktails. Tickets are $350 with a limit of 150 guests. For more information call 941-909-7817 or email

Our Mother’s House Child’s Play Virtual Event

Our Mother’s House is hosting a Virtual Fundraiser to support the mothers and babies we serve. Join us for a night of interactive fun in support of Our Mother’s House with wine, auction, and more at 7 p.m., Feb. 25, 2021. For information about the event, contact Lisa Ventura (941) 485-6264, email Lisa.Ventura@CatholicCharitiesDov.Org or visit

Registration open for January Faith & Wine Lee County Virtual Event

Faith & Wine of Lee County will hold its next Virtual Zoom Event at 7 p.m., Jan. 21, 2021. The guest speaker is Kitty Cleveland on the topic “Beloved: Finding My Identity in Christ.” Registration is now open for this free event at

Virtual Catholic Days at the Capitol

Through the use of technology, Catholics will continue to bring their values and voices to Tallahassee to promote and protect human life and dignity. Register now to participate in the Feb. 2-3, 2021, virtual event to include a legislative briefing on key bills, a rosary with the Florida Bishops, an award presentation to a legislator, meetings with legislators and the Red Mass of the Holy Spirit.  Join us for all or any part of the event!  For details see or contact Jeanne Berdeaux at or 941-374-1068.

Anniversary Masses

All couples celebrating 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, or more than 50 years of marriage are invited by Bishop Frank J. Dewane to an Anniversary Mass in their honor to be celebrated in two locations. This year, considering the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, each location will have two Masses to allow for appropriate social distancing. The Masses are 10:00 a.m. and noon on Feb. 6, 2021, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., and 10:00 a.m. and noon, March 6, 2021, St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. All registration is being handled through your local Parish. Please reserve seats at least one week before the Mass you wish to attend.

Save the Date for Men’s and Women’s Conferences

Mark your calendars for the 2021 Men’s and Women’s Conferences which will be held at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. The Men’s Conference will be 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Saturday, February 20, and the Women’s Conference will be held 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Saturday, March 13. Stay tuned for registration details! Please contact the Office of Evangelization with any questions at or 941-484-9543.

Safe Haven Sunday

Pornography is one of the leading causes of addictions, abuse, adultery, divorce, and even human trafficking: it is, in short, a pervasive evil inflicting grave wounds on our families. Pornography creates unsafe environments for children and confuses others about attitudes towards sex and marriage. It is a moral issue. For this reason, March 7, 2021, has been designated as Safe Haven Sunday in the Diocese of Venice. This day for awareness will give an opportunity to address the harmfulness of pornography in marriages, families, and culture, while providing helpful resources for all. Detailed information about the implementation of this program will be shared in the coming weeks through your Parishes. If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Harkey, Diocesan Coordinator of Family Life at

News briefs for the week of Nov. 23, 2020

Students tour Parish Church

Pre-kindergarten 3 and 4 students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples received a guided tour of the Parish Church on Nov. 17, 2020. Father Casey Jones explained to the children about the altar and narthex, sharing their purpose and symbolism as relates to the Catholic Faith and the celebration of the Mass., The students also learned about the stained-glass windows, each depicting a scene from the Bible, as well as the numerous statues of saints which are situated throughout the interior of the building.

Students Christmas tree to be featured in public museum display

Budding artists from St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers helped to create a special Christmas tree which will be featured at The Children’s Tree Trail at The Edison & Ford Winter Estates. Students in grades pre-kindergarten 3 through second grade, and fourth grade created decorations for the Christmas tree. The theme for this year is ‘Music.’ Ornaments made by the third and fifth grade artists will be featured on the school Advent tree. The Children’s Tree Trail display is open from Nov. 27, 2020 to Jan. 3, 2021. There is an admission fee.

Sandwiches donated to Immokalee Soup Kitchen

The Casa Maria Soup Kitchen of Catholic Charities in Immokalee received a donation of sandwiches and homemade chips from Three60 Market of Naples on Nov. 19, 2020. The meals were a bonus for the many families that use the soup kitchen each day for take-out soup.  This is the latest in a series of donated meals from Three60 Market going to needy families throughout the region impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Faith & Wine Lee County virtual event Dec. 3

The next Faith & Wine virtual event will be held 7-8:30 p.m., Dec. 3, 2020, for women of Faith. The presenter is Susan Potvin, and international speaker who will share her testimony and words of encouragement with a talk titled: “Never, Ever Give Up, Ladies! We Have Work To Do!” Registration is now open for this free Zoom event. For more information on registering and upcoming events visit

Bereavement Outreach

“There is Hope” Bereavement Outreach is a workshop focusing on surviving the holiday without your loved ones and the difficulties of isolation during the Pandemic. The workshop will take place at the following dates and locations: 3-4:30 p.m., Epiphany Cathedral, 310 Sarasota St., Venice; 4-5:30 p.m., Dec. 10, Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers; 3-4:30 p.m., Dec. 13, San Marco Parish, 851 San Marco Road, Marco Island. Deacon Henry deMena will share has bereavement counseling experience and helpful advice on surviving the holidays. He will also discuss issues which have arisen as a result of isolation due to COVID-19. The seminar is free and open to all. No registration is required. Masks must be worn. Seating will be socially distanced. For more information, contact Carrie Harkey at 239-484-9543 or

Catholic School Open House Jan. 31

St. Ann Catholic School is hosting an Open House for perspective families from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 31, 2021. St. Ann Catholic School has been educating the faithful since 1956. RSVP is required to Tracy Farley at If you have additional questions, please call 239-262-4110 ext. 309.

Support after Abortion

Do you often think about an abortion you or a loved one had years ago? Sometimes it helps to have someone who can listen and help you process the experience. Call or text Sylvia at 941-412-5860 or email (English, Español or Deutsch). All contacts are confidential.



News briefs for the week of Nov. 20, 2020

Vigil held for children killed by violence

A Candlelight Vigil was held Nov 7, 2020 at St. Joseph Church in Bradenton to honor the memory of the 1,080 children who have been killed by gun and domestic violence between Jan. 1, 2020 and Nov. 7, 2020. Each of the names of the children were read aloud, along with their age, city and state and a candle was lit for each and every child! Prayers were said by Father Shawn Roser and joined by both Deacon Ron Dains and Deacon Ron Ochner who read the names, while many joined in lighting candles for the lost children and their grieving families. A Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputy spoke on how hard this senseless loss of life is for law enforcement officers as well as all of us!

School supports charity, honors veterans

The National Junior Honor Society at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers collected more than 1,100 items of food to be delivered to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. This effort was made possible with the assistance of the Knights of Columbus. The school also delivered more than 150 Veteran’s Day cards made by students to Mission BBQ. Mission BBQ handed out free lunches to veterans on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2020, and with their lunch they each received a handmade card! The students were honored to make these cards and show their appreciation for our local community.

Student donates hair for third time

For the third time, Serafina Colonneso, a student at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton, has donated 12 inches of her hair to Children With Hair Loss. Children With Hair Loss is a non-profit organization that provides human hair replacements at no cost to children and young adults facing medically-related hair loss. Way to go Serafina!

Cape Coral honored as Diocesan Respect Life volunteers

A Cape Coral couple with a passion for promoting a culture of life was honored with the 2020 Diocese Respect Life Volunteers of the Year at the 34th Annual Culture of Life Statewide Conference on Oct. 24, 2020 which was livestreamed from the Diocese of Palm Beach.

Rick and Paula Hellenbrand from St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral organized the first 40 Days for Life fall campaign in Fort Myers in 2011 and have been leading the campaign ever since. This year marks their 10th fall campaign. The award was presented to the Hellenbrand’s at the opening Vigil of the 40 Days for Life Fall Campaign on Sept. 22, 2020, in lieu of a personal presentation at the Conference.

In her nomination of the Hellenbrands, Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director, wrote: “It’s amazing that they have been able to run successful campaigns every year while operating a successful real estate business. Rick has also served as his Knights of Columbus Council’s Culture of Life Chairman and Grand Knight. We thank them for their hard work and continued dedication to promoting a greater respect for all human life.”

The couple expressed their deep gratitude in being recognized by the Diocese of Venice as the recipients of this award.

“Managing the 40 Days for Life Fall campaign over the past 10 years has been fruitful in protecting the lives of the innocent children,” Rick Hellenbrand stated. “As husband and wife, parents and now grandparents, to serve in such a lifesaving capacity is its own reward. None of which is possible without the many pro-life warriors who are equally engaged on the sidewalks throughout the Diocese to do the same to defend life in its earliest stages. We are humbled and filled with gratitude to receive such an honor.”

While the honor as Diocesan Volunteers of the Year was special for the couple, Rick Hellenbrand concluded by saying there is an ultimate goal to this effort. “It is with much appreciation that this award is received, and with hopes that the efforts of all volunteers together we will soon win this battle to end abortion forever.”

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.