News Briefs for week of July 13 2020

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate Aug. 15

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will ordain to the Permanent Diaconate seven men at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The candidates are: Jeffrey Ball of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria; Enrique (Rick) Castro of St. Cecilia Parish, Fort Myers; Ramiro Hernandez of St. Michael Parish, Wauchula; Jack W. Milholland Jr. of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Lakewood Ranch; Roberto Pagán of Jesus the Worker Parish, Fort Myers; Vern W. Smith of St. Martha Parish, Sarasota; and Dr. William Soscia of St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow. All are invited and encouraged to attend.

CCW supports Catholic Charities

Representatives of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women recently presented a check to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. for their homeless prevention program. The presentation took place on June 23, 2020 at the Catholic Center in Venice. VDCCW President Brenda Dolan and Board Member Ellen Bachman presented the check for $7,000 to Philomena Pereira, CEO of Catholic Charities. Bishop Frank J. Dewane was also present as a show of support for both the VDCCW and Catholic Charities. The money is part of an annual effort of the VDCCW and will go toward the numerous programs that provide housing and also prevent people from becoming homeless.

Support After Abortion Virtual Conference

Join the Support After Abortion Healing Network Virtual Conference 2020: Building and Strengthening Abortion Healing Worldwide – Thursday, July 30 to Saturday, August 1.  See and hear online over 40 presenters: clergy, authors, curriculum leaders and those who have been impacted by abortion as they share their wisdom, insights and personal stories. Don’t be surprised that Support After Abortion resides in the Diocese of Venice and some of the presenters live here as well. There is no charge to watch any of the presentations during the three-day virtual conference by visiting See the website for a premium upgrade for access to each of the presentations for 90 days. (NOTE: Any priest interested in a free 90-day premium pass – a $49.99 value – can request one by e-mailing or calling 941-374-1068.)

Online Master’s in Bioethics Offered

St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens is offering a new Master’s in Bioethics to be earned in four semesters. The comprehensive program is designed for graduates to be equipped to address all relevant bioethical issues of our time; to serve as consultors; to give workshops; develop Parish programs; and to train others to do the same. All courses are taught according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The program is four consecutive semesters (fall, spring, short summer, fall and students who start in the fall of 2020 will be graduating in December of 2021. The program consists of two courses per semester for a total of 30 credits and are fully available online. For more information, contact Father Alfred Cioffi, Director of the Institute for Bioethics, St. Thomas University, at 786-489-9369 or

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

Wauchula Food Pantry

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula is home to a food pantry which has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 Pandemic response. To accommodate those who work, the food pantry is open Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., at 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula. If you need food at a different time or would like to support the efforts to assist the community, please call the Parish at 863-773-4089.

Free Rosary Repair Service

Send your broken rosaries in a padded envelope to Betty and Dick Holden, 7930 Estero Blvd. #502, Fort Myers, FL 33931. Rosaries will be repaired and returned within the week of receipt. Donations of old rosaries are also accepted which will be repaired and sent to missions. Include a note indicating repair or donation. For more details, please call 239-463-3993 or email


While the celebration of public Mass resumed May 18, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect through Sept. 1, 2020 for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home. 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 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.

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.

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.

Virtual presentation to high school seniors covers serious topics

The Diocese of Venice Respect Life Office works tirelessly to educate people of all ages on the Church teachings on issues of life, from conception to natural death.

While it is always hard to educate young people on such topics as abortion, premarital sex, the transmission of sexual related illness and other health issues, the most difficult group to reach and educate are high school-aged girls and boys. The combination of outside influences and the reality that many teens do not have a solid understanding of Church Teaching, makes any discussion challenging.

This screen capture is a from a recorded a frank virtual presentation by Pam Stenzel to Diocesan Catholic high school seniors on sex, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases.

To help reach the students in Diocesan Catholic High Schools, Diocese Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux reached out to Pam Stenzel, a national speaker and founder of Enlighten Communications, with more than 25 years’ experience speaking to teens around the world.  She is currently the senior regional clinic coordinator for Community Pregnancy Clinics of Southwest Florida, with special focus on Gainesville and Sarasota.

“The idea to have Pam speak came about when we had another speaker talk to the students in 2015, and afterwards a survey was done.  Many of the students, even after the presentation, were sympathetic to the idea of abortion in cases of rape. Pam does a great job on this issue since her birthmother was raped.”

While it was planned to have Stenzel give a presentation at each high school in April, these were cancelled because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. When distance learning became the new normal for Diocesan schools, it was decided that Stenzel would record her presentation and each of the Diocesan high schools would incorporate it into the May lesson plan for graduating seniors.

The hour-long video covers a variety of topics and teachers were provided with a list of discussion questions.

Stenzel said her goal for the presentation was that no one would be able to watch her talk and leave and never again have to say to a physician, to a counselor, or to a future husband or wife – “nobody told me” about the consequences of premarital sex.

“Today you are going to be told, and whatever you choose to do after our time together is 100 percent up to you,” she stressed.  “I don’t decide what you are going to do about sex… The choice is yours. Your parents can’t choose for you. Some of them might wish they could… All we can do is love you. Tell you the truth and pray you make good choices.”

Starting with the basics, Stenzel explained that God created sex – but with boundaries. He also created choice, knowing that there would be pain, suffering and even death as a consequence when one steps outside of the boundaries.

The boundaries created by God are to contain sex within the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, she added, “not just when you are in love or have a warm fuzzy feeling. In the Sacrament… This is the rule. If you are not married, don’t do it. If you have sex outside of the context of one monogamous marriage, there is a cost: physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

She spoke about how young girls come to pregnancy clinics in fear of being pregnant, and how they are suddenly relieved if that test in negative. Of course, Stenzel must ask the follow-up questions of whether the girl has been tested for more than a dozen sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Many of these STDs have horrible and lasting side-effects. In fact, she added that young girls are 10 times more likely to receive an STD than to get pregnant during a sexual encounter. “They are not at all worried about getting an STD, they are worried only about getting pregnant. Unbelievable!”

While talking about many different topics, Stenzel spoke extensively on St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, and what it means to love someone freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully, noting that it takes integrity, respect and courage to wait to have sex until married. “You are worth it.”

The frankness of Stenzel is necessary to get her powerful message across. She stresses that she is not trying to upset or scare anyone but wants the teens to all know the price of having sex outside of the Sacrament of Marriage. “Knowledge will help you make the decision that is right for you.”

She left them with the advice to seek out the Catholic community wherever they are going to college, noting that it will be exponentially harder to live their Faith in the years ahead, thus having a solid connection to the Catholic Church will give them the strength they need.

Religious Freedom Week 2020

The Feast of Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher on June 22, 2020 marks the start of Religious Freedom Week, a national call for all Catholics across the United States to pray, reflect and take action in support of Religious Liberty in our country and abroad.

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

Continuing through the Solemnity of Sts. Peter & Paul the Apostles on June 29, 2020, Religious Freedom Week is a call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to unite Catholics across the country to pray, reflect and take action on religious liberty, both here in this country and abroad. The theme for Religious Freedom Week 2020 is “For the Good of All.”

Religious Freedom was founded to allow people of Faith to serve others in God’s love through ministries like education, adoption and foster care, health care, as well as migration and refugee services.

During the week, the USCCB encourages the faithful to reflect upon the importance of religious freedom so that we can carry out our mission of service and mercy. Everyone is invited to pray for our brothers and sisters who face intense persecution in other parts of the world.

Throughout the Religious Freedom Week, we are called to follow Christ as missionary disciples by seeking the truth, serving others, and living our Faith in all that we do. A number of resources, including daily prayers, reflections as well as action items related to issues in the U.S. and abroad, can be found at the USCCB website at

In Catholic teaching, the Second Vatican Council declared in Dignitatis Humanae, No. 2, that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means all men/women are immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power. In such ways that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his/her own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

Religious Liberty is protected in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as in federal and state laws and reaches beyond our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the rosary at home; it also encompasses our ability to contribute freely to the common good of all Americans.

To stay up-to-date on current religious freedom issues, sign up for text messages from the USCCB. It’s easy. Just text the word “FREEDOM” or “LIBERTAD” to 84576.

Service for Others

Courtesy of Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary

Before the global pandemic COVID-19 altered our world as we know it, the community at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, like many communities, was working hard and was focused on serving others. Below is an interview by seminarian Dan McHale ’21, from the Diocese of Albany, with fellow third-theologian, Deacon Mark Harris of the Diocese of Venice, about Mark’s witness to life in January.

Diocesan Seminarian Deacon Mark Harris is seen with some of the items collected for a “baby shower” drive to benefit a nearby maternity home in Weston, Mass. in March.

Throwing a baby shower at a Roman Catholic seminary seems as incongruous as holding a high school prom at a retirement home.  But as his brother seminarians will attest, Deacon Mark Harris ’21, a third theologian from the Diocese of Venice, thinks outside the box. Thanks to chronic foot problems – which recently required surgery – Harris was unable to join many of his Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary classmates at the annual March for Life rally, held this past January 2020 in Washington, D.C. However, despite his physical limitations, Harris still wanted to do something to support the pro-life cause. “There’s always a need for stuff for women who’ve had babies, so I thought, ‘why don’t we throw a baby shower at the seminary that ties in with the March for Life?'”

Soon after receiving approval for this project, Deacon Harris began decorating the vestibule area outside the seminarians’ mailroom, creating a festive display complete with balloons, paper Valentine’s Day hearts, and colorful baby-themed decor. He then invited seminarians and staff of Pope St. John to leave shower gifts on one of two vestibule tables. The community was very supportive. “We got a lot of diapers,” Harris noted, “And we also received some clothing, as well as things ranging from bottles to diaper ointment.”

In addition to the donations of baby goods, Deacon Harris also collected money for the cause, some of which he used to go shopping for more necessities. “Target’s website was running an online promotion that gave a discount plus a $20 gift card for every $100 spent, so we maximized what we could,” he said.  After purchasing the items using his computer, the former schoolteacher would pick them up at the local Target in Framingham.

One evening, after returning from the store, he ran into Father Vin Daily, one of the resident spiritual directors at Pope St. John, who suggested the baby shower gifts be donated to the Pregnancy Care Center (PCC) of the Merrimack Valley, which operates out of the former rectory of St. Rita Parish in Lowell. The PCC “is a Christ-centered, pro-life ministry,” explains Alicia Hines, the Client Service Manager. The organization is geared especially towards supporting women with unexpected pregnancies, offering them “mentoring, education and material support like food, clothing and furniture until their child is one year old.”

St. Rita Parish – part of the River of Divine Mercy Collaborative – is shepherded by its pastor, Father Rich Clancy, who Father Daily knew back from his own seminary days and later lived with him in Dorchester. When Father Daily put in a call to his close friend to find out if the PCC could use the donations, Father Clancy responded that they “would be delighted” to accept them.

So on February 13, 2020, Father Daily, along with Deacon Harris, as well as fellow seminarians Bert Proulx (Class of 2022) from the Archdiocese of Boston, and Joe Danzi (Class of 2023) from the Diocese of Brooklyn, made the 24-mile trek from Weston to Lowell, delivering the baby shower contributions along with a $400 check to the PCC. “We are very grateful to Pope St. John Seminary for coordinating this drive to support new Moms and families in need,” said Hines.

Deacon Harris intends to organize another drive next year to support the PCC and hopes to make it an annual tradition on campus.  “It’s our responsibility to safeguard life,” he declared. Father Daily agrees. “We are called to serve the dignity of every human being and witness to that dignity for all.”  So, get your gifts ready next January—because you’re invited to a baby shower here at PSJS, a celebration of God’s sacred and wondrous gift of life!

Deacon Harris was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate on April 15, 2020, and has an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2021.

News Briefs from early February 2020

2020 Sarasota Charity Ball

The Catholic Charities Ball “Puttin’ It On the Ritz!” took place Feb. 8 at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota. The event had a Roaring 20’s theme and featured special guest Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy winner, two-time Florida Gator National Champion, professional baseball player, sports broadcaster and head of the Tim Tebow Foundation. The event benefited the programs of Catholic Charities in Sarasota and Manatee Counties including Our Mother’s House, Bethesda House, and the St. Martha Early Learning Center.

Blessing of doors

Father Gerard Critch, Pastor St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, blesses the new glass doors in the church that were installed thanks to the fundraising efforts of our CCW – Council of Catholic Women. Now it is more peaceful in the church and it also saves on the air conditioning costs!





School Foundation dinner

Bishop Frank J. Dewane gives the blessing before the meal at the St. Ann Catholic School Foundation Gala Feb. 5 at the Naples Grande Hotel.





Teacher earns research grant

James Less, a teacher at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, recently learned that he was a recipient of a research grant from the Society for Science & the Public.  Research grants are awarded across the country to a handful of high school and middle school teachers. In his grant submission, Less described he would use the funds to purchase data loggers with probes. The equipment will be used for students to collect, store and analyze their research data. “This equipment will also enable our students to conduct important and timely research because there is great statewide interest in water quality issues in Southwest Florida. The proposed equipment will put our students on the forefront of several local initiatives to undertake field studies that complement those of local colleges and universities.”

Speaker talks abstinence, life issues to teens

Pam Stenzel spoke Feb. 12 to youth at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula about pro-life issues and the importance of abstinence.





Order of Malta holds retreat

Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta took part in a retreat which included Feb. 7 Mass at St. Ann Parish in Naples.




Golf Tournament and $10,000 Drawing

St. Mary Academy’s 9th Annual Golf Tournament will be held  8:30 a.m., April 4, at The Meadows in Sarasota. This is a best-ball tournament and the cost is only $100 per player. Participants will receive breakfast, great goody bags and a sit-down BBQ lunch. In addition, there will be two drawings of $5,000 each during lunch. You do not need to play in the tournament to win the cash prize, tickets for the drawing are $50.00 each.. The event supports St. Mary Academy which educates students with learning disabilities. To register to golf or drawing information, please contact Connie Taft at 941-366-4010 or


News Briefs from around the Diocese Jan & Feb 2020

Diocesan group enjoys Catholic Days at the Capitol

During the Jan. 28-30 Catholic Days at the Capitol, Bishop Frank J. Dewane gave a legislative briefing to participants from across Florida. A group of nearly 50, including students from each Diocesan Catholic high school traveled for this important lobbying opportunity.


Seminarian becomes Lector

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Daniel Scalan was among a group of first-year students at Pontifical North American College in Rome, to receive the Ministry of Lector on Jan. 11. Archbishop Bernard Hebda, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was the main celebrant and homilist. As part of the rite, the Archbishop 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.”

National Order of Malta leadership meets in Naples

The Order of Malta – American Association, held and Board of Counsellors meeting in Naples in late January. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the group on Jan. 27 at St. William Parish.



Register now Mission Possible Immokalee 2020

The very popular Mission Possible Immokalee 2020 trip registration for high school students is NOW OPEN! Organized as a joint effort of the Diocese Mission Office and Office of Evangelization, students will work on service projects from June 8-12, assisting at Catholic Charities of Collier and Lee Counties sites, Guadalupe Social Services and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The mission trip is $199 and includes meals, lodging and transportation to work sites. For more information, please contact the Diocese of Venice Mission Office at 239-241-2233. All registration must be through Youth Ministers at your local Parish or Catholic School.

Bishop recognizes Knights of Bikes

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass at St, Agnes Parish in Naples on Jan. 26, the Sunday of the Word of God. During the Mass, Bishop Dewane offered a special recognition for the Knights on Bikes, a club of Knights of Columbus which includes avid motorcycle enthusiasts. Members took part in the opening and closing processions of the Mass. At the conclusion, the Bishop blessed special key chains with a cross. Each member wears a vest with patches that read: “In God We Trust and Ride” and “In Service to One. Inservice to All.”

Parish honors first responders

St. Agnes Parish in Naples, honored Law Enforcement Officers, Fire Fighters, and First Responders, both active and retired with a Blue Mass on Jan. 25. Dozens of officers attended with their families to honor first responders who died in the line of duty and to pray for the safety of those still serving. The guest homilist was Father Sean Connor, Chaplain of the Boston Police Department. During the final blessing Father Michael Orsi, Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes, blessed medals of St. Michael the Archangel to give out to all the first responders for protection.

North Port Show of Shows

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. and the Knights of Columbus hosted The Goldtones Jan. 25 at the first ever North Port Sugar Bowl Show of Shows. Playing songs from 50s and 60s The Goldtones entertained an enthusiastic crowd at the North Port Performing Arts Center at North Port High School. The Sugar Bowl Fund helps support families in crisis, providing emergency financial assistance for low-income families in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. The Sugar Bowl Fund is a community partnership between Catholic Charities and the local Knights of Columbus Councils. The goal of the fund is an attempt to keep families together, self-sufficient and relieved of some of the pressures that cause greater hardship. Financial assistance can include help for car repairs, medical bills, utilities, rent or mortgage payments as well as relocation fees. The North Port Show of Shows was the first in this part of the area, similar events have been taking place for several years in Venice each fall and in Bradenton each Spring.

Jammin’ for the Mamas a success

About 130 guests showed up at the Boca Royale Golf and Country Club in Englewood for a “jawsome” night of fun, food, music and fundraising with the Shark Sisters! The Jammin’ for the Mamas event featured the popular local music trio and all proceeds benefited Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities which serves homeless mothers and their children and helps them to achieve self-sufficiency.

News briefs from around the Diocese mid January 2020

St. Mary Academy students win STREAM Challenge

Four students from St. Mary Academy were chosen as the winners of the Diocesan wide “First Annual Gingerbread House STREAM Challenge” that was held in December. Voting was online and we were judged on the following criteria: Adherence to the theme – “Keeping Christ in Christmas;” Innovative technology integration; and Clean, neat, and polished design. Representatives from the Diocese Education Department presented a trophy and gift card to the students and their teachers. The gift card will be used to purchase more STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, and mathematics) related technology for the classroom.

Prayer walk held in Grove City

St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Grove City (Englewood) hosted a Walk for Life on Jan. 18. The faithful of all ages walked in solidarity with the upcoming National March for Life (Jan. 24) and to witness to the dignity of the human person. This annual walk was also a fundraiser to benefit the Pregnancy Careline Center of Port Charlotte, which supports women who are dealing with an unexpected pregnancy.

Opportunities coming to stand up for Life

We are all called by Christ to be witnesses of our Faith and to stand up against evil.

The Diocese of Venice Respect Life Office is co-sponsoring several events to mark the 47th tragic anniversary of the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision which opened the door for abortion in the United States.

Today, after more than 60 million abortions, there is less regard for all human life as society discards those deemed inconvenient because of age, infirmity or any other reason, the Florida Bishops noted in a statement released in early January. In fact, some states sought to strengthen laws that permit abortions even to the moment of birth.

Locally, there are several opportunities to act.

For example, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, 5265 Placida Road, Grove City, is hosting a Parish Prayer Walk for Life at 11 a.m., Jan. 18. The walk is in solidarity with the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., and for participants to be a witness to a Culture of Life and defend the right to life of all unborn children. Everyone is welcome. For more details, and for pledge sheets, please call 941-697-4899.

You can also join Bishop Frank J. Dewane for a Mass and the annual Prayer Walk for Life on Jan. 21 in Sarasota. The Mass is at 8:30 a.m., St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange St. Participants will then take a shuttle or walk to the Planned Parenthood on Central Avenue for a Prayer Vigil.

This year, Bishop Dewane is joining a group of approximately 475 from the Diocese of Venice on Jan. 24 to stand up for life. The young men and women, representing each Diocesan High School as well as 10 different parishes, will be joining hundreds of thousands in the National March for Life in Washington, D.C.

In addition, the U. S. Catholic Bishops invite everyone to join thousands of Catholics nationwide for 9 Days of Prayer for Life, a novena from Jan. 21-29 for the protection of human life. Each day’s intention is accompanied by a short reflection and suggested actions to help build a Culture of Life. You can receive daily pro-life prayers via e-mail or on your phone via text. For further information, visit

The 40 Days for Life spring campaign is held this year from Feb. 26 to April 5. The campaign includes 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion where all are welcome to stand and peacefully pray. These vigils will take place in the public right-of-way outside Planned Parenthood abortion facilities in Naples, Fort Myers and Sarasota. For more information, go to and click on the location nearest you.

The Diocese offers multiple pro-life efforts throughout the year. This includes regular prayer vigils are held in front of abortion facilities throughout the Diocese.

For information on all Diocesan activities promoting a Culture of Life, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at or 941-374-1068

Ultrasound blessed in Port Charlotte

The Knights of Columbus have done it again. For the 18th time since 2012 a Knights Council has raised the funds to facilitate the purchase of an ultrasound machine for a local pro-life pregnancy center.

The Ponce de Leon Council 8074 of Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda recently donated an ultrasound to the Pregnancy Careline Center in Port Charlotte. The new machine was blessed during a ceremony on Nov. 8.

To raise the money, the Council conducted a “Baby Bottle Campaign” handing out thousands of bottles to parishioners at Sacred Heart Parish for the faithful to put their loose change, cash or checks.

Knight Steve Kowalski spoke on behalf of the Council during the ceremony and credited the hard work of the Knights in getting the message out about the importance of the campaign and then to the parishioners for raising $18,000 in a matter of weeks.

“They are the ones who gave us the opportunity to succeed,” Kowalski said. “With a match from the Supreme Council, we were able to purchase a state-of-the-art machine for Pregnancy Careline Center.”

The Phillips 3D/4D Color, ClearVue 850 Ultrasound Machine can detect movement very early on in a pregnancy. “This is so important for the young ladies,” Kowalski added. “Some 85 percent of women who are considering an abortion change their mind once they their child move. We wanted to provide the opportunity to show movement as early in the pregnancy as is currently possible, so we worked with the Pregnancy Careline and the Supreme Council to get this machine.”

Maria Betancourt, Executive Director, Prenancy Careline Center, said she has seen firsthand the difference an ultrasound has made for a mother who was considering an abortion.

“I can’t say enough to those who donated their change and much more, and to the Knights for this generous gift,” Betancourt added.

The ultrasound dedication included a number of Knights who were crucial to the success of the “Baby Bottle Campaign” and the machine was blessed by Father Mario Kono, Parochial Vicar of Sacred Heart Parish and Council Chaplain.

Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director, who connects pro-life pregnancy centers with Knights Councils interested in raising money for an ultrasound, represented Bishop Frank J. Dewane who was unable to attend the ceremony.

Berdeaux congratulated the Ponce de Leon Council for their effort and added that she was impressed in that the money was raised in just a few weeks.

Through the Ultrasound Initiative, the Supreme Council provides a 50 percent matching grant and has helped to place more than 1,000 ultrasounds into pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation.

News Briefs from around the Diocese for late November

Advent begins at Catholic Center

Bishop Frank J. Dewane led a prayer service for the staff of the Catholic Center in Venice on Dec. 1. The prayer service included the blessing of the Advent Candle, Christmas Tree and Nativity scene which will be on display in the lobby throughout Advent.



Parish holds Children Festival

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula hosted a Children Festival Nov. 16 for the younger members of the parish. There were a variety of fun outdoor games, crafts, food and time for quiet prayer.




Rose Ball recognizes service of young ladies

The Mother Frances de Sales Auxiliary to the Homeless held its Fourth Rose Ball Nov. 30 at the Naples Grande Beach Hotel and Resort where 22 young ladies were recognized for their commitment of volunteer service and formation. The event benefited four organizations in Collier County that work to help break the cycle of homelessness. Bishop Frank J. Dewane presented each young lady with a silver Rose Ball medallion of the organizations’ patron, Mother Frances de Sales, known as St. Leonie Aviat, who was canonized on Nov. 25, 2001. The ladies, known as Rose Girls, committed to a two-and-a-half-year volunteer and personal formation program where they make pledges of dignity, charity, and purity and were presented to those gathered as Dignified Ladies of Volunteer Service.

Youth make Advent Wreaths

Youth from St. Columbkille Parish in Fort Myers had an inter-generational gathering to make Advent Wreaths with their families in mid-November by members of the youth group and religious education programs. There were many smiles as they create a beautiful item to take home as a reminder of God’s greatest gift, Jesus. At the end of the fun, the wreaths were blessed.


Students visit Veterans Nursing Home

Students who take part in the St. Martha Catholic School & St. Mary’s Academy Mission Middle School Elective coordinated the collection of items and delivered “Giving Thanks” bags to the local veterans at the Douglas T. Jacobson Nursing Home in Port Charlotte. The Sarasota students spent time talking to these brave men and women and learning about their service to our country.

Quiz Bowl Champs

The Bishop Verot Academic team participated in the John C. Schudel Quiz Bowl Tournament the weekend of Nov. 15-16 earning a 1st Place finish! Congratulations Vikings!





Students enjoy time with women religious

The Y.A.C.H.T. Club (“Youth and Christ Helping Together”) of St. John Neumann Catholic School hosted a Neumann Fun “Night” Nov. 24! Students joined the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco for Mass at St. Elizabeth Seton parish followed by breakfast at the religious convent.