On Aug. 22, at 6 p.m., Gary Ray Bowles is scheduled to be executed by the State of Florida.
The Diocese of Venice Respect Life Office is asking everyone to please join a prayer vigil (choose from list below) or pray at home for Mr. Bowles, his family, the victims and their families, and those who must carry out the execution.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2267 states: “The Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,’ and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death, states: “When the state, in our names and with our taxes, ends a human life despite having non-lethal alternatives, it suggests that society can overcome violence with violence. The use of the death penalty ought to be abandoned not only for what it does to those who are executed, but for what it does to all of society.”
Execution Prayer Vigil times and locations:
5 p.m., St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring;
5:30 p.m., St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers; St. Raphael Parish (chapel), 2514 Lee Blvd., Lehigh Acres; Sacred Heart Parish, 211 West Charlotte Avenue, Punta Gorda (outdoor Last Supper Table);
5:45 p.m., St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota; San Pedro Parish (chapel), 14380 Tamimi Trail, North Port; San Marco Parish, 851 San Marco Drive, Marco Island;
6 p.m., St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th St. W., Bradenton; St. Katharine Drexel Parish (chapel), 1922 SW 20th Ave., Cape Coral.
To learn more about the death penalty, watch the video at https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/respect-life/death-penalty/. For additional information, contact the Diocesan Respect Life Office at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-441-1101.
Susan Laielli – Special to the Florida Catholic
If you have ever prayed in front of an abortion clinic during 40 Days for Life – or on any day – and wondered if it has an impact, one need not look further than the transformation of a former Maryland Planned Parenthood employee who walked away from the industry, thanks to those prayers.
The story begins when Myra Neyer, 43, of Cape Coral, found herself looking for a job in Baltimore, Md. to support her seven children, after her husband was killed in a car accident. Following the death of her husband, a subsequent relationship ended at the hands of abuse, making the job search even more desperate to feed and clothe her children.
As her college graduation neared, the school sent Neyer’s resume to various organizations which were looking to fill positions. The work she found was at two northeast locations of Planned Parenthood, in Annapolis and Baltimore.
Over the next year Neyer would watch half-hearted counseling sessions of young pregnant women who were trying to decide how to handle their pregnancy. From day one she would observe actual abortions. Worst of all, as part of the job requirement, Neyer would be forced to piece babies back together following their killing, to be sure all of the aborted baby had been retrieved from its mother.
“I knew early on this was not the place for me but I had seven children to care for, so I kept going to work,” Neyer said, as she sat in a Cape Coral coffee shop recalling that long year of working for Planned Parenthood.
One day as she was walking back to work from lunch Neyer passed by two sets of protesters: the quiet Catholic prayer warriors who were joining together in praying the rosary; and the loud angry people who yelled awful things to the Planned Parenthood employees. Privately, Neyer says hearts are being affected.
“I started to think, what if God does hate what I am doing, and what am I doing to my soul?” Neyer recalls. It was then she remembers feelings of guilt started penetrating her mind. “The torment became so severe I would dream of being the one who was having the abortion – without anesthesia.”
Neyer recalled each time she looked at her youngest child, who was three at the time, she saw the skin of the aborted babies and soon became tormented for hours each day.
“One day I went outside to the 40 Days for Life prayer warriors, although I didn’t know any of them at the time, and I asked for a pair of the rosaries from one lady who was praying,” Neyer said, smiling. “She asked me if she could pray for me, and if I knew how to pray the rosary, to which I responded, yes. I also told her I grew up Catholic, and this is not how I ever saw my life going, but I have children to raise by myself.”
The woman continued to quietly pray over Neyer before she walked back into the Planned Parenthood clinic, knowing her co-workers were going to give her grief for talking to the people praying outside.
It wasn’t long before Neyer found herself searching for the woman who offered to pray for her, if only to share a smile, or a kind word. In some strange way, she says a sense of well-being was gained from those exchanges.
“This is when I remember starting to feel different. There was something about the prayer woman that provided comfort, and I felt drawn to her,” Neyer said, wiping away a tear. “I learned these ladies were with 40 Days for Life, which at the time, I knew nothing about.”
Attendees of 40 Days for Life commit themselves each Spring and Fall to 40 days of prayer in front of abortion clinics across the United States, including Sarasota, Port Charlotte, Fort Myers and Naples in the Diocese of Venice in Florida.
February 2014 is when Neyer definitively knew it was time to end her year working at Planned Parenthood. She says a young pregnant girl, estimated to be 20-years-old, came into the clinic feeling pressured to get an abortion by her boyfriend, an older man who did not want children.
Neyer says the ultrasound tech told the young mother she was 13-weeks pregnant with identical male quadruplets. The abortion could not be performed at that location because there was not sedation available there, so the procedure needed to be moved to another location in order to abort the four babies.
On the next scheduled visit, the day of the abortion, the young girl was too upset to go through with it. On the third visit her boyfriend came in with her and was visibly angry, claiming he did not want children and he argued with all involved, according to Neyer. The couple was moved to a private room to come to an agreement, but they eventually left without the abortion.
The next day before closing, Neyer said the young mother came back to the clinic in substantial pain, bleeding, with the babies literally falling out of her. The boyfriend had taken the young girl to an unknown location to have an abortion, which was going very wrong.
“The last baby needed to be suctioned out, and (afterwards) all of these little (parts) needed to be pieced back together, as my co-worker and I stood there hugging each other crying,” Neyer painfully recalls. “I knew I could not do this anymore.”
In hindsight, Neyer is now convinced more than ever that the woman who offered to pray for her was a gift from God and is ultimately what helped change her heart.
But for those who know and love God, there is an understanding that His work is never done. As Neyer quit her job the next day, she asked the woman outside to please continue praying for her because she would need a job and was unsure how to provide care for her children.
The praying woman gave Neyer a pamphlet titled, “And Then there Were None” (ATTWN), a non-profit organization founded by Abby Johnson, that exists to help abortion clinic workers leave the industry.
Johnson herself left the industry in 2009 after watching a 13-week old baby struggle in the womb during an ultrasound-guided abortion, and is the subject of the 2019 movie, “UNPLANNED.” That was the first time Abby saw an abortion done with an ultrasound, so it was also the first time she actually saw what was happening inside the womb.
Following Neyer’s conversion, ATTWN provided her with assistance, strength and counsel which led to a trip to Washington, D.C., for the pro-life March for Life. On the plane, Neyer found herself seated next to Renate Ferrante, Executive Director of Collier Community Abstinence Program, who knows Abby Johnson, and a meeting was set up.
Today, Neyer calls Johnson a sister and occasional mother figure, who has given her the strength to speak in public. She will express to all who will listen that there is a better way for you – and our babies.
Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese of Venice in Florida Respect Life Director is thrilled Neyer is now local.
“We are blessed that Myra Neyer chose to move to our Diocese after quitting Planned Parenthood in Baltimore. She gives a powerful testimony to the truth of what happens inside an abortion facility,” Berdeaux said.
Neyer has spoken at several Luncheons 4 Life gatherings. This grassroots effort was started locally to bring like-minded and life-affirming people together and now takes place monthly in eight locations including Venice, Fort Myers and Naples and beyond.
Post-Abortion Help/Project Rachel
Are you suffering after abortion? There is hope and healing waiting for you. Many women and men experience deep pain and grief after an abortion and don’t know where to turn. They don’t know there is help available for them. Project Rachel is the outreach of the Catholic Church to those who are suffering this loss. We offer help through the sacraments, retreats, and referrals for professional counseling. For confidential information, contact Sylvia Jimenez, Project Rachel Coordinator, at 941-412-5860 (English and en español), firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.hopeafterabortion.com.
Every year since the inception of the Coalition for Life in 2007 the Diocesan Respect Life Office has brought leaders together annually in the spring for updates, networking and to provide input on future activities.
Parish Respect Life Representatives (designated by Pastors), Knights of Columbus Culture of Life Chairmen, Council of Catholic Women Representatives, and others interested in serving, gathered June 2 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte. Those gathered enjoyed their time with like-minded people who dedicate themselves to building a Culture of Life in the Diocese of Venice. Some attendees have been volunteering for 30 or more years while others have recently felt called to do something to promote a greater respect for life.
Diocesan Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux gave a brief overview of the pro-life strategy outlined by the U.S. Bishops. She celebrated the previous 12-months of activities with a PowerPoint presentation that included pictures from key events such as the State Respect Life Conference that the Diocese hosted in the fall of 2018, 40 Days for Life, and Prayer Walks for Life in four locations, the March for Life in Washington and Catholic Days at the Capitol in Tallahassee.
Looking ahead to the coming year, she announced that the movie UNPLANNED is due to be released on DVD and streaming in mid-August, providing a powerful tool for pro-life education. The dates for Catholic Days at the Capitol in Tallahassee were announced: January 28-30, 2020. The three-day bus trip will be earlier since the Florida Legislative Session runs from January to March in even years, allowing legislators more time for campaigning in the summer and fall leading up to the 2020 elections.
Berdeaux also noted that there are excellent speakers available to present on a variety of life issue from conception to natural death. She also noted that video presentations from the 2018 Florida Respect Life Conference and events on the death penalty and other issues are available online at www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane addressed the group and specifically spoke about the ramifications of recent events in states across the country with laws being enacted, both pro-life and pro-abortion, in anticipation of the day when the infamous Roe v Wade might be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, sending the issue back to the states. Bishop Dewane pointed out that Florida will still have a problem because of the privacy clause that was added to the State Constitution in 1980.
Attendees were given a new brochure explaining the Florida privacy clause and how this might impact any future legislation (available on the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops at www.flaccb.org/culture-of-life). A short video and other important resources which further explains the issue are also on the site.
Janine Marrone, founder of Luncheons 4 Life and member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, shared with the group a special project that shows 30-second videos promoting pregnancy help centers and adoption to young women via YouTube and other social media, helping them to look at a difficult situation from a pro-life perspective.
Project Rachel Coordinator Sylvia Jimenez shared information and stories to highlight the need to be sensitive when talking about abortion with others as there could very well be women or men listening who have been hurt by abortion.
One of the most important and fun parts of the day was the time spent in round-table discussions with others sharing what they are doing in their local area.
For information on how you can become involved of pro-life activities in your parish or the Diocese, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.
The Knights of Columbus is a group which serves to help defend the faith and supports the Catholic Church in a variety of ways.
The Knights from Assembly 3094 and Council 14202 of St. Agnes Parish in Naples recently expressed their frustration by sending an open letter to their U.S. Congressional delegation including U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, as well as U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Francis Rooney
In the letter, which appeared in the Naples Daily News, they specifically address derogatory remarks against the Knights by three U.S. Senators Mazie Hirona, Hawaii; and Kamala Harris and Diana Feinstein, both of California. The Senators bashed Federal Judicial nominees because they are members of the Knights of Columbus, because the Senators claimed the Knights of Columbus hold extreme positions, particularly on same sex marriage and abortion.
The letter states that: “By condemning the Knights as holding extreme positions and by denigrating the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, these three Senators are attempting to ban members of the Knights from holding public office. They went on to establish a religious test for public office holders, a contravention of Constitutional guarantees.”
The letter goes on to state that the members of the Knights of St. Agnes Parish chose the forum of an open letter so as to inform the Congressional Delegation and their fellow citizens of the Knights’ unequivocal support of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church on the matter of abortion and same sex marriage. They also condemned the recent enactment of a New York law allowing an abortion of a fetus up until the time of birth.
Knight Greg Russo shared the letter with the Naples Daily News and expressed his desire that, on behalf of the 400 members of the Knights St. Agnes Assembly and Council, and the thousands of Knights across Southwest Florida, that the Congressional Delegation condemn the vicious and unwarranted attacks on members of the Knights and moral teachings of the Catholic Church.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who was copied on the letter, said he stands with all Knights in highlighting and speaking out and against these attacks.
“The Knights of Columbus have a strong history of defending the moral teachings of the Church,” Bishop Dewane said. “As a Knight, I support this letter and strongly encourage others to speak out against this and other attacks against the Church. If these attacks go uncontested, they threaten to tear down the Religious Freedom upon which this nation was founded.”
National Night of Prayer for Life held
Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic
For the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary several Pro-Life activities took place.
First, Bishop Frank J. Dewane led the praying of the Rosary at a prayer vigil in Fort Myers and that day many Parishes held National Night of Prayer for Life observances.
More than 150 people participated in a prayerful procession and praying of the Rosary in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion center in Fort Myers, found at the intersection of College Parkway and Winkler Road.
Students from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers carried a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the procession from a nearby parking lot to the shopping plaza where the abortion facility is located. Members of the Knights of Columbus Color Corps escorted the students and the statue.
Paul Muri, who helped organize the procession and prayer vigil, said it is important to gather in honor of Our Lady on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary while seeking to create a culture of life. The Solemnity pertains to the conception of the Virgin Mary in the womb of Her mother St. Anne, wherein she (Mary) was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin by God’s grace in view of the merits of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Dewane led everyone in the reciting of the Rosary, with Ashley La Mar providing the descriptions of each Joyful Mystery.
Following the Rosary, the Bishop thanked everyone for participating in the prayer vigil.
“We are called to take time in the Advent season to prepare ourselves for Christmas and the coming of Our Lord,” Bishop Dewane said. “You have certainly given a demonstration of that today. Keep up the good work! God bless you!”
National Night of Prayer for Life
The annual National Night of Prayer for Life took place on the evening of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8). At several parishes within the Diocese of Venice, the faithful joined in prayer with Catholics throughout the country in an effort to bring the world back to Christ and to bring about an end to abortion so as to restore life, liberty, faith and peace.
San Pedro Parish in North Port, St. Agnes Parish in Naples, and San Marco Parish in Marco Island participated in the entire vigil, which began the evening at 9 p.m. and continued until 1 a.m. The evening spanned the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8 and continued into the anniversary of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s first apparition to St. Juan Diego on Dec. 9. It was in 1531, that Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the Unborn, first appeared to St. Juan Diego and shared Her message of life.
Prayer services typically consisted of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the Rosary and other vocal prayers, intercessions, silent meditation and Benediction. Prayers were offered to end abortion and all offenses against the dignity of the human person, to make reparation for these sins and for the healing of those who are suffering. The goal of the National Night of Prayer for Life is intended to help build the culture of life and civilization of love in our nation.
The prayer vigil was designed to unite the two days which pronounce this important message of life from Our Lady. The Hour of Unity was at midnight in Florida. The overriding intent of the evening was to have the faithful across the United States be joined in prayer to end abortion as well as to restore God’s blessings of life and religious liberty in America.
Other Parishes held prayer services throughout Dec. 8, typically following the Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
At St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, Pastor Father Dennis Cooney stressed the importance to continue to pray for a culture of life. Members of the Youth Group led the praying of the rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
To commemorate the 46th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which paved the way for legalized abortion in the U.S., a Mass will be celebrated at 8:30 a.m., Jan. 22 at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave., for a greater respect for life. The Mass will be followed by a peaceful Prayer Walk for Life at the nearby Planned Parenthood abortion facility at 736 Central Ave. For more information about Respect Life activities within the Diocese of Venice please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-441-1101 or email@example.com.
Wrap-up of news from Across the Diocese in November
Wauchula Children’s Festival a big success
More than 200 children participated in a Children’s Festival at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. Geared toward children aged 3 to 10, there were a number of fun activities and games as well as Mass and prayers.
Successful Vocations Awareness Weekend
The Diocese Vocations Office brought a group of young men to participate in the Nov. 9-11 Vocations Awareness Weekend at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. Led by Vocations Director Father Eric Scanlan, several attended this engaging and prayerful discernment event.
Retreat inspires catechists
A Diocesan Catechist Retreat themed: “Root of God’s Healing” took place Nov. 17 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. About 100 catechists participated in the retreat which focused on reenergizing them as they approach the Advent and Christmas seasons. They were reminded that Jesus serves to free and restore them as they work to be the light and witness of the Lord for others.
VDCCW Latina Convocation held
The first ever Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Latina Convocation took place Nov. 17 at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton. About 50 women took part in the gathering which served to educate about the role of the CCW and to inspire them to become more involved in their faith. Iris Gomez, VDCCW Past-President, organized the gathering and Father Juan Carlos Sack, Administrator at Sacred Heart Parish, provide inspirational talks.
Cities for Life gathering held
Praying for the end to the death penalty, a Cities for Life gathering was held Nov. 30 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte. Cities for Life is a worldwide annual event that was begun in 2002 by the community of Saint’ Egidio in Rome where the Coliseum was lit up during the night. November 30th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the first civil state in the world to do away with the death penalty in Tuscany, Italy in 1786- 229 years ago. About 2,000 cities and 80 countries will call for the end of the use of the death penalty by lighting civic or religious buildings around the world, along with prayer services and educational programs. This was the fourth time the Dioceses of Florida participated in the prayer vigil. Participants in the Port Charlotte gathering saw a video presentation of a talk on the death penalty from the September 2018 Florida Respect Life Conference in Punta Gorda.
Sarasota Charity Ball Jan. 26 at The Westin
The Catholic Charities Ball will be held on Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. at The Westin in Sarasota. All proceeds will benefit the programs and services of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Sarasota and Manatee counties which include Our Mother’s House, St. Martha’s Early Learning Center, Bethesda House, Catholic Charities Family Haven, housing counseling and foreclosure prevention, financial assistance, senior services, professional counseling, refugee services, and immigration services. The evening will include a cocktail hour, auctions, dinner, and dancing. Tickets are $300 a person. For information and tickets visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or call 941-355-4680, ext. 301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Laielli – Special to the Florida Catholic
It’s difficult to imagine that with one simple phone call a person can donate to any number of their favorite Catholic, social service, and other pro-life causes such as Pregnancy Care Centers, abstinence programs, Catholic Schools, Catholic Charities and beyond, through the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida (CCFSF).
After investing in other foundations in Southwest Florida, philanthropists Janine Marrone, and her husband Steve, decided to place their hard-earned money into a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) at the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida, where their Catholic and pro-life passions could prosper, and hopefully change hearts and minds along the way.
A Donor-Advised Fund is a charitable investment account for the sole purpose of supporting charitable organizations you care most about, while offering an immediate tax deduction. Donors make a charitable contribution to their fund and recommend grants from it over time to their favorite Catholic, pro-life or social service programs and ministries.
In the Marrone’s case, they advance many Catholic and pro-life missions, such as creating Luncheons4Life. They are assisted by many good people in Sarasota, Lee and Collier counties within the Diocese, each offering monthly luncheons in support of life. The luncheons, also held in Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Georgia, and Alton, Illinois, bring like-minded supporters of life together without politics, and with no cost or “ask” at the end. Through their Donor-Advised Fund, the Marrone’s are able to raise awareness in hopes of bringing an end to abortion and offering healing to those who have had an abortion.
“The Donor-Advised Fund allows our contributions to be forwarded to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center for the luncheons, or to our Parish, the Catholic Faith Appeal, and Catholic Schools,” said Janine Marrone, who was excited to open the first Donor-Advised Fund with the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida this year.
“We can also contribute to the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, Pregnancy Care Centers, and to Catholic Charities through this fund,” added Marrone, who was well-versed and experienced in donor-advised funds.
She approached the Catholic Community Foundation when she heard they were launching their own Donor-Advised Fund program that was more in alignment with her faith and values.
Funds with the Catholic Community Foundation are invested in socially responsible, Catholic-screened investments. Distributions can only be made to Catholic, pro-life or social service agencies whose mission and services are in keeping with the teachings of the Church.
“Earlier in 2018, the Catholic Community Foundation Board approved the launch of our Donor-Advised Fund program in response to numerous requests from donors within the Diocese who were looking for a Catholic option,” said Michael Morse, Executive Director of the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida. “I was so blessed to work with the Marrone’s on the program’s launch.”
With the launch of this new program the CCFSW is now a full-service community foundation that can meet the needs of donors looking for a faith-based alternative for their giving. All Donor-Advised Funds, similar to all funds held by the Foundation, are governed by fund agreements signed by the donor, which specify how they may be used.
“With the recent changes to the tax laws, Donor-Advised Funds with the Catholic Community Foundation may be a great way to maximize your tax benefits this year and going forward,” added Morse.
Marrone exhibits much enthusiasm when she talks about charitable giving and making a difference, but she also is very active and engaged in the community, so there’s not a lot of time to waste.
“Working with the Foundation is easy, and with the Donor-Advised Fund it’s essentially one-stop-shopping, really,” said Marrone.
For more information on donor-advised funds or the Catholic Community Foundation, please contact Michael Morse at 941-441-1124.
Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic
All of us must realize that a central part of Catholic Social Teaching calls for a respect for human life and ultimately the support for all life.
This was the message of Bishop Frank J. Dewane as he encouraged the faithful and students from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School to respect life from conception to natural death prior to a Feb. 20 Prayer Walk for Life in Port Charlotte.
Bishop Dewane spoke during Mass noting the goal of the walk was to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to push aside the scourge of abortion in the world. “We have to continue to pray, be vigilant, and speak up for the value and right to life.”
Following the Mass, the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders led everyone to the Prayer Walk for Life, about a half-mile to a nearby site across from an abortion doctor’s office. There, the students led a praying of the rosary.
Meanwhile, during the Lenten Season, the Spring 40 Days for Life prayer campaign has been active in Fort Myers and Naples and will continue until March 25.
The Fort Myers location, at the intersection of College Parkway and Winkler Road, about 70 people marked the midpoint of the 40 Days with a procession and prayer service near a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. The service included special guest Shawn Carney, CEO and President of 40 Days for Life.
Carney offered words of encouragement noting they were part of a larger prayer movement which was taking place in 354 cities in 25 countries. Started in 2007 in Texas, more than 14,200 babies have been saved, including 215 in the first 20 days of the 2018 Spring campaign.
“You are making an impact by your presence,” he added. “No matter the rhetoric, there are great and terrible consequences when an abortion happens. A life is lost. A great injustice is done to the mother.”
It has been reported that there is up to a 75 percent cancellation rate at the facilities when people are out praying on days when abortions are scheduled. “We need to be here,” Carney said. “To stand for life, because we cannot detach ourselves from the fact that life begins in the womb.”
The closing prayer was from Father Dennis Cooney, Pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres and Diocese Respect Life Spiritual Advisor.
To learn more about Respect Life activities in the Diocese of Venice, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife.
For two days, each year Catholics from around the state gather in Tallahassee to participate in Catholic Days at the Capitol.
A group from the Diocese of Venice, 29 strong, traveled by bus to the Capitol from Jan. 30-31 to put into action the faith’s call to political responsibility. Participants strengthened the presence of Catholic values in the public square. They did this by advocating for laws that protect and defend human life and dignity, giving a voice to some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people and helping to promote the common good for all of Florida’s residents.
One participant said the trip offered better understanding of the importance of one-on-one meetings with legislators. Another would recommend the trip to everyone saying it was “an awesome experience that should not be missed. Seeing our government in action and ending with the most wonderful ‘Red Mass’ and feeling that you can make a difference.”
The Diocesan group, led by Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux, met with Bishop Frank J. Dewane while in Tallahassee. Nine of the participants were first-timers, while the rest were veterans of this important annual journey. Epiphany Cathedral Parochial Vicar Chuck Ruoff joined the bus trip and gave the final prayer at a Civic Center briefing for more than 300 representatives of each Floridian Arch/diocese before heading they headed to the Capitol.
Catholic Days at the Capitol included such organized activities as: a legislative briefing on policy issues affecting human life and dignity; pre-scheduled meetings with lawmakers; a luncheon for Catholic Days participants, Florida’s Bishops and legislators; tours of the current and historic Capitol buildings; and the opportunity to view the legislative process in action during committee meetings or floor sessions. A highlight is the annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated by the Bishops of Florida to pray for those working in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. The homily this year was by Bishop William Wack, CSC, of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
To learn more please visit http://www.flaccb.org.