News Briefs for the week of April 19, 2024

Bishop celebrates Mass for Cathedral students

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice on April 12, 2024. The Gospel reading for the day was from John and describes the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. In this miracle, Jesus not only provides the nourishment of food, but more importantly spiritual nourishment. “Be mindful when you come here to the Church, to receive the strength from Jesus Christ, like he gave to all of those people on the side of the mountain. Each Sunday, He makes it possible to receive our strength to live our spiritual life.” Following the Mass, the Bishop blessed the pre-kindergarten students in the narthex of the Cathedral.

Three from one Catholic high school accepted into service academies

St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples has announced that three of its Class of 2024 have been accepted into military academies. Mason Ceccarelli will be attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland; Sloane Janopoulos will be attending the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Sophia McCartney will be attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. This remarkable achievement reflects the outstanding academic formation of the students at Neumann. The appointments are also a testament to each student’s exceptional leadership qualities, academic prowess, and unwavering patriotism.

Biomedical students show off senior projects

Senior biomedical students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers had the opportunity to put their year-long research projects on display April 11, 2024, to showcase their innovations that could, one day, shape the future of medicine. Each student created a display/poster which was a window into their hard work, critical thinking, and dedication to pushing the boundaries of biomedical science. Each of these seniors will be graduating as biomedical honors students and will be distinguished at their upcoming graduation with a stole. From groundbreaking treatments to revolutionary healthcare solutions, these bright minds have proven that the spirit of discovery is thriving at Bishop Verot.

Sarasota students excel at Model UN conference

Three Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students from Sarasota dominated the Ave Maria University Model UN Conference on April 13, 2024, in Ave Maria. There were 44 delegates who participated in the event which is an educational simulation where students can learn about diplomacy, international relations and the UN General Assembly and its other multilateral bodies. Cecelia Cosgrove was named best delegate, while Karel Dib took second place, Tyler Ruben took third. The students were judged by Naples Council of World Affairs.

Parable Project coming to Naples

St. Agnes Parish in Naples is welcoming the Magic Carpet Theatre for “The Parable Project,” a presentation of the stories Jesus told using drama, humor and audience participation. The event is 7 p.m., April 25, 2024, in the Parish Hall, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. There are no reservations needed and no charge for this event; donations will be accepted to offset the cost to the Parish. For questions, contact Ivy O’Malley at 239-307-4264 or ivy@stagnesnaples.org.

Calling all Pro-Life Advocates! 

If you’d like to volunteer to help educate people on the truth about the pro-abortion amendment on the November ballot, plan to attend a training opportunity within the Diocese of Venice in May (one of two). The first training is Monday, May 13, 2024, from 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Leadership Institute, 2163 Main Street (downtown), Sarasota.  The second session is also from 11:45 a.m., Wednesday, May 15, at St. John XXIII Parish Center, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. Lunch will be included at both sessions.  Register online at www.LeadershipInstitute.org/Florida for either session by May 8. If you have questions, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

Eucharistic Adoration for Life

You are invited to spend time with Our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration anytime between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (abortion days at Planned Parenthood) at Mary’s House (next to Community Pregnancy Clinic, 1419 7th Street, Sarasota) to pray for an end to abortion. Questions?  Contact Ginger at ggosling2@aol.com or 941-224-0662.

News Briefs for the Week of March 15, 2024

Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Televised Mass schedule

The Diocese of Venice in Florida will air the televised Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Masses, each for a full hour. The Masses for the homebound can be viewed at noon on the CW Network in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Charlotte, Hardee and Highland counties, and at 10:30 a.m. on FOX4 in Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades and Desoto counties. The Mass is also available on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass.

Student wins prestigious essay contest

Congratulations to Hunter Wehle from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charotte who was honored as the 2023 Florida Daughters of the American Revolution Essay Contest winner in Orlando on March 9, 2024. This year, the essay theme was “John Phillip Sousa.” Hunter was one of three St. Charles students who had their essay win a regional competition. Well done everyone!

Student wins state Knights free throw challenge

Maddy Mitchell of Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice placed first in her age group at the Knights of Columbus State Free Throw Championship in Melbourne on March 9, 2024. Maddy was one of two students from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School to reach the state championships.

First Communion retreat held in Wauchula

First Communion candidates at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula took part in a retreat on March 9, 2024. The boys and girls spent time in Eucharistic Adoration, learning about the different parts of Mass, and praying the rosary. While praying the Holy Rosary, each boy and girl placed a white rose before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This retreat helps clear the way for the youth to take part in their First Sacrament of Reconciliation on March 20. They will receive their first Holy Communion in May.

Students take part in weekly Lenten prayer service

Each Friday of this Lenten Season, St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring has been taking part in a morning prayer service. During the prayer service, students gather around the Blessed Mother for prayers, petitions, Pledge of Allegiance, and mission statement. Each class takes a turn leading the school in this special prayer time.

Gala to celebrate Community Pregnancy Clinics 50th anniversary

Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc. (CPCI) is celebrating its 50th Anniversary with a Gala.  “A Legacy of Life” will take place beginning at 5:00 p.m., on Saturday, April 6 at the Ritz-Carlton Tiburon, 600 Tiburon Drive, Naples. Tickets start at $500 and include cocktail social hour, silent auction, elegant 3-course dinner, keynote speech from The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles, and after party with live music and dancing. For further information and to purchase tickets, please contact Joel Chute at jchute@communityforlife.com or 239-328-7547.

Chrism Mass at Cathedral on March 26

The Chrism Mass, which takes place during Holy Week every year, will be held at 10:30 a.m., March 26, 2024, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. During this Mass, Bishop Frank J. Dewane will bless the Holy Oils which are used in the administration of the Sacraments at each parish throughout the year. Priests and Deacons celebrating 25 and 50 years of Ordination are recognized at this Mass. All are encouraged to attend in support of our clergy and to participate in this important Holy Week celebration.

 

Bishop praises those who stand for life – Says more needs to be done to protect unborn

Calling those who stand up for life the “light in the darkness,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane praised the participants in the 40 Days for Life spring campaign in Sarasota, encouraging all the faithful to join in demonstrating the value of life throughout society.

40 Days for Life is an internationally coordinated 40-day campaign that aims to end abortion locally through prayer and fasting, community outreach, and a peaceful all-day vigil in front of abortion mills. The campaign is currently taking place in the Diocese of Venice in Sarasota, Fort Myers and Naples.

Speaking during Mass at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota on March 5, 2024, Bishop Dewane said the prayer intention focused on the continuing success of 40 Days for Life. He went on to say now, it is more important than ever to be seen and heard on the issue of life even though many believed the abortion issue was over when Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U. S. Supreme Court in June 2022.

“It has moved to a different plane, but it is not safe,” Bishop Dewane said. “We discover that we haven’t won. When Roe was overturned it was a moment of new life, almost an exodus of the oppression of the 50 years of direct attacks on the unborn. However, quickly we saw that the taking the life of children didn’t end. Mothers are still being harmed, families being threatened, lives being taken.”

Noting that since that U.S. Supreme Court decision, several states, and even a country, have already enshrined the right to abortion in their respective constitutions.

“We cannot determine what happens in France, but we can still speak out clearly for what happens in our own country,” the Bishop said. “It is not enough to stay silent.”

Currently under review in the Florida State Supreme Court is a dangerous amendment which would essentially allow abortions, for any reason, until birth. This would reverse the recent passage of a 15-week ban on abortion, scheduled to soon become a 6-week ban. What the justices are determining is whether the wording is acceptable – something of a technicality, Bishop Dewane noted, wondering why the court is not concerned with the loss of life.

“As this plays out, and hopefully the ballot amendment does not go forward this year, this issue will not go away,” Bishop Dewane continued. “If it is not this year, it is next year or the year after that. The threat is there.”

“We are not going to find a political solution to this issue,” the Bishop continued. “Abortion is a moral problem, and it is going to take a solution that comes out of moral theology and moral conviction of individuals. In the meantime, you and I do have to enter the political arena, and we have to be ready to make the sacrifices it takes to stand up and continue to speak out for life.”

Bishop Dewane concluded by saying that it is his prayer that individuals will have the strength to stand up to confront the evil that is abortion and to evidence the character that God has given us. “Let us take that love and pass it on to others, so that they can have the possibility to live life.”

Following Mass, the Bishop, along with the faithful, including 10 students from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, went to the Planned Parenthood regional headquarters and abortion facility to stand as public witnesses for life.

The Cardinal Mooney students, led by teacher Tim Shipe, walked from the Parish to the abortion facility, joining others who are committed to preserving life. Participants prayed silently and witnessed for life, holding signs, while others prayed the rosary.

The older people who were participating in the prayer vigil were impressed by the students, encouraged that they are learning about Pro-Life issues and joining in the prayer walk.

Peg Styer, 84, who has been standing witness for many decades, said seeing young people participate gives her comfort that when she is no longer able to be present, others will do their part. “It makes a difference when the young girls come here and see people praying. I have met many of them who saw people praying for them and choose life. It is why we are out here,” Styer said.

The students also toured the nearby Community Pregnancy Clinic, a Pro-Life facility which offers a wide range of life-affirming assistance for moms who are considering an abortion.

A peaceful, rather than confrontational effort, the 40 Days for Life prayer spring campaign started Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday, continues through Palm Sunday (March 24), and is taking place in more than 700 cities worldwide. The Diocese of Venice has participated since 2007, the year of the first national campaign. To date, 24,242 babies have been saved (92 during the 2024 spring campaign through March 5) and 148 abortion centers have been closed.

All are encouraged to participate in the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil. Many area Parishes have signed up for specific days and hours, but all are free to join at any time. The peaceful vigil takes place in the public right of way and appropriate signs are provided.

The prayer vigil in Sarasota is daily, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 736 Central Ave. In Fort Myers, the vigil is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 6418 Commerce Park Drive. The Naples prayer vigil is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 1425 Creech Road.

For more information, please visit https://www.40daysforlife.com/en/.

If you would like to learn more about the Respect Life issues and how you can be a witness for life, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife.

News briefs for the week of March 1, 2024

Parish helps feed local children

Volunteers, ranging in age from teens to their 80s, could be found at St. Katherine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral for a food packing event on Feb. 17, 2024. The event supports Feed My Starving Children, and the volunteers exceeded the goal of packing 178,848 meals (23 pallets consisting of 828 boxes), enough to feed 490 children every day for a year. The event also collected 665 pounds of food for the Cape Coral Caring Center to combat local hunger issues. What an impressive effort!

Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life March 5 in Sarasota

Join Bishop Frank J. Dewane for a Mass and prayer walk for life. The Mass is at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, March 5, 2024, at St. Martha Church, 200 North Orange Ave., Sarasota.  A free shuttle bus will be provided after Mass to the nearby prayer walk until noon so that participants can circle the block around Planned Parenthood in prayer as many times as desired before returning to the church parking lot. Light refreshments will be available near the Community Pregnancy Clinic on 7th Street. For questions or to volunteer, contact Jeanne at 941-374-1068 or berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

Diocese of Venice Eucharistic Conference March 16

All are invited to attend the Diocese of Venice Eucharistic Conference on Saturday, March 16, 2024, at Bishop Verot Catholic High School, 5598 Sunrise Drive, Fort Myers. This effort, in support of the Church’s National Eucharistic Revival to place an emphasis on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist, will be an all-day event of faith and fellowship, featuring inspirational Catholic speakers, including nationally acclaimed Catholic speaker and author Steven Ray, Crystalina Evert, Kathia Aranga, Father Elvis Gonzalez, and Tim Glemkowski. English and Spanish sessions will be offered. All are welcome. The day will include Mass, as well as adoration, and confessions. For more information, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/eucharistic-conference-2024/. Register by March 12.

Pray to Defeat Florida’s Abortion Amendment

The Florida Supreme Court is currently deciding the fate of the proposed Pro-Abortion Amendment, specifically whether or not the wording is misleading and should be blocked from inclusion on the November 2024 election ballot.  By law they must release their opinion by April 1. Please pray that they make the right decision and not a allow the amendment to appear on the ballot, so that voters will not be misled into voting for this dangerous amendment.  To learn more, go to TooExtremeforFL.com. For questions, contact Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Health care ethics conference draws 140

The first-ever Converging Roads 2024 Conference on health care ethics received rave reviews from 140 medical professionals and students who participated on Feb. 17, 2024, at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

Presented by the Diocese of Venice, the St. John Paul II Foundation, and Ave Maria University, the Conference theme was “Catholic Medicine in a Secular Society.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in a letter to Conference participants, stated that it was his prayer that, “This Conference will offer opportunities for you to reflect upon the varying manifestations of these secular ideologies that are opposed to the dignity of the human person and the gift of human life… that you professionals will be nourished with the light of the Gospel in the important work that you do.”

Arland K. Nichols, president and founder of the St. John Paul II Foundation, opened the Conference by explaining that the topics covered during the day would focus on pressing issues confronting medical professionals, handpicked by Conference committee members and presented by expert faculty.

“The hope is that following today’s Conference you will be able to walk away with fundamental principles and ideas that will help you further your own knowledge of heath care ethics, how to practice medicine and the practical tools to serve the patients you care for,” Nichols said.

The Conference presentations were as follows: “The Well-Formed Conscience of a Health Care Professional,” Father Columba Thomas, OP, MD; “Truth, Conscience, and Religious Liberty in Health Care,” Mary Rice Hasson, JD; “The Unique Mission of Catholic Health Care,” Cody F. Feikles, MA, MTS, HEC-C; “The Role of the Sacraments and Prayer in the Care of the Sick and Dying,” Roger Nutt, STL, STD; “Ethical Standards in the Pharmaceutical Industry,” Sister Michaela Serpa, FSE, MA, PharmD, BCPS; “The Role of the Medical Community in Service to the Sick and Dying in a Throwaway Culture,” Natalie King, MD, MA; and “Approaching Gender Dysphoria with Compassion and in Light of the Science,” Deacon Patrick W. Lappert, MD.

Health care professions were also offered 7 continuing education credits for their participation in the Conference.

Comments from Conference participants included: “This was excellent and one of the best educational experiences I have had.” “It was a great opportunity to network with other medical professionals and students.” “The topics were meaningful and will benefit in my ministry as a faith community nurse.”

The St. John Paul II Foundation is a national Catholic apostolate proclaiming the Good News about life and family through education and formation.

Carrie Harkey, Director of the Diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life, which was instrumental in bringing the Converging Roads Conference to the Diocese, said the turnout far exceeded expectations for a first-ever event such as Converging Roads. “For a first event we were told to expect about 100, but 140 is great. This positive response will help promote the program when it returns in the future.”

In addition to the Converging Road initiative, the Foundation supports continuing education for clergy (Shepherd’s Heart for priests and Servant’s Heart of Permanent Deacons), and marriage enrichment with its “Together in Holiness” program.

“Together in Holiness” is a one-day Conference series for couples and a year-round formation series which has been active in the Diocese of Venice for four years.

News Briefs for the week of February 23, 2024

Three Diocesan Catholic students named Merit Scholar Finalists

Three Diocese of Venice Catholic high school seniors have been named Finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program! This is a great achievement for the students and for Catholic education in the Diocese of Venice. The finalists are Alexandra Mussey of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota and Patrick Dendis and Stephen Zell of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. This honor places the three among the top one percent of U.S. high school seniors. Finalists have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million. The process to become a Finalist included submitting a detailed application with information about academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, as well as honors and awards received.

Visit of St. Jude Relic to Naples Feb. 27

The faithful are invited to participate in Tour of the Relics of St. Jude the Apostle on its U.S. visit, featuring the arm of the Saint. The tour will stop in the Diocese of Venice on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5260 28th Ave. SW, Naples. Veneration begins at 2 p.m. and concludes at 10 p.m. There will be a Mass in honor of St. Jude at 7 p.m. For additional information, contact the Parish at 239-455-3900.

Scholarship Application Deadline Feb. 29

There are currently five different scholarships available from the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida. Applications close on Feb. 29, 2024. The majority of the scholarships are for residents of Sarasota County. These scholarships are for graduating seniors (class of 2023 or 2024), or for non-traditional students who have been out of school for 3+ years and wish to pursue a higher education. To find out which Catholic Community Foundation scholarship you qualify for, please visit www.ccfdioceseofvenice.org/scholarships.

Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life March 5 in Sarasota

Join Bishop Frank J. Dewane for a Mass and prayer walk for life. The Mass is at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, March 5, 2024, at St. Martha Church, 200 North Orange Ave., Sarasota.  A free shuttle bus will be provided after Mass to the nearby prayer walk until noon so that participants can circle the block around Planned Parenthood in prayer as many times as desired before returning to the church parking lot. Light refreshments will be available near the Community Pregnancy Clinic on 7th Street. For questions or to volunteer, contact Jeanne at 941-374-1068 or berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

Diocese of Venice Eucharistic Conference March 16

All are invited to attend the Diocese of Venice Eucharistic Conference on Saturday, March 16, 2024, at Bishop Verot Catholic High School, 5598 Sunrise Drive, Fort Myers. This effort, in support of the Church’s National Eucharistic Revival to place an emphasis on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist, will be an all-day event of faith and fellowship, featuring inspirational Catholic speakers, including nationally acclaimed Catholic speaker and author Steven Ray, Crystalina Evert, Kathia Aranga, Father Elvis Gonzalez, and Tim Glemkowski. English and Spanish sessions will be offered. All are welcome. The day will include Mass, as well as adoration, and confessions. For more information, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/eucharistic-conference-2024/. Register by March 12

Construction begins on school project

Construction on the new administration building at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples has begun. Work started in early February on the much-needed building which will serve as a safe, secure, single point of entry with reception area, offices for school staff, a clinic and conference room. Most importantly, the new building will free up valuable classroom space for the students! This project is part of a larger ongoing expansion effort which has been made possible by many generous donors.

Healing After Abortion Retreat March 2

If you had an abortion, no matter how long ago, are having trouble forgiving yourself or need help dealing with the memories, consider attending a one-day women’s retreat on Saturday, March 2, 2024. Call or text Sylvia at 941-412-5860 or email her at project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org. Do it today; you will be glad you did!

Pray to Defeat Florida’s Abortion Amendment

The political committee behind a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize abortion up until birth in Florida has surpassed the petition signature requirement for placement on the November 2024 ballot. For ballot placement to be confirmed, the amendment language must be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court to ensure it is clear and limited to a single subject. In her brief to the Court, the attorney general urged the justices to reject the proposal, identifying several terms in the amendment language that are not clearly defined and could mislead voters. The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) also filed a legal brief in opposition to the amendment. The FCCB’s brief argued that the proposed ballot title is misleading. The title states that the amendment “limits” government interference with abortion when the text of the amendment itself actually prohibits all regulation before viability. The ballot language also fails to advise voters that the amendment would largely prohibit the state’s oversight of abortion clinics and provide fair notice of its impact on existing legal protections for women and children. The decision from the Florida Supreme Court is expected April 1, 2024.

News Briefs for the week of February 16, 2024

Large group goes to Catholic Days

More than 50 people from the Diocese of Venice, including Bishop Frank J. Dewane and two dozen Catholic school students, took part in Catholic Days at the Capitol in Tallahassee from Feb. 7 to Feb. 8, 2024. This is an annual opportunity for the faithful to voice opinions directly to lawmakers from Southwest Florida on key pieces of legislation which are under consideration during this session. Primary focus was on ensuring the continued limitation on access to abortion. The students from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota and Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers also met with lawmakers and received a tour of the State Capitol.

40 Days for Life opens in Fort Myers, Sarasota and Naples

Show your support for life by simply praying for an end to abortion on the public sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood throughout the Lenten Season until March 24, 2024. For details and flier go to www.40daysforlife.com (add /sarasota or /fortmyers or /naples for a direct link to the location near you). Questions? Contact Jeanne at 941-374-1068 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

Two Diocesan teams participate in Model UN conference

Teams from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples and Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Sarasota were delegates to the 23rd Boston University Model United Nations Conference (BosMUN) Feb. 2 to Feb. 4, 2024. The Model UN is a three-day simulation of the United Nations hosted by Boston University for high school students. Jake Marks and Alessio Cirino, of Neumann, took home the prestigious title of Outstanding Delegates, showcasing their exceptional diplomatic skills and commitment to global problem-solving. Fellow delegates Hunter Lund and Kale Van Wart received Verbal Commendations. Congratulations to all the delegates who listened, engaged, and contributed to this wonderful conference of intelligent minds who hope to help guide the world to a better tomorrow.

Bishop welcomes priests, deacons to his home

Ahead of the Lenten Season, Bishop Frank J. Dewane hosted the priests of the Diocese of Venice to his home for a dinner and reception on Feb. 9, 2024. The next evening the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese visited with Bishop for their own dinner and reception. The evenings were intended to create an opportunity for the clergy to gather together in an relaxing atmosphere ahead of busy Lenten Season.

Vocation talk inspires

Sharing her vocations journey, Sister Juliana Alfonso, Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco, and teacher at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, inspired eighth grade girls during a vocation talk at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers. Sister Juliana spoke about her vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and encouraged the young girls to think about their own relationship with Christ. Sister offered tips about growing closer to the Lord through prayer, reading the Sacred Scriptures, participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and most importantly by being at Mass each Sunday. The girls found Sister Julian engaging and loved having her visit.

Knights on Bikes promotes its Diaper Ride

The Knights on Bikes, a motorcycle club of the Knights of Columbus, took part in the first-ever Diaper Ride to Thrive Pregnancy Clinic in Cape Coral on Feb. 10, 2024. In addition to bringing diapers, they also donated $500. Thrive is a maternity home (formerly known as Lifeline), that brings Christ to women who have chosen life, The Knights on Bikes mission is to promote and adhere to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, and evangelize through fellowship, charity, and service. For more information about the Knights on Bikes please contact Pete Battle at 239-601-6061 or email konbflvenice@gmail.com.

Scholarship application deadline approaching

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida has opened the 2024-25 online scholarship applications. There are currently five different scholarships available from the Foundation. Applications close on Feb. 29, 2024. The majority of the scholarships are for residents of Sarasota County. These scholarships are for graduating seniors (class of 2023 or 2024), or for non-traditional students who have been out of school for 3+ years and wish to pursue a higher education. To find out which Catholic Community Foundation scholarship you qualify for, please visit www.ccfdioceseofvenice.org/scholarships.

Our Mother’s House Wine Tasting Feb. 29

All are invited to attend the Our Mother’s House Wine Tasting, 5:30 p.m., February 29, 2024, at the Venice Community Center, Venice, 326 Nokomis Ave. S. The event will benefit the mothers and children at Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. This is a 2-year transitional living program, dedicated to empowering single mothers and their young children. Tickets are $90. Register online at http://bidpal.net/2024omh. For more information, 941-485-6264 or email omh@catholiccharitiesdov.org.

News Briefs for February 9, 2024

Appointments

After broad consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Joseph Binu, appointed as Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes Parish, Naples, effective January 19, 2024, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of Sacred Heart Parish, Bradenton.

Father Benjamin Casimir, appointed as Administrator of Jesus the Worker Parish, Fort Myers, effective February 5, 2024, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples.

Order of Malta retreat

The Knights and Dames of Malta recently gathered in Naples for a retreat: a time of prayer, reflection and renewal. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the opening Mass for the retreat at St. William Parish on Feb. 2, 2024, The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. During the Mass, the Bishop said that the message the Knights and Dames carry is one of preparing the way for the Lord. The Order of Malta is a lay religious order of the Catholic Church that seeks to glorify God by promoting the sanctification of each member through witness to the Catholic Faith and service to the sick and the poor. The retreat master was Msgr. Robert Dempsey of Chicago. The retreat is held ahead of Lent to help the Knights and Dames prepare spiritually for this important Liturgical Season.

Eucharistic Conference held at Ave Maria University

The Aquinas Center for Theological renewal and the Thomistic Institute hosted the “Thomas Aquinas and the Eucharist: Pathways to Revival” Conference from Feb. 1 to Feb. 3, 2024, at Ave Maria University. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the Conference on Feb. 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, in the Ave Maria Parish Church. Bishop Dewane praised the Conference organizers and the attendees for taking time to focus on the Holy Eucharist during the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year revival of devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The conference drew upon Saint Thomas for theological, spiritual, pastoral, and evangelistic pathways in the Eucharistic Revival. Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Dewane was Archbishop Allen Vigneron, of Detroit, who was the conference keynote speaker.

40 Days for Life opens in Fort Myers, Sarasota and Naples

Show your support for life by simply praying for an end to abortion on the public sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood between Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, and March 24, 2024. For details and flier go to www.40daysforlife.com (add /sarasota or /fortmyers or /naples for a direct link to the location near you). Questions? Contact Jeanne at 941-374-1068 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

Theology on Tap Sarasota Feb. 15

Theology on Tap for young adults takes place on the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota, 428 N. Lemon Ave, Sarasota. Join the gathering for food and refreshments, presentations, and discussions about the Catholic Faith. The next scheduled date is Feb. 15, 2024, and will feature Father Daniel Scanlan, Parochial Vicar at St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota. The topic will be Lent. For any questions, please email Jim Gontis at gontis@dioceseofvenice.org.

Walk for the Poor Feb. 17 in Cape Coral

The St. Andrew Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) is hosting its 3rd Annual “Walk for the Poor” on Saturday, Feb 17, 2024, in the campus of St. Andrew Parish and Catholic School, 2628 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral. The event will begin at 10 a.m., and end at 1 p.m. The walk supports the outreach of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which answered 1,176 calls for assistance in 2023. Assistance includes food, transportation, clothing, household items, job resources, as well as financial support for prescriptions, housing and utilities. Anyone interested in walking or making a donation can visit https://go.rallyup.com/capesvdp, or contact Marlene Douglas at 239-772-3543.

Health Care Ethics Conference Feb. 17 in Bonita Springs

Medical professionals, students, and interested laypeople are invited to the first annual Converging Roads health care ethics conference on Feb. 17, 2024, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. This one-day conference will offer continuing education credits for health care professionals with presentations centered on the theme of Catholic Medicine in a Secular Society. For information, contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org, and to register, go to convergingroads.com/venice.

2024 Catholic Charities Ball Feb. 17 in Sarasota

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., invites all to the 2024 Catholic Charities Ball, 6 p.m., Feb. 17, 2024, at Michael’s On East Ballroom, 1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota. The theme is “Serving All,” and supports the programs of Catholic Charities in Sarasota and Manatee counties. This year also marks the launch of the new Long-term Recovery Program, which is actively helping families still recovering from Hurricane Ian and other natural disasters. Tickets are $400 a person. The evening will include a cocktail hour, live and silent auctions, fine dining, dancing, and live entertainment. Register at http://bidpal.net/ccb2024. For more information, 941-376-7845 or email ccball@catholiccharitiesdov.org.

 

 

Carrying Pro-Life message to the world

Made in the image and likeness of God, every life matters.

That is the simple, yet overpowering message carried by the faithful during two marches for life in mid-January – one nationally in Washington, D.C., the other locally in Ave Maria.

Unified in their support for life, both rallies brought forth people both young and old, but mostly young people of high school and college ages. The enthusiasm of the participants in the marches was not diminished by the weather, during a Jan. 19, 2024, snowstorm in D.C., or on Jan. 20, a chilly and blustery day in Florida.

All who took part in the marches (tens of thousands in D.C., and more than 1,300 in Ave Maria) returned home invigorated to carry the Pro-Life message out into the world.

“We have the obligation to be that witness, and give that testimony for life,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane during the Ave Maria march, which included faithful from throughout the Diocese, as well as groups from the Archdiocese of Miami and Diocese of Orlando. “We gather as people for a culture of life. The struggle to address abortion is often dragged into the political arena, but it is not a political problem; it is a moral problem – a deep and serious one. It is deeply a moral problem in our society today. That is the arena from which we must address abortion.”

Bishop Dewane said we must continue to speak up for life, even while there have been positive gains, such as the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision which overturned Roe V. Wade. Even in Florida, with a 15-week ban on abortion, scheduled to soon become a 6-week ban, the gains are threatened by those who don’t cherish the value of life.

The Bishop explained that the positive gains previously noted are being directly threatened by a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution which would essentially allow abortions, for any reason, until birth.

“This is a very dangerous amendment and something we must all be aware of and watch out for if it ends up on the November ballot,” Bishop Dewane said. “We need to rise up as one voice and say no to this amendment.”

Meanwhile, more than 200 from the Diocese of Venice took part in the National March for Life in Washington. The crowd was so large that the procession to the National Mall lasted more than three hours, in a snowstorm.

Among the larger groups in D.C. were representatives from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, Ave Maria University and the Ave Maria School of Law. Diocesan seminarians from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach and Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, also participated with their respective schools.

Several of the Diocesan high school students remarked upon their return that they were proud to be part of the National March for Life and they will continue to support the Pro-Life movement going forward until abortion is no more. They say they would also tell their friends about their experiences of being among so many like-minded teens who all have a passion about promoting a Culture of Life.

Father Eric Scanlan, Pastor at Incarnation Parish, went to Washington with students from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School. There, the group prayed outside the national headquarters of Planned Parenthood, the largest group of abortionists in the U.S. They also participated in a Vigil Mass, Jan. 18, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The morning of the National March, the group participated in the Life Fest at the D.C. Armory.

“It is always an emotional experience to participate in the March for Life,” said Father Scanlan, having participated for the past several years. “The best part is how the students respond. They are among thousands of others their own age who are also passionate about life. They carry the Pro-Life message home with them in their heart.”

The effort to protect life does not end with the marches. Starting Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday, and continuing through Lent, there will three 40 Days for Life spring campaign locations within the Diocese (Fort Myers, Naples, and Sarasota). During the campaign, the faithful will stand in peaceful prayer to end abortion. For more details, please visit https://www.40daysforlife.com/en/.

If you would like to learn more about the Respect Life issues and how you can be a witness for life, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife.

News Briefs for the week of January 12, 2024

Annual Mass held for circus and traveling show workers

Each year the circus and travelling show workers of the United States gather for three days to thank God for their continued blessings. This retreat was Jan. 5-7, 2024, at St. Martha Parish in downtown Sarasota, which is designated the “National Circus Parish.” The pastoral workers, who ensure that the Sacraments are available and maintained for travelling show people, function under the direction of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Cultural Diversity’s Subcommittee on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers (PCMRT). Bishop Frank J. Dewane is the Episcopal Liaison for the Circus Ministry of the PCMRT. Bishop Dewane celebrated the closing Mass on Jan. 7, the Epiphany of the Lord, and he was assisted by several of the priests who serve the circus and traveling show workers. A special moment during the Mass occurred when Sister Joanna Okereke, a Handmaid of the Holy Child Jesus and assistant director of the PCMRT subcommittee, renewed her religious vows. This is done annually on the Epiphany of the Lord, and was presided over by Bishop Dewane, and witnessed by the faithful present.

9 Days for Life novena begins Jan. 16

The faithful are encouraged to pray “9 Days for Life,” an annual Respect Life novena starting Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. In the Catholic Church, a ‘novena’ consists of prayers over nine successive days, and this particular novena is an opportunity for prayer and reparation in observance of the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on Jan. 22. The overarching intention of the novena is the end to abortion. Each daily prayer intention highlights a related topic and is accompanied by a reflection, educational information, and suggested daily actions. Participants may access the novena and also subscribe to receive the daily prayers by email or text message in English at 9daysforlife.com or in Spanish at respectlife.org/9-dias-por-la-vida.

Migrant Care Grants application period open

Grant requests for funding of projects in 2024 are available from the Foundation for the Care of the Migrant Poor Fund and need to be submitted no later than Friday, March 31, 2024. To be considered a grant, the project must clearly be seen as a service to the migrant poor or new immigrants. Preference will be given to those projects under Catholic auspices. Applications can be submitted by visiting https://www.grantinterface.com/Home/Logon?urlkey=ccfsf.

New mural adorns Verot building

Students returned back from Christmas break at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers on Jan. 8, 2024, and were greeted by a new sight on campus! Eric Riemenschneider, a graphic design teacher, was busy during the past few weeks working on a new mural outside, in the cafeteria courtyard. The mural reads VEROT in bold letters on a blue background. Within the letters are symbols of school life, hands clasped together in prayer, caps tossed at graduation, St. Francis de Sales and Bishop Verot, patrons of the school, athletes in action, and the school Viking logo. Above the VEROT image is a large white cross. The mural is not complete, weather delayed the progress, but judging by its look so far, it will inspire Bishop Verot students for years to come.

Prayer Walk for Life Jan. 20 in Ave Maria

The Respect Life Ministry of Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria is hosting its 3rd annual Prayer Walk for Life, 10 a.m., Jan. 20. The walk begins with remarks from Bishop Frank J. Dewane and other dignitaries at the university football stadium and will then proceed through the university and conclude in the town square. More than 1,000 took part in 2023.

Knights on Bikes deliver toys to Clewiston mission

The Knights on Bikes, a motorcycle club of the Knights of Columbus, rode out to Santa Rosa de Lima Mission in Montura Ranch Estates, just south of Clewiston, on Jan. 6, 2024, the Feast of the Epiphany. There they delivered and distributed toys to migrant children in the community.  The Knights on Bikes mission is to promote and adhere to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, and evangelize through fellowship, charity, and service.

WARNING – Text/Email SCAM Alert

It has once again been brought to the attention of the Diocese of Venice that parishioners have received text/email messages from people pretending to be clergy – including Bishop Frank J. Dewane – or Parish/school staff, requesting donations in the form of gift cards and/or wire transfers. It is Diocesan policy that neither the Bishop, nor priests or staff request donations in the form of gift cards, PayPal, MoneyGram, etc. Without this awareness, some have responded to the spoofed messages, with consequences, including loss of funds. There is an established process in place on how parishioners can make donations and participate in the life of the Diocese/Parish/school. If you receive such a SCAM text or email, please immediately contact the Diocesan/Parish/school directly!