Diocese of Venice Statement regarding the recent Supreme Court Decision, Dobbs vs. Jackson

Diocese of Venice Statement regarding the recent Supreme Court Decision, Dobbs vs. Jackson
Venice, FL, June 24, 2022 — In God’s eyes, all human life is sacred, from conception to natural death; this is the teaching of the Catholic Church. The Church is pleased to hear of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. This ruling now undoes the grave injustice of 1973, when Roe v. Wade decided that an entire class of human beings, the preborn, were outside the protection of the law. Now the states will once again have the opportunity to protect the lives of preborn children and in doing so, also protect millions of women from the tragic consequences of abortion. Of course, legal protection must be accompanied by more care for mothers and their children. The Catholic Church, and the Diocese of Venice, stand ready to help mothers in need. Pregnant women are not alone.
Pope Francis has called upon all Parishes to be “islands of mercy in a sea of indifference.” Parishes in the Diocese of Venice have redoubled their efforts to accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, offering them loving and compassionate care.
Specifically, Walking with Moms in Need is a new program. The Diocese of Venice helps parishioners connect with local mothers facing difficult or challenging pregnancies. The program helps parishioners to identify local resources so that pregnant and parenting women receive the material, spiritual, and emotional support they need. Within the Diocese of Venice, there are Pregnancy Help Centers in 22 locations, and nine residential maternity and after-birth homes.
For decades, the Diocese of Venice has supported mothers in need and continues to do so. Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities in Venice is one of the programs in the Diocese that supports single mothers and their children, providing not just housing and material needs, but valuable counseling and education.
Additionally, the Diocese offers confidential, compassionate support after abortion to both women and men through its Project Rachel Ministry.
Let us all continue to pray for the end to abortion, and the end to taking the lives of an entire category of human beings, the preborn.
Media can contact Diocese of Venice Communications Director Karen Barry Schwarz at: Office: 941-441-1118 Mobile: 941-275-5183
Follow this link to the statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops –
Follow this link to statement from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops –
PHOTO CREDIT: Catholic News Service

Project Rachel: Hope and Healing for All

By Sylvia Jimenez, Special to the Florida Catholic

The women and men who have reached out to Project Rachel for help in their path to healing from past abortion range in age from early 20s to late 80s and even 90+ years old.  Some have been suffering silently with their “secret” for as many as 70 years.  For some, there is no one else in the world who knows about their abortion(s). The father of the aborted baby may not even know about the fact that the woman was pregnant – because some women never tell anyone.

There is hope, and healing, for those impacted by abortion. Project Rachel is a Diocesan outreach to women and men who suffer from the mental and spiritual trauma of abortion. This important outreach in the Diocese of Venice includes counseling, healing retreats and other direct and indirect support. All contact is strictly confidential.

STORIES OF HOPE AND HEALING

It is wonderful to see a glorious transformation in every participant who experiences the Project Rachel healing retreat. It is like a Holy Week experience, where one goes through some of the trials or suffering of Calvary, but at the end of the retreat there is the new life and happiness of the Resurrection.  It is interesting that those who are the most reluctant and fearful in the beginning are the ones who are especially beaming at the end. Every participant feels great relief, freedom, and peace.

One woman felt deeply hurt each time she heard harsh, judgmental comments made by others at her church about those who have abortions. They would never have imagined that she had an abortion.  This caused her to alienate herself from God and Church for many years.  Then reading a testimony online, she concluded that if she expected to be forgiven for her sins, she too had to be forgiving, and she decided to “give the Church a chance” by attending a Project Rachel retreat.  She not only received the healing she desired, but she also came back to the Church and grew spiritually, including frequent reception of the Sacraments. This then led her to become active in the evangelization of other fallen-away Catholics.

Project Rachel invites you to view a few short and beautiful video testimonies of several women who have received healing from their abortions at www.dioceseofvenice.org/respect-life/post-abortion-help

HOW YOU CAN HELP

We are all sinners and undeserving of the grace God offers us. Yet, God is our loving Father, who waits with open arms, always inviting us to a renewed relationship with Himself (Luke 15:11). It is our Christian duty to spread the message that no matter how much one has sinned, with true repentance, we have access to God’s abundant love and mercy. This is the very foundation of Project Rachel.

Here is how you can help:

  1. Pray – Let others know you are praying for this intention. Ask that intercessions be included with those at your parish’s Masses. Also, prayer cards are available which may be requested free of charge.
  2. Inform yourself and share with others –These websites have ample information:

www.hopeafterabortion.com and www.supportafterabortion.com

Watch movies such as: Unplanned and The Matter of Life, a new documentary available soon via streaming or DVD.

  1. Help raise awareness (among your family, friends, community) about the need for healing after abortion and hope for healing through Project Rachel or other post abortion healing groups. Invite Project Rachel staff to speak to your parish group (CCW, Women’s Guild, Men’s Group).

For More Information:

Project Rachel invites you to view a few short and beautiful video testimonies of several women who have received healing from their abortions at www.dioceseofvenice.org/respect-life/post-abortion-help.

For more information about Project Rachel, as well as to read stories of hope and healing, visit www.hopeafterabortion.com (English) and https://esperanzaposaborto.org (Español)

For testimonies of men having found healing after abortion, visit www.menhealingfromtrauma.com.

If you know someone who has had an abortion and you would like to reach out to them so they can receive healing, contact Project Rachel. We can offer good recommendations for each situation. All contact is strictly confidential. (Se habla español. Todo contacto es confidencial) Call Sylvia Jimenez at 941-412-5860, or email Project.Rachel@DioceseofVenice.org.

 

Religious Liberty Week June 22-29

The Feast of Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher on June 22, 2022, marks the start of Religious Freedom Week, a call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for all Catholics across the United States to pray, reflect and take action in support of Religious Freedom.

It is appropriate that the week begins on such a day, as Ss. 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 Ss. Peter & Paul the Apostles on June 29, the Religious Freedom Week theme is “Life and Dignity for All.”

“This year, as we approach the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is especially mindful of the debates around our country about abortion,” the Conference said in a June 2 statement promoting Religious Freedom Week 2022. “The Catholic Church plays a crucial role in bearing witness to the gospel of life and serving all who will be affected by these discussions and their outcomes.”

The USCCB provides “Pray-Reflect-Act” resources at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek, one for each day on different religious liberty topics. This year, the topics focus on themes that intersect with life issues, including – Walking with Moms in Need; Church Vandalism; Adoption and Foster Care; Taxpayer Funding for Abortion; Religious Freedom in China; Pregnancy Resource Centers; Health Care Workers; and Free Speech.

The Diocese of Venice joins with other Dioceses to promote Religious Freedom Week. Bishop Frank J. Dewane encourages the faithful of the Diocese to educate themselves about the issues of religious freedom but to be aware of the threats faced both domestically and abroad.

Jeanne Berdeaux, Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director, said that if the faithful don’t stand up for religious freedom, government officials at all levels will continue to try to erode the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. This will mean that practicing one’s faith will be regulated into a mere freedom to worship, confining the practice of faith and worship within the four walls of the Church, well outside of public discourse and the public square.

For this reason, the U.S. Bishops said in their statement that a major area of concern continues to be “freedom for Catholic institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and child welfare service providers, to carry out their missions with integrity. In particular, protecting Catholic adoption and foster care will become even more vital, as we take new steps in building a culture of life and dignity for all in the United States.”

“To build a culture of life and dignity for all, the Church must support women and children,” the U.S. Bishops said. “In 2020, the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities launched Walking with Moms in Need. This initiative ministers at the local level by having parishes be places where pregnant and parenting women can find support and accompaniment.”

“This is a critically important program as the overturning of Roe v Wade becomes a strong possibility by summer,” Berdeaux said. “Helping individuals facing an unexpected pregnancy and those who have had an abortion are what we do as Catholics. See www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife for details on both Walking with Moms in Need and Project Rachel, the Church’s post-abortion healing program.”

Materials prepared by the USCCB for Religious Freedom Week are made available to help people understand religious liberty from a Catholic perspective, reflect on the application, pray about particular issues, and act on what they learn by advocating for policies that promote religious freedom.

Through prayer, reflection, and public action during Religious Freedom Week, the USCCB hopes to promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths.

The USCCB materials can be found in English (https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/religious-freedom-week) and in Spanish (https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/semana-de-la-libertad-religiosa).

Connect with the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty by texting “FREEDOM” or “LIBERTAD” to 84576 and sign up for the First Freedom News, the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty’s monthly newsletter.

News Briefs for the Week of June 10, 2022

Our Lady of Fatima Rosary Rally a success

More than 30 people took part in the national “America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally” on June 4, 2022, in Fort Myers. The Rally was held at the corner of Daniels Parkway and Daniels Commerce Boulevard, and was focused on the Traditional Family and Public Prayers in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to end abortion, and. The threat of rain kept some away as the region was under a Tropical Storm Warning at the time. Rally organizer Toni Holmlund said the weather cooperated and most of the drivers passing by were supportive.

Sarasota school recognized

St. Mary Academy won the Family Living Magazine’s Reader’s Choice 2022 award for Best Special Education School in the area! Parents with special needs children often find that a typical classroom setting isn’t ideal for their child. They may have tried the traditional classroom setting only to have their child struggle and fall behind academically. Now, imagine finding that perfect school, one that meets your child’s particular needs. From the moment you visit the secure campus, you realize St. Mary Academy is a very unique environment. To learn more about St. Mary Academy, please visit www.stmarysarasota.org/.

Lourdes Virtual pilgrimage June 25

Holy Cross Parish, 505 26th St. W., Palmetto, is hosting a “Lourdes Virtual Pilgrimage Experience,” at 9 a.m., June 25, 2022. Presented by the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospitality North American Volunteers, the presentation will be in English and Spanish. Present at the presentation will be a Grotto Rock and water from Lourdes, a Eucharistic blessing, and a Holy Rosary procession. Participants will have the opportunity to earn a plenary indulgence. There is no cost to attend. For more information, please call Holy Cross Parish at 941-729-3891.

Volunteers needed

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Naples is looking for thrift store volunteers. If you would like to offer your time as a cashier, sorter, receiver or customer assistance representative for SVdP Naples, call Samantha at 239-775-2907 ext. 1014 or email info@svdpnaples.org

Ordination to the Priesthood

Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacons Christian Chami, David Portorreal, and Michael Young. The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., on Saturday, July 16, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the lives of the Deacons as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Religious Freedom Week 2022

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is once again promoting the celebration of Religious Freedom Week beginning Wednesday, June 22 to Wednesday, June 29, 2022. Each year the week encompasses the period between the Memorial of Saints Thomas More & John Fisher, through the Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul. The theme for this year is Life and Dignity for All. The Church plays a crucial role in both bearing witness to the gospel of life and serving all who will be affected by these discussions and their outcomes, especially in light of an upcoming Supreme Court decision in June. Learn how you can pray, reflect, and act to promote religious freedom at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek.

Catholic Summer Camp Program

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. The weeklong Parish summer catechetical camp program assists parents and parishes in evangelizing and catechizing youth by complementing the work they are already doing at the parish and at home. This summer the program will be offered at eight parishes in the Diocese of Venice. The camp program is for grades 1-5 Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for grades 6-12 Monday to Thursday from 7:30 p.m.to 9:45 p.m. Parishes hosting the program in the coming weeks are as follows:

  • St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, June 13-17.
  • Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge Street, LaBelle, June 20-24.
  • St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory Street, Sebring, June 27-July 1.
  • St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers, July 11-15.
  • St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th Street West, Bradenton, July 18-22.
  • St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, July 25-29.
  • St. Patrick Parish, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, August 1-5.

Several parishes still have openings for this program. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the Parish hosting the program or Anne Chrzan at chrzan@dioceseofvenice.org.

Vacation Bible School in Grove City

St. Francis of Assisi Parish, 5265 Placida Rd., Grove City, is hosting Vacation Bible School “God’s Wonder Lab,” from 9:00 a.m. to noon daily from Monday June 20 to Friday, June 24, 2022. Plunge in for VBS fun at God’s Wonder Lab! Our God makes the impossible possible! Participants will delve into five Bible stories and discover that Jesus does the impossible for us. He does wonderful things for us because he loves us. Open to children first to sixth grade, 2022-2023. Register online at www.sfoachuch.com or contact Jim Brantner at 941-697-4899 Press 3.

Vacation Bible School in Venice

Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice, is hosting a Vacation Bible School “Monumental – Celebrating God’s Greatness,” from 9:00 a.m. to noon, daily Monday, June 27 to Friday, July 1, 2022. The week offers the opportunity to meet new friends, participate in amazing games, have surprising adventures and much more. Please register at www.epiphanycathedral.org or call 941-484-3505. Adult and teen volunteers needed.

Youth Conference

The 14th annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference – “Fearless” – is being held July 8 to10, 2022. Featured talks are by Father Rick Martignetti, Father Joseph Lugalambi, Father Rich Pagano and Chris Padget. The event includes the talks, Mass, Adoration, praise and worship, fellowship, and opportunities for confession. The cost is $175 and includes lodging, all meals, a t-shirt and more. To register, call 239-348-4725, aveconferences@gmail.com or www.aveconferences.com.

Adoption services available

Catholic Charities Adoption Services is a state-wide agency that provides counseling to birth parents, and provisions or resources to meet the needs of birth parents considering adoption planning. If you or a loved one would like to learn more, please call Joan Pierse at 941-355-4680.

 

News Briefs for the Week of June 3 2022

Fire department fun

The Naples Fire-Rescue Department visited St. Ann Catholic School on May 25, 2022. In this annual visit, the ladders extended, and blasts of refreshing water sprayed all over delighted students. What a fun time for all the students as the school year ends.

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate June 18

All are invited and encouraged to attend the Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate for the following candidate: Craig Dutka of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto. The Ordination will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 18, 2022, at Holy Cross Parish, 506 26th St. W., Palmetto. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow.

Our Lady of Fatima Rosary Rally June 4

Please join our national “America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally” for the Traditional Family and Public Prayers in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to end abortion which will be held Saturday, June 4, from noon to 1 p.m., at the corner of Daniels Parkway and Daniels Commerce Blvd near Tile Outlet of America and TIAA Bank in Fort Myers. Parking is in an empty lot at Daniels Commerce Blvd. and Commerce Park Blvd. or John Yarbrough Linear Park off Daniels at Metro Parkway. Please arrive 10 minutes early and bring your Pro-Life signs, chairs, water, and umbrellas. For more information, please contact Toni at toni@defendingtheunborn.com.

22nd Annual Knights Liberty Ball June 18

The Knights of Columbus Assembly 2542 is hosting the 22nd Annual Liberty Ball, June 18, 2022, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. Presented by the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, the evening will honor Knights who are veterans. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with Presentation of Colors at 6 p.m. with dinner to follow. Tickets are $35 and include dinner, two drink tickets and dancing. Dress code for Fourth Degree Knights is tuxedo with Social Baldric, all others, smart casual. This Gala is open to everyone. For ticket or event information, please contact any of the following: Jim Mendolera at 239-390-0346, Frank Haneline, 239-466-6883, or Ron Bekech at 239-437-4999.

Religious Freedom Week 2022

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is once again promoting the celebration of Religious Freedom Week beginning Wednesday, June 22 to Thursday, June 29. Each year the week encompasses the period between the Memorial of Saints Thomas More & John Fisher, through the Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul. The theme for this year is Life and Dignity for All. As we approach the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we are especially mindful of the debates around our country about abortion. The Church plays a crucial role in both bearing witness to the gospel of life and serving all who will be affected by these discussions and their outcomes. Learn how you can pray, reflect, and act to promote religious freedom at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek.

Youth Conference in July

The 14th annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference – “Fearless” – is being held July 8-10. Featured talks are by Father Rick Martignetti, Father Joseph Lugalambi, Father Rich Pagano and Chris Padget. The event includes the talks, Mass, Adoration, praise and worship, fellowship, opportunities for confession and much more. The cost is $175 and includes lodging, all meals, a t-shirt and more. To register, call 239-348-4725, aveconferences@gmail.com or www.aveconferences.com.

Project Rachel: Hope and Healing to Those Impacted by Abortion

By Sylvia Jimenez, Special to the Florida Catholic

By the age of 45, about 1 out of 4 women in the USA has had one or more abortions. When we include the numbers of men, as well as the parents of the women, the siblings of the aborted babies, etc., we begin to see the implications of how abortion has deeply affected and hurt our entire society, and in staggering numbers.

There is hope, and healing, for those impacted by abortion. Project Rachel is a Diocesan outreach to women and men who suffer from the mental and spiritual trauma of abortion. This important outreach in the Diocese of Venice includes counseling, healing retreats and other direct and indirect support. All contact is strictly confidential.

WHAT CAN LEAD TO THAT “CHOICE”

Many choose abortion as a matter of “convenience” (not the right time, not ready, fear of others finding out they are sexually active, etc.), or to avoid disappointing their parents.

Others, such as victims of abuse, feel as if they are at fault for what has happened to them, evoking feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, making them more vulnerable to either choosing abortion or letting others make that decision for them.

Project Rachel in our Diocese has helped several women who had been pregnant because of rape or incest. In these cases, they invariably said that their abortions were more traumatizing and debilitating for them than the sexual abuse – because in this act they became complicit in an even more violent crime than their abusers. Furthermore, their abusers could continue abusing them once they had covered up their crime by “aborting” the DNA evidence.

POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF ABORTION

Many who have walked a lonely path of grief and hopelessness after abortion eventually begin to understand that they have a deep spiritual wound. But sadly, they also are likely to believe that they have committed “the unforgivable sin” and fear God’s anger or punishment.

The deep feelings of regret, grief and shame which can emerge sooner or later are profound and often crippling.  Some try to numb the emotional pain by self-medicating through abuse of drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, or a host of other self-destructive behaviors.

After abortion, men as well as women can suffer some or many of the following complications:

  • Grief (mild to profound)
  • Depression (sometimes to the point of suicidal thoughts and attempts)
  • A sense of alienation from family, friends, church/faith
  • Isolating self from others to avoid discussing the topic of abortion, which can trigger many negative emotions (intense shame, anger/rage, guilt, sadness, etc.)
  • A feeling of being ‘numb,’ not able to feel joy from activities that used to be pleasurable
  • Difficulty concentrating (e.g., on work or studies)
  • Anger toward self, the child’s father and/or others involved in the abortion decision
  • Eating disorders
  • Promiscuous and reckless behavior
  • Sleep disorders, like insomnia or abortion-related nightmares or flashbacks
  • Adverse reactions to sounds, smells, and sights which remind them (at least subconsciously) of the abortion experience
  • Adverse reactions to (or impulse to avoid) seeing babies, pregnant women, little children, etc.
  • Problems bonding with her other children (being over-protective but emotionally distant)
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Fear that God will or is punishing them
  • Addictive behaviors (e.g., alcohol or drug abuse to “numb the pain” or “self-medicate”)
  • An inability to forgive themselves and an inability to accept God’s forgiveness

To be continued in the next issue of The Florida Catholic.

Project Rachel invites you to view a few short and beautiful video testimonies of several women who have received healing from their abortions at www.dioceseofvenice.org/respect-life/post-abortion-help.

For more information about Project Rachel, as well as to read stories of hope and healing, visit www.hopeafterabortion.com (English) and https://esperanzaposaborto.org (Español)

For testimonies of men having found healing after abortion, visit www.menhealingfromtrauma.com.

If you know someone who has had an abortion and you would like to reach out to them so they can receive healing, contact Project Rachel. We can offer good recommendations for each situation. All contact is strictly confidential. (Se habla español. Todo contacto es confidencial) Call Sylvia Jimenez at 941-412-5860, or email Project.Rachel@DioceseofVenice.org.

Pregnancy resource experts gather

By Karen Barry Schwarz, Special to the Florida Catholic

Fifty pregnancy and counselling experts from 13 agencies — including pregnancy help centers, maternity and after-birth homes, and post-abortion healing groups — attended an annual meeting at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice on Tuesday, May 18, 2022. The focus of the day-long meeting was to discuss and prepare for the various implications of a possible post-Roe v. Wade world, and how to best help women who are dealing with an unexpected or difficult pregnancy, or those who have suffered the trauma of abortion.

Jeanne Berdeaux, Director of Respect Life for the Diocese of Venice, presented the Diocese’s new Walking with Moms in Need initiative, pointing out all the available resources on the Diocese’s website (https://dioceseofvenice.org/walking-with-moms-in-need). Walking with Moms in Need is a program designed to not only help pregnant women by pointing them to local pregnancy help centers, but also to educate everyone within the parish about the resources available so that they, too, know how to help.

Other speakers included: Lisa Rowe & Karin Barbito from Support After Abortion, Pam Stenzel, Community Pregnancy Clinics, Jacqueline Zdrojowy, Pregnancy Solutions, and Jennifer Carey and Linda Wenck, Sarasota Medical Pregnancy Center.

Support after abortion was a primary topic addressed; it is presumed that support after abortion will be in great demand once abortion becomes a major topic in the news, after the final Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade is announced. Lisa Rowe, a licensed clinical social worker at the organization Support After Abortion, pointed out that seeing abortion all over the news will likely trigger those who have suffered from the trauma of abortion, even if from decades ago.

“Abortion is a symptom, but we treat it differently than anything else in our mental health community,” said Rowe. “Support after Abortion’s goal is to develop a compassionate understanding around abortion. We must treat abortion like any other trauma that is experienced . . . Not just for women, but men also.”

Rowe explained that one in four women have personally experienced abortion, and that 50 percent of the estimated one million abortions performed each year are repeat abortions. Abortion healing must fit into the available offerings at pregnancy help centers if we are to prevent not only abortion but also repeat abortions, Rowe said, pointing out that “healing trickles down.”

“Abortion is a social service issue, no different than divorce, domestic violence, etc., and should be treated as the trauma that it is,” Rowe said. “There is a world out there that has not been given permission to heal, and we want to be that space.”

Pam Stenzel from Community Pregnancy Clinics talked about the prevalence of chemical abortion – the use of medical drugs to abort — saying that the push to chemical abortion escalated during COVID. Fifty-seven percent of all abortions performed are done in the first trimester and are candidates for chemical abortion, she said.

Stenzel pointed out that pregnancy help centers need to anticipate a lot of increased phone calls in a post-Roe world, adding that the centers’ phone numbers are “a hotline,” and that everyone who answers the phone should be trained to help. The first question to ask? “Do you know that you are pregnant?” It is important, Stenzel said, to inform potential clients that a positive pregnancy test, ultrasound, and testing for sexually transmitted disease are critical medical care for women who think they may be pregnant, and that to have an abortion (chemical or otherwise) without this can be dangerous or even life-threatening.

Jennifer Carey from Sarasota Medical Pregnancy Center added that many women who take the chemical abortion pills are being told to tell medical professionals that they have “had a miscarriage,” which is extremely dangerous. Carey said it is important to ask the right questions and determine the truth to be able to provide the best care, adding: “The role of medical pregnancy centers will expand in a post-Roe world. Be prepared.”

To learn more about the pregnancy care centers and other support for pregnant woman, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife, or contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-484-9543.

News Briefs for the Week of May 27, 2022

Scouting religious awards presented

The Diocesan Scouting Religious Award Ceremony was held May 22, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Catholic National and Diocesan Awards were presented to Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and American Heritage Girls as well as to adult leaders. Diocesan Scout Chaplain Father Lawton Lang, as well Scout Leaders Jim Fetterman and Bob Paquette, presented the awards. The ceremony followed a Mass in the Cathedral where they were also recognized.

Students artwork recognized

Congratulations to Blaire M., a first grader at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers, whose artwork now adorns the side of a Waste Pro recycling truck. Blaire won 1st Place in the Keep Lee County Beautiful and Waste Pro “Leave the Scene Clean” environmental art contest. The artwork included a caterpillar, flowers, trees, hearts and a butterfly with the words “Plant Trees.” The truck with Blaire’s artwork visited the school on May 19, 2022, for everyone to see.

 

 

 

Catholic Summer Camp Program

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. The weeklong program assists parents and parishes to evangelize and catechize youth by complementing the work they are already doing at the Parish and at home. This summer the program will be offered at eight parishes in the Diocese of Venice. The camp program is for grades 1-5 Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for grades 6-12 Monday to Thursday, from 7:30 p.m.to 9:45 p.m. Parishes hosting the program are as follows:

  • Katharine Drexel Parish, 1920 SW 20th Ave., Cape Coral, June 6-10.
  • Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, June 13-17.
  • Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., La Belle, June 20-24.
  • Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring, June 27-July 1.
  • John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers, July 11-15.
  • Joseph Parish, 3100 26th St. W., Bradenton, July 18-22.
  • Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, July 25-29.
  • Patrick Parish, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, August 1-5.

Several parishes still have openings. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at the Parish hosting the program or Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543.

Our Lady of Fatima Rosary Rally

Please join our national America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally for the Traditional Family and Public Prayers in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to end abortion which will be held Saturday, June 4, from noon to 1 p.m., at the corner of Daniels Parkway and Daniels Commerce Blvd near Tile Outlet of America and TIAA Bank in Fort Myers. Parking is in an empty lot at Daniels Commerce Blvd. and Commerce Park Blvd. or John Yarbrough Linear Park off Daniels at Metro Parkway. Please arrive 10 minutes early and bring your Pro-Life signs, chairs, water, and umbrellas. For more information, please contact Toni at toni@defendingtheunborn.com.

Pentecost Celebration

The Diocese of Venice English Charismatic Renewal invites all to join them for a celebration on Pentecost Sunday at 3 p.m., June 5 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 211 West Charlotte Avenue, Punta Gorda. The afternoon will include praise and worship followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 4:00 p.m. Please bring your Prayer Group Banner and Stand as there will be a Banner Procession. For further information, please contact Alice Keough at keough@epiphanycathedral.org or 941-484-3505 ext. 1104.

22nd Annual Knights Liberty Ball

The Knights of Columbus Assembly 2542 is hosting the 22nd Annual Liberty Ball, June 18, 2022, at the Our Lady of Light Parish Center, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. Presented by the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, the evening will honor Knights who are veterans. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with Presentation of Colors at 6 p.m. with dinner to follow. Tickets are $35 and include dinner, two drink tickets and dancing. Dress code for Fourth Degree Knights is tuxedo with Social Baldric, all others, smart casual. This Gala is open to everyone. For ticket or event information, please contact any of the following: Jim Mendolera at 239-390-0346, Frank Haneline, 239-466-6883, or Ron Bekech at 239-437-4999.

Religious Freedom Week 2022

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is once again promoting the celebration of Religious Freedom Week beginning Wednesday, June 22 to Thursday, June 29. Each year the week encompasses the period between the Memorial of Saints Thomas More & John Fisher, through the Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul. The theme for this year is Life and Dignity for All. As we approach the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we are especially mindful of the debates around our country about abortion. The Church plays a crucial role in both bearing witness to the gospel of life and serving all who will be affected by these discussions and their outcomes. Learn how you can pray, reflect, and act to promote religious freedom at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek.

Youth Conference

The 14th annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference – “Fearless” – is being held July 8-10. Featured talks are by Father Rick Martignetti, Father Joseph Lugalambi, Father Rich Pagano and Chris Padget. The event includes the talks, Mass, Adoration, praise and worship, fellowship, opportunities for confession and much more. The cost is $175 and includes lodging, all meals, a t-shirt and more. To register, call 239-348-4725, aveconferences@gmail.com or www.aveconferences.com.

Walking with Moms in Need – Program embraces and supports pregnant mothers

By Jeanne Berdeaux, Special to the Florida Catholic

Would you know how to help a pregnant woman in need? Maybe it’s your daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, sister, or neighbor. Maybe it’s someone you see in a store, restaurant, or church. Perhaps she is crying, looks distraught or is obviously being treated poorly by someone. Through a new national initiative from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called Walking with Moms in Need, now you will know how to help.

Walking with Moms in Need teaches parishioners how to help pregnant women in need, starting by letting them know they are not alone. The nationwide Catholic program calls

every parishioner to learn the names of their local pregnancy help centers, the first responders for women with unexpected or difficult pregnancies.

There are over 3,000 pregnancy help centers across the country. They have many different names, but they are staffed with people dedicated to helping pregnant women make the right life-affirming choice and find the help they need.

Pregnancy help centers, once referred to as crisis pregnancy centers, provide accurate information about a woman’s options, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, maternity and baby clothes, diapers, and other material needs, all free of charge. They also have a list of resources in the community for financial help, food, and other needs.

If a woman needs a place to stay and extra help throughout her pregnancy, the pregnancy help center staff will assist her in finding a maternity home and later an after-birth home where she will receive help to welcome her child into the world.

Many centers also reach out to the father of the child, helping him to become the father that the child needs and the support that the mother needs. Both the mom and the dad will be helped to realize that they are already parents.

Did you know that over 90 percent of women who see their child via ultrasound choose life? They may see their child sucking her thumb, waving, kicking, or jumping around in the amniotic fluid in the womb. They see that the baby is truly a human being, not just a clump of cells. Every pregnancy help center in the Diocese has an ultrasound machine, most provided by the Knights of Columbus.

In the Diocese of Venice, Parishes will initiate the new Walking with Moms in Need program with prayer and bulletin ads, posters, and other means of communication to point pregnant women in the right direction. Parish volunteers are encouraged to visit the pregnancy help centers in their area, meet with staff, and explore ways the Parish can help the center and their clients. Volunteers are needed to help with many tasks, from answering phones, sorting baby clothes, helping with mailings, and much more.

Perhaps a woman is looking for a Catholic Parish where she can return to her roots in the Catholic Church. Recently a Parish volunteer was able to welcome a new resident at Mass who moved into a local maternity home away from her home Parish. In another part of the Diocese, volunteers from two Parishes worked together to help a pregnant woman with material needs, providing a crib, stroller, furniture, and baby items. Catholic Charities and Pennies for Babies helped with rent and utility bills to keep the family from being evicted or having their electricity turned off.

To volunteer for Walking with Moms in Need, or to help your Parish introduce the program, visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/walking-with-moms-in-need. If you know of someone who is local, pregnant and needs help immediately, click the “I’m Pregnant” button at that link. If she lives elsewhere there is helpful information available at www.optionline.org. (Note: All Diocesan resources are available in Spanish.)

The demand for abortion will not just disappear, regardless of the upcoming Supreme Court decision regarding Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion in America. Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and we hope and pray it is, abortion will not automatically become illegal; instead, it will go back to the states to decide. It is up to us, especial those of us who are Catholic, to make abortion unthinkable and offer better alternatives to women facing unexpected and difficult pregnancies.

Would you know how to help a pregnant woman in need?  Now you will, with Walking with Moms in Need. Let her know she is not alone.

Jeanne Berdeaux is the Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about Walking with Moms in Need, visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife or contact the Respect Life Office at 941-441-1101.

List of pregnancy help centers in Diocese:

Palmetto – North River Care PC*https://www.northrivercare.org/ – 941-729-9004

Bradenton – CareNet Manasota PC*https://carenetmanasota.com/ – 941-751-1966

Sarasota –  My Choice PC*http://www.mychoicepregnancycenter.com/ – 941-351-3007; Community PChttps://communitypregnancyclinic.com/- 941-260-5427;
Sarasota Medical PC*
; – https://www.sarasotapregnancy.com/ – 941-330-2273

Venice – Pregnancy Solutionshttps://pregnancysolutions.org/ – 941-408-7100; North Port – 941-257-8270; Port Charlotte – 941-883-6346

Fort Myers – Community Pregnancy Clinics*https://communitypregnancyclinic.com/- 239-689-1543; Verity Pregnancy & Medical Resource Centerhttp://www.veritypmc.com/ – 239-433-1929; Pregnancy Resource Centerhttps://www.prcnaples.org/ – 239-990-8186

Naples – Pregnancy Resource Centerhttps://www.prcnaples.org/ – 239-280-5523; Community Pregnancy Clinicshttps://communitypregnancyclinic.com/ – two locations – 239-262-6381 or 239-778-8282

Immokalee – Immokalee PC*https://www.immokaleepregnancy.com/ – 239-657-2016

Avon Park, Wauchula, Sebring, Lake Placid – Choices Family Resource Centershttps://choicesfrc.com/ – 863-453-0307

*Help available in Spanish

Residential facilities:

Bradenton, Sarasota and Englewood – Solve – 941-748-0094 – solvehomes.org

Venice – Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. –941-485-6264 – catholiccharitiesdov.org

Fort Myers – Our Mother’s Home of Southwest Florida – 239-267-4663 – ourmothershome.com

Cape Coral – Thrive –239-242-7238 – thriveswfl.org

Naples – Sunlight Home – 239-352-0251 – sunlighthome.org

Naples – Providence House – 239-692-8779 – providencehousenaples.org

Material Needs: Venice Area Pregnancy Care Center – 941-485-1776 – vapcc.org

Project Rachel

Most women who choose abortion eventually realize that they made the wrong choice and face a lifetime of regret. Even if they confess this sin to a priest, they often find it difficult to accept God’s forgiveness and forgive themselves. They will often confess the same sin over and over. Project Rachel is the Catholic Church’s program to help women and men come to terms with an abortion decision and find the hope and healing they need. Watch for more on post-abortion healing in the next edition of The Florida Catholic. For confidential help, call 941-412-5860 or email project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org.

How to help

If you would like to help pregnant women in need financially, consider giving to the Pennies for Babies Fund. Send checks (not cash) to Catholic Charities Pennies for Babies Fund, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. All donations go directly to rent, utilities and special needs of pregnant moms who choose to parent their child.

USCCB Statement

 USCCB Pro-Life Chairman Urges Faithful to Pray in Response to Leak of Draft Supreme Court Opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

May 4, 2022

WASHINGTON – In response to the leak of a draft opinion in the Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following call to prayer:

“The leak related to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reminds us of the urgent need for prayer and action at this pivotal moment in our country.

“As Catholics, we care about every unborn child and every mother. Our Church has consistently witnessed in word and deed that life begins at the moment of conception. As the bishops shared in our statement Standing with Moms in Need: we pledge ‘to redouble our efforts to accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, and during the early years of parenthood, offering them loving and compassionate care through initiatives such as Walking with Moms in Need and countless others.’

“At the same time, as we await the Court’s decision, we urge everyone to intensify their prayer and fasting that the final decision of the Court will bring about the reversal of Roe and Casey.

“We hope and pray for a change in our laws and stand ready to help all pregnant women in need in each of our communities.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us and guide us.”

News Briefs for week of April 29, 2022

Priest dies

Father Russell Ruggiero died at his home in Lakewood Ranch on April 18, 2022, at the age of 59. Father Ruggiero was ordained to the priesthood on May 29, 2010, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. He served as Parochial Vicar at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton, San Marco Parish in Marco Island, and St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers. Father served as Administrator of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish from Jan. 8, 2017 to Oct. 19, 2018 before taking a leave of absence. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on April 25 at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish. Father Mark Heuberger, Pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul was the main celebrant with Bishop Frank J. Dewane in attendance. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Ruggiero and the consolation of his family. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in eternal peace.

 Retreat improves communication for couples

A MDS (Matrimonio, Diálogo y Seguimiento – Matrimony, Dialogue and Follow-Up) Wedding Retreat took place at Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid on April 22-24, 2022. MDS, a Catholic-based Spanish-language enrichment program directed to all married couples which is designed to improve communication in the conjugal life for the couple. Participating couples are paired with mentor couples to help them daily live out their Sacramental Marriage, accompanied by Jesus. These intensive retreats are offered several times a year and the couples and their mentors have follow-up contact to ensure the lessons have a lasting impact. Father Claudio Stewart, Diocesan Director of the Hispanic Apostolate addressed the retreatants offering encouragement.

Final Synod on Synodality Listening Sessions in May

There are only four more opportunities to take part in the Diocesan Phase for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” as requested by His Holiness Pope Francis. Everyone is invited as the Diocese of Venice is holding various sessions for an evening of listening with the goal to discern the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. To date, eight in-person listening sessions have been completed, and they include:

  • (Completed) Feb. 9, St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota (Eng.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 16, Epiphany Cathedral, Venice (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) Feb. 22, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish, Bradenton (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 3, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral (Eng./Sp.);
  • (Completed) March 14, St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 16, Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda (Eng.);
  • (Completed) March 24; St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225, Golden Gate Parkway, Naples (Eng./Sp.).
  • (Completed) March 28, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples (Eng.).

Upcoming in-person Sessions will take place from 6:30 p.m.- 8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Monday, May 9, St. Catherine Parish, 820 Hickory St., Sebring (Eng./Sp);
  • Monday, May 16, St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (Eng.);
  • Monday, May 23, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, 355 S. Bridge St., LaBelle (Eng./Sp);

Please note, there will also be a Virtual Session from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, May 25. Those interested in attending any of the sessions are encouraged to confirm their attendance by registering at www.dioceseofvenice.org. For any questions or comments regarding the listening sessions, please email synod@dioceseofvenice.org.

Robotics team prepares for competition

The St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School Robotics team from Port Charlotte has been preparing for their very first competition which takes place on May 14 in Fort Myers. These students have been working extremely hard and coming up with different strategies for this upcoming competition against other teams from throughout the Diocese. The students are working hard to build a strong team while developing skills in programming, modeling and design, all needed to ensure a successful competition.

 

Students vote for their favorite books

With the assistance from members of the St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School National Junior Honors Society, students returned from their Easter break on April 19, 2022, to vote on their favorite Sunshine State books. They did this by using real voting machines. Students from all levels, pre-kindergarten-3 through eighth grade, had the opportunity to vote. The machines were programmed to allow the students to choose from the different books. Everyone had fun using the machines while also learning about books and the voting process.

Love of baseball shared by students

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students in Sarasota continued its 10-year partnership with the Miracle League of Manasota by continuing the service outreach on April 23, 2022. The goal of the Miracle League is to provide opportunities for differently-abled children and adults to play baseball. Members of the Mooney club volunteer each weekend, giving back by teaching various skills and being vocal cheerleaders for those who take part in the program.

House Olympics lots of fun in Naples

The annual House Olympics at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples took place on April 22, 2022, with Raley House taking the victory. Teams from each house participate in a variety of fun and games competing for points and ultimately a victory over their fellow competitors. Neumann has four “Houses” which serve as a form of student government, dividing students into different teams. Throughout the year these teams earn points for success in various academic and athletic individual and team competitions. The House Olympics is just one of the latest competitions. The championship team will be announced at the end of the year. This system was implemented to help younger students become more familiar with Neumann as freshman and through the years the older students serve as mentors to their House members.

New Pro-Life Documentary

“The Matter of Life,” a new Pro-Life documentary, will be in theaters for a limited engagement on Monday, May 16 and Tuesday, May 17 only. The documentary takes you on a journey to unravel the complexities of the abortion debate by addressing the issue through science, philosophy, history and powerful personal stories with testimonies from some of the best pro-life national speakers such as Scott Klusendorf, Stephanie Gray Connors and Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortionist. The film answers hard questions and provides hope for the future. With the impending Supreme Court ruling on the Dobbs case (a review of the Alabama abortion law and could ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade – www.prayfordobbs.com), now is the time to learn all you can about this important issue. See www.thematteroflife.org for a trailer, theater locations and more. Questions? Contact Jeanne Berdeaux, Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-441-1101.

Treasures of the Church coming to Diocese

An Exposition of Sacred Relics will take place in several locations within the Diocese of Venice and elsewhere in Florida in the month of May. Each evening begins with a presentation and teaching on relics which features the catechetical and spiritual basis for the “Walk with the Saints” where over 150 relics will be displayed. In the Diocese of Venice, the following dates and locations are available for all to attend: May 9, Incarnation Parish, 2929 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota; May 10, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 SW 20th Ave., Cape Coral; May 11, Ave Maria Parish, 5088 Annunciation Circle, Ave Maria; May 12, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples. Each exposition will begin at 6:30 p.m. and there is no fee to attend.

9th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference in May

All are invited to the 9th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference May 13 to May 15 at Ave Maria University, Ave Maria. The theme is “Do Whatever He Tells You.” Featured speakers will include Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Coffey, of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, Father Larry Richards, Father Rick Martignetti, Deacon Dr. Mark Miravalle, EWTN’s Steve Ray, and Johnnette Benkovic plus music by Martin Doman and the AMU Band. In addition to the talks, the Conference will include a Rosary Walk, Holy Mass, Benediction, and more. The cost is $180 per person and includes lodging, meals and conference fee for the weekend. For more information visit www.aveconferences.com,call 239-348-4725 or email aveconferences@gmail.com.

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