More than 600 participate in NET retreats

Dynamic, Parish-based encounters for middle and high school teens took place between Feb. 3 and Feb. 11, 2024, throughout the Diocese of Venice.

The NET Ministries (National Evangelization Teams) retreats, visiting seven Parish and one Diocesan Catholic school between Feb. 3 and Feb. 11, 2024, challenged young Catholics, through relational ministry, to hear about, respond to and live for Jesus Christ.

“An absolutely beautiful evening with our Lord!” St. Michael Parish in Wauchula posted to social media. “NET Ministries you did awesome. Keep praying for our youth! Keep giving them opportunities or they will never experience His Love or get to know Him. May God bless all of our youth all over the world.”

The Diocesan Office of Evangelization sponsored the retreats which cumulatively reached more than 600 middle and high school students. The goal was to inspire young people to form personal and profound relationships with Jesus Christ and His Church.

The theme of the retreats in early February was “True Presence,” building upon the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival. The Revival is an initiative of the U.S. Bishops to encourage a greater passion for the Most Holy Eucharist, the Source and Summit of the Catholic Faith. Most of the retreats included the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and when that was not possible due to time constraints, there was Eucharistic Adoration.

The Diocesan retreats took place at the following locations, St. Thomas More, Sarasota; St. Catherine, Sebring; St. Joseph the Worker, Moore Haven; St. Michael, Wauchula; Our Lady of Light, Fort Myers; St. Paul, Arcadia; St. Agnes, Naples; and St. Joseph Catholic School, Bradenton. Several Parishes took the opportunity to use the NET visit as a Confirmation Retreat for youth.

The retreats included guided prayer time and a personal invitation to commit to Christ, as the NET members shared the message of God’s unending love for the youth. This was accomplished in small group discussions, games and activities, and live testimony presentations.

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.

 

 

Retreat opens eyes of students

A group of students from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples put their classroom lessons to work when they participated in a weeklong Immokalee Service Retreat.

The group travelled about 40 minutes from their school to Immokalee, a short physical distance but the retreat was a long spiritual journey that surprised many in how deeply it impacted them.

Each of the 18 students, incoming-juniors and incoming-seniors, learned about the Collier County community that is home to many farms and food processing facilities and is also one of the poorest in the country.

Throughout the week of May 31-June 3, the students spent each day assisting at different outreach facilities, including Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity and others.

The service trip was organized and led by Sisters April Hoffman and April Cabaccang, Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, both of whom are on the faculty at St. John Neumann. To start the week, they prayed each student would gain a renewed sense of Christian Service from their experience. The theme for the week was based on a Gospel quote from 1 Peter 4:10 – “Each of you should use that gift you have to serve others.”

The enthusiasm of the students to put their Catholic Social Teaching to work was reflected in the effort and care they put into each task they were assigned.

When the week began, the students did not expect the retreat to have the deep emotional impact it had on them as most had never been to Immokalee or even heard of the plight of the people there.

Some admitted to participating in the retreat to earn service hours or because a friend was participating. But then, something changed. As the week progressed, the teens began to grow as Christians, shining the light of Christ in the community while also finding the face of the Lord in all whom they encountered.

Several expressed a greater appreciation for the gifts and opportunities they have in their everyday life and a desire to carry the lesson of service beyond the one week. St. John Neumann has several clubs which do service projects, many benefitting the programs of the poor in both Naples and Immokalee.

Each day included evening Mass celebrated at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish by Father Inna (Ignatius) Reddy Yeruva, Missionary of Compassion, who works with Catholic Charities.

“God is granting you enlightenment,” Father Yeruva said of the retreat. “You are getting to see a world beyond St. John Neumann and your own homes. This is a gift you must embrace.”

The retreat also included daily prayer and reflection while staying at the Bethel Retreat Center. In addition, the evenings included games and guest speakers who offered words of encouragement. The first guest speaker was a Neumann alum who was on the same retreat several years earlier and shared how it had had a lasting impact on his life.

For example, when some of the students were assigned to count beans at the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen of Catholic Charities, the task seemed pointless, but the youth quickly learned that it was important to sort through the beans to ensure proper portion sizes and their helping lessened the work of the only paid employee of the Soup Kitchen.

Other students helped Pathways Early Childhood Center and learned that the lunch the children receive each day is likely the only food they will have access to all day. Then, while helping to paint and clean homes at a Habitat for Humanity project, the students met a future resident who expressed eternal gratitude for their work.

Sister April Hoffman said the week is much more than service hours earned and being with friends. “It is about developing a desire to serve others and that when we serve, we are serving Jesus in the people we encounter.”

For more information about St. John Neumann Catholic High School, please call 239-455-3044 or visit www.sjnceltics.org.

News briefs for week of June 15

St. Jude Food Pantry open

The St. Jude  Parish Food Pantry is open and distributing food on Wednesdays from 5-6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:30-9:30 a.m. following all social distancing protocols. Please bring an ID and do not exit your vehicle. Volunteers will load cars.  Located at 3930 17th St., Sarasota, please call the food pantry at 941-955-3934 if you have any questions or visit https://www.stjudesarasota.com/info/st-jude-food-pantry-schedule, for updates.

Parish supports local charity

St. Agnes Parish in Naples has stepped up again to help the needy in the area. This time the Parish collected four pick-up truckloads of food and donated it to St. Matthew’s House, a program that provides innovative solutions to fight homelessness, hunger, substance abuse, and poverty in Collier County.

Food pantry open in Wauchula

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

Foundation life-planning seminars to resume June 24

Due to the coronavirus, many Parishes in the Diocese of Venice had to postpone the Life Planning Seminars that were originally scheduled for this past spring.  In response to numerous requests, the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. has scheduled three virtual seminars featuring a local Catholic estate attorney, a local Catholic Financial Advisor and Michael Morse, Executive Director of the Foundation. These free seminars are open to anyone wishing to attend, no matter where they are currently located, whether here in Florida or back up north. All attendees will need to register ahead of time in order to join the meeting. The following registration links are unique to each seminar at https://ccfdioceseofvenice.org/home/upcoming-events/. For more information, please contact Michael Morse at 941-441-1124 or by email at Morse@dioceseofvenice.org.

Bradenton food pantry available

The St. Joseph Parish Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave. W., Bradenton, is open and distributing food from 9a.m. to noon Monday-Friday, and 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays, following all social distancing protocols. New clients are welcome to register during regular pantry hours. Call 941-756-3732 if you have any questions or wish to make a donation of money or food. For more information on the St. Joseph Food Pantry go to https://www.stjoepantry.com/

Dispensation

While the celebration of public Mass resumed May 18, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect until June 28, 2020 for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home.

Livestreaming

The Diocese of Venice Mass will continue livestream through the Diocese website and Facebook pages from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily so long as the dispensation to attend Mass remains.

Sunday Televised Mass

The Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis. The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish. The Faithful may also contribute through their usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org. Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

Year of Saint Joseph

On the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, March 19, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of Saint Joseph in the context of the Coronavirus. The Bishop announced a “Year of Saint Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. Saint Joseph, often referred to as the Protector, can be our protector during this time of the pandemic. To pray a Novena to Saint Joseph please visit the Year of Saint Joseph webpage at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

 

 

Online Directed Retreats

During the current health crisis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice is offering online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In these online retreats, Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estradilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to you, to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking to you. A Bible and journal should be available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds. The cost is as follows: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48. All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to participate in an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at riley@olph-retreat.org and a code will be provided for your online registration as well as an application. For planning purposes, please allow 7 days from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

News briefs for the week of May 25 2020

An act of kindness

Representatives from Children First Inc., a childcare provider, recently visited Our Mother’s House, a program of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., with a chicken dinner for each mother from Paradise Grill. The mothers were so grateful for their generosity! Our Mother’s House in Venice provides housing and support for mothers and their children who would otherwise be homeless.

Catholic Charities Responds to Pandemic

If you need help

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

Food distribution

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers;
  • 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 E. Oak St. Arcadia;
  • Saturdays, 7–8:45 a.m., St. Michael Parish, 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula.

How to Help

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is in urgent need of your financial support during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Online Prayer Resources and Live Mass

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary by following the links for the Diocese response to Coronavirus included on the Diocese homepage. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

While the celebration of public Mass has resumed (effective May 18, 2020), Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time, that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect until June 28, 2020. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home.

While Parishes have been asked to continue live streaming until the dispensation is lifted, the Diocese of Venice Mass live stream will continue from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily through June 28, 2020, and is available through the Diocese website and Facebook pages.

In addition, the Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis.

The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish.

The Faithful may also contribute through their usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Please continue to pray for the repose of those who have died, for the recovery of those who are sick, for the strength of healthcare workers and caregivers, as well as for an end to this health crisis. Thank you for your generosity.

Act of Spiritual Communion

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Year of St. Joseph

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of St. Joseph in the context of the coronavirus. The Bishop announced a “Year of St. Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. St. Joseph, often referred to as the Protector, can be our protector during this time of the pandemic. To pray a Novena to St. Joseph please visit the Year of St. Joseph webpage at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

Online Preached Retreats

During the current health crisis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice is offering online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In these online retreats, Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estradilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to you, to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking to you. A Bible and journal should be available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds. The cost is as follows: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48. All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to participate in an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at riley@olph-retreat.org and a code will be provided for your online registration as well as an application. For planning purposes, please allow 7 days from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

Lenten journey begins Feb. 26

“Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death.”

These words from Pope Francis should resonate with all Catholics and serve to remind us that the coming Liturgical Season has great significance and meaning.

During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to practice self-control through fasting.

Lent lasts for 40 days – excluding Sundays – from Ash Wednesday (Feb. 26) to the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, which this year falls on April 9. It is a reminder of Christ’s 40 days of temptation and fasting in the desert, and of Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the desert.

This penitential season of fasting, alms-giving, and special prayer is like a spiritual cleansing and renewal to draw closer to God.

The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.

Joshua Mazrin, Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization, said Lent is the ideal time to focus on becoming “A Disciple of Christ.”

“Discipleship is truly following the Lord,” Mazrin explained. “For Lent Jesus gives us an example by first going to the desert to fast and pray.” Christ teaches us:

  • To fast in order to grow in physical discipline. Fast intentionally – not just because it’s an old written down tradition, but in order to grow in mastery over your flesh and your passions;
  • To give alms in order to have detachment. We don’t give alms just because it’s nice. We give alms to help those in need as well as to not have an inordinate attachment to physical possessions;
  • To pray. We pray to grow in our relationship with God and as an act of humility. Humility helps us imitate Christ and a great example of humility is Mary.

Mazrin went on to explain that there are some practical things one can do to be “A Disciple of Christ” during Lent.

“Give up something specific for Lent not just to give something up, but something that will challenge you to grow in an area that will be beneficial to you and your relationship with God;” he continued. “Pray more intentionally. Meditate on purpose.  Pray the rosary, go to Mass an extra time during the week, pick up your bible and actually try to go deeper in it! Give alms, volunteer your time, try to see things from the perspective of someone less fortunate than yourself.”

During Lent, it is common to participate in a retreat or the Stations of the Cross, allowing the opportunity for one to refocus on the Lord in different ways. Check with your local Parish for these and other Lenten activities.

The precept of confessing grave sins and receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Lenten Season merits a reminder to the Faithful. To facilitate this requirement, every Parish in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present 4 to 8 p.m., Friday, April 3, and 9 a.m.to noon, Saturday, April 4. Additional times for the Sacrament are also offered so that the Faithful may find ample opportunity to receive God’s mercy. Parishes also combine to have an evening prayer service with many priests present to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Again, check with your local Parish for additional reconciliation times.

During Lent, a group of catechumens and candidates will be coming into the full communion with the Church. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will preside over the Rite of Election, at 2:30 p.m., on the first Sunday of Lent, March 1, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

This annual tradition is a formal Rite during which catechumens are presented and their names are entered into the Book of Elect. This year, 112 catechumens will be joined by an additional 185 candidates who will also participate in the formal ceremony and be recognized during the celebration for answering the call to their continuing conversion.

Dates of note

In addition to Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, where one can receive ashes, there are several other key dates of note on the Liturgical Calendar.

On the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, March 19, Bishop Dewane will be celebrating 8 a.m., Mass at St. Joseph Parish, 3100 26th Ave. W., Bradenton, and then 12:30 p.m. Mass in Italian at Epiphany Cathedral, 3350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass in Venice is at the invitation of the Italian-American Club and will include a traditional blessing of the bread and procession.

On the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, March 25, many Parishes add additional Mass to accommodate this day. The day also marks the start of the annual Novena for Mass for Life, a special opportunity to meditate on the progressive development of Our Lord in His mother’s womb.  The hope is that this meditation will help people to reflect on the sanctity of all human life, from fertilization/conception to birth and throughout life until natural death, regardless of age or condition.

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, April 5, is the day the Church remembers Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. The commemoration with the blessing of the palms and procession, is a ritual action that marks our own entry into Holy Week.

During Holy Week is the annual Chrism Mass, 10:30 a.m., April 7, at Epiphany Cathedral. The Chrism Mass is the largest gathering of priests in the Diocese and a time when they join Bishop Dewane in a celebration of the unity of the priesthood and when the holy oils used in the Sacraments are blessed and consecrated.

For more information about Lent and related activities taking place in the Diocese, or at local Parishes, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org.

REGULATIONS ON FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, and Good Friday, April 10, are days of fast and abstinence. All Fridays of Lent are also days of abstinence from meat.

Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics between the ages of 18 years and 59 years (inclusive). On a fast day one full meal is allowed. Two smaller meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are allowed. If possible, the fast on Good Friday is to continue until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” is to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily His Resurrection.

Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age and older on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent, including Good Friday.

Note: If a person is unable to observe the above regulations due to ill health or other serious reasons, they are urged to practice other forms of self-denial that are suitable to their condition.

X