EASTER: The Summit of the Catholic Faith

Throughout the Universal Church the faithful gathered for a joyous celebration on Easter; that is the Resurrection of Our Lord, the Summit of the Catholic Faith.

This celebration comes after the holiest of weeks which began with the entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and included the suffering and death of Our Lord. The Resurrection on Easter completes the journey for Jesus when death was conquered but also the beginning of a new journey of belief and hope for the faithful, Bishop Frank J. Dewane explained during the Easter Vigil Mass, April 3, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

The Easter Vigil which takes place on Holy Saturday night, “is the greatest and most noble of all solemnities and it is to be unique in every single Church,” according to the Roman Missal. The Vigil began in darkness before the Easter fire was kindled and the Paschal (Passover) Candle was lit and brought into the darkened church with the proclamation that Christ is our Light.

During this Mass, the faithful hear the story of Salvation proclaimed in numerous Scripture readings. It is also at this time when priests confer the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation for the Catechumens and Candidates. At Parishes throughout the Diocese, there were 330 women and men who entered fully into the Catholic Church.

Two of these candidates were sisters Martha Lee McGuffin Mahoney (St. Teresa of Avila) and Valerie Ann McGiffin Amundson (St. Teresa of Calcutta), and they both first received the Sacrament of Confirmation and then the Sacrament of First Holy Communion from Bishop Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral.

Mahoney said she felt gratitude in her heart and became emotional when Bishop Dewane made the sign of the cross with Holy Oil on her forehead. “I feel blessed and loved.”

Amundson said she was drawn to the Catholic Faith by commitment of the Church to never waver in what is taught and passed down through the centuries. “It was also the Catholic spirit that drew me in. I had concerns about falsehoods I heard about Catholics, but those quickly went away when I realized that we are all called to live out the teachings of Christ.”

Bishop Dewane explained how the Easter Candle, flickering at the foot of the altar, represents Jesus Christ, a light that shatters the darkness, a darkness more profound than what was inside the Cathedral, but within one’s life and heart.

“We have to take this opportunity to carry home with us these words from Scripture; to place them into our hearts and into your heart and to be the light, often in the midst of darkness,” the Bishop continued. “Be attentive in your life to the economy of Salvation as you are to the economy of finances.”

We are all called to be that voice and that witness. Take this opportunity at Easter to recognize the joy of the resurrected Lord, Bishop Dewane stressed. The resurrection is the restoration of the covenant the Jewish people had with God and is now restored.

“Salvation is here for you and me,” the Bishop concluded. “Go forward with shouts of joy. It has to be who you are, going forward with the Risen Christ who is within our midst, who is with us as a community of believers to keeps us safe.”

Easter is the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead, culminating in his Ascension to the Father and sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. There are 50 days of Easter from the first Sunday to Pentecost.

The first eight days make up the Octave of Easter and are celebrated as Solemnities of the Lord. On the 40th day of the Easter Season, Catholics celebrate the Ascension of the Lord (May 13, which is moved to the following Sunday on May 16), and for the nine days following, prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (May 23).

Faithful line up for Confession

A steady stream of the faithful at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota waited patiently for their opportunity to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the last weekend before Holy Week.

This scene was repeated at Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice after Bishop Frank J. Dewane, with the agreement of the Presbyteral Council, designated the evening of March 26, 2021 (4-8 p.m.) and morning of March 27 (9 a.m.-noon) as universal times for Confession at each Parish. This was done to allow the faithful ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Lenten Season.

Parishes reported a steady stream of people during both sessions with extra priests made available to ensure wait times were limited.

Brenda Forrester tries to go to Confession regularly but the Pandemic and a general fear of being around people had prevented her from availing herself of this healing Sacrament.

“I felt empty when I wasn’t going,” Forrester said. “After going tonight, I felt the burdens lifted from my shoulders and the Mercy of the Lord wash over me. I feel refreshed.”

Pope Francis often remarks about the healing power of the confessional and urges the faithful to go as often as possible. Parishes and Missions in the Diocese of Venice have regular reconciliation times throughout the year, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org for contact information for the Parish or Mission nearest you.

 

Holy Week is Here – Paschal Triduum is the heart and summit of our liturgical year

As the Lenten Season draws to a close, now more than ever we must prepare for the Easter Triduum which bespeaks the suffering, death and Resurrection, rendering visibly that God’s love has no bounds.

Through the blessings of the Lord, it is possible to physically attend Mass during this holiest of weeks as compared to 2020 when Parish services were suspended. For those who still have concerns about coming to Mass, each of the major celebrations will be livestreamed from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice (also check your local Parish livestreaming availability).

Either way, it is essential to stay truly connected to your Faith at this critical time. As we slowly emerge from the darkness and sorrow brought forth by the global pandemic, it is also a time to reflect on the past year.

“The Universal Church remains,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said. The importance of the Paschal Triduum is enhanced as the celebration of these important moments in the suffering, death and Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ are what unite us, bringing light in the face of darkness.”

Pope Francis describes Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday as enabling us to enter increasingly in the great mystery of our Faith: the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Father said “The Mystery we adore in this Holy Week is a great story of love that knows no obstacles. Jesus’ Passion lasts until the end of the world, because it is a story of sharing with the sufferings of the whole of humanity and a permanent presence in the events of the personal life of each one of us.”

Pope Francis also noted how the Triduum represents God’s service, love, and silence, and that we, as His disciples, are called to live out these characteristics in our lives.

Ahead of the Paschal Triduum is Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord. On Palm Sunday, 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.

The Paschal Triduum begins at the conclusion of Lent, which ends at sunset on Holy Thursday. “The Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, has its center in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Sunday of the Resurrection. Triduum means “three days.” During these three days, we keep one festival that points toward Easter. These feasts are the heart of the entire liturgical year, not one feast among others.

Holy Thursday is April 1 and celebrated as an evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. A component often present on Holy Thursday is the Washing of the Feet. The washing of the feet is an optional practice, which may or may not be done, depending on pastoral circumstance.

Following the Holy Thursday liturgy, the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the Church to a place of repose to remain there until the Easter Vigil.

Good Friday is April 2 and includes the celebration of the Lord’s Passion. This day is a good time to reflect on the Stations of the Cross, with many Parishes offering the Stations on this day.

The Good Friday Liturgy is comprised of the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Veneration of the Cross and reception of Eucharist. Veneration of the Cross is the climax of our response to the Passion. The faithful are called to behold Christ in his great act of love and we respond with loving veneration. For Christians, veneration – whether in person or remotely – means loving service to the cross and taking up one’s cross and following Christ crucified. For 2021, the veneration will be limited to a respectful bow before the cross, versus the traditional practice of touching or kissing the cross, for obvious safety reasons in the wake of the pandemic.

The Easter Vigil, on that holy night when the Lord rose again, is considered the “mother of all holy Vigils,” in which the Church, keeping watch, awaits the Resurrection of Christ and celebrates it in the Sacraments. The liturgy is begun in darkness, the Easter fire is kindled, the Paschal Candle is lit and brought into the darkened church with the proclamation that Christ is our Light. During the liturgy, the faithful hear the story of our salvation proclaimed in numerous Scripture readings. During this celebration, a Renewal of Baptismal Promises is made. In addition, 330 catechumens and candidates from across the Diocese of Venice will enter fully into the Catholic Faith through the reception of the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil celebration.

This Great Vigil opens the Easter Season which will continue for 50 days and finds its conclusion in the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 23, 2021. The 50 days from the Sunday of the Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday are celebrated “in joyful exultation as one Feast Day, or better as one ‘Great Sunday.’”

Holy Week livestream with Bishop Dewane

The key celebrations of Holy Week (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter) with Bishop Frank J. Dewane as the celebrant will be available via livestream from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice through the Diocese of Venice and Cathedral Facebooks pages. The Holy Thursday evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is at 7 p.m.; the Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion is at 3 p.m.; the Easter Vigil is at 8:30 p.m.; and Easter Sunday Mass are at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

 

Couple celebrate nearly 15,000 years of marriage

The gathering of married couples for a Mass is a time of celebration and reflection.

The celebration of their achievement of commitment and living out the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony came in the form of the annual Diocesan Masses honoring couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries. The time for reflection came afterwards when the massive number of years the combined couples have been married was announced: 14,747.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the second pair of Diocesan Anniversary Masses on March 6, 2021 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs noting that the event is a favorite, one he looks forward to each year.

“The view from my position is inspiring to me and to others who are in awe of the accomplishment you have achieved,” Bishop Dewane said. “You are living examples of the graces of love, fidelity, kindness and fruitfulness bestowed upon you by Christ. I honor you, and the Church honors you as witnesses to a beautiful vocation which younger generations see and admire.”

Some 170 couples attended the two at Masses at St. Leo the Great. The longest married couple present was Vincent and Teresa Principe of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples. On May 13, 2021, they will celebrate 70 years together.

Paul and Mary Schmidt of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples have been married 50 years and were impressed to see other couples married much longer. “I thought we reached a big milestone,” Mary Schmidt laughed. “We have some work to do to get to that many years, but I think we have a chance.”

That chance is because the couple works daily to keep their marriage strong. They have four children and four grandchildren who look up to them for guidance regarding many things, with marriage being one.

“We have overcome our struggles through our faith in the Lord and our trust in each other,” Paul Schmidt said. “Without those, you don’t stand a chance.”

Masses are celebrated each year in the northern and southern sections of the Diocese of Venice so as to accommodate those wanting to attend. In 2021, extra Mass were scheduled to allow for social distancing due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The first two Masses were celebrated Feb. 6 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

During the Mass, the married couples renewed their wedding vows. In addition, each couple was presented with commemorative certificates, signed by the Bishop, for their enduring commitment to marriage.

A reception followed the Mass with lunch and the opportunity to have complimentary pictures taken with the Bishop in the Parish Hall.

Diocese-wide Opportunity for Sacrament of Reconciliation late March

Confessionals will open for extended hours throughout the Diocese of Venice in late March to allow everyone ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

In consultation with the Diocesan Presbyteral Council, Bishop Frank J. Dewane has designated the following days and times for Confession at EACH Parish: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, March 26, 2021, and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday, March 27.

This Diocesan-wide opportunity for Confession has been made available each Lent since 2012. These times are offered in addition to already scheduled Parish Confession times or planned Penance Services.

The precept of confessing grave sins and receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Lenten Season merits a reminder to all to take advantage of this opportunity.

Pope Francis often speaks about the healing benefits of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, saying that he goes about once every two weeks. “When I go to confession,” the Holy Father added,” it is in order to be healed, to heal my soul, to heal my heart and to be healed of some wrongdoing.”

The Pope also reminds us no one is free from sin and that feeling a little “ashamed before God is a grace… Going to confession is going to an encounter with the Lord who forgives us, who loves us and our shame is what we offer him… When one is in line to go to Confession, one feels all these things, even shame, but then when one finishes Confession one leaves free… forgiven, happy. This is the beauty of Confession! Jesus is there…and He receives you with so much love!”

As the Catechism teaches, the priest is acting in Persona Christi (in the person of Christ), within the confessional. So, like presenting oneself at the altar to be nourished by Christ in the Eucharist, a person going to Confession, is not ultimately confessing to a priest, but confessing to and receiving forgiveness from Jesus Christ.

It was Christ who desired that the faithful “receive forgiveness by means of the ministers of the community,” Pope Francis continued. And it is Christ “who gives this power.”

The Pope notes, through the presence and words of a priest, penitents have “the certainty of forgiveness in the name of the Church…this is having the surety that God forgives us always. He never tires of forgiving us and we must never tire of going to ask for forgiveness.”

Reconciliation in Schools

For the same reasons, Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools have been setting aside time to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available for students.

For example, at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, the student, faculty and staff participated in a Lenten Penance Service on Feb. 23. Many of the students took advantage of the opportunity to go to confession with one of the several priests present.

Three priests were available to hear confessions from second and third graders March 4 at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral. In addition, numerous students from St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy in Sarasota received the Sacrament for the first time on March 7.

Hundreds prepare to become Catholic

The 2021 numbers of catechumens and candidates presented for the annual Rite of Election was 316. That is great news following a year filled with much uncertainty.

The temporary shuttering of churches for public Mass and ongoing health and safety concerns about meetings or classes could have dramatically impacted those seeking to enter the Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

This year’s numbers are only down about 10 percent from 2020. This is a great accomplishment considering the challenges which needed to be overcome. The largest group was from Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers and included 51 catechumens and 13 candidates.

“This was actually a great time to have RCIA because people who were part of the pandemic had a reason to question their Faith,” explained Anne Chrzan, the Diocese of Venice Director of Religious of Education who oversees the implementation of RCIA programs. “Our Church gave them a place and a reason to believe and have hope!”

The 316 catechumens and candidates, representing 40 different Parishes, were recognized during the annual Rite of Election presided over by Bishop Frank J. Dewane.

Details of the Rite of Election were adapted this year to comply with social distancing requirements necessitated by the Pandemic. There were four Deanery-based celebrations, the first on Feb. 21, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral for the Northern Deanery, and later the same day at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring for the Eastern Deanery. On Feb. 28, additional Rites took place at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers for the Central Deanery, and then at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples for the Southern Deanery.

Bishop Dewane recognized the catechumens and candidates for their responding to a particular call from the Lord. “In a world full of indifference, you come forward as a faith-filled person. It marks you. You take a further step to integrate yourselves into the community of faith and worship here in the Diocese of Venice… I am humbled by all of you: by the individual who chooses God; by one who chooses their Faith; by what it is you set out to do; by the determination you have; by the sacrifices you made.”

This response to the Lord does not end at the Easter Vigil (April 4), the Bishop continued, but that response must continue to “change who you are as men and women of God.”

“Mother church is pleased that you come here today to ratify the ‘Yes!’ you have already given to follow the Lord, a ‘Yes!” to Jesus,” Bishop Dewane added. “Once that ‘Yes!’ is said then the true conversion must set about to happen. That is the next step. Do this and know it is my prayer that you will allow the love of God to inspire you throughout your life in the many good things that you do. Let it be that love of God that graces you.”

Chrzan added that the Pandemic created some challenges in RCIA program with some using online teaching options, but those were rare exceptions

“I had one DRE who was skeptical about moving forward during the pandemic, but I asked her to see what Jesus says about that and she had an entire family approach her the following week,” Chrzan explained. “Because she took it to prayer, God gave her a family to bring into the Church!”

The Rite of Election also is called the enrollment of names, because each catechumen writes his or her name in the Book of the Elect. When the catechumens from each Parish were called forward, a sheet with the signed names was presented to the Bishop. Instead of shaking hands with each catechumen, as was done in past years, this year Bishop Dewane welcomed them with a respectful bow.

Catechumens are the unbaptized and unchurched who inquire about becoming part of the Roman Catholic Faith. Many times, catechumens are those who have begun to seek and understand God in their lives and have been led by the Holy Spirit to become Catholic. RCIA is a journey of discovery and Faith. Children and teens ages 7 to 17 participate in similar groups geared to their own age ranges.

After completing the Rite of Election, the catechumens continue their spiritual formation throughout the remainder of Lent, a period of purification and enlightenment – the final, intense preparation for the reception at the Easter Vigil of the Sacrament of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist.

For candidates, those who have been baptized with a Trinitarian formula, the Catholic Church does not require re-Baptism. Candidates have already experienced a journey of Faith. In fact, many have been attending Mass with their families for years but may have never received the Sacrament of Holy Communion or the Sacrament of Confirmation or Sacrament of Reconciliation. They participate in appropriate religious education classes, often with the catechumens, and will receive the necessary Sacraments at the Easter Vigil.

Everyone is encouraged to pray for and welcome the catechumens and candidates at their own Parish and within the Diocese as they continue their journey of discovery in their Faith.

Rite of Election: Catechumens, candidates welcomed

When the Easter Vigil takes place on April 3, 2021, the Diocese of Venice will be welcoming 314 who will become Catholic and enter the Church.

One major step in this journey occurred on Feb. 21, 2021, when the Rite of Election was held on the first Sunday of Lent. This annual tradition is a formal Rite in which catechumens are presented and their names are entered into the Book of Elect. Candidates are also present as part of their calling to continuing conversion.

“I am humbled to stand before you catechumens and candidates, you come here to Holy Mother Church to publicly pronounce your “Yes!” to Jesus,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane said.  “You declare yourself today that this is what you want to do. I welcome you and I trust that your sponsors, the priests, DREs (Directors of Religious Education), and parish representatives, have guided you well. I say thank you to all for your presence and the support that you give.”

Bishop Dewane reminded the catechumens and candidates at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice on Feb. 21, 2021 that the Rite of Election is not just a gathering of people who have chosen a religion, but a deeper commitment, made by a free choice.

“My prayer is that you are here today because you are convinced in your mind, heart and, most importantly, your soul, that the Catholic Church offers you the fullness of Christianity in a very clear way, and you are content and are willing to live it out in that way,” the Bishop stated.

He warned them that they will struggle during this process, but they must stand fast in their conviction to find the time in their lives to open themselves to hear Jesus Christ within their hearts.

Details of the Rite of Election were adapted this year to comply with social distancing requirements necessitated by the Pandemic. Instead of one large gathering at the Cathedral, this year there are four celebrations of the Rite presided over by Bishop Dewane, one in each Deanery (regions within the Diocese). The first, at the Cathedral accommodated those from the Northern Deanery, while later the same day the Rite took place at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring for the Eastern Deanery. On Feb. 28, additional Rites will take place at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers for the Central Deanery, and then at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples for the Southern Deanery.

To accommodate social distancing, sponsors did not sit or stand next to their catechumens this year unless they were spouses or members of the same household. During the Act of Admission, sponsors extended a hand toward their catechumen, instead of placing a hand on the catechumen’s shoulder, as in past years.

The Rite of Election also is called the enrollment of names, because each catechumen writes his or her name in the Book of the Elect. When the catechumens from each Parish were called forward, a sheet with the signed names was carried by one catechumen and presented to the Bishop. Instead of shaking hands with each catechumen, as was done in past years, this year Bishop Dewane welcomed them with a respectful bow.

The catechumens and candidates are part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). These catechumens are the unbaptized and unchurched who inquire about becoming part of the Roman Catholic Faith. Many times, catechumens are those who have begun to seek and understand God in their lives and have been led by the Holy Spirit to become Catholic. RCIA is a journey of discovery and Faith. They have been meeting weekly since last fall – in many cases on Zoom – to share their faith journeys and learn about the Catholic Church. Children and teens ages 7 to 17 participate in similar groups geared to their own age ranges.

After completing the Rite of Election, the catechumens continue their spiritual formation throughout the remainder of Lent, a period of purification and enlightenment – the final, intense preparation for the reception at the Easter Vigil of the Sacrament of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist.

For candidates, those who have been baptized in the name of the Trinity, the Catholic Church does not require re-Baptism. Candidates have already experienced a journey of Faith. In fact, many have been attending Mass with their families for years but may have never received the Sacrament of Holy Communion or the Sacrament of Confirmation or Sacrament of Reconciliation. They participate in appropriate religious education classes, often with the catechumens, and will receive any missing Sacraments at the Easter Vigil.

Everyone is encouraged to pray for and welcome the catechumens and candidates at their own Parish and within the Diocese as they continue their journey of discovery in their Faith.

News briefs for the week of Jan. 20, 2021

Students learn about St. Joseph

During this “Year of St. Joseph,” St. Ann Catholic School 8th grade Junior Catechists Mariana Franco and Jack McGovern taught 1st grade students to create a shrine for St. Joseph during the week dedicated to the Saint. This is part of the ongoing St. Joseph Devotional Project taking place at all Diocesan elementary schools. The “Year of St. Joseph” was established by Bishop Frank J. Dewane in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic on March 19, 2020 and will continue through Dec. 8, 2021 as directed by Pope Francis. St. Joseph is the Protector of the Universal Church.

Marriage Prep Retreats for 2021

The Diocese Office of Family Life is offering a “Day of Reflection” retreats for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. A specially prepared volunteer team of married couples and a priest will share their experiences and information with the intention of enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of marriage. The retreats in English are from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., April 17, Aug. 7 and Nov. 13, 2021. Retreats in Spanish are at the same time and will be March 6, Aug. 7 and Oct. 30. To register for the English retreats, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/marriage-preparation-retreat-2021 and to register for the Spanish retreat, please contact St. Jude Parish in Sarasota at 941-955-3934. For more information or to inquire about a virtual option contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 ext. 3019.

St. Joseph student takes second place in state soccer competition

Emmanuel, a student at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton took second place in the state for his age division in the Knights of Columbus State Soccer Challenge held on Jan. 16, 2021, in Melbourne. Emmanuel, and classmate Connor, won at local, regional and district levels of the Knights Soccer Challenge qualifying for the state events. Well done!

Institute provides Lenten offering

Spend this Lent growing in prayer! “Encountering God in Prayer: A Lenten Journey” is a theological and practical online course offered by the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation. The course will guide you through the rich and beautiful teaching on personal prayer found in part four of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Short video lectures, online discussions, prayer exercises and other learning activities which constitute the class content. Students log in each week at times most convenient to them. The instructor, Dr. John Gresham, Executive Director of the Institute, has extensive experience teaching on prayer in courses, workshops, and retreats. The course runs from Ash Wednesday Feb. 17, 2021 to April 5. For more information visit the Institute website www.institute-dov.org, call 941-766-7334 or email john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Updated times for Sunday Mass on radio in Spanish

St. Jude Parish in Sarasota broadcasts the Holy Mass in Spanish, celebrated by Father Celestino Gutierrez, every Sunday at 8 a.m. on radio station FM 99.1 and 10 a.m. on FM 105.3. We are grateful to the sponsors and SOLMART Media for their collaboration in this effort.

“Child’s Play” virtual fundraiser Feb. 25

Our Mother’s House, a program of Catholic Charities which provides housing and support for homeless mothers and their infant children, is having a virtual fundraiser titled “Child’s Play.” This night of interactive fun begins at 7 p.m., Feb. 25, 2021 with funds raised used to ensure that the mothers and their children receive the suport they need as they strive for self-sufficiency. For information about the event, contact Lisa Ventura at Lisa.Ventura@CatholicCharitiesDov.Org or 941-485-6264. A generous donor has offered to match all donations up to a total of $125,000. Please participate and help make a difference.

Projector installed in school Chapel

The Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples has a new addition of a projector courtesy of the Salesian Sisters Education Fund. Installed on Jan. 11, 2021, the projector allows the text and music for the Mass to be seen by all, removing the need to print worship aids for each Mass or prayer service.

Surviving divorce program beginning in February

A 12-week program called “Surviving Divorce … Hope and Healing for the Catholic Family” will begin Feb. 16, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice. There will be monthly group gatherings and weekly on-line Zoom meetings. Content includes internet access to a weekly video, group sharing and discussion. Participants will be provided assurance that they are not alone and a place to tell one’s story and be heard. The cost of the program is $25 and includes a Participant’s Workbook and access to all videos. For more information and to register, contact Bob and Chris Smialek at bobandchrissmialek@icloud.com or 815-275-5305

Naples Catholic School Virtual Gala Feb. 3

The Saint Ann School Foundation is hosting its annual Heart for Education Gala, which will be a virtual event on Feb. 3, 2021. The Foundation is dedicated to ensuring a faith-based education remains accessible to all families desiring it for their children, regardless of income. Many of our families have experienced great hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The need is greater now as more families have asked for additional scholarship funds. To register to receive a link to the Virtual Gala, please visit www.stann.net/gala or contact Pamela Macia at 239-262-4110 ext. 307 or foundation@stann.net or pamelamacia@gmail.com.

Cathedral School Gala April 16

The Epiphany Gala is one of our most successful fundraisers for Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School and will take place April 16, 2021 at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice. The Gala theme is the Amalfi Coast and features both live and silent auctions as well as a dinner and dancing. This year’s Shining Stars are Troy and Joyce Sacco. For more detail, please contact Leah Mihm at 941-615-0284 or mihm@ecstigers.com. Note, this event may become a Virtual Gala if conditions require.

Confirmation held in outdoor pavilion

Bishop Frank J. Dewane bestowed the Sacrament of Confirmation on a group of more than 90 young men and women on Oct. 17, 2020 at the Pioneer Park Pavilion in Zolfo Springs.

The youth were from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, San Alfonso Mission in Zolfo Springs and Holy Child Mission in Bowling Green.

The alternate location was used to ensure that not only the youth and their sponsors could attend, but also family members. The facility is also used for the annual celebration of Our Lady of a Guadalupe.

Sacrament of Confirmation resumes for Diocesan youth

Frida Castillo and Maria Ramos are close friends who were among nearly 70 to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on Sept. 5, 2020 at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle.

Frida said she felt a weight had been lifted from her shoulders when Bishop Frank J. Dewane made the sign of the cross on her forehead with Sacred Chrism while saying: “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Maria felt serene after the Rite. “I am at peace, and so happy to now be a full member of the Church.”

The Sacrament was originally scheduled to be conferred on the Our Lady Queen of Heaven youth by Bishop Dewane shortly after Easter, but the global COVID-19 Pandemic caused a frustrating delay for this group and many others.

“We were so ready,” Frida said. “We worked for two years to get to this point and then we had to wait with no idea how long.”

The final preparation was completed virtually in the spring, and then refresher classes and a mini retreat took place in August. There were two Masses to accommodate the large group. Only the confirmandi and their sponsors were permitted in the Church while family watched from the Parish Hall with everyone wearing face coverings.

The Confirmation Rite at Our Lady of Queen of Heaven was the first in what will be a series of such occasions to be celebrated by Bishop Dewane throughout the Diocese in the coming months. These will include all rescheduled Confirmations from the spring and ones already planned for the fall.

This Sacrament imbues the recipient with the Holy Spirit, making the person an advocate for the Lord, Bishop Dewane said. “This becomes a permanent part of who you are. Live your faith to the fullest. Use these Gifts of the Holy Spirit every day. They must become part of who you are. The more you use them, the closer you will grow to the Lord.”

The Sacrament should not be viewed as the end of the journey, but the continuation of the journey of faith with the new dimension of the Holy Spirit.

“This is the time that you give witness to who you are as followers of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is part of your faith journey to live the commitment of believers, a beginning of a new life in the Holy Spirit and to become more the man or woman of God you are called to be.”

Before the Sacred Chrism was administered, the Bishop asked the candidates to renew their baptismal promises as a sign of their personal assent to the faith. This is the candidates assent to their belief in Christ and His Church. The Bishop also extended his hands over the candidates during the Rite. This action is called, “The Laying on of Hands.” In this action, the Bishop imparts the Holy Spirit upon the candidates, completing the grace of their baptism.

After each Mass, the Bishop posed for pictures with each of newly confirmed and family in the Parish Hall.

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