Mass held to remember victims of child abuse

A Mass was celebrated on behalf of the victims of child abuse – the innocent and defenseless who have suffered a most terrifying violence to their body and soul.

This Mass on April 20, 2022, the Wednesday within the Octave of Easter, was celebrated by Msgr. Patrick Dubois at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. This was the 15th year the Diocese has held a Mass to pray for the victims of abuse, which takes place in April to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Msgr. Dubois cited the Gospel Reading of the day of the two Disciples, who were weighed down by the terrible crucifixion of Christ, as they journey on the road to Emmaus in hope that Jesus’ Resurrection triumphed over evil.

“Just as the Disciples became witnesses to Jesus’ suffering, let us implore His Grace to weep with them; to make at least some amends for all victims of child abuse,” Msgr. Dubois said. “We recall with sadness how their precious dignity was violated much as Christ was also pierced because of our sins.”

Msgr. Dubois added that we must also weep for the heinous and terrible harm caused by the Church’s own sons and daughters, betraying their sacred mission only to abuse children who had been placed under their care and trust.

“The hurt of all of these innocent victims, that should never have happened, weighs heavy upon our hearts and upon the conscience of the entire Church,” he continued. “To these children, to all adults who lost their sacred innocence as minors violated by people who they trusted, we express another year of heartfelt sorrow and shame.”

Citing Pope Francis, who said the sins of clerical abuse of minors has a toxic effect on Faith and hope in God, Msgr. Dubois said some have maintained their Faith “while for others the experience of betrayal and abandonment has led to a weakening of Faith in God. It is the great miracle of hope which prevails against the deepest darkness that can be present in our lives. Our loving Lord is forever on the side of all who suffer, of all the victims – particularly the defenseless and abused child – bringing healing to so much pain and hurt.”

Msgr. Dubois concluded in prayer calling “upon the Lord to rebuild the broken lives and hearts; giving hope to all those who mourn a lost innocence; to all who suffered so terribly; to all who today so rightly hunger and thirst for justice and may they soon feel God’s miraculous and restorative grace. In this way, may they, like the Disciples on the road to Emmaus, deeply feel Christ’s blessing and Real Presence.”

In speaking on this topic, Bishop Frank J. Dewane has repeatedly stated that the Diocese of Venice, and its entities, take very seriously the safety of all young people and vulnerable adults. In fact, the Diocese has a zero-tolerance policy, and works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults.

“The Diocese of Venice is steadfast in its commitment to providing a comprehensive program to protect the most vulnerable from all types of abuse while raising awareness to prevent abuse from happening in the first place,” Bishop Dewane further stated.

The Diocese of Venice Safe Environment Program works to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working with minors, and parents. The program provides information on the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. Thousands participate in this program each year. In addition, the Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools.

The Diocese of Venice annually undergoes a comprehensive audit by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese is in compliance with current directives.

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or how to sign up for a Safe Environment class, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE

During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB encourages the faithful to recite the Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just:

You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States

Conference of Catholic Bishops

UNA ORACIÓN DE SANACIÓN VÍCTIMAS DE ABUSO

Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo;

Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento

El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu

Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas

Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States

Conference of Catholic Bishops.

News Briefs for the Week of April 15, 2022

Long-serving Diocesan employee recognized

Although Jeanne Berdeaux has been with the Diocese of Venice for 37 years, she shows no signs of slowing down. The Diocesan Respect Life Director started her work with the Diocese on April 8, 1985, just a few months after the Diocese was founded and even before the current Catholic Center was constructed. She worked in Pastoral Ministries (now Evangelization) in her early years then moved to the Respect Life Office for several years before becoming the Director in 1998. Respect Life has been her passion ever since, spreading the word about the Catholic Church’s teaching on life from conception to natural death. On her anniversary day, Bishop Frank J. Dewane congratulated and recognized Berdeaux for her hard work. Congratulations and keep up the good work Jeanne!

Mass for Victims of Abuse April 20 at Cathedral

For the 15th consecutive year, during April, which is Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month, the Diocese of Venice will be offering a Mass to pray for the victims of abuse. This Mass will be celebrated at 8 a.m., Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass will be live-streamed, and all are welcome to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

Ultrasound donated and blessed

The Knights of Columbus Council 10757, from St. William Parish in Naples, raised the money to purchase a 3D ultrasound which was donated to the Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc. offices in Fort Myers, giving mothers and fathers in need the highest quality images of their unborn babies. The ultrasound was blessed on April 11, 2022, by Father Steven Clemente, Parochial Vicar of St. William Parish. With the science of 3D ultrasound, even at six weeks gestation, parents and family see in detail the beginning of their baby’s development. Approximately 95% of women who view these clear images choose life for their baby!

Student athlete nominated for academic honor

Hallie Monserez, a graduating senior at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, has been nominated to the 2022 Florida Dairy Farmers Academic All-State Team. This elite program recognizes and honors 24 graduating student-athletes who excel in both athletics and academics. The 2022 Florida Dairy Farmers Academic All-State Team selection committee received applications from 51 male nominees and 69 female nominees across the state. Each nominee was evaluated on their athletic participation, academic record, extracurricular activities, community service, and essay. Hallie owns a 4.0 GPA. The National Merit Finalist lettered in three sports (cross country, track and field, and soccer) all four years of high school and holds the school record in the 4x400m relay. Hallie is a member of student government, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and St. Vincent de Paul Society. She earned over 150 community service hours volunteering with St, Michael the Archangel Parish, Our Lady of Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota, as well as Living Lord Lutheran Church. She is the daughter of Amber and Michael Monserez and plans to attend the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana this fall. With this being one of the most important special recognition programs the Florida High School Athletic Association sponsors, 12 girls and 12 boys from all over the state will be awarded a total of $50,000 in scholarships. Each Florida Dairy Famers honoree will be recognized during a banquet on June 6, 2022.

Divine Mercy presentation and Feast Day celebrations

The annual celebration of the Divine Mercy Sunday, initiated by St. John Paul II and started in 2000, celebrates the mercy of Jesus as reminded us by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a religious sister who lived a humble life and to whom Jesus appeared. To celebrate this important Feast (April 24, 2022), Parishes throughout the Diocese will be holding traditional afternoon prayer services (typically around the 3 p.m. hour). Following are two examples of what Parishes are doing for the Feast of Divine Mercy.  St. William Parish, 601 Seagate Drive, Naples, will have its Divine Mercy Sunday celebration from 2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The service will start with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a reflection of Divine Mercy, chanting the Divine Mercy Chaplet and end with Benediction. All are welcome! For more information, please contact Fred or Barb Goduti at 239-261-4810. In Fort Myers, Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, invites everyone to its annual celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available from 1:00 p.m. and the Holy Hour will begin at 2:30 p.m. with Adoration, the Chaplet and Benediction. All are welcome! For more information, please call the Parish at 239-267-7088.

Computers, robotics and Legos make learning fun

St. Andrew Catholic School third grade students learned about landmarks on April 6, 2022, in Cape Coral. To do this, they researched various landmarks on their computers and then, with their new Robotics programing software, used their Lego kits to bring what they learned to life. This is another example of great STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) cross-curricular activity.

Fresh salsa made from school garden

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School Environmental Club members enjoyed the fruits of their labor with homemade salsa in Fort Myers on April 17, 2022. Each of the ingredients were cultivated from the school garden. The results were tasty.

Schools, Catholic Charities in northern counties to benefit from Giving Challenge

Diocesan Catholic schools and programs of Catholic Charities in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties will be beneficiaries of the 2022 Giving Challenge, from noon April 26 to noon April 27, 2022. The Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation. All donations made during the 24-hour Giving Challenge are unrestricted gifts to the nonprofit organization of your choice. You can visit www.givingchallenge.org to search for participating organizations. Schools participating in the 2022 Giving Challenge include: Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, Incarnation Catholic School, St. Mary Academy, St. Martha Catholic School, St. Joseph Catholic School, and St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School. In addition to Catholic Charities, other organizations within the Diocese that are part of the Giving Challenge include the St. Joseph Food Pantry, St. Vincent de Paul – St. Joseph Conference Bradenton Inc., as well as the Society St. Vincent de Paul – Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Conference.

 

Mass intention for victims of abuse to be celebrated

For the 15th consecutive year, during April, which is Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month, the Diocese of Venice will be offering a Mass to pray for the victims of abuse. This Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at 8 a.m., Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass will be live-streamed, and all are welcome to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

The Diocese of Venice, and its entities, take very seriously the safety of all young people and vulnerable adults. The Diocese has a zero-tolerance policy, and works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults.

“As Christian adults, we have a moral and legal responsibility and are entrusted by God with the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of minors and vulnerable adults,” Bishop Dewane said during the 2021 Mass. “The Diocese of Venice is steadfast in its commitment to providing a comprehensive program to protect the most vulnerable from all types of abuse while raising awareness to prevent abuse from happening in the first place.”

In 1983, recognizing the need for innovative programs to prevent child abuse and assist parents and families affected by maltreatment, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives proclaimed April the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In keeping with continued efforts to nationally promote the awareness of child abuse and neglect, the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined in promoting this effort.

Each year the Diocese conducts Safe Environment Program training sessions for thousands, including clergy, religious and laity who work or volunteer in the Diocese. As minors and vulnerable adults participate in activities within or sponsored by the Diocese, the mission of the Safe Environment Program is:

  • To provide required education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, and for parents, as to the issue of abuse of children including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.
  • To provide required training programs for children and young people in our Catholic schools and religious education programs. This includes age-appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety and information about improper touching and relationships. Children are not expected to be fully knowledgeable about child abuse or of the laws governing care of children, but they need to know when they should seek assistance from a trusted adult.
  • To thoroughly screen and evaluate the background of all diocesan employees – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children and young people.
  • To hold those who minister in the name of the Church in the Diocese of Venice, all diocesan employees (clergy, religious and laity) and those volunteers who work with children and young people, to Christ-centered and professional codes of conduct.

Since 2002, the Diocese has engaged a professional company to conduct background screening through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with results available to the Diocesan Safe Environment Coordinator within 24-48 hours. There have been more than 50,000 background screenings and in excess of 57,000 persons trained in Safe Environment. In the last five years alone, 14,755 individuals were background screened and more than 15,000 trained in safe environment. While all Diocesan staff and volunteers go through Safe Environment training, only those who work with minors or vulnerable adults must be fingerprinted and trained in Safe Environment prior to beginning employment or volunteering.

The mission of the Diocese of Venice Safe Environment Program is to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working with minors, and parents. The program provides information on the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. In addition, the Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools.

The Diocese of Venice annually undergoes a comprehensive audit by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese is in compliance with current directives.

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or how to sign up for a Safe Environment class, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE

During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB encourages the faithful to recite the Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just:

You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

UNA ORACIÓN DE SANACIÓN VÍCTIMAS DE ABUSO

Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo;

Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento

El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu

Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas

Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

 

 

News Briefs for the Week of April 1, 2022

Two to be ordained Transitional Deacon April 2

Diocese of Venice Seminarians Michael Young and Alan Baldarelli Jr. will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate, along with nine others, at 11 a.m. April 2, 2022, at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boynton Beach. Young is studying at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, while Baldarelli is studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. Presiding over the ordination is Bishop David Toups of the Diocese of Beaumont. The liturgy will be livestreamed at www.svdp.edu/live. As newly ordained Transitional Deacons, these men will be assigned to Parishes where they will exercise their ministry in preparation to become priests. Among many duties, they will preach, perform baptisms, witness marriages, as well as preside over wakes and funerals. Please join in praying for Michael and Alan as they take this important step in their vocational journey.

40th Anniversary celebration a success

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School’s 40th Anniversary Celebration Gala & Auction was a great success in Naples on March 26, 2022. Parents, priests, parishioners, and other supporters attended the event at the Spirit Center of St. Peter the Apostle Parish. It was a fun night of fellowship, dinner, music and dancing with silent and live auctions, and a Call to the Heart to fund a second Kindergarten classroom in the fall. Demand for enrollment at Seton is at an all-time high creating a great need for additional classroom and administrative space. The event raised approximately $200,000 benefiting the school’s ongoing Campus Expansion Program to meet the needs of the many families desiring quality Catholic education for their children. For more information about the school’s expansion plans, visit www.Saintelizabethseton.com/Giving.

Genocide survivor shares story of loss and forgiveness

Immaculée Ilibagiza, a Rwandan genocide survivor and author, was the guest speaker at the annual Faith & Ale – Faith & Wine Joint Event in Lee County at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers on March 24, 2022. Approximately 650 heard Immaculée’s presentation as she shared her amazing story of being a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. In addition to sharing the details of having lost her parents and brothers, her message centered around the topic of faith, hope and forgiveness. Faith & Wine Lee County is a Catholic faith lay-group which unites women of all backgrounds. A related program, Faith & Ale, is a Catholic men’s group and will host its final gathering of the season on April 21 at St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers, for a presentation by Dan Hesse on the topic, “Can Catholic Values Save Capitalism?” Hesse is a retired CEO of AT&T Wireless Services and Sprint. The program begins at 6 p.m., with pizza and refreshments for a $10 donation. Reservations are required – please register online at www.faithandale.com.

History project develops special skills

Second grade students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton completed a biography research project on March 25, 2022, which included making a presentation and dressing up as the historical figure they researched. The students also created posters, a wax museum and essays about the person. Among the historical figures chosen were Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Gala supports Cardinal Mooney

Race for the Roses Gala, benefiting Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, was held March 25, 2022, at the Grove in Lakewood Ranch. Supporters dressed in their favorite outfits fit for a day at the Kentucky Derby. Proceeds were targeting the creation of a new science and physics labs. Ginger Judge was this year’s recipient of the School Sister’s of Notre Dame Award for her continuous support of Cardinal Mooney.

Ave Maria students run for gold

The girls track team of Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish came home from the Immokalee Meet on March 23, 2022, with seven gold medals, two silvers, five bronzes and winning the meet overall! The boy’s team did well, too, earning multiple medals and an overall third place team finish. Special recognition goes to Freshman Izzy Meyer who brought home three gold medals. The results are impressive taking into account this is only the second year the school has had a track team.

Care packages for needy

On March 28, 2022, students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral partnered with the St. Vincent de Paul Society to create “care packages” for the needy of Southwest Florida. The students had been collecting the items for weeks leading up to a packing session. Items included various products that promote personal hygiene.

Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Televised Mass

The Diocese of Venice in Florida will air the televised Palm Sunday (April 10) and Easter Sunday (April 17) Masses, each for a full hour. The Masses can be viewed at 9 a.m. on the CW Network in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Charlotte, Hardee and Highland counties, and at 10:30 a.m. on FOX-4 in Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades and Desoto counties. The Mass is also available on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass.

Diocesan-wide Opportunity for Sacrament of Reconciliation

As the Lenten Season progresses, the precept of confessing grave sins and receiving Holy Communion at least once during the Lenten Season merits a reminder to all. To facilitate this requirement, every Parish in the Diocese of Venice will be open with a confessor present from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., on Friday, April 8, and from 9:00 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 9. Check with your local Parish for additional confession times or the availability of a Penance Service. These opportunities are made available so that the faithful may find ample opportunity to receive God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the Lenten Season.

Chrism Mass April 12

The Diocese of Venice Chrism Mass, which takes place during Holy Week every year, will be held at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 12 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., in Venice. During this Mass, the faithful of the Diocese join the Priests, Deacons and Bishop for the blessing of the Holy Oils which are used in the administration of the Sacraments at each parish throughout the year. Priests and Deacons celebrating 25 and 50 years of Ordination are recognized at this Mass. All are encouraged to attend in support of our clergy and to participate in this important Holy Week celebration.

The 2022 Priest and Deacon Jubilarians are:

  • 50 years – Msgr. Joseph Stearns, Father Adrian Wilde, O. Carm., Father David Foley, and Deacon Ray Barrett.
  • 25 years – Father Hugh McGuigan, OSFS, Father Patrick O’Connor, OSFS, Father Leszek Sikorski, Deacon Henry de Mena, and Deacon Mark Miravalle.

Mass for Victims of Child Abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and in conjunction with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Diocese of Venice will hold a Mass for Victims of Child Abuse for the 15th consecutive year. The Mass will take place at 8 a.m., Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass will be live-streamed, and all are welcome to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

Prayers sought to heal victims of clergy abuse

For the past 14 years Bishop Frank J. Dewane has held a Mass to petition for the Lord to heal and protect the victims of clerical abuse while giving the grace for all to act in helping end this scourge.

“Whatever procedure, educational announcement, commitment we make, or administrative mechanisms we put forward are all powerless compared to the strength of our prayers through our gathering at this Holy Sacrifice, at this Table of the Lord, asking the Lord to heal the victims of abuse,” Bishop Dewane stated.

The Bishop celebrated Mass April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice with the specific intention of praying for victims of child abuse. The Mass takes place annually in April, which is National Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month, as Bishop leads the faithful in praying for an end to child abuse, and specifically the clerical abuse which has been a scourge on the Catholic Church.

In asking the Lord to heal all victims of abuse, the Church is also called to be part of the solution in addressing sexual abuse.

“The gravity of the phenomena of abuse is known to all, and the evil is clearly seen as something that scars individuals for life,” Bishop Dewane said. “For the sins that the Church has committed – including the exploitation of truly vulnerable individuals that are scarred for life – we ask the Lord’s forgiveness. Because we believe in the sanctity of the individual, the person, must always be foremost our priority consideration.”

The Bishop noted that much has been improved in the Church’s handling of abuse cases since 2002 when wide-ranging mechanisms were put in place to help protect children and the vulnerable, but it did not stop the abuse completely. In addition, the refusal to act or efforts to conceal abuse cases by some in power have undercut the Church’s credibility.

“For this I stand before you and acknowledge the human dimension of the Church – clergy and Bishops – have failed without a doubt. That is why we have to continue to face this,” Bishop Dewane continued. “While things have greatly improved – one case is one case too many.”

The Bishop reminded everyone that as faithful Catholics we each have our individual role in helping to end abuse.

“Bishops can never say enough about the pain and sorrow that has been caused by the tragedy of abuse; a tragedy of broken fidelity and trust toward individuals,” Bishop Dewane said. “I ask for forgiveness from those who have been harmed, scandalized, dispirited; those who have been sexually abused by clergy and bishops. The sorrow and pain of those who we serve is clear and it is we who have to act as soon as we learn of something in a most responsible and expedient way.”

Among the continuing actions taken by the Diocese of Venice to combat child abuse is the Safe Environment Program. This includes thoroughly screening and evaluating the background of all diocesan employees – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children and young people. In addition, the program educates thousands about the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.

The Bishop also explained the role of the Diocesan Review Board, a consultative body that independently advises the Bishop regarding the assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests. The Review Board consists of lay professionals and a Diocesan priest and makes recommendations of action. The Bishop does not participate in the Review Board process.

As strong as these efforts are in creating a safe environment within the Diocese, Bishop Dewane says it is up to everyone – each according to their role – to come face to face with the reality of child abuse in the Church and in society as a whole.

“We also have to be honest that many people have been hurt gravely and severely and each one of us must do our part in helping the healing process of all victims while also being aware of our individual responsibilities in preventing this scourge from continuing.”

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or how to sign up for a Safe Environment class, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE

During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB encourages the faithful to recite the Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just: You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

UNA ORACIÓN DE SANACIÓN VÍCTIMAS DE ABUSO

Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo; Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Cyber Safety Workshops informs

When the Diocese of Venice set aside March 6-7, 2021 as Safe Haven Sunday so as to provide informational materials to address the harmful effects of pornography on youth marriages and families, it was only natural that there would be a call for more help on this difficult issue.

In response, the Diocese Offices of Family Life, Religious Education and Catholic Schools recently brought in Liz Repking, founder of Cyber Safety Consulting, to address parents, religious educators, and principals through a series of workshops.

Speaking from personal experience through her work, as well as a parent of three, Repking said her presentations had the goal of educating parents, children, and educators on the safe, savvy, and ethical use of the digital world with a total of five presentations before more than 150 people.

The parent workshops, April 14, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice, and April 15 at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers, were titled, “Protecting God’s Children Online in a Hyper Digital Age.” Repking spoke about keeping children safe from cyber bullying, online predators, sexting, online gaming, and how to help children create an escape plan when trouble arises.

Safe Haven Sunday provided basic tools and practical tips for adults to create a safer digital environment for themselves and their children. Questions from Repking’s presentation focused on how to set limits while children are online and maintain an openness if trouble arises and encouraged a parent to be available to respond. Religious educators at the workshops sought a way to help guide their young students in becoming better digital citizens.

Repking explained how many teens freely share personal information as well as images or videos of themselves to others, whether they are real friends or “online friends,” not really knowing how that information is going to be used.

“Young people do not have the skills to developmentally manage the abstract thinking needed to address the issues they face online each day,” she said. “They don’t understand the consequences of their actions or the foreverness of the internet.”

Repking shared a disturbing story about her own daughter’s encounter with an online predator who used innocuous, but common tactics to become online friends with the teenage girl while attempting to learn more and more information. Fortunately for Reking’s daughter, this conversation was stopped before anything more serious could happen; it serves as an object lesson for others.

“She even told this person, who purported to be a girl her same age, that her mother is a cyber security person who told her not to share information or pictures,” Repking said. “But he kept pressing, and coercing, and trying to get more and more information. That happened to my daughter,” she said as she showed images of the text exchange. “She knew better. What happens to the others who don’t know any better?”

Workshops specifically for Catholic school principals and Parish religious education directors were held April 14 at St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers, April 15 at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, and April 16 at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers.

The presentation topics were similar to that of the parent workshop but Repking also shared her efforts to create curriculum for students in Dioceses and school districts around the country. This work focuses on helping young people approach online usage through a moral and value perspective, providing lasting life skills.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said Repking’s presentation was a natural follow-up to Safe Haven Sunday and moves the Diocese forward with the possibility of bringing the in-school program to the Diocese in the coming year. “There is so much out there that needs to be addressed in helping to develop our students to be faithful and prudent online users.”

Several religious education directors noted during and after the presentations the challenge they face in trying to get their students to understand the dangers of online usage (predators, cyberbullying, identity theft, and more). It was noted by several that hearing Repking was beneficial in guiding them and adding they hope to receive additional information and training in the future.

Mass for victims of abuse to be celebrated April 16

For the 14th consecutive year, during Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month – April, the Diocese of Venice will be offering Mass to pray for the victims of abuse. The Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and take place at 8 a.m., April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass will be live-streamed, and all are welcome to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

The Diocese of Venice, and its entities, take very seriously the safety of all young people and vulnerable adults. To this end, the Diocese, with a zero-tolerance policy, works to prevent any instances of abuse, particularly against minors and vulnerable adults.

“As Christian adults, we have a moral responsibility and are entrusted by God with the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of minors and vulnerable adults,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Diocese of Venice is steadfast in its commitment to providing a comprehensive program to protect the most vulnerable from all types of abuse while raising awareness to prevent abuse from happening in the first place.”

In 1983, recognizing the alarming rate at which children continued to be abused and neglected and the need for innovative programs to prevent child abuse, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives proclaimed April National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In keeping with continued efforts to nationally promote awareness of child abuse and neglect, the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined in this effort.

Each year the Diocese conducts Safe Environment Program training sessions for thousands, including clergy, religious and laity who work or volunteer in the Diocese.

As minors and vulnerable adults participate in activities within or sponsored by the Diocese, the mission of the Safe Environment Program is:

  • To provide required education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly involved with minors, and for parents, as to the issue of abuse of children including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse.
  • To provide required training programs for children and young people in our Catholic schools and religious education programs. This includes age-appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety and information about improper touching and relationships. Children are not expected to be fully knowledgeable about child abuse or of the laws governing care of children, but they need to know when they should seek assistance from a trusted adult.
  • To thoroughly screen and evaluate the background of all diocesan employees – clergy, religious and laity – and those volunteers who work with children and young people.
  • To hold those who minister in the name of the Church in the Diocese of Venice, all diocesan employees (clergy, religious and laity) and those volunteers who work with children and young people, to Christ-centered and professional codes of conduct.

Since 2002, the Diocese has engaged a professional company to conduct background screening through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with results available to the Diocesan Safe Environment Coordinator within 24-48 hours. There have been more than 50,000 background screenings and in excess of 57,000 persons trained in Safe Environment. In the last five years alone, 14,755 individuals were background screened and more than 15,000 trained in safe environment. While all Diocesan staff and volunteers go through Safe Environment training, only those who work with minors or vulnerable adults must be fingerprinted and trained in Safe Environment prior to beginning employment or volunteering.

The mission of the Diocese of Venice Safe Environment Program is to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working with minors, and parents, about the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. In addition, the Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools.

The Diocese of Venice annually undergoes a comprehensive audit by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese is in compliance with current directives.

For more detailed information about what the Diocese of Venice does to prevent abuse or how to sign up for a Safe Environment class, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. Further, if Diocesan personnel or volunteers are involved, also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

PRAYER FOR HEALING VICTIMS OF ABUSE

During April, the Secretariat of the USCCB encourages the faithful to recite the Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse.

God of endless love, ever caring, ever strong, always present, always just:

You gave your only Son to save us by his blood on the cross. Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace, join to your own suffering the pain of all who have been hurt in body, mind, and spirit by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been gravely harmed, and the cries of those who love them. Soothe their restless hearts with hope, steady their shaken spirits with faith. Grant them justice for their cause, enlightened by your truth.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us the courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors. Grant that all harmed by abuse may find peace in justice.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

UNA ORACIÓN DE SANACIÓN VÍCTIMAS DE ABUSO

Dios del amor infinito, Siempre presente, siempre justo;

Tú nos cuidas y nos proteges Y nos diste a tu único Hijo Para salvarnos con su sangre en la cruz.

Jesús manso, pastor de la paz, Dígnate unir a tu propio sufrimiento El dolor de todos los que han sido heridos De cuerpo, mente y espíritu Por parte de aquellos que traicionaron la confianza puesta en ellos.

Escucha el clamor de nuestros hermanos y hermanas Que han sido lastimados gravemente, Así como el clamor de aquellos que los aman. Dales la esperanza que mitigue el desosiego de sus corazones, Dales la fe que calme sus espíritus perturbados. Concédeles justicia para su causa, Ilumínalos con tu verdad.

Espíritu Santo, consolador de corazones, Cura las heridas de tus hijos e hijas Y devuelve la integridad a lo que ha sido quebrantado. Concédenos el valor y la sabiduría, La humildad y la gracia, para actuar con justicia. Sopla tu sabiduría en nuestras oraciones y empeños. Que todos los que han sido heridos por el abuso encuentren paz y justicia.

Te lo pedimos por Cristo, nuestro Señor. Amén.

Courtesy of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

 

News Briefs for the Week of April 2, 2021

Palm Sunday opens Holy Week

The opening of Mass on the Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, begins with the Procession with Palms and a reading of the Gospel of Mark (11:1-10), describing the scene of the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem days before He was put to death and resurrected . This opening is followed by the blessing of the palms and marks the start of Holy Week with the Easter Triduum beginning at sunset on Holy Thursday and continuing until the Great Easter Vigil.

Easter Sunday Televised Mass

The Diocese of Venice in Florida will air the televised Easter Sunday Mass, for a full hour. The Mass can be viewed at 9 a.m. on the CW Network in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Charlotte, Hardee and Highland counties, and at 10:30 a.m. on FOX4 in Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades and Desoto counties. The Mass is also available on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass.

Livestream moves from Catholic Center to Epiphany Cathedral Parish

After more than a year of livestreaming the Mass from the Catholic Center, beginning April 1, 2021 the livestream of the daily and weekend Masses will be broadcast at 8 a.m. from Epiphany Cathedral Parish. You will still be able to find the Masses on the Diocese of Venice Facebook page found www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice or at www.facebook.com/epiphanycathedral.

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Fort Myers

Bishop Frank J. Dewane finished his round of celebrating Mass for students in Diocese of Venice Catholic schools with the latest stops on March 25, 2021, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, at Bishop Verot Catholic High School and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers.

During these Masses, Bishop Dewane stressed how the Lenten Season is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of our Faith. He also fielded questions from the eighth graders at St. Francis Xavier.

Divine Mercy Sunday Prayer Service

On Sunday, April 11, all are invited to join Bishop Frank J. Dewane in a Prayer Service for Forgiveness and Healing from pregnancy loss from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Avenue West, Venice. The Prayer Service will also be livestreamed at www.facebook.com/DioceseofVenice. Contact Sylvia at 941-412-5860 or project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org for any questions.

Bishop celebrates Mass for students at Ave Maria University

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass on the Vigil of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, March 27, 2021, for the students and faculty of Ave Maria University. Following Mass was a community celebration of the Feast Day of the University, the Annunciation of Our Lord, moved from March 25 to the weekend to allow everyone to participate. The outdoor festivities included a barbeque dinner as well as musical entertainment.

Mass for Victims of Child Abuse April 16

April is Child Abuse Awareness Prevention Month, and in conjunction with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Diocese of Venice will hold a Mass for Victims of Child Abuse for the 14th consecutive year. Bishop Frank J. Dewane is the Celebrant of the Mass at 8 a.m. on April 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass will be livestreamed through www.facebook.com/dioceseofvenice, and all are welcome to attend as we come together to pray for the victims of abuse.

Evangelizing Catechesis: Survey of the new Directory for Catechesis

The Diocese Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is offering an online course surveying the new how-to guide, the Directory for Catechesis, published by the Vatican in 2020. This new edition of the Directory emphasizes how to incorporate evangelization throughout the entire process of catechesis. This course is for Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, catechists, schoolteachers, adult faith formators, RCIA teams, parents — anyone who teaches the Faith. Co-teachers of the course are Dr. John Gresham, Director of the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, Anne Chrzan, Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Venice, and Joshua Mazrin, Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice. The six-week course starts April 19, 2021. There is a $25 fee to take the course. Visit the Institute website for more information and to register at www.insitute-dov.org or contact the director for more information: john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Parent Cyber Security Presentation

The Offices of Family Life and Religious Education are hosting a free parent event “Protecting God’s Children Online in a Hyper Digital Age.” Cyber security expert Liz Repking will cover keeping kids safe from cyber bullying, online predators, sexting, online gaming, and how to help children create an escape plan when trouble arises. There are two opportunities to attend: April 14, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice, and April 15 at St. Francis Xavier Parish, 2057 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers. Both presentations are from 6:30-8 p.m. Registration by April 10 is required for planning purposes at  https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/protecting-gods-children-online-in-a-hyper-digital-age.

 

 

Bishop letter to Faithful regarding Florida Attorney General report

November 6, 2020

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, my prayer is that the strength of the Holy Spirit will renew and deepen our Faith in Jesus Christ. Particularly, as together we face the difficult challenges that the Coronavirus has brought, I call upon the intercession of Our Blessed Mother for the safety and health of you and your family.

It may be recalled that in October of 2018, I shared with you that the then-Attorney General of Florida, Pam Bondi, ordered an investigation of how the seven Dioceses in Florida have handled allegations of misconduct involving minors by clergy. With the full cooperation of the Diocese of Venice, the investigation was thoroughly conducted through the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor, who requested specific clergy files. As a result, a list of priests who had been accused of a substantiated allegation of a sexual offense against minors has been issued by the Statewide Prosecutor. This listing of priests accused of misconduct in Florida is the final action to be taken and the State investigation has been concluded.

Included on the State’s list are nine priests who were incardinated in the Diocese of Venice against whom substantiated allegations have been identified in the investigation. None of the priests listed presently have faculties (allowed to minister) in the Diocese. Some have died, some have been laicized or dismissed from clerical state, and others have had their priestly faculties permanently removed. When the investigation was announced in 2018, it was not precipitated by any new allegation of abuse. The investigation involved historic cases.

As your Bishop, I wish to express compassion and my continual prayer for all victims of child sexual abuse and that each receive God’s healing and peace. The harm done is grave. On behalf of the Church, I ask forgiveness of those who have been harmed by Clergy or others involved with the Church. The Diocese remains committed to the Policy for the Protection of Children and I am pleased that the Statewide Prosecutor’s report recognizes that the Diocese has followed its policies.

The Statewide Prosecutor’s Report is a sad reminder of the harm done in the past to minors by those who had been ordained to serve the Church and care for the Faithful. Be reassured that the investigation did not uncover previously unknown cases in the Diocese of Venice. The commitment the Diocese made in accord with the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People has proven effective and helpful in protecting our children, young people and vulnerable adults.

This moment also allows for me to once again encourage all who have been abused to report it to Department of Children and Families and if it involves clergy of the Diocese of Venice, to contact also the Diocesan Victim’s Assistance Coordinator. The Diocese takes every report of abuse seriously and responds promptly.

Humbly, I invite all to continue to pray for the victims of child sexual abuse. Pray also for the Church’s efforts to protect our children and foster a safe environment for all.

May Almighty God bless you and your family, through Christ our Lord.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Frank J. Dewane

Bishop of the Diocese of

Venice in Florida

 

 

Diocese Safe Environment program adjusts to changing times

With the onset of the global pandemic, the Diocese of Venice Safe Environment training has transitioned online as of Sept. 1, 2020.

Donna Foti, Diocese of Venice Safe Environment Manager, said that the pandemic sped up a process to transition from in-person classes to online training. This training program is for all active employees and volunteers and clergy through Virtus Online.

“Online training provides flexibility and a streamlined process which allows users to complete the training and receive certification prior to starting their service within the Diocese,” Foti explained.

The training modules are available in English and Spanish and users are directed by their Parish/School/entity to register in Virtus as part of their onboarding process.

As part of the Safe Environment Program, the Diocese of Venice requires that all employees and those volunteers who work with children and/or vulnerable adults be fingerprinted and trained in Safe Environment. Retraining and recertification is required every five years.

The Diocese of Venice is committed to providing a comprehensive program in an effort to protect the most vulnerable from abuse.

The mission of the Safe Environment Program is to provide education for all employees (clergy, religious and laity), those volunteers and others regularly working with minors, and parents, about the issue of abuse of children, including the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. In addition, the Safe Environment Program has a component which includes training sessions for children and young people in Catholic schools.

The Diocese annually undergoes a comprehensive audit by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection to ensure that the Diocese of Venice is in compliance with current directives.

For further information about the Diocesan Safe Environment Program, please visit the www.dioceseofvenice.org/safeenvironment.

Report any abuse against minors to the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873. To report abuse by Diocesan personnel or volunteers also notify the Diocesan Victims Assistance Coordinator, Susan Benton, at 941-416-6114.

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