Catholic Community Foundation presents new scholarship

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida is proud to provide the Frederick W. Schaerf, M.D., Ph.D. Neuroscience Scholarship to a graduating senior from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers who is interested in pursuing a career in neuroscience or a similar field.

Frederick W. Schaerf, M.D., Ph.D., the namesake of the Frederick W. Schaerf, M.D., Ph.D. Neuroscience Scholarship which is being adminsitered by the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc.

The Schaerf Scholarship provides one $4,000 one-time scholarship. The first recipient is Andrew Taikas, a parishioner at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral who will be attending Duke University in North Carolina in the fall with a double major using biology and chemistry to focus on a career in neuroscience.

“This scholarship will help me to alleviate the financial debt for my family and allow me to have more opportunities,” Taikas said. “I want to learn and understand genetics and the environment influences and how certain mental illnesses, and diseases come about.”

The scholarship was presented virtually during a May 20, 2020 awards ceremony which included recognition for 15 other Catholic Community Foundation scholars.

Foundation Executive Director Michael Morse said the late Dr. Schaerf and his wife Melissa Schaerf, M.S., A.R.N.P., founded and managed the Neuropsychiatric Research Center of Southwest Florida, which has become a globally recognized clinical research site, specializing in Alzheimer’s disease and related memory disorders.

The family chose to create a scholarship with the Catholic Community Foundation to honor Dr. Schaerf and to reward and recognize a student interested in pursuing a career in the field that meant so much to them, Morse added.

“They chose the Catholic Community Foundation because they wanted to support a student graduating from their beloved Bishop Verot Catholic High School, and they wanted the scholarship to be managed by a Foundation dedicated to fulfilling the mission of Christ,” he said.

Andrew Taikas is the 2020 Frederick W. Schaerf M.D. Ph.D. Neuroscience Scholarship recipient from Bishop Verot Catholic High School.

During the virtual ceremony, Morse told all of the scholars that they are already winners in life in what they have shown and that the Foundation is very proud to award the Schaerf Scholarship, and others, to worthy students.

“It is our privilege to share these scholarships,” Morse said. “This is individuals and families that believe very much in education and supporting education for our youth. They established these scholarships years ago to provide these dollars going forward.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, joined by members of the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. Board, led the virtual presentation ceremony from the Catholic Center in Venice.

The recipients of the Schaerf, Mary Fran Carroll and Coseglia scholarships were recognized for their outstanding academic achievements and for their commitment of continuing their education. The ceremony is typically held in person, but the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the virtual ceremony.

The Foundation Scholarship Committee carefully reviewed applications before determining the worthiest applicant.

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. was established to provide philanthropic opportunities for individuals, such as Schaerf scholarship, to create lasting gifts in support of Catholic programs and ministries within the Diocese of Venice. Last year alone, the Foundation distributed $1.2 million in endowed support for Catholic Schools, Parishes, Seminarian education, programs for the needy, college scholarships and more.

To learn more about the Catholic Community Foundation, please contact Michael Morse at 941-441-1124 or by email at  You can also visit the Foundation website at

Coseglia Scholarships awarded

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. has awarded four outstanding Diocese of Venice Catholic high school graduates with the 2020 Frank & Florence Coseglia Scholarship. The winners were recognized for their academic standing, service to their Parish and school, as well as an essay on what their Catholic Education has meant to them.

The scholarship recipients are Mary Castillo of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers; Faith Giovine of Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria; Grant Wojcik of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples; and Anna Kollmeyer of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota.

The Catholic Community Foundation Coseglia Scholarship was established in 2012 to fulfill the dreams of Frank and Florence Coseglia. The Coseglias wanted to provide financial support to deserving Catholic high school graduates pursuing degrees at accredited colleges or universities, and they wanted that financial support to last far beyond their lifetimes. For these reasons, the Coseglias chose to create a Catholic Legacy by establishing an endowed scholarship fund with the Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida.

The winners were nominated by their high schools and approved by the Catholic Community Foundation Board of Directors. Each will receive a one-time scholarship of $1,117 toward the cost of their college/university studies. This is the ninth year the Catholic Community Foundation Coseglia Scholarship has been awarded.

Mary Castillo a graduating senior from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers.

Castillo was accepted to St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where she will be pursuing a degree in nursing with a minor in Spanish. Through her voluntary work in missions while in high school she is dedicated to helping those in need in third world countries. She credits Bishop Verot with providing her an “amazing education.”

Faith Giovine is a graduate of Donahue Academy Catholic School of Ave Maria.

Giovine will be going to Ave Maria University to follow her passion for nursing and the sciences. “This scholarship will help me to achieve that goal.”

Grant Wojcik is a graduating senior at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples.

Wojcik was accepted to Florida State University to obtain degrees in finance and pre-law, with plans to go to law school to become a wills and trust attorney. Grant has a passion to help and protect those who need it, something he credits to the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco who run St. John Neumann. “They helped me to build a connection with my whole community.”

Anna Kollmeyer is a graduate of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota.

Kollmeyer was born in China and adopted by a family in the United States.  She will be attending the University of Nebraska-Omaha where she will be living in the St. John Paul II Newman Center. In high school she worked with the Miracle Aid Club and will seek a degree in helping children with special needs.

The Coseglia Scholars were recognized during a May 20, 2020, virtual awards presentation. Bishop Frank J. Dewane joined Catholic Community Foundation Executive Director Michael Morse and Diocese Chancellor Dr. Volodymyr Smeyrk on a Zoom conference call from the Catholic Center.

Bishop Dewane said he was impressed by each scholar’s achievements in their respective Catholic high schools and expected great things from them going forward.

Morse said the Coseglia Scholarship is a wonderful example of how one family chose to support the good works of the Catholic Church by investing in the education of our youth.

Those interested in learning how to set up an annual scholarship in their name, or the name of a loved one, should contact the Catholic Community Foundation at 941-441-1124, by email at  You can also visit the Foundation website at

News briefs for the week of May 18

Naples Deacon remembered

Deacon Donald Healy, who served at St. Ann Parish in Naples, died April 2, 2020. he was 83.

Deacon Donald Healy, the oldest Permanent Deacon to be ordained for the Diocese of Venice, who served at St. Ann Parish in Naples, died April 2, 2020. He was 83. Deacon Healy was born in Rome, N.Y. and was a highly recruited college athlete in three sports. He ultimate chose football and played as a two-way player (office tackle and defensive guard) for the University of Maryland before he was drafted in the third round (37th overall) by the Chicago Bears in 1958. He was then selected in the 1960 expansion draft by the Dallas Cowboys where he still holds the team record for recovered fumbles in one season (5), the longest standing record in team history. He played his professional final season with the Buffalo Bills before retiring in 1962 due to injuries. He lived for many years in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he and his wife Genevieve (Shea) Healy raised four children. He worked in agricultural chemical sales and then later in the automotive parts industry. The couple moved to Naples in 1995 and Deacon Healy eventually earned an advanced degree in theology, a requirement for his lifelong dream of becoming a Permanent Deacon. When he was 70, he was ordained a Deacon by Bishop John J. Nevins on Oct. 25, 2006 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and was assigned to St. Ann Parish. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, four children, and 11 grandchildren. A Memorial Mass will be held later at St. Ann Parish.

Scam Alert

It has once again been brought to the attention of the Diocese of Venice that parishioners have received text/email messages from people pretending to be priests or Bishop Frank J. Dewane and requesting donations in the form of gift cards and/or wire transfers. The messages often greet the person by name and have the priests name in the closing signature of the message; this is a well-crafted and targeted attack on the Church across the country which has hit our Diocese again. These text/email messages are ‘spoofed’ fakes that should not be responded to or taken seriously by anyone. The best defense against this sort of scam is to raise awareness in the community and not respond or open any worrying attachments. It is Diocesan policy that no priest or staff within the Diocese request donations in the form of gift cards, PayPal, MoneyGram, etc.

There is already an established process in place on how parishioners can make donations and participate in the life of the Parish. Whenever a parishioner is worried about any request for money from the parish or a priest, they should immediately call their parish and under no circumstances should they respond to these scam requests.

Neumann golfer earns First Tee! scholarship

St. John Neumann Catholic High School graduating senior Sophie Shrader has been announced as a recipient of a $10,000 a year scholarship from The First Tee! Shrader has participated in The First Tee for eight years and represented the organization in many national opportunities. Shrader will continue her education in the fall at the University of West Florida.

Letters bring smiles to medical professionals

Second graders from St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota have been distance learning and one of the things they learned about through reading is about communication through letter writing. The students read a story called “Dear Juno” and their assignment was to write letters of appreciation and send goodie baskets to the medical professionals at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. The staff took time to take a picture and send thanks to the students.

Roof work taking place in Avon Park

A much-needed roof replacement project is taking place at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park. The church roof is being replaced and upgraded to ensure its safety and security for years to come.

Mooney teacher earns Doctorate

Sarah Hard Gates, a Theology instructor at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, and 1997 graduate of the school, successfully defended her dissertation and was awarded her PhD in Education from Abilene Christian University. She previously earned degrees from St. Leo University, the University of South Florida, and Barry University. Gates, a beloved teacher who is considered one of the “fun” teachers, has been teaching at Cardinal Mooney for 16 years.

Athletes distance training in Naples

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School Celtic Football Team isn’t letting this time for social distancing ruin their plans to start next season as strong as possible. The boys in Naples have been working hard each morning with their at-home workouts, while connecting with their teammates and coaches via ZOOM!

Rosary maker group keeps busy

The Our Lady of the Angels Parish Rosary Outreach group in Lakewood Ranch has continued to be busy! In the past few weeks more than 400 rosaries have been made. They are given to nursing homes, assisted living residences, hospitals, people in religious education classes, Confirmandi, First Communicants, and for others to hand out. Some 500 rosaries have gone to Africa for children’s rosary groups and 400 will be going to Cuba with The Society for the Propagation of The Faith (once travel resumes). The Rosary is our sword in these difficult times, and the goal of the Rosary Outreach is to spread the beauty of prayer through the rosary.

Students take virtual field trip to museum

The St. Francis Xavier Catholic School fifth grade in Fort Myers recently was provided a special treat, courtesy of The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. Students were taken on a virtual field trip led by museum staff where they were able to see the Ringling grounds, some special portraits and paintings and learn about the life of John Ringling.

Community service during quarantine

Leave it to a Diocesan Catholic school student to turn the challenge of a quarantine into a giving opportunity. Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Freshman Morgan Franklin in Sarasota took it upon herself to still be committed to community service during our stay home policy and cut her hair for Locks of Love, for those suffering from hair loss. She shared before and after photos of herself online, as well of as the hair that will be donated.

Year of Saint Joseph

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

Online Preached Retreats

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