Students encouraged to grow closer to Christ during Lent

During their Lenten Journey the students who attend the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Venice are being reminded to take seriously the call for prayer, fasting and almsgiving while not forgetting the ashes they received on Ash Wednesday.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the first in a series of Masses for students in all Diocesan Catholic schools on March 2, 2023, for St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy in Sarasota. This was followed on March 3, with a Mass for students at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte. Additional Masses are scheduled throughout March.

Bishop Dewane said the ashes the students received on Ash Wednesday may have faded or been washed away but the mark is still there.

“It is a reminder of the journey we are all on during this Lenten Season, and how we are to live a righteous life – a good life – according to the way the Lord taught,” the Bishop said. “It is about how do you treat others, day in and day out. Do it with a goodness, righteousness and with mercy in your hearts. Know that the way you were signed with a cross in ashes must stay with you throughout this Lenten Season. This is a sign of goodness grown out the Lord’s sacrifice.”

In addition, Bishop Dewane reminded the students how the three pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting and almsgiving – are not exclusive for parents and other adults to act upon and consider. These pillars are a guidepost for everyone to follow in his or her own way, from the youngest child to the oldest grandparent.

“Prayer, for example, should not be confined to school. Find time at home, before meals, or at bedtime, or when you get up,” the Bishop continued. “In that way you are growing in your relationship with the Lord.”

While fasting for many might mean going without food, there are plenty of options for younger students to make a true sacrifice for God. Giving up a favorite television show, video game, a favorite candy, or even all candy, is taking a step in the right direction, but it must be a true sacrifice to achieve a greater closeness with Christ.

Almsgiving is traditionally associated with giving money, but Bishop Dewane explained that the students can use this discipline as an opportunity to do good things for others.

“Helping or doing for others – be it a brother or sister, a parent, or a friend – being a good person is about giving a part of oneself for the other, doing what is right in the eyes of Jesus.”

The Lenten Season, Bishop Dewane said, is about responding to the call of Christ with goodness, righteousness, and justice in our hearts.

Following the Masses, the Bishop spoke with the eighth graders during which he inquired how they were progressing in school and encouraged them to remain the leaders of their respective school and to seriously consider attending a Diocesan Catholic High School next year, with many saying they would.

The eighth graders were then allowed to question the Bishop on any topic. Some questions focused on the unique clothing he wears during Mass, while others centered on learning about his personal spiritual journey to the priesthood and ultimately a Bishop. Bishop Dewane explained how his first internal call to the priesthood started about when he was in eighth grade. From that point he put off that call to focus on school, university and then work in the business world. Finally, he decided he needed to follow the call of the Lord and has never looked back. “It felt right.”

News Briefs for the week of March 10, 2023

St. Patrick’s Day Dispensation

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday (March 17) during the Lenten Season, Bishop Frank J. Dewane is granting a one-day dispensation of abstaining from meat on that Friday alone. The Faithful are encouraged to choose another day in the same week to abstain from meat and to perform some other penance or work of charity on March 17 to assist in their spiritual Lenten journey. Abstinence from meat is to be observed by all Catholics who are 14 years of age or older. Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent (including Good Friday) are days of abstinence. Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the three traditional disciplines of Lent.

Seminarian receives Ministry of Acolyte

Diocese of Venice Seminarian, Joseph Corboy Doherty was one of 19 seminarians to enter into the Ministry of Acolyte on March 5, 2023, in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at the Pontifical North American College, Vatican City State. Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre of Louisville was the main celebrant and spoke the following words as he handed the paten to each candidate: “Take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his Church.” In his homily, Archbishop Fabre encouraged the seminarians, saying, “The ministry of an acolyte has a special connection to the altar and to the Eucharist. It is the duty of the acolyte to assist in serving the altar during liturgical celebrations and to attend to the Eucharist in certain functions and capacities. This is certainly an important ministry since it involves service to some of the most important elements of our Catholic faith, if not the most central element.” Representing the Diocese of Venice were Father Christian Chami and Transitional Deacon Daniel Scanlan.

Verot send two to state wrestling championships

The first ever wrestling state qualifiers from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers competed in the State Championships on March 3-4, 2023, in Kissimmee. Gabriella Vasquez, who wrestles at 105 pounds, and became the first female wrestler in Verot history to make states, placed third in the regionals on Feb. 21. At the state competition, Gabby fell in the first round and was injured and unable to finish in the consolation round of the double-elimination tournament. The second Verot wrestler to make states is Jack Benaitis who won the regionals to qualify for the 1A 285 competition.  Jack won his open match, but fell in the second round, and again in the consolation round. These two worked hard all season long to earn a spot in the state championships, and Verot couldn’t be prouder!

Medical professionals meet with Bishop

The leadership of the Southwest Florida Guild of the Catholic Medical Association met with Bishop Frank J. Dewane on March 2, 2023, at the Catholic Center in Venice. The group provided Bishop Dewane with their annual report on their latest activities, including plans for a Catholic medical educational seminar in the fall.

Support children this Easter

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Arcadia is seeking help in giving the gift of an Easter Basket for children of Casa San Juan Bosco farmworkers housing, local families, and migrant farm workers. Supporters can donate Easter Basket supplies, gift cards, or check to help the program bless children this Easter! Drop off or deliver items ordered online to Catholic Charities, 1210 East Oak St., Arcadia, FL 34266, by April 5.

First graders show off reading skills

First graders at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral showed off their reading skills in February by completing 225 books in one month. Laurie Pistorio’s students were recognized for their hard work on March 6, 2023. Well done young readers!!

Verot grad returns to Jeopardy!  

Claire Sattler, a Bishop Verot Catholic High School 2019 graduate, recently joined 27 former teen Jeopardy! contestants as they faced off in the Jeopardy! High School Reunion Tournament. The players competed for a $100,000 grand prize and a spot in the next Tournament of Champions. Sattler, now a senior at Yale University, won the 2018 Teen Tournament of Champions. In the opening quarterfinal round, which aired Feb. 27, 2023, Sattler was able to secure her win in the Final Jeopardy round because of a research paper topic that was given to her by her freshman English teacher – Lynn Chervenok Knox. In honor of her former teacher, Sattler drew a smiley face next to the winning question and wrote, “Thanks, Mrs. Knox!” With her victory, the native of Bonita Springs next appeared in the semifinals on March 6. Sattler, who had been in the lead with $8,600 going into Final Jeopardy. All three contestants failed to get the correct solution, so when Sattler bet $8,201, and dropped to $399, she ended up in third place. Well done as she continues to proudly represent Bishop Verot.

High schoolers pray “Living Rosary”

On March 3, 2023, the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School community gathered in the gymnasium to pray the “Living Rosary,” led by Father Eric Scanlan, Mooney Chaplain and Pastor of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota. During the “Living Rosary,” students stood in the form of a rosary, each standing for a bead, with each class represented in a decade, including one in Spanish. This beautiful prayer was brought to life by involving everyone – body and soul.

Grandparents recognized in Ave Maria

Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria took time on March 3, 2023, to recognize grandparents with a special day. This event included a delicious breakfast, talk from principal Dr. Daniel Guernsey, high school choir performance, Mass with grandkids, Eucharistic Adoration, and classroom visits. Whew! See more in our stories today.

Field Day fun at Cathedral school

A day filled with indoor and outdoor fun made for a great field day on March 3, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice. There were many different games and contests between individual students, between different classrooms and even between different grades. A great time was had by all.

Fort Myers students learn about Everglades

The Environmental Studies classes at Bishop Verot Catholic High School have been working on a course component with the Florida Everglades Foundation. Students recreated a diagram of the Everglades to show the impact of water levels and what we, as humans, are doing to the surrounding environment. The foundation’s mission is to work to restore and protect America’s Everglades through science, advocacy & education.

Mooney girls team ends season with much to be proud of

Every player who participates in a team sport dreams of finishing off a season with a win, this often means a championship and glory. For the team that falls in the last game of the season, there is the disappointment of what could have been.

For the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Lady Cougar Girls Basketball Team, the last three seasons have ended in the Florida State High School Athletic Association 3A State Championship Game. Each game was a loss.

The Cougars from Sarasota fell to Miami Country Day 54-38 on Feb. 25, 2023, at RP Funding Arena in Lakeland. Mooney was seeking its first state title while Country Day earned its 8th, and second in 3 years over Mooney.

The championship was the final game for senior star Olivia Davis, who ended with 10 points. The coach of Country Day told reporters after the game that his team focused on shutting down Olivia because of how good a player she has been at Mooney.

“Yeah, their coach just told me I was a main part of their scouting report,” Davis told reporters. “I kinda expected it coming into this, especially as big of a game as this is.”

Davis reached the 1,000-point career milestone in January and will graduate behind a legacy of leading her team to three straight state championship games.

Cardinal Mooney coach Marlon Williams said the team will miss Davis’ passion, but has a bright future as 7 of the eight players will return next year.

Mooney leaders in the final were Bri Behn’s 17 points and Sam Kotasek’s 10 rebounds.

While the Cougars finish the season with a loss, their 21-6 record was impressive, as was this third run at a state title.

Information from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune was included in this report.

News Briefs for the Week of March 3, 2023

Sarasota musicians play Carnegie Hall

Alex Dilan, the music director at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota, and 18 members of the Parish traditional and Contemporary Choir were part of a “Voices in the Hall” concert on Feb. 19, 2023, at Carnegie Hall in New York. The group was invited to participate by well-known Catholic guest soloists ValLimar Jansen and John Angotti. In total there was a 215-voice choir along with a string orchestra and full band. After months of preparation and three days of rehearsal in New York, the group performed. the concert, which included 18 songs ranging from traditional pieces by Moses Hogan to Gospel and Contemporary music by Angotti and Jansen. Dilan conducted the spiritual “Over My Head I Hear Music” to end the first section. The concert received many standing ovations, and Dilan said “It was certainly a once in a lifetime experience!”

Youth lead Stations of the Cross

The San Marco Parish High School Youth Group helped the faithful get into the Lenten season with Live Stations of the Cross on Marco Island on Feb. 24, 2023. The Youth dressed as the key figures that are part of the Passion of Jesus Christ.

Testing students get furry visitor

Students at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples received special furry visitors from Golden PAWS Assistance Crisis Team (GPACT) Program, on Feb. 27, 2023. The visit came at the end of the first day of Terra Nova testing, which Catholic school students take to access achievement in reading, language arts, math, science, social studies, and many other areas. The students were able to spend time petting and hugging the dogs, who seemed happy to receive the attention.

Mooney rider wins prestigious equestrian show

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School freshman Alexis Peterson took part in the Feb. 16-26, 2023, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show in Arizona. Alexis won several of the classes including a unanimous win in the “2023 Hunter Seat Equitation Championship 14 and under AHAA Scholarship Class.” She also had several wins in the Arabian Hunter and Half Arabian Pleasure Championship classes. Alexis was nominated by the Arabian Professional and Amateur Horseman’s Association (APAHA) as a 2022 final nominee in the category of Youth Hunter/Show Hack rider.

Students learn skills for the future

St. Joseph Catholic School students spent 6 weeks studying economic education objectives, including writing checks, using a debit card, keeping a checkbook register, writing newspaper articles, applying for a job, and working in a group. Following their studies, they dressed in business casual and put their learning into action by spending Feb. 23, 2023, at Enterprise Village at the Stavros Institute in Largo. During their business day, students worked in one of the 20+ businesses, took 3 breaks, received paychecks, received copies of their newspaper, held a town meeting, and had the opportunity to be consumers by making purchases in one of the business-sponsored storefronts.

Mooney students help feed the homeless

The Cougars in Action (CIA) student organization of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota went “undercover” to complete acts of kindness for others on Feb. 23, 2023. They implemented the Corporal Works of Mercy and made 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to help feed the homeless in Sarasota. Keep up the great work CIA!

Robotics program brings out best in students

In a true display of Humility, the Gift of Christ that reminds us to always embrace the wisdom and knowledge that others have to share, students in 6th grade and 8th grade Robotics at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers met on Feb. 28, 2023, to exchange experiences with the latest FIRST Lego League Challenge. This STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math) initiative integrates Catholic values and virtues through the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence.”

Verot spring production a success

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School Theater production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” had a successful run in Fort Myers from Feb. 24-25, 2023. Shows were sold out – and for good reason, as the students put on an amazing show that won over the audience. An enormous “Congratulations” goes out to the Theater department, and in particular their teacher, Lisa Clark. Her passion and dedication for the arts has grown the theater program into what it is today.

Mooney girls make third straight State Final in basketball

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Lady Cougars Basketball Team will be playing for a State Championship after a Class 3A Semifinal victory Feb. 22, 2023, at the RP Fund Center in Lakeland. This is the third return trip to the State Championship game for the Sarasota team having had heartbreaking losses in 2021 and 2022.

The Lady Cougars defeated King’s Academy of West Palm Beach 52-39 in their Semifinal, the same team they beat to reach the final in 2022. Back in Sarasota, the game was livestreamed to students as they took a break for lunch. A large group of students is expected to go to the Final.

The Cougars lifted their season record to 21-5, having won their last eight games to reach the Final. The team’s leading scorers throughout the year are Olivia Davis and Keli Barrett. The Class 3A State Final against Miami Country Day is at 10 a.m., Saturday. Feb. 25 in Lakeland. This game is a rematch of the 2021 3A State Final.

On Feb. 17, the Mooney team won the regional championships on their home court over Tampa Catholic, earning their berth into the State Final Four for their third consecutive year. The Lady Cougars are seeking their first State Championship.


Briefs for the Week of Feb. 24, 2023

Verot student recognized

Bishop Verot Catholic High School student Maren Pfleger has been named one of approximately 5,000 candidates in the 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Program candidates were selected from nearly 3.6 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in the year 2023. Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of outstanding test scores, superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in community and school activities. A distinguished panel of educators will review these submissions and select approximately 600 semifinalists in early April.

Mooney grad receives kidney transplant

Candie Barrameda, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Class of 2016, received an early Valentine’s Day present with a gift of a new kidney. In mid-2022, Barrameda was diagnosed with stage five kidney failure, but had no other health issues, which made her eligible for a transplant. At the time, Mooney posted a plea for donors on social media.  Sarasota resident and Pine View High School graduate, Kathryn Kochevar, heard  about Barrameda’s plight and discovered she was a match and wanted to make a difference. The transplant took place at Tampa General Hospital in early February and was a complete success. Kochevar was released within a day, and Barrameda, who had been having four-hour dialysis treatments three days a week, went home less than a week later. Barrameda thanks her amazing team, Kochevar and her family, and everyone for their prayers.

Pregnancy help center reopens in Venice

Pregnancy Solutions, a help center for pregnancy women with three local locations (Port Charlotte, North Port and Venice), had a grand re-opening of its Venice offices on Jan. 31, 2023. The location utilized creative options to continue serving women in need during repairs needed after Hurricane Ian caused water and flood damage in September 2022. Pregnancy Solutions’ three locations served more than 1,300 in 2022 alone. A big thanks went out to the amazing staff and volunteers. Present for the reopening were Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux and Father Shawn Monahan, OMV, assistant director of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The Venice location is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If you would like a tour, please call 941-408-7100 or to learn more, please visit

Bishop radio show focuses on Diocesan Eucharistic Congress

The Diocese of Venice Eucharistic Congress and Youth Rally on March 24 and 25, at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center and Luminary Hotel, 1375 Monroe St., Fort Myers, was the focus for Bishop Frank J. Dewane on his monthly radio program on Relevant Radio. “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane” can be heard at 8:30 a.m. on the last Friday of each month (Feb. 24), on 106.7 FM and 1410 AM in Fort Myers and 93.3 FM and 1660 AM in Naples. The program is also available at The February guests included Teresa Tomeo, a featured speaker for the March 25 Eucharistic Congress, and Father Timothy Anastos, the keynote for the March 24 Youth Rally. To learn more about the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress and Youth Rally, please visit

Basketball team goes undefeated

The St. Ann Catholic School varsity girl’s basketball team in Naples just finished their season undefeated while also winning the Sunshine Athletic Conference. Way to go Lady Dolphins!

Seton students work on Lego STREAM project

Second grade students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples worked diligently on Feb. 17, 2023, to complete their first activity in the Lego WeDo 2.0 series. The students created Milo the Science Rover! The students had to apply the Engineering Design Process to complete the project. This is just one of many opportunities for Diocese of Venice Catholic school students at all levels to learn key STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math) skills through a comprehensive Lego robotics program. These projects challenge students to think critically, work together, and overcome obstacles to achieve a goal. STREAM is a faith-infused program which not only teaches meaningful skills but upholds Catholic values by teaching the principles of strength, utility and beauty.

Model UN debuts at Ave Maria University

A Diocesan-wide Model UN Conference was hosted by Ave Maria University on Feb. 11, 2023, in Ave Maria.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass is support of the conference and later observed some of the sessions. During these sessions, the students are placed into committees where, representing a member nation, they discuss, debate and seek to find a resolution to a variety of issues, all of which are currently being discussed at the United Nations in New York.

Present for the conference were students from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, and Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria. In addition, there were seven Ave Maria University students who acted as committee chairs and six judges from the Naples Council on World Affairs.

The Model UN is an educational simulation where students can learn about diplomacy, international relations and the UN General Assembly and its other multilateral bodies. In Model UN, students step into the shoes of ambassadors from UN member states to debate current issues on the organization’s agenda. While playing their roles as ambassadors, student “delegates” make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, resolve conflicts, and navigate the Model UN Conference rules of procedure – all in the interest of mobilizing international cooperation to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world.

The program is an extracurricular activity for high school students with conferences at the local, regional and national levels. Diocesan Catholic high school teams often participate and do well in these competitions.

Bishop Dewane was invited to celebrate the Mass and observe the work at Ave Maria University due to his past experience as a member of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. The Bishop served for five years in the early 1990s, during which time he represented the Holy See at several international conferences.

“It was a tremendous experience in my life, a time during which I learned a great deal about the world on any number of issues, and most importantly about myself and how to follow the Lord’s example in all that was done,” Bishop Dewane explained. “This Model UN is a Good experience for you in both character building and faith building, as it makes you more the man or woman of God you are called to be.”

During his time at the UN, the Bishop said he was witness to the formation of International Criminal Court and was involved in a number of debates on the development of the world.

“I sat through some rough times, but you had to tell yourself why you were there, to do the Lord’s work,” Bishop Dewane said. “You had to convert that negotiating into a policy, but you do it with absolute honesty, never forgetting that you are the one who is the messenger of the Lord and living His message for others.”

Tyler Graham of the Donahue Academy helped organize the Ave Maria University event to encourage the framework of a future Catholic Model UN.

“The benefits of Model UN are numerous, as students learn how to debate and understand the nuances of international politics,” Graham said. “They participate in professional dress and the program also serves as an introduction to an adult form of formal conversation. They are ultimately judged on the totality of this effort.”

Graham explained that the Model UN experience is great for the students, but it can put them into a very difficult moral dilemma when issues, such as a life, are debated.

“The idea of this conference was to have the debates focused on issues that reflect Catholic Social Teaching, all of which are being discussed at the UN today,” Graham said. “This enables the members to learn and understand the position of the Church and then stand up for that position in an open debate.”

The Ave Maria University event helped the participants prepare for the next regional conference for high school students set to take place in March at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero.

News Briefs for the week of Feb. 17, 2023

Seminarian instituted to Ministry of Acolyte

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Carlos Andres Galeso was instituted to the Ministry of Acolyte on Feb. 8, 2023, at Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts. Bishop John Noonan, Bishop of the Diocese of Orlando, presided over the institution of 10 men. The Mass of institution plays a significant role in the formation of these men as they journey towards ordination to the priesthood. An acolyte’s primary role is to assist the deacon and priest during Mass. They may also serve as Extra-ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, bring the Holy Eucharist to the sick, and assist the priest and deacon during other liturgical celebrations and devotions. Please pray for Seminarian Galeso and all discerning a vocation to the priesthood as they continue their formation to become priests who will serve God and His people.

Longtime financial advisor to Diocese dies

Ernest Clinton Skinner, 86, a longtime chair of the Finance Committee of the Diocese of Venice, passed away in Venice on Jan. 16, 2023. Skinner was a U.S. Army veteran and worked with IBM and later ATT (later known as South Central Bell and BellSouth) as a member of their management team. He lived in New York, Kentucky and Alabama. While in Alabama, Skinner volunteered with the Diocese of Birmingham, before retiring to Venice in 1993. In Venice, he was an active community volunteer and until his death served as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for the City of Venice Police Officers’ Pension, was a member of the Board of Directors of SERTOMA, and also served on the Finance Committee for the Diocese of Venice for more than 30 years, most of those as Chairman. In addition, he was a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Skinner is survived by his wife of 65 years, Anne “Polly” Windeler Skinner, their three children and four grandchildren. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will celebrate the funeral Mass at 11 a.m. on Feb. 25, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Visitation with the family starts at 10 a.m.

Eucharistic Exhibition held in Fort Myers

As part of the National Eucharistic Revival, the Vatican Exhibit of the Eucharistic Miracles visited St John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers from Feb. 9 to Feb. 12, 2023. The exhibition contained 146 Eucharistic Miracles by country and were available in English and Spanish. This exhibition was designed by Blessed Carlo Acutis, who dedicated years to collecting information from historical records, maps and photographs of the Eucharistic Miracles that have taken place in several parts of the world. In addition to the display, there were activities for young school children called “The Eucharist: The Great Miracle.”

Cape Coral school celebrates growth

The St. Andrew Catholic School Gala, entitled “Havana Nights” took place Feb. 11, 2023, at Marian Hall of St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers. The evening was a celebration on many levels as portions of the school community continue to recover from Hurricane Ian, and the school has experienced more than 40% growth in the past few years with current enrollment at 562 students. The event included dinner, silent and live auctions, cash raffle drawing and entertainment and dancing.

Students make Valentine’s for nearby assisted living facility

K-Kids at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton created Valentine’s Day bookmarks and heart ornaments which were then delivered to Truewood by Merrill, an assisted living facility near the school. This act of kindness brought joy to the residents. The K-Kids are part of a school Kiwanis Club which does service and outreach in the community.

Neumann students de-stress

Harley, Dana and Max from the Golden PAWS Assistance Crisis Team (GPACT) Program, made a special visit to St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples for De-stress Day on Feb. 10, 2023. It was difficult to determine who loved the visit more, the students or the dogs.

School hosts evangelization team

St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy in Sarasota welcomed the Redemptorist Team for Evangelization on Feb. 10, 2023. The three Redemptorist priests celebrated Mass for the students, along with Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education. The Redemptorist priest also spoke to the students about letting their light shining and opening their eyes, ears and hearts to God.

Catholic Schools Week 2023 in photos

During Catholic Schools Week, these Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School students prepare to take part in a “Patriotic Rosary” on Feb. 1, 2023, in Venice in celebration of our nation.
A donor recognition wall was unveiled on Feb. 2, 2023, for the St. Ann Catholic School Foundation Faith Family Future Endowment in Naples. With just 35 donors, the endowment is at $11.46 million. The ceremony coincided with Catholic Schools Week.
Bradenton Police Department K9 Liberty is show lots of affection during a Catholic Schools Week visit to St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton on Feb. 2, 2023.
During Catholic Schools Week at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers one of the service projects including collecting supplies, snacks and gifts for military service members on active duty. The items were organized and then boxed into individual care packages to be shipped out soon.
St. Mary Academy second grade teacher AJ Scheip shared with Grades 2-5 about his time as a missionary in Los Angeles, The Bronx and St. Cloud, Minnesota, during a presentation in the Sarasota school chapel on Feb. 2, 2023, during Catholic School Week. As part of his missionary work, he helped those most vulnerable, the homeless.

Prayer Walk held in Sarasota

The Prayer Warriors who stand vigil in front of the Planned Parenthood Regional Headquarters on Central Avenue in Sarasota were recently joined by dozens of like-minded people who stood as witnesses for life during the 25th Annual Prayer Walk for Life on Feb. 7, 2023.

Prior to the Prayer Walk, Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass at nearby St. Martha Parish, stressing the importance of protecting life from conception to natural death and encouraging everyone to speak out for life.

“Life has so much value,” Bishop Dewane said. “Respect the life of the unborn. Respect all life. Continue to be the voice in the wilderness. Let us speak out for life and be the witness the Lord calls us to be.”

Being a witness for life is the duty of all, the Bishop added, it is not just for those who were at the Sarasota Mass or who participated in the Prayer Walk or who are a weekly Prayer Warrior.

“We need to be sensitive; we need to evangelize; and we all need to be out speaking up for the issue of life,” Bishop Dewane said. “If you claim to be a person of love, but don’t honor the gift of life, you stand against all that Christ teaches… going against what the Church has taught for centuries. We all need to be witnesses to life.”

Among those participating was a group of young men from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School. Bishop Dewane was impressed with the participation and encouraged them to share with their classmates what it meant to be a witness for life.

The Mooney group participated in the Mass and Prayer Walk while also receiving a tour of the Community Pregnancy Clinics, Inc. offices which sit in the shadow of Planned Parenthood. CPCI is a crisis pregnancy center and the students were shown an ultrasound image of an unborn child in 4-D while learning that when a woman sees their child, they almost always choose life.

The Prayer Walk took place on a Tuesday because that is the day surgical abortions are done. It has been well documented that the presence of people praying in front of abortion facilities makes a difference. Because of the presence of these people, women change their mind comforted in the knowledge that someone cares about their unborn child. Others take the literature or listen to the Prayer Warriors who offer counseling and when convinced to choose life the necessary support is just a few feet away.

This was the 25th Annual Prayer Walk for Life in Sarasota, which had traditionally taken place in late January to correspond to the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which paved the way for the legalization of abortion in the U.S. While Roe was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022, the issue is now based on state law, where in Florida abortion is legal up to 15 weeks. Much more work needs to be done in Florida and beyond to ensure each child is protected.

As one regular Prayer Warrior explained to someone participating in the Prayer Walk: “This won’t be over until we save every child.”

Anne Clifford participates in the 40 Days for Life campaigns in the spring and fall with her Parish (Incarnation in Sarasota), but is now compelled to do more.

“Being here on ‘Abortion Day’ is different and heartbreaking,” Clifford said. “My heart goes out to each woman who enters that monstrosity of a building. These women need to know we love them. That Jesus loves them. Knowing our presence can help mothers choose life is an awesome opportunity and I will be here as often as I can.”

To help get a strong start for the spring 40 Days for Life prayer campaign in Sarasota (Feb. 22 to April 2), a special kickoff event is taking place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Feb. 18, at the Church of Saint Patrick, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. The day begins with Mass and Holy Hour followed by speakers. The cost to attend is $10 and includes lunch. Registration is required at by Feb. 10 as space is limited. Please email for further information.

For more information about the Sarasota 40 Days for Life spring campaign, please check with your local Parish, or visit