During the final two weeks of May, 330 Diocese of Venice Catholic High School students graduated, moving on in their personal journey, prepared for college, and a life of purpose.
The Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Venice foster an education centered in Christ, rooted in the Gospel, and alive in the Faith; leaving with an impressive record of Christian service as well as academic and athletic excellence.
The future engineers, doctors, teachers, priests and leaders of tomorrow received their diplomas from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota; St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples; Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and the Donahue Academy in Ave Maria.
Some 98 percent of the graduates are going on to some of the greatest institutes of high learning across the country. These graduates also earned an impressive $32 million is scholarships and represent some of the best and brightest in Southwest Florida.
A large percentage of the graduates are going on to study at Catholic colleges and universities, while others will be continuing their studies at Ivy League schools, with one accepting an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy. The exceptions are either entering the workforce or military, and two are going on mission trips.
During the May 24 Baccalaureate Mass for Bishop Verot Catholic High School at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers, Bishop Frank J. Dewane commended the graduates for their accomplishment by expressing his confidence that they will reflect the good that the Lord calls forth from them as they go out into the world.
“What you celebrate today is not an end, but you step forward in your life,” Bishop Dewane added. “Go forward! Find your path. Walk in that journey of faith, of maturing and of becoming more that man or woman of God you are called to be.”
Bishop Dewane also took time to thank the parents for having the confidence to send their children to a Catholic high school knowing that doing so is a sacrifice for them. He also thanked the faculty and staff for their commitment to providing a safe and supportive environment for the students in their charge.
The Bishop Verot graduation was May 25 at the high school. The Baccalaureate Mass for Cardinal Mooney was May 16 at Incarnation Parish and the graduation May 17 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in Sarasota. The St. John Neumann Baccalaureate Mass was May 22 at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples and the graduation at the high school on May 23. The Donahue Baccalaureate Mass and graduation were both May 31 at Ave Maria Parish.
Congratulations to Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Class of 2019. They are now high school graduates who leave their time with a Diocesan Catholic education that has prepared them well for their journey into adulthood.
The commencement exercises were held May 17 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in Sarasota. Valedictorian Lorca Looney Stainton and Salutatorian Sam Dillion Koscho both spoke during the commencement, sharing words of wisdom and reflecting upon the benefits of their Catholic education.
The Commencement Address was given by Dr. Janina Morusiewicz Krajewski, Mooney Class of 1994, who owns a veterinary hospital in Palmetto.
The 102 graduates earned a combined $9.5 million in scholarships with all of the students going on to some of the finest college and universities in the country.
The students participated in a May 15 Baccalaureate Mass at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, which was celebrated by priests of the Diocese, with Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis and uncle of two of the graduates, as the main celebrant. Mooney Chaplain Father Eric Scanlan delivered the homily and said the students were taught to learn that the Catholic Faith is “a Faith that calls us to love our God above all things and our neighbor as oneself. A Faith that sees God in all that is good and true and beautiful.”
Father Scanlan also encouraged the graduate to believe as they go forward that Christ will do everything He can to deliver them to fulfillment and true happiness. “To do this, you need to stay close to Him. Stay close to Him in the years to come. All he wants is you; your heart, and whatever comes, if you are with Him – all will be well.”
The most inspiring moment of the graduation was when Jaelen Childs received his diploma. It was on Jan. 31 when the baseball player was critically injured in a traffic crash not far from the high school. The baseball player has struggled to recover from a shattered left femur and pelvis as well as internal injuries and received a great deal of support from the school and classmate which helped him to persevere and to be at the commencement.
Childs is still recovering from his injuries and was in a wheelchair on stage during the ceremony. After each of the other students were presented their diplomas, Assistant Principal Stefan Gates called out his name. With the aid of crutches, he walked across the stage to a standing ovation to receive his high school diploma.
The Knights of Columbus Knights on Bikes of the Diocese of Venice welcomed Bishop Frank J. Dewane as he blessed their motorcycles May 19 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. Bishop Dewane first celebrated a Mass for the group and then led a prayer service and blessing. Organized by George Lopez of Ave Maria Parish, the motorcyclists came from across the Diocese. The Knights on Bikes is a worldwide organization consisting of members of the Knights of Columbus who are also motorcycle riders. The Knights on Bikes was formed in the United States in April 2005. Members proudly wear a vest that clearly promotes the Knights of Columbus organization.
Seminarians graduate from college
Three Diocesan Seminarians recently graduated from college. Transitional Deacon Carlos Encinas earned his Master’s in Divinity from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach on May 9. The day before, Seminarians Daniel Scanlan and Juan Contreras graduated from St. john Vianney College Seminary in Miami. Scanlan graduated at the class valedictorian. Deacon Encinas will be ordained to the priesthood in the fall, while Scanlan and Contreras will next go on to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary.
Food sorting from Post Officedrive
The St. Joseph Food Pantry in Bradenton received food deliveries from five U.S. Post Offices as part of a Letter Carries “Stamp Our Hunger Food Drive.” On May 11, some 300 volunteers helped sort the food in the St. Joseph Parish School gymnasium and stock the Food Pantry. The food pantry serves all of Manatee County and in 2018 the Food Pantry served more than 5,300 families with 12,772 family members of which 4,443 were children and 442 were veterans. These families visited the pantry and received food over 19,600 visits during the past 12 months. In addition, the Food Pantry distributed more than 550 bags of food and toiletries to the homeless of Manatee County during the year. An additional 1,000 bags of food are distributed Thanksgiving Week. For more information about the St. Joseph Food Pantry, call 941-756-3732, email email@example.com or send donations to St. Joseph Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34205.
Sarasota school expands offering
Incarnation Catholic School, 2911 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, will be expanding their early learning classes to include a PreK three program. The program will offer a monthly theme-based curriculum that will include math, science, language and basics of our Catholic faith. Our little learners will discover answers to big questions like “How do Plants Grow?” and “ Who lives in the Ocean?”. Small class sizes will allow for individual attention and differentiate instruction. Playground time will provide an opportunity to work on gross motor skills. The program will offer full and part time options, perfect for every family. Children must be potty trained and three years old by September 1. For more information please call 941-924-8588.
Verot grad tapped to head ATF
Regina Lombardo, a 1981 graduate of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, was announced on May 1 as the new acting deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the first woman to head the federal agency. Lombardo has served as the associate deputy director and chief operating officer for the agency since March 2018, with responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the agency. She has served as a special agent at ATF since 1992 and has risen through the ranks as a career employee, holding numerous management positions that include assistant director of Human Resources and Professional Development, deputy assistant director of Field Operations’ Central Region, special agent in charge of the Tampa Field Division, assistant special agent in Charge of the New York Field Division, and assistant country attaché in Toronto, Canada.
Youth event May 31 on Sanibel
Youth from across the Diocese are invited to take part in an event 7-10 p.m., May 31 at St. Isabel Parish, 3559 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel. This event is open to everyone but the Youth Groups in the area are encouraged to participate. The event, titled “Immeasurable Mercy!” will feature our well-known local musician Mark Shapic and vocalist Jennine Fuentes! Also included is pizza, refreshments, games, Adoration and Reconciliation along with some praise and worship. It’s a time for music, fun, and fellowship! RSVP to Dr. Sue Ellen Nolan at @firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taize Prayer service May 31 in Sarasota
St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota, invites people to a special Taize Prayer Service, 7 p.m., May 31. The feast of Pentecost commemorates the beginning of the Church in a new way, with the arrival of the Holy Spirit and with the disciples speaking so that many people heard the gospel in their own language. The prayer in the manner of Taizé is a good way to discover a shared gospel in many languages. Celebrate Pentecost with Song, Silence and Scripture in the style of Taizé monastery in France. The simple and beautiful chant music is dedicated to the renewal of spirits and the healing of our planet. The repetitive nature of the chanted prayer can promote a kind of inner unity of the person, allowing the spirit to be more open and more attentive to what is essential. Silence is a fundamental part of the Taizé service. For more details, please call 941-923-1691.
Incarnation Catholic School, 2911 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, will be expanding their early learning classes to include a PreK-3 program. The program will offer a monthly theme-based curriculum that will include math, science, language and basics of our Catholic faith. Our little learners will discover answers to big questions like “How do Plants Grow?” and “ Who lives in the Ocean?”. Small class sizes will allow for individual attention and differentiate instruction. Playground time will provide an opportunity to work on gross motor skills. The program will offer full and part time options, perfect for every family. Children must be potty trained and three years old by Sept. 1. For more information please call 941-924-8588.
Naples club meets for final time, honor former advisor
The St. John Neumann Catholic High School Y.A.C.H.T. Club (“Youth and Christ Helping Together”) held their final Fun Night April 28 at Naples Beach. Students attended Mass at St. Ann Parish before enjoying a beautiful sunset in memory of Shelley Raley, with Sister Katie Flanagan, FMA, and teacher Laura Roszkowski. Ralley, who passed away in 2018 was the group moderator and each of the club members had sunflowers in her honor. The YACHT Club is an instrumental component of the Campus Ministry Program. The mission of the club is to invite all students to the fullness of Christ’s love through service to others. Students plan and implement retreats, prayers services, liturgies and other events/services. They also take “cruises” to perform service in the community.
Neumann Track relay places 2nd at States
The St. John Neumann Catholic High School boys track 4×100 relay team was the FHSAA 1A State Runnerup May 4 during the Track and Field Championships at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. The Naples relay team placed second with a school record-breaking time of 42.23. The runners were Daniel DeSantis, Justin Mathieu, JP Raiger and Alex Myrin. No long after, Mathieu later placed second in the 1A Long Jump finals. Way to Go Celtics!
Camp Mercy in Sarasota
St. Patrick Parish, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, will be hosting Camp Mercy 2019 for the third year in a row from June 24-28, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.. This service-oriented summer camp is for children ages kindergarten to fifth grade. The cost is $75 for the week and includes a camp t-shirt. Registration is required by June 1. For more information, please call 941-378-1703 ext. 300 or visit www.churchofstpatrick.org/campmercy.
Catholic Center May Crowning
On May 2, the staff of the Diocese of Venice Catholic Center gathered for a May Crowning ceremony led by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. The ceremony included a few songs and a Litany to Our Lady. In the Catholic tradition, May is devoted to Our Lady and many Diocesan parishes and a retreat center are dedicated to Mary.
Teacher, students earn Excellence in Education awards
On April 29, the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Education Awards ceremony took place at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers. The chamber recognized educators and students in 30 Cape Coral elementary, middle and high schools. St. Andrew Catholic School Art teacher, Diana Villadolid, and eighth grader, Jackalyn Flynn, were honored for excellence as educator and student. Villadolid has taught Art at St. Andrew for 15 years. She facilitates the students’ participation in community art events such as those sponsored by the Alliance of the Arts and the Edison Ford Estate. She also serves as the school’s Marketing Director. Jackalyn Flynn will be graduating from St. Andrew Catholic School in May and has won awards for tennis (Cape Coral Parks and Recreation-First Place), soccer (SACS First Place team), art (Alliance of the Arts), and a three-time Sunshine State Luncheon attendee for achieving top levels in reading. She plans to attend Bishop Verot High School. She would enjoy becoming a writer or story editor someday.
Donation to Catholic Charities
The Venice Yacht Club Foundation recently presented a check for $5,000 to support the Family Haven of Catholic Charities which helps families in South Sarasota County transition from being homeless to finding more permanent housing.
Ave Maria University graduation
Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass for the Ave Maria University graduating class on May 3 in Ave Maria. The Bishop encourages the graduates to carry Christ with them always beyond college and into the next phase in their lives. Having the Lord by their side will give them the strength to overcome any obstacle they may face in the future.
VBS in Fort Myers June 24-28
St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers is hosting the “ROAR! Totally Catholic Vacation Bible School from June 24-28. It is a week of fun, games, snacks, crafts, and learning more about our faith! The cost is $30 per child, or $70 per family. Registration forms are found at www.stfrancisfm.org. Please all 239-246-2635 for more details. Register early as space is limited and VBS usually fills up!
The Christian Chamber of Southwest Florida has honored Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School teacher Joyce Kiegher with its “Golden Halo Award” during an April 5 gathering in Naples.
Kiegher won the Grade 3-5 category and to mark the occasion she received a special congratulations at the school in Venice during the April 11 morning assembly and prayer service.
Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School Principal MC Heffner described 3rd Grade Teacher Kiegher as someone who embodies Catholic Education in everything she does, by giving all of herself to her students each day.
Heffner presented Kiegher with a vase of flowers and a pair of students shared a banner saying “Congratulations” with a golden halo mounted on top, as the entire student body applauded and cheered.
“This is just so incredible,” Kiegher said. “I do what everyone else does – I care about my students. They are my children.”
She noted that she started her teaching career in public schools but that didn’t last long. “I found a beautiful home in Catholic Schools and here at Epiphany,” Kiegher said. “I feel so blessed to have the opportunity each day to come here and help young minds learn. That is a wonderful gift I have been given.”
Each year since 2007, the Christian Chamber of Southwest Florida honors the very best teachers in Christian education with the “Golden Halo Awards.” The mission of the awards is “Recognizing Christian teachers who educate motivate and Inspire their students.”
The organization has grown over the years and with the inception of the “Golden Halo Awards” has made it possible for teachers in Christian based schools to be recognized for their professionalism, love for teaching, and love of their faith. There are four awards that are presented each year, one for each category for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
The awards process includes nominations, school visits and interviews and references. The Golden Halo Program gives a $1,000 scholarship to the school of each winner.
Also nominated in the same Grade 3-5 category was Michelle Marks of St. Ann Catholic School in Naples. St. Ann teacher Lynn Hoffman, who won the 2018 Grade 3-5 Golden Halo Award, was a feature speaker at the awards banquet.
St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and stepfather of Jesus Christ, serves as an example for us all as he responded to the call of the Lord each time and with his heart and soul.
The Feast of St. Joseph took place on March 19 and Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated two Masses to mark the occasion. The first Mass was at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton where the Bishop told students in the upper grades of the Catholic School that the most important trait of St. Joseph had was his obedience.
“He was willing to listen to the Lord in his life and do what the Lord asked of him,” Bishop Dewane added. “You must listen and strive to do the will of the Lord so that you can be even more Christ-like as you live your faith. You must be humble in your own way so as to do – not always what you want – but to do what the Lord asks.”
Later in the day, the Bishop celebrated the Mass in Italian at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Organized by the Italian-American Club of Venice, the Mass was followed by a procession, with an escort of a statue of St. Joseph with the Knights of Columbus Color Corps in the lead, to the Parish Hall.
There, Bishop Dewane blessed a St. Joseph’s Table which was piled with bread made by members of the Italian-American Club of Venice. A celebration followed with many personally thanking the Bishop and other priests present, including presenting them with loaves of bread, for their participation in the Feast Day Mass.
The tradition of the “St. Joseph Table” of food (“la tavala di San Giuseppe”) has its origins in Sicily as part of a Middle Ages celebration of the ending of a drought where food – bread in particular – is brought to be shared among the townsfolk.
Bishop serves as Grand Marshal to Marco St. Patrick’s Parade
Bishop Frank J. Dewane served as the Grand Marshal for the 2019 Marco Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 3. The parade included a variety of floats and various musical performers including the St. John Neuman Catholic High School Band from Naples.
Parish celebrates 20 years
Our Lady of the Angels Parish Lakewood Ranch celebrated their 20th anniversary with a Mass and party on Feb. 24. Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the principal celebrant for the Mass with current, past and neighboring priests concelebrating. It was noted that the faith community, which has been in a new parish church for about a year, has grown thanks to the efforts of the priests and of the strong support of the people who make Our Lady of the Angels what it is today.
Order of Malta retreat brings in Archbishop
Archbishop Jerome Listecki, of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, was the retreat master for an Order of Malta retreat in Naples from March 1-3. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the knights and dames of the order on March 1 at St. Ann Parish and was joined by Archbishop Listecki.
St. Andrew student saves father, receives “Do The Right Thing Award”
Kendall Sullivan, a seventh grader at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, was recently honored at the Cape Coral “Do The Right Thing” Awards. She was recognized for her fast thinking and calm demeanor in a very stressful situation when her father had a medical emergency while driving here and a her younger sister to school. After a minor traffic accident, the quick-thinking student was able to remove the keys from the ignition and turn off the car. She then explain to bystanders and emergency medical personnel about her father’s medical history which was credited with helping him make a full recovery. She was presented the ‘Do the Right Thing Award” for being able to prevent injury to her family and others on the road all while putting her fear aside.
Two Diocesan teams going to state Odyssey of the Mind competition
The St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton and St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral both qualified teams for the state Odyssey of the Mind competition at the University of Central Florida in April! The teams did well in regional qualifiers on March 2 competing against more than 100 schools from across the area. Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem-solving program where teams work together to solve complex problems.
Parish holds annual Gala
St. Jude Parish in Sarasota held their annual Gala Feb. 15 at Michael’s on East. The theme of the evening was “One World, One Family,” and in addition to fine dining, there was dancing, photo booth, raffles and live auction, including for Father Celestin Gutierrez’s famous paella dinner.
Epiphany Cathedral students participate in Kids Heart Challenge
Students at Epiphany Cathedral School know that February celebrates St. Valentine and is American Heart Month by participating in the Kids Heart Challenge which educates them on how their heart works, ways to stay healthy and how to make a difference in the lives of others. American Heart Association Youth Marketing Director, Emily Helter visited the Venice to the school on Valentine’s Day to speak with the 2nd & 3rd grade class about the fundraiser and ways to stay heart healthy. This year the student’s goal is to raise $5,000 with the school raising $8,000 in the past two years. The Kid’s Heart Challenge fundraiser culminated with a school-wide event with jumping rope, hula hooping, dance and many fun activities designed to illustrate that being active is both fun and life-saving.
St. Charles Catholic School in Port Charlotte has many reasons to celebrate. In late 2018, after three years of preparing for the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) accreditation, they were honored with achieving STREAM certification from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCC) and the National Council for Private School Education.
St. Charles is one of a limited number of schools in the state of Florida to receive this prestigious honor and only the second in the Diocese of Venice after St. Mary Academy in Sarasota received the distinction in October.
Principal Tonya Peters thanked her teachers and all of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School community for all their hard work to make this happen!
Such a designation is the culmination of years of preparation and professional commitment to this initiative. The FCC then validates the schools’ unique ability to provide a balanced educational experience designed to prepare our students for the future while remaining grounded in our Catholic identity.
A STREAM education is the collaborative blending of six concepts (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) through the platform of the Catholic Faith in an exploratory and inquiry-based learning environment. STREAM schools integrate Catholic identity into every aspect of the curriculum and promote a culture of innovation.
The schools that integrate a STREAM curriculum are “think forward” institutions and place a high priority on educator training, learning leadership, and 21st Century skill applications, educating students for their future, make learning relevant, and emphasize interdisciplinary connections.
We need to train students to be ready for the jobs and leaders of tomorrow in this ever-changing world,” Principal Peters said. “Many jobs that exist today will not be around in a few years, and there will be jobs created that we do not have today!”
STREAM engages students with critical thinking, team building, problem solving, critique, inquiry, and innovation and is an integrated approach to learning connecting standards, assessments, and lesson design/implementation.
True STREAM experiences involve two or more standards from Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Math and the Arts to be taught and assessed. Inquiry, collaboration, problem-solving, team building, and an emphasis on process-based learning are the STREAM approach.
“Religion, the “R,” is the foundation that keeps God-centered in all that we do as we dive deeper into learning about our faith,” Principal Peters explained.
If you would like more information about St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School, please call the office 941-625-5533 or email email@example.com. Can’t make the open house? Contact us any time for a tour.
Nicole Loseto has dedicated her life to Catholic Education. Her latest opportunity has taken her to be the new Principal at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring. She was introduced to the school community on Dec. 12 after a Mass celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Father Jose Gonzalez, Pastor of St. Catherine Parish, noted that Loseto is a perfect fit for the position at the fast-growing school which opened in 2008 and is the only Catholic School in the Eastern Deanery. “God has sent us the right person for the right time.”
Loseto comes to St. Catherine’s from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice where she served as Assistant Principal and teacher.
A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, she also holds two Masters’ degrees – one from Touro College in New York (Education and Special Education) and a second from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio (Educational Leadership).
She has 16 years of educational experience having served as a teacher, director and now in her most recent assignment at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School where she will continue to assist the staff through this transitional period for both schools.
Diocese Director of Education Dr. Ben Moore, who made the announcement to the students, faculty and staff, said Loseto is dedicated to maintaining a positive and inclusive school environment where all students and staff feel supported and respected.
“She has proven to be a collaborative leader and has worked with a variety of individuals and teams to ensure that all programs are of high quality,” Dr. Moore added. “I am confident Mrs. Loseto will lead St. Catherine Catholic School to a bright and hopeful future.”
Having worked in banking and finance for 10 years, Loseto explained that she found her true calling in education and most specifically working in Catholic Schools in New York City.
“I heard of the need here at St. Catherine’s, and once I walked through the doors I knew this was the place I wanted to be,” she said. “My job is to work to make positive changes in the school and community going forward.”
The main goal for Loseto is to help the students develop a loving relationship with God and to be faithful members of the community while also providing a nurturing and safe environment for the children.”
“The priority it is to improve the quality of education, to help each student achieve their own academic excellence,” Loseto added. “This is to prepare our students for a lifetime of success.”
These goals will take time and teamwork, Loseto added, not just from the faculty and staff, but from the entire school community. “I know we can do this together.”
Sister Roberta Schmidt, CSJ, former Diocese of Venice Director of Education, died Jan. 2, 2019 at the de Greef Hospice House in St. Louis. Mo. She was 90.
Sister Roberta, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Louis, Mo., had a 56-year career in education and taught at all levels of Catholic education from elementary school through college and lived her life as a committed witness to the social teachings of the Church and the role of education and formation. She worked in the Diocese of Venice as Director of Education from 1993 through 2008. Perhaps she is best known for her participation in two Civil Rights Marches in the 1960s and for her commitment to social justice issues.
This humble woman said as she neared her 2008 retirement: “It is all about doing the mission of Jesus, which is, living Gospel values, respecting the dignity of people, forming relationships, being a witness to the social teachings of the Church.”
Born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1928, Sister Robert entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet on Sept. 15, 1949, and was received into the novitiate as Sister Ernest Maria on March 19, 1950. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Teresa (now Avila University), and her master’s degree and doctorate from St. Louis University. Prior to coming to the Diocese of Venice, Sister Roberta served in the Archdiocese of Atlanta as Secretary of Education. Previously, she held administrative positions in higher education in the Archdioceses of San Antonio and St. Louis as well as the Diocese of Birmingham. She also taught elementary, secondary and collegiate levels in the archdiocese of St. Louis.
In March 1965, she and two others from her religious order travelled to Selma, Ala., to join hundreds of protesters who responded to a direct appeal to clergy from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and were seeking voting rights for African-Americans in the South. To voice their support the trio joined in marches from Brown Chapel to the courthouse for several days. The sisters were the subject of a Civil Rights documentary and in 2015 the religious women received honorary Doctorates of Human Letters from Avila University (formerly known as the College of St. Teresa), Sister Roberta’s Alma Mater, for their contributions at Selma and to the global community.
“Our role was one of witness,” Sister Roberta said in 2015, the 50th Anniversary of the March. “I was so pleased that they decided to include women as part of that group.”
Under the guidance of Sister Roberta, the Diocese added the Institute for Pastoral Studies and Formation, which offers advanced degrees in theology; St. Mary’s Academy in Sarasota for students with learning disabilities; expanded adult faith formation programs; and St. Catherine Catholic School, the first Catholic School in the Eastern Deanery.
Following her 2008 retirement, Sister Roberta lived peacefully in Venice before moving to St. Louis in 2017 to live at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet motherhouse.
A Memorial Mass will be held Friday, Jan. 11 at 10:30 a.m. at Nazareth Living Center, 2 Nazareth Lane, St. Louis, MO 63129.