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.
The Word brought Light into the darkness – Christmas brings the Light of Christ into the world, providing comfort and courage.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Midnight Mass at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice where the Gospel of Luke (2: 1-14), speaks in recognition of Christ and the birth of Our Savior that is still celebrated in the Church more than 2,000 years later.
The Gospel is broken into two important parts, Bishop Dewane explained. The first part sets the time and place when the birth took place, namely in Bethlehem at the time of the census called for by Caesar Augustus.
“This is not just some event that happened at some vague time that is debated,” the Bishop added. The Birth of Christ happened and can be recorded to that specific place and time. This is an historical event!”
This is stressed here as well as in the other Gospels related to the Birth of Christ so as to establish the voracity of the event; so there is no debate or confusion when the story is retold.
The second part of the Gospel is about the shepherds who were given a call to be witnesses to the Birth of Jesus Christ. From them we learn about the simplicity of Jesus being born in the manger to Mary and Joseph and why there was no room at the inn.
“The shepherds are told, ‘do not be afraid,’” Bishop Dewane said. “This message is for all of us. As the shepherds were called to proclaim the Good News of the Lord, so too are we called to take that message into our heart. Let this message provide comfort and courage as we move forward this Christmas Season.”
The Bishop also celebrated the Christmas Televised Mass for the Homebound from Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, and asked everyone to prayer during the Christmas Season for the homebound and those who are alone or might be incarcerated.
Throughout the Diocese of Venice, the Christmas Season was celebrated in a variety of ways. Parishes had Angel Trees from which parishioners could buy gifts for those in need in the community and for Catholic Charities programs. Several Parishes also had a Living Nativity, complete with live animals. The largest of these was a St. Agnes Parish in Naples and included a town laid out in the Parish Hall parking lot and actors portraying key figures in the Nativity Story.
Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese contributed huge numbers of gifts to other children in the region. In addition, many held holiday pageants and concerts with nativity plays a common theme. Children also made gingerbread houses, caroled at nursing homes and others brought holiday cheer to those with disabilities.
For the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary several Pro-Life activities took place.
First, Bishop Frank J. Dewane led the praying of the Rosary at a prayer vigil in Fort Myers and that day many Parishes held National Night of Prayer for Life observances.
More than 150 people participated in a prayerful procession and praying of the Rosary in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion center in Fort Myers, found at the intersection of College Parkway and Winkler Road.
Students from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers carried a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the procession from a nearby parking lot to the shopping plaza where the abortion facility is located. Members of the Knights of Columbus Color Corps escorted the students and the statue.
Paul Muri, who helped organize the procession and prayer vigil, said it is important to gather in honor of Our Lady on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary while seeking to create a culture of life. The Solemnity pertains to the conception of the Virgin Mary in the womb of Her mother St. Anne, wherein she (Mary) was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin by God’s grace in view of the merits of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Dewane led everyone in the reciting of the Rosary, with Ashley La Mar providing the descriptions of each Joyful Mystery.
Following the Rosary, the Bishop thanked everyone for participating in the prayer vigil.
“We are called to take time in the Advent season to prepare ourselves for Christmas and the coming of Our Lord,” Bishop Dewane said. “You have certainly given a demonstration of that today. Keep up the good work! God bless you!”
National Night of Prayer for Life
The annual National Night of Prayer for Life took place on the evening of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8). At several parishes within the Diocese of Venice, the faithful joined in prayer with Catholics throughout the country in an effort to bring the world back to Christ and to bring about an end to abortion so as to restore life, liberty, faith and peace.
San Pedro Parish in North Port, St. Agnes Parish in Naples, and San Marco Parish in Marco Island participated in the entire vigil, which began the evening at 9 p.m. and continued until 1 a.m. The evening spanned the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8 and continued into the anniversary of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s first apparition to St. Juan Diego on Dec. 9. It was in 1531, that Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and the Unborn, first appeared to St. Juan Diego and shared Her message of life.
Prayer services typically consisted of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the Rosary and other vocal prayers, intercessions, silent meditation and Benediction. Prayers were offered to end abortion and all offenses against the dignity of the human person, to make reparation for these sins and for the healing of those who are suffering. The goal of the National Night of Prayer for Life is intended to help build the culture of life and civilization of love in our nation.
The prayer vigil was designed to unite the two days which pronounce this important message of life from Our Lady. The Hour of Unity was at midnight in Florida. The overriding intent of the evening was to have the faithful across the United States be joined in prayer to end abortion as well as to restore God’s blessings of life and religious liberty in America.
Other Parishes held prayer services throughout Dec. 8, typically following the Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
At St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, Pastor Father Dennis Cooney stressed the importance to continue to pray for a culture of life. Members of the Youth Group led the praying of the rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
To commemorate the 46th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which paved the way for legalized abortion in the U.S., a Mass will be celebrated at 8:30 a.m., Jan. 22 at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave., for a greater respect for life. The Mass will be followed by a peaceful Prayer Walk for Life at the nearby Planned Parenthood abortion facility at 736 Central Ave. For more information about Respect Life activities within the Diocese of Venice please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-441-1101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was on Nov. 28 when Epiphany Cathedral was illuminated in red as a sign of unity with persecuted Christians around the world. This was done as part of the annual “Courage in Red” campaign which was to bring attention to plight of our suffering brothers and sisters more dramatically to the attention of faithful. It is reported that are almost 300 million Christians, or 1 in 7, live in a country of persecution, subject to violence, arrest, and human rights violations.
While the one-day “Courage in Red” event was important in spreading the word about the plight of those who suffered for living their faith, the Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools carried that message further. In addition to wearing red on Nov. 28, each school held a held prayer services and/or prayed the rosary for persecuted Christians.
In addition, elementary schools used the “Courage in Red” initiative as the opportunity to teach about the early Christians martyrs. At St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, the students learned about various martyrs and held special prayer vigils throughout the day.
Meanwhile, at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota, students created posters about Christian martyrs which included a short biography and later presented what they learned to the school. The school Mass on Nov. 20 was in held in honor of persecuted Christians.
Students at Incarnation and St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota wrote letters to children in the Holy Land which can be seen in the images below, these letters will be mailed to Aid to the Church in Need, the organizers of the “Courage in red” initative.
One letter read: “Dear children, We are first graders in America. We want to say hello and Merry Christmas to you. We pray for your peace and hope that someday, you can practice your faith freely. Sending blessings to you. From your Friends.” The letters also included drawings of doves and peace symbols as well a Child’s prayer for peace.
The Diocesan high school students also watched the new documentary “Christians in the Mirror” which compares and contrasts the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and Africa in contrast to other Christian Churches which live in relative peace.
St. John Neumann Catholic High School students in Naples were asked to write down their initial thoughts on the documentary.
One students wrote: “Everything in movie really stood out to me. I have always known about Christian persecution, but I have never really understood how bad it truly is. One thing that stood out to me in particular was how everyone responded to the hurting.”
Another added: “One specific part of the “Christians in The Mirror” that struck me is that many are happy and grateful. Something that stood out to me is that even though people had their homes destroyed, they are still happy. They are happy because they have Jesus in their lives and they are still alive.”
Still another perspective, “What gave me hope was those survivors. I’m going to embrace my faith and not let anyone tell me I can’t be Catholic or believe in Jesus.”
Lastly, “The video made me think a lot; about my life and how much I take for granted when there are so many people scared for their lives while our generation is scared that their post won’t get enough likes. I’m very privileged to be where I am, to be in this school, and to have a family to go home to everyday.”
The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound with Bishop Frank J. Dewane as Celebrant will air for a full hour on Christmas Day. For viewers in the northern portions of the Diocese (DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Sarasota counties), the Mass airs at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass airs at 8:00 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). Please check your cable provider for channel listings. Leaflet missals are available upon request by calling 941-486-4714 or by writing: TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. For more information, contact Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714 or email email@example.com.
2018 Christmas Appeal
Catholic Charities launches the annual Christmas Appeal during December 2018 and January 2019. The goal is to raise $565,000 and your gifts are much appreciated! The Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is the agency’s largest fundraiser and critical to operating the social service organization. Your donation will benefit Catholic Charities programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida that assist individuals, families, and seniors all year long. Thank you for your giving spirit! To donate please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org or mail a donation to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB #409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065. For more information, please call 941-488-5581.
Bishop Blesses Christmas Tree
During the first week of Advent, Bishop Frank J. Dewane blessed the Catholic Center Christmas Tree Dec. 6 during a prayer service with the employees of the Catholic Center in Venice. The tree was then decorated and various holiday treats were offered.
Mass at Dawn continues through Dec. 23
Following the Filipino tradition, several parishes have hosted all or part of the so-called Mass at Dawn (Simbang Gabi). This novena of Masses in celebrated preparation for Christmas. In the Diocese, the full novena was available at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Port Charlotte and began Dec. 15. Three Diocesan Filipino priests celebrated the opening Mass. Additional one-day Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo opportunities took place Dec. 16 at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral, as well as Dec. 21 at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs. Although this tradition is not exclusive to Filipinos, its observance is very much highlighted and distinctive of the Philippine Catholic culture.
Mass Celebrating Haitian Independence Jan. 1
Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites everyone to participate in the Annual Mass celebrating Haitian Independence at 2 p.m., New Year’s Day, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The Mass, which is on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, brings together the various Haitian communities within the Diocese of Venice for one celebration. Most Rev. Désinord Jean, Diocese of Hinche, Haiti, will be the Principal Celebrant and Homilist. There is a reception after the Mass in the Parish Hall.
“Lord Teach Me To Pray” Series begins Jan. 8
Are you longing for a deeper relationship with Jesus? If so, the “Lord Teach Me To Pray” prayer series rooted in Ignatian spirituality is for you. The first part of the three-part series, “Praying Christian Virtues,” is being offered for women for 12 weeks beginning Tuesday, January 8, at St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota. For more details, please email Veronica at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fashion Show Jan. 12
All are invited to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center at 1 p.m. Jan 12, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice, for an afternoon of fashion, food and fun. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. with an opportunity to bid on auction items. Lunch will be a Caesar Salad with your choice of salmon of chicken. Great Christmas gift! For more information or to buy tickets please visit www.olph-retreat.org or call 941-486-0233 ext. 3002.
Couples Date Night Jan. 15 and 17
The Office of Family Life is hosting two Parenting workshops. Catholic Parenting is challenging! Learn specific tips and tricks that helped hundreds of families thrive! Jim and Maureen Otremba have been presenting for over 20 years and have given presentations to Parishes and Diocese around the country. The workshops are 6 p.m., Jan. 15 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers, and from 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at Our Lady of the Angels Parish, 12905 E. State Road 70, Lakewood Ranch. The cost is $25 for materials. Registration is needed. Pizza dinner and drinks will be provided. Our Lady of the Angels will have babysitting available. For more information and registration go to www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar.
Spirituality of Retirement workshop Jan. 16
The Office of Family Life is hosting a workshop at 1 p.m., Jan. 16, at St. William Parish Ministry Hall, 750 Seagate Drive, Naples. The Universal Call to Holiness invites us to “the fullness of the Christian life and the perfection of charity” (Lumen Gentium). For Catholics in their retirement years, this invitation takes on new joys and challenges as their wisdom increases and defining life characteristics such as career, mobility, and relationships undergo transition. This workshop provides strategies for retired Catholics to enrich their identity as cherished members of the Body of Christ. Rooted in our baptismal call to holiness and drawing on the riches of the Eucharist, the presentation incorporates current research on brain biology, generativity, and wellness. Participants will gain an enhanced knowledge of the gift they are to the Body of Christ along with ways to share their gifts with their faith community. Suggested donation at the door. Please register by Jan. 14 either online at www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar or call St. William at 239-261-4883.
Faith and Ale Lee County Jan. 17
Faith and Ale is an outreach for men to learn more about their faith and grow closer to Our Lord. The next gathering is 6:00 p.m. Thursday, January 17, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. The speaker is David Casper, a retired Hall of Fame American football player. Locations will vary throughout the 2018-19 season. To register, or for more information, please visit www.faithandale.com.
Blue Mass in Naples Jan. 26
St. Agnes Catholic Church, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples will celebrate a Blue Mass in honor of Law Enforcement and First Responders, Active and Retired on Saturday, January 26, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. This year’s guest homilist will be Deacon Bob Montelongo of the Chicago Police Department. Please join us as we honor their sacrifice and service to our community. A luncheon will immediately follow in the Parish Hall. Please RSVP at 239-592-1949 for the reception.
Mooney Lady Cougar Weightlifting team debuts
The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Lady Cougar Weightlifting Team made its debut in November. This new Sarasota team consists of 15 inaugural participants and will be competing against teams at competitions throughout the region.
Making gingerbread houses
The Bishop Verot Catholic High School National Honor Society welcomed second and third graders to the Fort Myers campus Dec. 6 from St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers. It was a fun day of creating beautiful Gingerbread Houses and Christmas Cookies, and a little snacking too.
Bringing music for weary travelers
String musicians from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice entertained weary travelers at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Dec. 4 with a holiday concert. Musicians from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota also had their own holiday concert a few days later. Great job everyone.
Epiphany Cathedral in Venice was illuminated in red as the Diocese participated in the “Courage in Red” initiative to shine the light on the plight of persecuted Christians.
In addition to the illuminating of the Cathedral on Nov. 28, a variety of activities took place throughout the Diocese in support of the “Courage in Red” initiative. The activities are part of a worldwide “Courage in Red” campaign by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the international papal charity that provides pastoral and humanitarian aid to persecuted Christian communities.
Edward Clancy, ACN U.S. director of outreach, said that “hundreds of thousands of Christians suffer various forms of persecution each year – from horrific brutality in North Korea to systemic, if more subtle, oppression in countries like India.”
The “Courage in Red” campaign is designed to bring the plight of our suffering brothers and sisters more dramatically to the attention of faithful in the U.S, Clancy explained. “Hopefully, greater awareness will lead to greater action,” Clancy added.
In a recent report by Aid to the Church in Need on Religious Freedom, it found that some 61 percent of the world’s population live in countries where religious freedom is not respected. Among them are almost 300 million Christians, or 1 in 7, who live in a country of persecution, subject to violence, arrest, and human rights violations.
On Nov. 28, Diocesan Catholic school students wore red in solidarity with persecuted Christians and participated in age-appropriate activities to learn about their plight. Several schools held prayer services focusing on the suffering and martyred Church throughout the world.
High school students also watched the new documentary “Christians in the Mirror” which compares and contrasts the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and Africa in contrast to other Christian Churches which live in relative peace.
At St. Ann Catholic School in Naples, the morning prayer included students placing their prayers for persecuted Christians in a prayer box.
The students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School all wore red and went out onto the football field to stand united at the center of the field and then to form the letters V-E-R-O-T.
Every student at St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary’s Academy in Sarasota wore a red uniform shirt and a red ribbon in honor of those being persecuted for their faith. Each student also created a card of support for persecuted Christian children and will send them to those in the Holy Land. Every one of the classes prayed one decade of the Rosary in chapel during that week for countries where Christians are being persecuted.
An evening prayer vigil was held at Epiphany Cathedral which included prayers, Adoration and Benediction. Led by Father James Shea, he spoke about how the persecution of Christians started with Jesus Christ, who suffered and died on the Cross.
“Christ was the first martyr of what would become many through the years, leading up to today where people are dying for their faith each day,” Father Shea said. “Those being persecuted feel forgotten by the West. Because it’s not happening here, we don’t pay attention. We Christians should pay attention. We need to be more prayerful each and every day; praying for our brothers and sisters in other nations who are being persecuted and standing together with them in their struggle.”
A 17-year-old devout Catholic Bishop Verot Catholic High School Senior from Bonita Springs who is the Captain of the A-Team (Quiz Bowl) and Lady Viking Golf Team as well as the 2018 Jeopardy! Teen Tournament Champion. Who is Claire Sattler?
“It still absolutely feels like I’m dreaming,” Claire said of her winning the $100,000 grand prize in the two-day final which aired on Nov. 19-20. “I really had no expectations to make it onto the show, let alone make it to the finals and win the whole thing, so this is completely surreal to me.”
Claire goes to St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples and said her faith is an important part of her identity which has helped her develop both personally and academically.
The entire Teen Tournament was filmed in August in Culver City, California, after she went through several layers of testing to qualify for the Tournament. This meant Claire wasn’t allowed to tell anyone how she did until after the episodes aired.
Not being able to tell her friends was a challenge for Claire, but Bishop Verot celebrated her participation in style by holding viewing parties each night she appeared on the show. Her first appearance in the Teen Tournament was during a preliminary round at which time each of the 15 contestants appears. Claire finished second but had fortunately earned enough money to qualify for the semi-finals as a wild card. Thankfully math is a strong point for Claire as she took her semi-final round by $1.
“My goal was to reach the semifinals, but when I got there I was up against the top money earner from the first round,” Claire explained. “I was so nervous that my hands were shaking. I needed to calm myself, so I said a serenity prayer. It worked, and I relaxed.”
In the final Claire was still nervous but also had more confidence and felt there was nothing to lose. Having racked up $21,800 the first day and $16,400 the second, when the Final Jeopardy! question of the tournament Claire was far enough ahead that she wagered $0, having already doubled her closest competitor. Good thing, because unlike many of the previous questions, Claire did not know the answer. That was okay for Claire said “it was such an amazing experience.”
During the tournament, host Alex Trebek asks a variety of questions, so people get to learn something about the contestants. On the final day, the three finalists could say whatever they wanted. Claire tried to thank as many people as possible including her family, friends and teachers who have influenced her throughout the years. Among those she specifically thanked was her Verot Quiz Bowl Coach and Math Teacher Lori Shriner who was a guest in the audience at the Jeopardy! taping.
Claire attended Royal Palm Academy, a school affiliated with the Diocese of Venice, in Naples before enrolling at Bishop Verot. She credits the influence of teachers from middle school going forward to being supportive of her passion for trivia and for math and engineering. In addition to the A-Team and Golf Team, Claire is active in several other clubs including drama, art and the STREAM Team (science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math).
With plans to major in biomedical engineering in college next year to possibly work on prosthetics technology, most of her winnings will go toward her continuing education. The winning check, minus California state taxes, arrived shortly before the Finals aired. A portion of the money will also go to support a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) organization she founded. STEM4students provides STEM educational opportunities to children in Immokalee.
During the show, the contestants were only allowed to wear one item on their clothing and no mention of their school was ever made. Claire chose to wear a Bishop Verot pin with the school shield and a neckless given to her in eighth grade as a good luck charm.
“It helped having a piece of Bishop Verot with me, knowing all of the support I had back home,” Claire explained.
While taping the show, she made many new friends from across the country and has remained in close touch through group chats. “We are all very close,” Claire explained. “It has been a help because they each went through the same experience.”
That help has been appreciated as comments from strangers on social media about the show have not all been kind. “That was something I had heard about and thought I was prepared for, but when you experience that for real, it has been challenging.”
That challenge did not ruin the overall experience and Claire would not change anything. “I realize comments from people who don’t know me are not what’s important. The show does not reflect who I am or define me in any way. The experience has helped me gain confidence in who I am as a person and that is what is important.”
The Fall sports season has come to an end and many athletes and teams from Diocesan Catholic High Schools did themselves proud with the performances on the court, in the pool and on the field.
The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Lady Cougar Volleyball Team fell on Nov. 15 in the 5A State Final to Trinity Catholic High School of Ocala, three sets to two. The Lady Cougars finished their season with a record of 25-8.
Madeline Burt, a student at St. John Neumann Catholic High School, swam her way to two medals at the Nov. 16 Class 1A State Championships at Sailfish Splash Park and Aquatics Center in Stuart. Burt took silver in the 100-yards butterfly with a time of 54.10, and bronze in the 50-yards freestyle in a time of 23.37. Way to go Madeline! Both times were good enough for All-American consideration.
The St. John Neumann Celtic Football Team fell in the Regional Final of Class 2A to Champagnat Catholic High School of Hialeah, the defending State Champions, with the final score of 21-10. The Celtics finished the season with a record of 10-2. This was the farthest any Neumann football team has ever advanced.
The Bishop Verot Catholic High School Viking Football Team also fell in the Regional Final for Class 4A on Nov. 23 to Cocoa High School with the final score of 38-14. The Vikings finished the season with a record of 9-3.
The Thanksgiving holiday brings people together for a meal with the opportunity to thank the Lord for all that has been provided during the past year.
While Thanksgiving is typically a celebration of the family, many take the opportunity to help those in need, whether it is through bags of food or offering a hot meal, the outreach throughout the Diocese is impressive.
Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee and the Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center in Naples both offered baskets of food to hundreds of needy families. This included food that would not only be used for the holiday itself but could feed a family of four for up to a week.
One mother, who received a gift basket from the Judy Sullivan Center, noted that the food was much appreciated as it would allow her to provide a special meal for her two children at Thanksgiving. “I’m just so grateful to everyone who provided the food. It means so much to my children too.”
At St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, volunteers handed out more than 1,200 bags of food in three days. Meanwhile, the Young Vincentians from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota delivered more than 1,000 pounds of food to Bethesda House, a Catholic Charities program for people impacted by HIV/AIDS. At St. Columbkille Parish in Fort Myers, more than 120 turkeys and other items were donated to St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston and St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Moore Haven.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane was in Sarasota on Thanksgiving Day when he joined the Knights of Columbus Council 3358 for the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for the community. The Bishop gave the opening blessing and helped on the food line. This annual event is in its third decade and this year provided about 600 hot meals for many people who have nowhere else to go on Thanksgiving. An additional 200 meals were delivered to the homeless in the area. Earlier, Bishop Dewane celebrated Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch.
In Immokalee, the faithful of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples offered “Thanksgiving in the Park” which provided more than 2,000 meals. More than 100 volunteers helped prepare the meal and then serve the food on Thanksgiving Day.
Several other parishes had Thanksgiving dinner for the faithful, including at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples which served about 300.
These were just a few examples of what took place throughout the Diocese of Venice Thanksgiving week.