Diocesan Catholic Schools to participate in Healing Novena

For nine school days, all the grade school students, teachers and administrators in the Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools will be praying a Novena for Healing. The novena begins May 11, 2021 and will conclude on May 21.

This novena will seek the intercessions of Venerable Antonietta Meo, a 6-year-old from Rome known by the nickname “Nennolina.” She also is the youngest person in the history of the Church to have a beatification process opened.

“We will be over 4,000 strong praying this novena,” wrote Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, in a letter to parents and guardians.

As part of the letter about the novena, Father Belmonte requested that families submit the names of students, especially those with serious illnesses, for whom the novena will be prayed. Of course, other family members and friends can go on the list as well.

Once the names are compiled, Father Belmonte will submit them to Father Gino Amicarelli, the Pastor at the Basilica of Santa Croce in Rome, where Venerable Antonietta Meo went to the Catholic school and is buried.

“Father Amicarelli graciously agreed to place the list of names at the tomb of ‘Nennolina’ for us,” Father Belmonte wrote. The letter also included an attached prayer booklet for the families which included the novena as well as a detailed background on the life of “Nennolina,” These booklets will be distributed to each student for use in the classroom.

“I know that the people for whom we will pray, their families and our schools will find great spiritual benefit in this novena. May Venerable Antonietta Meo intercede for all of us, especially those children and their families who ask for healing,” the letter from Father Belmonte concluded.

Born in Rome on December 15, 1930, “Nennolina” attended her early schooling with religious sisters and during this time developed an osteosarcoma and her left leg had to be amputated. At that young age she had a concept of the value of suffering that was incomprehensible without the grace of God. She attended elementary school with a prosthesis that bothered her greatly. However, she offered it all to Jesus, “May each step that I take be a little word of love.” Tumors spread throughout her body and both the illness itself and the treatments intended to heal her caused her great pain.

She liked to attend school and catechism class; she wrote to Jesus, “I go enthusiastically, because I learn so many beautiful things about You and Your saints.” Having not yet reached the age of seven, she died in the midst of terrible pain on July 3, 1937. On December 17, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI declared Antonietta Meo, “Venerable.” Her life has been a witness of sanctity for children who suffer.

Prayer to obtain graces through the intercession of Venerable Antonietta Meo

O God, Father of the humble, we thank You because with Antonietta Meo You gave us the gift of a living image of Your Love and Wisdom, revealed to the young. You, who gave her the grace of being joined to the Cross of Our Lord Jesus and of suffering with fortitude and joy, make her glorious even now on earth, so that everyone can look to her as a shining example of loyalty to the Gospel. Grant us her simple and passionate love for the Eucharist and the Church; draw near to us in our need and, by her intercession, according to Your Holy Will, give us the grace which we request in faith.

WE HUMBLY REQUEST HEALING FOR… (PLEASE ADD THE NAMES OF THOSE FOR WHOM YOU WANT PRAY). Amen. Conclude with one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be…

Step Up scholarship deadline June 1

The deadline to apply for the Step Up for Students scholarship for students attending Diocese of Venice Catholic schools is fast approaching and income qualifications are more generous than one might think.

The scholarships are worth up to $7,111 for each K-12th-grader and can be used for tuition and fees. The deadline to apply is June 1, 2021.

“It is a free application and could result in a scholarship for your children from now until they graduate high school,” said Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Education. “The scholarships can be used to pay Catholic school tuition and fees. I encourage all families with children in grades K-12 to apply for this scholarship now.”

The benefits of a Catholic education are well documented as 99 percent of graduates go on to higher education, national testing scores are well above average and in the Diocese of Venice the quality education is infused with Catholic values, teachings and traditions.

“The well-rounded education that each student receives is focused on Christ and integrates age-appropriate learning while helping to develop the mind, body and soul,” Father Belmonte said.

An example of the investment of the Diocese into education for all students was the recently announced partnership with FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the leading robotics competition in the world.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane backed the effort to introduce this new, comprehensive STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) initiative, gifting 500 robots and related curricular resources to the Diocesan schools. The forward-thinking effort will enhance the existing STREAM curriculum of the 15 Diocesan schools, placing students ahead of the curve in primary fields while continuing to promote core Catholic virtues. This program will also be incorporating Catholic values and virtues through the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence.”

Thanks to the Step Up for Students scholarships, a Catholic education is more affordable than ever. During the recently concluded Florida legislative session the scholarship program was expanded to make it possible for more families to send their children to the private school they desire.

Please visit www.sufs.org/swflcatholic to apply for the Step Up for a Students scholarship.

Note, to ensure timely processing for a full scholarship, Step Up needs to receive the application and all required documents by June 1. Step Up will continue to accept applications after June 1 but cannot assure those received after that date will be processed in time to receive a full award.

Youth Mental Health workshop informs

Dozens of Parish staff from across the Diocese of Venice recently took part in one of two workshops, learning how to respond to a mental health crisis among youth.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid workshops on April 29, 2021 at St. Agnes Parish in Naples and May 1 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota, were offered through the Diocese Department of Religious Education in an effort to teach those who interact with teens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis.

Barry Groesch, seasonal resident who attends Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda, is a retired law enforcement officer with 30 years of experience who has been teaching Mental Health First Aid to groups for the past decades. The target audience for the Diocesan workshops was priests, deacons, principals, teachers, and catechists.

Groesch said Youth Mental Health First Aid is the help offered to a young person experiencing a mental health challenge, mental disorder or mental health crisis. The first aid given is administered until appropriate help is received or until the crisis resolves. He stressed that Mental Health First Aid does not teach people to diagnose or to provide treatment. Through role-playing, participants worked through various scenarios which addressed some of the situations they might face.

The reality is that most mental health issues are not handled because of the societal stigma that comes with mental illness, Groesch said. He was quick to point out that no two people suffer from the same issues and that the goal is to create a more supportive and understanding environment. This is all done so that when a crisis does occur the signs are recognized and an action plan is in place, lending appropriate support and bridging the gap until professional help can arrive.

John Gulley, Principal of St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers, said he hoped to learn about identifying the symptoms of mental health issues and being more proactive.

Kelli Bonner, Director of Religious Education at St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers, expressed her desire to leave the workshop with the tools necessary to confidently respond when the next crisis occurs.

This was precisely the goal Groesch set forth for the day, teaching participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents. Participants learn to support a youth developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis by applying a core five-step action plan.

That action plan included: assessing for risk of suicide or harm; listening without judgement; giving reassurance and information; encouraging appropriate professional help; and encouraging self-help and other support strategies.

Each workshop participant also received a certificate upon completion of the workshop.

News Briefs for the week of May 7, 2017

Prayer service honor Mary held at Catholic Center

As May is a month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop Frank J. Dewane led a prayer service in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the staff of the Diocese of Venice Catholic Center on May 3, 2021. The prayer service took place in the entrance lobby where a statue of the Blessed Virgin is on display. In addition to prayers, the staff also sang two songs in honor of Our Lady.

Dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass ended May 1

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about their experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass was lifted in the Diocese of Venice beginning May 1, 2021. For a letter from Bishop Dewane and the revised guidelines updating Parish safety protocols which includes the need to continue to wear masks at Mass, as well as at all Diocesan and Parish activities, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/daily-resources/diocese-of-venice-responds-to-novel-coronavirus-covid19/ for English and for Spanish, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/hispanic-apostolate/.

Naples artist does well in county competition

St. John Neumann Catholic High School student Thomas Lund took second prize in the 2021 Collier County High School Art Competition hosted by the Marco Island Center for the Arts announced on April 27, 2021. Lund submitted a drawing of St. Mother Teresa for the competition. Well done.

Outdoor band concert impresses

The 6th grade band and the 7th/8th grade Advanced Band of St. Ann Catholic School in Naples performed an outdoor concert on April 29, 2021. Under the direction of Marjorie Huelsman, the bands played a wide selection of music for family, friends and supporters of the school. Attendees sat in lawn chairs as the evening concert was held on the basketball court and athletic field.

Cheer team wins competition

The Incarnation Catholic School Cheer Team from Sarasota took the National Champion and Grand Champion titles at the Crown Cheer and Dance Small Gym Nationals held May 1, 2021 at the Bradenton Convention Center. With flawless movement on the mat, and ignoring the fact that finding practice time leading up to this competition was a challenge, the team prevailed. Well done ladies!

English Charismatic Renewal Pentecost Celebration in Punta Gorda

The Diocese of Venice English Charismatic Renewal will hold a Pentecost Celebration from 2:30-5 p.m., May 23, 2021 at Sacred Heart Parish, 211 W. Charlotte Ave., Punta Gorda. The event will include praise and worship as well as Mass. No registration is required. For more information, please email info@dvccr.org or contact Renee Mazaron at 419-343-1604.

Diocesan CCW Convention June 4-5

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s 34th Annual Convention, with a theme of “What have you done for the least of my people?” (Matt 25:40), will be June 4 and June 5, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 1301 Center Road, Venice. The cost of the two-day convention is $75, or $65 for one day (lunch included). Each day will include personal development time, dynamic speakers and workshops, as well as providing the opportunity to meet women from around the Diocese along with the President of the Florida Council of Women. For registration information, please contact Bernadette Raftery at 704-968-9580 or raffs2@mindspring.com or Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or pennyln99@aol.com. Please register by May 25.

Stepping into Marriage with Children

Did you know 60 percent of second marriages fail and the failure rate increases to 70 percent when there are children from a previous marriage in the home. The difficulties of parenting and stepparenting, seemingly insurmountable, are often the root cause of such failures. A free half day workshop, organized by the Diocese Office of Family Life, entitled “Stepping into Marriage with Children” is designed for those couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation. This workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 15, 2021 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. This workshop takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools to meet unique challenges. There is no cost to attend but registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/stepping-into-marriage-with-children. For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Year of the Family

On March 19, 2021, the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the joy and beauty of familial love, Pope Francis inaugurated the year “Amoris Laetitia Family” which will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the next World Meeting of Families in Rome. When announced, the Dicastery said in a statement, “The Pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families”. To learn more about the effort and the initiatives occurring in the Diocese of Venice during this commemorative year visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/year-of-the-family/.

8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference

All are invited to the 8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference at Ave Maria University from May 14 to May 16, 2021. Featured speakers will include Dr. Mark Miravalle, John Paul II Chair of Mariology, Franciscan University of Steubenville; Kathleen Beckman L.H.S., author and President of Foundation of Prayer for Priests; Dr. Edward Sri, theologian, author, and co-founding leader of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students); and Roy Shoeman, speaker and author of “Salvation is from the Jews” and “Honey from the Rock.” Please visit www.aveconferences.com to register for this event. Lodging and meals available. For more information call 239-348-4725 or email aveconferences@gmail.com.

Giving back, a fundamental part of Catholic Education

In recent years, there has been a growing trend that schools, both public and private, offer students opportunities to engage in community service. For many, the experience helps to develop important skills such as teamwork and a sense of compassion, even during a Pandemic.

But for Catholic schools, community service is more than an admirable option or a nice addition to one’s college application. Service activities are fundamental to Catholic education and core to Catholic discipleship.

At Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, community service is described as “One of the greatest ways to impact and improve the larger community… Verot’s active service policy holds each student responsible for their role in changing society. Over the course of four years, students must complete a minimum of 100 Service hours centered on ‘hands on’ and direct experience with those in need.”

Principal Suzie O’Grady said it is believed that when students are exposed to the injustices that surmount our society, they can truly identify with the marginalized, and seek change. As Verot’s statement on community service continues, “Our hope is every student will have a life changing experience driving them to continue to serve the greater community beyond their time at Bishop Verot.”

Each year, Verot students complete more than 25,000 community service hours. It is through the concept of service that students learn how much of a difference one person can make, but the difference an entire community can make is overwhelming, O’Grady said.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese of Venice Superintendent of Catholic Education, said at all 15 Catholic schools service to the community is a priority as it is important that all students not only be ranked by their academic successes, but by their engagement with the marginalized of our society.

“This is key to creating a Catholic identity for each Diocesan Catholic school,” Father Belmonte said. “We want our community service policy to plant the seed of Faith and love in all the students, thereby reflecting the love of Christ in their schools and in their community.”

In recent months Bishop Verot students have worked on a number of school-wide efforts including a recent successful Lenten Charity Drive which collected thousands of food items for Catholic Charities and other area organizations. Students also regularly volunteer to help distribute food at the Catholic Charities Elizabeth K. Galeana Food Pantry.

The school also helped prepare PPE (personal protective equipment) packages for the United Way. Packages included hand sanitizer, masks and much more, and will be given to needy families throughout the area.

Two Verot students are currently leading a Freshman Class project to create graduation gift bags for each of The Immokalee Foundation’s 60 graduating seniors, including a book, personalized poster, and fun items to celebrate the milestone in style.

At St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, a service project took a different focus as students created over 300 handmade Easter cards for the residents and workers at the Rehab and Healthcare Center of Cape Coral. Earlier in the year the students partnered with the Catholic Charities Senior Program to provide senior citizens with needed supplies.

For the students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples, the giving is done on a different level as the school remembers well the generosity of others who supported them in 2017, following the destructive Hurricane Irma. Therefore, when the school had a dress down day (a donation allows a student to opt out of wearing the school uniform) in March the $400 collected will go to a Catholic school in Texas impacted by the devastating winter storm.

Of course, these are just a few of the many acts of Christian which take place daily in Diocese of Venice Catholic schools throughout the year.

Father Belmonte said Diocesan students are continuing a long tradition with acts of service in a wide variety of settings so that the love and compassion of Christ may transform our world today.

Students give back

By Deborah Suddarth – Special to the Florida Catholic

With the challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic, students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton have had to social distance physically, but their hearts have remained united in Catholic Social Teachings through works of charity.

With the largest Food Pantry in Manatee County located next to St. Joseph Church, the students are aware of the approximately 125 volunteers who serve their community by distributing food to those in need.  Among these volunteers are some of their parents. Throughout the year students have collected food items and during the colder months donated blankets.

Recently, Sienna Bell, president of the St. Joseph Builders Club, and Connor Longo, president of the St. Joseph K-Kids, decided to join forces to collect items for Blessing Bags for the homeless. They collected items often needed by the homeless who come to the Food Pantry, and for those who are seen on the streets when their families travel through the Manatee County area.

Students and families donated bottles of water, socks, small snacks (granola bars, peanut butter crackers, trail mix), personal sized toiletries, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, gum, small packages of tissues, and disposable razors. K-Kids and Builders Club members safely packaged these items to be distributed to the homeless, under the direction of Kiwanis Club sponsors. The idea of a blessing bag is that it will last the receiver for at least a few days and is packaged by those who care.

K-Kids and Builders Club members take Blessing Bags with them to distribute as they travel with their families. They wanted to have the bags in their cars to be ready if they see someone in need. Bags were also delivered to the St. Joseph Food Pantry for distribution to their homeless clients.

When the students were asked by a food pantry volunteer, “What do you think of when you see a homeless person?”  Connor Longo responded, “First, I feel sad that something has happened to them and they are now on the street.  I also realize that they do not have family and friends to help them.  Some of them may be ill. I know we are all part of God’s family and I want to help them and hope they know that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Deborah Suddarth is the Principal of St. Joseph Catholic School and can be reach at dsuddarth@sjsfl.org.

New Verot Principal announced

The Diocese of Venice Department of Education has announced Suzie O’Grady as principal of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers by Bishop Frank J. Dewane effective April 21, 2021.

O’Grady, who was serving as the interim principal, has a well-established and highly respected reputation as an exemplary educator and successful administrator.

“The promotion of Mrs. O’ Grady to principal of Bishop Verot Catholic High School is well-deserved,” said Bishop Dewane.  “Her dedication and commitment to a Christ-centered Catholic education, and to the students at the school demonstrate the qualities needed in today’s world.”

The distinguished career of O’Grady includes 25 years of experience at Bishop Verot having taught English, World History, and AP European History.  She served as dean for three years and assistant principal for six years.

“Bishop Verot Catholic High School is fortunate to have a leader of the caliber of Suzie O’Grady as its principal. Suzie brings exceptional leadership, exemplary educational experience and strong Catholic values and vision to this important work of the Diocese,” said Rev. John Belmonte, S.J., Superintendent of Catholic Education for the Diocese of Venice.

O’Grady holds a B.A. in English, a master’s in public administration and an educational specialist degree in Educational Leadership. During her tenure, Bishop Verot received recognition as an Apple distinguished school, and O’Grady has also led her team through a rigorous accreditation process conducted by the Florida Catholic Conference this year.

“Bishop Verot has a proud tradition and continues to provide the highest quality Catholic education. I am grateful to Bishop Dewane for this honor and look forward to continuing to serve the Bishop Verot family that I have grown to love and respect,” O’Grady said.

The school was founded in 1962 and has served as a premier Catholic high school in Fort Myers for over five decades. Bishop Verot builds relationships centered on faith, learning, and leadership devoted to educating the whole person, utilizing innovative technologies, empowering students through collaborative experiences, and cultivating a spirit of service while grounded in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

News Briefs for the Week of April 30, 2021

Appointment

After consultation with the Priest Personnel Board, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following appointment: Father Daniel A. Flens, as Parochial Vicar of St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral, effective March 1, 2021.

Dispensation to attend Mass ends effective May 1, 2021

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about their experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will be lifted in the Diocese of Venice beginning May 1, 2021. For a letter from Bishop Dewane and the revised guidelines updating Parish safety protocols which includes the need to continue to wear masks at Mass, as well as at all Diocesan and Parish activities, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/daily-resources/diocese-of-venice-responds-to-novel-coronavirus-covid19/ for English and for Spanish, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/hispanic-apostolate/.

Youth group raises money for Earth Day

The St. Columbkille Parish Youth Group lesson for the week was Catholic Social Justice, and Caring for God’s Creation, and in turn they hosted a lemonade stand after Masses on April 18, 2021 with all donations going to help the earth. The group raised more than $600 and opted to split the money and shared it with ECHO in North Fort Myers and the Calusa Nature Center in Fort Myers. ECHO teaches sustainable farming and combats world hunger, while the Calusa Nature Center connects people with nature educating them about our unique ecosystem and environmental issues concerning the region. The success was attributed to the hard work of the youth and the support of the parishioners.

 

Volunteer recognized nationally

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. Volunteer Tim Gunderman of Bonita Springs was recently named one of 6 finalists a finalist for the Catholic Charities USA Volunteer of the Year Award. Gunderman by virtue of his efforts to help people in the Bonita Springs and Naples areas during the past year first made the top 36 then the top 6. A video of each finalist was created as part of the selection process. Congratulations Tim for your time, knowledge and heart in helping to support Catholic Charities.

The St. Vincent de Paul Rummage Sale May 1

Please join the Sacred Heart Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in our continuing efforts to raise money to assist those in need in our community by taking part in a May 1, 2021 Rummage Sale from 9 a.m. to noon at 25200 Airport Road in Punta Gorda. There will be household items, furniture, linens, clothing, shoes, purses, jewelry, books and toys. The rain date is May 8.

Junior Class Retreat theme: “Have No Fear”

The peer ministry team at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples was on campus until late on April 22, 2021 and returned to school bright and early the next day to lead the Junior Class Retreat! The theme of the retreat was “Have No Fear” (Psalm 23) with the focus on letting go of our fears in order to trust more in God. The day included time for prayer and reflection as well as a variety of fun activities

Student places third in countywide Spelling Bee

Congratulations to Elizabeth Burke, a student at Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Parish, for taking third place in the 2021 Optimist Club of Naples Spelling Bee on March 24, 2021.

First graders learn about science

The first-grade class of Anne Boddison at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers recently enjoyed reading stories on inventing and engineering things. The students then had fun working together and using different items from their S.T.R.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) bins to build many unique objects such as flying houses, robots, mazes, and much more. The students then recorded what they built by drawing and writing about what they created in their journals.

Online fundraiser to support Our Mother’s House

Honor your mother, daughter, sister, friend, or someone who has been like a mother to you with a gift that will help homeless mothers and their children. Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities provides a safe environment for residents to achieve self-sufficiency through education, vocational training, and personal growth. This year they are holding their annual Mother’s Day fundraiser so everyone can help a needy mother succeed. To support Our Mother’s House please visit www.dov.regfox.com/mothers-day-2021.

Porn: Seven Myths Exposed event May 4

The porn industry has taken our culture hostage! The Diocese of Venice Family Life Office is hosting an event at 6:30 p.m., May 4, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall, 399 Sarasota St., Venice, to address and educate teens, parents and all others on the tyranny of pornography in our society. Matt Fradd is the speaker who has authored and coauthored several books, and creates and hosts the podcast, “Pints with Aquinas”. There is no cost to attend. For further information, please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Stepping into Marriage with Children

Did you know 60 percent of second marriages fail and the failure rate increases to 70 percent when there are children from a previous marriage in the home. The difficulties of parenting and stepparenting seemingly insurmountable are often the root cause of such failures. A free half day workshop, organized by the Diocese Office of Family Life, entitled “Stepping into Marriage with Children” is designed for those couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation, and will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 15, 2021 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. This workshop takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools to meet unique challenges. There is no cost to attend but registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/stepping-into-marriage-with-children. For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Year of the Family

On March 19, 2021, the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the joy and beauty of familial love, Pope Francis inaugurated the year “Amoris Laetitia Family” which will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the next World Meeting of Families in Rome. When announced, the Dicastery said in a statement, “The Pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families”. To learn more about the effort and the initiatives occurring in the Diocese of Venice during this commemorative year visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/year-of-the-family/.

8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference

All are invited to the 8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference at Ave Maria University from May 14 to May 16, 2021. Featured speakers will include Dr. Mark Miravalle, John Paul II Chair of Mariology, Franciscan University of Steubenville; Kathleen Beckman L.H.S., author and President of Foundation of Prayer for Priests; Dr. Edward Sri, theologian, author, and co-founding leader of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students); and Roy Shoeman, speaker and author of “Salvation is from the Jews” and “Honey from the Rock.” Please visit www.aveconferences.com to register for this event. Lodging and meals available. For more information call 239-348-4725 or email aveconferences@gmail.com

Prayer Vigils continue abortion centers

40 Days for Life continues year-round in Fort Myers and Sarasota! Please join in prayer outside of Planned Parenthood. Help is needed in Fort Myers on Wednesdays and Thursdays when abortions take place and in Sarasota Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays. Your presence makes a difference! When people are there on the sidewalk, the “no show rate” for abortion appointments can go up 75%. For more information about the Fort Myers vigils, please email monash127@aol.com and for Sarasota  40dflsarasota@gmail.com.

Foster Homes Needed in Florida

There are over 20,000 children requiring foster care in the State of Florida with only 5000 families certified to meet their needs. During May, National Foster Care Awareness Month, please consider providing a loving home where a child can heal and thrive. To learn more about foster parenting children in Florida who do not have relatives who are able to care for them, please call 1-83-FOSTERFL or visit MyFloridaMyFamily.com.

Cyber Safety Workshops informs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News Briefs for the week of April 23 2021

“A Seminarian Story” ninth installment available

The Diocese of Venice in Florida Office of Vocations launched a video series titled, “A Seminarian Story,” to celebrate the 16 Seminarians currently in formation for the Diocese. The first eight videos have been released and more will follow approximately every few weeks. The most recent video features Seminarian Jacob Gwynn who is in formation at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. Developed with the assistance of the Diocese Communications Department, the goal of the series is to inspire others to follow in the path to the priesthood or religious life, as well as encourage the faithful to continue to support the seminarians as they continue their formation process at different seminaries. “A Seminarian Story” featuring Jacob Gwynn can be found at https://vimeo.com/521110630.

Online fundraiser to support Our Mother’s House

Honor your mother, daughter, sister, friend, or someone who has been like a mother to you with a gift that will help homeless mothers and their children. Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities provides a safe environment for residents to achieve self-sufficiency through education, vocational training, and personal growth. This year they are holding their annual Mother’s Day fundraiser so everyone can help a needy mother succeed. To support Our Mother’s House please visit www.dov.regfox.com/mothers-day-2021.

Cardinal Mooney Girls Track win Districts for first time in 26 years

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Girls Track and Field team are District Champs for the first time in 26 years. The Sarasota team won on April 15, taking the top spot in multiple disciplines including shot put, discus, javelin, triple jump, pole vault and 4×400 relay. Just one day earlier, the Mooney Girls Beach Volley team became Regional Champs. The Lady Cougars beat Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and then Bradenton Christian on April 14 for the regional title. With the title comes an automatic berth to the State Championship tournament field of 12 teams on May 1. Congratulations to all!

Science students learn how to help in emergencies

Students in the Principles of Biomedical Science class at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers recently worked together in small groups to learn how to stop an uncontrolled bleed during their Emergencies Unit. They had three minutes to control different types of bleeding by either applying compression or by packing the wound and then compression. They ended the lesson by learning to control a bleed using a tourniquet as well as to clamp and legate an artery.

 

 

Pre-K-4 students attend “drive-in” movie

Students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral recently attended a drive-in movie. Their fancy cars were creative and amazing as each student created their own cars with designs ranging from sports cars to superhero vehicles.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Workshop

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Directors of Religious Education, Youth Ministers, Principals and Teachers how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. The course will be held on April 29, 2021 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, and on May 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, 833 Magellan Drive, Sarasota. Advanced registration is required, and the cost is $25. Visit www.dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/workshop-on-youth-mental-health-first-aid for registration. The cost includes the book, lunch and certificate of completion.

Porn: Seven Myths Exposed event May 4

The porn industry has taken our culture hostage! The Diocese of Venice Family Life Office is hosting an event at 6:30 p.m., May 4, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall, 399 Sarasota St., Venice, to address and educate teens, parents and all others on the tyranny of pornography in our society. Matt Fradd is the speaker who has authored and coauthored several books, and creates and hosts the podcast, “Pints with Aquinas”. There is no cost to attend. For further information, please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Stepping into Marriage with Children

Did you know 60 percent of second marriages fail and the failure rate increases to 70 percent when there are children from a previous marriage in the home. The difficulties of parenting and stepparenting seemingly insurmountable are often the root cause of such failures. A free half day workshop, organized by the Diocese Office of Family Life, entitled “Stepping into Marriage with Children” is designed for those couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation, and will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 15, 2021 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. This workshop takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools to meet unique challenges. There is no cost to attend but registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/stepping-into-marriage-with-children. For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Year of the Family

On March 19, 2021, the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the joy and beauty of familial love, Pope Francis inaugurated the year “Amoris Laetitia Family” which will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the next World Meeting of Families in Rome. When announced, the Dicastery said in a statement, “The Pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families”. To learn more about the effort and the initiatives occurring in the Diocese of Venice during this commemorative year visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/year-of-the-family/.

X