Seminarians gain knowledge during summer assignments

Summer break for college students is usually filled with fun, travel and perhaps work. For the Diocese of Venice seminarians who have completed another year of studies on their spiritual journey to becoming priests, they are now working on various summer assignments which will help them broaden their pastoral experiences.

“The summer assignments are an important part of seminarian formation, where the men have the opportunity to experience the realities of Parish life and ministry,” explained Diocese Vocations Director Father Alex Pince.

Each assignment is intended to provide the seminarians with an opportunity to learn about the daily operation of a Parish, with a focus on pastoral care. At different phases in their priestly formation, the assignments are carefully chosen to maximize the positive benefits for each seminarian.

“They are given the opportunity to gain valuable experience while getting to know and serve with the priests, lay ministers and faithful who make up a Parish community,” Father Pince added. “Each summer the assignments change, giving the seminarians a deeper understanding of their vocational call to become Diocesan priests.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the summer is crucial in keeping the seminarians engaged as part of their commitment to a prayerful life and spiritual development. The work has the added benefit of keeping them connected to the Diocese in which they may someday serve as priests.

“In seminary formation there is a stress on the growth in human, academic, spiritual and pastoral formation,” Bishop Dewane said. “Summer assignments offer practical insights on pastoral ministry and provide the seminarian an opportunity to grow and have real-life encounters.”

Through encountering others in various pastoral ministries such as visiting the sick, leading the faithful in prayer, and helping the poor, each seminarian comes to a deeper understanding of their own personal call to serve the people of God, Bishop Dewane said.

The summer began with the Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Greg Dougherty on June 8, with many of the seminarians present to help serve the Mass. This allowed the seminarians to see one of their fellow seminarians reach a goal they are working to attain in the future.

The Parish assignments place the seminarians with Pastors who will also serve as a mentor to them. The assignments differ each summer to provide the greatest opportunity for new learning experiences.

While most will be serving at Parishes throughout the summer, one seminarian has been assigned as a Totus Tuus missionary. This Diocesan program is a weekly spiritual camp offered for children at Parishes throughout the summer to enable them to grow closer to the Lord. In addition, two men are currently Transitional Deacons, meaning they will serve more prominently at the Parish including during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, preaching, as well as celebrating baptism and weddings.

The seminarians and their summer assignment locations are as follows:

  • Transitional Deacon Jacob Gwynn, St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers;
  • Transitional Deacon Patrick Long, St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota;
  • Joseph Doherty, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Fort Myers;
  • Bai Nguyen, St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton;
  • Andrew Cordero, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Venice;
  • Alain Valdvia, St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Port Charlotte;
  • Lam Vo, San Antonio Parish, Port Charlotte;
  • Jesse Gomez; Totus Tuus summer program.

Diocese of Venice Seminarians are supported through the Diocese Catholic Faith Appeal, the Knights of Columbus and the generosity of the faithful.

Parishioners from around the Diocese are encouraged to help support the seminarians in their studies and choice of vocations. To support a seminarian, send a check to the Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

For more information about the seminarians or Vocations, contact Father Alex Pince at pince@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543, or visit www.venicevocations.com.

 

Prayer for Vocations

God our Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith support vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

In persona Christi – Ordination brings blessings upon new priest

In a public response to a “call to holiness” Thomas Gregory Dougherty, 55, was Ordained to the Priesthood by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during a Mass on June 8, 2024, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice.

The poignant and emotional rite places Father Dougherty in a new role as he is raised to the Order of the Presbyterate where he will now celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, confer the Sacraments and teach the Gospel. The ordination fell on the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, chosen by Father Dougherty because has a strong devotion to Our Lady. The location was changed to Our Lady of Lourdes due to the ongoing reconstruction of Epiphany Cathedral.

Following his ordination, Father Dougherty said the entire experience was otherworldly and beautiful. “Praise be to God; I can’t think of a better way of entering into the priesthood than through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” noting the Memorial to the Sacred Heart of Jesus took place on June 7.

Bishop Dewane congratulated the ordinand for answering the call to holiness and advancing in formation through prayer, discernment, guidance and direction which helped him grow closer to the Lord. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the ordinand is called to reflect and magnify Christ and bring others closer to Christ. The priesthood was established as coworkers with the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in a priestly office, and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.

“Through ordination you are conformed more fully to Christ, the Son of God,” Bishop Dewane said. “These are words we all need to hear – you are more fully committed to Christ. In receiving the Sacrament, the hard work is still ahead, and it will begin to happen in a more profound way. Focus on that man of prayer you are called to be, it is that prayer which, over and over again, supports the ministerial priesthood and lifts us up. Be open to what it is the Lord asks.”

Bishop Dewane said the change that happens upon priestly ordination is drastic, but he reminded Father Dougherty to let the Lord guide him on his new path, having been chosen by God from among His people and to be anointed on their behalf.

“Fulfill the ministry of Christ. the priest, and do it with joy and with love,” Bishop Dewane said. “You have been blessed with many talents; but know the Lord has an idea of how you are to go about your ministry. In this, strive to gather the faithful into the family, so that you may lead them to God, through Christ.”

When the Rite of ordination began, Dougherty was called forth to the presence of the Bishop by Diocese Director of Vocations Father Alex Pince, and upon hearing his name called out, he answered “Present.” After the homily, Dougherty knelt before the Bishop to promise respect and obedience to him and his successors. Then he lay prostrate before the altar for the Litany of Supplication/Litany of Saints. The whole assembly joined in the prayer which invoked God’s grace and the intercession of the saints in heaven.

After this solemn act of prayer, the Sacrament of Ordination was conferred when Dougherty knelt before Bishop Dewane, who in silent prayer, imposed his hands on the head of the ordinand. In the sharing of the priesthood, each priest present laid their hands on the head of the newly ordained Father Dougherty, one at a time.

The ordinand then knelt once again before the Bishop, who then recited the consecratory Prayer of Ordination; the prayer, together with the Bishop’s imposition of hands, is the essential Rite of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

After the prayer, the newly ordained was vested in the stole and chasuble, vestments which are worn when celebrating the Eucharist and symbolize the responsibility and authority in service to Christ. Father Dougherty was vested by Father Michael Scheip, a retired priest who assists at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and was a spiritual advisor when Father Dougherty assisted at the Parish while in seminary.

The palms of the new priest were then anointed with the Sacred Chrism by Bishop Dewane, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make the priest’s ministry fruitful. Next, the Bishop presented Father Dougherty with the chalice and paten which all priests are called to present to God in the Eucharistic sacrifice saying: “Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.”

The Rite of Ordination ended with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to the newly ordained priest, welcoming him into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. The priests present then followed the Bishop’s example. The newly ordained Father Dougherty then joined Bishop Dewane at the altar to the applause and joy of all present.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist followed. Father Dougherty joined all the priests for the first time in concelebrating the Eucharist with Bishop Dewane, reciting together the words of consecration. For the first time, he offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, acting in persona Christi. From this sacrifice his whole priestly ministry will draw its strength.

Although a late vocation, Father Dougherty said he thought about becoming a priest in high school, even enrolling in a minor seminary but never attended because he was conflicted about his decision. He attended Bradley University before going on to graduate from Middle Tennessee State University, becoming an elementary school teacher in Winchester, Tennessee. He transitioned into industrial sales for several years before following the call of God by returning to teaching, developing catechetical programs for Catholic education in Cincinnati, Ohio, just prior to entering seminary at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.

As a seminarian for the Diocese, Father Dougherty had pastoral assignments at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton. While in seminary, Deacon Dougherty’s pastoral assignment was with the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pro-Life Office. Father Dougherty celebrated his first Mass at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and has been appointed as Parochial Vicar at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers.

Present for the ordination were two of his siblings, as well as other relatives and friends from his life in Ohio, Tennessee and the seminary in Massachusetts. Among others present were more than 40 priests, including Msgr. Brian R. Kiely, Rector of Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, men and women religious, Permanent Deacons, Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, the Knights of Columbus Color Corps, as well as hundreds of the faithful.

The Ordination to the Priesthood is considered one of the most important events in the life of a Diocese as it ensures the continuation of the Church and the availability of the Sacraments to the faithful.

A reception followed in the Parish Hall where Father Dougherty formally greeted the public and imparted his priestly blessing upon them, smiling all the while.

Priestly Ordination June 8 – All invited to witness important moment for Diocese

The Diocese of Venice relies on dedicated men who have committed their lives to serving God. One such man will be ordained to the priesthood on June 8, 2024, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice.

Transitional Deacon Thomas Gregory Dougherty has completed his priestly formation and has been called to ordination by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who will be the presiding prelate. The ordination will be 11 a.m., June 8, at Our Lady of Lourdes, 1301 Center Road, Venice, while Epiphany Cathedral undergoes reconstruction.

In addition to Bishop Dewane, the Mass will include a number of priests, deacons, religious, family and friends from across the Diocese.

“This is one of the most beautiful and rarely seen Sacraments in the Church,” Bishop Dewane explained. “It is a public response to the Call to Holiness, which comes with great responsibility and accountability. The Diocese of Venice is blessed that, year after year, men are hearing the call of the Lord, and responding.”

All are welcome and encouraged to attend the Ordination, said Bishop Dewane. “It is important the faithful support each Ordination as the Priest is a future link to the continuation of the Sacraments. This is a life-changing, lifelong commitment and Priests, especially new Priests, need the support and encouragement of the faithful.”

During Ordination to the Priesthood, Deacon Dougherty will freely present himself to serve God, the Church and the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice and his successors. He will also make a renewed commitment to celibacy and promise obedience.

Deacon Dougherty, 55, has been studying at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, which specializes in formation for later vocations. He was raised in East Dundee, Illinois, a quiet suburb of Chicago. Although a later vocation, Deacon Dougherty said he thought about becoming a priest in high school, even enrolling in a minor seminary but never attended because he was conflicted about his decision. He graduated from Bradley University and Middle Tennessee State University, becoming an elementary school teacher in Winchester, Tennessee. He transitioned into industrial sales for several years before following the call of God by returning to teaching, developing catechetical programs for Catholic education just prior to entering seminary.

“The noise of the world muffled the call for several years, but God directly intervened in my life at the age of 39, which reawakened that call,” Deacon Dougherty said. As a seminarian within the Diocese, Deacon Dougherty has had pastoral assignments at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton. While in seminary, Deacon Dougherty’s pastoral assignment was with the Archdiocese of Boston’s Pro-Life Office.

Deacon Dougherty said he is humbled by all that the ordination means. “I have a strong devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and am active in spreading that devotion to others. I look forward to the day I will serve Holy Mother Church as a priest. This opportunity is truly a blessing, and I am overwhelmed by God’s grace and mercy through the generosity of Bishop Dewane and the many others who have made this journey possible.”

While Deacon Doughtery will be ordained on June 8, there are still other men in the Diocese of Venice who are at various stages in their priestly formation, either in college or at a seminary where they continue their studies toward the ordained priesthood. The Diocese of Venice asks that the faithful remember Deacon Dougherty, and all those discerning priesthood, in their prayers.

Parishioners are encouraged to help support Diocesan seminarians in their studies and choice of vocation. To contribute to the education of seminarians, send a check to the Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285 or visit the website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give.

For those considering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, please visit www.venicevocations.org, or contact Diocesan Director of Vocations, Father Alex Pince at pince@dioceseofvenice.org.

News Briefs for the week of May 31, 2024

Florida Knights Chaplain of the Year from Diocese of Venice

Father Joseph Gates, Pastor of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Parrish, was honored with the Florida State Blessed Michael McGivney Award by the Knights of Columbus during the Florida State Convention in Orlando on May 26, 2024. Father Gates was nominated by Grand Knight John Kreger IV, of Council 12155. Noted in the nomination was that Father Gates is a teacher of the faith; apostle of Christian family life; devoted Parish priest; exemplar of charity; builder of Catholic fraternity; and a role model to the faithful of the Parish. “He leads by example and is at the forefront of many Parish activities,” the nomination stated. “Father Joseph is the face of St. Frances Cabrini. From preaching the Gospel from the altar to his many posts on social media, he leads his flock in the goal of spending eternity with God.” The award was presented by Knight Richard P. Hughes, State Deputy and Father Bob Kantor, Florida Knights of Columbus Chaplain and Pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Naples.

Venice Yacht Club supports Catholic Charities

Members of the Venice Yacht Club presented Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., with a check for $5,000, on May 20, 2024. Catholic Charities CEO Christopher Root accepted the check, which was specifically designated for the Housing & Supportive Service Program, formally known as Family Haven. Sylvia Hollister, chair of the Yacht Club Charitable Foundation, said that the Club has donated $40,500 to the program since 2016, and has been generous in supporting other Catholic Charities programs, including Our Mother’s House.

Mooney teacher honored

Clare McVey, a social studies teacher at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota. has been named a 2024 Sarasota County Gator Club Teacher of Distinction. McVey was one of 11 teachers so honored by the Gator Club.

Marian statue installed in Fort Myers Parish rosary garden

In time for the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, on May 20, 2024, a new statue of the Holy Mother has been added to the rosary garden at St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers. The rosary garden is located directly across the street from the Parish church.

New Transitional Deacon feature of seminarian podcast

Transitional Deacon Pat Long, a Diocese of Venice Seminarian, is featured in the latest “Never Too Late” podcast from Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary. The podcast is hosted by Msgr. Bill Fay, a member of the faculty, and includes a discussion with seminarians who found a vocation to the priesthood later in life. In the 24th episode of the podcast, Deacon Pat speaks about his personal path to Pope St. John XXIII. Hear how the witness of both his parents who were an influence on his faith, and priests who also encouraged and guided him. Friends also played a significant role in Deaon Pat’s decision to pay closer attention to God calling him, and his decision to take action and follow God’s call. Discussed is the broader definition of family and what it is like being a new deacon in the Church (he was ordained on April 6, 2024). He also offers a suggested four-part plan for any man engaging his own discernment process. To hear the podcast, please visit : https://www.grexly.com/nevertoolate.

Donations of baby supplies needed

Community Pregnancy Centers Inc. is seeking donations of diapers and clothing to support the children of the women that are served each day. Items sought include new or gently used clothes (size 12 months to 3T); baby wipes; diapers (size 4-6); baby shampoo/lotion; new clothes for babies (0-3 months); pacifiers; pull ups/training diapers. Community Pregnancy Clinics has offices in Naples, Fort Myers and Sarasota. Please call 239-326-0453 or visit https://communitypregnancyclinic.com/ for locations.

Ave Maria Youth Conference registration open

All high school age youth from incoming freshman to outgoing seniors are invited to attend the 15th Annual Ave Maria University High School Youth Conference, “CALLED,” from July 12 – 14, 2024. This faith-filled weekend will be full of fellowship, music, and great speakers, including Father Timothy Anastos from the Diocese of Chicago who is currently serving as a National Eucharistic Preacher and featured regularly on “Reel Homilies”, Noelle Garcia a Catholic recording artist who shares her faith through scripture and music, nationally known chastity speaker Pam Stenzel, and Father Joseph Lugalambi, Adjunct Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University. Music will be provided by EPIC Music Ministries. The cost is $190 per person, which includes lodging in the dorms, meals, conference fee, and a cool t-shirt! Register now by visiting https://www.aveconferences.com/called-youth-conference-july-2024. For more information call 239- 348-4725, or email aveconferences@gmail.com.

Urgent need for sidewalk counselors and prayer warriors in Fort Myers and Naples

As the weather turns hotter there is an urgent need for sidewalk counselors and prayer partners to provide coverage to stand as peaceful witnesses for life at the Planned Parenthood abortion facilities at 6418 Commerce Park Drive, Fort Myers, and 1425 Creech Road, Naples. No training is necessary to be a prayer partner – just bring a hat and a rosary. For those interested in counseling, training and necessary resource materials will be provided. In addition, during this process an experienced counselor will be present. Prayer partners and counselors are a vital component in the Pro-Life movement, as they ensure a constant presence in front of abortion facilities, showing that women and their unborn children in crisis are not abandoned in their time of need. To learn more details, please call Mary Claire Dant at 239-200-8117.

Vocations retreat encourages youth to open heart to God

Keeping one’s heart open to the “Call of the Lord” was the message delivered to youth who participated in a Vocations Retreat on May 11, 2024, at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral.

Priesthood, religious life, sacramental marriage, and consecrated single life are the four vocational options for young people today. Supported by the Diocese of Venice Vocations Office, the retreat included talks by priests, religious men and women, Diocesan seminarians, and a married couple, with the goal of encouraging the young men and women to start thinking about a vocation, regardless of which one, but in all cases, in service to the Lord.

Each guest speaker shared their personal faith journey and how they are living their response to the call of the Lord in their lives. There was a stress on the universal call to holiness that the Lord wants from His children. As one speaker said, we are all brought into this world to become saints and get to heaven.

Diocesan Vocations Director Father Alex Pince opened the retreat by speaking about the need to attend Mass regularly and to receive the Blessed Sacrament at Communion, using this time to be close to the Lord, in His Church. They must also go to confession regularly to receive the Lord’s loving mercy, and to be in a state of grace, the vessel that can clearly hear the Lord’s voice. Finally, the youth must trust God — this comes from His unwavering love, which, when accepted, will lead them to ultimate happiness.

“If we want to know Jesus, we have to live in Christ,” Father Pince said. “If we do that, our desires will be united with God’s desires. It is when we are in prayer and feel a tug on our heart that brings us peace and joy that the Lord reveals the endless possibility of His love and mercy.”

The response from the teens was overwhelmingly positive, and throughout the day the youth asked insightful questions. Several wondered how they will know they are hearing a call from the Lord, or something else.

Sister Maria de Talpa Vargas, Servant Sister of the Virgin of Matara (SSVM), who is serving at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, said that when she accepted her vocation to become a religious sister, “This joy, an exploding of my heart, came over me. I was so happy. I felt that I could fly… It was the missing part of my heart. I felt a click; I didn’t need anything else.”

Carmelite Father Anthony Trung Nguyen, who is from Vietnam and serves as the Carmelite Order Vocations Director, said that growing up in a country that was dominated by Communism made being Catholic difficult. In fact, the priest only visited and celebrated Mass twice a year.

“This didn’t bother me, because I grew up knowing God called to me to live in His honor,” Father Nguyen said. “I wanted that relationship with God, I wanted to get other people to know the joy I found. God knows who I am, and he knows who you all are. He made you and He works in you to do His work in the world. Hear the Lord in your life, in your heart, in your soul. Listen and respond.”

Diocesan Seminarian and Transitional Deacon Jacob Gwynn shared his vocation story by explaining how he heard the call at an early age, admiring the priests in his Parish, but it wasn’t until he actively prayed in silence in front of the Most Holy Eucharist about becoming a priest that he really heard the Lord.

“God calls you, no matter where you are in your life,” Deacon Gwynn said. “Ask yourself what the Lord is calling you to do. Pause to listen for an answer. Wait for a response and be comforted that whatever you are called to do, God will be accompanying you on that journey.”

Throughout the day, priests were available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the entire group took part in the Saturday Vigil Mass, for Ascension Sunday. They also took part in a Holy Hour for Vocations which included Eucharistic Adoration.

Additional speakers included Diocesan Seminarian Lamb Vo; Sister Regina Zambrano, SSVM, of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula; Jacob Lyons and Stephanie Lovetere who are getting married in July; Father Ricky Varner, Pastor at Katharine Drexel, and George de Los Reyes, who provided his own reflection and musical accompaniment during the Holy Hour and Adoration.

Sister Talpa allayed some of the concerns the youth expressed when she explained that when choosing a vocation to religious life, she initially feared losing her identity and her relationship with her family. “When you find your vocation, no matter whether it is as a priest, religious or married, you are not losing yourself. You are gaining yourself, you are actually fulfilling a call and you are filled with joy. Keep your hearts open to priesthood or religious life, because the Church needs you to help others grow closer to God, and to make Jesus known to everyone.”

If you are interested in a vocation to the priesthood, or religious life (men or women), please contact Father Alex Pince, Diocesan Director of Vocations, at 941-484-9543 or pince@dioceseofvenice.org, or visit www.venicevocation.org.

News Briefs for the week of May 17, 2024

First Holy Communion celebrated across Diocese

During the month of May, more than 3,000 young boys and girls throughout the Diocese of Venice will take part in the Sacrament of the Eucharist for the first time, their First Holy Communion. Young girls in white dresses and boys in suits, having prepared in their religious studies to reach this important milestone in their spiritual journey of faith, the beginning of a long and intimate relationship with the Lord. This Sacrament comes this year during a time of a National Eucharistic Revival. This revival is a three-year effort of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to reinforce devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the Most Holy Eucharist is important for all, from the youngest who receive their First Communion to the oldest. “It is in a precise way in the Eucharist, that the Lord gives to us, and we receive Him… Put yourself in a relationship with Jesus Christ, through the Eucharist. It is Christ. It is His Body and Blood. It is His Real Presence!” Bishop Dewane said. “Let His Real Presence in the Eucharist fill your heart, fill your mind, fill your soul with His indication of what it is He wants from you and for you to do in your life.” Please pray for all children receiving their First Holy Communion during May, that they love the Lord with all their hearts and forever live faithfully.

Bishop celebrates Baccalaureate Mass for Ave Maria School of Law graduates

The graduates of the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples were told by Bishop Frank J. Dewane to go forward and allow the Holy Spirit to inspire them in their life, during a Baccalaureate Mass at St. Agnes Parish in Naples on May 10, 2024. Bishop Dewane also told them to follow the path of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patroness of the school, who accepted in faith what the Lord asked. “Faith is a virtue – a welcoming and cherishing bond with Jesus Christ,” the Bishop said. “That is what makes us men and women of faith. Let it grow in your heart as you launch into a new life after having been given this tremendous opportunity and experience here at Ave Maria School of Law.” The commencement was April 12, Ascension Sunday and Mother’s Day, at Artis-Naples.

Seminarians visit ship during Miami Fleet Week

A total of 23 seminarians from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach had the unique opportunity to participate in Fleet Week Miami on May 10, 2024. Over the course of two days, separate groups from the seminary were welcomed aboard the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship. The visit was organized by Transitional Deacon Jacob Gwynn, a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice, and a co-sponsored seminarian for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and led by the ship’s Command Chaplain, Father Benton Garrett. The two seminarian groups toured the ship and attended Mass in the ship’s chapel, witnessing firsthand the intersection of faith and service within the military context. Among the attendees were Seminary Rector/President, Father Alfredo I. Hernandez, and Midshipman Spencer Dominguez, a relative of Father Hernandez.

Retreat For Mothers Grieving the Loss of a Child

Red Bird Ministries, a non-profit Catholic grief support ministry, is hosting a Grieving Mother’s Retreat from June 7 – 9, 2024, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice. This retreat is for women who have experienced the loss of a child from pregnancy through adulthood.  Mothers will be helped in addressing the profound healing that needs to happen while also honoring the memory of the child throughout their grief journey. Please visit www.redbird.love/revival for information and registration.

Ordination to the Priesthood June 8

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacon Thomas Gregory Dougherty. The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 8, 2024, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the life of Deacon Greg as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Totus Tuus, Parish Catechetical Summer Program coming soon

The Totus Tuus Parish Catechetical Summer Camp program, open to grades 1-12, will be available in the Diocese of Venice again this summer beginning in June 2024. Totus Tuus aims to inspire young people to long for holiness, develop a deep desire for conversion and personally renew their faith with a stronger prayer life. All camps are one-week day camps, and programs are divided according to age. Youth are welcome to attend any of the Totus Tuus camps, but registration is requested ahead of time. Parishes hosting Totus Tuus this year are: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Parrish, and Our Lady of Grace, Avon Park (June 2-7); Ave Maria, Ave Maria (June 9-14); St. Finbarr, Naples, and St. Paul, Arcadia (June 16-21); Epiphany Cathedral, Venice, and St. Katharine Drexel, Cape Coral (June 23-28); Our Lady Queen of Heaven, LaBelle (July 7-12); Our Lady of Light, Fort Myers, and St. Cecilia, Fort Myers (July 14-19); Our Lady of the Angels, Lakewood Ranch, and St. Peter the Apostle, Naples (July 21-26). To register, contact the hosting Parish directly. Parish contact information can be found at https://dioceseofvenice.org/find-a-parish/.  For general questions about the Diocesan Totus Tuus program, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/totustuus2024/, or contact Jim Gontis at gontis@dioceseofvenice.org.

Ave Maria Youth Conference registration open

All high school age youth from incoming freshman to outgoing seniors are invited to attend the 15th Annual Ave Maria University High School Youth Conference, “CALLED,” from July 12 – 14, 2024. This faith-filled weekend will be full of fellowship, music, and great speakers, including Father Timothy Anastos from the Diocese of Chicago who is currently serving as a National Eucharistic Preacher and featured regularly on “Reel Homilies”, Noelle Garcia a Catholic recording artist who shares her faith through scripture and music, nationally known chastity speaker Pam Stenzel, and Father Joseph Lugalambi, Adjunct Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University. Music will be provided by EPIC Music Ministries. The cost is $190 per person, which includes lodging in the dorms, meals, conference fee, and a cool t-shirt! Register now by visiting https://www.aveconferences.com/called-youth-conference-july-2024. For more information call 239- 348-4725, or email aveconferences@gmail.com.

News Briefs for the week of May 10, 2023

Catholic Center hosts prayer service for Blessed Virgin

The staff of the Diocese of Venice Catholic Center took part in a prayer service, led by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 8, 2024. Bishop Dewane noted how the month of May is dedicated to Our Lady and it is appropriate to honor her seeking the Blessed Virgin’s intercession on our behalf. During the prayer service, the Catholic Center staff prayed Litany of Our Lady of Loretto, the Hail Mary, and sang the Salve Regina.

 

Pro-Life training sessions May 13 and 15 

If you’d like to volunteer to help educate people on the truth about the pro-abortion amendment on the November ballot, plan to attend a training opportunity within the Diocese of Venice in May (one of two). The first training is Monday, May 13, 2024, from 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., at St. Patrick Parish Hall (new location), 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota.  The second session is also from 11:45 a.m., Wednesday, May 15, at St. John XXIII Parish Center, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. Lunch will be included at both sessions.  Register online at www.LeadershipInstitute.org/Florida for either session. If you have questions, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-374-1068 or Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org.

Students learn about business and finances

Fourth and fifth grade students from St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota took part in a school trip to experience a day in the workplace at JA BizTown in Tampa on April 30, 2024. JA BizTown combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to a simulated town where students receive hands-on experience as both employees and consumers, paying rent, taxes and utilities, purchasing insurance, depositing paychecks and buying other business products, handling customer service, and more. The interactive, project-based program not only teaches students how to manage their own personal finances and the importance of becoming a successful professional within the community, but it also empowers them to take responsibility for their professional and educational futures.

Fort Myers Catholic youth to participate in national Spelling Bee

The faithful of St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers will be cheering on one of their own during the 96th Scripps National Spelling Bee from May 28-30, 2024. David Nicasio, 13, who is an active member of St. Cecilia, as an altar server, lector, as well as in the middle school and youth groups, won a series of local competitions to qualify as one of 245 students from across the nation to reach the national Spelling Bee. The competition has four levels: preliminaries, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. The competition will air on the ION network from 8-10 p.m. May 29 and 30. The earlier rounds will be available on ION Plus, a digital platform. Just for making the National Spelling Bee, David will receive a number of gifts and prizes related to learning. Prizes increase to a top prize of $50,000 and a championship trophy for the winner.

Retreat For Mothers Grieving the Loss of a Child

Red Bird Ministries, a non-profit Catholic grief support ministry is hosting a Grieving Mother’s Retreat from June 7 – 9, 2024, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice. This retreat is for women who have experienced the loss of a child from pregnancy through adulthood.  Mothers will be helped in addressing the profound healing that needs to happen while also honoring the memory of the child throughout their grief journey. Please visit www.redbird.love/revival for information and registration.

Ordination to the Priesthood June 8

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacon Thomas Gregory Dougherty.  The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 8, 2024, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice.  All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the life of Deacon Greg as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Diocese Council of Catholic Women gather

A group of dedicated Catholic women has answered the call of Christ as they imitate Him in how they live their lives each day.

These women are represented by the Venice Diocese Council of Catholic Women (VDCCW) serving as an example of a heartfelt commitment to serve the Church while dedicating themselves to being open to the Holy Spirit.

Each year members gather for a convention with the goal of unifying their efforts to do good for the benefit of all. With a theme of “Following Jesus Through Mary,” the 38th annual Convention took place April 26, 2024, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice.

A central part of the gathering was the women participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which was celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. The Mass was concelebrated by Father Janusz “Jay” Jancarz, who is the VDCCW Spiritual Advisor and Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, as well as Father Gordon Zanetti, Pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota, and son of VDCCW Seminarian Fund Chair Cornelia Zanetti.

Bishop Dewane praised the VDCCW for coming together and giving witness to the Faith by how they are believers and followers of Jesus Christ who are called forth to reach out to others.

“You respond to the question Jesus often asks of His disciples, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ by what you do each day, promoted by the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Dewane said. “You strive to follow the Lord, not always knowing where the Lord is sending you, but you do it because you follow Jesus Christ and you good ladies have let that following of Christ be a foundation as a group and as individuals. Let that guide your life and continue to be your strength as you come to know who Christ is in your lives.”

The Bishop specifically thanked the members of the VDCCW for the important role they play in the Diocese and in the Parishes.

Following the Mass, Bishop Dewane installed VDCCW President Katie Morris, and President-Elect Karen Verveer. As part of the ceremony, Florida Council of Catholic Women President Brenda Dolan presented Morris a candle with a purple-colored ribbon, symbolizing clarity of thought and action; and a candle with a blue-colored ribbon symbolizing loyalty and dedication.

The VDCCW acts through its membership to support, empower, and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service. Council programs exude Gospel values and serve the needs of the Church and society in the modern world. To exemplify this, the VDCCW is a strong supporter of the Diocesan seminarians and presented a check of more than $16,250 to Bishop Dewane for the Diocesan Seminarian Fund, the largest amount collected from the Priesthood Sunday campaign.

VDCCW President Morris said the Convention serves to unify and inspire members as they work throughout the year in support of the Catholic Church at the Parish, Diocese and national levels.

The women also learned about a variety of topics related to Blessed Virgin Mary, including the keynote presentation, “To Jesus Through Mary,” from Diocesan Evangelization Director James Gontis. A check was also presented to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., from the VDCCW Hugs for Homeless Fund.

Two seminarians ordained to Transitional Diaconate

Jacob (Jake) Christian Gwynn and William Patrick (Pat) Long were ordained to the Transitional Diaconate on Saturday, April 13, 2024. The pair followed different calls of the Lord in their lives, but their answers were the same, leading the two Diocese of Venice seminarians on a journey toward the priesthood.

Deacons Gwynn and Long were among 10 ordained at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton by Most Rev. Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach. The men, from different Dioceses across Florida, are studying at either St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach or Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.

Following his ordination, Deacon Gwynn said, “The theme that was said many times on my day of ordination continues to resound in my heart today: ‘This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad’ (Ps 118:24). I am eternally grateful for the call to serve the Lord and His people through the ministry of the Diaconate and eventually as a priest!”

Deacon Long said the ordination brought “tremendous peace, joy and gratitude; gratitude to God for His great love, and for the opportunity to share that love with many as a newly ordained Deacon in His Church.”
The first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church, Deacons perform many services to the Church in conjunction with the ministries of priests and Bishops. Among their many duties, they will preach, perform baptisms, witness marriages, and preside over wakes and funerals.

Bishop Barbarito opened by giving thanks to the Lord for calling the ordinandi to the ministry of Holy Orders in service to all, and then by giving thanks to each of the men and their supporters.

“We also give thanks to each of them for discerning and accepting the call of the Lord, as well as to all of you, their family members and friends in supporting them in their discernment,” the Bishop said.

To the men, Bishop Barbarito stressed the importance of the day, after years of prayer and preparation.

“Holy Orders is the ordering of our lives toward Christ… Today, you will make three significant promises to Him and to His Church which will intimately affect your lives – a lifelong commitment of celibacy; to prayer; and to the service of Church as expressed in obedience. All of them become one in handing yourselves over to the Lord completely and totally.”

Following the homily, the men approached Bishop Barbarito one-by-one, knelt and promised respect and obedience, each to his own Bishop and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, the men then lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints. The faithful remained standing during the Litany as the ordination took place during the Easter Season.

Each man again approached the Bishop who imposed his hands on the candidate and proclaimed a prayer of consecration, to confer the Holy Spirit to guide their ministries. This is the moment the men were ordained. The Deacons then received a stole and dalmatic (the exterior garb of a deacon), signifying the Office of Diaconate and the deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Next, the newly ordained Deacons knelt before the Bishop who presented them each with the Book of the Gospels, and said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” The receiving of the Book of Gospels is a symbol of their new ministry of proclaiming the Gospel and preaching. The Rite of Ordination concluded with the fraternal kiss of peace.

Deacon Gwynn is studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, having graduated from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami in 2020. Born and raised in Palmetto, Deacon Jake is the third of four children. Deacon Jake recalls that becoming a priest was one of his earliest aspirations. One of his mentors from a young age was Msgr. Joseph Ferraro, a retired priest who also served as a U.S. Navy Chaplain, who inspired him to pursue a path to not only the priesthood but also in the Navy Chaplaincy. Following that inspiration, he was sworn in as an officer of the U.S. Navy in 2021 and is currently a Lt. (j.g), in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

As a Diocesan seminarian, Deacon Gwynn has had summer assignments at the following Parishes: St. William in Naples, St. Agnes in Naples; Our Lady of Lourdes in Venice; and Our Lady of Grace in Avon Park. He served a pastoral year at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. In addition, he has taken part in the Navy Officer Development School and later the Navy Chaplain Basic Leadership School, both in Newport, Rhode Island. Deacon Gwynn is pursuing his priesthood for the Diocese of Venice and the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. Deacon Gwynn was vested by Deaon Craig Dutka of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto.

Deacon Long has been studying at St. John XXIII National Seminary in Massachusetts which specializes in formation for later vocations. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, but raised in Sarasota, the second of six children, Deacon Pat is a graduate of St. Martha Catholic School and Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota. He graduated with a degree from Florida State. While pursuing a marketing career in the health care industry, he kept ties to the faith as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, religious education teacher, youth group leader and in Pro-Life work. Feeling God was calling him to the priesthood, with the help of a spiritual director he opted to enter seminary. As a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice, Deacon Long served at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, attended the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Nebraska, and participated in the Spanish Summer Immersion Program in Guatemala. During his ordination, Deacon Long was vested by Deacon Stephen Beck of Incarnation Parish.

Please pray for these men as they continue their spiritual journey.

Briefs for the week of March 22, 2024

Seminarian installed as Acolyte

Congratulations to Diocese of Venice Seminarian Joseph Bao Quoc Nguyen was one of five men installed to the ministry of Acolyte on March 15, 2024, at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Boston, presided over the Mass of Institution which plays a significant role in the formation of these men as they journey towards their ordination to the priesthood. As an Acolyte, the primary responsibility will be assisting the Deacon and priest during Mass, with a focus on ensuring the altar is prepared. They may also serve as Extra-ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion at Mass and bringing the Holy Eucharist to the sick.

Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Televised Mass schedule

The Diocese of Venice in Florida will air the televised Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Masses, each for a full hour. These special Masses for the homebound can be viewed at noon on the CW Network in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Charlotte, Hardee and Highland counties, and at 10:30 a.m. on FOX4 in Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades and Desoto counties. The Mass is also available on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass.

Chrism Mass at Cathedral on March 26

The Chrism Mass, which takes place during Holy Week every year, will be held at 10:30 a.m., March 26, 2024, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. During this Mass, Bishop Frank J. Dewane will bless the Holy Oils which are used in the administration of the Sacraments at each parish throughout the year. Priests and Deacons celebrating 25 and 50 years of Ordination will also be recognized. All are invited and encouraged to attend in support of our clergy and to participate in this important Holy Week celebration.

Lenten school Masses continue

Following the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Bishop Frank J. Dewane continued to celebrate Mass for students at each of the 15 Diocesan Catholic schools during the Lenten Season. The most recent Masses were March 14, 2024, at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota, St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton on March 19 (the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary), and Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria, on March 20. Bishop continued to encourage the students to finish the Lenten Season strong in preparation for Holy Week.

St. Joseph Feast celebrated in Italian

Epiphany Cathedral in Venice hosted a Mass for the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was celebrated in Italian on March 19, 2024, and included the active involvement of the Italian American Club of Venice. Following the Mass, the statue of St. Joseph was carried to the Parish Hall in a procession led by the Knights of Columbus. There, Msgr. Patrick Dubois, Cathedral Rector, blessed the traditional St. Joseph’s table of bread and sweets, which were later distributed.

School Gala has a Roaring 20’s theme

The St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School Roaring 20’s Gala & Auction took place on March 16, 2024, at the Vineyards Golf and Country Club in Naples. A vintage Duesenberg was on display as guests arrived, many of the woman in sequined flapper-style dresses with feather headbands, while the men dressed in 20’s style tuxedoes, complete with fedoras. Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the guest of honor and thanked the parents for entrusting their children’s education to St. Elizabeth Seton. In addition, Bishop Dewane praised the faculty and staff for consistently delivering a quality education centered on faith, while also managing rapid growth and improvement of the school facilities.

Cars blessed at Sarasota Parish

Priests at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota blessed about 70 vehicles on March 14, 2024. The blessing follows the tradition in Rome, Italy, where cars line up outside the Colosseum in front of the Monastery of St. Frances of Rome (the patron saint of drivers) for a blessing. This was observed by Incarnation Pastor Father Eric Scanlan and shared with drivers who drove under the church portico for their blessing and then made way for the next vehicle.