News Briefs for Week of Sept. 3, 2021

Bishop Dewane continues to celebrate Mass for students

Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues celebrate Mass for the students in each of the 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic schools. The latest series of Masses took place Aug. 26, 2021 at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota; Aug. 27 at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte; and Aug. 31 at both St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School and St. Ann Catholic School in Naples.

Diocesan principals meet

The Diocese of Venice Office of Catholic Education hosted a Principal’s Meeting Aug. 26, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall. Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Education, led the meeting and updated everyone on how the start of the new Academic Year has been going in the Diocese and how successful the COVID-19 safety precautions have been working. Father Jeff Puttoff, SJ, who assisted in recruiting and promoting the Step Up for Students Scholarship initiative in the Diocese, provided an update on that work which resulted in a more than 12% increase in enrollment. The principals also received updates on the implementation of a comprehensive curriculum update. Jennifer Falestiny, Diocese Director of Curriculum, spoke about training teachers in a variety of areas. Falestiny also focused on the work to expand the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs. This also included a progress report on the implementation of the robotics STREAM initiative which will include competitions starting in the fall. Bishop Frank J. Dewane joined the group for lunch.

Miss Florida 2021 grew up at Bradenton Parish

If the recently crowned Miss Florida 2021, Leah Roddenberry, looks familiar to you, it might be that she is a parishioner and a former altar server at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton. Father Mark Heuberger, Pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul, congratulated Roddenberry during a Mass in early August and wished her luck for December, when she will compete in the 100th Miss America competition. She graduated in 2017 from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota and previously attended St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton. Congratulations, Leah! We’ll be cheering you on.

Students start garden

School gardens can make lasting differences in the lives of children. The lessons taught through these outdoor learning laboratories transcend gardening to impact children, their families and entire communities for years to come. St. Mary Catholic Academy Teacher A.J. Schiep engaged his students in this wonderful and meaningful activity on Aug. 26, 2021, in Sarasota. The new garden is just outside their classroom windows and the students used various gardening tools, getting their hands dirty, while preparing the soil for planting. The students will work on the garden throughout the year, following the progress and eventually eating the fresh food that grows.

Eighth graders display leadership

St. Francis Xavier Catholic School eighth-grade each year take part in Falcon Academy students where they are excited to display the skills they have developed throughout their years here while serving the school community. This leadership program includes journaling, discussion, and feedback exercises help students self-reflect on their experiences. During the year, they will explore patience, empathy, active listening, reliability, dependability, creativity, positivity, effective feedback, timely communication, team building, flexibility, risk-taking, and mentoring. Host teachers provide mentorship as the eighth graders embark on an exciting year St. Francis Xavier before heading off to high school! For their first session on Aug. 27, 2021, the older students introduced themselves to their younger counterparts with activities, presentations, and read aloud time. Some of the students played a Fun Friday game while working on color recognition and taking turns with the PreK Falcons. Although our eighth graders had a lot of nervous excitement at first, they eventually settled right into the role and had a blast!

Verot students have many Club opportunities

There are so many great ways to be involved at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. Students discovered their many options at an Aug. 26, 2021 Club Fair. Clubs come in various forms and focus, such as Catholics in Action; National Honor Society; Model UN; Academic Team; Black and Gold Delegation; or American Sign Language. While others are more generalized, such as environmental, art, chess, math, creative writing, robotics, theater, debate, and more.

Football team takes part in pre-game Mass

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School football team took part in the traditional pre-game Mass before their opener on Aug. 26, 2021 in Sarasota celebrated by Chaplain Father Eric Scanlan. The home game was against Booker High School of Sarasota. The Mooney Cougars won 36-0.

Summer camps bring smiles to young faces

For one week each summer many parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice make an amazing transformation to accommodate Vacation Bible School for the youngest of the faithful.

While this option was not available in the summer of 2020 due to the global Pandemic, the summer of 2021 brought the children back in droves.

A Vacation Bible School is intended to teach children to love God and thank the Lord for all the wonderful gifts in the world. Throughout a typical day of Vacation Bible School, the children learn about Bible stories, and then sing and dance in praise of God.

Team leaders – often middle school and high school student volunteers – lead the children through a variety of activities which included arts and crafts, games, reenacting Bible adventures and just having fun. Each day in the week has a different theme and different activities to keep the children engaged and learning.

One of the highlights for the volunteers is during the quieter moments when they hear the children explain their “God Experiences.” These are explained encounters with God’s creation or with good people, such a seeing butterflies or rainbows or having a good friend help with a project. The week concludes with a joyous celebration.

Some VBS programs are coordinated with neighboring Parishes to pool resources as was the case the week of July 19-23 with St. Cecilia and St. Francis Xavier Parishes in Fort Myers. A bonus for the St. Cecilia group was the opportunity to commemorate “World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly” on July 25, by singing at the conclusion of Mass.

Meanwhile, multiple Diocesan Catholic schools hosted STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) camps. Some of these camps covered several weeks and introduced the eager students to new projects such as arts and crafts, engineering various objects and other activities that incorporated the different aspects of STREAM.

St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples held its annual Summer Music Camps in mid-July with the budding musicians (ages 4-12) showing off their newly learned skills during Mass.

For the athlete in many, the area Catholic high schools hosted a variety of sports camps for children such as soccer, football, basketball, cheerleading and many others. These camps offer a chance for younger children to learn the skills needed to excel in different sports while at the same time having a bit of fun.

Catholic Charities in Bonita Springs holds a summer-long camp for children which includes a variety of fun games and projects giving the children the opportunity to show off their athletic, artistic and other skills. The campers also take a variety of fun field trips.

These are just some of the examples of the exciting activities that took place for the thousands of young people in the Diocese during the “slow” season.

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

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

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 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 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 For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at 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

Mooney Girls in State Final March 5

Mooney Girls in State Final March 5


The Cardinal Mooney Lady Cougars fell to Miami Country Day 59-34 in the March 5, 2021 State Class 3A Final at RP Funding Center in Lakeland. The final was delayed one week against a team ranked No. 20 in the U.S. It was the first time the Lady Cougars ever reached the Title Game. (Check Back next week for a look back on the remarkable season.)

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Girls Basketball Team has waited a long time to reach their first-ever State Championship game. So, an unexpected one-week delay in the game is of little consequence.

The Sarasota team won the Class 3A Semifinal over The Master’s Academy of Oviedo (47-32) on Feb. 24, 2021 at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. Their next game was postponed from Feb. 26 to 10 a.m., March 5.

The Lady Cougars will be competing in the State Final against Miami Country Day, one of the top ranked girls’ basketball programs in the nation which took six straight state titles between 2014-2019 and reached the semifinal game in 2020.

On the other hand, this was the Cougars second trip to the State Final Four, and first since 1997. They are 20-8 this season and are now preparing for their first trip to the State Championship Game. During the semifinal, the Lady Cougars were led by sophomore forward Jordyn Byrd, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds, while sophomore Olivia Davis had 14 points and junior Madison Smithers had 10 points.

Ahead of the Semifinal Game, the entire student body of Cardinal Mooney cheered on the team with an outdoor Pep Rally on Feb. 24, a scene which will be repeated before their return to Lakeland ahead of the game on March 5.

Please visit the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Facebook page for the latest updates on the team’s quest for its first State Championship.

Two Diocesan swimmers repeat as State Champs

Two swimmers from Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Venice repeated as Class 1A State Champions Nov. 15, 2020 at Sailfish Splash Park and Aquatics Center in Stuart.

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School sophomore Michaela Mattes repeated as State Champ in the 500 Freestyle and took the title the 200 Individual Medley. Meanwhile, Conor Cranfield, a senior at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, repeated as State Champ in the 500 Freestyle.

Mooney’s Michaela took the 200 Individual Medley in 2:01.10, a time which earned her automatic All-American status with the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA). This victory comes in the same event in which she took silver in 2019. She repeated her 2019 performance in the 500 Freestyle with a dominating time of 4:47.19. She won the event by 7 seconds, again in All-American time.

“I’m extremely grateful for this season and I honestly did not think it was going to happen,” Michaela said. “I’m so incredibly proud of my teammates for their hard work to get to States and it was all thanks to Coach Smithers. I’m so happy that I got the two wins this year and I have no words for how excited I am for next year. Hopefully there will be more medals to come in the future.”

Verot’s Conor won the same 500 Freestyle event as he did in 2019. He finished in 4:26.27, also earning All-American status. Teammate Ryan Staunch earned a 5th place medal in the same race. The Verot boys 200 Medley Relay team (with Conor, Ryan, Robert Flannery and Marcos Egri-Martin) finished third with a time of 1:36.83, a new school record.

“We went out and did exactly what we wanted to do, both in the relays and in our individual events,” Cranfield told the Fort Myers News-Press. “The top three (in the relay), that’s something we’ve been gunning for since the beginning of the season. Everyone had great swims throughout the day, and we couldn’t be happier as a team.”

The Verot boys team finished 5th overall in Class 1A out of 33 teams. To earn that ranking, the team and individuals also did well in other events. The team took fifth in the 400 Freestyle Relay and 12th in the 200 Freestyle Relay. Conor took a sixth in the 200 Freestyle, while Ryan was 13th in the same event. Marcos finished seventh in 100 Breaststroke and 11th in the 50 Freestyle, while Robert took 11th in the 100 Breaststroke and 200 Individual Medley.

The Cardinal Mooney boys team also did well. Henry Linehan finished 14th in the 50 freestyle. Linehan teamed up with fellow teammates Max Middleton, Collin McCracken and Zander Mitten in the 200 Medley Relay and 200 Freestyle Relay. Both relays finished in 12th place. The team finished 22nd overall.

Local golfers excel at regionals

Golfers from the three Diocese of Venice Catholic high schools excelled during the regional tournament on Oct. 19, 2020 at The Eagles Golf Club in Odessa.

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School boys’ team from Sarasota took the top spot in the 1A Region 3 tournament, while the Bishop Verot Catholic High School girls’ team from Fort Myers took the girls title. Both teams qualified for the State Championships to be played Nov. 3-4 at Mission Inn Resorts and Club in Howey-in-the-Hills.

Individually, Verot girl’s golfer Talia Rodino took the 1A-3 Region Title, while her freshman teammate Morgan Franklin placed fourth. Both qualified for the State Championship. Verot boy’s golfer Michael Bevins finished third while St. John Neumann Catholic High School golfer Tyler Stamerro finished fourth, both also qualifying for the State Championships.

In the boy’s tournament, Bishop Verot finished fifth and St. John Neumann in Naples finished eighth. The Verot girls’ team was the only Diocesan Catholic high school to qualify for the regional tournament.

Athletes return to high school fields

Other summer programs open with precautions in place

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School football players participate in a conditioning program in Sarasota on June 11, 2020, the first on campus program since March.

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School welcomed back about 40 student-athletes for summer conditioning June 10, 2020, while following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines and procedures set forth by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Cardinal Mooney conditioning program included both football and basketball players and will gradually expand to include more athletes and other sports. Similar summer conditioning programs also began at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples.

This drone shot is of Bishop Verot Catholic High School athletes participating in a conditioning program in Fort Myers on June 10, 2020, the first on campus program since March.

Ben Hopper, Diocese of Venice Interim Superintendent of Education, said the move to allow athletes and some summer programming at schools comes after extensive planning and coordination with the various schools, consultation with the Diocesan School Board.

“The health and safety of our students is, and will always be, of paramount concern,” Hopper said. “Following guidance from health experts, and in some cases even going beyond those recommendations, the Diocese is confident that the protocols set forth provide the necessary balance to ensure everyone is safe.”

A Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School football player participates in a conditioning program in Sarasota on June 11, 2020, the first on campus program since March.

To participate in the summer conditioning program, student-athletes were sent a packet of information about Phase One and the new procedures put in place to protect the student-athletes as well as the numerous guidelines they must follow, some of which include:

  • Temperature screening taken daily upon arrival;
  • Athletic clearance with a physical by a doctor;
  • Have a personal water bottle;
  • A COVID-19 liability form signed by parents;
  • Self-screening form signed and dated daily by a parent;
  • Social distance by remaining six-feet apart at all times;
  • Arrive and leave with a face mask.

New head coaches Jared Clark, football, and Clayton Slentz, basketball, were on hand to facilitate the workouts on the Cardinal Mooney Athletic Field. Summer conditioning started at 8 a.m. and lasted about an hour. Workouts are done without masks as health officials note that doing so could cause serious health issues unrelated to COVID-19.

“It feels good to have our student-athletes back on campus and I believe they were happy to be here too, even with the new procedures,” said Assistant Athletic Director Julie Santiago. “We are constantly assessing the situation to make sure we are following all the new guidelines.”

“It felt good to be with the team again and with the new coaches,” said Beau Christensen, a rising Cardinal Mooney Junior. “The energy out on the field was great and since we were outside, no one came in contact with each other, so I felt safe with the changes in place.”

The st. John Neumann Catholic High School Lady Celtic Volleyball Team returned to the Naples campus June 16, 2020, starting summer workouts and some conditioning.

Each sport will have its own guidelines to follow. Basics include no sharing of equipment, no contact with each other and extra sanitizing between usage of any equipment. As noted in the paperwork provided to parents, the guidelines are subject to change and will be reevaluated and adjusted accordingly so as to remain compliant with CDC, federal, state and local regulations. Daily temperature screenings will be done. In the event a student-athlete or coach tests positive for COVID-19 that individual will be required to remain off campus and quarantined for 14 days.

Bishop Verot Catholic High School incoming freshman participate in a summer reading program in Fort Myers on June 9, 2020, the first on campus learning program since March.

In addition to athletes, Bishop Verot welcomed incoming freshman for a summer reading program. The students were placed in the cafeteria and seated at least six-feet apart.

This young girl participates in a Summer Art Program at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers on June 10, 2020, the first on campus activity since March.

At St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, a summer art program started on June 8, 2020. Each blooming artist had their own table to work from and individual sets of supplies so as to draw, paint and build.

Having athletes back and a few summer camps going on are just the first step in the process of working toward opening for in-class instruction in August.

“Each step in this process will require extensive planning and flexibility from our faculty and staff as well as from our students and parents,” Hopper said. “This is all new for everyone, so prayers and patience are needed as everyone works together toward that common goal in just a few months.”

News briefs for the week of June 1 2020

School shares virtual May Crowning images

These two students from St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples pray before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary during May.

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School did not want to let the COVID-19 pandemic cancel a favorite annual tradition, the May Crowning of Mary. Seton families were sent a request to submit pictures of students at home praying the rosary, placing flowers at a statue of Mary, coloring pages of the Blessed Mother, etc., and the results were inspiring. The results were so impressive that the school created and shared a short video which can be found on the school’s Facebook page. What a great way to honor Our Lady during the Month of May.

These are some of the drawings created by students from St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples created to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary during May 2020.

Bishop Dewane celebrates Pentecost Vigil at Cathedral


Sarasota student continues to help front line workers

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School student Malory Albritton helped pack and load the donations of blueberries to Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton in mid-May 2020.

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School student Malory Albritton is continuing to serve the community during COVID-19 pandemic. She helped pack and load the donations of blueberries from Albritton Fruit Farms made to Manatee Memorial Hospital nursing staff and doctors. Thank you for all that you do!

Ordination to the Priesthood June 27

The Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacon Franckel Fils-Aime will take place at 11 a.m., June 27, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the life of Deacon Franckel and the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

New basketball coach for Mooney

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota announced the appointment of Clayton Slentz as the new head varsity coach for the boys’ basketball team. Coach Slentz will continue to build on the growing strength of the Cougar athletic program. He has been an assistant varsity basketball coach with the Cougars for the past three years and currently teaches history at Cardinal Mooney. Slentz earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in 2015 and his master’s degree in history in 2017. For nine years, Slentz has been coaching basketball at the high school level.

Incarnation student receives honor for writing play

Incarnation Catholic School student Cora Thayer was one of 20 script submissions selected from more than 7,600 entries as part of the Florida Studio Theater “Write-A-Play” program. A participant in the Florida Studio Theater’s Writing Workshop, Cora’s “Big Dreams Under the Big Top,” will be performed during the Young Playwright’s Festival in the Spring of 2021. Her play is about a tiny inchworm named Illianna who overcomes many obstacles to become a circus Ringmaster.

Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota hosted a Florida Studio Theater Writing Workshop for students in January.

Online Preached Retreats

During the current health crisis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice is offering online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In these online retreats, Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estradilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to you, to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking to you. A Bible and journal should be available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds. The cost is as follows: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48. All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to participate in an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at and a code will be provided for your online registration as well as an application. For planning purposes, please allow 7 days from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

News briefs for the week of May 18

Naples Deacon remembered

Deacon Donald Healy, who served at St. Ann Parish in Naples, died April 2, 2020. he was 83.

Deacon Donald Healy, the oldest Permanent Deacon to be ordained for the Diocese of Venice, who served at St. Ann Parish in Naples, died April 2, 2020. He was 83. Deacon Healy was born in Rome, N.Y. and was a highly recruited college athlete in three sports. He ultimate chose football and played as a two-way player (office tackle and defensive guard) for the University of Maryland before he was drafted in the third round (37th overall) by the Chicago Bears in 1958. He was then selected in the 1960 expansion draft by the Dallas Cowboys where he still holds the team record for recovered fumbles in one season (5), the longest standing record in team history. He played his professional final season with the Buffalo Bills before retiring in 1962 due to injuries. He lived for many years in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he and his wife Genevieve (Shea) Healy raised four children. He worked in agricultural chemical sales and then later in the automotive parts industry. The couple moved to Naples in 1995 and Deacon Healy eventually earned an advanced degree in theology, a requirement for his lifelong dream of becoming a Permanent Deacon. When he was 70, he was ordained a Deacon by Bishop John J. Nevins on Oct. 25, 2006 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and was assigned to St. Ann Parish. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, four children, and 11 grandchildren. A Memorial Mass will be held later at St. Ann Parish.

Scam Alert

It has once again been brought to the attention of the Diocese of Venice that parishioners have received text/email messages from people pretending to be priests or Bishop Frank J. Dewane and requesting donations in the form of gift cards and/or wire transfers. The messages often greet the person by name and have the priests name in the closing signature of the message; this is a well-crafted and targeted attack on the Church across the country which has hit our Diocese again. These text/email messages are ‘spoofed’ fakes that should not be responded to or taken seriously by anyone. The best defense against this sort of scam is to raise awareness in the community and not respond or open any worrying attachments. It is Diocesan policy that no priest or staff within the Diocese request donations in the form of gift cards, PayPal, MoneyGram, etc.

There is already an established process in place on how parishioners can make donations and participate in the life of the Parish. Whenever a parishioner is worried about any request for money from the parish or a priest, they should immediately call their parish and under no circumstances should they respond to these scam requests.

Neumann golfer earns First Tee! scholarship

St. John Neumann Catholic High School graduating senior Sophie Shrader has been announced as a recipient of a $10,000 a year scholarship from The First Tee! Shrader has participated in The First Tee for eight years and represented the organization in many national opportunities. Shrader will continue her education in the fall at the University of West Florida.

Letters bring smiles to medical professionals

Second graders from St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota have been distance learning and one of the things they learned about through reading is about communication through letter writing. The students read a story called “Dear Juno” and their assignment was to write letters of appreciation and send goodie baskets to the medical professionals at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. The staff took time to take a picture and send thanks to the students.

Roof work taking place in Avon Park

A much-needed roof replacement project is taking place at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park. The church roof is being replaced and upgraded to ensure its safety and security for years to come.

Mooney teacher earns Doctorate

Sarah Hard Gates, a Theology instructor at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, and 1997 graduate of the school, successfully defended her dissertation and was awarded her PhD in Education from Abilene Christian University. She previously earned degrees from St. Leo University, the University of South Florida, and Barry University. Gates, a beloved teacher who is considered one of the “fun” teachers, has been teaching at Cardinal Mooney for 16 years.

Athletes distance training in Naples

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School Celtic Football Team isn’t letting this time for social distancing ruin their plans to start next season as strong as possible. The boys in Naples have been working hard each morning with their at-home workouts, while connecting with their teammates and coaches via ZOOM!

Rosary maker group keeps busy

The Our Lady of the Angels Parish Rosary Outreach group in Lakewood Ranch has continued to be busy! In the past few weeks more than 400 rosaries have been made. They are given to nursing homes, assisted living residences, hospitals, people in religious education classes, Confirmandi, First Communicants, and for others to hand out. Some 500 rosaries have gone to Africa for children’s rosary groups and 400 will be going to Cuba with The Society for the Propagation of The Faith (once travel resumes). The Rosary is our sword in these difficult times, and the goal of the Rosary Outreach is to spread the beauty of prayer through the rosary.

Students take virtual field trip to museum

The St. Francis Xavier Catholic School fifth grade in Fort Myers recently was provided a special treat, courtesy of The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. Students were taken on a virtual field trip led by museum staff where they were able to see the Ringling grounds, some special portraits and paintings and learn about the life of John Ringling.

Community service during quarantine

Leave it to a Diocesan Catholic school student to turn the challenge of a quarantine into a giving opportunity. Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Freshman Morgan Franklin in Sarasota took it upon herself to still be committed to community service during our stay home policy and cut her hair for Locks of Love, for those suffering from hair loss. She shared before and after photos of herself online, as well of as the hair that will be donated.

Year of Saint Joseph

On the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, March 19, 2020, Bishop Frank J. Dewane consecrated the Diocese of Venice to the care and protection of Saint Joseph in the context of the Coronavirus. The Bishop announced a “Year of Saint Joseph” beginning March 19, 2020 through March 19, 2021. Saint Joseph, often referred to as the Protector, can be our protector during this time of the pandemic. To pray a Novena to Saint Joseph please visit the Year of Saint Joseph webpage at

Online Preached Retreats

During the current health crisis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice is offering online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In these online retreats, Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estradilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to you, to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking to you. A Bible and journal should be available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds. The cost is as follows: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48. All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to participate in an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at and a code will be provided for your online registration as well as an application. For planning purposes, please allow 7 days from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

News briefs from Around the Diocese September 2019

Mooney Golfer No. 1 in Florida, ranked nationally

Noah Kumar is captain of the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Golf Team in Sarasota and has now cracked the top 100 nationally and is ranked 90th with Junior Golf Scoreboard. The Florida High School Athletic Association ranks Kumar the No. 1 high school golfer in the State of Florida. During his senior season with Cardinal Mooney, Kumar has an 18-hole tournament stroke average of 67.33, with six straight low round first place medal wins in a row. His nine-hole stroke average is 35.5 with a career low of 31. Kumar has been playing tournament golf since he was 10-years-old. He qualified to play in the U.S. Junior Amateur this past July and came in 12th in stroke play. Keep up the good work Noah!

Bishop celebrates Mass for Ave Maria University

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the faculty and student of Ave Maria University in Ave Maria on Sept. 23, delayed from Sept. 2 when the Mass was cancelled because of Hurricane Dorian. During the mass the Bishop encouraged the students to grow in their faith and to carry the message of the Lord into the world. At the conclusion of the Mass, the Bishop presided over a commissioning ceremony for nine new theology professors, during which each took an oath and vowed to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church.

Scout 10 Commandment Hike held Sept. 21

Scouts from across the Diocese of Venice gathered Sept. 21 for a 10 Commandments Hike at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The more than 100 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and American Heritage Girls learned about the 10 Commandments at different stations located along the internal road of the property. The Scouts were presented with an achievement badge for participation at the end of the day.

CCW Eastern Deanery holds retreat

The Council of Catholic Women of the Eastern Deanery took part in a bi-lingual retreat Sept. 21 at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park. More than 70 women from parishes Hardee, Highlands, Hardee, Glades and Hendry counties took part. The retreat included presentations by a number of priests as well as group prayers with the praying of the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Bishop celebrates Mass for NET retreat in Bradenton

A National Evangelization Team (NET) Ministries group held a one-day retreat for middle school students on Sept. 29 at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton. The retreat included several talks by youth ministers who travel across the nation trying to inspire young people to open themselves up to the Lord. Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the Mass for the retreatants and offered words of encouragement to the middle-schoolers for participating in the day and to the NET team for coming to the Diocese.

Laps for Life held Sept. 28

The Our Lady of Victory Knights of Columbus Council 3358 welcomed more than 200 to the 2nd Annual Sarasota Laps for Life at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. The event was opened by a blessing for Deacon William Ladroga and the runners and walkers followed a path for three laps to complete the 5K event. The top finishes finished in 17:35 minutes. The event helped to raise money to purchase for a new ultrasound for My Choice Pregnancy Center in Sarasota.

Bishop celebrates Red Mass

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated the annual Red Mass on Oct. 2 at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota. The Mass is held in honor of all members of the legal profession and has a history which dates back centuries. The most famous such Mass is held for the U.S. Supreme Court on the first Sunday in October. The Florida Bishops also celebrate a Red Mass for lawmakers in Tallahassee during the annual legislative session.

Pets blessed on Feast of St. Francis

A variety of pets wait to be blesses on Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota.

Pets great and small were blessed Oct. 4 on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota. Administrator Father Eric Scanlan blessed everything from hermit crabs, ferrets, fish, birds, snakes, lizards, dogs and cats brought in by the students and parishioners.