News Briefs for the week of August 16, 2022

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Bradenton, Sarasota and Naples

Bishop Frank J. Dewane recently celebrated Mass for students at three Diocesan Catholic schools, visiting St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton, Sept. 7, 2022, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, Sept. 12, and St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, Sept. 13. Bishop Dewane continues to be impressed by the increased enrollment at each of the schools as the students filled churches, chapels and gymnasiums. The Bishop is also continuing to invoke the Holy Spirit to descend upon the students as they go forth into the 2022-2023 Academic Year.

Seminarian prepares for Transitional Diaconate Ordination

In preparation for their upcoming diaconate ordination, the fourth-year class at Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome publicly professed the Faith of the Church and made an Oath of Fidelity in the presence of the NAC community on Sept. 13, 2022. Among those taking their oath was Diocese of Venice Seminarian Daniel Scanlan, who will be ordained on Sept. 29 at St. Peter’s Basilica. Please continue to pray for Daniel and all seminarians as they approach this milestone of their formation journey.

Robot building engages students

Students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral were busy on Sept. 12, 2022, building Lego Education Spike Prime Robots in Robotics class. The robotics program at St. Andrew allows students to learn and excel using skills that will prepare them for the future. Eventually, teams will be formed to compete in completing various tasks or taking part in a robot obstacle course within the school, and as the year progresses, against other robotics teams from other Diocesan Catholic schools.


Faith Formation kicks off in Fort Myers

The faith formation program at Our Lady of Light Parish and St. Cecilia Parish, both in Fort Myers, got a kick-start on Sept. 11, 2022, when hundreds of children began a new educational journey as they grow closer to the Lord. Our Lady of Light has some 150 in its K-5 formation program called “Footsteps in Faith.” St. Cecilia had their first classes learn Patriotic songs in conjunction with Patriot’s Day.

Life skills learned at school

St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples had its own version of the TV reality show “Chopped!” on Sept. 9, 2022. Students in a life skills class created a menu, recipe, budget and learned about how to read nutritional labels on grocery items. This included a trip to a grocery store and then preparing and serving the delicious creations for the judges, which included the Principal, Sister Patricia Roche, Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco. The results were delicious.

Students celebrate Our Lady’s birthday

To honor the Blessed Virgin Mary on her birthday, Sept. 8, 2022, students at Ave Maria Catholic School and Donahue Academy in Ave Maria made special efforts to mark this joyful event. This outpouring of love for Our Lady included homemade cookies, handmade cards and paper flowers for the Mother of God. The kindergarten students also made private visits to a statue of Our Lady, offering their prayers and best wishes on Mary’s special day.

Scientific method learned in classroom

Sixth grade science students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring have been learning about the scientific method – consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses. For example, on Sept. 12, 2022, they grew bacteria in a petri dish and conducted a scientific investigation and observed their bacteria specimens under a microscope. This type of project offers a hands-on approach to learning which helps students use multiple skills in order to complete their experiments.

Kindness rocks found on school campus

If you visit Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, you might spot colorful rocks on the ground. These rocks were not lost during some science experiment gone awry, they were in fact created by freshmen in their theology class as part of a “Kindness Project.” With the assistance of guidance counselors, each small rock was colorfully decorated and included a simple message of kindness, such as “Live your best life!” “Be You!” “Smile!” and more. The reaffirming artistic creations were then placed throughout the campus on Sept. 9, 2022.

News Briefs for the week of August 9, 2022

School Masses with Bishop continue


Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for students at Ave Maria Catholic School and Donahue Academy in Ave Maria on Aug. 31, 2022, and at St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy in Sarasota on Sept. 1. Bishop Dewane encouraged the students to use the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to grow closer to the Lord. These Masses are part of a series the Bishop will celebrate to open the 2022-2023 Academic Year at the 15 Diocesan Catholic schools from mid-August into October.

Verot Football reaches win milestone

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School football team reached 300 wins with a home victory on Sept. 2, 2022, over Lehigh 33-16. The Viking milestone appropriately comes as the Fort Myers school is in the midst of celebrating 60 years since its founding in 1962. Congratulations to all of the players, coaches and staff who have contributed to this program’s success.

School has STREAM Day

St. Mary Academy in Sarasota held a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) Day on Sept. 2, 2022. The students had projects that reinforced the seven “Gifts of Christ” – truth, beauty, goodness, humility, prudence, fortitude, affability. Students participated in a variety of activities that both challenged their minds, but also built up their love for God.

Kristallnacht Commemorative Program Nov. 6 in Naples

The Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County invites the community to a commemorative Program of the 84th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, recognized by most historians as “the Night the Holocaust began.” The event is free and will take place at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, at Temple Shalom, 4630 Pine Ridge Road, Naples. The guest speaker is Dr. Suzanne Brown-Fleming, Director of the International Academics Programs Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and her topic will be “November 1938: Perspective from the Vatican Archives. The event is sponsored by the Diocese of Venice, Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Federation of Greater Naples, GenShoah of SWFL, and the Holocaust Museum and Janet G. and Harvey D. Cohen Education Center. Please register at, or call 239-263-4205 to allow for adequate refreshments. For additional information please email

Club helps those in need

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School YACHT Club spent their Labor Day holiday helping to distribute food at nearby St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples. The food distribution is every Monday and is part of Naples community effort led by St. Matthews House. The YACHT Club (Youth And Christ Helping Together) is an instrumental component of the Neumann Campus Ministry Program. The mission of the club is to invite all students to the fullness of Christ’s love through service to others. Students plan and implement retreats, prayer services, liturgies, and more. They also take “cruises” to perform service in the community. The students were joined by two Sisters of St. John Bosco who serve at St. John Neumann.

Students donate blood

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students in Sarasota rolled up their sleeves and gave back to the community in a special way on Aug. 30, 2022, when they donated blood during a visit to the school by the SunCoast Blood Centers bus. There is a regional and national blood shortage and every pint donated helps to save lives.

Marriage Conference coming in October

Registration is now open for the Diocese of Venice Oct. 22, 2022, “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference, presented in partnership with the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life and the St. John Paul II Foundation. The theme of this year’s Conference is “Family: A Community of Prayer.” To register, please visit A video message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane can be found at This marriage enrichment conference will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. Grow together in holiness, learn to form your children in the Catholic Faith, enjoy a day of quality time with your spouse, witness dynamic presentations! The day will include the Mass and the availability of the Sacrament of Reconcilliation. This special event is for all couples, engaged, newlywed or long-married! On-site childcare will be provided. For more information, please contact Carrie Harkey at

Viking Class golf tournament in Fort Myers

The annual Bishop Verot Catholic High School Athletic Booster Viking Golf Classic is Oct. 15, 2022, at Stoneybrook Golf Club, 21251 Stoneybrook Gold Blvd., Estero. There is an 8 a.m. shotgun start. Take your best shot on a few holes, as there will be some mini-games: hole-in-one contest, longest drive, and closest to the pin. After the tournament, enjoy a luncheon at the clubhouse, complete with raffles and a silent auction! Tickets are $150/person or $600/group. Sponsorships at multiple tiers are available. Reach out to Jason Baumgardner for more information at either or 239-274-6711.

5K Walk/Run for Life Oct. 8 in Naples

The 8th Annual St. Agnes 5K Walk/Run for Life will be held Oct. 8, 2022, with the goal of promoting a respect life message and raising funds for pro-life causes while encouraging healthy living (body and soul). Registration is at the Parish at 6 a.m., with the race at 7:15 a.m., at 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road in Naples. Only those registering by Oct. 2 will receive a race shirt. Registration is open at For more information, please call 239-592-1949 or email

Priest appreciation dinners coming soon

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women invites all to one of two Priest Appreciation Dinners the group is hosting. The dinners are intended to honor all priests serving in the Diocese. The first dinner is 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Hall, 1301 Center Road, Venice, while the second is at the same time on Friday, October 7, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. The dinner is $45. For those interested in attending either dinner, please contact Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or

White Mass for Healthcare Professionals in Naples

Registration is now open for the annual White Mass for health care professionals at 8:30 a.m., Oct. 15, 2022, at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. A blessing of the stethoscopes will also be held. Physicians are asked to wear their white coats. There will be a breakfast and lecture in the Parish Center with guest speaker Dr. Christina Puchalski, a pioneer and international leader in the movement to integrate spirituality into healthcare in clinical settings and medical education. Physicians and nurses may qualify for continuing education credit. For more information, and to register, please visit

Registration Open for golf tournament

The registration is open for the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School 2022 Annual Golf Tournament on Monday, October 10 (rain date, October 17) at the Laurel Oak Country Club in Sarasota. Registration starts at 10:00 a.m., with a shotgun start at 12:00 p.m. The cost is $775 per foursome (early bird registration by September 12, is $725 per foursome). The cost includes golf, a boxed lunch, cocktails, buffet dinner and prizes. There will also be a 50/50 helicopter ball drop ($10 per chance/open to all). The tournament benefits the CMHS Adopt-A-Student Financial Assistance Program. For tickets and sponsorships, please contact Amy Gorman at or visit



News Briefs for the week of August 26, 2022

Mooney football team hears from coaching legend

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Football Team was both humbled and honored to have had Coach Urban Meyer give an inspirational talk before their Preseason Classic Game against Seffner Christian in Sarasota on Aug. 19, 2022. Meyer’s is a three-time national championship college football coach, twice as head coach of University of Florida and once with Ohio State University.

Gliders fly through classrooms

Fourth graders at St. Mary Academy in Sarasota had fun with their latest STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) challenge on Aug. 19, 2022. Their task was to build 3-hoop gliders, alternating the location of the hoops on each glider, and then let them fly. Each glider flew to determine which design performed the best and traveled the farthest. This was a lesson which challenged the students to think creatively and build a glider from paper and then see the results of their hard work.

Verot track and field champ receives ring

Bishop Verot Catholic High School senior Wyatt Whalen received his State Championship Ring on Aug. 19, 2022, in Fort Myers. Whalen took the Class 2A shot put title with a throw of 16.32 m (53 feet 6 ½ inches) during the Florida High School Athletic Association Track & Field State Championship May 11 -12, 2022, at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Whalen also took third in the discus with a toss of 46.36 m (152 feet 1 inch).

Eucharistic Conference in September

Inspired by the National Eucharistic Revival movement, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples is creating the opportunity for people to learn more about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. The one-day Eucharistic Conference is 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. The day features talks and worship music in both English and Spanish. There are sessions only in Spanish at the same time as the only English sessions followed by Eucharistic worship in both languages. Father Casey Jones, Pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton, and Jon Niven, Music Director at Seton, are hosting the English track. Special guests Juan De La Rosa, Director de la Renovación Carismática and Fernando Torres, Ministerio Agnes Dei Líder de Adoración, both from the Archdiocese of New York, are hosting the Spanish sessions. The day will end with a bilingual Vigil Mass at 4:30 pm. Breakfast and lunch are provided. Cost is $10 per person. Registration is on Seton’s website, The Parish is located at 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples. Please call 239-455-3900 for any additional information.

Students visit Venice retreat center

Eleventh grade students at Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria spent time on Aug. 18, 2022, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice as part of a retreat. The students prayed together, had some fun and learned about how they need to hear the call of the Lord in their lives. Ave Maria Parish Pastor Father David Vidal celebrated Mass for the teens.

Students have a ball with robotics

At St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, students are working hard to improve their coding skills during a robotics class on Aug. 22, 2022. This specialized skill is being learned as part of a broader STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum. This curriculum, called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” is growing out of a robotics program which broadens the opportunities for each student. The coding skills learned at St. Andrew enabled the students to perform various fun tasks with a Sphero Bolt Robot.

Ave Maria men’s program returning

The Ave Maria Parish “This Man Is You!” interactive men’s program is returning for weekly meetings beginning Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in the Parish. The program combines the best research from science with the teachings of the Catholic Faith and the wisdom of the saints to develop the vision of man fully alive. By honestly addressing the pressures and temptations that men face in our modern culture, “That Man Is You!” seeks to form men who will be capable of transforming homes and society. The theme for the year is “Thy Kingdom Come: Claim Your Royal Dignity and Inheritance.” The schedule includes 7 a.m. breakfast, with a weekly presentation from different speakers, small group discussions, concluding with Mass in the Parish church at 9 a.m. For more information and to register, please contact Dr. Charlie Thomason at or 860-460-7195.

Sarasota Laps for Life Oct. 8

Join the Sarasota Laps for Life 5K on Siesta Key Beach from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. This year the Knights of Columbus are running to benefit SOLVE maternity homes in Bradenton, Sarasota and Englewood. SOLVE provides cost-free housing, counseling and support for women and teens with unintended pregnancies. Why run? Promote a culture that encourages life in abundance by providing the support and resources available for both mother and child so they can flourish. Join us as we celebrate life in abundance! See for details and registration.

Priest appreciation dinners coming soon

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women invites all to one of two Priest Appreciation Dinners the group is hosting. The dinners are intended to honor all priests serving in the Diocese. The first dinner is 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Hall, 1301 Center Road, Venice, while the second is at the same time on Friday, October 7, at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. The dinner is $45. For those interested in attending either dinner, please contact Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or

First Responders Mass

The Knights of Columbus Saints Cosmas and Damian Council 13341 is honored to sponsor the First Responders Mass at 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 10, Our Lady of the Angels Parish, 12905 E. State Road 70, Lakewood Ranch. The Mass will honor the work of public safety personnel, including law enforcement officials, firefighters, and emergency medical service personnel. This Mass is a way to recognize the sacrifice of first responders and to remember those who have given their lives in service to their communities. All are welcome.

40 Days for Life Fall Campaign begins soon

The Fall Campaign of 40 Days for Life begins Sept. 28, 2022, and ends Nov. 6. Check with your Parish coordinator to join your Parish’s day on the sidewalk or go to (look under the locations tab for Sarasota or Fort Myers). Your presence can be a powerful sign to women in need that there are better options available. Questions? Contact Jeanne Berdeaux at or 941-374-1068.

Support CCW Seminarian Fund

Support, encourage and educate future priests through the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Seminarian Fund. Join the VDCCW in celebrating Priesthood Sunday on Sept. 25, 2022, in a special and lasting way by sending your Parish a Seminarian Fund “IN HONOR OF” card. This is a gift that keeps on giving. The Diocese is currently educating 13 men in various seminaries and a donation of any amount would be a great help (The donation amount will not be revealed to the recipient. To take part, please send your donation, made out to VDCCW Seminarian Fund (plus $1 to cover postage and printing) to: Cornelia Zanetti, Seminarian Fund Guardian, 5808 Gulf Drive #204, Holmes Beach, FL 34217. If you have any questions, email Cornelia Zanetti at



New teachers receive warm welcome

Nearly 100 new teachers, who have joined the Diocese of Venice for the 2022-2023 Academic Year, were warmly welcomed during an orientation session on July 29, 2022, at Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall in Venice. Much of this increase is due to new enrollment.

Jesuit Father John Belmonte, Superintendent of Catholic Education, opened the meeting with morning prayer. Father explained how starting all days centered on God is part of our Faith tradition, and this will strengthen the teacher each day and throughout the school year.

“By praying the morning offering, a very simple prayer which captures who we are as Catholic educators – dedicating our entire day to God,” Father Belmonte said.

To accomplish this, Father Belmonte said their work will reinforce the building of a “Catholic School Culture,” wherever they, as teachers, are assigned. A “Catholic School Culture” is the vision, values, systems, language, expectations, behaviors, and beliefs that increase a school’s and Diocese’s chances of accomplishing the strategy of fulfilling its mission: to introduce the world to its Savior.

During a midday Mass, Father Belmonte told the new teachers how the Lord wants them to set aside their worries, with the classroom and teaching as their chance to focus.

“Focus, not on yourselves or on your worries; instead focus always on the Lord to challenge your priorities. Focus on Christ always in your classrooms, this allows you to focus on your students and on their needs,” Father continued. “Do not be afraid or preoccupied by unfamiliar curriculum. The message is to make the Lord our priority.”

Throughout the day, the new teachers, learned about the Diocese and the crucial role they will play in helping to build up the faith-life of the students and families with whom they will interact. The group comes to their new positions with a wide variety of personal and professional experiences and skills. A few in the group are new to teaching and were joyfully welcomed. Still others have years of experience. It was also revealed that many moved to the Diocese in the past three years.

Being a Catholic educator is no easy task in a culture where there are countless external influences as people are bombarded by messages that are contrary to the Faith. This, Father continued, makes it increasingly difficult to get out the message of our Catholic traditions, values and faith into the world.

“We are facing huge headwinds as a Church and as a culture,” Father Belmonte continued. “That just places, in my opinion, even more importance on what we do. In a sense it has never been more important to have you do what you do because of all the things our children and families face.”

Jennifer Falestiny, Diocesan Curriculum Specialist, explained that the Diocese of Venice Catholic schools “do things better than other school systems. We have lots of programs and procedures in place that might seem overwhelming but is actually great and you will get it eventually.”

Falestiny explained how the Diocese has actively incorporated Catholic values and virtues through the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence.”

Throughout the day, the new teachers participated in a variety of fun tasks. Falestiny explained that the Diocese uses project-based learning to make learning visible and intentional. She offered a variety of pointers on how to incorporate such learning into the classroom with ease.

Each new teacher was provided with a comprehensive packet of information, as well as links to access numerous online exercises which will help augment their coming classroom work and make any new procedures easier to follow.

The new teachers also learned about the ongoing expansion of a project-based learning effort that is increasing the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) model.

Falestiny described the new partnership with FIRST® (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a company that facilitates a focus on education in robotics and organize the leading robotics competition in the world. This project places students ahead of the curve in primary technology fields while continuing to promote core Catholic virtues. This approach helps students develop cognitive thought processes and gain skills such as leadership, communication, complex problem solving, teamwork and creativity. The FIRST® program began in the fall of 2021 and is in the process of being fully incorporated into the entire Diocesan school system.

This effort, along with other endeavors, was made possible through the generosity of Bishop Frank J. Dewane who made a major investment in student success through his pledge to provide all Diocesan Catholic schools with age-appropriate kits and robots using LEGO products to eventually compete at the highest levels of competition through FIRST®. This is done while incorporating Catholic values and virtues.”

The 15 Diocesan Catholic schools work conscientiously to provide Christ-centered learning experiences that are transportable to the real world and provide the opportunity for children to develop life-long learning skills and to be successful beyond the classroom.

During the orientation, the new teachers also took part in Diocesan Safe Environment training, and learned about their employee benefits from a representative of the Diocesan Human Resources Department, risk management, workplace safety, certifications process, as well as about standard and ethical conduct.

All Diocesan Catholic schools will open the week of Aug. 8. For more information about Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools, please visit

Summer STREAM Camp wows

Not even a week out of school for the summer and a group of students were back on the campus of St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton to take part in a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Summer Camp where they got to perform all types of experiments and had lots of fun.

The camp opened on June 6, 2022, with a Spacecation! Eager young scientists made space containers for gear, set up an experiment for hatching space eggs, built and operated robotic arms, and even created their own “Jupiter” volcanoes.

This camp incorporates the “Camp Invention” program for children in grades K-6, where STREAM skills are built with creative, hands-on problem-solving activities.

Each day of the camp pushes students to use a variety of skills and brainpower to work on fun projects as they learn to work as a team to make amazing objects and learn about how the world works. Each section offers a variety of challenges and tasks the students must work to complete. In some experiments they are given strict guidelines to follow, while in others they can be as creative as they wish all in the name of science and learning.

The students worked on their creative writing with Plot Coasters! During this project, the students learned about story parts and writing creative stories. The prompt for the story was: You found a cave…what was inside? And the creative minds took off from there.

In the Marble Arcade portion of the camp, students started with chain reactions, zigzagged through physics, engineering and gaming as they built a mega marble arcade. This allowed the campers to study engineering while exploring friction, inclines, weights, and scales.

Next up, the campers made a big splash with Aquatic Robotics. The students dove into ocean research and created a habitat for their “jellyfish.” They also used their decision-making skills to make design choices, developed and patented new aquatic plants, and created a symbiotic best friend for their aquariums. Then they developed a unique, bio-inspired invention and role-played hooking their investors at the fish market.

They also had time to study probabilities by flipping cups and worked with “Arty Bots” which are not only fun to build, but they can create beautiful works of art!

Some of the campers also helped harvest the latest crop of lettuce from the school’s new hydroponic garden. This food continues to grow prolifically and is donated to the neighboring St. Joseph Food Pantry.  This experience has been a wonderful opportunity to show how food is grown and ways that we can help others in our community.

These are just some of the examples of the fun and learning that took place during the first two weeks at the St. Joseph Catholic School STREAM Camp. To learn more about St. Joseph Catholic School, please call 941-755-2611 or visit

2022 LION CUP STREAM Robotics Challenge huge success

With a shower of confetti, the inaugural Diocese of Venice Lion Cup Robotics Tournament got off to a rousing start on May 14, 2022, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers.

The Lion Cup – a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) middle and high school robotics tournament, included 150 competitors, 23 teams, representing 13 Diocesan Catholic schools. The competition was fierce, and the intensity built as the day progressed and the participants became laser-focused on being the best.

Emily Graham of the middle school Shambots 2 team from Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish said the team prayed and sought the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for success in the competition.

“We worked so hard to get ready and it was so much fun to compete against the other schools and then we won,” Emily, a 6th grader said with a big smile. “These robots are so amazing. We worked together to get everything to work.”

Jackalyn Flynn, a member of the Dollar Store Stark Industries team from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, said the competition was tough but she had lots of fun. “This was hard. We just created our team and learned so much from this competition. We will do better next year.”

In a welcome video message from Bishop Frank J. Dewane, he described the students as pioneers forging a path for the next generation of leaders and innovators and believers.

“Your ideas and enthusiasm show no bounds as we celebrate the creative challenge founded on the Gifts of Christ,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Lion Cup is more than a friendly competition among Catholic schools, it demonstrates that STREAM is a faith-infused program that can help solve many of the world’s most daunting problems by upholding Catholic values and teaching the principles of strength, utility and beauty. The Lion Cup showcases that Diocese of Venice Catholic schools are preparing students who are ready to build, lead and succeed in a time when science and technology are at the forefront of nearly every facet of our lives.”

The competition was fierce as teams programed their robots to accomplish various tasks in a specific order in a limited amount of time. The middle school robots are made from Lego pieces and as they go through the obstacle course, their autonomous robot picks up items along the way. Teamwork comes into play in design, construction and strategy. The high school robots are 10 times larger and are both autonomous and have a remote control.

Just before the competition began, teams were allowed to practice on the designated courses and test their work. Many teams made adjustments before the actual competition began and then the intensity and focus of the participants was ramped up. With their teammates/classmates cheering from the sidelines, each completed – or failed- task evoked a reaction.

The teams were judged on robot design, accuracy, efficiency and other factors. Awards were presented to the top teams at the end of the competition.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Education, said it was a great day, beyond his wildest dreams, giving much credit to Jennifer Falestiny, Diocesan Curriculum Coordinator and leader of the STREAM initiative in the Diocesan schools.

“What a huge success. So much virtue was shown here today,” Father Belmonte said. We do all of these things to give glory to God. That’s why our schools exist. That’s why our teachers teach. That’s why your parents send you to the school – everything to God’s glory.”

The Lion Cup honors St. Mark, one of the patron saints of the Diocese of Venice, whose symbol features a winged lion. The competition also pays homage to Leonardo da Vinci, inventor of many of the first robots, one of which resembles a lion.

“Da Vinci’s works incorporate three design attributes developed by Vitruvius, a famous Roman architect and engineer: Firmitas (strength), Utilitas (utility) and Venustas (beauty),” said Father Belmonte. “All three of these attributes will be aspects of our students’ robotic designs. The students have been preparing for this tournament for months and were eager to compete.”

Special awards were presented to the teams that reflected the attributes of Firmitas, Utilitas, and Venustas.

The Department of Education at the Diocese of Venice plans to host larger robotics competitions every year, possibly opening the invitation to other schools throughout Florida.

The winning teams were:

Middle school

  • 1st – Shambots 2 – Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish
  • 2nd – ECS Tigers 2 – Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School
  • 3rd – Falcon Robot – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

High School

  • 1st – Despair Parts – St. John Neumann Catholic High School
  • 2nd – Shambots 1 – Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish
  • 3rd – SJN Team 2 – St. John Neumann Catholic High School

Venustas – Beauty – Our Lady of Mercy – Co-Patroness of the Diocese of Venice

  • Middle school – ECS Tigers 1 – Eiphany Cathedral Catholic School
  • High school – Dollar Store Stark Industries – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

Utilitas – Utility – St. Macrina – Patron Saint of Robots

  • Middle school – Falcon Robot – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School
  • High school – Shambots 1 – Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish

Firmitas – Strength – St. Mark the Evangelist – Co-Patron of the Diocese of Venice

  • Middle school – Dragons – St. Mary Academy
  • High school – Dollar Store Stark Industries – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

News Briefs for the week of May 13 2022


After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Jayabalan Raju, Parochial Vicar of Epiphany Cathedral Parish, Venice, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective April 22, 2022.

Father Fausto Stampiglia, S.A.C., V.F., retired as Pastor of St. Martha Parish and other Diocesan responsibilities, effective May 14, 2022, and thus, is relieved of his duties as Pastor of St. Martha Parish.

Father Jerzy (George) Suszko, S.A.C., is appointed as Pastor of St. Martha Parish, effective May 14, 2022. At the same time, he is relieved of his duty as Parochial Vicar at St. Martha Parish.

Father Marcin Koziola, is relieved of his duties as Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, effective May 2, 2022.

Father Kristian Villafaña, is appointed as Temporary Administrator of Holy Cross Parish, effective May 2, 2022.

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate June 18

All are invited and encouraged to attend the Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate for the following candidate: Craig Dutka of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto. The Ordination will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 18, 2022, at Holy Cross Parish, 506 26th St. W., Palmetto. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow.

Sarasota Beach Volleyball team State Champs

Congratulations to our Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Girls Beach Volleyball team from Sarasota, they are State Champions for the Sunshine State Conference! The team beat Merritt Island High School on April 30, 2022, at Hickory Point Beach in Taveras. The team then fell in the quarterfinals of the FSHAA State Tournament on May 7, 2022, at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The team finished the season with a 22-2 overall record.

Fort Myers tennis team takes second at State

Congratulations to the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Viking Girls Tennis team in Fort Myers. They made Verot history today, earning 2nd place in the State Championship on April 29 at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry! The ladies entered the State Tournament at the 6th seed and took down two teams before falling in the Final to Gulliver Prep. Way to go ladies!

Pitcher throws Perfect Game

St. John Neumann Catholic High School Freshman Sophia Escobar pitched a Perfect Game on April 26, 2022, against South Fort Myers High School. She also struck out 14 batters during the game. A Perfect Game means Sofia did not allow any walks, hits or runs. Well done!

Venice school is STREAM Accredited

Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice is officially a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) Accredited Catholic School in the Diocese of Venice. Accreditation became official on April 26, 2022, from the Florida Catholic Conference of Bishops Accreditation Committee. The process of being certified has taken six years and the school credits its teachers for dedicating unit and lesson plans to the process.

Youngest students have fun measuring

Pre-kindergarten students, the youngest at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring, had fun on May 9, 2022, learning how to measure different objects. This lesson is helping to prepare these young minds for more advanced math in Kindergarten and beyond.

News Briefs for the week of May 6, 2022

Vegie Races cap off fun night

The St. Andrew Catholic School Veggie Races capped off STREAM Night on April 28, 2022, in Cape Coral. The night included a variety of STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) demonstrations throughout the schools. The highlight was the end of the evening Veggie Races. These races pit students against each other with racecars designed exclusive with vegetables – with a few skewers to hold everything together. The track was an inclined ramp with parallel lanes for the two competitors. The goal was to first get to the bottom without the racecar falling apart and then going as far as possible down the track. A great time was had by all as the students had use creativity and practicality to create a successful racecar.

Pinecone birdfeeders made in Sebring

Third graders at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring made pinecone birdseed feeders as part of a project to their Plants and Animals Science Unit on April 29, 2022. The patron saint of animals, St. Francis of Assisi, built bonds of love with all of the kinds of creatures in the animal kingdom. However, St. Francis had a special relationship with birds, who often followed him around and rested on his shoulders, arms, or hands as he prayed or walked around outside.

Middle school track teams excel

On April 30th, the middle school boys and girls track teams at Donahue Catholic Academy of Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria, competed at their conference championships on April 30, 2022, and both teams came home Champions. Way to go teams!

News Briefs for the week of April 22, 2022

Computers, robotics and Legos make learning fun

St. Andrew Catholic School third grade students learned about landmarks on April 6, 2022, in Cape Coral. To do this, they researched various landmarks on their computers and then, with their new Robotics programing software, used their Lego kits to bring what they learned to life. This is another example of a cross-curricular activity using the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) model.

Fresh salsa made from school garden

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School Environmental Club members enjoyed the fruits of their labor with homemade salsa in Fort Myers on April 17, 2022. Each of the ingredients were cultivated from the school garden. The results were tasty.

Schools, Catholic Charities in northern counties to benefit from Giving Challenge

Diocesan Catholic schools and programs of Catholic Charities in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties will be beneficiaries of the 2022 Giving Challenge, from noon April 26 to noon April 27, 2022. The Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The giving is being augmented by The Patterson Foundation which will match all donations between $25 and $100. All donations made during the 24-hour Giving Challenge are unrestricted gifts to the nonprofit organization of your choice. You can visit to search for participating organizations. Note that many of the organizations also have Challenge Matches from various supporters. These matches serve to multiply the value of individual donations. Schools participating in the 2022 Giving Challenge include: Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, Incarnation Catholic School, St. Mary Academy, St. Martha Catholic School, St. Joseph Catholic School, and St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School. In addition to Catholic Charities, other organizations within the Diocese that are part of the Giving Challenge include the St. Joseph Food Pantry, St. Vincent de Paul – St. Joseph Conference Bradenton Inc., as well as the Society St. Vincent de Paul – Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Conference.

Treasures of the Church coming to Diocese

An Exposition of Sacred Relics will take place in several locations within the Diocese of Venice and elsewhere in Florida in the month of May. Each evening begins with a presentation and teaching on relics which features the catechetical and spiritual basis for the Walk with the Saints where over 150 relics will be displayed. In the Diocese of Venice, the following dates and locations are available for all to attend: May 9, Incarnation Parish, 2929 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota; May 10, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 SW 20th Ave., Cape Coral; May 11, Ave Maria Parish, 5088 Annunciation Circle, Ave Maria; May 12, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, 5225 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples. Each exposition will begin at 6:30 p.m. and there is no fee to attend. For further information please visit

Students and parents help Needy

During a day off from school on April 18, 2022, students and parents from St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota volunteered to help pack 728 food boxes at All Faiths Food Bank in south Sarasota. This outreach, during a rare weekday off from school during the Monday within the Octave of Easter, reflected well the commitment to service Diocesan Catholic schools instill in its students and families. Great job everyone!

Breakfast with Bishop Joseph Coffey

The TMIY (That Man is You) Men’s Ministry of Ave Maria Parish is hosting a breakfast with Most. Rev. Joseph L. Coffey, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, at 8:15 a.m., May 13, 2022, in the Parish Hall at 5068 Annunciation Circle, Ave Maria. Bishop Coffey will speak on “The Causes of Canonization of Military Chaplains Father (Vincent) Capodanno and Father (Emil) Kapuan.” There is no cost or registration required. For more information, call Dom Micillo at 904-536-1480.

Port Charlotte school hosts first responders

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte was swarmed with first responders and their various emergency response vehicles on April 13, 2022. There was no emergency, in fact the first responders were present to give the students a variety of public safety demonstrations. Students were treated to a visit from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, including helicopter landing on the athletic field, K-9 units, and more. Also present were representatives from Charlotte County Fire and EMS, Charlotte County Public Safety, Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Fish and Wildlife and Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The day also included an opportunity for the students to thank the first responders for keeping the community safe.

Picnic tables installed at Bradenton school

April 13, 2022, was a scheduled day off at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton. However, the campus was busy as volunteers and the maintenance team assembled and moved 22 new picnic tables into the courtyard. The hard work paid off and when students and teachers returned on April 19, they received a pleasant surprise as there are new places for outdoor study, projects, lunch and relaxation.

Catholic athletes continue to excel

Teams from Bishop Verot Catholic High School earned both girl’s and boy’s tennis team district titles on April 13, 2022, in Fort Myers. Meanwhile, the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School boy’s lacrosse team earned a district title on April 15. The Mooney girl’s lacrosse team defeated the Verot girls in the district playoffs on April 11.

Neumann seniors reflect on high school

Scientium Veritatis ~ Senior Reflection Day at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples was April 19, 2022. The seniors presented before the faculty and staff their reflection projects, which called for them to dive deep and reflect on their last four years and the growth they have experienced. Students focused on Don Bosco’s Oratory (Home, School, Playground and Church) while showcasing important artifacts from their high school years.

OLPH Day of Prayer in May

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center’s final Monthly Day of Prayer Retreat for the season will be Sunday, May 8, 2022, and Wednesday, May 11. The cost for each retreat is $40 and includes a continental breakfast, two conferences, lunch, adoration, and Mass. The conference topics are the same for both sessions. The final Group retreat for the season is the Ignatian Preached Retreat scheduled for May 20-23. The cost is $460 and includes a private room and all meals. The Fall 2022 private retreat schedule is now available on the OLPH website and includes 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day directed retreats on their beautiful campus. To learn more about each retreat and to register, please visit: or call 941-486-0233. OLPH is located at 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice.

9th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference in May

All are invited to the 9th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference May 13 to May 15 at Ave Maria University, Ave Maria. The theme is “Do Whatever He Tells You.” Featured speakers will include Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Coffey, of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, Father Larry Richards, Father Rick Martignetti, Deacon Dr. Mark Miravalle, EWTN’s Steve Ray, and Johnnette Benkovic plus music by Martin Doman and the AMU Band. In addition to the talks, the Conference will include a Rosary Walk, Holy Mass, Benediction, and more. The cost is $180 per person and includes lodging, meals and conference fee for the weekend. For more information visit,call 239-348-4725 or email

News Briefs for the week of April 8, 2022

Parish hosts 40-hour Devotion

St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral hosted a 40-hour Devotion April 2, to April 4, 2022. This devotion included Adoration, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, praying the Holy Hour and concluded with a Mass. Father Ricky Varner, Pastor at St. Katharine Drexel, stressed the importance of focusing on the Lord through Eucharistic Adoration. The 40-hour Devotion was spilt into blocks of time throughout the three days to allow for more people to participate and benefit from spending prayerful time in the presence of the Lord.

 Candlelight Vigil to close 40 Days for Life in Sarasota

Everyone is invited to participate in the closing Candlelight Vigil of the 40 Days for Life spring campaign in Sarasota on Saturday, April 9, 2022. The Vigil will begin at 7:45 p.m. in front of the regional Planned Parenthood abortion facility at 736 Central Ave. in Sarasota. The 40 Days for Life spring campaign began on Ash Wednesday in thousands of communities, including Sarasota and Fort Myers. During 40 Days, at all of these sites, the faithful stood as peaceful witnesses for life. While the 40 Days for Life campaign is concluding, there are year-round opportunities to pray at abortion facilities in the Diocese. For more information, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at 941-484-9543 or

 Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Televised Mass

The Diocese of Venice in Florida will air the televised Palm Sunday (April 10) and Easter Sunday (April 17) Masses, each for a full hour. The Masses can be viewed at 9 a.m. on the CW Network in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Charlotte, Hardee and Highland counties, and at 10:30 a.m. on FOX-4 in Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades and Desoto counties. The Mass is also available on the Diocese of Venice website at

Chrism Mass April 12

The Diocese of Venice Chrism Mass, which takes place during Holy Week every year, will be held at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 12 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., in Venice. During this Mass, the faithful of the Diocese join the Priests, Deacons and Bishop Frank J. Dewane for the blessing of 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 are recognized at this Mass. All are encouraged to attend in support of our clergy and to participate in this important Holy Week celebration.

The 2022 Priest and Deacon Jubilarians are:

  • 50 years – Msgr. Joseph Stearns, Father Adrian Wilde, O. Carm., Father David Foley, and Deacon Ray Barrett.
  • 25 years – Father Hugh McGuigan, OSFS, Father Patrick O’Connor, OSFS, Father Leszek Sikorski, Deacon Henry de Mena, and Deacon Mark Miravalle.

Holy Week Mass times online

To learn about the times for the Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Mass and service times at Parishes and Missions throughout the Diocese of Venice, please visit

Students visit biomed business

Bishop Verot Catholic High School students in “Medical Interventions,” a third-year course in the Biomedical Sciences program in Fort Myers, visited Neogenomics on April 1, 2022, to better understand the application of the research they are doing in class and learn about potential career paths.

Young students study DNA

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Venice pride themselves on offering programs in all areas of study including science. Seventh graders at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring were studying DNA and genetics on March 30, 2022. As part of the lesson, they extracted their own DNA, using dried skin, and observed it in the school’s STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) lab. Classes like this enable students to learn more about not only the world around them, but also about themselves: students identify themselves as unique through their DNA and, in particular, as children of God.

Field trip teaches about Florida wildlife

A March 31, 2022, field trip to Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero by fifth graders from St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers helped the young students learn about wildlife that is native to Florida. The program, called the “Panther Posse,” brings in wildlife experts to share images and research that is ongoing about the Florida panther as well as other wildlife, including black bears. The presentation is a mix of fun and hands-on science. Students learned to identify trail markings of different wildlife as well as what dangers the wildlife face from pollution and interaction with people. The students left the program as newly launched naturalists and scientists.

Cyber safety education

Students at the different schools in Lee County heard from a specialist the week of March 29, 2022, about how to navigate technology and social media in today’s world. Robert Hackenson Jr. of Dynamic Influence spoke with students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers as well as at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. These lessons provided basic tips on the pitfalls of providing too much information about yourself online. The safety aspects could not be overstated as online predators try to manipulate people of all ages to endanger the users in different ways. Hackenson used age-appropriate examples to ensure the students understood these dangers. One of the focuses was on Social Media Land Mines, which included never revealing your location, details about your home or private life and much more.

Sneak preview wows young students

Student groups from St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers were given a sneak peek of the musical “Cinderella” at Bishop Verot Catholic High School on April 1, 2022. Two special previews were offered for the younger students who saw the elaborate production by the Verot Theater Department. Afterwards, the students were able to meet some of the cast and people who worked behind-the-scenes to make the show happen. Full performances were offered throughout the subsequent weekend.