50th Catholic Schools Week– Jan. 28 – Feb. 3 – Diocesan Catholic schools continue to thrive

Each day is a celebration of educating the mind, body and spirit at Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese of Venice.

A more public celebration will occur the week of Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, 2024, when Diocesan schools will participate in a series of exciting activities as part of the 50th annual National Catholic Schools Week.

Sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), the week provides an annual opportunity to share the good news about Catholic Schools. The theme, “Catholic Schools: United in Faith and Community.” focuses on the important spiritual, academic, and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education firmly rooted in the Truth of the Gospel.

Within the 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic schools, these are exciting times. Just in the past year, a rapid increase in enrollment has continued; an already cutting-edge curriculum has expanded; and many schools are working on projects to expand and upgrade their campus facilities.

Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners, and community members. On the weekend starting Catholic Schools Week, look for students to speak at Parish Masses to explain the benefits of supporting their education.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said Diocesan Catholic Schools not only educate the mind but also the soul, teaching the students to have a concern for their brothers and sisters, whether they live in the same country, down the street, or are in their classroom, through prayer, and the teaching of values, morals, and virtues.

“Through this broader approach, the student begins to learn, to reach out, beyond themselves, seeing for themselves that we are all made in the image and likeness of God,” Bishop Dewane said.

Catholic Schools Week 2024 promises to be bigger and better than ever, starting with the large numbers of students attending Diocesan Catholic schools, which is topping 6,200. This a 30 percent growth rate in the high schools in four years and 40 percent increase in the grade schools. As enrollment for the 2024-2025 Academic Year ramps up, space is limited.

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School is in the process of building a science center/gymnasium which is expected to add six classrooms and open by the start of the 2024-2025 Academic Year. Several schools also received temporary portable classrooms to accommodate added enrollment. These are temporary solutions as long-term capital campaigns are being planned for projects to upgrade existing facilities, and add classrooms to accommodate current and projected growth.

“This is a good problem to have,” said Jesuit Father John Belmonte, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education. “We have been blessed in that people are choosing Diocesan Catholic schools. Parents are finding a rigorous academic program, but more importantly, the curriculum is about training the will of each student and teaching them to make the right decisions so that they can do the good that is needed by not only their families and themselves but by society.”

Each school offers a comprehensive STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art, and math) learning model which is combined with the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” creating students of good moral character equipped to succeed in the world of today. This program has a strong robotics component as well.

“We prepare our students for today and for the future,” Bishop Dewane said. “We give the students what they need for success in this challenging world. Through this initiative, we are helping students to discover who they are as men and women of faith, as they learn these virtues that Christ calls us to, time after time in the Gospel.”

For example, there is an annual Diocesan robotics competition, dubbed the Lion Cup. This event brings together teams for each of the schools. The 2023 edition was a highlight for both students and teachers. Nearly 40 teams, and more than 220 students gathered for the middle and high school robotics tournament. The competition was fierce, and the intensity built as the day progressed and the participants became laser-focused on being the best in completing complicated tasks with their machines. Robotics teams are already gearing up for the 2024 Lion Cup which will be in April. In the meantime, the different robotics teams compete in public regional competitions.

On the spiritual side of the education, Father Belmonte has developed an annual devotional project, which is themed to focus students on a particular prayer or aspect of the faith, all in a continued effort to help them grow closer to Jesus Christ. The 2023-2024 project is themed, “Cause of Our Joy: Marian Devotional Project.” The focus of the project is teaching the students about Our Lady, and the importance of praying the Most Holy Rosary. This project builds upon the theme from the previous year, “The Most Holy Eucharist: The Riches of His Glorious Inheritance,” which was done in support of the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival. The Revival is a U.S. Bishops outreach to help increase devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist through prayer and Eucharistic Adoration.

On Dec. 8, 2023, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School football team from Sarasota, earned the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 1S state championship. This was 51 years to the day (Dec. 8, 1972) of the last state title by a Mooney football team. A victory rally was held on Dec. 19 at Mooney.

In addition, the Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria won the 6-man football championship. Also, the Mooney girls’ basketball team, and the St. John Neumann Catholic High School baseball team in Naples, both reached the state Final Four in their respective divisions. Consistently, individual and team Diocesan athletes excel in swimming, cross country, track and field and more. Many go on to earn athletic scholarships and continue playing sports at the collegiate level.

While sports achievements are impressive, many Diocesan students earn honors for their academic and artistic gifts as well.

One Bishop Verot Catholic High School student in Fort Myers recently earned a perfect score on the ACT college placement exam. Students in all grades score at the advanced level on national tests while being grounded in the knowledge of the Catholic Faith. Impressively, the 2023 graduating high schoolers garnered more than $43.2 million in scholarship offers. Those numbers include students earning nationally competitive academic honors, such as the National Merit Scholarship. An astounding 99 percent of the graduates are heading off to higher education at some of the top colleges and universities in the land.

For the artists, students across the Diocese earn honors in both local, regional, and national competitions. In fact, for the past six years, at least one Diocesan student has been recognized for their artwork in the annual Missionary Childhood Association Christmas Art Contest. In the past year, several students have been recognized by county governments for their artistic talents, with artwork appearing in numerous environmentally-themed calendars.

The 15 Diocesan Catholic schools are an investment in the future as they serve as the heart of the Diocese, building the Catholic leadership of tomorrow. Schools are in Bradenton, Sarasota, Venice, Port Charlotte, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Ave Maria and Sebring.

Scholarships are available to help ease some of the financial burden, and families should not assume that they wouldn’t qualify. In addition to school, Parish and Diocesan support, state scholarships such as Step Up For Students are also available.

Catholic Schools Week 2024 will showcase many of these aspects of Catholic education within the Diocese of Venice. Please check with the nearest Diocesan Catholic school for a list of public activities by visiting https://dioceseofvenice.org/catholicschools.

News briefs for the week of January 5, 2024

High school club honors veterans

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School club Vikings for Heroes spent time helping the “Wreaths Across America” program on Dec. 14, 2023. This program took place at cemeteries across the entire nation, and the purpose was to “Remember the fallen. Honor those who serve. Teach the next generation the value of freedom.” Students spent the day decorating headstones at Fort Myers Memorial Gardens in preparation of the Christmas holiday. Vikings for Heroes is led by Pete Orsita, a military veteran himself who teaches science. Orsita’s passion to help other veterans is clear in how he has helped with outreach efforts such as “Wreaths Across America,” the Veteran’s Day assembly, and support for Honor Flights, which enables veterans to visit the memorials in Washington, D.C.

Boat building challenges robotics students

Congratulations to the ingenious 6th, 7th, and 8th grade robotics students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Corel. On Dec. 21, 2023, the students embarked on an aluminum boat-building challenge, showcasing problem-solving skills, collaboration and creativity that left us in awe! Special kudos went to 7th graders, Ryder and Matias, whose boat sailed to victory, holding an impressive load of 50 pennies, an example of true innovation at work. The project was a testament to teamwork, critical thinking, and the sheer joy of hands-on learning. All 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic schools offer a comprehensive STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math) learning model which is combined with the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” creating students equipped to succeed in the world of today.

Catholic Charities Annual Christmas Appeal needs your support!

The 22nd Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal needs your support! The Christmas Appeal continues through the end of January 2024 and is Catholic Charities’ largest annual fundraiser, critical to operating this critical social service organization. Gifts provide funding for the many Catholic Charities programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida. Your generosity enables Catholic Charities to serve those seeking help all year long. To donate please visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate, or mail a contribution to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Catholic Street Evangelization training in Naples

Interested in learning about Catholic Street Evangelization? Register now for the January 27 Saint Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE) training at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave N, Naples.  Registration deadline is January 23. SPSE is supported and encouraged by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and is a response to the mandate of Jesus Christ to “preach the Gospel to all nations…” taking the Catholic Faith to the public square. The organization seeks to train others to witness effectively to the truth, beauty, and goodness of Jesus and His Church in a non-confrontational way. All Catholics who are 18 years of age and older are cordially invited to register. The daily Mass is at 8 a.m., and the workshops are from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A “Live Lab” will follow. The cost is $15 per person and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2024-st-paul-street-evangelization to register. For other questions, please contact Jim Gontis at gontis@dioceseofvenice.org.

Volunteers Needed for Prison Outreach

Join the team of Diocesan volunteers who enter county jails and state prisons within the 10-county Diocese of Venice to do pastoral outreach, distribute the Eucharist and facilitate programs. Priests, Deacons, and lay volunteers are encouraged to assist in this ministry. Volunteers will first participate in an orientation program before entering the facility and will “shadow” experienced volunteers until they feel comfortable. Times and days vary by facility. Please contact Joe Mallof at 224-217-7139 or Bob Hiniker 863-558-0407 to learn where you can fit into this joyful opportunity.

 

Sarasota student earns top Christmas art honor

Karys Kuchinsky wants to be an artist when she grows up. If the people at the Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) Christmas Artwork Contest are any judge, Karys is well on her way to achieving this dream.

Karys is a sixth-grader at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota and was one of 19 artists to be recognized for her work in the MCA Christmas Artwork Contest. Her artwork, and that of the other winners, is on display through the Advent and Christmas Seasons at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. All winners are featured as MCA eGreetings, which launched on the First Sunday of Advent (Dec. 3, 2023) at https://egreetings.missio.org/.

Karys’ winning artwork of the Blessed Virgin Mary was of her own interpretation from her creative mind. “It was quite the honor to be selected and represent our community,” she said.

She is a passionate artist, following in the footsteps of an older sister who went to the Ringling School of Art and Design. Karys travelled to Washington for an awards ceremony for the MCA Christmas Artwork honorees on Dec. 1 at the Basilica.

The award ceremony, followed by a Mass and a luncheon at Catholic University of America, was a celebration of artistic talent and a testament to the missionary spirit fostered by MCA. The awards were presented by accomplished American artist Suzanne Ferrell Nicholson and Msgr. Kieran E. Harrington, national director of The Pontifical Mission Societies, which encompass the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, as well as the Missionary Childhood Association.

“The trip was filled with excitement and intrigue from the start,” Karys said. “Meeting the other winners, Msgr. Harrington and the MCA staff was rewarding. The art exhibit was fabulous to see with all the other contestants’ work on display. Each painting delivered a strong message and expression clearly symbolizing and supporting the missionary vision.”

Mirna Kuchinsky, Karys’ mother, said that her daughter has blossomed as a talented artist in the past year or so. “I know I am her mother, but she is really good. We went to Washington so that she could be inspired, knowing that she was chosen to be honored among so many entries.”

This is not the first time a St. Martha Catholic School student has been honored through the MCA Christmas Artwork Contest. In fact, this is the third year in a row a St. Martha student has been a finalist in the MCA contest.

Throughout the years, Mary Jo Salamone, Karys’ art teacher, takes time to ensure all of her students take part in the different art competitions both nationally and locally, never losing sight that each award is a gift from God which should be shared with others.

Hundreds of submissions were received, both through the mail and online, for the annual MCA competition which dates to 1933. Back then, MCA used children’s artwork on Christmas seals. Christmas cards were introduced in 2005, and in 2007 eGreetings were launched with these drawings. These artworks, depicting scenes of the Christmas story, are available in a digital e-greeting format, allowing anyone to spread the joy of the Christmas Season while supporting the missions. If you would like to send an e-greeting, please visit https://egreetings.missio.org/.

The MCA was founded in France in 1843 to encourage all children to be aware of the needs of children living in mission Dioceses throughout the world and support them both spiritually and sacrificially. Under its banner “children helping children,” monies raised through schools are directed towards self-help programs involving the building of schools, the provision of health and nutrition programs and medications, school fees, as well as teaching and learning resources.

Father Joseph Gates is the Director of the Diocese Office of Propagation of the Faith (Mission Office), which coordinates activities regarding foreign, domestic, and Diocesan mission work. For more information, please call 941-776-9097 or email missionoffice@dioceseofvenice.org.

 

News Briefs for the week of December 15, 2023

Longtime immigration specialist retires from Catholic Charities

The staff of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., held their annual holiday party in Lee County at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Fort Myers on Dec. 8, 2023. During the celebration, time was taken to provide special recognition of Maria Rodriguez, the lead immigration specialist in Lee County. Rodriguez is retiring from Catholic Charities after 31 years of service. She started as an assistant with the organization and worked her way up to be a valued leader who helped assist families and individuals navigate their way through the immigration process. Rodriguez was presented with an award from Eddie Gloria, CEO of Catholic Charities, and Alex Olivares, Regional Director covering Lee, Hendry and Glades counties. Thank you, Maria, for your years of service and have a blessed and happy retirement.

Student takes cameras to the zoo

Photography class students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers took a field trip to the Naples Zoo on Dec. 7, 2023. The goal of the trip was for the students to capture images of the various wildlife, as well as to allow them to practice the fundamentals of photography they have been learning all semester long, and really put their skills to work! The fun trip helped the students to show off their talents and develop their photography skills.

Bishop to speak at Theology on Tap Dec. 21

Each third Thursday of the month, young adults gather for faith, fellowship and fun at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. Theology on Tap is presented by the Diocesan Office of Evangelization, and the Dec. 21, 2023, guest speaker will be Bishop Frank J. Dewane. The Mandeville Beer Garden is located at 428 N. Lemon, Ave., and the gathering begins at 7 p.m. For any questions, please email Jim Gontis at gontis@dioceseofvenice.org.

Televised Mass for the Homebound on Christmas Day

The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound with Celebrant Bishop Frank J. Dewane will air for a full hour on Christmas Day. For viewers in the northern portions of the Diocese (DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Sarasota counties), the Mass will air at 8 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass will air at 8 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). Please check your cable provider for channel listings. The Mass will also be available on the Diocesan website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Leaflet missals are available upon request by calling Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714 or by writing: TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. For more information email ardy@dioceseofvenice.org.

News Briefs for the Week of December 8, 2023

Appointments

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

Father David Vidal, Pastor of Ave Maria Parish, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective November 21, 2023.

Father Augustine Twum Obour, Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes Parish, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective November 21, 2023.

Father Claudio Stewart, Administrator of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective November 22, 2023.

Father Juan Carlos Sack, Parochial Vicar of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective November 22, 2023.

Catholic Center Christmas Tree blessed by Bishop

Bishop Frank J. Dewane led the blessing of the Catholic Center Christmas Tree on Dec. 5, 2023, in Venice. The blessing was part of a prayer service that included readings and petitions as staff of the Catholic Center gathered. Afterwards, the tree was decorated, and holiday treats were offered.

Students receive personal Bibles

Sixth grade students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton were each presented with a personal Bible that they will use throughout middle school and will keep for their spiritual growth. The presentation took place on Nov. 17, 2023, by Parish Pastor Father Rafal Ligenza and Liliana Ronderos, St. Joseph Religious Education Director, who visited the sixth graders. Father Ligenza led a prayer service and blessed Bibles for each of the students.

Advent wreaths made in Naples

The Home and School Association of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples and Theology Teacher Erica Szczechowski orchestrated an Advent Wreath Making night on Dec. 1, 2023, for the ladies of the school. This was a community-building event. Let the light of the wreaths guide everyone through this season of anticipation and reflection.

Students learn about kindness

Florida Gulf Coast University Roots of Compassion and Kindness students visited St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers to talk to middle schoolers about kindness. The students worked on communication and teamwork (kind words and kind hands) with games and reflective activities in a spirit of enthusiasm, patience and fun.

Students learning new measuring technique

First grade students in Dixie Kreulen’s class at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring learned how to measure including the question: “Can we measure God’s love?” on Nov. 20, 2023. This is a good example of how Diocesan Catholic schools use an integrated curriculum called “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” expanding the scope of the STREAM model (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math), into the classroom.

Bishop to speak at Theology on Tap in December

Each month, on the third Thursday, young adults gather for faith, fellowship and fun at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. Theology on Tap is presented by the Diocese Office of Evangelization, and the Dec. 21, 2023, guest speaker will be Bishop Frank J. Dewane. The Mandeville Beer Garden is located at 428 N. Lemon, Ave., and the gathering begins at 7 p.m. For any questions, please email Jim Gontis at gontis@dioceseofvenice.org.

News Briefs for the Week of November 10, 2023

Parish joins Knights in supporting vocations

The 25th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Father Bob Kantor, Pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Naples, was a cause for celebration on the weekend of Oct. 28-29, 2023. The celebration served the dual purpose of supporting vocations as well as honoring Father Kantor. A special second collection was held to raise funds for the Florida Knights of Columbus Charities Vocations Fund. The fifth Sunday of a month is used for charitable causes outside of the Parish. More than $8,000 was collected. The monies will be designated for use in support of seminarians studying for the Diocese of Venice. Father Kantor serves as State Chaplain for the Knights’ Florida State Council. The timing of the support coincides with National Vocations Awareness Week which was Nov. 5-11.

Students learn computer coding

Sixth-grade students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral had an incomparable opportunity on Nov. 7, 2023, delving into the world of computer coding with the help of Jason Castaldo, a teacher from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. Under the guidance, inspiration, and expertise of Castaldo, the students explored the fascinating realm of programming and problem-solving. It was a journey filled with creativity, logical thinking, and the excitement of building digital wonders. Enthusiastically delving into the “Hour of Code” is paving the way for the future of these talented students.

Tasting the World!

Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park hosted its annual International Food Festival on Nov. 5, 2023, in the Parish Center. Participants had the opportunity to “taste the world” in this culinary journey, sharing the flavors of their culture with food from many different countries, such as Colombia, Germany, Haiti, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and more. There were even hot dogs, ice cream, and popcorn for the little ones.

Students gather in the form of a Cross

Students at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples gathered Nov. 6, 2023, on the soccer field to stand in the form of a cross. This is an annual tradition at the school which is a fun day outside for the students as they gather in the form of an important symbol of the faith. The school has experienced rapid growth in recent years with enrollment topping 425, up 40 percent since 2020.

Parish celebrates All Saints’ Day with relics

For the second year in a row, Incarnation Parish in Sarasota had a special display set up for All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1, 2023). Saint relics, on loan from parishioners, were put on display for people to visit between Masses on the Solemnity. Many lined up to view the relics, touch rosaries to them, and pray for the powerful intercession of the Saints. The Second Vatican Council recalls that “the Saints have been traditionally honored in the Church, and their authentic relics and images held in veneration.” The term “relics of the Saints” principally signifies the bodies – or notable parts of the bodies – of the Saints who, as distinguished members of Christ’s mystical Body and as Temples of the Holy Spirit in virtue of their heroic sanctity, now dwell in Heaven, but who once lived on earth. Objects which belonged to the Saints, such as personal objects, clothes and manuscripts are also considered relics, as are objects which have touched their bodies or tombs such as oils, cloths, and images.

News Briefs for the Week of Oct. 27, 2023

Veterans Day Mass

On Veterans Day, Saturday, November 11, the Diocese of Venice will hold a Memorial Mass in honor of the men and women who have served our country and continue to serve and protect us today. This is the 14th year the Diocese has held a Mass on Veterans Day. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will celebrate the Mass at 3 p.m. at the Sarasota National Cemetery, 9810 State Road 72/Clark Road, approximately five miles east of I-75. The Priests, Deacons and Knights of Columbus in the Diocese will join Bishop Dewane for this important event. All are invited to attend, and active military personnel are asked to wear their uniform. Attendees are also encouraged to wear sunscreen and bring a hat. There is ample seating and parking at the cemetery. All guests are encouraged to arrive early. Please contact Gail Ardy at ardy@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-486-4714 for further information.

Knights support vocations

The Knights of Columbus of the St. John Council 11281 hosted a Vocations Dinner Dance on Oct. 21, 2023, in the St. John the Evangelist Parish Ballroom. The honorees were Father Nicholas Thompson and Father Mark Harris, Parochial Vicars at St. John the Evangelist. Bishop Frank J. Dewane offered the opening Benediction. The evening included dinner for more than 200 with numerous priest and women religious present. Entertainment was by the Manhattan Connection. The proceeds of the evening will help support Diocesan seminarians.

Children pray for peace

More than 100 children and teens took part in a special prayer service at St. Paul Parish in Arcadia on Oct. 21, 2023, during which they prayed for peace in the world. This gathering included children in the religious education program praying the Rosary. A paper rosary (green, red, white, blue and yellow) was laid out on the floor in front of the altar before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This paper rosary was in place so that as each prayer was recited, a child would come forward and placed a yellow flower on the corresponding “bead.”

Theology on Tap continues

Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, Director of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice was the featured speaker at the Oct. 19, 2023, gathering of Theology on Tap for young adults at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. Theology on Tap is for young adults and takes place on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., outside in the garden for food and refreshments, presentations, and discussions about the Catholic Faith. The Nov. 16 guest is Father Anthony Armstrong, O. Carm., Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Osprey. The Dec. 21 guest is Bishop Frank J. Dewane. For any questions, please email Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org.

Youth Holy Hour Nov. 5 in Naples

Middle school, high school and college youth are invited to attend a Holy Hour once a month at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples. The hour will consist of Adoration, prayer and an opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The evening follows the 5 p.m. Mass and lasts until 7 p.m. The next Youth Holy Hour is Nov. 5, 2023, with gatherings scheduled for Dec. 3, and Jan. 7. For further information, please contact St. John the Evangelist Youth Ministry Director Juliana LoGiudice at jjuliana@sjecc.com.

Science fair impresses

Middle school students at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota took part in a Science Fair on Oct 19, 2023. Students were asked to create a science experiment on any topic. They started with a hypothesis, used a variety of materials and procedures and then came up with conclusions. Project titles included, “Wind Beneath My Electrons,” “Soap vs. Microwave,” “Colorful Chemistry,” Ink Incident,” “The Rise of the Cupcake,” “Hand in the Sand,” “Robots Lead the Way,” “That’s Metal!” and “Does water or coffee make plants grow faster?” Parents and Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students served as judges.

Volunteers Needed

Join Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., dedicated staff to help in the mission of serving all. There are many opportunities to volunteer in many different programs, located throughout Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Hendry, Glades, Collier, Desoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties. Catholic Charities offers programs for infants, afterschool programs, the elderly, and much more. Join and make a difference. To learn more about amazing volunteer opportunities, please visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/volunteer.

 

News Briefs for the week of November 20, 2023

Students encouraged to be “Servants of Christ”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass of the Holy Spirit for students at two Naples Catholic schools on Oct. 9, 2023. St. Elizabeth Seton and St. Ann hosted Bishop Dewane who spoke to students about how the Apostle Paul was called to live his life in a manner worthy of the call he received from Jesus Christ. While St. Paul struggled with the call, he ultimately gave himself over to the Lord to become His servant. Bishop Dewane asked the students at both schools, “How are you going to live as a servant of Jesus Christ?” Following each Mass, the Bishop took time to speak to the eighth graders, encouraging them to be leaders at their school, while also answering questions. Further, the Bishop encouraged the eighth graders to consider going to nearby St. John Neumann Catholic High School.

Students pray for peace

This is homecoming week at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, but the students took time out from the festivities to join in praying for peace in the Holy Land on Oct. 17, 2023, as called for by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and Pope Francis. A morning prayer service was held for the victims and families affected by the recent tragic events in Israel and Gaza. The students at Bishop Verot vowed that every day, they stand united in hope for peace in the world.

“Faith Over Fear” STREAM Day

The students at St. Mary Academy in Sarasota took part in a STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math) Day on Oct. 13, 2023. The theme was “Faith Over Fear,” as students learned the story of David and Goliath. The Biblical account of David and Goliath is one of the most popular stories from Scripture. It is a lesson of courage, faith, and overcoming what seems impossible! The students made catapults to take down Goliath! The creativity was impressive, and the students had a great time working together.

Teachers receive grants

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School teachers in Naples were recipients of 12 Champions for Learning grants from The Education Foundation of Collier County. For the school, these grants will fund a range of needs from class field trips to books, STREAM projects, enrichment activities, and even sewing machines for art class. The teachers awarded were: Megan Schuchman (grade 1), Susan Boga (grade 1), Natalie Donahue (middle school – language arts), Nichole Eastman (grade 5), Christina Grun (art), Michele McFee (pre-kindergarten-3), Charity Winter (resource), and Fabiola Galarraga-Cole (Spanish). Congratulations all!

National Eucharistic Congress pilgrimage with Bishop Dewane

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the Faithful of the Diocese of Venice to join him on a Pilgrimage to the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. This historic 5-day gathering will take place in Indianapolis July 17 – 21, 2024. The National Eucharistic Congress represents the culmination of the Church’s three-year effort to put an emphasis on the Real Presence of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharistic.  It is a pivotal moment in the Church, and a unique opportunity for participants to draw into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Our Lord. The cost of the Diocese of Venice pilgrimage package is $1,049. With the package, pilgrims receive the National Eucharistic Congress 5-day pass, which provides access to all speakers and events, as well as four nights’ accommodations in a 4-star hotel within walking distance of the convention center. Please note, the pilgrimage package does not include transportation or meals. Space is limited! Register today using https://ctscentral.rezmagic.com/Booking/Reservation/Start?tripID=5394&CategoryId=52540. Questions? Contact Carrie Harkey, harkey@dioceseofvenice.org.

Vocations Weekend Oct. 27-29

If you are a young man (high school age or above) and sense that the Lord is calling you to the priesthood, St. John Vianney College Seminary is hosting a free Vocations Weekend. The event begins with pizza and night prayer on Friday evening, Oct. 27, 2023, and ends with Holy Mass and brunch on Sunday, Oct. 29. Join with other discerners from around the state of Florida to experience a glimpse of seminary life, meet the young men who are already studying for the priesthood as seminarians, and join with them in prayer and fraternity during this profound weekend retreat. (The typical schedule for the weekend includes adoration, spiritual talks, daily Mass, personal testimonies from seminarians, meet and greet with the professors, a campus tour, games and sports.) For more information and to RSVP, please visit https://www.venicevocations.org/, or email Father Shawn Roser, Diocesan Director of Vocations at roser@dioceseofvenice.org or call 941-486-4720.

40 Days for Life continues

The 40 Days for Life fall campaign is ongoing and runs through Nov. 5, 2023, seeking a peaceful end to abortion in the U.S. and around the world through the power of prayer. It is the presence of more than one million prayer warriors in 681 cities worldwide – including Fort Myers, Naples, and Sarasota – that will make a difference in this important battle to save the unborn. The prayer vigil in Fort Myers is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 6418 Commerce Park Drive. In Sarasota, the vigil is daily, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (7 days a week), at 736 Central Ave. The Naples prayer vigil is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 1425 Creech Road. For more information, please visit https://www.40daysforlife.com/en/, or contact Diocesan Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Students take part in leadership retreat

A group of select students from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples recently participated in a transformative Salesian Leadership Retreat the weekend of Oct. 6-8, 2023, in New York City. During this enriching experience, the students had the opportunity to cultivate their leadership skills, deepen their spirituality, and forge lasting bonds with their peers. Through various workshops, activities, and reflections, they explored the values of St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello, learning how to become compassionate and effective leaders in our community.

Equestrian Club trots for fun

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Equestrian Club is going strong as it is in its second year. This is a group for horse lovers to learn more about the equestrian sport in a safe and Christian environment. This year the club has partnered with Wolfe’s Born to Ride, a Christian stable in Parrish. On Oct. 7, 2023, two groups of students took part in two-hour rides through Little Myakka State Park. The Wolfes met the students at the park with 10 gentle horses. The group got to walk, trot, canter, go through water, ditches and through and over obstacles. They are planning to do rides like this monthly and even hope to do a moonlight trail ride with parents.

 

 

 

 

News Briefs for the week of October 6, 2023

Bishop encourages students to be “Disciples of Christ”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane continued his tour of the Diocese of Venice Catholic schools with his latest Mass on Sept. 29, 2023, at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte. During the Mass, the Bishop encouraged the students to live out their lives as “Disciples of Christ.” This means they need to follow the Lord’s guidance as an example in their words and actions, particularly how they interact with their family, friends and even strangers.

Scout hike at retreat center

The annual Diocese of Venice Scout 10 Commandment Hike returned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice on Sept. 30, 2023. More than 100 Scouts and American Heritage Girls from across the Diocese gathered at the retreat center to learn about the 10 Commandments. The hike included the 10 stations where the different commandments were explained by members of the Knights of Columbus. Also present were Diocesan Scout Chaplain Father Lawton Lang, who is also Administrator of San Antonio Parish in Port Charlotte, as well as Marthamaria Morales, Diocesan Youth and Young Adult Ministry Director. The 2022 hike was cancelled because of Hurricane Ian.

Parish celebrates multicultural Feast Day

The faithful at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula took part in a special Feast Day Mass and celebration on Sept. 30, 2023. The celebration took place one day after the official Feast of the Archangels of Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Sept. 29), and included a procession with prayers and music as a large statue of St. Michael the Archangel was pulled along on a trailer. This led directly to a trilingual Mass (English, Spanish and Creole), which represented the multicultural aspect of the Hardee County community. Following the Mass was a festival of food and music.

CCW hosts Comedy Night

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women hosted a night of fun, wine, cheese, and comedy on Sept. 29, 2023, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice. More than 200 attended the event. Entertainment for the evening included comedian Juanita Lolita who is an actress, writer and nationally touring stand-up comedian. The half Puerto Rican and half West Virginian, Juanita Lolita joked about her personal experience and centers her comedy on her Christian faith, and she had the crowd laughing out loud from start to finish.

Students show off talents during STREAM night

The annual St. Andrew Catholic School STREAM Night was a huge success. Taking place on Sept. 28, 2023, the evening is a showcase of the student’s science and technology skills at different stations throughout the Cape Coral school. All 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic schools offer a comprehensive STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math) learning model which is combined with the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” creating students equipped to succeed in the world of today. The evening at St. Andrew allowed parents to see what their children are doing on a daily basis. Classrooms were set up to allow visitors (student or parent) to work on different science experiments or work with assorted technology to accomplish different tasks. In many cases it was difficult to discern if the students or the parents were having the most fun!

Vocations Weekend

If you are a young man (high school age or above) and sense that the Lord is calling you to the priesthood, St. John Vianney College Seminary is hosting a free Vocations Weekend. The event begins with pizza and night prayer on Friday evening, Oct. 27, 2023, and ends with Holy Mass and brunch on Sunday, Oct. 29. Join with other discerners from around the state of Florida to experience a glimpse of seminary life, meet the young men who are already studying for the priesthood as seminarians, and join with them in prayer and fraternity during this awesome weekend retreat. (The typical schedule for the weekend includes adoration, spiritual talks, daily Mass, personal testimonies from seminarians, meet and greet with the professors, a campus tour, games and sports.) For more information and to RSVP, please visit venicevocations.org or email Father Shawn Roser, the Director of Vocations at the Diocese of Venice at roser@dioceseofvenice.org or call 941-486-4720.

Traveling Rosary Congress

In celebration of the Blessed Virgin, 31 Parishes in the Diocese of Venice will be participating in a Traveling Rosary Congress from Oct. 6 – Oct. 14, 2023. During the Rosary Congress, the host Parishes will provide the hourly praying of the Holy Rosary as well as Eucharistic Adoration. Many of the Parishes taking part will also have the celebration of the Mass at the opening and closing of a 24-hour period of Adoration, while others will have at least a large period of time dedicated to praying the rosary and adoration. In addition, several Parishes will make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available during specific times. For a complete Diocesan schedule, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/evangelization/traveling-rosary-congress-2023/ or contact Jim Gontis at 941-484-9543 or gontis@dioceseofvenice.org.

40 Days for Life continues

The 40 Days for Life fall campaign is ongoing and runs through Nov. 5, 2023, seeking a peaceful end to abortion in the U.S. and around the world through the power of prayer. It is the presence of more than one million prayer warriors in 681 cities worldwide – including Fort Myers, Naples, and Sarasota within the Diocese of Venice – that will make a difference in this important battle to save the unborn. The prayer vigil in Fort Myers is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 6418 Commerce Park Drive. In Sarasota, the vigil is daily, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (7 days a week), at 736 Central Ave. The Naples prayer vigil is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 1425 Creech Road. For more information, please visit https://www.40daysforlife.com/en/, or contact Diocesan Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

News Briefs for the week of September 22, 2023

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Venice, Ave Maria and Sarasota

Bishop Frank J. Dewane recently celebrated Mass for students at three Diocesan Catholic schools, visiting Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School on Sept. 14, 2023, Dohue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School in Ave Maria on Sept. 18, and Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, Sept. 19. Bishop Dewane continues to be impressed by the increased enrollment at each of the schools as the students’ filled churches, auditoriums, and gymnasiums. The Bishop is also continuing to invoke the Holy Spirit to descend upon the students as they go forth into the 2023-2024 Academic Year. When eighth graders are present, Bishop Dewane takes time to speak to this group, offering words of encouragement and taking questions. At Ave Maria Catholic School, the Bishop visited a few classrooms and spoke to students, while also inspecting the results of a recently completed expansion project.

Mass celebrated to honor first responders

Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers hosted a Blue Mass on Sept. 16, 2023, to honor all first responders for their sacrifice and service to the community. Among those honored were law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency managers, and more. The opening ceremony, prior to the Mass, included music from the Guns & Hoses Pipes & Drums of Southwest Florida, a Lee County Sheriff’s Office Color Guard, and the singing of the National Anthem. Also present was the Knights of Columbus Honor Guard and members of the Knights on Bikes. This Mass takes place annually and occurs as close to Sept. 11 as is practical, being an appropriate moment to honor first responders. At the conclusion of the Mass, medals and rosaries were blessed. For the firefighters and paramedics present, there were St. Florian medals and red rosaries, while St. Michael the Archangel medals and blue rosaries were given to law enforcement officers. A reception followed in the Parish Hall.

Prospective students visit high school

Eighth grade students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers had fun during a visit to Bishop Verot Catholic High School on Sept. 14, 2023. Students who were interested in going to Bishop Verot next year had the opportunity to see what a day is like being a Viking. Students were able to sit in on a class, see campus by way of a scavenger hunt (led by some freshmen students from St. Francis), get a first-hand look at what being a student at Verot is really like. All of that was topped off with pizza for lunch.

Mooney athlete clocks fast time

Addison Dempsey, a senior at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, clocked the fastest time in the state of Florida for this cross-country season, so far, with her third-place finishing time of 17:38 at the Adidas XC Challenge on Sept. 16, 2023, in Cary, North Carolina. Considered one of the top distance runners in Florida, as a junior, Addison took the silver medal in the November 2022 Class 2A girls Florida High School Athletic Association Cross Country State Championship in Tallahassee.

Scientific method taught in Naples classroom

The students who attend Diocese of Venice Catholic schools are ensured of a well-rounded education where they have the opportunity to mix science experiments with lessons on the faith and the virtues. At St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples, eighth graders learned to use the scientific method to gain knowledge by designing fun experiments in class on Sept. 18, 2023. The students investigated how different brands of soap make bubbles with larger diameters. Catholic schools offer a comprehensive STREAM  (science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math) learning model which is combined with the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” creating students equipped to succeed in the world of today.

Service club makes impact on community

Members of the St. John Neumann Catholic High School Key Club took time out of their busy schedules on Sept. 16, 2023, to volunteer their time packing food for Meals of Hope in Naples. The 47 students packed 12,096 healthy meals that will make a real impact on the life of many people. Key Club moderator Susan Cavness organized the project, and the participation reflected the willingness of the students to improve the world.

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