News Briefs for the week of November 26, 2021

Bishop helps distribute food

Bishop Frank J. Dewane assisted in loading turkeys into cars at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples on Nov. 22, 2021. The drive-thru Thanksgiving food distribution was coordinated by St. Matthews House with more than 700 families being feed and donations coming from across the region including nearby Parishes and Catholic schools.

Christmas Day Televised Mass for the Homebound

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 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass will air at 6 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 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 Also, please check the Dec. 17 e-Edition of the Florida Catholic for a complete listing of Diocese of Venice Christmas Mass times. The times will also be posted on the Diocesan website by Dec. 13, 2021.

Essay about priest earns state recognition

A Sarasota student was recently recognized for his writing skills in the First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest. Giacomo Mutti, a Booker High School senior, wrote his essay about Father Celestino Gutiérrez, Pastor of St. Jude Parish, who supports the Sarasota County community through his volunteerism. Giacomo was recognized by Gov. Ron DeSantis during a ceremony held on Nov. 12, 2021. The theme for the 500-word essay was limited to “celebrating Hispanic-American Community Leaders and Champions.” A ceremony honoring Giacomo was held Nov. 21, at St. Jude Parish where he was able to show off his prize and directly thank Father Gutiérrez for being an inspiration to him and others in the community. For winning the contest, Giacomo earned a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. Well done!

Students continue service project

During November, fourth graders at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers lead the school wide/year-long “Breath of Life – Help Our Heroes,” service project. The students created colorful Thanksgiving canvas art for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Respiratory Team at Golisano Children’s Hospital. They also provided these dedicated caregivers with sandwiches, chips and beverages to enjoy when they take a well-deserved break!

Naples students learn science of parade balloons

Second graders at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples leaned all about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade the week of Nov. 15-19, 2021. The students read “Balloons Over Broadway”, completed literacy activities and conducted a science experiment showing how combining a liquid and solid created a chemical reaction causing the gas to inflate the balloons. The students designed and created their own balloons for our very own “Balloons Over Broadway” parade.

Thanksgiving Feast for parents and students

St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota hosted its annual Thanksgiving Feast on Nov. 18, 2021. School board members, Home and School Association assisted in making this tradition a success for the students and their families.

School endowment campaign unveiled in Naples

On Nov. 16, 2021, the Saint Ann School Foundation held a launch party to publicly announce their plans for a $10 Million Campaign to provide students scholarships for the students of Saint Ann Catholic School in Naples.

“We are grateful to all who joined us for a spectacular evening in celebration of our formal launch of the Faith Family Future Endowment Campaign for the Saint Ann School Foundation,” said Pamela Marcia, Foundation Executive Director. “It was a beautiful and joyful evening for Catholic Education.” The big news of the night was the thrilling reveal of the “Faith Family Future Endowment Campaign.”

In six months, 16 generous donors have committed $7.7 Million of the $10 Million campaign goal. We are extremely grateful and humbled by the generosity of our faithful friends of the Foundation for their trust and belief in our mission. To learn more about the Saint Ann School Foundation, please visit

News Briefs for the Week of November 8, 2021

Bradenton students do well in Knights soccer challenge

Three St. Joseph Catholic School students in Bradenton won awards at the Knights of Columbus State Soccer Challenge on Nov. 6, 2021 in Melbourne, Florida. Connor and Karol placed 2nd in the state in their age division, and Cooper placed 3rd in the state! Congratulations!

Student wins top junior horsemanship title

Alexa Dahl, a junior at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, won the 2021 World Championship for American Saddlebred in the 17 and under Three Gated Country Pleasure Division which she won with her mount CH Undulata’s Satchmo on Aug. 27, 2021 at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, Kentucky. The Fair is host to the World Championships and the team made two top notch performances in to claim the title of Junior Exhibitor Country Pleasure 14-17 World’s Champion and World’s Champion of Champions! This team captured numerous other wins earlier in the year and is sure to continue their show ring success.

Students mourn classmate

Bishop Verot Catholic High School students, faculty, and family gathered Nov. 3, 2021, in the Senior Courtyard for a candlelight prayer vigil to remember senior Juan Roa, who died unexpectedly. The vigil included students sharing stories of Juan and the impact he had on so many lives. On All Soul’s Day, Nov. 2, the entire student body, along with members of the Roa family, took part in a Mass in his memory.

Three-year-olds dig for dinosaurs

The pre-kindergarten-3 students at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota played Jr. Paleontologists on Nov. 3, 2021 during a dino dig. A packed sand pit was created for the children to dig through in their own grip section as they happily searched out the “dino bones” and then tried to figure out how to put them together to assemble a “full-sized” dinosaur. Afterwards the whole group took a well deserved nap.

Volunteers at local soup kitchen

Junior girls at the Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School took part in a Nov. 5, 2021, service day volunteering at the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen at Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee. The students set up the dining room tables, served the food and washed the dishes, learning valuable lessons about giving back and seeing first-hand the need of the poor in the community, some 10 miles for their home.

School hosts Fall Festival

St. Ann Catholic School in Naples hosted a Fall Festival on Nov. 6, 2021, put on by the school PTA. Beautiful weather brightened everyone’s day there were lots of fun activities and good food too.

Department of Education holds marketing and development workshop

The Diocese of Venice Department of Education hosted a Catholic Schools Marketing & development Collaboration Event and Workshop Nov. 8, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice. Some 30 school representatives took part in the day which included sharing best practices, learning new strategies and brainstorming on how to continue to work together. The workshop was presented by John Carkeet, Department of Education Marketing Coordinator. Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education was also present and encouraged that continuing to build the Catholic culture at their respective schools must be a large part of any marketing and development plan.

News Briefs for the Week of October 29, 2021

Saints Devotional Project: Junior Catechist Training

The Diocese of Venice Department of Catholic Education welcomed eighth graders and their teachers and parents from all 15 Catholic schools to its first Saints Devotional Project Junior Catechist Training Oct. 22, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice. This Diocesan-wide project centers on hand-picked pairs of eighth graders from each school to catechize their fellow students by traveling classroom to classroom to give formal presentations about the Saints, Name Days and the Catholic devotion to the saints. These students were chosen through their demonstration of outstanding leadership, excellent instruction and unwavering devotion. The Saints Devotional Project offers opportunities to highlight the importance of leadership in the Faith, evangelization, and discipleship. The training seminar gave the junior catechists the tools and resources they need to conduct classes, while their parents and teachers participated in an orientation that outlined the significance of the devotional project.

Science experiments wow students

Science was on the agenda for students at St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota on Oct. 20, 2021. The students had fun using their hands on experiments, mixing substances such as sugar, salt, vegetable oil and sand with water to predict if they were suspensions or solutions. This was followed by a great discussion as the students predicted what they thought would happen and what they saw with their own eyes.

Parish holds living rosary celebration

St. Paul Parish in Arcadia held a special living rosary celebration on World Mission Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. The youth of the Parish led the reading of the different decades of the rosary and stood in for the different beads. They were divided into five different groups, wearing distinctive colors, representing different mission countries throughout the world.

Cathedral students stand up to bullying

Students from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice took part in Unity Day activities on Oct. 20, 2021, by wearing orange and standing together vowing an end to bullying. Among the lessons learned was that all should follow the example of Jesus Christ and be kind to one another, no matter what. The students also went outside and stood in the soccer field spelling out the words “BE KIND” as a drone took a photo of everyone.

Lego rover helps students explore

Fifth graders from St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring built a Lego rover as part of a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) project in mid-October 2021. This project helped the students explore ways scientists and engineers reach remote places, create and program “Milo” the Science Rover, and document how Milo can help discover a special plant specimen.

Boosterthon raises money for school

St. Andrew Catholic School students participated in a Boosterthon Fun Run on Sept. 21, 2021, in Cape Coral. The students had fun running while a big thanks went out to families and extended families who helped the school reach its goal of $30,000. The money will go toward allowing more flexible seating options for students in many of the classrooms.

Christ the King Novena Nov. 12-20

On the last Sunday of each liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, or Christ the King. This year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urges all Catholics to take part in a Christ the King Novena from Nov. 12-20, 2021. During the nine days preceding the Solemnity, the USCCB asks all to offer their prayers to Christ the King for the freedom of the Church. The USCCB Committee for Religious Freedom, in its core document “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty,” urged that “the Solemnity of Christ the King – a feast born out of resistance to totalitarian incursions against religious liberty – be a day specifically employed by bishops and priests to preach about religious liberty, both here and abroad.” A link to the novena can be found at

News Briefs for the Week of October 22, 2021

Bishop celebrates Mass for students in Sebring

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring on Oct. 18, 2021. The Mass is the latest in a series of Masses celebrated by the Bishop for students at each of the 15 Diocesan Catholic schools. During the Mass, which took place on the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, Bishop Dewane encouraged the students to focus on developing their prayer life each day.

VDCCW Retreat held

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women hosted a retreat on Oct. 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The bilingual retreat included talks from Father Janusz Jancarz, Spiritual Moderator for the VDCCW and Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice; Father Claudio Stewart, Diocesan Director of Hispanic Ministries, and Father Thomas Heck, a retired priest of the Diocese. The women also participated in Mass, adoration and praying of the rosary.

Students celebrate Chaplain’s birthday

The students at St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota serenaded their Chaplain, Pallottine Father Fausto Stampiglia, to a rendition of “Happy Birthday” on October 15, 2021. The more than 500 students gathered outside, near the main entrance of the two schools, as Father Stampiglia was delighted by the outpouring of love from the students. As a special surprise, in honor of Father, a wall-mounted sculpture of St. Mary and St. Martha with Jesus was unveiled and is now on permanent display outside of the front lobby of the schools. Happy Birthday Father Fausto!

Heading Up ‘STREAM’

The Diocese of Venice Department of Education hosted its first Middle School Robotics Coaches and Teachers training seminar Oct. 15, 2021 at its Innovation & Simulation Teaching & Learning Lab at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice. Led by Jennifer Falestiny, curriculum coordinator at the Diocese of Venice in Florida, the seminar challenged teachers to build Lego robots then program them to complete various logistical and mechanical challenges on a 3D map. The seminar is part of a comprehensive training program to help teachers prepare their students for the FIRST Lego Lead Challenge in 2022. This and other competitions encompass the Diocese of Venice’s Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STREAM) strategic initiatives.

New mural completed in Naples

What an amazing experience for St. Ann Catholic School in Naples to enjoy and participate in the creation of a beautiful mural. Artist Marcus Zotter created the work which spans the wall between two classrooms in the main courtyard. Included in the image is a cross, two doves, angel wings, a dolphin (the school mascot) and a beach. While the mural was being created, art students at St. Ann’s assisted in creating different aspects of the work.

Parent Book Club in Sarasota

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Theology Teacher Timothy Shipe hosted a Cougar Parent Book Club on Oct. 13, 2021 in Sarasota. A large number of parents joined in to study Trent Horn’s, “Why We Are Catholic?” book. The discussions about the Faith were lively and interesting, taking place in the school’s multi-media lab. All are welcome to join. Contact

Students gain engineering skills

Fifth-grade students at Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School built bridges on Oct. 14, 2021, while sixth-grade students used engineering skills to build a ballista, a trebuchet and two kinds of catapults as part of the study of medieval history.

Sophomore retreat in Naples

Sophomores at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples covered the campus Oct. 14, 2021 and enjoyed every aspect of their class retreat. It was a day that included skits and projects, discussions and reflections, prayer and adoration, and, of course, fun and games. In Neumann style, the class of 2024 celebrated Faith, family, sports, school, independence and friendship. “When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away.” – Isaiah 43:2a

Students go on “Safari”

Kindergartners at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota went on an amazing “Nature Safari” Oct. 14, 2021. They trekked to the front field and searched for soil, sun, butterflies, spider webs, grass, flowers and more. They then went to the pond to collect water samples, which they studied using eye-droppers, hand lenses, and mini forceps. It was a great adventure!



Cardinal Mooney named Apple Distinguished School

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for 2021-2024 for actively implementing a 1:1 iPad program, Apple Classroom, Apple TVs, Canvas Learning Management System, digital textbooks, and so much more across the curriculum.

Apple Distinguished Schools are centers of innovation, leadership, and educational excellence. They use Apple technology to connect students to the world, fuel creativity, deepen collaboration, and make learning personal.

“The ingenuity of our teachers, from project-based learning to direct instruction, allows our students the opportunity to explore different uses of technology throughout the college preparatory curriculum at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School,” said Principal Ben Hopper. “We are proud of our faculty, students, and families who have embraced the daily integration of technology with the result being recognized as an Apple Distinguished School.”

While maintaining Mooney’s Catholic traditions, teachers and administrators realized that in order to teach tomorrow’s creative thinkers and problem solvers, it is necessary to use current technology taking Verot beyond the limited walls of the classroom.

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School is committed to creating an innovative and compelling learning environment that engages students and provides tangible evidence of academic achievement. From math and science to fine arts and world languages, teachers and students utilize iPad apps to prepare students for real-world experiences.

Elsewhere in the Diocese of Venice, Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers has been an Apple Distinguished School since 2017. This distinction has been renewed and will continue through at least 2022.

News Briefs for Week of Sept. 17, 2021

Civilize it! Campaign Relaunched

It was during the 2019-2020 election cycle that Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, encouraged all to take a Pledge entitled “Civilize It!” for a more enlightened political season.  On September 7, 2021, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) relaunched Civilize it:  A Better Kind of Politics, to address the polarization in society.  Join Catholics across the Diocese of Venice in taking the Civilize It Pledge to engage individuals, families, and communities in a dialogue of bridgebuilding.  Visit and sign the Pledge today.

Civilize It:  A Better Kind of Politics Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where uncivil words prevail, show me how to model love.

Help me remember the God-given dignity of all and invite others to do the same.

Show me how to build bridges and not walls and see first what unites us rather than how we diverge.

Let me seek to understand before asking to be understood.

Give me a listening heart filled with empathy and compassion.

May I be clear in sharing my own position and respectful and civil in describing those of others.

Let me never tolerate hateful ideas.

May I invite all to charity and love.

Lord, help me to imitate your compassion and mercy.

Make me an instrument of your peace. Amen

School benefactor dies

Louis Zazarino, a supporter of St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota died Sept. 4, 2021. He was 78. A devoted parishioner of St Martha Parish in Sarasota, Zazarino took great joy in giving back. He loved dancing, horses, and cars. Those who knew him loved him for his humor, humanity, and humility. He will be dearly missed by his family and children. A social media post from St. Mary Catholic Academy stated, “His legacy as a supporter of Catholic Education will never be forgotten. The Zazarino Center of St. Martha and St. Mary will serve as a reminder of his generosity, love and support forever. May God grant him eternal rest.” A similar post was made by St. Martha Catholic School. A funeral Mass, celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, was Sept. 9, 2021 at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota.

Venice CCW member named to State Board

Brenda Dolan, Immediate Past President of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, has been installed as President, Provincial Director-Elect Florida Council of Catholic Women (FCCW) Board. The new Board members were installed at the Province Dinner on Aug. 26, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. This was part of the 101st National CCW Convention. In June 2021, Dolan, of St. Therese Parish in North Fort Myers, completed a two-year term as Co-President of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. She was President for two years before that. Several women from the Diocese of Venice also serve on FCCW committees, including Iris Gomez, Legislative Advocacy Co-Chair; Ellen Bachman, Our Lady of Good Counsel Co-Chair; Dolan, By Laws Committee Chair. The current Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women President is Josephine Weiss.

Giving back on Labor Day

Students and faculty from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples gave up some of their Labor Day holiday to help distribute food at nearby St. Elizabeth Seton Parish. Under the portico in front of the Parish Church, the students and faculty helped to load vehicles with food for families in need. Among the helpers were four Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco, who serve at St. John Neumann, including Principal Sister Patricia Roche.

Blizzards in a jar

For students learning in Florida it is pretty rare for them to experience a blizzard, but with a little bit of science kindergarteners and first graders at St. Mary Catholic Academy created their own blizzards – in a jar, of course. These students took part in the science experiment during class on Sept. 9, 2021 in Sarasota. Here’s how it works: Because oil is less dense than water, the water will naturally sink to the bottom of the jar. When the Alka-Seltzer is dropped into the jar, its interaction with the water creates pressure in an upward direction, and the oil pushes it back down. This pressure back and forth is part of what creates the snowstorm. The other element is the interaction between water and sodium bicarbonate in the Alka-Seltzer, which generates carbon dioxide gas. The combination of these factors creates a blizzard every time! The students had a blast!

Happy Birthday Mary

On the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sept. 8, 2021, students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers by making their own Mary statues and writing the Blessed Virgin birthday cards.

Science students learn about hurricanes and earthquakes

Students in an Environmental Science class at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers learned about the impact of hurricanes and earthquakes on structures in a Sept. 8, 2021 lab where they created their own houses.

Bishop celebrates Mass at Mooney

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, joined by Father Eric Scanlan, Chaplain of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, receives the gifts presented by students during the school Mass held on September 14, 2021.

News Briefs for Week of Aug. 27, 2021

Bishop blesses Maria Vision offices

Bishop Frank J. Dewane blessed the offices of Maria Vision USA in Ave Maria on Aug. 23, 2021. Maria Vision offers a variety of faith-based programming with a mission to bring the light of the Gospel to the entire world with the vision of Mary Most Holy.

The programming includes the Holy Hour, daily Mass, weekly rosary, guest speakers and presentations. Maria Vision can be viewed in 12 million households in the United States on Direct TV channels 262 and 89 and through its website

Safety Patrol keeps little ones safe

Student Safely Patrols at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers put their leadership skills to the test on Aug. 20, 2021. They greet (often by name) the Pre-Kindergarten-3, PreK-4, and Kindergarten students during morning drop-off. Separating from the ones they love the most can be tough for the youngest Falcons. Patrols assist students to class and ensure they are in the learning mindset when they arrive. For example, one of the Pre-K students didn’t want a walker and instead wanted to be a walker, so Safety Patrol members strapped on a bright yellow safety belt on the young lady, and she walked the Patrol to class. Whatever works, the team often says that welcoming all the smiling faces and exchanging greetings with the students during morning drop-off is the best part of our day. Well done!

Young scientists get hands-on

Scientists at St. Mary Academy in Sarasota participated in a hands-on experiment Aug. 20, 2021, where they used their senses as they smelled, touched and tasted marshmallows. Then the scientists asked questions, wanting to know what would happen if you put a marshmallow in the microwave for 30 seconds. They then recorded their results. The next day they had more questions and asked what would happen if we they marshmallows in different liquids like vinegar, water, soda, and cranberry juice. Students love hands-on experiments.

R.C.I.A. Workshop with R.C.I.A. teams

The Diocese of Venice Office of Religious Education is holding a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) Workshop led by Dr. Bill Keimig from Franciscan University at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs, from 9 am.m to 3 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2021. The workshop will include the following: a walk through the four periods of the RCIA process – pre catchumenate, catchumenate, purification and enlightenment and mystagogy & the neophyte year; a walk through the three aspects of the catechumenal model – liturgical, catechetical, pastoral – with a fixed time in the event on each; plus opportunities for questions and answers. Lunch will be provided at no cost to participants.  Contact Anne Chrzan, Diocesan Director of Religious Education for registration information at

VDCCW Priest’s Appreciation Dinner

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Priest’s Appreciation Dinner is 6:00 p.m., Friday, September 17 at the Venetian River Club, 502 Veneto Blvd., Venice. The cost is $40. RSVP with a check by Wednesday, September 1 to: Ellen Bachman, 52414 Lansdowne Way, Palmetto, FL 34221. For more information, please contact Ellen Bachman at 941-721-7393 or

Diocesan Catholic schools get into swing of new year

A few rain showers, rainbows, Mass, an eye on the tropics and thousands of students filing into the classrooms were just some of the highlights of the first week in the Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools 2021-2022 Academic Year.

Opening the schools during the ongoing global Pandemic continues to pose some challenges, but the comprehensive planning, hard work and the dedication of the staff at the Diocesan and local levels made the opening this year simple in comparison to 2020, explained Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Education.

“We have many great initiatives that are being implemented across all of our schools and we are excited about a big increase in enrollment,” Father Belmonte exclaimed. “We couldn’t be happier with how everything is going.”

Diocesan Catholic Schools began instruction on Aug. 9, 2021, with some dividing the start days for students so that by Aug. 11 everyone had settled into the routine of instruction.

Father Belmonte reported that enrollment exceeded 5,100, up more than 15% over the 2020-2021 Academic Year. In addition, 10 of the 15 Diocesan Schools have wait lists and the others are seeing enrollment reaching levels not seen in more than a decade.

For the 2021-2022 Academic Year, a comprehensive update to the Diocese of Venice Curricular Standards is being put forth. This new plan builds on previously established standards and has more of an integrated faith component. In addition, this format allows teachers to focus on cross-curriculum integration of subject matters and for all work to be measurable for success for both the students and teachers in all grade levels.

Each teacher in core courses (English Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies) will be given the relevant standards. The effort integrates Catholic values and virtues through the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence.” The results, Father said, will be enhancing the faith and academic life of the students and the entire Diocesan School Community.

“These new standards are creating a strong culture by providing each student a Catholic world view and building moral character that continues to help develop the creative imagination of each student,” Father Belmonte said. “This will be implemented into every subject.”

Other initiatives also getting a push is the integration of STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) model into the classrooms. This project, fully supported through the generosity of Bishop Frank J. Dewane, will be placing students ahead of the curve in primary fields while continuing to promote core Catholic virtues by helping students to develop cognitive thought processes and gain skills such as leadership, communication, complex problem solving, teamwork and creativity.

To learn more about Diocese of Venice Catholic schools, please visit

Catholic schools preparing to open

Lesson plans are being drawn up and classrooms and being decorated as work is ongoing to ensure everything is ready for the start of the 2021-2022 Academic Year in Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese Superintendent of Catholic Education, said that enrollment is up across the 15 Catholic schools in the Diocese and that several initiatives are moving forward to engage students to not only grow academically but, more importantly, spiritually.

In a July 23, 2021 letter to parents and guardians Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Father Belmonte announced the 2021-2022 Academic Year for Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools will start on time and will continue to provide Christ-centered education in-person, five days a week.

The letter also stressed that the priority remains to provide a safe and healthy environment for all students and employees.

Guidelines for the 2021-2021 school year include:

  • Prayers for the continued wellbeing of all students, as well as faculty and staff.
  • Masks for students, staff, and volunteers are optional but indeed highly encouraged.
  • It is understood that changes to these guidelines may be made at any time. The Diocese of Venice Department of Education will continue to monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and other experts.
  • Vaccinations for Covid-19 are not mandated.
  • Social distancing protocols will not be required.

“The Diocese of Venice Department of Catholic Education strongly encourages families to continue following recommended preventative measures to reduce the spread of the virus and stay healthy,” the letter from the Bishop and Father Belmonte continued. “Let us be united in prayer for the safety and wellbeing of our students.”

The letter included gratitude to parents and guardians, as well as students, faculty, staff and volunteers, for the success of the 2020-2021 Academic Year. Additional gratitude was expressed for the patience and understanding of all as planning for the new school year progressed.

Meanwhile, Diocesan Catholic schools continue to be at the forefront in education with a curriculum that is STREAM-based (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math). This initiative has been a priority for many years and highlights religion as a dimension which help students have a superior academic experience rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Father Belmonte stressed that the primary function of all Diocesan Catholic schools is to introduce the world to its Savior. This is being accomplished through the development of a strong Catholic culture at each school.

To further the STREAM aspect of Catholic education, Father Belmonte said the previously announced initiative involving robots, in a partnership with FIRST® (“For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), is moving forward and will be integrated into each school and at every grade level.

All Diocesan schools were provided with age-appropriate kits and robots to compete at the highest levels of competition through FIRST®. These kits use LEGO products, such as Duplo blocks for the youngest students, and more traditional blocks for older students. Each progressive kit increases with difficulty and broadens the concepts learned in earlier years. Older students will build robots for competitions.

Keeping in line with the effort to build a strong Catholic culture, the initiative incorporates Catholic values and virtues through the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence.”

This partnership with FIRST® was made possible through the generosity and vision of Bishop Dewane who made the initial investment of some 500 robots and other resources to the schools. “It is all about investing in our students because they are our mission and we want them to succeed; to become the leaders, the professionals, the faith witnesses of tomorrow,” Bishop Dewane said during the March announcement of the initiative.

The earlier cited growth in enrollment is directly related to the robot initiative. Parents of newly enrolled students have cited the visionary aspect of the program, with its Faith component, as a key factor in their decision to choose a Diocese Catholic school.

In addition to the robotics, Diocese Catholic schools will continue to build their devotion to St. Joseph, as part of the ongoing “Year of St. Joseph.” This will be accomplished through an initiative planned to begin in October which will include bringing prayer and devotion to the home.

Meanwhile, the different schools continue to work hard in preparing classrooms and other facilities to be ready for the return on students the week of Aug. 9. Among that work included the upgrade of facilities including fencing, landscaping, roofing, renovated classrooms and much more.

To learn more about Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools, please visit

Summer camps bring smiles to young faces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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