News briefs for the week of June 16, 2023

Where is Totus Tuus this Week?

Totus Tuus (a Latin phrase meaning “totally yours”) is a summer Catholic youth camp program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness and Eucharistic worship. During the week of June 12-16, 2023, the team was at St. Agnes Parish in Naples. The weeklong Parish summer catechetical camp assists parents and parishes in evangelizing and catechizing the youth by complementing the work they are already doing at the Parish and at home. This summer the program is offered at 11 parishes in the Diocese of Venice with three sessions now completed. The week-long camps are divided into two sessions, with the day camp for students entering grades 1 – 6, and the evening camp for middle school and high school students entering grades 7 – 12.

The remaining Parishes hosting the program are as follows:

  • Ave Maria in Ave Maria and St. Peter the Apostle in Naples, June 18-23;
  • Catherine in Sebring, June 25-30;
  • Our Lady Queen of Heaven in La Belle, July 9-14;
  • John XXIII in Fort Myers and St. Patrick in Sarasota, July 16-21;
  • Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and Our Lady of the Angels in Lakewood Ranch, July 23-28.

Several parishes still have limited openings for this program. To inquire, please contact the individual Parish religious education office by visiting For further information regarding this program, please visit

Students work to protect Everglades

A dedicated team of 12 seventh grade students from the National Junior Honor Society of St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral, participated in a community service project to protect the Everglades. Our “Everglades Champions” worked for several months earlier in 2023 to understand issues involving water quality and seagrass habitats, learn about policies and practices associated with water quality, and implement goals and strategies to affect positive change in the community. Their goal was to promote healthy water quality and seagrass habitats by educating the community about the harm posed by fertilizer run-off and encourage the community to NOT fertilize lawns during the rainy season. To reach their goal, the students implemented a multi-faceted strategy. They created informational posters and artwork which is on display at the Cape Coral Library through the end of June. They delivered letters and flyers to local hardware stores, and they posted their message on social media. The students were recognized by the Everglades Foundation during a virtual celebration event on June 2, 2023.

Knights on Bikes begin evangelization efforts in Collier County

On Sunday, June 4, 2023, the Knights of Columbus Knights on Bikes rode from Ave Maria to San Marco Parish on Marco Island to participate in Mass as a Knight honor guard. The Knights on Bikes in the Diocese are under the leadership of Chair Pete Battle, whose mission is to evangelize to the Catholic community and to those willing to listen to the message of Christ, as they live and witness faith as motorcyclists. Their motto is “In God we trust and ride.” The Knights on Bikes are involved in charity rides, toy drives, fund raising rides for vocations and local Knight’s councils. The Knights on Bikes will next be participating in Mass will be at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers, at 10:30 a.m., on July 23. Any Parish interested in hosting the Knights on Bikes can reach out to Pete Battle at 239-601-6061.

Independence Day Bike and Golf Cart Parade

The Knights of Columbus Ave Maria Assembly 3862 is hosting the 6th annual “God Bless America” Independence Day Bike and Golf Cart Parade, at 10 a.m., July 4, 2023. The ceremony starts in the Piazza of the town and will include a reflection from an Ave Maria veteran on the “Blessing of Freedom,” then patriotic songs, prayers for our country, then a “Blessing of the Bikes.” The parade, which will include bikes, trikes, golf carts, skateboards, strollers (decorated or not), will be led by a fire truck and pass through several neighborhoods, ending approximately 2 miles later back in the Piazza where there will be treats available. All are welcome. For more information, contact Dominick Micillo at 904-536-1480.

Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal

Every day, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., serves the area’s most vulnerable population by feeding, housing, empowering, and helping all in need. This summer, you can be the one that makes a difference. Your acts of kindness have the power to transform lives and leave a positive impact in our community. The Catholic Charities Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal is asking for your support. The giving is easy! Your gift will make a positive impact on our less fortunate brothers and sisters! Please visit or mail a check to Catholic Charities, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Ordination to the Priesthood July 15

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacons Alejandro Giraldo Roldan and Daniel Scanlan. The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 15, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the lives of Deacons Alejandro and Daniel as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

Free counseling services available

Did you know that Catholic Charities offers FREE counseling and Psychotherapy? If you or someone you know is ready to take the first step towards healing and wellness, call 888-249-9296. Catholic Charities serves ALL that come to us for help, regardless of race or religion.

Support pregnant mothers in need

Looking for a way to help pregnant women in need?  Your tax-deductible donation will help with rent, utilities, or other necessities.  Give to the Catholic Charities Pennies for Babies Fund, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285 where no administrative fees are taken from any donations. Questions?  Contact Jeanne Berdeaux, or 941-374-1068.

Sebring third graders publish first book

Third graders at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring have authored their first book.

The book, which includes illustrations from the students and their own reflections on the Most Holy Eucharist, was a part of a class effort inspired by the 2022-2023 Diocesan Catholic Schools Devotional Project on the “The Most Holy Eucharist: The Riches of His Glorious Inheritance.”

The devotional project theme was approved and encouraged by Bishop Frank J. Dewane as it supports the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which began in 2022 and continues through 2024.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese Superintendent of Catholic Education, said the goal of this year’s devotional project was to bring “students a deeper awareness and more ardent love of our Lord’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.”

Another element of the devotional project was to encourage students to get into the habit of visiting the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist by going to Mass or attending adoration.

As part of that project, the students at each school, including St. Catherine, learned from trained eighth-grade Junior Catechists about the Most Holy Eucharist.

St. Catherine third-grade teacher Frances Shipman said, “In listening to my students’ beautiful answers during this class discussion (with the Junior Catechists) on the body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Most Holy Eucharist, I thought that their understanding and answers needed to be shared in the form of a book.”

The illustrations were completed in their art class with teacher Mary Alexander. Then, Shipman partnered with Studentreasures Publishing for the publication.

“This project was a culmination of the foundation that parents and teachers, past and present, have set for our students on the greatest gift of the body and blood of Jesus Christ,” Shipman said.

Students shared what the Most Holy Eucharist means to them as they shared their deep understanding of the power of receiving the body of Christ.

Here is a sample:

“I like the Eucharist because it gives me eternal life. The Eucharist means Jesus’ life and Jesus’ body. Jesus is always with us. Eucharist is important because it leads us to holiness, courage and goodness. It is the bread of life and the greatest story of love, it represents Jesus’ body and Jesus’ blood.” – Ismael

“The Eucharist means healing and eternal life to me.” – Catalina

“We cannot see God, but he is always with us. It is the most holy thing I have ever seen, when I see the Eucharist. I feel the Lord’s presence. The Eucharist is extremely precious to me.” – Anastacia

“I believe the Eucharist is how Jesus gave us very special holy gifts… The Eucharist means so much to me. People gather to accept the sacrifice that Jesus and God did for me. It makes my heart feel so good that the holiness and love felt during Communion makes so many people feel togetherness and praise in joy. The Eucharist is Jesus’ way to say I will always be with you in body and spirit, and this makes me so happy.” – Asia

“The Eucharist is the hidden baby Jesus. To me the Eucharist is like a baby in a mom’s tummy, you can’t see the baby, but the baby is there. You can’t see Jesus in the Eucharist, but He is there.” – Pia

“The Eucharist means that Christ is with me. It also means that Jesus and God are present through the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Sophia

“When we receive the Eucharist, our hearts are overcome with knowing that Jesus loves us. This means we belong to God forever.” – Elsa

“When we receive the Eucharist, we become pure in heart.” James

“When we celebrate the Eucharist at Mass, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice. The Eucharist makes me have courage.” – Jadelynn

“When I receive the Eucharist, I feel faith and affability and I can get along with everyone.” – Elena

“The Eucharist is how I can connect with Jesus Christ… The Eucharist is how you and me can be better people too. God wants us to be kind and loving to each other, so when we eat the Eucharist God can help our words and our actions to unite and be kinder.” Owen

St. Catherine Principal Dr. Christine Higgins said she is proud of the students for their reflections on the Holy Eucharist and their artwork, “We are grateful to Bishop Dewane and Father Belmonte, and our Pastor Father Jose Gonzalez for their leadership and inspiration of Faith to our students and teachers.”

Father Belmonte visited the third-grade students on May 9, 2023, and was presented a copy of the illustrated book.

“It is incredible how well these students grasp what they learned through this devotional project in the classroom about the Most Holy Eucharist and turned it into something beautiful,” Father Belmonte said. “The words and the artwork are outstanding.”

At the back of the book, Shipman wrote a note to the parents: “Thank you for entrusting your most precious treasures to me this school year. We have laughed, learned, lived, loved, studied, played, prayed, and even enriched our lives together this year. It was an honor to guide your children in writing a book on the Most Holy Eucharist and I want to thank you for raising Disciples of Christ.”

News Briefs for the week of June 9, 2023

Students learn about how corporation operates

Members of the Bishop Verot Catholic High School Scholars Academy learned about color, fabric quality, lab testing, trends, concept design, visual merchandising, and technology while touring the Fort Myers campus of Chico’s headquarters in May 2023. These students had a front-row seat to see how a large clothing retail company operates, as the students learned how to connect their academic paths to future career opportunities.

STREAM summer camp in Bradenton

St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton is hosting a summer camp which focuses on learning STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math) skills. The first day of the camp was June 5, 2023, and activities included making morphing creations, enjoying books, and participating in “Math and Movement.”

Young adult outreach opportunity

St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers hosts a once a month gathering for young adults called Rooted, in the church at 4 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month (June 11, 2023). This includes praise and worship, along with Eucharistic Adoration. In addition, the outreach program is looking to expand it’s offerings to young adults, such as for college students, those 20-30, young adults who are married with/without children (children welcome), and older adults aged 30 years and up. If you are interested in helping to organize, lead, or participate in this effort, please contact Kelly Evers, St. John XXIII Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, at or 239-561-3022.

Day of Reflection for Sacramental Marriage June 17

The Office of Marriage and Family Life will be hosting a Day of Reflection for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church on two separate dates. This day of reflection will be 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 17, 2023, at St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 1922 SW 20th Ave., Cape Coral. A specially prepared team will share their experiences and information enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of marriage. The cost of $50/couple covers all retreat materials and lunch.  Pre-registration is required at Marriage Preparation Seminar 2023 (  Should you have questions or require additional information contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 ext. 4748, or

Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal

Every day, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., serves its most vulnerable population by feeding, housing, empowering, and helping all in need. This summer, you can be the one that makes a difference. Your acts of kindness have the power to transform lives and leave a positive impact in our community. The Catholic Charities Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal is asking for your support. The giving is easy! Your gift will make a positive impact on our less fortunate brothers and sisters! Please visit or mail a check to Catholic Charities, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Ordination to the Priesthood July 15

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacons Alejandro Giraldo Roldan and Daniel Scanlan. The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 15, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the lives of Deacons Alejandro and Daniel as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

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 you 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.


News briefs for the week of May 26, 2023

Verot athlete wins discus state title

Wyatt Whalen, a graduating senior at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, won the Florida State 2A Discus Championship at the recent Florida High School Athletic Association Track & Field State Championship on May 19, 2023, at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Whalen made a throw of 16.48 meters (54-feet 1-inch), which follows up his 2022 state title in the shot put. Verot teammate Grayson Tubbs, also a senior, finished third in the 800-meter race with a time of 1:56.52. The Verot boys finished 7th overall, with the girls coming in at 16th. Other top performances came from the girls and boys 3200 relay teams, which both finished fourth. Other Verot athletes to reach the awards podium (top 8) were: Logan Schwartz, javelin (4th), Mackenzie De Lisle, 3200 (4th); Julie Reitz, 1600, (8th); Ryan Peterson, discus (5th); Raven Gadsen, triple jump (8th). In the same competition, Marc Dalmau, a graduating senior at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, took third in the discus with a throw of 49.12 meters (161-feet 2-inches). Congratulations to everyone!

Neumann falls in baseball state semifinals

The dream year for the St. John Neumann Catholic High School baseball team came to an end on May 18, 2023, in the state semifinals at the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers. The team fell by a score of 3-0 to Lakeland Christian, the eventual state 2A champions. The Celtics finished the season with a record of 23-9 and reached the state Final Four for the first time since 1985. Great season everyone!

40-Hours Devotion and Eucharistic Procession coming to North Port

San Pedro Parish, 14380 Tamiami Trail, North Port, will celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi and the ongoing Eucharistic Revival with a 40-Hours Devotion and Eucharistic Procession. Adoration will begin at 3 p.m. Friday, June 9, 2023, and conclude at 7 a.m., Sunday, June 11. Adoration will be interrupted during the daily Masses (8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, June 10). There will be a Eucharistic Procession around the Parish grounds following the 10:45 a.m. Mass on Sunday, June 11. To sign up for an hour of adoration, please contact 941-426-2500 or

Physics on display

The Bishop Verot Catholic High School Honor’s Physics class of Michelle Vocu held a time-honored tradition on May 16, 2023, and tried their luck with the egg drop experiment. The assignment was to design and construct a container that would allow the egg to fall freely without increased air resistance from the top of the football stadium press box, and land unharmed. The maximum weight allowed was 600 grams, and the students were encouraged to have a minimum size for the structure. In addition, they were not allowed to use any food or packaging materials in their design. After their drops (most of which were successful), the designs were evaluated, and recommendations were made for a redesign. The students were also able to calculate the impact force and velocity of their egg, using the data collected. What a great way to round out the year!

School improvement project moves into next phase

The North Campus Improvement Project at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton has moved into Phase 2 beginning in mid-May 2023. The next activity includes the installation of a shade structure over the outdoor basketball courts. The improvement project includes the construction of a six-classroom early learning/aftercare center, updates to the playground, classroom lighting and much more. If you have questions about how you can help support the school, please contact Carlee Colonneso at,or visit

Retreat encourages men to return to Church

The latest John XXIII Movement retreat took place the weekend of May 19-21, 2023, at Campo San Jose Retreat Center in Lake Placid. The retreat was for men who have been absent from the Church and marginalized from society. The John XXIII Movement is a private international association of laity, born to be a movement of evangelization/conversion and to work, helping the faithful return to full and active participation in the Catholic Church.



News Briefs for the week of May 12, 2023

Bishop leads prayer service to honor Our Lady

Bishop Frank J. Dewane led a prayer service for the staff of the Catholic Center in Venice on May 3, 2023, in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary who we celebrate throughout the month of May.

Artist recognized during exhibition

Valentina Montes, a graduating senior at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, has been invited by Artis Naples to display her art pieces at the 14th Annual Student Exhibition. The event runs from May 6 to July 23, 2023. Valentina will continue her art education in the fall at Florida Atlantic University.

Fun run held in Cape Coral

St. Andrew Catholic School students participated in the Boosterthon Fun Run in Cape Coral on May 5, 2023. Families and extended families helped the school reach and exceed its goal of $40,000. Students not only ran but participated in a number of fun activities as part of the celebration. Funds will be used to enhance school security and plan for future expansion.

Cinco de Mayo celebrated in Naples

The Spanish classes at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples celebrated Cinco de Mayo (May 5, 2023) in style with traditional food and fun times honoring the Mexican culture.

Seniors have last day in school

The graduating seniors at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School had fun on their last formal day of class on May 4, 2023, in Sarasota. There were lots of hugs, smiles and a few tears as the students were cheered as they exited the school building at the end of the day by teachers and the freshman, sophomore and junior students.

News Briefs for the week of May 5, 2023

Religious sister, longtime educator, dies

Sister Gloria Hillman (Sister Rita Joseph), of the Dominican Sisters of Hope, died on April 10, 2023. She was 88 years old. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Sister Gloria entered the novitiate of the Dominican Sisters of Newburgh, N.Y., in September 1953. She made her First Profession in June 1955, and Final Profession in August 1958. Sister Gloria earned degrees from Nazareth College, Rochester, N.Y., Catholic University, Washington D.C., and Fairfield University, Connecticut. Sister Gloria’s ministries included education and pastoral care. She taught at schools in Paterson and Camden, New Jersey; New Haven and Danbury, Connecticut; and Raleigh, North Carolina. It was in 1975 when she started teaching religious education at a Parish in Hawthorne, N.Y., before moving to Florida. Sister Gloria was Director of Religious Education at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota from 1981 to 1991, and Religious Education Teacher at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Boca Grande from 1991 to 1994, as well as a substitute teacher at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota from 1992 to 1994. She served as Director at Manasota S.O.L.V.E. Inc. pregnancy resource center in Bradenton from 1994 to 1998, before returning to assist at St. Thomas More Parish from 1998 to 2001. In her later years, Sister Gloria ministered to the elderly in the Sarasota area. Sister Gloria is survived by her sister, several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. A funeral took place April 22, 2023, at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota.

Students pack meals for needy

National Honor Society & Key Club members from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples participated in the annual Meals of Hope Packing Drive on April 29, 2023. Club moderators Susan Cavness and Denise Szedely led the students during the packing event. Meals of Hope operates 15 food pantries in Southwest Florida and their packing events help bring food to the needy both locally, nationally and globally.

Students build cathedrals in science class

The total learning experience was on display in the 8th grade science class of Cindy Neunder at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota. During late April 2023, students put in a lot of time, effort and teamwork to create their beautiful Gothic cathedrals. The objective of this project was to foster a love of our Church history, incorporate fortitude and beauty as Gifts of Christ, and nurture a better understanding of the engineering process. The results were impressive.

Rocky science project surprises

It is amazing what one can find when walking around outside. As part of the rocks and minerals units for the St. Joseph Catholic School 4th grade class of Blaire Hamric the students took a rock walk on April 28, 2023. While on the walk, the students collected rocks and then later washed and sorted them into categories. Using tools like sandpaper, the students then examined each rock’s texture and appearance and then reported on their findings.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week

The Home and School Association at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice kicked-off “Teacher Appreciation Week” with welcoming signs and refreshments on May 1, 2023. This was also Principal Appreciation Day, so Principal Nicole Loseto was give the royal treatment.


Lion Cup II – Diocesan STREAM Robotics competition a huge success

The second annual Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools Lion Cup robotics competition was a huge success as 39 teams and more than 220 students gathered April 22, 2023, 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 competitors and teams representing all 15 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.

“I am very impressed,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane to all the competitors during the closing awards ceremony. “Everyone was at such a great level. Well done!”

Bishop Dewane said his support for the STREAM program, and robotics component, grew out of the concept of preparing students for the future.

“Whether in high school or middle school, we must prepare you to have the skills and exposure to this kind of process. STREAM and robotics introduce the skills that will be used in many different areas, and this faith-infused program enforces the virtues that are instilled into the very fabric of this program,” Bishop Dewane said.

The Bishop also thanked the Diocesan Education team, the teachers, coaches, parents and the students for embracing the STREAM initiative at all grade levels.

Leah Chung of the middle school Falcons 23 team from St. Francis Xavier said the team had been practicing intensely leading up to the competition, giving them the confidence to succeed.

“We worked so hard to get ready and it was so much fun to compete against the other schools,” Leah, an 8th grader said. “We used our different skills to become a real team and it showed today. We are all so happy.”

The winning high school team, Team NIC (Neumann in Control), was one of four teams competing from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples. After winning the top prize by one point, the teammates said their key strategy to success was how they focused on having fun, thus allowing the pressure of the competition to go away.

The competition was fierce as teams programmed 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 traversed an obstacle course, attempting to pick up items along the way. Teamwork came into play in design, construction and strategy. The high school robots are 10 times larger and are both autonomous and have a remote control as they do assigned tasks.

The teams participated in a round robin format with each team getting the chance to have their robot compete at least twice. The top eight made the quarterfinals, four to the finals and an eventual winner was crowned. As each level commenced, the emotions ran high. In between the intense competition the teams had pizza and sweets served from food trucks.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education, said the few hours of competition brought out the best from the students and reflected their core Catholic virtues.

Jennifer Falestiny, Diocese Curriculum Specialist, organized the event and was pleased to see so many competitors, nearly double the inaugural 2022 Lion Cup. “This is so wonderful to see everyone get so involved and excited about STREAM and robotics.”

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.

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

The day concluded with special guest Shevin McCullough, of Studio 3:16, a popular social media channel geared toward middle school students, who energized the students with music and key phrases to get the students excited about God.

The winning teams were:

Middle school

1st – Falcons 23 – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

2nd – Stars Team 01 – St. Andrew Catholic School

3rd – St. Joes 6 – St. Joseph Catholic School

High School

1st – Team NIC (Neumann in Control) – St. John Neumann Catholic High School

2nd – Black & Gold Warriors (BGW) – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

3rd – Nerds Inc. – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

Venustas – Beauty – Our Lady – robotic design, innovation and creativity

Middle school – Phoenix #2 – St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School

High school – Academic Weapons, St. John Neuman Catholic High School

Utilitas – Utility – St. Marcina – Patron Saint of Robots – robotic design and function

Middle school – Falcons 23 – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School

High school – Team NIC (Neumann in Control) – St. John Neumann Catholic High School

Firmitas – Strength – St. Mark – Co-Patron of the Diocese of Venice – positive Catholic strength, culture and character

Middle school – ECS Tigers 1 – Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School

High school – Black & Gold Warriors (BGW) – Bishop Verot Catholic High School

Devotion to Most Holy Eucharist promoted in Catholic schools

When students create an image of the Most Holy Eucharist, the results can be inspirational.

Using vivid colors and inspiring imagery, seven Diocesan Catholic schools students were recently honored for their artwork as part of “The Most Holy Eucharist: The Riches of His Glorious Inheritance” devotional project. The theme was approved and encouraged by Bishop Frank J. Dewane as it supports the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The recognition came on April 20, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, where a Most Holy Eucharist Devotional Mass was celebrated by Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese Superintendent of Catholic Education.

Father Belmonte said the goal of this year’s devotional project was to bring students a deeper awareness and more ardent love of our Lord’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

Invited to the Mass were the artists and their families (see below for winning artwork), as well as principals, art teachers and junior catechists from each of the 12 Diocese elementary schools who helped deliver the devotional message to their respective classmates. High school students were taught about the 15 Eucharistic miracles during their theology classes.

Another element of the devotional project was to encourage students to get into the habit of visiting the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist by going to Mass or attending adoration. The Blessed Sacrament visitation tracker was created to allow schools to log their progress from November through April. In the first five months, more than 50,000 visits to the Most Holy Eucharist had been made by the students.

For the art project, seven winning artists were selected from among more than 200 entries from Diocesan Catholic students and were recognized at a reception in the Parish Hall following the Mass. Honorees were selected by representatives from the Diocesan Department of Catholic Education.

Emmanuel Ronquillo, a 6th grader at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton, created an image of Christ crucified with the Most Holy Eucharist emanating from behind the cross to shine its light on the world. “This is what the Most Holy Eucharist is all about – Christ dying on the cross for us all.”

As part of the recognition, the artists received an enlarged framed and printed version of their winning artwork with a ribbon and holy cards. The cards were distributed for use at each school and on the reverse includes the prayer: “Devotional Prayer to the Most Holy Eucharist.”

The Diocesan devotional project during the 2021-2022 academic year was the Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Saints, and during the 2020-2021 academic year it was St. Joseph.

The art contest winners are:

Rosalie Bartsch, kindergarten, Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Catholic School, Ave Maria;

Owen Wessal, 3rd grade, St. Catherine Catholic School, Sebring;

Gabriela Wilk, 5th grade, St. Martha Catholic School, Sarasota;

Emmanuel Ronquillo, 6th grade, St. Joseph Catholic School, Bradenton;

Vance Byrd, 9th grade, Bishop Verot Catholic High School, Fort Myers;

Grace Breen, 10th grade, Bishop Verot;

Hailey Renner, 11th grade, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Sarasota.

News Briefs for the week of April 28, 2023

Mooney Beach Volleyball state Champs

Congratulations to the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School girls Beach Volleyball Team! They are the Sunshine State Class AA Beach Volleyball champs for the second straight year having competed at the Game Point Event Center in Orlando on April 22, 2023. In addition, the Mooney girls second team were the Silver Champions. Way to go Lady Cougars!

Theology on Tap reaches young adults

Fun, faith and fellowship were part of the monthly Theology on Tap outreach to young adults on April 20, 2023, at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. The featured speaker in April was Father Shawn Monahan, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, assistant director of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The relaxed atmosphere takes place in the garden for food and refreshments, presentations, and discussions about the Catholic Faith. Theology on Tap takes place at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month The next gathering will be May 18, with special guest Father Alex Pince, a priest who was ordained in 2021 and is Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. For more information, please contact Mathamaria Morales at

Teacher recognized for service

Coach Krys Kolbe has been teaching physical education at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton for 23 years. She’s also the school’s athletic director. She was nominated as a Bay News 9 A+ Teacher in early April for always striving to inspire her students. “Krys is one of those teachers that if I had the ability to duplicate her I would,” said Deborah Suddarth, the St. Joseph principal. “She is incredible.” Kolbe said initially she wanted to be a doctor but quickly learned she was meant to be a teacher. She said she has always loved to play and being a physical education teacher allows her to do that every day.

School Adopt-a-Road crews in action

Caring for God’s Creation is one of the fundamental lessons taught at each of the 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools. One way to care for the planet is participating in local Adopt-a-Road programs, which is what Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota did on April 22, 2023. The service project crew adopted the stretch of South Tuttle Avenue from Bee Ridge Road to Webber Street. They spent the day cleaning up items, supervised by teachers and parents who also participated. The group did their part to keep Sarasota, and God’s creation, clean.

Neumann basketball team excelled academically

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School Varsity Boys Basketball Team finished the season with a 3.655 cumulative team GPA. This GPA is based on an unweighted 4.0 scale and earned the team the #3 rank in Florida Class 2A and #7 overall. Way to go Celtics!

Fort Myers students share biomed projects

Bishop Verot Catholic High School senior biomedical students gathered in Fort Myers as four young scholars each presented their capstone projects to the student body on April 18, 2023. This presentation is a culmination of everything they have learned in the four-year program. The seniors researched a topic of interest in science and had to pursue a project that had a gap in understanding or research that had not been done before.

Author reads book to students

Young students at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples had a great lunch hour on April 21, 2023, with children’s book author, Anya Beltsina. She visited St. Ann and read from her book “Smiley, Happy Planet Earth.” The visit and reading was both educational and engaging for students.

Students create artwork to celebrate planet

Psalm 24:1 states – “The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” To celebrate God’s creation, fourth grade students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers did a wonderful job on their Earth Day coffee filter art projects on April 21, 2023. Using the filters and watercolors, the students were able to create their own Earth, each unique, just like the students.



News Briefs for the Week of April 7, 2023

Bishop Lenten school Masses come to an end

Bishop Frank J. Dewane concluded March with the last of 15 Masses for students at Diocesan Catholic schools. The Bishop’s message throughout Lent was to use the three pillars of the Season (prayer, fasting and almsgiving) as a basis for having a productive Lent. As the Season drew to a close, the Bishop encouraged the students to finish their Lenten Season strong in anticipation of the Resurrection on Easter. The final three school Masses took place at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton on March 30, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice and Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota, both on March 31. Bishop Dewane celebrates Mass for students at each Diocesan Catholic school at least twice a year, usually at the start of the academic year (August and September) and then during Lent. The Bishop also celebrates Masses at schools on other special occasions when his schedule allows.

Palm Sunday marked throughout Diocese

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord marks the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and starts the events which are marked throughout Holy Week which include the Lord’s crucifixion and Resurrection on Easter. Father Robert Tatman, Parochial Vicar at St. Jude Parish Sarasota, opened the Vigil Mass with the reading of the Gospel of Matthew (21: 1-11), prior to the blessing and procession with palms. This scene was repeated at Parishes throughout the Universal Church, with options to process from another location into the church, to start in the narthex of the church, or a simple opening with a blessing of palms and opening procession. The Mass includes the Passion of the Lord, also from the Gospel of Matthew (26:14-27:66 or 27:11-54).

Several Diocesan schools host Galas

Three Diocesan Catholic schools recently held their respective Galas, each serving as a celebration promoting the benefits of a Catholic education. The Incarnation Catholic School “Through the Years Gala” was March 30, 2023, at The Field Club in Sarasota. Honored during the evening was Sister Monica Paul Fraser, OP, former longtime Incarnation principal who continues to serve the school and Parish community. St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples hosted its annual Broadway Lights Gala & Auction on April 1, at The Players Club & Spa. Bishop Frank J. Dewane was present for this event which also featured a sampling of the first ever school musical “Godspell.” St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton hosted its own “A Night of the Red Carpet” event, also April 1, at The Celebration of Life Center in Lakewood Ranch. The evening highlighted the school’s performing arts program and focused on the fundraising for the north campus improvement project.

High school hosts “Easter Egg Hunt”

Pre-kindergarten students from St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers and St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral converged on Bishop Verot Catholic High School for the annual Easter Egg Hunt on March 31, 2023, in Fort Myers. The eager young students were greeted by an Easter bunny and they first gathered in prayer before enjoying coloring, as well as fun and games. The highlight, of course, was the mad scramble during the Easter Egg Hunt which took place on the football field.

Battle of robots in Naples

The “1st Annual Battle of the (Ro)Bots” took place during an assembly at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples on April 4, 2023.  The Neumann Robotics class has worked tirelessly to build, configure and battle for the top spots on the school leaderboard for the year. The “Battle of the (Ro)Bots” challenge determined which teams will be going to compete in the Diocesan Lions Cup Challenge on April 22 in Fort Myers. The winner was Los Robotos Hermanos.