Bishop Frank J. Dewane led the Act of Consecration from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, on March 25, 2022, as a “gesture of the Universal Church” to invoke an end to the violence and suffering of the innocents during the war in Ukraine.
Pope Francis wrote to all the Bishops in the world, asking them to join him in offering “a solemn Act of Consecration of humanity, and Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” The Act of Consecration took place on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, when the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive and bear “the Son of the Most High” through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In a nearly full Cathedral, including students from Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, Bishop Dewane remarked how important it was that the faithful gather “as a people of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, in response to the Holy Father. We gather to pray for the conflict going on in the Ukraine and the suffering that has been inflicted upon the people of Ukraine. It is a Consecration of humanity, as the Holy Father put it – in particular for those in Russia and Ukraine. This is a gesture of not just the Pope, Bishops, or priests, but of the Universal Church.”
The Act of Consecration began at noon, to coincide with the prayers in Rome of the Holy Father. The Diocesan prayer service was livestreamed and available on the Cathedral website and on social media (also available at www.dioceseofevnice.org). Simultaneously, Parishes and Catholic schools throughout the Diocese held their own Prayer services.
For example, students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring joined in the Consecration by praying the rosary. Students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers gathered in their courtyard to recite the Act of Consecration. At Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, the faithful, as well as students from Incarnation Catholic School joined together. The Consecration also included time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Pope Francis said during remarks from Rome that the consecration “is no magic formula but a spiritual act… It is an act of complete trust on the part of children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their Mother, reposing all their fears and pain in Her Heart and abandoning themselves to Her.”
The Holy Father added that the Act of Consecration “means placing in that pure and undefiled heart, where God is mirrored, the inestimable goods of fraternity and peace, all that we have and are, so that She, the Mother whom the Lord has given us, may protect us and watch over us.”
Bishop Dewane added that the Act of Consecration “is about people who are suffering. The Lord calls us to be His instruments and to pray and to call upon our Faith; to call upon Christ; to call upon the saints; to intervene to relieve that suffering that we see so much of – also intervene in that war in Ukraine.”
Following the Act of Consecration, Bishop Dewane said that we should all continue to pray the Act of Consecration, particularly “when you see the images that all of us have been inundated with through media. It is then that we need to stop, move away from that media, and say a prayer for those who suffer.”
Bishop Dewane then celebrated the Mass for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.
The practice of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. During the third apparition, on July 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary told three visionaries that God sought to establish the devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in the world, stating that if this request was not granted, Russia would “spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.” Pope Francis, and previous Popes, have led various consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for example, St. John Paul II’s consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984.
The monument sign and the entrances of Catholic Center and Epiphany Cathedral, both in Venice, have small Ukrainian flags as a sign of unity with the people of Ukraine.
Bishop Dewane has stressed the importance of continued prayer for those suffering. Also, the Diocese of Venice has made it possible for the faithful to contribute toward charitable relief and assist in providing humanitarian aid, as well as necessary recovery efforts.
Donations may be sent to the Diocese of Venice, with “Ukraine” indicated in the memo or note line at the following address: Diocese of Venice in Florida, Ukraine Relief, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285, or visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/ and click the donate button.