Special collection aids Diocesan hurricane recovery

The Diocese of Venice continues its recovery from Hurricane Ian which devastated the region on Sept. 28, 2022, with winds up to 155 mph and storm surge and flooding rains.

The recovery has been aided thanks to the kindness of many who saw the plight of the Parishes in the Diocese of Venice and contributed to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) 2022 Special Collection for the Bishops’ Emergency Disaster Fund. The Diocese of Venice has been awarded $1.383 million from the USCCB collection.

Since the time of the founding of the Diocese in 1984, the faithful have generously responded to help others through special collections, and now this generosity is coming back to our own Diocese, as it did following Hurricane Charley in 2004 and Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said he was personally grateful, on behalf of the faithful of the Diocese of Venice, “to all of the people who contributed to the Bishops’ Emergency Disaster Fund Special Collection in the wake of Hurricane Ian. The devastation to communities in the area, and even to the infrastructure of the Diocese, was catastrophic. Even today, as families continue the process of rebuilding, so do our Diocesan Parishes. I also wish to thank my fellow Bishops who saw the need in the Diocese of Venice and were generous to those Parishes who were most burdened financially when disaster struck.”

Ian took a heavy toll on the Diocese of Venice, with more than 685 reports of damage to various structures. Significant damage was found in more than 400 structures, including at 30 Parishes and 10 Catholic schools, as well as at many other Diocesan entities. The resulting cost to rebuild exceeded what many Parishes could begin to manage.

Bishop Dewane, on behalf of the Diocese of Venice, made a formal request for grant money raised through the Bishops’ Emergency Disaster Fund. This application included a complete description of damages, with accompanying photos, as well as the entities financial situations.

At a USCCB meeting, the Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions awarded a $1.383 million grant from the Bishops’ Emergency Disaster Fund to the Diocese of Venice. This grant money was designated to assist 13 Parishes in the Diocese that serve impoverished communities and had sustained severe damage from Hurricane Ian. The funds received covered a significant portion of the insurance deductibles – in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars – and costs that Parishes owed for new roofs, mold mitigation, and other repairs that otherwise didn’t have resources.

Parishes receiving a portion of the grant monies included Jesus the Worker (San Jose Mission), Fort Myers; Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Sarasota; San Antonio, Port Charlotte; St. Andrew, Cape Coral; St. Catherine, Sebring; St. Charles Borromeo, Port Charlotte; St. James, Lake Placid; St. Joseph the Worker, Moore Haven; St. Katharine Drexel, Cape Coral; St. Maximilian Kolbe, Port Charlotte; St. Michael, Wauchula; St. Paul, Arcadia; and St. Francis Xavier, Fort Myers.

The Bishops’ Emergency Disaster fund was established as a way for Dioceses to take up special collections in response to disasters and humanitarian crises. The fund supports USCCB efforts for pastoral and reconstruction efforts.

“St. Paul wrote that when one Christian suffers, all Christians suffer – because we are all part of one Body of Christ,” said Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. “That unity is the heart of (special) collections. They bring faith, hope, and love to people in despair… and to disaster victims in our own nation.”

Bishop Dewane and Diocese of Venice Chancellor Dr. Volodymyr Smeryk visited impacted Parishes to see firsthand the extent of the damages and to learn of specific financial hardship. Parishes reported severe damage to churches, rectories and other Parish facilities.

Grant awards were announced in July, with the Diocese of Venice awarded $1.383 million. Smeryk said the grants assisted substantially in helping the most impoverished Parishes to recover from Ian faster than would otherwise have been possible.

In addition to the Bishops’ Emergency Disaster Fund grants, the Diocese was also the beneficiary of emergency grants from Catholic Charities USA in the weeks following the storm, support which continues to this day. This support went to the immediate disaster response, helping people with emergency supplies such as food and water. Catholic Charities USA’s generous contribution continues to help even today, now providing long-term disaster recovery and financial assistance for families who continue to rebuild from Hurricane Ian more than one year later.

Religious Freedom Week June 22-29

The Feasts of Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher on June 22, 2023, mark the start of Religious Freedom Week, a call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for all Catholics across the United States to pray, reflect on, and to promote religious freedom.

It is appropriate that the week begins on such a day, as Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher are remembered for being martyred in 1535 for standing up for the Sanctity of Marriage and the Freedom of the Church in opposition to England’s King Henry VIII. Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher show us what faithful citizenship looks like. They loved and served their country, but they put God first!

Continuing through the Solemnity of Ss. Peter & Paul the Apostles on June 29, the Religious Freedom Week 2023 theme is “Embracing the Divine Gift of Freedom.”

During Religious Freedom Week, Catholics are encouraged to pray each day for specific causes related to religious freedom. The USCCB’s “Pray – Reflect – Act” Series aims to help Catholics build solidarity with people of faith who are persecuted and find strength to carry out the mission of the Church. Religious freedom allows the Church, and all religious communities, to live out their faith in public and to serve the good of all. The Diocese of Venice joins with other Dioceses in promoting Religious Freedom Week.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane encourages the faithful of the Diocese to be aware of the challenges in today’s society including the threats to religious freedom faced both domestically and abroad.

In a video message about Religious Freedom Week (found at https://dioceseofvenice.org/religious-freedom-week-june-22-29-2023), Bishop Dewane said: “Jeremiah reminds us of the Christian duty to speak up, speak out, particularly in situations where the Gospel is mocked, or rejected. This is not an easy assignment! But it is what God wants of us.”

Bishop Dewane explained that religious worship connects us with God, and one another. It is something that is protected in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. “When protected by law, religious freedom benefits not only the Christian, but also society, which can only be strengthened by the Christian’s free witness to the truth of Jesus Christ.”

The USCCB provides “Pray-Reflect-Act” resources at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek. Each day of Religious Freedom Week has a particular focus with topics including: respect for sacred spaces; seal of Confession; Nicaragua; religious student groups; religious freedom in Nigeria; faith at work; service to immigrants and refugees, and Catholic healthcare.

Bishop Dewane also encouraged the faithful to “embrace – this week especially, during Religious Freedom Week — the divine God-given gift of freedom. It is not always easy. In a world devastated by sin, doing justice, speaking truthfully, treating all people with dignity, will almost certainly, at some point, bring one into conflict with others. Take courage and know that you are doing what God asks of you. Call to mind the words of Jesus: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father (Mathew 10:32).”

Materials prepared by the USCCB for Religious Freedom Week are made available to help people understand religious liberty from a Catholic perspective, reflect on the application, pray about particular issues, and act on what they learn by advocating for policies that promote religious freedom.

Through prayer, reflection, and public action during Religious Freedom Week, the USCCB hopes to promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths.

Additional USCCB materials can be found in English and Spanish at www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek.

Walking with Moms in Need – Program embraces and supports pregnant mothers

By Jeanne Berdeaux, Special to the Florida Catholic

Would you know how to help a pregnant woman in need? Maybe it’s your daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, sister, or neighbor. Maybe it’s someone you see in a store, restaurant, or church. Perhaps she is crying, looks distraught or is obviously being treated poorly by someone. Through a new national initiative from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called Walking with Moms in Need, now you will know how to help.

Walking with Moms in Need teaches parishioners how to help pregnant women in need, starting by letting them know they are not alone. The nationwide Catholic program calls

every parishioner to learn the names of their local pregnancy help centers, the first responders for women with unexpected or difficult pregnancies.

There are over 3,000 pregnancy help centers across the country. They have many different names, but they are staffed with people dedicated to helping pregnant women make the right life-affirming choice and find the help they need.

Pregnancy help centers, once referred to as crisis pregnancy centers, provide accurate information about a woman’s options, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, maternity and baby clothes, diapers, and other material needs, all free of charge. They also have a list of resources in the community for financial help, food, and other needs.

If a woman needs a place to stay and extra help throughout her pregnancy, the pregnancy help center staff will assist her in finding a maternity home and later an after-birth home where she will receive help to welcome her child into the world.

Many centers also reach out to the father of the child, helping him to become the father that the child needs and the support that the mother needs. Both the mom and the dad will be helped to realize that they are already parents.

Did you know that over 90 percent of women who see their child via ultrasound choose life? They may see their child sucking her thumb, waving, kicking, or jumping around in the amniotic fluid in the womb. They see that the baby is truly a human being, not just a clump of cells. Every pregnancy help center in the Diocese has an ultrasound machine, most provided by the Knights of Columbus.

In the Diocese of Venice, Parishes will initiate the new Walking with Moms in Need program with prayer and bulletin ads, posters, and other means of communication to point pregnant women in the right direction. Parish volunteers are encouraged to visit the pregnancy help centers in their area, meet with staff, and explore ways the Parish can help the center and their clients. Volunteers are needed to help with many tasks, from answering phones, sorting baby clothes, helping with mailings, and much more.

Perhaps a woman is looking for a Catholic Parish where she can return to her roots in the Catholic Church. Recently a Parish volunteer was able to welcome a new resident at Mass who moved into a local maternity home away from her home Parish. In another part of the Diocese, volunteers from two Parishes worked together to help a pregnant woman with material needs, providing a crib, stroller, furniture, and baby items. Catholic Charities and Pennies for Babies helped with rent and utility bills to keep the family from being evicted or having their electricity turned off.

To volunteer for Walking with Moms in Need, or to help your Parish introduce the program, visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/walking-with-moms-in-need. If you know of someone who is local, pregnant and needs help immediately, click the “I’m Pregnant” button at that link. If she lives elsewhere there is helpful information available at www.optionline.org. (Note: All Diocesan resources are available in Spanish.)

The demand for abortion will not just disappear, regardless of the upcoming Supreme Court decision regarding Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion in America. Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and we hope and pray it is, abortion will not automatically become illegal; instead, it will go back to the states to decide. It is up to us, especial those of us who are Catholic, to make abortion unthinkable and offer better alternatives to women facing unexpected and difficult pregnancies.

Would you know how to help a pregnant woman in need?  Now you will, with Walking with Moms in Need. Let her know she is not alone.

Jeanne Berdeaux is the Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about Walking with Moms in Need, visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/respectlife or contact the Respect Life Office at 941-441-1101.

List of pregnancy help centers in Diocese:

Palmetto – North River Care PC*https://www.northrivercare.org/ – 941-729-9004

Bradenton – CareNet Manasota PC*https://carenetmanasota.com/ – 941-751-1966

Sarasota –  My Choice PC*http://www.mychoicepregnancycenter.com/ – 941-351-3007; Community PChttps://communitypregnancyclinic.com/- 941-260-5427;
Sarasota Medical PC*
; – https://www.sarasotapregnancy.com/ – 941-330-2273

Venice – Pregnancy Solutionshttps://pregnancysolutions.org/ – 941-408-7100; North Port – 941-257-8270; Port Charlotte – 941-883-6346

Fort Myers – Community Pregnancy Clinics*https://communitypregnancyclinic.com/- 239-689-1543; Verity Pregnancy & Medical Resource Centerhttp://www.veritypmc.com/ – 239-433-1929; Pregnancy Resource Centerhttps://www.prcnaples.org/ – 239-990-8186

Naples – Pregnancy Resource Centerhttps://www.prcnaples.org/ – 239-280-5523; Community Pregnancy Clinicshttps://communitypregnancyclinic.com/ – two locations – 239-262-6381 or 239-778-8282

Immokalee – Immokalee PC*https://www.immokaleepregnancy.com/ – 239-657-2016

Avon Park, Wauchula, Sebring, Lake Placid – Choices Family Resource Centershttps://choicesfrc.com/ – 863-453-0307

*Help available in Spanish

Residential facilities:

Bradenton, Sarasota and Englewood – Solve – 941-748-0094 – solvehomes.org

Venice – Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. –941-485-6264 – catholiccharitiesdov.org

Fort Myers – Our Mother’s Home of Southwest Florida – 239-267-4663 – ourmothershome.com

Cape Coral – Thrive –239-242-7238 – thriveswfl.org

Naples – Sunlight Home – 239-352-0251 – sunlighthome.org

Naples – Providence House – 239-692-8779 – providencehousenaples.org

Material Needs: Venice Area Pregnancy Care Center – 941-485-1776 – vapcc.org

Project Rachel

Most women who choose abortion eventually realize that they made the wrong choice and face a lifetime of regret. Even if they confess this sin to a priest, they often find it difficult to accept God’s forgiveness and forgive themselves. They will often confess the same sin over and over. Project Rachel is the Catholic Church’s program to help women and men come to terms with an abortion decision and find the hope and healing they need. Watch for more on post-abortion healing in the next edition of The Florida Catholic. For confidential help, call 941-412-5860 or email project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org.

How to help

If you would like to help pregnant women in need financially, consider giving to the Pennies for Babies Fund. Send checks (not cash) to Catholic Charities Pennies for Babies Fund, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. All donations go directly to rent, utilities and special needs of pregnant moms who choose to parent their child.

USCCB Statement

 USCCB Pro-Life Chairman Urges Faithful to Pray in Response to Leak of Draft Supreme Court Opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

May 4, 2022

WASHINGTON – In response to the leak of a draft opinion in the Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following call to prayer:

“The leak related to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reminds us of the urgent need for prayer and action at this pivotal moment in our country.

“As Catholics, we care about every unborn child and every mother. Our Church has consistently witnessed in word and deed that life begins at the moment of conception. As the bishops shared in our statement Standing with Moms in Need: we pledge ‘to redouble our efforts to accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, and during the early years of parenthood, offering them loving and compassionate care through initiatives such as Walking with Moms in Need and countless others.’

“At the same time, as we await the Court’s decision, we urge everyone to intensify their prayer and fasting that the final decision of the Court will bring about the reversal of Roe and Casey.

“We hope and pray for a change in our laws and stand ready to help all pregnant women in need in each of our communities.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us and guide us.”

Novena to Christ the King begins today

For the nine days leading up to the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is suggesting that the faithful pray a novena to Christ the King.

“Let us offer our prayers to Christ the King for the freedom of the Church,” the USCCB urges. Religious freedom allows the Church, and all religious communities, to live out their faith in public and to serve the good of all.

The novena begins Nov. 12, 2021 and concludes on the eve of the Solemnity, Nov. 20. To participate in the novena visit www.dioceseofvenice.org.

The idea behind the novena is that religious freedom is under attack in many places. Worldwide, it is estimated that upwards of 4 billion people (51% of the global population) live in countries that have intense violations of religious freedom.

Domestically, a major area of concern continues to be freedom for Catholic institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and child welfare service providers, to carry out their missions free from government intervention

If anyone wonders why Religious Freedom needs to be defended in the U.S., they need look no further than the frequent headlines about religious institutions being forced to pay for abortions in health care coverage, going against the teachings of the faith in defense of life from conception to natural death. Individuals have faced lawsuits for refusing to perform a service (bake a wedding cake, host an event) for same-sex couples because that violates their personally held faith-based beliefs.

Religious freedom is a human right, essential to the dignity of the human person and the flourishing of all that is noble in us. It should be noted that religious freedom does not exist to protect the government from religion, but religion from government intervention.

Another form of suppressing religious freedom is the disturbing trend in the past 18 months of overt acts of vandalism at Catholic sites globally and in the U.S. Since May 2020, the USCCB stated that more than 100 incidents of vandalism have been reported, including within the Diocese of Venice.

On Oct. 10, 2021, the USCCB responded to the latest such incident in Denver, Colorado, when satanic and other hateful graffiti was scrawled on the walls before Sunday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

In a statement from the USCCB condemning the incident in Denver, it was noted in part: “These incidents of vandalism have ranged from the tragic to the obscene, from the transparent to the inexplicable. There remains much we do not know about this phenomenon, but at a minimum, they underscore that our society is in sore need of God’s grace… where the motive was retribution for some past fault of ours, we must reconcile; where misunderstanding of our teachings has caused anger toward us, we must offer clarity; but this destruction must stop. This is not the way… These are not mere property crimes – this is the degradation of visible representations of our Catholic faith. These are acts of hate.”

The Solemnity of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in his 1925 encyclical Quas primas (In the first), setting aside a special day so that “the Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, destined to be spread among all men and all nations, should with every token of veneration salute her Author and Founder in her annual liturgy as King and Lord, and as King of Kings” [Quas primas 12].

Celebrated on the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, this year the Solemnity is Nov. 21. The USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty has 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.”

“For Christians, when our faith is repeatedly marginalized in public life, we can fall into the habit of compartmentalizing our lives,” the USCCB website states in its article “About Christ the King.” “We love Jesus in our private lives, but we shrink from acknowledging the kingship of Christ in social life. When we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, we declare to the world and remind ourselves that Jesus is the Lord of the Church and of the entire universe.”

Once again, if you wish to participate in the novena to the Christ the King, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org.

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  https://www.usccb.org/civilizeit 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.

Religious Liberty Week June 22-29

The Feast of Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher on June 22, 2021 marks the start of Religious Freedom Week, a call by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for all Catholics across the United States to pray, reflect and take action in support of Religious Liberty in our country and abroad.

It is appropriate that the week begins on such a day, as Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher are remembered for being martyred in 1535 for standing up for the Sanctity of Marriage and the Freedom of the Church in opposition to England’s King Henry VIII.

Continuing through the Solemnity of Ss. Peter & Paul the Apostles on June 29, 2021, the Religious Freedom Week theme is “Solidarity in Freedom,” and stems from a Pope Francis quote: “Solidarity means much more than engaging in sporadic acts of generosity. It means thinking and acting in terms of community.” This quote is from the Pope Francis encyclical “Fratelli tutti (On Fraternity and Social Friendship)” which was released in October 2020.

During Religious Freedom Week, Catholics are encouraged to pray each day for specific causes related to religious freedom. The USCCB’s “Pray – Reflect – Act” Series aims to help Catholics build solidarity with people of faith who are persecuted and find strength to carry out the mission of the Church. Religious freedom allows the Church, and all religious communities, to live out their faith in public and to serve the good of all.

The Diocese of Venice joins with other Dioceses to promote Religious Freedom Week. Bishop Frank J. Dewane encourages the faithful of the Diocese of Venice to educate themselves about the issues of religious freedom but to be aware of the threats faced both domestically and abroad.

The USCCB has prepared resources which may be found at: www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek. Each day focuses on different religious liberty topics of concern for the U.S. Bishops.

The USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty collaborated with the Office of International Justice and Peace to raise awareness and show solidarity with people throughout the world who suffer for their faith, from the persecution of Christians in Nicaragua to highlighting Pope Francis’s trip to Iraq this year. Domestically, a major area of concern continues to be freedom for Catholic institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and child welfare service providers, to carry out their missions free from government intervention..

Materials prepared by the USCCB are made available to help people understand religious liberty from a Catholic perspective, reflect on the application, pray about particular issues, and act on what they learn by advocating for policies that promote religious freedom.

Through prayer, reflection, and public action during Religious Freedom Week, the USCCB hopes to promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths.

The USCCB materials can be found in English (https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/religious-freedom-week) and in Spanish (https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/semana-de-la-libertad-religiosa).

Connect with the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty by texting “FREEDOM” or “LIBERTAD” to 84576 and sign up for the First Freedom News, the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty’s monthly newsletter.

Bishop addresses racism: Calls for unity, action and finding God in each other

In a recent letter to the faithful, Bishop Frank J. Dewane directly addressed racism in this country and called on all to seek unity, take action and continue to find the image and likeness of God in others.

The letter, dated June 9, 2020, acknowledged the death of George Floyd and the suffering caused by racism in the United States. It also expressed an understanding for the anger and frustration felt by many as evidenced in protest in cities throughout the country, while at the same time stating that the Church encourages a peaceful response and prayers for an end to racism.

“The Church, Her leaders and the Faithful have an important role in confronting the sin of racism. Responding to the call to defend human dignity, the Church must raise Her voice against every instance of the evil of racism. I add my voice and condemn racism in all its forms.”

Bishop Dewane, who is on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee on Racism, has spoken repeatedly about bigotry and discrimination in the county, and the unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd, either during the daily livestreaming Mass from the Catholic Center or when celebrating Mass at Parishes in the Diocese. During his recent visits to Parishes throughout the Diocese, racism has been a recurring theme, including June 13, 2020 at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring.

“Every human being, regardless of their skin color, is made in the image and likeness of God,” Bishop Dewane said during the livestreamed Mass on June 14, 2020, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi – The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

A table display at St. Agnes Parish in Naples includes the USCCB Prayer to Overcome Racism along with a candle and flowers the weekend of June 13-14, 2020.

“It is not just one race, one color, every human being, you, me, all our neighbors,” Bishop Dewane continued.  “As human beings, as the Body of Christ, we have to see the image and likeness of God in all – not just some. The race of a human being, or the color of their skin, cannot determine the humanity showed toward them; the human respect that they are given shouldn’t be differentiated – it has to be the same!”

Citing racial unrest in the 1960s, 70s and 90s, and even just a few years ago, the Bishop said a solution to racism has not been found and it is very much present around us all. “We are the Body of Christ. We are the Church. We find ourselves here in the Diocese of Venice. You belong to a particular Parish. We need to drill down on this – and everyone needs to take action. You and I, we need to find unity. We need to seek peace and we do it all in the recognition that each and every person has been made in the image and likeness of God.”

In his letter to the faithful, the Bishop cited the words of Pope Francis who recently said: “My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”

Bishop Dewane also noted that he sent a request to priests of the Diocese to speak out against racism during their homilies for the weekend of June 13-14 and beyond. A variety of resources were made available to the priests through the USCCB website which are also available to the public. The Bishop also suggested that Parishes hold prayer sessions and programming to address the question of racism.

Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers hosted a June 11, 2020, “Prayer Service for Peace.” The gathering included Eucharistic Adoration, a Gospel reading, Sacred music, prayer and reflections on racism in this country.

During the weekend of June 13-14, many Parishes added special intentions against racism to the Prayers of the Faithful. St. Agnes Parish in Naples had a tabletop display in their narthex which included candles, flowers and a framed copy of the USCCB “Prayer to Overcome Racism.” The Parish will dedicate Adoration hours specifically calling for an end to racism.

You can find the Bishop’s Letter to the Faithful  and other resources on the Diocese of Venice homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org, or for other resources, please visit www.usccb.org.

Resources and prayers during pandemic

Catholic Charities response to the pandemic as well as resources and prayers

If you need help

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407,
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423,
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404.

 

Food distribution

Volunteers load a vehicle in early May 2020 at the Elizabeth K. Galeana Center of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. in Fort Myers.

Catholic Charities food distribution will take place only at the following times and locations. Please call the regional number for more information.

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, 9-11 a.m., Guadalupe Social Services, 211 S. 9th St., Immokalee;
  • Tuesdays, 9-11:30 a.m., Judy Sullivan Family Resource Center, 3174 Tamiami Trail E., Naples;
  • Thursdays, 9 a.m.-noon, St. Margaret Parish, 208 Dean Duff St., Clewiston;
  • Fridays, 9-11 a.m., St. Leo the Great Parish, 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs;
  • Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon, Elizabeth K. Galeana Pantry, 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers;
  • 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, 9-11 a.m., St. Paul Parish, 1208 E. Oak St. Arcadia;
  • Saturdays, 7–8:45 a.m., St. Michael Parish, 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula.

How to Help

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. is in urgent need of your financial support during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, please visit www.catholiccharitiesdov.org/donate or send a check to: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road, PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Online Resources

A special coronavirus web page is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary by following the links for the Diocese response to Coronavirus included on the Diocese homepage. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

While the celebration of public Mass has resumed (effective May 18, 2020), Bishop Frank J. Dewane announced that for those who are at greater risk or anxious about returning at this time, that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect until June 28, 2020. The Faithful ought not to worry about remaining home if they are concerned for their wellbeing or that of other parishioners. Of course, those who are sick or have symptoms associated with COVID-19 are to stay home.

While Parishes have been asked to continue livestreaming until the dispensation is lifted, the Diocese of Venice Mass live stream will continue from the Catholic Center in Venice 9:15 a.m. daily through June 28, 2020, and is available through the Diocese website and Facebook pages.

In addition, the Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website at any time during the week, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis.

The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish.

The Faithful may also contribute through their usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Please continue to pray for the repose of those who have died, for the recovery of those who are sick, for the strength of healthcare workers and caregivers, as well as for an end to this health crisis. Thank you for your generosity.

Act of Spiritual Communion

Bishop Frank J. Dewane raises the host during the Mass at St. Ann Parish in Naples in January, 2020.

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Prayer Against Coronavirus

Cover of Diocese of Venice prayer card praying against coronavirus.

Lord Jesus Christ, our Divine physician, we ask you to guard and protect us from Coronavirus COVID-19 and all serious illness. For all that have died from it, have mercy; for those that are ill now, bring healing. For those searching for a remedy, enlighten them; for medical caregivers helping the sick, strengthen and shield them. For those working to contain the spread, grant them success; for the afraid, grant peace. May your precious blood be our defense and salvation. By your grace, may you turn the evil of disease into moments of consolation and hope. May we always fear the contagion of sin more than any illness. We abandon ourselves to you infinite.  Amen

By Pedro de la Cruz

 Oración contra el Coronavirus

Señor Jesucristo, nuestro Médico Divino, te pedimos que nos guardes y protejas del Coronavirus COVID-19 y de toda enfermedad grave. Por todos los que han perdido la vida por causa del virus, ten piedad; por los que están enfermos ahora, sánalos. Por los que buscan su cura, ilumínalos; por el personal médico que cuida de los enfermos, fortalécelos y protéjelos. Por los que trabajan para contener al virus, que sean existosos; por los que temen dáles la paz. Que tu preciosa sangre sea nuestro escudo y salvación. Por tu gracia, convierte a la maldad de esta enfermedad en momentos de consuelo y esperanza. Que siempre temamos más al contagió del pecado que al de cualquier enfermedad. Nos entregamos a tu infinita misericordia. Amén.

By Pedro de la Cruz

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe for Protection from the Coronavirus

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus.

Amen.

Courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Oración a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe para la Protección del Coronavirus

Virgen Santísima de Guadalupe,

Reina de los Ángeles y Madre de las Américas.

Acudimos a ti hoy como tus amados hijos.

Te pedimos que intercedas por nosotros con tu Hijo,

como lo hiciste en las bodas de Caná.

Ruega por nosotros, Madre amorosa,

y obtén para nuestra nación, nuestro mundo,

y para todas nuestras familias y seres queridos,

la protección de tus santos ángeles,

para que podamos salvarnos de lo peor de esta enfermedad.

Para aquellos que ya están afectados,

te pedimos que les concedas la gracia de la sanación y

la liberación.

Escucha los gritos de aquellos que son vulnerables y temerosos,

seca sus lágrimas y ayúdalos a confiar.

En este tiempo de dificultad y prueba,

enséñanos a todos en la Iglesia a amarnos los unos a los otros

y a ser pacientes y amables.

Ayúdanos a llevar la paz de Jesús a nuestra tierra y a nuestros

corazones.

Acudimos a ti con confianza, sabiendo que realmente eres

nuestra madre compasiva,

la salud de los enfermos y la causa de nuestra alegría.

Refúgianos bajo el manto de tu protección, mantennos

en el abrazo de tus brazos,

ayúdanos a conocer siempre el amor de tu Hijo, Jesús.

Amén.

Cortesía de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de EE. UU.

Updated Prayers and Resources from Diocese May 5 2020

Masses Temporarily Suspended Due to Coronavirus

While Masses and liturgical events in the Diocese of Venice remain suspended, Churches are beginning to open for individual prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Public gatherings for Mass or other Liturgical Services will still not be possible.  Restrictions regarding social distancing, sanitizing of hands and often-touched surfaces, as well as protective masks by visitors must be followed.  Please check with your Parish for details.

Act of Spiritual Communion

Bishop Frank J. Dewane raises the host during the Mass at St. Ann Parish in Naples in January, 2020.

It has long been a Catholic understanding that when circumstances prevent one from receiving Holy Communion, it is possible to make an Act of Spiritual Communion which is a source of grace. Spiritual Communion means uniting one’s self in prayer with Christ’s sacrifice and worshiping Him in His Body and Blood.

The most common reason for making an Act of Spiritual Communion is when a person cannot attend Mass, as is the case during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Acts of Spiritual Communion increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion and help us avoid the sins that would make us unable to receive Holy Communion worthily.

For all who will not be able to receive the Holy Eucharist in person, consider this special prayer, an Act of Spiritual Communion:

My Jesus,
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

Resources online

A special coronavirus webpage is located on the Diocese of Venice website homepage at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

Resources include links to the Mass, the prayer for Act of the Spiritual Communion, videos of the Stations of the Cross, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Pray the Rosary by following the links for the Diocese response to Coronavirus included on the Diocese homepage.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org, also posts the daily Mass readings.

The Diocese of Venice Mass is streamed live at 9:15 a.m. daily from the Catholic Center in Venice. Meanwhile, Mass is being streamed live from many Parishes daily (some on weekends only) throughout the Diocese of Venice (See updated list on Diocese website). Most streams are available with links through the Parish websites or through Facebook (to watch a live stream on Facebook, you do not need an account) or YouTube. Check with your Parish if you are having trouble finding the Mass or for more details.

Additionally, Magnificat is offering the online version of this devotional free at https://us.magnificat.net/free.

The Televised Mass for the Homebound is available throughout the Diocese each Sunday. In northern parts of the Diocese (Manatee, Highlands, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties) the Mass airs on television at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Collier, Lee, Glades, Hendry, Charlotte counties) the Mass airs at 10:30 a.m., on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). This same Mass can be found on the Diocese of Venice website, www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass. Please check local listings for channel information.

Parish donations

During this challenging time in the life and mission of the Diocese of Venice, our Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis.

The Diocese of Venice is providing an online platform and encourages the Faithful to support their Parish. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/ to donate to your Parish.

The Faithful may also contribute through their usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this crisis, provide assistance to those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice.

Please continue to pray for the repose of those who have died, for the recovery of those who are sick, for the strength of healthcare workers and caregivers, as well as for an end to this health crisis. Thank you for your generosity.

Prayers

Prayer Against Coronavirus

Cover of Diocese of Venice prayer card praying against coronavirus.

Lord Jesus Christ, our Divine physician, we ask you to guard and protect us from Coronavirus COVID-19 and all serious illness. For all that have died from it, have mercy; for those that are ill now, bring healing. For those searching for a remedy, enlighten them; for medical caregivers helping the sick, strengthen and shield them. For those working to contain the spread, grant them success; for the afraid, grant peace. May your precious blood be our defense and salvation. By your grace, may you turn the evil of disease into moments of consolation and hope. May we always fear the contagion of sin more than any illness. We abandon ourselves to you infinite.  Amen

By Pedro de la Cruz

Oración contra el Coronavirus

Señor Jesucristo, nuestro Médico Divino, te pedimos que nos guardes y protejas del Coronavirus COVID-19 y de toda enfermedad grave. Por todos los que han perdido la vida por causa del virus, ten piedad; por los que están enfermos ahora, sánalos. Por los que buscan su cura, ilumínalos; por el personal médico que cuida de los enfermos, fortalécelos y protéjelos. Por los que trabajan para contener al virus, que sean existosos; por los que temen dáles la paz. Que tu preciosa sangre sea nuestro escudo y salvación. Por tu gracia, convierte a la maldad de esta enfermedad en momentos de consuelo y esperanza. Que siempre temamos más al contagió del pecado que al de cualquier enfermedad. Nos entregamos a tu infinita misericordia. Amén.

By Pedro de la Cruz

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe for Protection from the Coronavirus

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus.

Amen.

Courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Oración a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe para la Protección del Coronavirus

Virgen Santísima de Guadalupe,

Reina de los Ángeles y Madre de las Américas.

Acudimos a ti hoy como tus amados hijos.

Te pedimos que intercedas por nosotros con tu Hijo,

como lo hiciste en las bodas de Caná.

Ruega por nosotros, Madre amorosa,

y obtén para nuestra nación, nuestro mundo,

y para todas nuestras familias y seres queridos,

la protección de tus santos ángeles,

para que podamos salvarnos de lo peor de esta enfermedad.

Para aquellos que ya están afectados,

te pedimos que les concedas la gracia de la sanación y

la liberación.

Escucha los gritos de aquellos que son vulnerables y temerosos,

seca sus lágrimas y ayúdalos a confiar.

En este tiempo de dificultad y prueba,

enséñanos a todos en la Iglesia a amarnos los unos a los otros

y a ser pacientes y amables.

Ayúdanos a llevar la paz de Jesús a nuestra tierra y a nuestros

corazones.

Acudimos a ti con confianza, sabiendo que realmente eres

nuestra madre compasiva,

la salud de los enfermos y la causa de nuestra alegría.

Refúgianos bajo el manto de tu protección, mantennos

en el abrazo de tus brazos,

ayúdanos a conocer siempre el amor de tu Hijo, Jesús.

Amén.

Cortesía de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de EE. UU.

 

USCCB leads country in prayer for reconsecration to Mary

The Diocese of Venice in Florida encourages the faithful to join the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for a live stream of the Re-Consecration of our nation to the Protection of the Blessed Mother under the title of Mary, Mother of the Church.  This will give the Church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell, and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus.

The live stream will take place at 3:00 p.m., May 1, 2020, on Facebook @USCCB, and will also be shared on the Diocese of Venice Facebook Page.  Prayer resources are available at www.dioceseofvenice.org.

In addition, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will Consecrate the Nation of Canada on May 1, 2020.

 

X