Responding to the Call

Seminarians gather for summer retreat

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

The seminarians of the Diocese of Venice have each responded to a specific call from the Lord, to take a journey which leads them on a discerning path toward a vocation to the priesthood.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane closed the annual seminarian convocation on Aug. 2 with the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.

“Thank you for responding to a call of the Lord – a call to holiness,” Bishop Dewane said. “You have a belief in yourself and how you have responded. That belief will give you strength as you move forward.”

By choosing a vocation to the priesthood, the seminarians have responded to live a life of knowing the Lord in His goodness and this requires more than simply listening to what the Lord has to say, but actually living life as the Lord wants, the Bishop added. “The Lord blesses you for giving yourself freely. You are on a journey with and to God.”

The convocation is an annual gathering of those seminarians at different stages in their ongoing discernment for the priesthood and took place from July 31-Aug. 2.

The gathering gives the seminarians – 16 of the 19 from the Diocese able to attend – an opportunity to come together as a group to pray, to reflect on their choice of vocation and to share their thoughts and their personal journey with others who are on the same path. The goal is for them to leave refreshed and prepared for the next phase in their faith journey. The retreat was directed by Msgr. Michael Muhr of the Diocese of St. Petersburg while sharing his experiences of 36 years in the priesthood and offering different ways for them to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Seminarian David Portorreal, who is returning to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach in the fall, spent his summer at the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University, Omaha, Neb. “It was a great experience to go and be with other seminarians and priests from across the country, each going through continuing formation. It was inspiring.”

Another seminarian, Kevin Avellaneda, who will be on a Pastoral Year in the Diocese, spent his summer in Pastoral Ministry to the Sick through St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, St. Paul, Minn. While there he had powerful encounters with those who are sick in the hospital, nursing homes and in hospice. “It was a very moving experience. You get a chance to see the work of God in different ways. Seeing someone on a ventilator and just being there for the person, but also for the families, strengthened my faith.”

Bishop Dewane encouraged the seminarians to return to their respective seminaries more committed to the Lord. “That commitment should come from your experiences of faith knowing you are not alone in your journey, either through my prayers, the prayers of the priests and the prayers of the faithful across the Diocese.”

Father Shawn Roser, Diocese of Venice Director of Vocations, said the annual convocation allows the seminarians to share their experiences, which is valuable as some are very close to ordination, while others are going into the seminary for the first time in just a week or two.

Please pray for our seminarians as they return to their respective seminaries and continue in discerning their vocation to the priesthood.

Diocese of Venice Seminarians are supported through the Diocese Catholic Faith Appeal, the Knights of Columbus and the generosity of the faithful.

Parishioners from around the Diocese are encouraged to help support the seminarians in their studies and choice of vocation through prayer and financial assistance. Donations may be sent to: Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

For more information about the seminarians or Vocations, contact Father Shawn Roser at or 941-486-4720, or visit .

Diocese of Venice Seminarians

Deacon Carlos Encinas

Deacon Franckel Fils-Aime

Deacon Daniel Ricardo

Kevin Avellaneda

Alan Baldarelli

Christian Chami

Juan Contreras

James Gates Jr.

José Grullon

Jacob Gwynn

Mark Harris

Peirrot Lazarre

Nathaniel Nieves

Euder Paul

Alexander Pince

David Portorreal

Carlos Rodriguez

Alejandro Roldan

Daniel Scanlan

Prayer for Vocations

God our Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith support vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.



News from Around the Diocese late July 2019

Seminarian admitted to Candidacy

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the Rite of the Admission to Candidacy of Diocesan Seminarian Daniel Scanlan on June 27 at the Diocese Catholic Center in Venice. Scanlan recently graduated Valedictorian from St. Vincent de Paul College Seminary in Miami and is heading to Rome, Italy, to continue his priestly formation at the Pontifical North American College. Also present was Father Shawn Roser, Diocese Director of Vocations.

Youth take part in religious retreat in Georgia mountains

Youth from two different parishes took part in separate religious retreats in the Georgia mountains in late June. The Epiphany Cathedral group from Venice went to the Camp Covecrest retreat center for a week of fun activities and team-building exercises while also hearing inspirational talks and having time to reflect on their faith. Meanwhile, the boys and girls from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula went camping in the mountains of Georgia on consecutive weeks. The groups hiked to the start of the Appalachian Trail and took part in numerous other activities and were led by the religious sisters and priests from the parish.

Mooney student taking part in Ballet summer program

Lauren Garner, Class of 2022, is spending her summer at the Boston Ballet School Summer Dance Program. After an intense audition, she was accepted and will spend 5 weeks training 5-7 hours each day with internationally renowned faculty of the Boston Ballet School and prestigious collegiate dance institutions in the areas of ballet technique, choreography, improvisation and contemporary dance. She will be attending this program and living in college dorms with other students from the United States and around the globe.



Verot grad receives top Girl Scout award

Samantha Romero, who just graduated from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Sarasota has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor – the Gold Award. Following Hurricane Michael in 2018, she turned her passion for filmmaking to make a difference in the Florida Panhandle by documenting the damage and recovery at St. John Catholic School in Panama City. There was a local connection to that school in that the principal, Dr. Vikki Parks, previously served as Diocese of Venice Assistant Superintendent and a teacher at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral. Through the power of video, she was able to help the school share their story and spearhead their relief effort. Romero also created a video club at Bishop Verot, and through in-person workshops and online video classes she trained younger students in the art of film, editing, and techniques to create professional content. Romero was also a member of the Verot Catholics in Action Club and was very active in Pro-Life activities including a trip to the National March for Life in Washington, D.C. The Girl Scout Gold Award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through take-action projects with sustainable impact in their communities. The Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award Girl Scouts, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

Mooney grad receives national lacrosse recognition

MJ McMahon, a recent graduate of Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, has been named to the 2019 All-LaxRecords Second Team. McMahon completed his career with the Cougars tallying 410 points, good for top ten all time throughout the state. He racked up 235 goals, the fifth most ever for a high school lacrosse player from Florida. This past spring, McMahon helped guide Cardinal Mooney to a 21-win season. McMahon will be attending the University of Utah in the fall.

New Director of Vocations announced

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic


Father Shawn Roser knows what it is like to be a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice. He was one a year ago. This fact makes Father Roser uniquely qualified to be the new Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Venice.

Announced by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, and effective May 17, Father Roser said he is anxious to work to support the existing seminarians who are discerning the priesthood now, while at the same time finding innovative ways to encourage others to follow the same path.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Father Roser said. “The responsibility is awesome, and I will work diligently to help spread the word that promoting a vocation to the priesthood needs the support of all the faithful.”

Bishop Dewane noted that Father Roser is the right person to fill this important role in the Diocese. “Father Shawn has the spiritual awareness and enthusiasm needed to be a successful Vocations Director.”

As he settles into his new position, Father Roser noted that he will work to ensure the needs of the current Diocesan seminarians are being addressed. Since he was a seminarian, he already understands what it was like to go through the lengthy process of discerning a vocation to the priesthood.

“I understand the pressures, not just academically, but personally and spiritually,” Father Roser explained. “I will do what I can to help them through the discernment process.”

For those who might be thinking about discerning the priesthood, Father Roser will be there as a mentor as well. He went through a lengthy discernment process after he graduated from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples.

He first went off to study aerospace engineering and applied meteorology, with the intention of pursuing a career as a U.S. Air Force officer and astronaut. It was then, during his involvement with Catholic campus ministry, that he experienced an awakening and renewing of his faith which started him on a journey to the priesthood. Father Roser was ordained on July 14, 2017.

Father said that long process, and the knowledge that everyone’s call to the priesthood is different, will help him encourage others to consider their calling.

“Today it is hard for young people to feel connected,” Father Roser said. “You have to help them strengthen their connection to the Lord; then the idea of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life becomes a more authentic option.”

Father said he is blessed to be building upon the positive work done by Father Eric Scanlan, the Vocations Director from 2015-2019, who is now Administrator of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota and Chaplain at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School.

He will be required to visit the different seminaries, attend vocations conferences and keep up with the academic and pastoral work of the seminarians. He will travel across the Diocese to promote vocations at various events still in the planning stages.

In addition to his duties as Vocations Director, Father is currently a Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton and is a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus.

Diocese of Venice Seminarians are supported through the Diocese Catholic Faith Appeal, the Knights of Columbus and the generosity of the faithful.

Parishioners from around the Diocese are encouraged to help support the seminarians in their studies and choice of vocations. To support a seminarian, donations may be sent to the Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

For more information about the seminarians or Vocations, contact Father Shawn Roser at or 941-486-4720, or visit .

Prayer for Vocations

God our Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith support vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


News for mid May 2019

Bishop blesses Knights on Bikes

The Knights of Columbus Knights on Bikes of the Diocese of Venice welcomed Bishop Frank J. Dewane as he blessed their motorcycles May 19 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. Bishop Dewane first celebrated a Mass for the group and then led a prayer service and blessing. Organized by George Lopez of Ave Maria Parish, the motorcyclists came from across the Diocese. The Knights on Bikes is a worldwide organization consisting of members of the Knights of Columbus who are also motorcycle riders. The Knights on Bikes was formed in the United States in April 2005. Members proudly wear a vest that clearly promotes the Knights of Columbus organization.

Seminarians graduate from college

Diocesan Seminarian Daniel Scanlan gives the valedictorian address May 9 at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami.

Three Diocesan Seminarians recently graduated from college. Transitional Deacon Carlos Encinas earned his Master’s in Divinity from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach on May 9. The day before, Seminarians Daniel Scanlan and Juan Contreras graduated from St. john Vianney College Seminary in Miami. Scanlan graduated at the class valedictorian. Deacon Encinas will be ordained to the priesthood in the fall, while Scanlan and Contreras will next go on to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary.

Food sorting from Post Office drive

A volunteer helps sort donations at St. Joseph Food Pantry in Bradenton on May 11 following the Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

The St. Joseph Food Pantry in Bradenton received food deliveries from five U.S. Post Offices as part of a Letter Carries “Stamp Our Hunger Food Drive.” On May 11, some 300 volunteers helped sort the food in the St. Joseph Parish School gymnasium and stock the Food Pantry. The food pantry serves all of Manatee County and in 2018 the Food Pantry served more than 5,300 families with 12,772 family members of which 4,443 were children and 442 were veterans. These families visited the pantry and received food over 19,600 visits during the past 12 months. In addition, the Food Pantry distributed more than 550 bags of food and toiletries to the homeless of Manatee County during the year. An additional 1,000 bags of food are distributed Thanksgiving Week. For more information about the St. Joseph Food Pantry, call 941-756-3732, email or send donations to St. Joseph Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34205.

Sarasota school expands offering

Incarnation Catholic School, 2911 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, will be expanding their early learning classes to include a PreK three program. The program will offer a monthly theme-based curriculum that will include math, science, language and basics of our Catholic faith. Our little learners will discover answers to big questions like “How do Plants Grow?” and “ Who lives in the Ocean?”. Small class sizes will allow for individual attention and differentiate instruction. Playground time will provide an opportunity to work on gross motor skills.  The program will offer full and part time options, perfect for every family. Children must be potty trained and three years old by September 1. For more information please call 941-924-8588.

Verot grad tapped to head ATF

Regina Lombardo, a 1981 graduate of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, was announced on May 1 as the new acting deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the first woman to head the federal agency. Lombardo has served as the associate deputy director and chief operating officer for the agency since March 2018, with responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the agency. She has served as a special agent at ATF since 1992 and has risen through the ranks as a career employee, holding numerous management positions that include assistant director of Human Resources and Professional Development, deputy assistant director of Field Operations’ Central Region, special agent in charge of the Tampa Field Division, assistant special agent in Charge of the New York Field Division, and assistant country attaché in Toronto, Canada.

Youth event May 31 on Sanibel

Youth from across the Diocese are invited to take part in an event 7-10 p.m., May 31 at St. Isabel Parish, 3559 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel. This event is open to everyone but the Youth Groups in the area are encouraged to participate. The event, titled “Immeasurable Mercy!” will feature our well-known local musician Mark Shapic and vocalist Jennine Fuentes! Also included is pizza, refreshments, games, Adoration and Reconciliation along with some praise and worship. It’s a time for music, fun, and fellowship! RSVP to Dr. Sue Ellen Nolan at

Taize Prayer service May 31 in Sarasota

St. Thomas More Parish, 2506 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota, invites people to a special Taize Prayer Service, 7 p.m., May 31. The feast of Pentecost commemorates the beginning of the Church in a new way, with the arrival of the Holy Spirit and with the disciples speaking so that many people heard the gospel in their own language. The prayer in the manner of Taizé is a good way to discover a shared gospel in many languages. Celebrate Pentecost with Song, Silence and Scripture in the style of Taizé monastery in France. The simple and beautiful chant music is dedicated to the renewal of spirits and the healing of our planet. The repetitive nature of the chanted prayer can promote a kind of inner unity of the person, allowing the spirit to be more open and more attentive to what is essential. Silence is a fundamental part of the Taizé service. For more details, please call 941-923-1691.

Diocesan Council of Catholic Women gather

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

A group of dedicated Catholic women has answered the call of Christ as they imitate Him in how they live their lives each day.

These women are represented by the Venice Diocese Council of Catholic Women (VDCCW) serving as an example of a heartfelt commitment to serve the Church while dedicating themselves to being open to the Holy Spirit.

Each year members gather for a convention with the goal of unifying their efforts to do the most good for the benefit of all. The 34th Annual Convention was held April 27 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

A central part of the gathering was the women participating in a celebration of the Mass which was celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. Several priests concelebrated the Mass including Father Joseph Connolly, TOR, who is the VDCCW Spiritual Advisor, as well as Fathers Blake Britton, Sebastian Szczawínski, Gordon Zanetti and Chuck Ruoff.

Bishop Dewane praised the VDCCW for coming together and giving witness to the Faith by how they are believers and followers of Jesus Christ who are called forth to reach out to others.

“As a group of believers, the CCW comes together bringing a strength to the Church,” Bishop Dewane said. “Reach out to others and help them to see the Lord in a new way as Christ made us all new in His Resurrection.”

VDCCW acts through its membership to support, empower, and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service. Council programs exude Gospel values and serve the needs of the Church and society in the modern world. To exemplify this, the VDCCW is a strong supporter of the Diocesan seminarians and again presented a check to Bishop Dewane for the Diocesan Seminarian Fund.

The women also learned about a variety of topics including a presentation about human trafficking from representatives of Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. who work with victims each day. The VDCCW presented a check to Catholic Charities from the Hugs for Homeless Fund for use to help the victims of human trafficking.

Father Britton, of the Diocese of Orlando, was the keynote speaker who focused on the power of femininity and the need to rehabilitate the view of beauty in society. Father cited St. John Paul II’s apostolic letter “The Dignity of Women” (Mulieris Dignitatem), Edith Stein’s “Letters to Women” and others.

Brenda Dolan, who has served as VDCCW president for the past several years and will now serve as Co-President, noted how the convention serves to unify and inspire the members of the VDCCW. Among those present for the convention were members of the VDCCW Juniors from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula.

In addition to the support for the Seminarian Fund, this year, three mothers of priests were honored for their nurturing support of their sons who chose a vocation to the priesthood. The mothers honored were: Cornelia Zanetti, mother of Father Gordon of St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral; Agnes Ruoff-Perkins, mother of Father Chuck of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples; and Kate Cogan, mother of Father Jim Cogan of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Parrish.

The 2019 convention also included an installation of the new officers with Brenda Dolan and Ellen Bachman now serving as Co-Presidents, and Josephine Weiss as President-elect. They will serve for two years.

For more information about the Venice Diocese Council of Catholic Women please visit their new website at

Venice seminarian takes a big step on his long road to the priesthood

Linda Reeves – Florida Catholic correspondent


The journey to the priesthood for one seminarian began in Haiti and meandered throughout several countries. However, April 6 he was ordained a transitional deacon, one small step on his spiritual journey.

“This ordination for me is a moment of grace, a time of thanksgiving to God for his fidelity to me,” said Diocese of Venice Seminarian Franckel Fils-Aime, who was ordained by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton.

Bishop Dewane ordained a total of 15 seminarians of different seminarians from Florida arch/dioceses, most being from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. The Church was filled with family members, friends, guests, seminary faculty and leaders, priests and brother seminarians, all a witness of great support for the candidates soon to be ordained to the diaconate and to the Church.

The Bishop noted the special reason for the Mass and went on to say: “We celebrate your presence here today… of who you are, and who you are becoming.”

During the homily, Bishop Dewane explained that the ministry is much more than taking on specific Church duties. “What you are called to do is to reflect the love of Jesus Christ,” he said. “You are called to demonstrate this love in many ways; this you do with the help of the Holy Spirit.”

The Bishop also encouraged the men to “sow hope and trust in the Lord. You will teach Holy Doctrine to others but must be men of God and examples of living a life of prayer, high moral values and faith. May God bless each one of you for this decision you have made in your life and for your blessedness going forward.”

During the ordination, the new deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy and obedience to their Diocesan Bishop. Deacon Fils-Aime will have an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2020. As part of the ordination rite, the Bishop placed the Book of Gospels in the hands of each candidate being ordained and said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

Deacon Fils Aime was joyful afterwards and reflected to the day so long ago when he told his parents about his vocation decision.

“They were praying that God would call one of their children to the priesthood, and even more happy because I am the oldest son,” Deacon Fils Aime. “They understand as the Bible says, the first fruit is for God. I thank my family here in United States and in Haiti for their prayers and support.”

Born in Cornillon (Potino), in west Haiti, Deacon Fils-Aime celebrated his 40th birthday one month ago. The son of Voguel Fils-Aime, residing in Haiti, and the late Philomène Remy, he is the oldest of nine. His father and two siblings were present for the ordination.

From a young age, the new deacon felt at home in the Church and first met Jesus through the Sacraments while witnessing the ministry of the priests who served as examples of Jesus Christ’s love and mercy. “I heard the voice of God calling me for His services.”

Deacon Fils-Aime began formation at age 26 with the Order of Friars Minor. He lived in community with the Franciscan Capuchins and continued to study and discern in the Dominican Republic and Brazil. It was in 2014 when he heard God calling, loudly and clearly, to become a diocesan priest. He subsequently joined the Diocese of Venice in 2015.

Now carrying the new title of Deacon, this last phase of his formation before being called to priesthood, Deacon Fils-Aime, can baptize, witness marriages, perform funerals and burial services, distribute the Eucharist and preach the homily.

Seminarian receives Ministry of Acolyte

Staff Report – Vatican City

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Alexander Pince was received into the Ministry of Acolyte during a Feb. 24 Mass on Vatican City.

Pince was one of 43 seminarians from Pontifical North American College to receive this honor in the College Chapel of the Immaculate Conception from Most. Rev. Steven J. Lopes, Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

During his homily, Bishop Lopes stressed the importance of Christ’s love as a measure for our lives noting that Jesus Christ is “a love without conditions, a love without limits, a love that was willing to give all; that is the love that is revealed in God, in Christ.”

Bishop Lopes told the newly instituted acolytes that this ministry, “as understood in the context of this seminary, is a ritual step toward ordination. It is a ritual drawing near to the altar, the love by which you draw nearer today, changes us. It transfigures us. It accomplishes is us what you and I, humanly speaking, could never ask or even imagine. And so we love differently. We are changed by the sacramental outpouring of grace. Because at the altar we know ourselves to be loved in a way that is unimaginable. This is the heart of the Christian Faith. This is the heart of the Gospel itself.”

As part of the Rite, the Bishop placed the paten, which contains the hosts for the celebration of Mass, in the hands of each candidate. He then said, “take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and His Church.”

The seminarians, currently in their second year of formation for the priesthood, would have two additional years of theological studies before being ordained to the priesthood in their home Dioceses.

The Pontifical North American College serves as the American Seminary in Rome. Founded in 1859 by Blessed Pius IX, the college has formed more than 5,000 priests.

News from Around the Diocese November 2018

Wrap-up of news from Across the Diocese in November

Wauchula Children’s Festival a big success

More than 200 children participated in a Children’s Festival at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. Geared toward children aged 3 to 10, there were a number of fun activities and games as well as Mass and prayers.




Successful Vocations Awareness Weekend

The Diocese Vocations Office brought a group of young men to participate in the Nov. 9-11 Vocations Awareness Weekend at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. Led by Vocations Director Father Eric Scanlan, several attended this engaging and prayerful discernment event.





Retreat inspires catechists

A Diocesan Catechist Retreat themed: “Root of God’s Healing” took place Nov. 17 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. About 100 catechists participated in the retreat which focused on reenergizing them as they approach the Advent and Christmas seasons. They were reminded that Jesus serves to free and restore them as they work to be the light and witness of the Lord for others.




VDCCW Latina Convocation held

The first ever Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Latina Convocation took place Nov. 17 at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton. About 50 women took part in the gathering which served to educate about the role of the CCW and to inspire them to become more involved in their faith. Iris Gomez, VDCCW Past-President, organized the gathering and Father Juan Carlos Sack, Administrator at Sacred Heart Parish, provide inspirational talks.



Cities for Life gathering held

Praying for the end to the death penalty, a Cities for Life gathering was held Nov. 30 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte. Cities for Life is a worldwide annual event that was begun in 2002 by the community of Saint’ Egidio in Rome where the Coliseum was lit up during the night. November 30th was chosen because it is the anniversary of the first civil state in the world to do away with the death penalty in Tuscany, Italy in 1786- 229 years ago. About 2,000 cities and 80 countries will call for the end of the use of the death penalty by lighting civic or religious buildings around the world, along with prayer services and educational programs. This was the fourth time the Dioceses of Florida participated in the prayer vigil. Participants in the Port Charlotte gathering saw a video presentation of a talk on the death penalty from the September 2018 Florida Respect Life Conference in Punta Gorda.


Sarasota Charity Ball Jan. 26 at The Westin

The Catholic Charities Ball will be held on Jan. 26,  at 6 p.m. at The Westin in Sarasota. All proceeds will benefit the programs and services of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Sarasota and Manatee counties which include Our Mother’s House, St. Martha’s Early Learning Center, Bethesda House, Catholic Charities Family Haven, housing counseling and foreclosure prevention, financial assistance, senior services, professional counseling, refugee services, and immigration services. The evening will include a cocktail hour, auctions, dinner, and dancing. Tickets are $300 a person. For information and tickets visit or call 941-355-4680, ext. 301 or email

Transitional Deacon prepares for Ordination

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will ordain Transitional Deacon Shawn Roser to the priesthood at 11 a.m., July 14, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. Here Deacon Roser shares his journey to the Priesthood.

“From my earliest years, I have had the desire to serve others,” Roser explained. “In time, this grew into a yearning to share the love of Christ with them as well.  The first time that I thought about the priesthood was in second grade, when I received my First Holy Communion. I remember thinking that it would be incredible to be able to offer Mass and bring Jesus’ presence to others.  Time passed and the desire for priesthood mostly faded away, but the desire to serve others didn’t.”

Transitional Deacon Shawn Roser will be ordained to the priesthood on July 14 at Epiphany Cathedral.

Born in Lima, Ohio, he was raised Catholic and lived in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and then Fort Wayne, Ind., before moving to the Naples area at the start of high school. Although a 2002 graduate of St. John Neumann Catholic High School, Ave Maria is his adopted hometown, as his family moved there in 2009.

After high school, Roser attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, where he studied aerospace engineering and applied meteorology, with the intention of pursuing a career as a U.S. Air Force officer and astronaut. “It was then, during my college years and my involvement with Catholic campus ministry, that I experienced an awakening and renewing of my faith.  When Pope John Paul II died, I remember being inspired to reconsider the priesthood.”

Now 35, Roser credits a number of priests and religious for aiding in his discernment for a vocation to the priesthood. Specifically, Father Tim Daly, then Chaplain of the Embry-Riddle Catholic Student Union, provided guidance and prayers through the years. It is for this reason that Father Daly will be vesting Roser at the ordination.

“After some time, in prayer and discernment, I obtained my discharge from the U.S. Air Force Reserves, and pursued the priestly vocation, first with the Glenmary Home Missioners, and finally with the Diocese of Venice,” he explained. “Although I spent time dating and discerning the vocation to marriage before entering seminary, again and again, I felt the gentle but persistent call of the Lord to the priesthood.  In surrendering my will to Christ, I experienced great peace and clarity about my future path.”

While discerning with the Glanmary Home Missioners, Roser worked along with the poor and unchurched in Applachia and the rural South. “Later, I felt the Lord calling me back to Southwest Florida, where I delved back into studies and work. Eventually, the desire to serve God as a priest returned. I came to see that diocesan priests, in their work with those entrusted to them at the parish level, truly serve at the “front lines” of the struggle for holiness.  I too, wished to take part in this spiritual warfare and tend to Christ’s flock. Thus, I applied to become a seminarian for the Diocese. “

Roser took initial theology classes at Ave Maria University, and then at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. As a Diocesan seminarian, he earned a B.A. in Philosophy from St. John Vianney College Seminary, Miami, before being sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome. There he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology Degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and recently completed the one-year Spirituality Program at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. In very early July, he returned to the Diocese.

When asked why he decided to discern a vocation to the priesthood, Roser explained: “For me, the priesthood is the laying down of one’s life in service to others, so that by following in the footsteps of Jesus, we may together journey to our eternal home of heaven. To be responsible for the salvation of souls, is an incredibly daunting task, but it is also one that fills me with joy and enthusiasm.  The more uncertain and confused the world becomes, the more clearly, I see that it is the Catholic Church and its teachings alone that stands solidly on the foundation given to it by Christ, through the Apostles. There is great comfort in that. I wish to do my small part in the great work of the New Evangelization.”

Family is very important to Roser; so he felt blessed to have had the support of his parents (Stephen and Mary Beth) and most of his family and friends. “I believe that my mother always thought that I’d become a priest.  Those who initially were uncertain or opposed to the call have really come around. Interestingly, when I first announced my decision to enter seminary, often it seemed that I received more support from non-Catholics than Catholics.  We must do more to promote a culture of vocations – it starts at home with the family!”

He admitted that the few weeks he has left to prepare for ordination are a bit surreal, knowing that his studies are finally done and nothing stands in his way to reach his goal. “What a wonderful privilege! Waiting to hear of my official priestly assignment and being assigned to the care of souls can seem a bit nerve-wracking, but I’m anxiously looking forward to parish ministry, celebrating the sacraments and serving parishioners!”

Once ordained, Roser said his greatest desire is to be a faithful parish priest who is a shepherd of souls and brings others to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Ordained a Transitional Deacon at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter in the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican on Sept. 28, 2017, one of his first acts as a deacon was to serve as deacon at his mother’s funeral and the officiating at her interment. “It was a moving experience seeing the power of grace at work through the Church’s liturgy and sacramentals.”

While a seminarian for the Diocese, Roser had several pastoral assignments including: St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral; Epiphany Cathedral, Venice; St. Leo the Great Parish, Bonita Springs; Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Bradenton; and Incarnation Parish, Sarasota.

The ordination to the priesthood is considered one of the pivotal moments in the life of a Diocese. While an ordination is the final step to priesthood, it is not the conclusion of priestly formation, it is just the beginning.

“This is one of the most beautiful and often unseen Sacraments in the Church,” Bishop Dewane explained. “It is a public response to the Call to Holiness, which comes with great responsibility and accountability.”

During ordination to the priesthood the oridinand freely presents himself to serve God, the Church and the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice and his successors. They will also make a renewed commitment to celibacy and promise obedience. The reward for that choice is to have their life filled with the message of God.

Ordination details

What: Ordination to the Priesthood of Shawn Roser

When: Saturday, July 14, 11 a.m.

Where: Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice

By Whom: Presiding Prelate Bishop Frank J. Dewane

Other facts about Transitional Deacon Shawn Roser

Age: 35

Born: Lima, Ohio

Parents: Stephen and Mary Beth (deceased in 2017)

Interesting facts: 4th Degree Knight of Columbus; holds a private pilot’s license; First Lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol; previously served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

Fun: Flying, bicycling, running, hiking, camping, canoeing/kayaking, visiting national/state parks and historic sites, reading, woodworking, cooking, etc.

Relax: Going to the beach, fishing, swimming, reading, etc.