Seminarian becomes Transitional Deacon

Surrounded by nearly his entire extended family, Alexander Pince was overwhelmed with emotion before, during and after his ordination to the Transitional Diaconate Aug. 29, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, presiding over the Rite, informed Pince that ordination makes him a minister of the Word, Altar and Charity. “Be a servant of all… You come here freely and have worked hard to put yourself in this particular place, making a commitment to be of service to the Lord and those around you.”

Pince has chosen to live his life in a particular way, Bishop Dewane continued. “Live this life you have chosen to the fullest… Take comfort in prayer which should become the center of your daily life.”

Deacon Pince explained afterwards how the emotions of joy, blessings, and supreme happiness accompanied him throughout the day. “What a beautiful and blessed experience,” he said.

Deacon Pince, 29, was born in Concord, N.H., and is the fourth of seven children. He is a graduate of Ave Maria University and is currently studying at Pontifical North American College in Rome where the ordination was originally scheduled. However, due to the global pandemic, the location and date were changed to allow family and friends to attend while international travel restrictions persist.

As part of the Rite, Pince was called forward as a candidate and presented to the Bishop for examination and then election. Following the Homily, in a series of questions, Pince knelt before the Bishop and promised respect and obedience to the Bishop and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, he then lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints.

Following the Litany, the candidate again knelt before the Bishop who imposed his hands on the candidate and proclaimed a prayer of consecration, to confer the Holy Spirit to guide his ministry. Next, Pince received a stole and dalmatic (the exterior garb of a deacon), signifying the office of Diaconate and the Deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Deacon Pince returned to kneel before Bishop Dewane, at which time the Book of Gospels was placed in his hands and the Bishop said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” The Rite of Ordination concluded with the sign of peace.

The first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church, a Deacon performs many services in the Church in conjunction with the ministries of priesthood and of the Episcopate. In Parish life, Deacons may preside at baptisms, weddings and perform funerals and burial services, assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel and deliver homilies. The new Transitional Deacon has an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2021.

The first public Mass for Deacon Pince was Aug. 30, 2020 at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, with his uncle and inspiration, Father Peter Williams, serving as the main celebrant. After his first Mass, Deacon Pince baptized his infant cousin, the newest member of his extended family.

Seminarians end summer united in Christ

The seminarians of the Diocese of Venice have had an eventful past five months, but they are now returning to their respective seminaries after having gathered as a group one last time this summer.

The group has a story to tell having had their spring semester disrupted by a global pandemic. Many have had to go through quarantine at some point during that period. In fact, quarantine is again necessary as they return to seminary either in Miami; Boynton Beach; Rome, Italy; or Weston, Mass.

“It’s what we have to do,” explained Juan Contreras as he prepared to return to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. “The experience of the past few months has brought me closer to the Lord. These are scary times, but whether at school, or at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish (in Naples) for my summer assignment, relying on Christ to guide me has brought great comfort.”

The annual Seminarian Convocation took place Aug. 10-12, 2020 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center and included time for prayer, reflection and preparation for the next step in their spiritual journey. The retreat was led by Father Michael Nixon, Pastor of St. Dominic Parish in Panama City, Fla.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane visited the seminarians several times during the Convocation, including celebrating Mass on Aug. 12, 2020. At that time, Bishop Dewane complimented the seminarians for their continued discernment for a vocation to the priesthood noting that they must themselves continue to answer the question posed by Christ to the Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15)

“As you are about to go off to your respective seminaries to live in community vis-à-vis the pandemic; I pray that somehow that six feet apart means that you come closer together in the heart, one to the other,” Bishop Dewane said. “You are called to do this.”

With the group assigned to four different seminaries, the Convocation offered the opportunity for those early in their formation process to hear from those who are further along. This mentoring helps build the bond amongst the group and helps everyone understand that the discernment process is not only done in the classroom but through the entire experience in seminary, during Parish assignments as well as in their personal life.

The group witnessed the priestly ordination of one of their own in June 2020, and another was ordained a Transitional Deacon in April 2020. In addition, before returning to seminary, Seminarian Alexander Pince will also be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate.

Bishop Dewane will preside over the ordination of Pince at 11 a.m., Aug. 29, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. The ordination was originally scheduled for Oct. 1, 2020 in Rome, but the date was changed to allow more of his friends and family to attend. The ordination is open to the public and reception will follow in the Cathedral Parish Hall.

Born in Concord, N.H., Pince is the fourth of seven children and a graduate of Ave Maria University. He credits his choice of vocation to his uncle, a priest in Burlington, Vermont, who was his role model from an early age.

“The changes from the end of the year, when we left Italy in the middle of the semester, then moving the ordination have strengthened my resolve to become a priest. I allow the graces of the Holy Spirit to continue to guide me on this path,” Pince explained. “The change was at first disappointing, but if I waited until October, no one would have been there. Having it here, in the Diocese, will allow my family and friends to be present and that is a true blessing.”

Please pray for our seminarians as they return to their respective seminaries and continue in discerning their vocation and formation for 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 roser@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-486-4720, or visit www.venicevocations.com.

 

Diocese of Venice Seminarians

Deacon Mark Harris

Alan Baldarelli

Christian Chami

Juan Contreras

Joseph Doherty

James Gates Jr.

José Grullon

Jacob Gwynn

Peirrot Lazarre

Nathaniel Nieves

Alexander Pince

David Portorreal

Carlos Rodriguez

Alejandro Roldan

Daniel Scanlan

Michael Young

 

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.

Amen.

News briefs for week of Aug. 10, 2020

Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate Aug. 29

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Alex Pince will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Aug. 29, 2020, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Transitional Diaconate Ordination Mass will begin at 11 a.m., with a reception to follow. All are invited to attend.   

Diocesan Prayer Campaign begins Aug. 15

A Diocese of Venice Fall Prayer Campaign for Peace and Conversion in our country begins on Aug. 15, 2020 (the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and includes a 54-day Rosary Novena. These daily prayers and devotions are designed to help each of us truly encounter Christ and be transformed by His love. This transformation is that of true holiness. Each one of us is called to continuously offer ourselves to God, growing in holiness day by day. To learn more, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/prayer.

Voter Guides available

Please be advised that the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops Candidate Questionnaire is available at www.flaccb.org/cqp. Candidate responses are posted on the website and appear in two formats: 1) lists of all candidates on the primary and general election ballots; and 2) primary election candidates in table format by Diocese. If you have any questions, please contact Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Religious sisters renew vows

Congratulations to Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco Katie Flanagan (Immaculata La Salle Catholic High School, Miami), April Cabaccang (St. John Neumann Catholic High School, Naples), April Hoffman (St. John Neumann) and  Maria Fe Tansioco (Immaculata La Salle) on the renewal of their vows on Aug. 4, 2020 at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples. Father Bob Kantor, Pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Naples presided over the renewal of vows. The ceremony was witnessed by members of the student government. The temporary professed sisters usually renew their vows in Haledon, N.J., at their Mother House, but because of pandemic travel restrictions, the Salesian Sisters who minister in Florida renewed their vows in Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at Neumann.

1,800 books devoured in summer reading program

Congratulations to St. Joseph Catholic School summer readers who participated in the Patterson Summer Reading Challenge! These students read more than 1,800 books, completed Accelerated Reader goals, shared books weekly via Zoom, and completed book activities. Because of our new start date, our readers still have until Aug. 14, 2020, to achieve their High Points goals, and some are very close! Great work! Each student earned a wristband for completing books and achieving goals.

New windows being installed

The installation of stained-glass windows at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch is making excellent progress. The newly constructed Church was dedicated in 2019 but the stained-glass windows were not ready at the time. Since mid-June 2020, the new windows are being installed and adding greater beauty to the interior of the worship space.

Sarasota priest joins reading campaign

Pallottine Father Patrick Wilson, Parochial Vicar of St. Martha Parish in Sarasota recently took part in a webcast series of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading “This Book is Cool!” hosted by Director Beth Duda. The featured book on the July 12, 2020 episode, was “The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders” written by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Petra Mathers. The project is generously funded by The Patterson Foundation, is designed to encourage children, PreK- Gr. 3, to read, and includes a selected book, a special guest, new vocabulary words for the Word Bank, and a suggested activity that goes with the book.

Bradenton food pantry benefits from postal drive

The National Association of Letter Carriers headed up an employee food drive at all five post offices in Bradenton all to benefit the St. Joseph Parish Food Pantry, the largest such pantry in Manatee County.  The postal carriers.  collected food throughout the month of July 2020 and brought it, along with a monetary check in the amount of $1,000, to the food pantry on July 29, 2020.  This action took the place of a national food drive which was cancelled, impacting food banks through the country. Thank you, Bradenton letter carriers, for your generosity.

Priest Ordination celebrated in midst of Pandemic

Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the ordination of Father Franckel in a Rite of Ordination, an age-old ceremony that was witnessed by the faithful on June 27, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Bishop Dewane told Father Franckel that through ordination, he becomes forever raised to the rank of priest in the Body of Christ. With that rank comes great responsibility – to sanctify, to teach, to love and serve just as Christ taught.

“Thank you for coming forward in your response to the call of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane said of the long and sometimes difficult journey made by Father Franckel to reach this moment. “We celebrate you as you are sent forth to preach the Gospel; to be the Good Shepherd of God’s people; and to celebrate the Liturgy, especially the Lord’s Sacrifice on His Table. In doing so you bring together the faithful of the community as you pray with them and for them to the Lord.”

Father Fils-Aime, 41, who was born in the Cornillon region of Haiti in the town of Potino, said he feels blessed by God to be ordained and feels the love of the people of the Diocese of Venice. “I am grateful for all of the prayers and support I have received during this journey and feel I am prepared to serve the people as I continue to trust in God.”

The ordination was a bright moment for the Diocese during this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. All present wore masks and maint

ained social distancing. While there were many family and friends present, the immediate family of Father Franckel was not able to attend as they were home in Haiti, unable to travel. To help bridge that gap in distance, the ordination was streamed live through social media.

To start the Rite of Ordination, Diocese of Venice Vocations Director Father Shawn Roser called Deacon Franckel forward as he presented himself for ordination to the Bishop. The Bishop, on behalf of the entire Church, accepted Franckel and called him to ordination as a Priest by saying: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and Our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose Franckel Fils-Aime, our brother, for the Order of the Priesthood.”

During the Rite of Ordination, Fils-Aime knelt before Bishop Dewane to express his desire and willingness to be ordained as a Priest and to fulfill the responsibilities that come with ordination, which included a promise of respect and obedience to the Bishop and his successors. Fils-Aime then lay prostrate before the altar for the Litany of Supplication (Litany of Saints).

After this solemn act of prayer, the Sacrament of Ordination was conferred when Franckel again knelt before Bishop Dewane, whom in silent prayer, imposed his hands on the head of the ordinand. Each priest then came forward to pray over Father Fils-Aime. Next, Bishop Dewane, with his hands outstretched, prayed the Prayer of Ordination.

Father Franckel was then vested in stole and chasuble by Father Timothy Navin, Pastor of San Marco Parish in Marco Island, the location of his first pastoral assignment as a seminarian of the Diocese. The hands of Father Franckel were then anointed with the Sacred Chrism by the Bishop, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make his ministry fruitful.

Next, the Bishop presented Father Fils-Aime with the chalice and paten which all priests are called to present to God in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Rite of Ordination is concluded with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to the newly ordained priest, welcoming him into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. Bishop Dewane introduced Father Franckel to all those present to enthusiastic applause.

Journey to ordination

A recent graduate from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Father completed more than 14 years of priestly discernment and formation. He first entered seminary in the Dominican Republic studying to become a Franciscan Capuchin Friar. He spent nine years in formation before discerning a call to Diocesan priesthood in Venice. During this time, he studied in the Dominican Republic and Brazil, eventually earning a philosophy degree from Centro Universitario Franciscano in Brazil.

Father Franckel learned of the Diocese of Venice through holiday visits to the area which included participation in the annual New Year’s Day Mass celebrating the anniversary of Haitian Independence for the Haitian Catholic Community of the Diocese of Venice. There he met Msgr. Patrick Dubois who then arranged an introduction and meeting with Bishop Dewane.

In addition to his pastoral assignment at San Marco Parish, he later held summer assignments at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park, St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, as well as a pastoral year at Epiphany Cathedral.

Along with family and friends, there were faithful from across the Diocese, many from the Parishes where he previously had served. Included among those were also representatives of the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, and the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, as well as Diocesan seminarians who served during the Mass.

The Ordination was followed by a reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall where newly ordained Father Franckel Fils-Aime was available to greet the public and impart his priestly blessing on them.

Vespers and First Masses

On the eve of his ordination, a Solemn Vespers was celebrated at San Marco Parish for then-Deacon Fils-Aime. During this prayer service Bishop Dewane blessed the priestly vestments and chalices which were used by the newly ordained at his first public Masses on June 28, 2020.

The first Mass celebrated by Father Franckel was at San Marco Parish. There, Father admitted that when he first arrived at the Parish in 2015 his English was limited and credits the priests and staff of San Marco for how well he speaks the language, and how poorly, he joked. During the Mass, he added: “The people of San Marco welcomed me with their hearts open and I consider them to be a part of my family,” he said. “I love you all for what you did for me and who you are.”

As is tradition, during the first Mass of a newly ordained priest, another priest delivers the homily. In this case it was Father Jack Costello, Rector of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, who spoke about then-Seminarian Franckel serving a pastoral year at the Cathedral. Father Costello noted how blessed the Diocese was to have a new priest, one who is well prepared to serve the faithful with sincerity and compassion.

The second Mass of the day was in the afternoon, celebrated in Haitian Creole at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers. While there are nine active priests serving in the Diocese from Haiti, Father Fils-Aime was recognized as the first Haitian priest to be ordained for the Diocese in more than 15 years. Father Jean Woady Louis, Parochial Vicar of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto, delivered the homily noting how important it is to have a priest to provide the Sacraments in their native language.

At both Masses, which were streamed live on social media so his family and friends could watch from afar, Father Fils-Aime shared how his parents, Voguel Fils-Aime and Philomène Remy, supported his discernment for a vocation to the priesthood. He expressed regret that his mother, who passed away in 2011, was not alive to see him reach his priestly ordination but was confident she was present in spirit and watching over him.

“It is such a privilege and honor to be called by God and I do not have the words to give thanks to the Bishop for the opportunity to be a priest here in the Diocese of Venice.”

 

News briefs from the week of June 22 2020

First grader wins national Space Art contest

Artwork of Javier Herrera, a first grader at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers, who won the Living Worlds Space Art Contest sponsored by the University of Notre Dame.

Javier Herrera, a first grader at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers has been named the first-place winner in the Living Worlds Space Art Contest sponsored by the University of Notre Dame. Javier won the K-1st grade category in the contest which asked students to imagine what new and unusual forms of life may exist on other planets. For his top place finish, Javier was presented with a beginner telescope and some science books. His teacher/classroom will receive a $250 gift card to purchase science and art supplies.

A panel of educators and scientists evaluated the artworks based on their artistic creativity, scientific accuracy, and the written explanation. By participating in this contest, it is hoped that students will learn about adaptation, the discovery of planets around other stars, and the diversity of life both on our planet and beyond.

 

LaBelle priest earns Doctorate

Congratulations to Father David Vidal, Administrator of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle, for successfully defending his doctoral dissertation on April 23, 2020, through the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Father Vidal is also a part-time member of St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami Philosophy Faculty as well as one of the adjunct spiritual directors. Father Vidal is a Thomistic scholar whose research and writings deal with the idea of the “Transcendentals” in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Son of current Ave Maria family ordained Transitional Deacon

On June 14, 2020, Salesian Brother Steven Joseph DeMaio (Salesians of Don Bosco) was among seven ordained transitional deacons in Jerusalem. He is originally from Sherman, Conn., but his parents are parishioners at Ave Maria Parish. Deacon DeMaio entered formation in 2010 and made his first vows in 2012 and perpetual vows in 2018. The ordaining prelate was Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, Latin-Rite Apostolic Administrator of Jerusalem. The ordinations were celebrated at the Church of All Nations in Gethsemane. This summer he will exercise his ministry at a parish in Belle Glade in Diocese of Palm Beach, about 20 miles east of Clewiston.

 

Food pantry open in Wauchula

St. Michael Parish in Wauchula is the home to a food pantry which has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 Pandemic response. To accommodate those who work, the food pantry is open each Saturday, 7–8:45 a.m., 408 Heard Bridge Road, Wauchula. If you need food at a different time or would like to support the efforts to assist the community, please call the Parish at 863-773-4089.

Community supports Catholic Charities program

The Vilano Community of Sarasota recently held a food drive for Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities in Venice and dropped of the items in early June 2020. The drive also collected items for the babies such as diapers and wipes. The program assists mothers and their young children who might otherwise be homeless with shelter and supportive assistance.

Bradenton food pantry available

The St. Joseph Parish Food Pantry, 2704 33rd Ave. W., Bradenton, is open and distributing food from 9a.m. to noon Monday-Friday, and 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays, following all social distancing protocols. New clients are welcome to register during regular pantry hours. Call 941-756-3732 if you have any questions or wish to make a donation of money or food. For more information on the St. Joseph Food Pantry go to https://www.stjoepantry.com/.

Catholic Charities Response to Pandemic

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

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

  • Monday-Friday, 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;

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.

News briefs for the week of June 1 2020

School shares virtual May Crowning images

These two students from St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples pray before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary during May.

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School did not want to let the COVID-19 pandemic cancel a favorite annual tradition, the May Crowning of Mary. Seton families were sent a request to submit pictures of students at home praying the rosary, placing flowers at a statue of Mary, coloring pages of the Blessed Mother, etc., and the results were inspiring. The results were so impressive that the school created and shared a short video which can be found on the school’s Facebook page. What a great way to honor Our Lady during the Month of May.

These are some of the drawings created by students from St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples created to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary during May 2020.

Bishop Dewane celebrates Pentecost Vigil at Cathedral

 

Sarasota student continues to help front line workers

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School student Malory Albritton helped pack and load the donations of blueberries to Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton in mid-May 2020.

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School student Malory Albritton is continuing to serve the community during COVID-19 pandemic. She helped pack and load the donations of blueberries from Albritton Fruit Farms made to Manatee Memorial Hospital nursing staff and doctors. Thank you for all that you do!

Ordination to the Priesthood June 27

The Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacon Franckel Fils-Aime will take place at 11 a.m., June 27, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the life of Deacon Franckel and the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

New basketball coach for Mooney

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota announced the appointment of Clayton Slentz as the new head varsity coach for the boys’ basketball team. Coach Slentz will continue to build on the growing strength of the Cougar athletic program. He has been an assistant varsity basketball coach with the Cougars for the past three years and currently teaches history at Cardinal Mooney. Slentz earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in 2015 and his master’s degree in history in 2017. For nine years, Slentz has been coaching basketball at the high school level.

Incarnation student receives honor for writing play

Incarnation Catholic School student Cora Thayer was one of 20 script submissions selected from more than 7,600 entries as part of the Florida Studio Theater “Write-A-Play” program. A participant in the Florida Studio Theater’s Writing Workshop, Cora’s “Big Dreams Under the Big Top,” will be performed during the Young Playwright’s Festival in the Spring of 2021. Her play is about a tiny inchworm named Illianna who overcomes many obstacles to become a circus Ringmaster.

Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota hosted a Florida Studio Theater Writing Workshop for students in January.

Online Preached Retreats

During the current health crisis, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice is offering online 3-day, 5-day, and 8-day retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In these online retreats, Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, or Father Lino Estradilla, OMV, trained spiritual directors, will meet with you for an hour each day via a link provided to you, to help you to pray and to recognize how God is speaking to you. A Bible and journal should be available for your use. Participants will be emailed any additional materials needed as the retreat unfolds. The cost is as follows: 3-day online retreat, $132.23; 5-day online retreat, $203.98; and 8-day online retreat, $306.48. All information will be confidential, and password protected. If you would like to participate in an online retreat, please email Denise Riley at riley@olph-retreat.org and a code will be provided for your online registration as well as an application. For planning purposes, please allow 7 days from your completed application until the beginning of your retreat.

Service for Others

Courtesy of Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary

Before the global pandemic COVID-19 altered our world as we know it, the community at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, like many communities, was working hard and was focused on serving others. Below is an interview by seminarian Dan McHale ’21, from the Diocese of Albany, with fellow third-theologian, Deacon Mark Harris of the Diocese of Venice, about Mark’s witness to life in January.

Diocesan Seminarian Deacon Mark Harris is seen with some of the items collected for a “baby shower” drive to benefit a nearby maternity home in Weston, Mass. in March.

Throwing a baby shower at a Roman Catholic seminary seems as incongruous as holding a high school prom at a retirement home.  But as his brother seminarians will attest, Deacon Mark Harris ’21, a third theologian from the Diocese of Venice, thinks outside the box. Thanks to chronic foot problems – which recently required surgery – Harris was unable to join many of his Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary classmates at the annual March for Life rally, held this past January 2020 in Washington, D.C. However, despite his physical limitations, Harris still wanted to do something to support the pro-life cause. “There’s always a need for stuff for women who’ve had babies, so I thought, ‘why don’t we throw a baby shower at the seminary that ties in with the March for Life?'”

Soon after receiving approval for this project, Deacon Harris began decorating the vestibule area outside the seminarians’ mailroom, creating a festive display complete with balloons, paper Valentine’s Day hearts, and colorful baby-themed decor. He then invited seminarians and staff of Pope St. John to leave shower gifts on one of two vestibule tables. The community was very supportive. “We got a lot of diapers,” Harris noted, “And we also received some clothing, as well as things ranging from bottles to diaper ointment.”

In addition to the donations of baby goods, Deacon Harris also collected money for the cause, some of which he used to go shopping for more necessities. “Target’s website was running an online promotion that gave a discount plus a $20 gift card for every $100 spent, so we maximized what we could,” he said.  After purchasing the items using his computer, the former schoolteacher would pick them up at the local Target in Framingham.

One evening, after returning from the store, he ran into Father Vin Daily, one of the resident spiritual directors at Pope St. John, who suggested the baby shower gifts be donated to the Pregnancy Care Center (PCC) of the Merrimack Valley, which operates out of the former rectory of St. Rita Parish in Lowell. The PCC “is a Christ-centered, pro-life ministry,” explains Alicia Hines, the Client Service Manager. The organization is geared especially towards supporting women with unexpected pregnancies, offering them “mentoring, education and material support like food, clothing and furniture until their child is one year old.”

St. Rita Parish – part of the River of Divine Mercy Collaborative – is shepherded by its pastor, Father Rich Clancy, who Father Daily knew back from his own seminary days and later lived with him in Dorchester. When Father Daily put in a call to his close friend to find out if the PCC could use the donations, Father Clancy responded that they “would be delighted” to accept them.

So on February 13, 2020, Father Daily, along with Deacon Harris, as well as fellow seminarians Bert Proulx (Class of 2022) from the Archdiocese of Boston, and Joe Danzi (Class of 2023) from the Diocese of Brooklyn, made the 24-mile trek from Weston to Lowell, delivering the baby shower contributions along with a $400 check to the PCC. “We are very grateful to Pope St. John Seminary for coordinating this drive to support new Moms and families in need,” said Hines.

Deacon Harris intends to organize another drive next year to support the PCC and hopes to make it an annual tradition on campus.  “It’s our responsibility to safeguard life,” he declared. Father Daily agrees. “We are called to serve the dignity of every human being and witness to that dignity for all.”  So, get your gifts ready next January—because you’re invited to a baby shower here at PSJS, a celebration of God’s sacred and wondrous gift of life!

Deacon Harris was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate on April 15, 2020, and has an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2021.

Seminarian ordained to Transitional Diaconate

In this time of darkness, let us all join in congratulating and praying for Mark Harris upon his Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate April 15, 2020, at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.

Deacon Harris, a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice, was one of three to be ordained by Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Hennessey of the Archdiocese of Boston. The ordination was rescheduled and moved to the seminary chapel due to the ongoing pandemic.

During the ordination, the new deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy and obedience to their Diocesan Bishop.

Bishop Hennessey thanked the families, all watching online because of the pandemic restrictions, for giving the men to the Church. “You now have the right to recognize them as the one who came to serve”

To the candidates, the Bishop said, “We are watching you by the way you live your life and are recognizing you as a Disciple of Jesus Christ. Embrace the celibate life, the life of charity and the life to serve at the altar… It was the breadth of grace, an undeserved and unexpected gift, that brought you to this place and time and only you and God know the sacrifices made.”

As part of the ordination, Bishop Hennessey first placed his hands over their head and prayed. Then the men put on their stole and chasuble. Next, each came forward to kneel before the Bishop, at which time the Book of Gospels was placed in the hands of each candidate being ordained and the Bishop said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

During the Mass, Deacon Harris served as Deacon of the Altar, assisting with the preparation of the gifts.

Born in Miami, Deacon Harris spent part of his childhood alternating between living in Florida and Connecticut.  He earned degrees in Commercial Art and then Business Marketing and Management from Florida Metropolitan University, before earning a Master’s in Education from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.

Now 53, Deacon Harris worked at various marketing and corporate jobs before becoming an elementary school teacher for Charlotte County School District. At Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda he served as Eucharistic minister and catechist, helping with the Youth Peer Ministry, Faith Formation Program and Core Adult Ministry Team.

Now carrying the new title of Deacon, this last phase of his formation before being called to priesthood, Deacon Harris, can baptize, witness marriages, perform funerals and burial services, distribute the Eucharist and preach the homily. Deacon Harris will have an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2021.

Diocesan Seminarian makes oath and profession

By Mary Brown, Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary – Special to the Florida Catholic

There was recently a ray of light and hope to be found at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, Mass., amidst the darkness and confusion that has been surrounding the world lately. On the evening of March 24, in conjunction with sung Evening Prayer, nine men who have dedicated themselves to three years of seminary formation, made the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity.

These men, including Diocese of Venice Seminarian Mark Harris, come from nine different Arch/dioceses. Harris will be ordained a Transitional Deacon on April 15 at the seminary. After one more year of formation, he is expected to be ordained to the priesthood.

Making the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity, with one’s hand placed on a Bible, is a requirement in order for a man to become a Transitional Deacon within the Catholic Church. Anyone who is given a position of leadership in the Catholic Church is required to do so. For example, a pastor taking leadership of a Parish or a priest joining the seminary faculty is required to make the profession and oath. There are many other Church positions that require one to make this profession and oath, but for these nine men especially, it was another step towards their becoming a priest.

By making this Profession of Faith, they are publicly promising a full acceptance of and commitment to all the articles of the Catholic Faith plus all that is encompassed within in the magisterial teachings of the Church. The main part of the profession is the recitation of the Nicene Creed, which all Catholics profess at Sunday Mass.

The Oath of Fidelity is a public promise to carry out their responsibilities in communion with the Church by following and obeying all Church teachings and laws. They promise to live out their faith fully in obedience to their bishops.

These men embody the commitment that it takes to follow their calling to become Catholic priests. We are honored that nine men have continued to commit to this journey and are thankful for the light that they provide to the Catholic community, especially in such trying times in the world. We are grateful to them and ask all to keep them in their prayers so that they may fully experience the joy of priesthood.

The Pope St. John XXIII Seminary community is committed to our founding mission: the human, spiritual, academic and pastoral formation of candidates aged 30 and older.

News briefs from early March 2020

Seminarian elevated to Acolyte

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Christian Chami received the Ministry of Acolyte Feb. 22. Chami is discerning his vocation to the priesthood while studying at Pontifical North America College in Rome and was part of a large group of second-year seminarians at the North American College to be elevated to Acolyte. Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P., Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was the principal celebrant for the Mass in the Immaculate Conception Chapel. As part of the rite, the Archbishop placed the paten, which contains the hosts for the celebration of Mass, in the hands of each candidates and 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 of his Church.”

Vocation Awareness Weekend March 13-15

St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami is hosting a Vocation Awareness Weekend from March 13-15. This seminary visit is open to young men, ages 18 and older. It is an engaging time of prayer, talks, sports, and other fun activities with the seminarians and priests of St. John Vianney. Come and experience what life is like for one discerning God’s call to the priesthood! There is no cost for the weekend and transportation is provided. To register, please contact the Vocations Director, Father Shawn Roser, at roser@dioceseofvenice.org or call the Vocations Office at 941-484-9543.

Parish Gala honors priests’ 80th birthday

The 16th Annual St Jude Gala event took place Feb. 14 at Michael’s On East in Sarasota.

Nearly 200 guests were present to raise money for the various Parish programs. This year was of particular note because it was time to celebrate the 0th birthday of Pastor Father Celestino Gutierrez. There was entertainment from our parishioners who sang English ballads, a Spanish medley of various songs and dances. There was also a cake with sparklers.

Traditional Marriage Public Square Rosary Crusade March 21
All are invited to participate in Traditional Marriage Public Square Rosary Crusade at 11:45 a.m., March 21, at 6418 Commerce Park Drive, Fort Myers. The rosary crusade will be taking place simultaneously across the nation as God’s marriage and the traditional family need our prayers. For more details, contact Barb 239-267-7883

Spiritual Exercises in Spanish

Ignatian Preached Retreats in Spanish are now being offered at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center. These series of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices are in silence. There will be a Level 1 Retreat for Women on the weekend of April 3-5, and one for Men on the weekend of May 1-3. There will also be a Level 2 Retreat for Women on the weekend of July 10-12 and one for Men on the weekend of July 17-19, for those who participated in the Spiritual Exercises in 2019.  Please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar for further information.  (CLICK HERE for the flier in Spanish.)

Ejercicios Espirituales En Español

Retiros Predicados Ignacianos en Español están siendo ahora ofrecidos en Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center. Estas series de meditaciones, oraciones y prácticas contemplativas son en silencio. Habrá un retiro Nivel 1 para Mujeres del 3 al 5 de abril y para Hombres, del 1 al 3 de mayo.  Habrá también un retiro Nivel 2  del 10 al 12 de julio para Mujeres y del 17 al 19 de Julio para Hombres, para aquellas personas que participaron en los Ejercicios Espirituales en 2019.  Para más información por favor visite www.dioceseofvenice.org/calendar. (Haga Clic Aquí para ver poster en Español.)

Friday Fish Fry at Cathedral

Epiphany Cathedral is hosting a weekly Fish Fry from 5-7 p.m., Fridays of Lent through April 3, in the Parish Hall at 224 Harbor Drive, Venice. Meal options include $13 fired fish dinner, $15 baked salmon dinner, $15 fried shrimp dinner and $6 kids fried fish dinner. Meals include coleslaw, roll, drink and dessert plus your choice of French fries or boiled red potatoes.  Takeout orders are available. Purchase tickets at the door or online at www.ecstigers.com/support-ecs/knights-fish-fry All proceeds benefit Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School.  Catering is by Sharky’s on the Pier, Fin’s at Sharky’s and Snook Haven.  The event is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council 7052. For more details, call 941-615-0284.

Catholic Homeschool Conference

Queen of Angels Academy presents the 2020 Catholic Homeschool Conference May 27-28, at Christ the King Parish, 1900 Meadowood St., Sarasota. Guest speaker Laura Berquist will speak on: What is a classical education; Positive homeschooling: Getting the hearts of your children; Why I homeschooled my children; and a Discussion: Purpose and Practice. The cost is $20 per person for both days, $30 per couple. Contact www.queenofangelsacademy.com for a more information and to register.

 

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