Looking ahead to 2022 in the Diocese of Venice

Opportunities abound for the faithful of the Diocese of Venice to grow closer to the Lord as the new year begins while continuing to deal with the impacts of the global COVID-19 Pandemic. A variety of Diocesan events are scheduled or in the planning stages while at the same time numerous Parishes are in the process of either completing or beginning major construction work. Therefore, 2021 is sure to be an exciting year for Catholics across Southwest Florida.

In the coming months there will be the Ordination to the Priesthood of three men, the Diocesan Phase of the Synod on Synodality, Masses for couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries, a first-time joint Men’s and Women’s Conference, a continuing initiative to curb the impacts of pornography on society, opportunities to promote the sanctity of life, and learning experiences of various types.

During the first half of 2022, taking center stage will be the Diocesan Phase of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” Specifically, there will be a series of listening sessions which will take place in each part of the Diocese and to be announced in the next few weeks. The goal of these sessions is to discern the Word of God in Scripture, what those Words are saying to us while remembering the living Mission of the Church. This Diocesan Phase was inaugurated with an opening Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Oct. 17, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Coming in March is one of the most valuable opportunities to grow in the Faith, a first-ever joint Women’s and Men’s Conference. This year, the Conference agenda has been supercharged with dynamic speakers addressing relevant topics within the Church for Catholic men, women and their families. The 2022 Diocese of Venice Men’s & Women’s Conference is Saturday, March 5, at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center, 75 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda. Speakers include Trent Horn, Matthew Leonard, Emily Wilson, Dr. Michael Dauphinais, and Nicole Caruso with several breakout sessions geared specifically toward men or women. The large venue is ideal for allowing all participants to grow closer to the Lord. In addition, there will opportunities to participate in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession all day. Bishop Dewane will conclude the day by celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Doors open at 8 a.m. with the day beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding with the closing Mass at 4 p.m. To register, visit https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/2022-menswomens-conference. If you have any questions, contact the Diocesan Evangelization Office at 941-484-9543 or evangelization@dioceseofvenice.org.

For all couples celebrating a significant wedding anniversary (25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, or more than 50 years of marriage) in 2022, Bishop Dewane will be the celebrant of two Masses in your honor. The Masses will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 12 at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs, and at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 19 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Avenue, Venice. The Masses will be followed with a lunch and include the opportunity for complimentary anniversary photos taken with Bishop Dewane. To register, please contact your local parish office for reservations no later than a week prior to the event you choose to attend.

The Office of Respect Life will be busy throughout 2022 with a variety of activities, all to raise awareness about important issues regarding the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. First up is the 24th annual Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life on Tuesday, Jan. 18, outside of the Planned Parenthood in downtown Sarasota. Bishop Dewane will celebrate Mass at 8:30 a.m. at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota. A bus will shuttle participants to the abortion center on Central Avenue to circle the block in prayer as many times as desired. The walk coincides with the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade court decision which paved the way for legalized abortion in the U.S.

In addition, there are two Parish-based prayer walks Saturday, Jan. 22. Members of the Ave Maria Parish Respect Life Outreach, along with Ave Maria University and Community Pregnancy Clinics Inc., will be hosting a March for Life from the Ave Maria University football field 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Special guests include Bishop Dewane and Pro-Life speaker Pam Stenzel. The same day, the St. Leo the Great Parish Respect Life Outreach in Bonita Springs is hosting its 3rd Annual Walk for Life on U.S. 41 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Participants are asked to park in the Parish parking lot at 28290 Beaumont Road and everyone will meet on nearby U.S. 41.

Later in the year, there will be an opportunity to participate in the national 40 Days for Life Spring Campaign during Lent in Fort Myers and Sarasota, then the Fall Campaign (October) at multiple locations in the Diocese.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., will be hosting several events to support its more 30 than programs throughout the Diocese. First up on Wednesday, Jan. 19, is the “Celebration of Hope Luncheon” to benefit the programs in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties, The Luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m., at the Lexington Country Club, 16257 Willowcrest Way, Fort Myers. For tickets to this event, please contact Victoria Guevara at victoria.guevaranunez@catholiccharitiesdov.org or call 239-334-4007 ext. 2100.

In the beginning of February, make plans for an elegant evening at the “Together Again” Catholic Charities Ball, which supports the programs of Catholic Charities in Sarasota, Manatee, Highlands, Glades, DeSoto and Hardee counties. The Ball is 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5, at the Ritz-Carlton, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota. For tickets or to sponsor the event, please visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/event-on/ or call 941-909-7817.

Coming later in February is the Our Mother’s House Annual Wine Tasting, Auction & Dinner Dance at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Venice Community Center, 326 Nokomis Ave. S., Venice. Funds raised by this event will ensure that Our Mother’s House is able to offer the support needed to the mothers and their children as they journey towards self-sufficiency. For more information, please contact Lisa Ventura at 941-485-6264 ext. 1500 at lisa.ventura@catholiccharitiesdov.org. For tickets, please visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/event-on/.

Next among the Catholic Charities events in early 2022 is the Emerald Ball 2022. This evening supports the Catholic Charities programs in Collier County and will take place at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 10, at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. For more information or to sponsor the event, please contact Rosa Aspilcueta 239-455-2655 ext. 3100 or emeraldball@catholiccharitiesdov.org, or visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/event-on/.

Continuing on the success of the first Safe Haven Sunday in 2021, the Diocesan Office of Family Life is working on developing the second phase of the initiative for the fall of 2022. This phase help to raise awareness about the harmfulness of pornography in the family and society. Pornography creates unsafe environments for children and confuses others about attitudes towards sex and marriage. This day of awareness describes the impacts pornography can have on marriages, families, and culture, while providing helpful resources for all. Detailed information will be shared with the faithful about how to combat this scourge in the weeks leading up to Safe Haven Sunday.

In the coming months, Bishop Dewane will preside over a variety of celebrations which occur each year, including the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent, March 6, when Bishop Dewane welcomes those in Parish RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) programs from throughout the Diocese who will be fully entering the Church at the Easter Vigil; a Mass for Victims of Abuse will take place in April – National Child Abuse Awareness Month; later in the year a Veterans Day Mass at Sarasota National Cemetery, a Red Mass for legal professionals and more. As earlier mentioned, three men will be Ordained to the Priesthood by the Bishop this summer at Epiphany Cathedral.

Throughout 2021 there will be a variety of Parish-based celebrations coming in 20211. Among those is the 40th Anniversary of the founding of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples, which is also going through an expansion project slated to begin in 2022. The dedication of new Parish Life Centers for Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Boca Grande and St. William Parish in Naples will be happening in the first half of the year; and renovations to existing buildings as new Parish Life Centers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee and Our Lady of the Angels Parish Lakewood Ranch are nearing completion. The coming year will be a big one at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Sarasota which is nearing the completion of a major Church renovation and ground will be broken on a new Ministry Center. There will also be a renovation of the baseball fields at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers as well as the expansion of the religious education building at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. Additional smaller, but no less important, projects are slated throughout the Diocese in an effort to benefit current and future generations.

As 2022 moves forward, check the Diocesan website (www.dioceseofvenice.org) frequently for information about these and other upcoming events. As always, check the weekly Florida Catholic e-Edition to read stories and view photos from these and other happenings across the Diocese. If you would like to read the story looking back at life in the Diocese during 2021, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/looking-back-on-2021/.

News Briefs for the Week of November 1, 2021

Rite of Candidacy for two seminarians

William Patrick Long and T. Gregory Dougherty received Candidacy for the Orders of Diaconate and Priesthood at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts on Oct. 27, 2021. Most Rev. Timothy Broglio, Archbishop of the Military Service USA, presided over the Rite for nine seminarians including Long and Dougherty. During the Rite, each man publicly expressed his intention to embrace the formation process for Holy Orders and stated his resolve to fully invest himself to that end. The men will continue in their studies to become Catholic priests.

40 Days for Life ends with Jericho walk

The fall 40 Days for Life prayer campaign to end abortion in the United States came to an end on Oct. 30, 2021 with a symbolic Jericho Walk in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in downtown Sarasota. The Sarasota walk has concluded with the evening walk at sunset for the past several years as supporters gather walk silently around the building until sunset. The evening included prayers and encouragement that the battle for life does not end but continues until all unborn children are saved. The 40 Days for Life fall campaign evening walk started Sept. 22and local local vigils took place in Sarasota and Fort Myers joining similar prayer vigils at cities around the world.

Catholic Medical Association Guild board meets with Bishop

Leadership of the Southwest Florida Guild of the Catholic Medical Association met with Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Oct. 28, 2021 at the Catholic Center in Venice. The leadership provided Bishop Dewane with their annual report on their latest activities.

Cathedral Concert Series resumes

The Epiphany Cathedral Concert Series returned Oct. 28, 2021 with a presentation from the Mirage Piano Trio, with works by Debussy, Bach and Mendelssohn. The next offering is in the planning stages. To learn more call 941-484-3505 or visit www.epiphanycathedral.org/about/events/.

Students visit college to learn about panthers

After completing a section of their science class about the Florida panther, fourth grade students from St. Ann Catholic School in Naples took a field trip to visit the Panther Posse at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero. There the students learned from wildlife experts about the big cats who are native to the area and are an endangered species because of human interaction and encroachment into their habitat. They learned how important they panther is to the delicate balance of nature throughout south Florida.

Students learn how to handle flag from veterans

Eighth-grade students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples took part in flag training on Oct. 26, 2021. Members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post showed the students how to handle the American Flag from unfolding it, raising on a flagpole, and then properly folding it afterwards. As school leaders it is important for the eight graders to know the proper procedure for handling the flag and to learn from experts, military veterans.

Freshmen retreat held in Sarasota

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Senior Peer Ministry class hosted the freshmen retreat “Made in God’s Image” on Oct. 26, 2021 in Sarasota. It was a wonderful day of prayer and bonding with classmates.

Students monitor the weather

Second grade students at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring took on the task of building rain gauges using limited resources and materials on Oct. 28, 2021. The gauges use a basic design using the bottom of a 2-litter plastic bottle to monitor the rain and temperature. This is part on an ongoing STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum at the school for students of all ages.

Seminarian ordained as Transitional Deacon

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Christian Chami took a major step toward his dream of becoming a priest when he was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate during a Mass Sept. 30, 2021 at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter, in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican.

Celebrated by Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., the ordination of 20 men from the Pontifical North American College is one of the final steps toward priesthood.

Present for the ordination were Deacon Chami’s immediate family and a few from his extended family. Also present in Rome was Bishop Frank J. Dewane who was one of the principle concelebrants; Father Alexander Pince (ordained in July 2021 and is completing his studies in Rome); as well as Diocesan Seminarians Daniel Scanlan (the cross-bearer for the Ordination Mass) and Joseph Doherty who are both studying at the Pontifical North American College.

Deacon Chami, 28, was born in Montreal, Canada, and was raised in Naples, and is a graduate of Florida State University where he first heard the call for a vocation to the priesthood.

“It popped up once at 17, but I really didn’t want to be a priest then, and the Lord also gave me a grace to wait,” Deacon Chami said. “I was well formed by the Brotherhood of Hope at Florida State, a religious order which runs the Catholic Student Union. They taught me how to pray with Scripture, pray silently, and how to properly discern.”

He became a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice in 2016, first attending St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami before being selected to get his advanced studies at the Pontifical North American College. There he earned a degree in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University and is working on his license in sacramental theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm.

During the ordination, the new Deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy, and obedience to their Diocesan Bishops. The new Deacons will have an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before being ordained to the priesthood in their home Dioceses. 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.”

In his homily, Cardinal Gregory pointed out that although the first Deacons of the Church did not have to go through years of formation and pass exams in Scripture, Moral Theology, Church History, and Liturgy, Deacons then as now were required to “demonstrate by their lives that they were men of integrity, responsibility, holiness, and trustworthiness.” He emphasized that “public ministerial office for people of Faith is no casual undertaking – for the ancients and most certainly not for us.” With that in mind, he affirmed that the Church has always held its clergy to high standards of holiness and personal responsibility. The Cardinal added that a Deacon must be “a man of charity, (with) real and heartfelt compassion and concern for the poor, the neglected and the marginalized members of our world. A Deacon without a heart for charity will be a hollow and worthless son.”

Deacon Chami said that he was mostly at “peace with the ordination, but every once in a while, the weight of ordination would make itself felt. I mean, our Faith is a mystery, so the reception of such a weighty Sacrament in the Diaconate which is the confirmation of a man by sacred orders to Christ’s servanthood is pretty heavy. Thankfully I know the Good Lord will do the heavy lifting.”

Since joining the Diocese as a seminarian, Deacon Chami has served pastoral assignments at St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs, Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers.

Please pray for Deacon Chami and each of the Diocese of Venice Seminarians who continue in discerning their vocation and formation for the priesthood.

Catholic News Service contributed information to the report.

News Briefs for the Week of Oct. 8, 2021

Mass to Open Diocesan Phase of Synod

As a part of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” Pope Francis has invited every Diocese in the world to inaugurate the beginning of the Synod with an opening Mass. In the Diocese of Venice, this opening Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at 2:30 p.m., Oct. 17, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this Mass. In this Diocesan Phase of the Synod, Catholics in the Diocese of Venice are encouraged to participate in listening sessions, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

Bishop meets Pope Francis

Bishop Frank J. Dewane had the opportunity to greet and meet with Pope Francis following the General Audience in the Vatican’s Pope Paul VI Hall on Sept. 29, 2021. Bishop Dewane spoke briefly with the Holy Father who in return asked about what is taking place in the Diocese of Venice. The Bishop was in Rome to witness the Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate of Diocesan Seminarian Christian Chami on Sept. 30, 2021.

Ministry of Acolyte conferred on Seminarian

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Jacob Gwynn was conferred to the Ministry of Acolyte on Sept. 26, 2021 at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. The principal celebrant for the Mass was Bishop Luis R. Zarama of the Diocese of Raleigh. As an Acolyte, Gwynn is now charged with assisting at the celebration of the Eucharist, purifying the sacred vessels and, when needed, to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion. As part of the Rite, the Bishop placed the paten, which contains the hosts for the celebration of Mass, in the hands of the 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 of his Church.”

Blessing of the Animals

Many Diocesan Parishes and Schools hosted a Blessing of the Animals to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4, 2021. While many Parishes hosted the blessings during the preceding weekend, schools opted to either have the blessing before school or prior to the end of the day. The variety of animals was immense, from horses to hamsters, parrots to rabbits as well as nearly every assortment of dog and cat imaginable. It was evident that these creatures were well loved and an important part of each family.

Rosary making educates children

Kindergarten and first graders at St. Mary Catholic Academy in Sarasota used part of religion class on Sept. 29, 2021 to make rosaries. It was at that time the students learned how October is the month of the Holy Rosary and both October and May are months in which we give special honor to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Diocesan Seminarians focus on goal

“Yes!”

That is what each of the 16 Diocese of Venice seminarians has in common: they said “Yes!” by answering a specific call from the Lord to serve.

The group gathered for the annual Convocation, a multi-day retreat which allows time for reflection and fellowship, from Aug. 2-5, 2021, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for the men on Aug. 4, the Feast of St. John Vianney, Patron of Parish priests.

As they progress in their own discernment, Bishop Dewane said each seminarian must open themselves up to the grace of the Holy Spirit and allow the Spirit to shape them. “This can be accomplished by making yourselves vulnerable. It lets you experience the grace and hear what the Holy Spirit has to say to you. This can be achieved through time spent with the Lord.”

That time, either through Adoration, contemplative prayer, etc., will allow the individual to learn the language of the Holy Spirit and better understand what the Lord wants, the Bishop continued. “Don’t stop listening. Don’t stop paying attention. Don’t stop seeking that spirit of discernment in your life.”

One way to remain open to the Holy Spirit is through encounters with others in ones life, the Bishop continued. Building upon a theme from the Gospel reading of the day which was about the miracle with the Canaanite woman.

Bishop Dewane noted how it would have been easy for Jesus to dismiss the Canaanite woman when she begs Jesus to help her tormented daughter who was possessed by a demon. The disciples even ask Jesus to send her away, but Jesus does not and ultimately recognizes her faith and heals the daughter.

“The Lord puts people into your path,” the Bishop continued. “Don’t dismiss them, don’t make a judgement. Jesus had lots of Marys and Marthas who followed Him and supported Him, but it is the others that helped to define who the Lord was in this world. Such encounters with these others must define you.”

Following the Mass, Bishop Dewane had a meal with the group, including four new seminarians.

The multi-day retreat occurs at the end of summer as a time of prayer and reflection before each man returns to his respective seminary. During the week they heard from retreat leader Father Rich Pagano, a priest from the Diocese of St. Augustine.

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.

A special treat for the group was that they had just witnessed the Ordination to the Priesthood of Fathers Mark Harris and Alexander Pince on July 31. Both new priests spoke to the group during the week offering words of encouragement and inspiration.

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.

List of Diocese of Venice Seminarians

Name, year, school

Transitional Deacon Jose Grullon – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, Boynton Beach;

Transitional Deacon David Portorreal – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary;

Alan Baldarelli – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary;

Christian Chami – Pontifical North American College Seminary, Rome, Italy;

Juan Contreras – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary; (Pastoral Year)

Andres Cordero – St. John Vianney College Seminary, Miami;

Michael Courville – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary;

Joseph Doherty – Pontifical North American College Seminary;

Thomas Gregory (Greg) Dougherty – Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, Massachusetts;

James Gates – St. John Vianney College Seminary;

Jacob Gwynn – Theology II – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary;

William Patrick (Pat) Long – Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary;

Alejandro Giraldo Roldan – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary; (Pastoral Year)

Carlos Rodriguez – St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary;

Daniel Scanlan – Pontifical North American College Seminary;

Michael Young – Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary.

Two join Presbyterate – Ordination draws large crowd

In a public response to a “call to holiness,” Transitional Deacons Mark Harris and Alexander Pince were ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on July 31, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice as more than 500 people rejoiced.

The newly ordained responded to a particular call in their life and evidenced their response in a profound way by coming forward for ordination. The two men reflected afterwards about the powerful emotion of the moment that brought about an inner calm. They also expressed the genuine joy and love for the Lord they each witness.

The poignant and emotional Rite places Fathers Harris and Pince in a new role as they are raised to the Order of the Presbyterate where they will now celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, confer the Sacraments and teach the Gospel.

Bishop Dewane congratulated the ordinandi for answering the call to holiness and advancing in their formation through prayer, discernment, guidance and direction. This helped them grow closer to the Lord while at the same time reminded each they are called to reflect and magnify Christ and bring others closer to the Lord.

Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a priest is transformed and marked indelibly as an instrument through which others receive the Sacraments, Bishop Dewane added. It is through ordination that Harris and Pince have a new beginning, configured to Christ.

“Let the holiness of your life be an example to the People of God; to those you encounter,” Bishop added. “Let it be evident that you are a holy man – live the life the Lord calls you to be – to be holy.”

Bishop Dewane concluded his remarks explaining to Harris and Pince, “Holy Mother Church reminds you that you do this while united to the Body of Christ. Know that nobody can do this alone. It is not always easy. At some times you will be a bit fearful as was stated in our first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah. At other times you will feel a little bit imprisoned by this as our second reading from St. Paul noted. But pause and remember the Scriptures read on this day and know that it is the Lord who has chosen you. That you are living the life, the gift, the sacrament, that the Lord has given to you. May you be blessed always as you go forward.”

When the Rite of Ordination began, the elect were called forth by Father Shawn Roser, Diocesan Vocations Director, and upon hearing their names, each stood and answered “Present.” After the homily, individually, the ordinand knelt before the Bishop so as to promise respect and obedience to him and his successors. They then prostrated before the altar for the Litany of Supplication/Litany of Saints. The whole assembly joined in the prayer which invoked God’s Grace and the intercession of the Saints in heaven.

The Bishop then laid his hands on the head of each man and prayed silently. Next was the Prayer of Ordination. These combine to form an essential part of the Liturgy of the Sacrament of Holy Orders

Next, the newly ordained priests were vested in the stole and chasuble, vestments which are worn when celebrating the Eucharist and symbolize their responsibility and authority in service to Christ. Father Harris was vested by Father Jerry Kaywell, Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda. Father Pince was vested by Msgr. Roberto Garza, former Rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami.

The palms of the new priests were then anointed with the Sacred Chrism by Bishop Dewane, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make their ministry fruitful. Next, the Bishop presented each new priest with the chalice and paten which they are called to present to God in the Eucharistic sacrifice saying: “Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.” He repeated this commission, once each for the newly ordained priests.

The Rite of Ordination ended with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to each newly ordained priest, welcoming them into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. The priests present then followed the Bishop’s example. The newly ordained then joined Bishop Dewane at the altar to the applause and joy of all present.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist then followed. The new priests joined all the priests for the first time in concelebrating the Eucharist with Bishop Dewane, reciting together the words of Consecration. For the first time, they offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, acting in the person of Christ. From this sacrifice their whole priestly ministry will draw its strength.

During the ordination, Deacons Harris and Pince freely presented themselves to serve God, the Church and the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, and his successors. They also made a promise to celibacy and a promise to obedience. The reward for that choice is to have their life filled with the message of God.

In addition to family and friends, also present at the ordination were more than 50 priests, men and women religious, permanent deacons, the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.

The Ordination Mass was followed by a reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall where the newly ordained priests were available to greet the public and impart their priestly blessings on them.

Bios of the new priests

Father Harris, 54, was born in Miami and spent 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., and worked at interior design, marketing, career development and teaching.

Becoming a seminarian in 2017, Father Harris studied at St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts where he graduated in May 2021. He previously served summer assignments at Epiphany Cathedral, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice and Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers. His first Mass was celebrated Aug. 1 at Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda and his first assignment is as Parochial Vicar of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples.

Father Pince, 30, was born in Concord, New Hampshire, to a large family and is the middle of seven children. He graduated from Ave Maria University in Ave Maria with majors in business and economics and worked for a few years before answering the call of service to the Lord.

During the summer of 2015, Deacon Pince started as a Diocesan seminarian with studies at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, earning a philosophy degree. He then studied in Rome, Italy, earning a Sacred Theology Bachelor’s Degree (STB) from the Gregorian University. He will soon be entering the second year of a two-year Licentiate program specializing in moral theology at the University of the Holy Cross in Rome. His summer assignments included Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostle Parish in Bradenton, Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers, St. William Parish in Naples, St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota and St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral. He will serve as Temporary Parochial Vicar at St. Andrew Parish before returning to Rome to complete his studies.

Large family grounds future priest

The middle of seven children, 30-year-old Transitional Deacon Alexander Pince had two people, his mother and an uncle who is a Diocesan priest, who were strong witnesses of Faith, ultimately inspiring him to choose a vocation to the priesthood.

“I was blessed to have been given the Faith from my parents (David and Margaret Pince), and from when I was a child, my mom took us to daily Mass,” Deacon Pince explained of his life growing up in Concord, New Hampshire, with a very large extended family with dozens of first cousins. “That habit continued through my high school years. I started altar serving after my first Communion at the age of six, and I looked up to our Parish priest, who earnestly cautioned me: ‘altar serving isn’t kid stuff.’”

His uncle, a Diocesan priest for the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont, visited the Pince family on his days off bringing the human side of a relatable priest. As a child he would play the role of the priest with his siblings as the congregation. He jokingly remembers his mother’s insistence that he use a pretzel as a pretend host, and to call it a “pretzel” to avoid any unintentional blasphemy.

Homeschooled with a Catholic curriculum through high school, then college years attending Ave Maria University earning degrees in business and economics, Deacon Pince pushed the idea of becoming a priest to the back of his mind.

During the years after college, while working in finance and then at Ave Maria University, he described as “the Lord’s gentle yet consistent invitation to follow Him as a priest… because the Lord was quite persistent. The breaking moment came in May of 2015 when I went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. During those days, His call was so clear that I gratefully relented and decided to enter seminary.”

Deacon Pince explained that his spiritual journey may sound like a life sentence in prison to someone who doesn’t understand. “But, on the contrary, this decision was a moment of profound relief and grace because it began the fulfillment of the deepest longing of my heart.”

Without ever looking back, Deacon Pince opted to pursue his vocation to the priesthood with the Diocese of Venice, noting the choice of where to enter was easy. “I loved my time as a student at Ave Maria and loved the area. But even more than that, I was living in the Diocese when the vocational call became very tangible. I actually believe that I was called to serve as a priest for this Diocese.”

Transitional Deacons Pince and Mark Harris have both answered that call to a vocation to the priesthood and will be ordained by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 31, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

During the summer of 2015 Deacon Pince started as a Diocesan seminarian with a Spanish immersion course in Guatemala followed by studies at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami where he earned a philosophy degree. He then went on to study in Rome, Italy, and earned a Sacred Theology Bachelor’s Degree (STB) from the Gregorian University. He will soon be entering the second year of a two-year Licentiate program in Rome at the University of the Holy Cross in Moral Theology.

While a seminarian for the Diocese, he served summer pastoral assignments at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostle Parish in Bradenton, Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers, St. William Parish in Naples, St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota and St. Andrew Parish in Cape Coral. He also spent a summer at a pilgrimage center in Jerusalem, Israel.

As the July 31 ordination approaches, Deacon Pince said he cannot wait to celebrate Mass, and noted that he is very humbled at the prospect of becoming an instrument of God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Asked about what type of priest he hopes to be, he answered, “When it comes down to it, I simply want to be a priest that is faithful to Christ and the Church, and to do what Jesus asks of me. I’d like for people to see Christ in me, and to live out my priesthood generously and joyfully.”

Please pray for Deacons Pince and Harris as they approach their priestly ordination.

 

All are invited to attend the Ordination. Afterwards, there will be a reception will in the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall. If you are unable to attend, the Mass will be livestreamed at 11 a.m. July 31 through the Epiphany Cathedral Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EpiphanyCathedral (you do not need to register to view the ordination).

 

To read the previously published profile of Deacon Mark Harris, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/news.

Answering the Call – Later vocation brings unique perspective to priesthood

At the age of 54, Transitional Deacon Mark Harris may not fit the typical profile of what one would expect from a soon-to-be ordained priest, but his deep faith has prepared him for this moment.

It was in first grade when Deacon Harris proclaimed he was going to become a priest. “We were all asked what we wanted to do with our lives. That was my answer,” he said with a smile. “I was reminded of that moment by my family when I made the announcement of my intention of entering seminary. The idea of becoming a priest was always floating around and pulled at me at times in the intervening years before I finally answered the call.”

Transitional Deacons Harris and Alexander Pince have both answered that call to a vocation to the priesthood and will be ordained by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 31, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Before entering seminary, Deacon Harris worked at various marketing and corporate jobs including interior design, marketing and career development. Through the years, he explained how he would have profound spiritual moments when he was comforted by or connected to the Lord in a particular way.

“They were private moments that really impacted me and opened my eyes to the Lord in new ways,” Deacon Harris said.

These experiences helped to guide his life into changing careers and eventually becoming an elementary school teacher in the Charlotte County School District. While he loved teaching, he realized, in his heart, that it wasn’t the right fit.

“It was while teaching when I felt I had to compromise who I was, as a faithful Catholic. That caused me to reevaluate the course of my life and I decided to focus on serving the Catholic Church,” he said.

This realization caused him to start volunteering at Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda, first as a Eucharistic Minister and then as a catechist assisting with the Faith Formation Program, Youth Peer Ministry and Core Adult Ministry Team.

These experiences solidified his resolve to do more in service of the Lord and led him to enter the seminary. That process included first talking with a priest mentor from Miami where he spent many of his formative years. He eventually approached the Diocese of Venice and Bishop Frank J. Dewane to inquire about becoming a Diocesan seminarian.

Born in Miami, Deacon Harris spent part of his childhood alternating between living in Florida and Connecticut. He was primarily raised by two aunts, Nancy Haizlip and Donna Storey. 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.

After being accepted as a Diocesan seminary in 2017, he was sent to begin his intensive formation and studies at St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, which is committed to the human, spiritual, academic and pastoral formation of candidates aged 30 and older. He graduated in May.

While a seminarian for the Diocese, Deacon Harris served summer assignments at Epiphany Cathedral, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice and Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers.

As his July 31 ordination approaches, Deacon Harris said he is nervous but excited at the same time. “This has been a long journey and I feel blessed to have been chosen to serve God through the priesthood.”

Please pray for Deacons Harris and Pince as they approach their priestly ordination.

Check back in the July 23 e-Edition of The Florida Catholic for the vocation journey of Deacon Pince.

Seminarian admitted to Candidacy

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Joseph Doherty took a significant step in to his vocation journey with his Admission to Candidacy for Ordination to the Priesthood.

The Rite took place July 9, 2021 at the Catholic Center in Venice and was presided over by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. The ceremony included the Liturgy of the Word and was witnessed by Doherty’s parents, Lawrence Doherty and Margaret Mary Corboy, Father Shawn Roser, Diocesan Director of Vocations, as well as seven fellow Diocesan seminarians.

The Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Ordination is celebrated when a candidate has reached a maturity of purpose and is shown to have the necessary qualifications. The intention of receiving orders is expressed publicly by the candidate. Then the Bishop accepts his publicly proclaimed intention.

The next steps for Doherty will be as institution to Reader, to Acolyte, then ordination as transitional deacon, before being ordained as a priest.

Bishop Dewane congratulated Doherty on this step in his formation journey and said this public expression of his intention is an important moment.

Following the Rite, Doherty said he was grateful for the Church’s acceptance of him as a candidate for the priesthood and “for the future service of the Church which it represents.”

The 28-year-old is a native of Ambler, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Ave Maria University in Ave Maria. He recently completed pre-theology studies at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach and will now be continuing his studies at Pontifical North American College in Rome. He will spend the balance of the summer in an Italian immersion course and then begin comprehensive theological studies in the Fall.

Please pray for Seminarian Doherty and all Diocese of Venice seminarians as they continue their own vocation journeys.

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.

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.

Seminarians begin summer assignments

The Diocese of Venice seminarians have completed another year of studies on the pathway to becoming priests and now they are actively participating in a variety of summer assignments to help broaden their experiences, either in Parishes or in the classroom.

There are currently 14 Diocesan seminarians, and each summer assignment was carefully implemented to maximize the benefit for the individual seminarian, said Father Shawn Roser, Diocese of Venice Vocations Director.

The pastoral work is intended to provide the seminarians with an opportunity to learn about the daily operation of a Parish while gaining practical experiences particularly in the area of pastoral care, Father Roser explained. Typical work includes serving at morning Mass, learning to be a sacristan, visiting the sick, helping with RCIA programs, leading a Bible study and working with youth groups.

The Parish assignments place the men with Pastors who will also serve as a mentor to them. The seminarian assignments differ each summer to provide the greatest opportunity for new learning experiences and for the men to become familiar with different parts of the Diocese. Because each seminarian is at a different stage in their formation, the workload will vary accordingly.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said the summer work keeps the seminarians engaged as part of their commitment to a prayerful life and spiritual development.

“While seminary formation stresses growth in human, academic, spiritual as well as pastoral formation, Diocesan summer assignments give practical experience in pastoral ministry and provide the individual the means to grow and have real-life pastoral encounters,” Bishop Dewane added.

Of note, two of the group, Transitional Deacons Mark Harris and Alexander Pince are preparing for their Ordination to the Priesthood which will take place at 11 a.m., July 31, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

In addition, two seminarians will be taking part in the Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF) program at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. The program assists the seminarians in growing deeper in their personal relationship with the Lord through prayer, instruction and contemplation.

The seminarians and the summer assignment locations are as follows:

  • Transitional Deacon José Gullon, Institute for Priestly Formation Spirituality Program (IPF) at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska;
  • Transitional Deacon Mark Harris, Sacred Heart, Punta Gorda;
  • Transitional Deacon Alexander Pince, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral;
  • Transitional Deacon David Portorreal, St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, Naples;
  • Alan Baldarelli, Epiphany Cathedral, Venice;
  • Christian Chami, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Fort Myers;
  • Juan Contreras, Institute for Priestly Formation Spirituality Program (IPF) at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska;
  • Joseph Doherty, St. Leo the Great Parish, Bonita Springs;
  • James Gates, St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton;
  • Jacob Gwynn, St. William Parish, Naples;
  • Carlos Rodriguez, Sacred Heart Parish, Bradenton;
  • Alejandro Giraldo Roldan, St. Thomas More Parish, Sarasota;
  • Danial Scanlan, Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria;
  • Michael Young, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Venice.

Please pray for our seminarians as they take part in the summer pastoral assignments.

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 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 roser@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-486-4720, or visit www.venicevocations.com .

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.

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