Seminarian Instituted as Lector

Congratulations to Diocese of Venice Seminarian James G. Gates Jr., who was among a group Admitted to Candidacy for Ordination to the Priesthood was well as being Instituted as Lector.

Presided over by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, the Rite of Candidacy took place on Sept. 23, 2023, during Solemn Vespers at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

Surrounded by faculty, staff, and friends, Gates was among a group of 17 seminarians from across Florida and other Dioceses in the U.S. to enter candidacy.

The Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Ordination is celebrated when a seminarian 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 the publicly proclaimed intention.

The Institution to Lector and Acolyte then took place during Mass at the seminary on Sept. 24, and was also presided over by Bishop Dewane. Seminarian Gates was among the 17 to be instituted as a lector, while 20 others were instituted as acolyte.

During the Mass, Bishop Dewane told those who were to be instituted as lectors and acolytes that God is calling each of them forward in a particular way and that they should see themselves as closer to the Lord, responding to the power of God.

“We do nothing without the power of God,” Bishop Dewane said. “Be aware of the ministry that is placed before you and live it to its fullest.”

Bishop Dewane encouraged the lectors to seek to understand the meaning of His Word, growing closer to the Lord in that process. Called to build up the Christian community they accept it in obedience to be the word they will live more fully.

As part of the Rite, the candidates were individually called by name to be presented to the Bishop. Following the homily, the Bishop recited a prayer of blessing on the candidates – granting that, as they meditate on the Word of God, they may grow in its wisdom and faithfully proclaim it to His people. Then each candidate came forward to be presented the Holy Scriptures by the Bishop, as he said: “Take this Book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the Word of God so that it may grow strong in the hearts of His people.”

According to the Church’s Law and practice, the instituted lector is charged with proclaiming the readings from the Sacred Scriptures (except for the Gospel), announcing the intentions in the Prayer of the Faithful (in the absence of a Deacon), and reciting or singing the responsorial psalm if there is no cantor. As distinct from the typical Parish reader, these men will now exercise this ministry in a permanent way.

The next steps for Diocesan Seminarian Gates will Institution to Acolyte, then Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate, before being Ordination to the Priesthood.

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

Vocations Weekend

If you are young man (high school age or above) and sense that the Lord is calling you to the priesthood, St. John Vianney College Seminary is hosting a free Vocations Weekend at the end of October.

Join with other discerners from around the state of Florida to experience a glimpse of seminary life, meet the young men who are already studying for the priesthood as seminarians, and join with them in prayer and fraternity during this awesome weekend retreat. (The typical schedule for the weekend includes adoration, spiritual talks, daily Mass, personal testimonies from seminarians, meet and greet with the professors, a campus tour, games and sports.)

The event begins with pizza and night prayer on Friday evening, Oct. 27 and ends with Holy Mass and brunch on Sunday, Oct. 29.

For more information and to RSVP, please visit or email Father Shawn Roser, the Director of Vocations at the Diocese of Venice at or call or 941-486-4720.

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.



Vocational Retreat draws dozens of men and women

Priesthood, religious life, sacramental marriage, and consecrated single life are the four vocational options for young people today. This was the core message of a one-day Vocational Retreat “Encounter with Christ” on Aug. 26, 2023, at St. Paul Parish in Arcadia.

Father Luis Pacheco, Administrator of St. Paul, organized the retreat as a way to encourage the youth to start thinking about a vocation, regardless of which one, but in all cases, in service to the Lord.

The response was overwhelmingly positive as 52 young men and women attended the retreat representing four different regional Parishes. During the day, the youth heard from Bishop Frank J. Dewane, priests, religious women, a married couple and a single woman; all shared how they are living their response to the call of the Lord in their lives.

Bishop Dewane, who spoke to the group and celebrated Mass at the close of the retreat, said “We are each called to open our hearts and our ears to hear the call of the Lord in our own life. That call will be different for each one of you. It is how you respond to that call, by the life you live, where you will find the joy that happens as you give yourself to the Lord.”

Sharing his own vocation story, Bishop Dewane explained how he first thought about the priesthood in his early teens, but kept putting it off to do other things, before finally realizing it was time.

“There was angst over the decision, but once I decided to go for it, I never looked back. I even reflect that I should have done this (discerned the priesthood) years earlier. The Lord has been good to me. You are called to do what the Lord asks,” the Bishop said.

Answering a call to a vocation is not about what anyone wants, it is about surrendering yourself to the Lord because He knows what you need, Bishop Dewane continued.

“Society tells you that you have to decide. Don’t let anybody tell you what to do and the Lord gets lumped into that. Don’t let that happen. When you leave this retreat, it’s my prayer that you will pray about what you are going to do, and about what you learned today. Know that you will forever be in my prayers,” the Bishop concluded.

The retreat began with an opening prayer and then a presentation by Father Pacheco themed “Jesus the Great Doctor.” There were then group discussions followed by a short vocational video. The second talk was by Father Nathan Marzonie, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, and Parochial Vicar at San Pedro Parish in North Port, on discernment and his journey to becoming a priest with a religious order.

Following lunch, there were games and songs before a vocational film and time for personal reflection on the following questions: What vocation do you think God could be calling you to? What questions should I ask myself to find out what vocation I am being called to? What is the difference between a vocation and a profession? Prior to Mass, the youth had the opportunity to go to confession while the group took part in a Holy Hour with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

A key moment of the day was when the youth heard from a panel of presenters, with representatives of each vocation. On the panel were Father Alex Pince, Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, Sister Martha Flores, Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Light (MHML), Director of Religious Education at St. Paul, Mr. and Mrs. Dixon, and Lupita Galaviz.

The Dixon’s shared how they entered their marriage as the pure sacrament it is meant to be, keeping God first in everything they do. The couple has been blessed with 12 children and one on the way. “We have been blessed in so many ways. Sacramental marriage is a beautiful vocation when you live it with the support of God to help you through any challenges,” Mrs. Dixon said.

Galaviz, 23, explained how she chose to remain single for now because it is how the Lord has guided her through her life. While she does have a boyfriend, the two live a pure life; she is taking the time to grow deeper in her relationship with the Lord, through prayer and by living her life as an example for others to follow. This has allowed her to mentor and support others while sharing what she has learned from the Lord.

Father Pince spoke about how he also delayed his vocation to the priesthood for several years until he finally heard the call of the Lord clearly while on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. “I was overpowered with God’s incredible love. I had a sense God would never abandon me if I said ‘Yes!’ I knew I wouldn’t be afraid in my life because He would be with me every day.”

By saying “Yes!” Father Pince said he finds great joy in the priesthood each day. “It is not like my life is over. God has surpassed any expectations because God had a plan for me from the beginning.”

Offering advice to the youth, Father Pince said they need to attend Mass regularly and to receive the Blessed Sacrament at Communion, using this time to be close to the Lord, in His Church. They must also go to the confessional regularly to receive the Lord’s loving mercy, and to be in a state of grace, the vessel that can clearly hear the Lord’s voice. Finally, the youth must trust God — this comes from His unwavering love, which, when accepted, will lead them to ultimate happiness.

Sister Martha took a different approach to her talk to the youth as many in the group have known her for many years.

“It’s exciting to be a religious,” she said. “It is not a boring life; it is an extreme life. It is fun, always fun. I entered the convent at 18 so I could go out and share the Love of God with others, announcing Him and to be passionate for His Kingdom, all to make sure everyone can hear the Good News of the Lord.”

A religious for 40 years, Sister Martha said it seems like she entered the convent and made her vows of chastity, poverty and obedience yesterday.

“I have the same love of God, and I am here to share it with all of you. I gave myself freely, and it is the best experience to give all of yourself in what you are doing and thinking and sharing it with so many people. A vocation is a gift from the Lord. You say, ‘Here I am Lord’ and you answer that call every day.”

Sister Martha concluded by adding, “Don’t be afraid. When you answer your vocation, it will be the most joyful and happy life. But you must listen because He is always talking to you, and He wants you to be happy and enjoy life and be able to share His life with others. A vocation is always in motion,” she said with a laugh and big smile.

Each panelist shared what it was like to live their vocation and then responded to anonymous but poignant questions from the retreatants.

If you are interested in a vocation to the priesthood, or religious life (men or women), please contact Father Shawn Roser, Diocesan Director of Vocations, at 941-484-9543 or, or visit

Answering the call of the Lord – Young lady begins postulancy with religious order

When Stephanie Dowell met her first woman religious, she thought it was just another job that someone did, not realizing at the time that it was a whole other way of life.

The first encounter occurred when Dowell was in 5th grade at Incarnation Catholic School. The next encounter took place after eighth grade when she attended a summer Steubenville youth conference in Orlando. There were religious women from many different communities, and Stephanie was able to see them and be surrounded by them during that weekend.

“During the Saturday night Adoration – where they have the monstrance with the Holy Eucharist go around to every person there – it was such a powerful experience for me, and I really felt God talking to me… That this was what He was calling me to do. He wanted to call me deeper into a relationship with Him.”

Once the seed was planted, Dowell began to research various religious communities and went on several retreats, including with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

It was during those weekends with the Dominican sisters that Dowell realized she had found a home, fully understanding the order’s mission which is to seek to share God’s message of faith and the joy of religious life with the modern world through various outreaches including education, vocations, and culture.

The rest is history, as Dowell, 18, is now becoming a postulant with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She travelled to Michigan on Aug. 22, 2023, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, and was welcomed by the order alongside five other young ladies for a pre-postulancy week. The order stated on the occasion: “As we recall our Lady’s ‘fiat’ in response to God’s call to her, we praise God for the ‘yes’ each of these young ladies has given to the Father’s invitation.”

Stephanie’s formal entrance will take place on Aug. 28, with her parents and siblings (an older sister and two younger brothers) present.

Prior to her departure, she spoke during Mass at Incarnation Parish the weekend of Aug. 12-13, sharing her vocation story and thanking the parishioners for their support and prayer through years.

“Everyone was congratulating me and asking for prayers. Everyone was so excited. (A woman answering a call to a religious life) is not something super common anymore and they were glad that it is still alive. I just hope I don’t let them down,” Dowell said. “A lot of people are very happy for me and I feel very blessed.”

Father Eric Scanlan, Incarnation Pastor, expressed his joy about a vocation coming from the Parish, from a graduate of the Catholic school and altar server through the years.

“Every vocation is a gift from God, whether to marriage, religious life, priesthood, or serving the Lord as a single man or woman,” Father Scanlan wrote in a note to the faithful about Dowell’s choice of vocation. “Yet, it is always a special joy to see someone respond to the call to give their life in service to God… We are so very excited and proud to support you with our prayers in the years to come, that God willing, you may complete your time of preparation and formation, and so give your life completely to Him. May God bless you, guide you, and lead you more deeply into greater union with Him.”

Dowell said she first attended Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota for two years before transferring to the State College of Florida Collegiate School in Venice. Due to scheduling, it allowed her more time to work on her prayer life.

When she first told her parents about a possible vocation to a religious life while still in middle school, Dowell said they initially thought she was joking but realized quickly how serious she was. Then, when her parents saw her upon a return from a retreat with the Dominicans in Ann Arbor, “they saw how peaceful and joyful I felt. I think that kind of eased them into thinking ‘This is okay for our daughter to do.’ God bless them, they are very accepting of this.”

Her older sister and two younger brothers are also each accepting, having been very supportive through her discernment process.

The retreats included joining in prayer with the sisters, learning about what community life was like, talks on the charism of the community, studying saints of the community, as well as a visit to the Blessed Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, which served as an added inspiration.

Officially entering as a postulant, Dowell will wear a blue vest and blue skirt with a white button-down shirt for the first year. During this time, the postulant will learn community life, the rules of the community, what’s expected of a sister and begin her formal education. This is followed by two years of novitiate, in which she will wear a habit with a white veil. This two-year period consists of learning more about the community and themselves, as well as what God is calling for them in their vows. Then, she will take first vows and receive a black veil. These first vows are renewed after three years. It is approximately two years later when she would take her final vows. The entire process before final vows takes about eight years.

While a postulant, Dowell’s contact with the outside will be limited as her life will be structured within the framework of the community. For example, she will be able to write letters to her family twice a month, and one letter to two friends once a month. Then she will have four visiting days a year and will be able to come home for a week in the spring.

Fully aware of the commitment, Dowell read some books ahead of her entering religious life, such as about the lives of the saints, specifically on Dominican saints, Church history, and key Church documents. “I am a little nervous, but feel my heart is filled with the love of God.”

When asked about what advice she would give to other young women or men about how to be open to the Lord, she said: “The Lord will come to you, whether you are ready or not. It’s just you have to be willing to listen, even if you are not ready at that time. He’s going to always want the best for you, and what you are called to, what He has planned for you, is what you will have the most joy and peace in.”

Please pray for Stephanie Dowell as she begins her journey with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

News Briefs for the week of August 25, 2023

World Youth Day topic at recent Theology on Tap

World Youth Day 2023 was the topic of discussion at the most recent Theology on Tap on Aug. 17, 2023, at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. An outreach of the Diocese Young Adult Ministry, Theology on Tap takes place on the third Thursday of each month with a variety of speakers addressing topics relevant to the Catholic Faith. In August, the guest speakers were Transitional Deacon Thomas Gregory Dougherty, a Diocesan seminarian in his final year of studies at St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts; and Stephanie Lovetere, the Youth Ministry Coordinator at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Each shared their experiences on the trip to Portugal with a group of 52 from the Diocese, including Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Marthamaria Morales, Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry who also organizes Theology on tap. The monthly gathering also includes food and refreshments. The next scheduled date is Sept. 21, and will feature Father Christian Chami, Parochial Vicar at St. Jude Parish, Sarasota.  For any questions, please email Marthamaria Morales at

Second Collection for Maui, Hawaii Aug. 26-27

Devastating wildfires swept through the Maui region of Hawaii on Aug. 8, 2023, causing much destruction and a loss of life for a large number of residents, particularly in Lahaina.  As we are all called to help our brothers and sisters in need, a second collection will take place in the Diocese of Venice the weekend of August 26 and 27. The proceeds of the collection will be sent to Catholic Charities Diocese of Honolulu to assist in their efforts to address the needs of the citizens in the affected area. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

Decline to Sign Petition for dangerous Pro-Abortion ballot initiative

An extremely grave initiative is underway in Florida that seeks to erase pro-life protections by inserting language into the Florida State Constitution banning regulation of abortion. Abortion activists are working to gather petition signatures to have a pro-abortion constitutional amendment placed on the statewide ballot in the November 2024 election. To do so, they need nearly 900,000 signatures and are working right now in communities across Florida to collect them. Floridian Catholics should not sign the petition. Please also continue your prayers for the protection of the unborn and spread the word to your spheres of influence.

High school retreat serves community

Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers hosted its annual Freshman Retreat on Aug. 17, 2023. Freshmen, along with senior leaders, enjoyed a great morning getting settled into their rooms, listening to discussions, and enjoying breakfast. They then headed out to various service sites throughout the community in order to give back and appreciate the Christian Service aspect of the freshmen retreat.

STREAM skills used in school project

Fifth-grade students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples used engineering, teamwork, math and technology skills in their first STREAM activity of the school year on Aug. 22, 2023. Each student was amazed to learn their handmade rubberband/yarn device was an actual tool! The objective was to build a tower first using only their dominant hand, then building the tower with their non-dominant hand. Students learned, smiled, and worked together as disciples of Christ.

Vocabulary “treasure hunt”

Using “Christ is Us” books, second grade students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers practiced their vocabulary words on Aug. 18, 2023. The lesson was a “treasure hunt” as the students try to find and define key “gem” words in the text of the books. When finished with their search, they presented to their groups and used cooperative learning structures for added reading lessons.

“Heart of Discipleship” retreat helps ministry students

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School ministry students in Sarasota attended a retreat on Aug. 22, 2023, at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch. The students spent the day exploring the “Heart of Discipleship” while coming together as a team.  Students heard from various speakers including teacher, alum and Deacon Jack Milholland of Our Lady of the Angels Parish. The lesson learned was: “God is good! All the time!”

Day of Reflection for Sacramental Marriage Sept. 9 in Naples

The Office of Marriage and Family Life will be hosting a Day of Reflection for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church.  A specially prepared team will share their experiences and information enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of marriage.  This event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 9, 2023, at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Avenue, Naples. The cost of $50/couple covers all retreat materials and lunch.  Pre-registration is required at Should you have questions or require additional information contact Carrie Harkey at, or call 941-484-9543 ext. 4748.

Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal coming to an end

Every day, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., serves its most vulnerable population by feeding, housing, empowering, and helping all in need. This summer, you can be the one that makes a difference. Your acts of kindness have the power to transform lives and leave a positive impact in our community. The Catholic Charities Summertime and the Giving is Easy Appeal is coming to a conclusion soon. Your gift will make a positive impact on our less fortunate brothers and sisters! Please visit or mail a check to Catholic Charities, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

Formation Program in Spanish

The next session of the Hispanic Apostolate’s Formation Program is scheduled to begin on Sept. 29, 2023. The topic of study will be focused on the “National Eucharistic Revival” and there will be a total of seven classes held from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm. on Fridays. (During Lent classes will move to Thursdays beginning February 15th.). The cost for all the classes is $35 including the book. Those who register and attend a minimum of 6 classes either at one of the participating parishes or online using our APP ( will receive a Diocesan Certification.

Programa de Formación en Español

La próxima sesión del Programa de Formación a cargo del Apostolado Hispano comenzará el 29 de setiembre del 2023. El tema de estudio estará enfocado en el “Avivamiento Eucarístico Nacional” y habrá un total de 7 clases que se darán los viernes por la noche de 7:00 pm a 9:00 pm. (Durante la Cuaresma las clases se trasladan al jueves a partir del 15 de febrero). El costo de todas las clases es de $35 incluyendo el libro. Las personas que se registren y atiendan un mínimo de 6 clases ya sea en una de las parroquias participantes o vía online usando nuestro APP ( recibirán una Certificación Diocesana.

Help available for Hurricane Ian survivors

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice, Inc. has partnered with St. Vincent de Paul Disaster Services in the Disaster Case Management Program to offer services to individuals and families impacted by Hurricane Ian. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, visit, email, or call 941-799-6779.

News Briefs for week of August 18, 2023

Knights honor clergy

The Knights of Columbus of Saints Cosmas and Damian Council 13341 of Bradenton hosted a Clergy Appreciation Dinner on Aug. 12, 2023, at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch. Among the honorees were Bishop Frank J. Dewane; Father Sebastian Szczawínski, Pastor of Our Lady of the Angels; Father Shawn Roser, Parish Parochial Vicar and Diocesan Vocations Director; Msgr. Joseph Stearns who is retired but assists at the Parish; Deacon Jack Milholland; and Deacon G. Thomas Harencher. The evening included dinner for more than 200 and each of the honorees was presented with a commemorative compass. Grand Knight Jerry Graceffo Jr. said it was appropriate for the Knights to honor the clergy who serve the spiritual needs of the faithful is many different ways.

High school welcomes new assistant director

Bishop Verot Catholic High School has announced the hiring of a new Assistant Director of Special Events, Donor & Alumni Relations. Crystal Melton will lead Bishop Verot’s events and alumni relations efforts as the school continues to have record enrollment and growth. Melton brings with her experience in the field of events, fundraising and community relations. Melton earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. She previously was on the Verot School Board and the chair of the Curriculum & Academic Affairs Committee for the school. Most recently, she was a teacher and Director of Development at St. Andrew Catholic School.  Melton grew up in Alaska and Virginia, before moving to Florida in 2010 with her husband and their two children. Her daughter is a Verot Alum and her son is an 8th grader at St. Andrew Catholic School, and a future Viking.

Support our seminarians

Support, encourage and educate future priests through the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Seminarian Fund. Join the VDCCW in celebrating Priesthood Sunday on September 24, 2023, in a special and lasting way by sending your Parish Priest a Seminarian Fund “IN HONOR OF” card. This is a gift that keeps on giving. The Diocese is currently educating 13 men in various seminaries and a donation of any amount would be a great help (The donation amount will not be revealed to the recipient). To take part, please send your donation, made out to VDCCW Seminarian Fund (plus $1 to cover postage and printing) to: Cornelia Zaneƫti, Seminarian Fund Guardian, 5808 Gulf Drive, #204, Holmes Beach, FL 34217.

Early bird registration for the Marriage Conference

Registration is now open for the Oct. 21, 2023, Diocese of Venice “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference, presented in partnership with the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life and the St. John Paul II Foundation. This marriage enrichment conference will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. All Catholic married and engaged couples throughout the Diocese of Venice and beyond are welcome. Grow together in holiness, learn to form your children in the Catholic Faith, enjoy a day of quality time with your spouse, witness dynamic presentations! The day will include the Mass and the availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This special event is for all couples, engaged, newlywed or long married! On-site childcare will be provided. Early bird couple registration is $54, ($64 after Aug. 28). To register, please visit Please contact Carrie Harkey at for further information.

Catholic Charities event to benefit programs in DeSoto County

The 2023 Boots and Bandannas event to benefit the programs of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., in DeSoto County will take place, at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, at Our Lady of Angels Parish, 12905 SR. 70 E., Lakewood Ranch. Enjoy a fun night of great food, live auction, and live music by Andy Pursell and his band.  Kick up your heels for a great cause with programs such as a food pantry, farmworker and senior housing, youth and afterschool educational enrichment programs, financial and housing assistance and disaster response and recovery.  For more details, and to register for Boots and Bandannas 2023, please visit,

Red Mass for legal professionals to be held in Sarasota

The Red Mass, a medieval tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, is observed annually in the Diocese of Venice. The Red Mass will be celebrated at 5:30 p.m., Oct. 18, 2023, at St. Martha Parish, 200 N. Orange St., Sarasota. Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop will be the main celebrant. A reception hosted by the Catholic Lawyers Guild (CLG) follows immediately at the Fr. Fausto Parish Hall. The first recorded Red Mass was held in the Cathedral of Paris in 1245. The popular name “Red Mass” refers to the traditional red vestments of the clergy and the judges when convened at the royal courts in Europe. Prayers at the Red Mass are offered to invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon those who serve in law and the administration of justice. Hence, lawyers, judges, public officials, law enforcement officers, and law students are specifically invited to participate at the Red Mass, although everyone is welcome to attend. In the United States, an annual Red Mass is held in Washington, D.C., before the opening of the U.S. Supreme Court. Similarly, Red Mass is held at the start of the legislative session in Tallahassee. The first Red Mass in the Diocese of Venice was held in March 2008 at St. Martha. At the Red Mass, prayers are for wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord, to help us through these challenging times. For further information, please contact Atty. Paul Consbruck at 866-558-7285; 941-966-6706 or

News Briefs for the Week of August 11, 2023

Knight’s Silver Rose visits Sebring

A special prayer service was held Aug. 8, 2023, at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring, when members of the Knights of Columbus brought the travelling Silver Rose to the Parish. Each year, from early March through mid-December, Silver Roses are stewarded by Knights of Columbus councils along routes from Canada to Mexico. Every stop the Silver Rose makes throughout the pilgrimage is a rosary-centered occasion for Knights, parishioners and community members to pray for respect for life, for the spiritual renewal of each nation, and for the advancement of the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Knights of Columbus expansive pro-life initiative includes supporting the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., and placing more than 1,000 ultrasounds in pregnancy resource centers throughout the world, including many within the Diocese of Venice.

Youth pray for priests

On the Feast of St. John Vianney, Aug. 4, 2023, youth from St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral offered a Holy hour & Divine Mercy Chaplet for all priests in honor of the feast day of St. John Vianney. The French saint (1786-1759) was known for his faithfulness, his devotion to the Virgin Mary, and to St. Philomena, and for dedication to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) for his parishioners. St. John Vianney was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925. He is the patron saint of clergy throughout the world.

Student commits to West Point

Sophia McCartney, a senior at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, has announced her commitment to accept an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2024. McCartney is a star basketball player at Neumann and intends to play at West Point.

Rosary makers hold luncheon

The rosary makers of Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria held a luncheon on Aug. 5, 2023, to honor Our Blessed Mother. Our Lady’s Rosary Makers is a nationwide apostolate founded by Xaverian Brother Dylan in 1949. Rosary makers of Ave Maria meet Wednesdays 1-3 p.m. in the Oasis Club Craft Room – Del Webb. All are welcome; however, reservations are required. For more information, please contact Virginia Patterson at 916-616-8007, or

Bradenton students represent school in golf tournament

Congratulations to St. Joseph Catholic School students Niko and Tobias on attending the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship. Niko placed 72 among 170 in his division, and Tobias placed 33 among the 200 in his division. The Championship is played every August in Pinehurst, N.C., and gathers 1500 plus golfers in the age range of 5-12 years old from many different countries around the world. Niko and Tobias are pictured with family and friends at the event.


Youth celebration in Fort Myers Aug. 27

St. John XXIII Parish Youth Council in Fort Myers is hosting a Youth Celebration Family Event from 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023, in the Parish Hall, 13060 Palomino Lane, Fort Myers. The evening is titled: “Celebrating the Catholic Family,” and will include a live performance by The Camp Veritas Band, dynamic speakers, adoration, a 50/50 raffle, and concessions. The event is free and is for youth (middle and high school age) and parents. For more information, please contact Kelly Evers at 239-561-3022 or

Retreats Returning to OLPH

Registration is now open for several retreats at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, 3989 South Moon Drive, Venice. The Monthly Days of Prayer start September 13. Also, several dates are available for our Desert Day retreats, a one day overnight private retreat. In addition, starting this fall, OLPH is offering single-day Youth Retreats for grades 6-12. The following Fall group retreats are also available for registration: Matt Talbot Men’s Retreat scheduled for October 15-17, and the Can You See Me? retreat scheduled for October 27-29. If you are interested in the 3-night, 5-night, or 7-night private, directed retreat schedule, fall dates are now available. To learn more or to register for a group or private retreat, please visit, or call 941-486-0233.

Vocational Retreat in Arcadia Aug. 26

St. Paul Parish in Arcadia is hosting a one-day Vocational Retreat, “Encounter with Christ” from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Aug. 26, 2023, for males and females ages 15 to 30. The cost for the day is $20 and includes meals and materials. Pre-registration is available by emailing For further information contact the Parish office at 863-494-2611.

Scam Alert

Parishioners of several Parishes in the Diocese of Venice have been contacted by imposters pretending to be their pastor and/or Parish staff, and asking them to send gift cards, cash or money orders via email or text. These requests are a scam and under no circumstances should you reply to these emails or comply with these requests. Nor should you divulge any personal information to anyone that is not a trusted source. If you are contacted with a request for money via email or text, and the message appears as though it is from a Diocesan priest or employee, do not reply. Instead, make direct contact with the person by calling the Parish and asking to speak with the priest or employee.

Excited Diocesan pilgrims take on World Youth Day

Bishop Frank J. Dewane and 52 Diocese of Venice pilgrims are growing closer to Our Lord along with hundreds of thousands from across the globe during World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal.

The pilgrims, led by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, have been on a whirlwind trip with multiple stops at important religious sites enroute to Lisbon that included the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, candlelight processions, as well as visits to shrines, monasteries, churches, sacred sites and more.

Bishop Dewane told the pilgrims upon arrival in Portugal that he wants each to take time to focus on what it is Lord wants them to gain from this spiritual journey of discovery. “You have to come to an understanding of what Jesus is saying to you, and calling each of you to do. The Lord does this because He knows and loves you and wants you to become the best version of yourself, reflecting Jesus’ love and light into the world.”

Trinity Shipe of St. Martha Parish in Sarasota said that this pilgrimage was her first international travel, and she was excited “to be able to be with a bunch of other people who are our age and who are Catholic; as well as to see everyone here all together while I grow in my faith journey.”

Daisy Tejo, of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle, said after just one day in Portugal that the pilgrimage had “been such an amazing experience.” She said that being with so many young people from around the world was life-changing and she prayed the rosary and visited key sites while in Fatima, the location of multiple Marian apparitions. “I look forward to the days to come at Lisbon. I’m very excited.”

One pilgrim, Bryce Kuo of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, said the early part of the journey had been an incredible experience. He is traveling with his sister and mother, which has added to the experience. What struck Bryce most was the unifying nature of the World Youth Day experience. “We are speaking in different languages, but we are all united by the same faith… It’s a very moving experience. After this, it will give me the guidelines to live my life in the best way I can.”

Bishop Dewane has been with the Diocesan pilgrims every step of the way, celebrating Mass for the group several times, including during their first stop in Portugal, at a Carmelite monastery in Coimbra.

While in Fatima the group visited several sacred sites. The city, which is located in central Portugal, is famous for Marian apparitions which took place in 1917 when three children saw a series of visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The visit there included taking part in Stations of the Cross and visiting the church where the three children, St. Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Sts. Francisco and Jacinto Marto, were baptized.

Bishop Dewane was the main celebrant for a Mass for the Diocesan pilgrims and others on July 31 in the Chapel of the Apparitions, built to mark the exact location of the apparitions. The Chapel is part of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima which is visited by at least 6 million each year.

On the evenings of July 30 and 31, the pilgrims took part in rosary and candlelight processions. During the July 31 procession, Diocesan pilgrims Ryan Cody of Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch, and Christian DiGioia, of Epiphany Cathedral, had the honor of carrying the American Flag, while Transitional Deacon Timothy “Greg” Dougherty was among the leaders of the procession.

While in Fatima the pilgrims also visited the Cenacolo Community (Fraternity Angel of Peace), which has houses around the world which help young men and women overcome addictions and depression through a program of encountering Jesus and centering their lives on prayer and service. Bishop Dewane and the Diocesan pilgrims heard powerful testimonies of the 13 men who are currently being helped by the community.

The pilgrims departed Fatima on Aug. 1, and while enroute to Lisbon, they made a stop at St. Stephen’s Church in Santarem, to see and learn about the Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem, which occurred on Feb. 16, 1274. Bishop again celebrated Mass for the Diocesan group.

Once the pilgrims checked into the hotel that they would call home for the following week, the pilgrims attended the WYD 2023 Opening Mass at Colina de Encontro (Parque Eduardo VII), which was celebrated by Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, Manuel Clemente.

Domenico Cricchio Jr. of Our Lady of the Angels summed up what many of the Diocesan pilgrims thought of the first main event at WYD. “What an experience. Amazing. It’s hard to explain these things and to prepare for them. When you are there, it’s a whole new feeling – the whole world is with you and the solidarity and community you feel for the love of Christ is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I look forward to so many more great things here in Lisbon.”

The Diocesan pilgrimage was organized by Marthamaria Morales, Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Morales said the group includes several priests, seminarians as well as youth and young adults from nine different Parishes.

During the main part of WYD in Lisbon, the pilgrims are taking part in daily catechesis called “Rise Up” meetings Aug. 2-4, which are intended to help the young people have an experience of faith and an encounter with Christ in an atmosphere of community and participation.

The Marian themes for the catechesis are linked to the general theme of WYD 2023 which is “Mary arose and went with haste” Luke 1:39. The biblical phrase opens the account of the Visitation (Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth). The overall goal of the catechesis is to give the young people a mission that now is the time to dream and work for a new world, just as Mary did as a young woman.

Pope Francis is scheduled to join the pilgrims on Aug. 3, for a welcome ceremony in the city center. He is also expected to preside at a Way of the Cross on Aug. 4, a prayer vigil on Aug. 5, and the WYD Closing Mass, with an anticipated crowd of a million or more, on Aug. 6. The Diocesan pilgrims are expected to be at each of these key moments at WYD 2023.

Please pray for the WYD pilgrims from the Diocese of Venice and around the world, that they may have a safe and fruitful journey and a meaningful encounter with Jesus Christ.

To follow along on the journey of the Diocesan pilgrims, please visit the Diocese Facebook page @dioceseofvenice or on Instagram @dioceseofveniceinfl, or the Diocese website,

Early highlights of Diocesan pilgrimage to WYD 2023

The following is a list of highlights for the 52 Diocesan pilgrims who are joining Bishop Frank J. Dewane for World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal.

July 30

Arrival in Porto, Portugal and bus ride to Fatima, with a stop in Coimbra. Visited Carmelite Monastery of Coimbra, where Bishop Dewane celebrated Mass. Arrived in Fatima. That evening the group participated in a candlelight procession at the Shrine.

July 31

Mass at the Chapel of Apparitions with Bishop Dewane as the main celebrant. The small chapel is located in Cova da Iria, to mark the exact location where the three children Sts. Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinto Marto, reported having received the famous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Bus ride to the outskirts of Fatima in the countryside where the Aug. 19, 1917, apparition of Our Lady of Fatima took place. Pilgrims took part in two-mile Estação da Via Sacra (Stations of the Cross), or Caminho dos Pastorinhos (path of the little shepherds), which included 14 chapels that represent the different stations of the Way of the Cross. Father Alex Pince, Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral led the Diocesan group through the stations on the second anniversary of his priestly ordination.

This visit also included a stop at the Cenacolo Community (Fraternity Angel of Peace) which ministers to those suffering from addictions, as well as the Parish Church of Fatima where Sts. Lucia, Francisco and Jacinto, were baptized, as well as to the Shrine Museum. St. Francisco died in 1919 at the age of 10, Jacinto died in 1920, at the age of 9, both from the 1919 global influenza outbreak. They are the Church’s youngest saints who did not die as martyrs, with Jacinta the youngest.

Upon return to the center of Fatima, the group visited the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, the tombs of the saints, and participated in a rosary and candlelight procession.

Aug. 1

departed from Fatima to Lisbon with a stop at St. Stephen Church in Santarem, to see and learn about the Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem, which occurred on Feb. 16, 1274. Bishop again celebrated Mass for the Diocesan group.

Arrival in Lisbon included checking into hotel and getting credentialed for the main WYD 2023 activities throughout the city. The group then participated in the WYD opening Mass at Colina de Econtro (Parque Eduardo VII), celebrated by Cardinal Patriarch Lisbon, Manuel Clemente.

Aug. 2

Bishop Dewane met the pilgrims for breakfast before they headed out to their Rise Up catechism. This catechism took place the mornings of Aug. 2-4. Bishop Dewane celebrated Mass for the group at St. Joseph Parish.

Each afternoon of WYD a Youth Festival is taking place throughout the city. In Cidade da Alegria, is a Vocational Fair and Reconciliation Park. During the Vocational Fair, young pilgrims encounter various movements, associations, communities, religious orders, and projects of social nature. Reconciliation Park is where pilgrims encounter the Merciful Christ through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

That evening the Diocesan group joined in the WYDUSA National Gathering in Parque da Quinta das Conches. The program featured prayer, music, testimony, networking, and a Holy Hour with the Lord, led by Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

Aug. 3

Rise Up catechesis continues. Evening welcoming ceremony for Pope Francis at Colina de Econtro (Parque Eduardo VII). Youth Festival.

Aug. 4

Rise Up catechesis concludes. Evening includes Stations of the Cross at Colina de Econtro (Parque Eduardo VII). Youth Festival.

Aug. 5

World Youth Day Vigil at “Campo de Grace” (Parque Tejo). This is an evening and overnight celebration for the pilgrims which includes speakers, musicians, adoration and much more. Pilgrims typically spend the night at the vigil.

Aug. 6

World Youth Day 2023 closing Mass with Pope Francis at “Campo de Grace.” The Mass concludes with the announcement of where the next World Youth Day will be held. That evening, the Diocesan pilgrims will have dinner as a group with Bishop Dewane.

Aug. 7

The pilgrims leave Lisbon for Porto, Portugal, and upon arrival they will tour one of Europe’s oldest cities. Bishop Dewane will celebrate Mass for the group at the Cathedral there. Last night in Portugal.

Aug. 8

Fly from Porto to Zurich, Switzerland, with a connection to Miami, arriving in the evening. Welcome Home!!!

Answering the Call – Ordination brings blessings upon new priests, Diocese

In a public response to a “call to holiness,” Alejandro Giraldo Roldán and Daniel Joseph Scanlan were Ordained to the Priesthood by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during a Mass on July 15, 2023, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

The poignant and emotional Rite places Fathers Roldán and Scanlan in new roles 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 formation through prayer, discernment, guidance and direction which helped them grow closer to the Lord. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the ordinandi are called to reflect and magnify Christ, and are sent out to build up the Church of Christ and to build up the People of God.

“You have chosen a particular life and continue to hear that call,” Bishop Dewane stated. “The Diocese is grateful for your having listened to that call to live in response to ministerial priesthood. Do it with joy. Do it with a genuine love for Christ, for others, and for yourself. It is who you are. To achieve this, keep your eyes on the example given by Christ, the High Priest, the Good Shepherd. See Him as your role model.”

Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a priest is transformed and marked indelibly as an instrument through which others receive the Sacraments, Bishop Dewane said. “Take God in your heart as you carry out the mission of sanctifying the faithful by uniting them to Christ’s sacrifice.”

When the rite of ordination began, Roldán and Scanlan were each called forth to the presence of the Bishop by Diocese Director of Vocations Father Shawn Roser, and upon hearing their names called out, each responded, one saying “Present,” and the other “Presente.”

Following the homily, Roldán and Scanlan each knelt before the Bishop to promise respect and obedience to him and his successors. Then they lay prostrate 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.

After this solemn act of prayer, the Sacrament of Ordination was conferred when Roldán and Scanlan each knelt before Bishop Dewane. In silent prayer, the Bishop imposed his hands on the head of each ordinand as a sign of the sharing of the priesthood; each priest the present laid his hands on the head of the newly ordained.

The ordinandi again knelt before the Bishop, who then recited the consecratory Prayer of Ordination; which, together with the Bishop’s imposition of hands, is the essential to the Rite of Ordination.

After the prayer, the newly ordained were vested in the stole and chasuble, vestments which are worn when celebrating the Eucharist that symbolize the responsibility and authority in service to Christ.

Father Roldán was vested by Father Lawton Lang, the new Administrator of San Antonio Parish in Port Charlotte, while Father Scanlan was vested by his oldest brother, Father Eric Scanlan, Pastor of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota.

The palms of the new priests were anointed with the Sacred Chrism by Bishop Dewane, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make the priest’s ministry fruitful. Next, the Bishop presented Fathers Roldán and Scanlan with the chalice and paten which all priests 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.”

The Rite of Ordination ended with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to the newly ordained priests, welcoming them into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. The priests present 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 followed as Fathers Roldán and Scanlan joined for the first time in concelebrating the Eucharist with Bishop Dewane, offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, acting in the person of Christ. From this sacrifice their whole priestly ministry will draw its strength.

Some 700 people witnessed this joyous occasion, including more than 40 priests, men and women religious, permanent deacons, the Knights of Columbus, the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta and the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.

Father Roldán’s sister and several friends from his native Colombia were able to be present for the ordination, but unfortunately his mother and another sister were unable to attend. Sadly, his father passed away in April.

Father Scanlan was blessed to have his entire family present (he is the seventh of 11 children). Also present were several nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, cousins and more.

Both men also had large groups supporting them from the several Parishes they served at during pastoral assignments as seminarians.

Father Roldán, 29, a native of Columbia, said the ordination was an overwhelming experience that brought him great joy and solace.

“Giving myself completely over to the Lord through the priesthood is something I have thought about for many years. It is finally here, and it is wonderful. I will now follow the Lord in my ministry to help others find the joy I have,” Father Roldán said.

During his discernment, Father Roldán initially studied with a religious order before later joining the Diocese of Venice as a seminarian. He studied at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami before going on to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. As a seminarian, he served pastoral assignments at St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish on Longboat Key and at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota where he celebrated his first Mass as a priest. His first assignment is Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes Parish and St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, both in Naples given special responsibility to the Spanish-speaking community at each Parish.

Father Scanlan, 28, was born and raised in Fort Myers in a large family. He was inspired to discern a vocation to the priesthood when his oldest brother, Father Eric, told the family about his own discernment 15 years ago and then he witnessed his brother’s ordination in 2013. Fast-forward 10 years and they are both now part of the Diocesan Presbyterate.

“When I was young, it never occurred to me that becoming a priest was a thing that I would consider, but seeing my brother go through the process and growing in my own personal relationship with Jesus, when the time came, it was an easy decision” Father Scanlan said. “It was such a wonderful experience to have my whole family present to share this experience with me. Then my brother helped me put on my priestly vestments. That was amazing. This whole experience has been an affirmation of God putting me in this position as a priest, where I was called to serve Him in His earthly Kingdom.”

Father Scanlan first studied at Ave Maria University before becoming a Diocesan seminarian at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. He later studied in Rome at the Pontifical North American College and received a degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Most recently, he initiated his studies in moral theology at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce. As a seminarian, he served pastoral assignments at the following Parishes: St. Vincent de Paul in Fort Myers; Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles in Bradenton; St. Francis Xavier in Fort Myers; St. Joseph in Bradenton; and St. Katharine Drexel in Cape Coral. Father Scanlan’s first Mass was celebrated at Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria, where his parents reside. Following his ordination, Father is initially assisting at Epiphany Cathedral and then will serve as Parochial Vicar at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota, effective Aug. 9.

The Ordination to the Priesthood is considered one of the most critical events in the life of the Diocese as it ensures the continuation of the Church and the availability of the Sacraments to the faithful.

A reception followed in the Cathedral Parish Hall where the newly ordained formally greeted the public and imparted their priestly blessing upon them.

Annual seminarian convocation inspires

For three days each summer there is a gathering of men of different ages and backgrounds, each dedicated to a common goal – continuing their spiritual journey with a focus on becoming a Diocesan priest.

Some are in a seminary college formation program, while others are in advanced programs farther along in their journey, with potential Ordination to the Priesthood not too far off.

During the annual Diocese of Venice Seminarian Convocation at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice (July 17-19, 2023), the men spent time praying, reflecting on their choice of vocation, while also sharing their thoughts and their personal journey with others who are on the same path.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass for the seminarians on July 19. During the Mass, Bishop Dewane encouraged the men to continue to hear the call to holiness of Our Lord in their prayers, while reflecting Christ in the life they live.

The Bishop stressed the need to continue to grow in their relationship with the Lord, a lifelong process which will serve to guide them as they continue on their discernment journey.

The multi-day retreat occurs late in the summer as a time of prayer and reflection before each man returns to his respective seminary. During the week the seminarians were led by Father Shawn Roser, Diocese Vocations Director.

With the group assigned to four different seminaries, the gathering is an opportunity for those early in their formation process to hear from those who are further along. This mentoring aids in building a bond amongst the group, aiding each to appreciate that the discernment process is not only accomplished in the classroom but through the entire experience in seminary, during Parish pastoral assignments, and in their personal life.

A recent highlight for the group was witnessing the July 15 Ordination to the Priesthood of Fathers Alejandro Roldán and Daniel Scanlan, with many taking an active role as altar servers.

Diocese of Venice Seminarians are supported through the Diocese Catholic Faith Appeal, the Knights of Columbus, Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women 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 can be made by visiting or sent to: Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285.

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