Seminarians ordained Transitional Deacon

José Grullón and David Portorreal followed different calls of the Lord in their lives, but their answers were the same, leading the two Diocese of Venice seminarians on a journey toward the priesthood. The pair reached a major milestone along that path on April 17, 2021 when they were ordained Transitional Deacon.

Deacons Grullón and Portorreal were among nine ordained at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Boca Raton by Most Rev. William A. Wack, CSC, Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. The men, from different Dioceses across Florida, are currently studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

Deacon Grullón said he was thrilled about the Ordination, acknowledging how it is only the end of one stage in his priestly formation which is opening many different opportunities of service to the Lord that come with this new ministry.

“Priestly ministry is all about relating to the Lord and translating that experience daily in a way that the people of God are also inspired to grow closer in their relationship with Him,” the new Deacon added. “I love being able to serve the people in different capacities: service in itself is a way in which I encounter the Lord through others.”

For Deacon Portorreal, the experience of Ordination was both exciting and surreal. “Time is flying by and there’s so much to learn, but I’m grateful. I look forward to serving the People of God to the best of my ability.”

As he continues in his studies and discernment, Deacon Portorreal prays that he will become a loving, compassionate, competent, and holy priest who is present to the faithful.

The first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church, deacons perform many services to the Church in conjunction with the ministries of priests and bishops. In Parish life, deacons may preside at baptisms, weddings and rites of Christian burial, assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel and deliver homilies.

In his homily, Bishop Wack explained how Jesus Christ is revealed in them and through them. “Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, is present to us in word and sacrifice. Now, He calls you to be bearers of the word and servants of the Gospel.”

In their promise of celibacy, Bishop Wack said they are single heartedly devoted to God and His Church. While this commitment may seem strange to outsiders, it allows them to open up to others in a very radical way and thoroughly joyful way. Later, when they prostrate themselves on the floor before the altar, in the midst of their family and friends, it is a sign of complete surrender and obedience.

“I’m sure you join me as you marvel not so much as what you are doing today but what God is doing to you,” Bishop Wack continued. “This is about what God is doing in you. We celebrate God’s work in you and through you today. The Spirit conforms you more fully to Christ, the One who came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for the many… You may ask, how can I know the Lord, experience His presence, or know God loves me. You are God’s answer to those questions – Here I am, send me.”

Following the homily, the men approached Bishop Wack one-by-one, knelt and promised respect and obedience to his Bishop and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, the men then lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints.

The ordinations were complete after each man again approached the Bishop who imposed his hands on the candidate and proclaimed a prayer of consecration, to confer the Holy Spirit to guide their ministries.

The Deacons then received a stole and dalmatic (the exterior garb of a deacon), signifying the Office of Diaconate and the deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Next, the newly ordained Deacons knelt before the Bishop who presented them with the Book of the Gospels as a symbol of their new ministry of proclaiming the Gospel and preaching. The Rite of Ordination concluded with the kiss of peace.

Deacon Grullón, 33, was born and raised in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. He earned university degrees in business in the Dominican Republic and worked in a financial institution as a credit analyst. Born a Baptist, Deacon Grullón entered the Catholic Church in 2012 having been inspired by studying the history of Christianity. Once a Catholic, he began serving in his local Parish in different capacities, participating daily in the Eucharist, and the example of hard-working priests made him consider the priesthood. He studied philosophy at Pedro Francisco Bonó Institute in Santo Domingo, which is affiliated to the Pontifical Gregorian University that conferred his degree.

It was in 2017 when Deacon Grullón entered the United States to study at St. Vincent De Paul Regional Seminary for the Diocese of Venice. As a seminarian, Deacon Grullón has had pastoral assignments at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in LaBelle and Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, as well as assisting at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples during other breaks from school.

Deacon Portorreal, 49, grew up in Ohio attending Jesuit-run Catholic schools in Cleveland before entering film school at Florida State University. He moved to Los Angeles to try to break into the film industry trying to sell screenplays, get acting jobs and even tried his hand as writer/director. The seeds of a priestly vocation were planted in grade school and as the years passed there was a growing restlessness that the Ministerial Priesthood was what God wanted in his life.

Initial studies for priesthood for Deacon Portorreal began for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at St. John Seminary in Camarilla, California, but his parents are retired in Florida and so he transferred to become a seminarian within the Diocese of Venice. As a seminarian, Deacon Portorreal has had pastoral assignments at St. William Parish in Naples and St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs.

Please pray for these men as to continue their spiritual journey.

News Briefs for the week of April 23 2021

“A Seminarian Story” ninth installment available

The Diocese of Venice in Florida Office of Vocations launched a video series titled, “A Seminarian Story,” to celebrate the 16 Seminarians currently in formation for the Diocese. The first eight videos have been released and more will follow approximately every few weeks. The most recent video features Seminarian Jacob Gwynn who is in formation at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. Developed with the assistance of the Diocese Communications Department, the goal of the series is to inspire others to follow in the path to the priesthood or religious life, as well as encourage the faithful to continue to support the seminarians as they continue their formation process at different seminaries. “A Seminarian Story” featuring Jacob Gwynn can be found at https://vimeo.com/521110630.

Online fundraiser to support Our Mother’s House

Honor your mother, daughter, sister, friend, or someone who has been like a mother to you with a gift that will help homeless mothers and their children. Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities provides a safe environment for residents to achieve self-sufficiency through education, vocational training, and personal growth. This year they are holding their annual Mother’s Day fundraiser so everyone can help a needy mother succeed. To support Our Mother’s House please visit www.dov.regfox.com/mothers-day-2021.

Cardinal Mooney Girls Track win Districts for first time in 26 years

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Girls Track and Field team are District Champs for the first time in 26 years. The Sarasota team won on April 15, taking the top spot in multiple disciplines including shot put, discus, javelin, triple jump, pole vault and 4×400 relay. Just one day earlier, the Mooney Girls Beach Volley team became Regional Champs. The Lady Cougars beat Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and then Bradenton Christian on April 14 for the regional title. With the title comes an automatic berth to the State Championship tournament field of 12 teams on May 1. Congratulations to all!

Science students learn how to help in emergencies

Students in the Principles of Biomedical Science class at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers recently worked together in small groups to learn how to stop an uncontrolled bleed during their Emergencies Unit. They had three minutes to control different types of bleeding by either applying compression or by packing the wound and then compression. They ended the lesson by learning to control a bleed using a tourniquet as well as to clamp and legate an artery.

 

 

Pre-K-4 students attend “drive-in” movie

Students at St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral recently attended a drive-in movie. Their fancy cars were creative and amazing as each student created their own cars with designs ranging from sports cars to superhero vehicles.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Workshop

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Directors of Religious Education, Youth Ministers, Principals and Teachers how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. The course will be held on April 29, 2021 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, and on May 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, 833 Magellan Drive, Sarasota. Advanced registration is required, and the cost is $25. Visit www.dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/workshop-on-youth-mental-health-first-aid for registration. The cost includes the book, lunch and certificate of completion.

Porn: Seven Myths Exposed event May 4

The porn industry has taken our culture hostage! The Diocese of Venice Family Life Office is hosting an event at 6:30 p.m., May 4, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall, 399 Sarasota St., Venice, to address and educate teens, parents and all others on the tyranny of pornography in our society. Matt Fradd is the speaker who has authored and coauthored several books, and creates and hosts the podcast, “Pints with Aquinas”. There is no cost to attend. For further information, please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Stepping into Marriage with Children

Did you know 60 percent of second marriages fail and the failure rate increases to 70 percent when there are children from a previous marriage in the home. The difficulties of parenting and stepparenting seemingly insurmountable are often the root cause of such failures. A free half day workshop, organized by the Diocese Office of Family Life, entitled “Stepping into Marriage with Children” is designed for those couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation, and will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 15, 2021 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. This workshop takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools to meet unique challenges. There is no cost to attend but registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/stepping-into-marriage-with-children. For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Year of the Family

On March 19, 2021, the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the joy and beauty of familial love, Pope Francis inaugurated the year “Amoris Laetitia Family” which will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the next World Meeting of Families in Rome. When announced, the Dicastery said in a statement, “The Pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families”. To learn more about the effort and the initiatives occurring in the Diocese of Venice during this commemorative year visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/year-of-the-family/.

News Briefs for the week of April 16, 2021

2 Diocesan Seminarians to be ordained Transitional Deacons April 17

Diocese of Venice Seminarians José Grullón and David Portorreal are among a group of nine who will be ordained as Transitional Deacons at 11 a.m., April 17, 2021 at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. His Excellency, Bishop William A. Wack, CSC, Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, will ordain the men and the liturgy will be livestreamed at www.svdp.edu/live from St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton. As newly ordained Deacons, these men will be assigned to Parishes where they will exercise their ministry in preparation to become priests in the following year. Among many duties, they will preach, perform baptisms, witness marriages, as well as preside over wakes and funerals.

Cape Coral students at state competition

A team of seven St. Andrew Catholic School students from Cape Coral competed on March 13, 2021 in the Florida Odyssey of the Mind State Competition at the Orlando Convention Center. The team took the judges to a magical storybook land by building a life-sized magical beanstalk which appeared to grow using a combination of springs, magnets, and an intricate pulley system.  They proudly took 4th place in the State Finals and will be moving on to compete in The Odyssey of the Mind World Finals which will take place in Orlando in the upcoming months. These students began preparing their solution in September of 2020 and have worked hard throughout the course of the 2020-2021 school year. Team members were: Addison Baker, Kiley Lebid, Ryan Peterson, Ellianna Trunkett, Ana Cerna, Laura Cerna and Isabella Smith.

Evangelizing Catechesis: Survey of the new Directory for Catechesis

The Diocese Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is offering an online course surveying the new how-to guide, the Directory for Catechesis, published by the Vatican in 2020. This new edition of the Directory emphasizes how to incorporate evangelization throughout the entire process of catechesis. This course is for Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, catechists, schoolteachers, adult faith formators, RCIA teams, parents — anyone who teaches the Faith. Co-teachers of the course are Dr. John Gresham, Director of the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, Anne Chrzan, Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Venice, and Joshua Mazrin, Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice. The six-week course starts April 19, 2021. There is a $25 fee to take the course. Visit the Institute website for more information and to register at www.institute-dov.org or contact the director for more information: john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Marriage Prep Retreat for Couples over 55 coming soon

The Office of Family Life is hosting a one-day sacramental marriage preparation retreat for those couples over 55 years of age who are preparing for marriage or convalidation, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 24, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. Lunch is included. The program builds an appreciation for the joy of Sacramental Marriage while offering insight and tools to address the unique challenges and responsibilities. Registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/two-become-one.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Workshop

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Directors of Religious Education, Youth Ministers, Principals and Teachers how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. The course will be held on April 29, 2021 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, and on May 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, 833 Magellan Drive, Sarasota. Advanced registration is required, and the cost is $25. Visit www.dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/workshop-on-youth-mental-health-first-aid for registration. The cost includes the book, lunch and certificate of completion.

Porn: Seven Myths Exposed event May 4

The porn industry has taken our culture hostage! The Diocese of Venice Family Life Office is hosting an event at 6:30 p.m., May 4, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall, 399 Sarasota St., Venice, to address and educate teens, parents and all others on the tyranny of pornography in our society. Matt Fradd is the speaker who has authored and coauthored several books, and creates and hosts the podcast, “Pints with Aquinas”. There is no cost to attend. For further information, please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Stepping into Marriage with Children

Did you know 60 percent of second marriages fail and the failure rate increases to 70 percent when there are children from a previous marriage in the home. The difficulties of parenting and stepparenting seemingly insurmountable are often the root cause of such failures. A free half day workshop, organized by the Diocese Office of Family Life, entitled “Stepping into Marriage with Children” is designed for those couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation, and will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 15, 2021 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. This workshop takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools to meet unique challenges. There is no cost to attend but registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/stepping-into-marriage-with-children. For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Year of the Family

On March 19, 2021, the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the joy and beauty of familial love, Pope Francis inaugurated the year “Amoris Laetitia Family” which will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the next World Meeting of Families in Rome. When announced, the Dicastery said in a statement, “The Pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families”. To learn more about the effort and the initiatives occurring in the Diocese of Venice during this commemorative year visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/year-of-the-family/.

Tele-Mental Health Counseling Services available

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. is offering Mental Health Counseling for adults and children provided by licensed mental health therapists. If you or someone you know are feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed or helpless, Catholic Charities can help. For more information, please call 239-455-2655.

Vaccines for Homebound Seniors

Seniors and/or their caregivers can sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in their home by sending their request by email to HomeboundVaccine@em.myflorida.com. Also, Senior Friendship Centers (Sarasota, Venice, Fort Myers and Arcadia) has organized a program to connect seniors with volunteers who can drive them to their scheduled vaccine appointment. Anyone needing a ride to their vaccination appointment should contact Lillian Cleveland, Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 941-556-3223 or lcleveland@friendshipcenters.org. The above is for information purposes only and are independent programs. Inquiries should be directed to the email/phone numbers for each program.

Ministry of Acolyte conferred on seminarian

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Daniel Scanlan, who is studying for the priesthood at Pontifical North American College in Rome, was among 32 men conferred to the Ministry of Acolyte on March 7, 2021.

As an Acolyte, Scanlan 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.

The principal celebrant for the Mass was Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patron Wong, Secretary for Seminaries at the Congregation for Clergy. The ceremony took place in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at the Pontifical North American College.

Archbishop Wong addressed those to be instituted Acolytes, urging them to “learn all matters pertaining to divine worship and seek to grasp their significance.”

The Archbishop then exhorted them to live out a ‘three-fold zeal’ patterned on the zeal for the Father’s house that consumed Jesus in the Gospel reading of the day. The first zeal is for Jesus himself, who,” as the Archbishop pointed out, “is himself the temple.”

We must have a “personal relationship with the temple, because the temple is a person. Therefore, we can love the temple because we have intimacy with Jesus. We should become like the temple in every way: we conform ourselves to Christ so that we talk like Him, listen like Him, love like Him.”

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

Scanlan, currently in his second year of formation at the North American College, has two additional years of theological studies before being eligible to be ordained a priest.

The liturgical celebration utilized standard precautions during the liturgy for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

News Briefs for the week of March 12, 2021

“A Seminarian Story” eighth installment available

The Diocese of Venice in Florida Office of Vocations launched a video series titled, “A Seminarian Story,” to celebrate the 16 Seminarians currently in formation for the Diocese. The first eight videos have been released and more will follow approximately every few weeks. The most recent video is about Seminarian Carlos Rodriguez who is in formation at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach and is currently serving a Pastoral Year at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton.

Developed with the assistance of the Diocese Communications Department, the goal of the series is to inspire others to follow in the path to the priesthood or religious life, as well as encourage the faithful to continue to support the seminarians as they continue their formation process at different seminaries. “A Seminarian Story” featuring Carlos Rodriguez can be found at https://vimeo.com/521110630.

Solidarity with seafarers as key essential workers

Each year, the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT) launches a Campaign that begins during Lent to raise Catholic awareness of forced labor in the fishing industry. This year, due to the global pandemic, a new humanitarian crisis has emerged that is severely impacting all men and women who work at sea. Thus in 2021, CCOAHT – together with Stella Maris and the Apostleship of the Sea of the United States of America (AOS-USA) – are urging Catholics and all people of good will to pay witness to the life of the seafarer and to leverage their voices as community members and consumers to uplift the safety and wellbeing of one of the world’s most invisible group of essential workers.

Feast of St. Joseph Mass in Venice

On the Feast of Saint Joseph, a Mass in Italian will be celebrated by Bishop Frank Dewane at 12:30 p.m., March 19, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Italian American Club of Venice is providing the bread for the St. Joseph Table. The bread will be blessed following Mass and all items will be individually wrapped. All are welcome to attend following social distancing and mask requirement protocols.

Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Televised Mass

The Diocese of Venice in Florida will air the televised Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Masses, each for a full hour. The Masses can be viewed at 9:00 a.m. on the CW Network in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Charlotte, Hardee and Highland counties, and at 10:30 a.m. on FOX4 in Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades and Desoto counties. The Mass is also available on the Diocese of Venice website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/tvmass.

Divine Mercy Novena

The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday, April 2, 2021 and concludes Saturday, April 10. In private revelations to St. Faustina, Jesus asked that the Feast of Divine Mercy be preceded by a novena praying for nine intentions with the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It is particularly appropriate for anyone who has been touched by abortion or is nearing death. The novena can be accessed online at www.thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/novena.php. For more details, contact Sylvia at 941-412-5860 or project.rachel@dioceseofvenice.org.

2021 Marriage Preparation Retreats

The Diocesan Office of Family Life is offering “Day of Reflection” retreats for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. A specially prepared volunteer team of married couples and a priest will share their experiences and information with the intention of enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of marriage. The retreats in English are from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the following Saturdays: April 17, August 7, and November 13. Retreats in Spanish are at the same time and will be the following Saturdays: March 6, August 7, and October 30. Please visit https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/marriage-preparation-retreat-2021 to register for the English retreats. To sign up for the retreat in Spanish, please contact St. Jude Parish in Sarasota at 941-955-3934. For more information or to inquire about a virtual option contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 ext. 3019.

Faith and Wine Lee County

The next gathering of Faith and Wine Lee County will be a virtual Zoom event beginning at 7 p.m., March 18, 2021. The speaker is Cy Kellett, the host of Catholic Answers Live, who will present “Whatever Happened to the Modern World?” Advanced registration is required by visiting https://faithandwineleecounty.com.

Easter Triduum Retreat at OLPH

The Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat and Spirituality Center in Venice continues to offer single days of prayer and overnight retreats in a safe, tranquil setting along the Myakka River. The Easter Triduum retreat begins with supper on Holy Thursday (April 1, 2021) and ends with breakfast on Easter Sunday (April 4).  The liturgies of the Lord’s Supper, Way of the Cross, Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion, Easter Vigil, and Sunrise Easter Liturgy are celebrated. Confessions are available. For more info or to register, call Denise Riley at 941-486 0233, ext. 3004, or visit www.olph-retreat.org and click on “Schedule of Events.”

Catholic Schools Week showcases faith-based education

Behind all of the fun and games which take place during the celebration of Catholic Schools Week each year is faith, which shines forth in everything that is done at all 15 of the Diocesan Catholic schools.

Catholic Schools Week 2021 ran from Jan. 31- Feb. 6 with each day focused on different themes, including celebrating the students, faculty and staff, families, Parish, vocations, community and nation.

Using those broad topics as a springboard for different activities, the more than 4,600 students took part in fields days, STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math) activities, academic competitions, collections for the needy, chances for prayer and reflection as well as the celebration of Mass.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Superintendent of Catholic Education for the Diocese of Venice, celebrated Mass at several Diocesan schools throughout the week. Father delivered the message of how Catholic schools are places of big dreams, bigger than academic or athletic success, but in fact they are where students will grow and deepen in their Faith.

“You are Catholic School students, born to follow your dreams, born to stand out, not stand back,” Father Belmonte told students at St. John Neumann Catholic High School on Feb. 2, 2021. Father stressed that Catholic school students must be known for their Faith. This obligation manifests itself in the way each student prays and believes; in how they make the world a better place; the service they render to the poor and needy; their intellect; and in the peace and love that they desire.

“Everyone should have evidence of the dreams that you have,” Father continued. “We long for Jesus Our Savior. We will meet Our Lord in this church right here at this altar. Let us receive Him into our hearts and souls, realizing this dream every time we celebrate the Most Holy Eucharist.”

In addition to participating in Mass during the week, schools also prayed the rosary. At St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton students wrote prayers for safety during the Pandemic, as well as prayers for their families, teachers, friends and country. The prayers were linked together to form a chain that circled the campus as a reminder that God is with them each day. At the Donahue Academy of Ave Maria, the entire student body participated in an outdoor Eucharistic Procession.

Each school had a day focused on celebrating vocations with most inviting a priest or religious to speak to students. This was done either in person or through a video chat. This time of sharing allowed the students to learn that these men and women have similar interests, but also how they chose to serve God by answering a call to a life in the priesthood or religious life. Some schools wrote letters to the priests and area religious, thanking them for the support of the faith-life at the school.

Throughout the week many schools also helped to give back to the community by collecting food, blankets or toiletries which were then presented to area charitable organizations.

This is only a small sample of what took place during Catholic Schools Week 2021 with the Diocese. Check with each school’s social media accounts to see descriptions and images from throughout the week.

To learn more about Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/catholicschools.

News Briefs for the week of Feb. 10, 2021

Men’s Conference Feb. 20 in Fort Myers

There is still time to register for the 2021 Diocese of Venice Men’s Conference on Feb. 20, at Bishop Verot Catholic High School, 5598 Sunrise Drive, Fort Myers. Featured speakers include Patrick Madrid and Joel Stepanek. Madrid hosts the “Patrick Madrid Show” radio program on Relevant Radio each weekday, is the author of 26 books, including “Why be Catholic?” and is a research fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Studies. Stepanek is also an author and the Vice President of Parish Services for Life Teen International where he guides several teams that support Catholic parishes in creating and sustaining vibrant youth ministries that form passionate Catholic evangelists and disciples. The Conference is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (doors open at 8 a.m.) with Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. Confession will be available all day. For more information or to register visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/adultconferences.

“A Seminarian Story” seventh installment available

The Diocese of Venice in Florida Office of Vocations launched a video series titled, “A Seminarian Story,” to celebrate the 16 Seminarians currently in formation for the Diocese. The first seven videos have been released and more will follow approximately every few weeks. The most recent video is about Seminarian Alan Baldarelli who is in formation at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach and is currently serving a Pastoral Year at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Developed with the assistance of the Diocese Communications Department, the goal of the series is to inspire others to follow in the path to the priesthood or religious life, as well as encourage the faithful to continue to support the seminarians as they continue their formation process at different seminaries. “A Seminarian Story” featuring David Alan Baldarelli can be found at https://vimeo.com/508944522.

Order of Malta holds retreat

The Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta took part in a retreat which began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on Feb. 5, 2021 at St. Ann Parish in Naples. The retreat was led by Father George Ratzmann, Pastor of St. William Parish in Naples.

40 Days for Life begins Ash Wednesday

Join other Christians from Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17 through March 28, for the spring 40 Days for Life campaign. This Campaign encompasses 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion. Stand and peacefully pray during vigils in the public right-of-way outside Planned Parenthood in Fort Myers or Sarasota. For more information, go to www.40daysforlife.com and click on the location nearest you.

Migrant Care Grants deadline Feb. 28

Grant requests for funding of projects in 2021 are available from the Foundation for the Care of the Migrant Poor now and need to be submitted no later than Feb. 28, 2021. To be considered by the Board of Directors for a Grant, the project must clearly be seen as a service to the migrant poor or new immigrants. Preference will be given to those projects under Catholic auspices. Applications can be submitted by going to the Foundation page on the Diocese website at https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/organizations/foundation-for-the-care-of-the-migrant-poor/.

Ash Wednesday Day of Prayer

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat and Spirituality Center, 3989 S. Moon Drive, Venice, is offering its Monthly Day of Prayer on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. The day begins at 9:30 a.m. and includes two conferences, a simple lunch, Eucharistic Adoration, Mass with distribution of ashes, and opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a safe, tranquil setting along the Myakka River. For more information or to register, please call 941-486-0233 ext. 3004, or visit the website at www.olph-retreat.org and click on “Schedule of Events.”

 

 

 

Seminarian commissioned into U.S. Navy

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Jacob C. Gwynn was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy on Jan. 22, 2021, at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

Ensign Gwynn is currently in his first year of theology studying at the Seminary on a path to be ordained a priest of the Diocese of Venice. He is also a co-sponsored seminarian with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. The commissioning as an officer begins his career with the Navy as a Chaplain Candidate Program Officer (CCPO) as he pursues serving God and country as a Chaplain. He will continue his course of studies while devoting some time during his summers to train with the military.

The ceremony took place in the Seminary Chapel with a limited audience due to COVID-19 Pandemic precautions but did included members of Gwynn’s family.

Ens. Gwynn spoke after his commissioning and expressed his joy and gratitude for being able to embark on this dual journey of becoming a priest while at the same time serving his country as a Navy Chaplain.

“Growing up, from when I can recollect my first memory, I always wanted to be a priest,” Ens. Gwynn said. “Along with discerning the priesthood, I kept the military as a possibility.”

His family is well represented in the military with his grandfather serving in the U.S. Coast Guard and his father in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, while he has cousins currently enrolled in service academies.

“My greatest inspiration comes from Msgr. Joseph Ferraro who I had the privilege to know most of my life,” Gwynn explained of the priest who served more than 50 years, 30 as a U.S. Navy Chaplain before retiring to assist at Parishes in Manatee County. “Monsignor Joe is my hero and mentor who inspired me to pursue this path God has called me on.”

The Commissioning Ceremony included the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the National Anthem, and afterwards the singing of the Navy Hymn. U.S. Air Force Reserve Col. Father Gregg Caggianelli, who is on the Seminary faculty and is a priest of the Diocese of Venice, offered the opening prayer. Navy Talent Acquisition Group Miami Cmdr. Sean Foster administered the Oath of Office.

In the future, Ens. Gwynn will be attending Officer Development School (ODS) which is located in Newport, Rhode Island. ODS is a program that is designed to provide newly commissioned Navy officers with the basic information of Naval culture.

Meanwhile, Ens. Gwynn will continue his usual formation and course of studies at seminary for the Diocese of Venice. He will also be working with the Chaplain Candidate Program to fulfill his training obligations for the Navy.

Cmdr. Foster congratulated Ens. Gwynn upon his commissioning and for choosing a path as a Navy Chaplain, which has a rich tradition of service and counsel for the sailors and soldiers of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. “It is an important and exciting job. A job the Navy relies on to make sure people maintain a relationship with God.”

In the future, Ens. Gwynn expects to be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Venice. In his first years following ordination he will serve as a priest in the Diocese with an expectation to serve in the Navy as a active duty Chaplain for at least five years.

2021 to be busy across Diocese

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 larger Diocesan events are scheduled or in the planning stages while at the same time numerous Parishes are in the process of either completing or starting 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 two men, a new initiative to curb the impacts of pornography on society, small and large conferences, Masses for couples celebrating significant wedding anniversaries, opportunities to promote the sanctity of life, celebrations of all sorts, as well as the continuation of the “Year of St. Joseph.”

With the blessing of Bishop Frank J. Dewane, such activities will take place throughout the Diocese as part of the continuing effort to emerge with a new purpose in the wake of the darkest days of the Pandemic. All of this will be done while following the guidelines of social distancing, face coverings and extensive sanitizing (cleaning) which continues to take place. These measures remain, not only to ensure the safety of the public attending Mass or other events, but for priests, staff and volunteers who serve throughout the Diocese.

Two of the most important occasions to grow in the Faith are the annual Women’s and Men’s Conferences at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers. Each year captivating speakers help bring focus to the faith-life of participants. The Conferences are from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and include Mass with Bishop Dewane, Adoration, the chance for Confession, listening to presenters and enjoying lunch. The Men’s Conference is Feb. 20, 2021, while the Women’s Conference is March 13, 2021. For more information please contact the Office of Evangelization at evangelization@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543..

For all couples celebrating a significant wedding anniversary in 2021, Bishop Dewane will be the celebrant of Masses in your honor. This year, to allow for appropriate social distancing, each location will have two Masses, 10 a.m. and noon on Feb. 6, 2021, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice, and 10 a.m. and noon on March 6, 2021, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. All registration is being handled through local Parishes with seating commitments confirmed at least one week before the Mass you wish to attend.

The Office of Respect Life will be busy throughout 2021 with a variety of in-person and virtual activities all to raise awareness about important issues regarding the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. First up is the 23rd annual Sarasota Prayer Walk for Life on Jan. 22, 2021 outside of the Planned Parenthood in downtown Sarasota. Bishop Dewane will celebrate Mass at 8:30 a.m. at St. Martha Parish, and immediately following, participants will gather for the prayer walk. Space is limited for Mass, so registration is required at www.dioceseofvenice.org/2021prayerwalk. The Mass will be livestreamed through the Diocesan Facebook page and will be shared with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s 9 Days for Life campaign.

Two weeks later, Feb. 2-3, 2021, the faithful will be able to participate in the Virtual Catholic Days at the Capitol courtesy of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops at flaccb.org/cdac. Finally, there will be an opportunity to participate in the national 40 Days for Life Spring Campaign during Lent in Fort Myers and Sarasota then for the Fall Campaign (October) at multiple locations in the Diocese.

New this year, the Diocese will be participating in Safe Haven Sunday, March 7, 2021, 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. It is a moral issue, therefore this day of awareness will explain 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 week leading up to Safe Haven Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Diocese continues to be dedicated to celebrating the “Year of St. Joseph,” which began on March 19, 2020, the Feast of St. Joseph. The prayers of the Diocese, as directed by Bishop Dewane, are focused on the Saint who is the foster-father of Jesus and the Protector of the Universal Church. In light of Pope Francis recently dedicating a “Year of St. Joseph,” the Diocesan celebration will continue through December 8, 2021. A “Year of St. Joseph,” webpage (https://dioceseofvenice.org/a-year-of-st-joseph/) was added to the Diocesan website for prayers, devotions and general information. Meanwhile, the Diocesan Department of Catholic Education started a St. Joseph Devotional Project to promote a dedication to the Saint while at the same time developing a devotional life of both children and adults into 2021.

In the coming months, Bishop Dewane will preside over a variety of celebrations which occur each year, including the Rite of Election in February when Bishop Dewane welcomes those in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) who will be fully entering the Church at the Easter Vigil, a Mass for Victims of Abuse, and later in the year a Veterans Day Mass, the 25th anniversary celebration of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, a Red Mass for legal professionals and more. It is also expected that two men will be Ordained to the Priesthood by the Bishop in early summer.

Throughout 2021 there will be a variety of Parish-based celebrations to include the 50th Anniversary of the founding of San Marco Parish on March Island; the opening of a new church for St. Paul Parish in Arcadia; the completion of roof repairs for Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton; groundbreakings for Parish Centers at St. William Parish in Naples and Our Lady of Mercy in Boca Grande; the renovation of property that previously functioned churches into Parish Centers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee and Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch; and the completion of extensive audio-visual upgrades to Epiphany Cathedral in Venice and Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers. These are just samples of the ongoing projects and work underway to support Parishes as they take action now for the benefit of future generations.

As 2021 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 images from these and other happenings across the Diocese. If you would like to read the story about life in the Diocese during 2020, please visit www. https://dioceseofvenice.org/looking-back-on-turbulent-2020/.

 

Vocations column

“A voice cries out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.”

By Father Shawn Roser, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Venice in Florida,

In many ways, the year 2020 can be compared to traveling through a difficult, unknown, and challenging wilderness. Yet God’s voice and message still rings out loudly through His messengers.

As the holy season of Advent comes to an end and we look in eager anticipation toward Christmas, there are many preparations to be made. From decorations to gifts, to cards, our lists can become full. Yet, even more importantly, how have we prepared our hearts and souls to receive Christ once more?

In a similar way, there is a group of people in our midst, who are living their lives in total preparation for a mission, a vocation, to come. These men are the seminarians of the Diocese of Venice, studying to become future priests.

During their years of seminary training, their whole lives are dedicated to preparation for active ministry as God’s priests. Time and time again, they have shared with me their anticipation of serving God’s people and walking with them to the light of the Gospel truth.

This past summer, during our annual seminarian convocation and retreat at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice, Florida, we consecrated ourselves to St. Joseph, during the Diocesan “Year of St. Joseph” initiated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on March 19, 2020. And so, it is fitting that Pope Francis, has now declared a Year of St. Joseph for the Universal Church through Dec. 8, 2021.

God’s timing is indeed marvelous, for St. Joseph’s role in salvation history cannot be overstated. Joseph is a powerful intercessor, and in a particular way, an essential example for all those training for spiritual fatherhood. Like St. John the Baptist, he shows us the way- the way to the Father. Joseph was a simple craftsman of a small town, who hailed from a royal bloodline long bereft of power or glory, and yet was known by all as the “just man” for his personal sanctity. Although not a word of St. Joseph is recorded in Sacred Scripture. However, he always followed the path the Lord asked him to travel. By his own simple yes to God, he guided the Holy Family on that difficult journey to Bethlehem and helped raised Our Lord to manhood alongside Our Blessed Mother, Mary.

Our seminarians are preparing to lay down their lives in service to you, God’s people. And so, one day soon, God willing, you will hear their words, “This is My Body, Given Up for You” echoing at Holy Mass. And so, we turn to you and ask your support for them on their journey towards ordination.

As the upcoming Annual Seminarian Collection (the first weekend of 2021) approaches, it is proper to reflect on the fact that it takes a great deal of time and resources to “make” a priest, but above all, it is prayer that sustains the journey. The funds we received from this important collection go directly to assist our seminarians with their tuition, room and board, and other necessary expenses during their years of preparation. Won’t you prayerfully consider supporting these sons of St. Joseph, these spiritual sons of ours, who one day will become our spiritual fathers in Christ?

May the Lord reward you for your generosity of heart and faithfulness to Him! While we do not know what the future may hold, we do know who holds the future: Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let us prepare for His coming!

To learn more about the Diocese of Venice Vocations Office, please visit venicevocations.org. You can contact Father Shawn Roser at 941-484-9543 or roser@dioceseofvenice.org. To support Diocesan seminarians, please https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/office-of-vocations/ and click the DONATE button or go to the Timothy Fund page at https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/timothy-fund/.

 

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