Priestly Ordination February 10

The Diocese of Venice relies on dedicated men who have committed their lives to serving God. One such man will be ordained to the priesthood on Feb. 10, 2024, at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

Transitional Deacon Alan J. Baldarelli Jr. has completed his priestly formation and has been called to ordination by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who will be the ordaining prelate. The ordination will be at 11 a.m., at the Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice.

In addition to Bishop Dewane, the Mass will include a number of priests, deacons, religious, family and friends from across the Diocese.

“This is one of the most beautiful and rarely seen Sacraments in the Church,” Bishop Dewane explained. “It is a public response to the Call to Holiness, which comes with great responsibility and accountability. The Diocese of Venice is blessed that, year after year, men are hearing the call of the Lord, and responding.”

All are welcome and encouraged to attend the Ordination, said Bishop Dewane. “It is important the faithful support each Ordination as the Priest is a future link to the continuation of the Sacraments. This is a life-changing, lifelong, commitment, and Priests, especially new Priests, need the support and encouragement of the faithful.”

During Ordination to the Priesthood, Deacon Baldarelli will freely present himself to serve God, the Church and the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice and his successors. He will also make a renewed commitment to celibacy and promise obedience.

Deacon Baldarelli, 41, is originally from Hermitage, Pennsylvania, and is the oldest of four children. His parent, Alan Joseph Baldarelli Sr. and Holly Louise Baldarelli, will be celebrating their 43rd wedding anniversary on Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday, which falls on Valentine’s Day this year, just a few days after the ordination of their son. Deacon Baldarelli’s siblings are Jenna Lynn Peltz, Matthew J. Baldarelli, and Rita Marie Hartenstein.

Upon graduating high school, Deacon Baldarelli earned an international business degree from John Carroll University and worked in sales and marketing in various corporate jobs. Not satisfied with the path his life was on, a stray comment from a family friend that he should consider becoming a priest began his path to the priesthood and while working at a university job, he began taking courses on Sacred Scripture.

An annual visitor to Southwest Florida with his family from a young age, Deacon Baldarelli sought to become a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice.  His formation took place at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and then at St. Vincent de Paul regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. He was ordained as a Transitional Deacon in 2022.

As a seminarian, Deacon Baldarelli served pastoral assignments at Holy Cross in Palmetto, St. Paul in Arcadia, St. William in Naples, Our Lady Queen of Heaven in Labelle, and Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Most recently, he has been serving at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Port Charlotte.

When asked about his upcoming ordination, Deacon Baldarelli said, “There is a healthy mix of excitement, nervousness, and contentment in knowing that the call received from the Lord is being answered.”

While Deacon Baldarelli will be ordained on Feb. 10, there are men in the Diocese of Venice who are at various stages in their priestly formation, either in college or at a seminary where they continue their studies toward the ordained priesthood. The Diocese of Venice asks that the faithful remember Deacon Baldarelli, and all those discerning priesthood, in their prayers.

Parishioners are encouraged to help support Diocesan seminarians in their studies and choice of vocation. To contribute to the education of seminarians, send a check to the Diocese of Venice, Office of Vocations, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285 or visit the website at www.dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give.

For those considering a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, please contact the Diocesan Director of Vocations, Father Sean Roser, at roser@dioceseofvenice.org.

News Briefs for the week of January 26, 2024

Ordination to the Priesthood Feb. 10

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the faithful to the Ordination to the Priesthood of Transitional Deacon Alan Baldarelli.  The Ordination will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the life of Deacon Alan as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall. The ordination will be livestreamed at www.facebook.com/epiphanycathedral.

Youth make sandwiches for homeless

Middle schoolers who are part of the Our Lady of Light Parish religious education program in Fort Myers made more than 400 sandwiches during their Jan. 18, 2024, gathering. These sandwiches were donated for distribution by the Lee County Homeless Coalition. The simple act of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches provided the youth a valuable lesson about giving back to the community, as we are all “Called to Serve” our brothers and sisters in Christ. Well done!

Fort Myers Knights have successful “Coats for Kids” drive

The Knights of Columbus Council 2596 at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers conducted a “Coats for Kids” program by purchasing a number of jackets and hoodies for children in need. This was done to provide children with nice outerwear during the winter months to not only ward off the chill but to give them something new that they are happy to wear. On Jan. 22, 2024, the Knights were able to provide more than 120 new fleece-lined zip-up jackets for distribution with their partner, Child Care SWFL, a local non-profit that provides a myriad of support and educational services to families in need and at-risk children. Coats were supplied to Child Care’s five learning centers in Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, and LaBelle. The Knights also presented Child Care with $500 to assist with their ongoing efforts.

Charismatic Day of Renewal and Formation Feb. 3

The Diocese of Venice Catholic Charismatic Renewal Commission invites all to the “Come Holy Spirit, Come” day of renewal from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Feb. 3, 2024, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 1441 Spear St., Port Charlotte. There is a $10 fee, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Seating is limited and the deadline to register is Jan. 31.  Please register at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/dvccr-day-of-renewal-and-formation. Questions, please contact Theresa Salvo at 804-387-8282 or asolotogod@yahoo.com, or Margie DeFrancesca at 239-595-1938 or imyb25@yahoo.com.

National Marriage Week, and World Marriage Day!

The observances of National Marriage Week from Feb. 7 -14, 2024, and World Marriage Day, Sunday, Feb. 11 are opportunities to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family. The theme for 2024 is “Love Beyond Words.”  For resources from the USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth to help celebrate and live the great gift of married life, please visit Celebrate National Marriage Week 2024 – For Your Marriage. Resources are available in both English and Spanish.

Wedding Anniversary Masses in February

All couples celebrating 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, or more than 50 years of marriage are invited by Bishop Frank J. Dewane to an Anniversary Mass in their honor. The Diocese hosts two Anniversary Masses each year (one in the northern part of the Diocese and the second in the southern part) to accommodate the demand. The first Mass is 11 a.m., Feb. 3, 2024, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The second Mass is 11 a.m., Feb. 24 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. A luncheon follows each Mass. Free pictures with Bishop Dewane will also be available for the couples. To register for either Mass, please contact your local Parish office for reservations no later than one week before the event you choose to attend. For additional information, please contact the Diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life at 941-484-9543.

Health Care Ethics Conference Feb. 17

Medical professionals, students, and interested laypeople are invited to the first annual Converging Roads health care ethics conference on Feb. 17, 2024, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs! This one-day conference will offer continuing education credits for health care professionals with presentations centered on the theme of Catholic Medicine in a Secular Society. For information, contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org, and to register, go to convergingroads.com/venice.

Announcement

After consultation, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following:

Father Michael P. Orsi, is relieved of his duties as Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes Parish and Chaplain of St. John Neumann Catholic High School, in Naples, effective January 17, 2024. Father Orsi requested retirement and thus, was granted, while retaining priestly faculties.

 

Youth challenged to reflect on their relationship with Jesus

Each of us is made in the image and likeness of God, giving us everything we have, from the sun in the sky, to the food we eat and the clothes we wear. How we respond to that gift from God will define who we are, and who we are becoming.

This was the straightforward message shared with more than 500 youth at two separate retreats on Nov. 11, 2023. Building on Jesus’ questioning of the Apostles in the Gospel of Matthew (16:13-20), the two retreats focused on engaging the teens to think about their personal relationship with the Lord, and how they would answer the question Jesus posed to the Apostles, “Who do you say that I am?”

At St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, more than 300 Hispanic youth from Parishes in Lee and Collier counties gathered for a day of prayer and reflection in a presentation led by the group Los Hermanos Unidos. Among the first speakers were Father Christian Chami, Parochial Vicar at St. Jude Parish in Sarasota, and Father Daniel Scanlan, Parochial Vicar at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota.

The second group included 170 high school sophomores from nine different Parishes in Sarasota and Manatee counties, who gathered at the Zazarino Center of St. Martha Catholic School for a Confirmation Retreat. The theme of the retreat was “Hearts on Fire, Ablaze, Live Out Loud,” and the guest speaker was Jimmy Mitchell, founder of Love Good. Mitchell is also the director of campus ministry at Jesuit Catholic High School in Tampa.

At both retreats, the youth heard about the need to build their personal relationship with the Lord, the importance of prayer and virtue, and how to find their vocation in life.

Father Chami told the Lehigh Acres group that a vocation to the priesthood, religious life, married life, or consecrated single life, is how you choose to respond positively to God because he made us intentionally and personally. Father continued by saying that a vocation is a free choice that comes from an open dialogue with God by going to Mass and through personal prayer time.

“If you take the time, God will make it clear what you are called to do and will help make evident what He is calling you to do,” Father Chami said. “Believe me. By choosing to follow the Lord, you will not regret it. It is the best life you can live. It is not always easy, but it is the most joyful and wonderful life.”

Father Scanlan said his vocation to the priesthood was a way that he could give himself completely to God.

“It is our prayer that you have a personal encounter with God today and every day,” Father Scanlan said. “When you get to know God, you can answer that question, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ What is more important in your life? Does God have a place in your life?”

Each teen will answer that question differently, but Father Scanlan said that they must keep their hearts open to listening and hearing the call of God in their life.

“God is always reaching out to you,” Father said. “Are you listening?”

The day in Lehigh Acres also included Eucharistic Adoration, the opportunity for the teens to go to confession, small group activities and more.

Both retreats concluded with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In addition, in Sarasota, the teens took part in service projects that included making “Get Well” cards for those sick in the hospital, bagging lunches for the homeless, and making Christmas treat bags for children in foster care.

News Briefs for the week of November 3, 2023

Seminarian Admitted to Candidacy

Diocese of Venice Seminarian Joseph Bao Quoc Nguyen took a significant step in his vocation journey with his Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders. He was one of four men to be admitted to candidacy on Oct. 25, 2023, at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts. The Rite was presided over by Most Rev. Earl K. Fernandes, Bishop of the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio. During the Rite, each man expressed his intention to complete his preparation for Holy Orders and his resolve to dedicate himself to that goal. To be admitted to candidacy, Seminarian Nguyen had to have been first approved by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, and will continue his studies to become a Catholic priest.

Bishop celebrates Mass for students on All Saints’ Day

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated Mass for students at both St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers and St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral on All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, 2023. In his message to the students, Bishop Dewane said it is important to learn about these Saints who are described as ordinary people of faith who lived extraordinary lives. They lived their lives in response to a call to holiness from the Lord. The Bishop asked the students at both Masses to respond to a call to holiness in their own lives.

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 place a pro-abortion constitutional amendment, titled “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion” on the November 2024 ballot. This amendment would allow abortion up until birth, including when the baby is capable of feeling pain, and would eliminate laws requiring parental consent and safety protocols for women. Floridians should not sign the petition. Please spread the word to your spheres of influence and continue to pray for the protection of the unborn.

All Saints’ Day Party held in Wauchula

Saints of all ages participated in the annual All Saints’ Day Party at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula on Oct. 28, 2023. Children dressed as the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Michael the Archangel were the most common costumes. Others dressed as St. Joseph, angels, popes, bishops and even superheroes. The evening included food, games and lots of candy. Prior to the party, there was an All Saints’ Day procession, led by a statue of St. Michael the Archangel and directed by the Servant Sisters of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará who serve the Parish.

Veteran’s Day Ball in Ave Maria

The Knights of Columbus of Ave Maria invite all to a Veteran’s Day Grand Ball, on Saturday, November 11, in the del Webb Grand Hall. The keynote speaker is Most Rev. Joseph L. Coffey, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA. The evening begins with a 6:00 p.m. cocktail hour/cash bar, with a 7:00 p.m. program, dinner and dancing. Black tie is optional for civilians, active duty military and veterans are asked to wear dinner dress or Class A Uniform. Tickets are $125 per person and seating is limited. For tickets, go to https://www.avemariakofc.org/.

National Night of Prayer for Life

The 2023 Annual National Night of Prayer for Life marks its 34th anniversary of people across the country praying to convert America’s heart to cherish life and encourage living the Gospel of Life.  It unites the Feast of the Immaculate Conception with the Feast of St. Juan Diego from Friday, December 8, at 9:00 p.m. to Saturday, December 9, at 1:00 a.m., with a national hour of unity across all time zones from midnight to 1:00 a.m.  People are invited to join in unity of prayer to restore the protection of life, the family, and the church, establish peace and inspire courage in our nation.  For more information, see www.nationalnightofprayerforlife.org, or contact Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Gloria Concert in Naples

St. Peter the Apostle Parish, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road, Naples, is hosting a free Gloria Concert at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, December 14. The concert will include all the Parish choirs of various languages (English, Spanish and Creole) as well as a children’s pageant. For further details, please contact Nancy Spolsino at 239-774-3037.

News Briefs for the Week of Oct. 27, 2023

Veterans Day Mass

On Veterans Day, Saturday, November 11, the Diocese of Venice will hold a Memorial Mass in honor of the men and women who have served our country and continue to serve and protect us today. This is the 14th year the Diocese has held a Mass on Veterans Day. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will celebrate the Mass at 3 p.m. at the Sarasota National Cemetery, 9810 State Road 72/Clark Road, approximately five miles east of I-75. The Priests, Deacons and Knights of Columbus in the Diocese will join Bishop Dewane for this important event. All are invited to attend, and active military personnel are asked to wear their uniform. Attendees are also encouraged to wear sunscreen and bring a hat. There is ample seating and parking at the cemetery. All guests are encouraged to arrive early. Please contact Gail Ardy at ardy@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-486-4714 for further information.

Knights support vocations

The Knights of Columbus of the St. John Council 11281 hosted a Vocations Dinner Dance on Oct. 21, 2023, in the St. John the Evangelist Parish Ballroom. The honorees were Father Nicholas Thompson and Father Mark Harris, Parochial Vicars at St. John the Evangelist. Bishop Frank J. Dewane offered the opening Benediction. The evening included dinner for more than 200 with numerous priest and women religious present. Entertainment was by the Manhattan Connection. The proceeds of the evening will help support Diocesan seminarians.

Children pray for peace

More than 100 children and teens took part in a special prayer service at St. Paul Parish in Arcadia on Oct. 21, 2023, during which they prayed for peace in the world. This gathering included children in the religious education program praying the Rosary. A paper rosary (green, red, white, blue and yellow) was laid out on the floor in front of the altar before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This paper rosary was in place so that as each prayer was recited, a child would come forward and placed a yellow flower on the corresponding “bead.”

Theology on Tap continues

Father Mark Yavarone, OMV, Director of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice was the featured speaker at the Oct. 19, 2023, gathering of Theology on Tap for young adults at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. Theology on Tap is for young adults and takes place on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., outside in the garden for food and refreshments, presentations, and discussions about the Catholic Faith. The Nov. 16 guest is Father Anthony Armstrong, O. Carm., Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Osprey. The Dec. 21 guest is Bishop Frank J. Dewane. For any questions, please email Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org.

Youth Holy Hour Nov. 5 in Naples

Middle school, high school and college youth are invited to attend a Holy Hour once a month at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples. The hour will consist of Adoration, prayer and an opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The evening follows the 5 p.m. Mass and lasts until 7 p.m. The next Youth Holy Hour is Nov. 5, 2023, with gatherings scheduled for Dec. 3, and Jan. 7. For further information, please contact St. John the Evangelist Youth Ministry Director Juliana LoGiudice at jjuliana@sjecc.com.

Science fair impresses

Middle school students at Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota took part in a Science Fair on Oct 19, 2023. Students were asked to create a science experiment on any topic. They started with a hypothesis, used a variety of materials and procedures and then came up with conclusions. Project titles included, “Wind Beneath My Electrons,” “Soap vs. Microwave,” “Colorful Chemistry,” Ink Incident,” “The Rise of the Cupcake,” “Hand in the Sand,” “Robots Lead the Way,” “That’s Metal!” and “Does water or coffee make plants grow faster?” Parents and Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students served as judges.

Volunteers Needed

Join Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., dedicated staff to help in the mission of serving all. There are many opportunities to volunteer in many different programs, located throughout Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Hendry, Glades, Collier, Desoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties. Catholic Charities offers programs for infants, afterschool programs, the elderly, and much more. Join and make a difference. To learn more about amazing volunteer opportunities, please visit https://catholiccharitiesdov.org/volunteer.

 

News Briefs for the week of November 20, 2023

Students encouraged to be “Servants of Christ”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass of the Holy Spirit for students at two Naples Catholic schools on Oct. 9, 2023. St. Elizabeth Seton and St. Ann hosted Bishop Dewane who spoke to students about how the Apostle Paul was called to live his life in a manner worthy of the call he received from Jesus Christ. While St. Paul struggled with the call, he ultimately gave himself over to the Lord to become His servant. Bishop Dewane asked the students at both schools, “How are you going to live as a servant of Jesus Christ?” Following each Mass, the Bishop took time to speak to the eighth graders, encouraging them to be leaders at their school, while also answering questions. Further, the Bishop encouraged the eighth graders to consider going to nearby St. John Neumann Catholic High School.

Students pray for peace

This is homecoming week at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, but the students took time out from the festivities to join in praying for peace in the Holy Land on Oct. 17, 2023, as called for by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and Pope Francis. A morning prayer service was held for the victims and families affected by the recent tragic events in Israel and Gaza. The students at Bishop Verot vowed that every day, they stand united in hope for peace in the world.

“Faith Over Fear” STREAM Day

The students at St. Mary Academy in Sarasota took part in a STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math) Day on Oct. 13, 2023. The theme was “Faith Over Fear,” as students learned the story of David and Goliath. The Biblical account of David and Goliath is one of the most popular stories from Scripture. It is a lesson of courage, faith, and overcoming what seems impossible! The students made catapults to take down Goliath! The creativity was impressive, and the students had a great time working together.

Teachers receive grants

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School teachers in Naples were recipients of 12 Champions for Learning grants from The Education Foundation of Collier County. For the school, these grants will fund a range of needs from class field trips to books, STREAM projects, enrichment activities, and even sewing machines for art class. The teachers awarded were: Megan Schuchman (grade 1), Susan Boga (grade 1), Natalie Donahue (middle school – language arts), Nichole Eastman (grade 5), Christina Grun (art), Michele McFee (pre-kindergarten-3), Charity Winter (resource), and Fabiola Galarraga-Cole (Spanish). Congratulations all!

National Eucharistic Congress pilgrimage with Bishop Dewane

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the Faithful of the Diocese of Venice to join him on a Pilgrimage to the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. This historic 5-day gathering will take place in Indianapolis July 17 – 21, 2024. The National Eucharistic Congress represents the culmination of the Church’s three-year effort to put an emphasis on the Real Presence of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharistic.  It is a pivotal moment in the Church, and a unique opportunity for participants to draw into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Our Lord. The cost of the Diocese of Venice pilgrimage package is $1,049. With the package, pilgrims receive the National Eucharistic Congress 5-day pass, which provides access to all speakers and events, as well as four nights’ accommodations in a 4-star hotel within walking distance of the convention center. Please note, the pilgrimage package does not include transportation or meals. Space is limited! Register today using https://ctscentral.rezmagic.com/Booking/Reservation/Start?tripID=5394&CategoryId=52540. Questions? Contact Carrie Harkey, harkey@dioceseofvenice.org.

Vocations Weekend Oct. 27-29

If you are a 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. The event begins with pizza and night prayer on Friday evening, Oct. 27, 2023, and ends with Holy Mass and brunch on Sunday, Oct. 29. 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 profound 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.) For more information and to RSVP, please visit https://www.venicevocations.org/, or email Father Shawn Roser, Diocesan Director of Vocations at roser@dioceseofvenice.org or call 941-486-4720.

40 Days for Life continues

The 40 Days for Life fall campaign is ongoing and runs through Nov. 5, 2023, seeking a peaceful end to abortion in the U.S. and around the world through the power of prayer. It is the presence of more than one million prayer warriors in 681 cities worldwide – including Fort Myers, Naples, and Sarasota – that will make a difference in this important battle to save the unborn. The prayer vigil in Fort Myers is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 6418 Commerce Park Drive. In Sarasota, the vigil is daily, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (7 days a week), at 736 Central Ave. The Naples prayer vigil is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 1425 Creech Road. For more information, please visit https://www.40daysforlife.com/en/, or contact Diocesan Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Students take part in leadership retreat

A group of select students from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples recently participated in a transformative Salesian Leadership Retreat the weekend of Oct. 6-8, 2023, in New York City. During this enriching experience, the students had the opportunity to cultivate their leadership skills, deepen their spirituality, and forge lasting bonds with their peers. Through various workshops, activities, and reflections, they explored the values of St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello, learning how to become compassionate and effective leaders in our community.

Equestrian Club trots for fun

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Equestrian Club is going strong as it is in its second year. This is a group for horse lovers to learn more about the equestrian sport in a safe and Christian environment. This year the club has partnered with Wolfe’s Born to Ride, a Christian stable in Parrish. On Oct. 7, 2023, two groups of students took part in two-hour rides through Little Myakka State Park. The Wolfes met the students at the park with 10 gentle horses. The group got to walk, trot, canter, go through water, ditches and through and over obstacles. They are planning to do rides like this monthly and even hope to do a moonlight trail ride with parents.

 

 

 

 

News Briefs for the week of October 13, 2023

Bishop participates in national Catholic Charities gathering

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Episcopal Liaison to Catholic Charites USA, was among 550 delegates from around the country to take part in the 2023 CCUSA annual gathering Oct. 3-5, 2023, in Cleveland, Ohio. The conference included learning labs, meetings, breakout session vendor exhibits and site visits to some Catholic Charities ministries. Bishop Dewane was among those concelebrating Mass on Oct. 4 in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Parish has multicultural celebration for Feast Day

The faithful of St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers participated in a multicultural celebration on Oct. 7, 2023, as part of a Feast Day commemoration. The celebration began with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in honor of St. John XXIII’s Feast Day (Oct. 11). Vietnamese dancers performed before the opening of the Mass. Parish Administrator Father Jayabalan Raju blessed a multicultural display on a pedestal to the left of the altar. Flanked by the Vatican and U.S. flags, the display included flowers brought forward by representatives of the Vietnamese, Hispanic, Filipino and Anglo communities, as well as smaller flags representing many nations.  The celebration continued in the Parish Hall with food from many different cultures.

Students take part in leadership retreat

A group of select students from St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples recently participated in a transformative Salesian Leadership Retreat the weekend of Oct. 6-8, 2023, in New York City. During this enriching experience, the students had the opportunity to cultivate their leadership skills, deepen their spirituality, and forge lasting bonds with their peers. Through various workshops, activities, and reflections, they explored the values of St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello, learning how to become compassionate and effective leaders in our community.

Equestrian Club trots for fun

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School Equestrian Club is going strong as it is in its second year. This is a group for horse lovers to learn more about the equestrian sport in a safe and Christian environment. This year the club has partnered with Wolfe’s Born to Ride, a Christian stable in Parrish. On Oct. 7, 2023, two groups of students took part in two-hour rides through Little Myakka State Park. The Wolfes met the students at the park with 10 gentle horses. The group got to walk, trot, canter, go through water, ditches and through and over obstacles. They are planning to do rides like this monthly and even hope to do a moonlight trail ride with parents.

“Red Mass” for legal profession in Sarasota Oct. 18

The Red Mass, a medieval tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, has been observed annually in the Diocese of Venice since 2008.  This year, the Red Mass will be celebrated at 5:30 p.m., October 18 at St. Martha Catholic Church 200 N. Orange Street, Sarasota. The Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, will be the Main Celebrant. A reception hosted by the Catholic Lawyers Guild (CLG) follows immediately at the Parish Hall. For further information, please contact Atty. Paul Consbruck at 866-558-7285; 941-966-6706 or adoptfla@yahoo.com.

Faith & Ale at Resurrection Parish in Fort Myers

Faith & Ale Fort Myers Catholic men’s group is returning on Thursday, October 19 at Resurrection Parish, 8121 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers. The speakers will be Deacon Jeff Ball of Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria, Deacon John Gaulin of St. John XXIII, and Deacon Bob Gaitens who is the Diocesan Director of Diaconate Formation. They will be participating in a panel discussing what is a Deacon, how each became a Deacon and what each does in fulfilling the role of Deacon at their assigned church. The program begins at 6:00 p.m. with pizza and refreshments for a $10 donation and concludes at 8:00 p.m. Reservations are required at www.faithandale.com .

Vocations Weekend

If you are a 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. The event begins with pizza and night prayer on Friday evening, Oct. 27, 2023, and ends with Holy Mass and brunch on Sunday, Oct. 29. 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 profound 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.) For more information and to RSVP, please visit venicevocations.org or email Father Shawn Roser, the Director of Vocations at the Diocese of Venice at roser@dioceseofvenice.org or call 941-486-4720.

40 Days for Life continues

The 40 Days for Life fall campaign is ongoing and runs through Nov. 5, 2023, seeking a peaceful end to abortion in the U.S. and around the world through the power of prayer. It is the presence of more than one million prayer warriors in 681 cities worldwide – including Fort Myers, Naples, and Sarasota – that will make a difference in this important battle to save the unborn. The prayer vigil in Fort Myers is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 6418 Commerce Park Drive. In Sarasota, the vigil is daily, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (7 days a week), at 736 Central Ave. The Naples prayer vigil is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 1425 Creech Road. For more information, please visit https://www.40daysforlife.com/en/, or contact Diocesan Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

Pro-Life luncheon in November

The Jon Sharfenberger Pro-Life Scholarship Luncheon, an event to support pro-life initiatives on the campus of Ave Maria University, will be held at the University on Nov. 4, 2023. After the passing of former AMU student Jon Sharfenberger in October 2011, the Jon Sharfenberger Memorial Scholarship was established at the University to encourage students to become Catholic leaders in an increasingly secular society.  The event will start at 11:30 a.m. with a Mass said by Most Rev. Edward Sharfenberger (Jon’s uncle), of the Diocese of Albany, and it will be followed by a lunch at 12:30 p.m. in the Bob Thomas Student Union Ballroom at AMU. The keynote speaker is Seth Gruber, founder and president of The White Rose Resistance and host of the popular podcast “UnAborted.” A nationally renowned human rights activist and sought-after speaker, Gruber is fighting for a world where every person has the right to be born. For registration information, please visit Ave Maria University.

 

 

News Briefs for the week of October 6, 2023

Bishop encourages students to be “Disciples of Christ”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane continued his tour of the Diocese of Venice Catholic schools with his latest Mass on Sept. 29, 2023, at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte. During the Mass, the Bishop encouraged the students to live out their lives as “Disciples of Christ.” This means they need to follow the Lord’s guidance as an example in their words and actions, particularly how they interact with their family, friends and even strangers.

Scout hike at retreat center

The annual Diocese of Venice Scout 10 Commandment Hike returned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice on Sept. 30, 2023. More than 100 Scouts and American Heritage Girls from across the Diocese gathered at the retreat center to learn about the 10 Commandments. The hike included the 10 stations where the different commandments were explained by members of the Knights of Columbus. Also present were Diocesan Scout Chaplain Father Lawton Lang, who is also Administrator of San Antonio Parish in Port Charlotte, as well as Marthamaria Morales, Diocesan Youth and Young Adult Ministry Director. The 2022 hike was cancelled because of Hurricane Ian.

Parish celebrates multicultural Feast Day

The faithful at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula took part in a special Feast Day Mass and celebration on Sept. 30, 2023. The celebration took place one day after the official Feast of the Archangels of Michael, Gabriel and Raphael (Sept. 29), and included a procession with prayers and music as a large statue of St. Michael the Archangel was pulled along on a trailer. This led directly to a trilingual Mass (English, Spanish and Creole), which represented the multicultural aspect of the Hardee County community. Following the Mass was a festival of food and music.

CCW hosts Comedy Night

The Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women hosted a night of fun, wine, cheese, and comedy on Sept. 29, 2023, at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice. More than 200 attended the event. Entertainment for the evening included comedian Juanita Lolita who is an actress, writer and nationally touring stand-up comedian. The half Puerto Rican and half West Virginian, Juanita Lolita joked about her personal experience and centers her comedy on her Christian faith, and she had the crowd laughing out loud from start to finish.

Students show off talents during STREAM night

The annual St. Andrew Catholic School STREAM Night was a huge success. Taking place on Sept. 28, 2023, the evening is a showcase of the student’s science and technology skills at different stations throughout the Cape Coral school. All 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic schools offer a comprehensive STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art and math) learning model which is combined with the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” creating students equipped to succeed in the world of today. The evening at St. Andrew allowed parents to see what their children are doing on a daily basis. Classrooms were set up to allow visitors (student or parent) to work on different science experiments or work with assorted technology to accomplish different tasks. In many cases it was difficult to discern if the students or the parents were having the most fun!

Vocations Weekend

If you are a 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. The event begins with pizza and night prayer on Friday evening, Oct. 27, 2023, and ends with Holy Mass and brunch on Sunday, Oct. 29. 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.) For more information and to RSVP, please visit venicevocations.org or email Father Shawn Roser, the Director of Vocations at the Diocese of Venice at roser@dioceseofvenice.org or call 941-486-4720.

Traveling Rosary Congress

In celebration of the Blessed Virgin, 31 Parishes in the Diocese of Venice will be participating in a Traveling Rosary Congress from Oct. 6 – Oct. 14, 2023. During the Rosary Congress, the host Parishes will provide the hourly praying of the Holy Rosary as well as Eucharistic Adoration. Many of the Parishes taking part will also have the celebration of the Mass at the opening and closing of a 24-hour period of Adoration, while others will have at least a large period of time dedicated to praying the rosary and adoration. In addition, several Parishes will make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available during specific times. For a complete Diocesan schedule, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/evangelization/traveling-rosary-congress-2023/ or contact Jim Gontis at 941-484-9543 or gontis@dioceseofvenice.org.

40 Days for Life continues

The 40 Days for Life fall campaign is ongoing and runs through Nov. 5, 2023, seeking a peaceful end to abortion in the U.S. and around the world through the power of prayer. It is the presence of more than one million prayer warriors in 681 cities worldwide – including Fort Myers, Naples, and Sarasota within the Diocese of Venice – that will make a difference in this important battle to save the unborn. The prayer vigil in Fort Myers is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 6418 Commerce Park Drive. In Sarasota, the vigil is daily, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (7 days a week), at 736 Central Ave. The Naples prayer vigil is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 1425 Creech Road. For more information, please visit https://www.40daysforlife.com/en/, or contact Diocesan Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux at Berdeaux@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-374-1068.

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 venicevocations.org or email Father Shawn Roser, the Director of Vocations at the Diocese of Venice at roser@dioceseofvenice.org 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.

Amen.

 

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 roser@dioceseofvenice.org, or visit www.venicevocation.org.