Bishop addresses young adults

Theology on Tap offers an innovative solution to one of today’s most pressing pastoral concerns: how to reach out to young Catholic adults.

Gatherings, coordinated by Diocese of Venice Evangelization Office, are held on the third Thursday of each month at the Mandeville Beer Garden in downtown Sarasota, just a few blocks from St. Martha Parish. The bar includes an outdoor deck which offers the ideal location for fellowship and a discussion about the Faith in a comfortable and relaxed setting.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was the featured speaker for the gathering on Dec. 21, 2023. Nearly 50 listened intently as the Bishop shared his thoughts on the Catholic Church within the Diocese of Venice.

Bishop Dewane spoke about the sad reality that many young Catholic adults are not regularly attending Mass, noting how those present were obvious exceptions. He encouraged those gathered to invite their friends to Mass.

“Perhaps, couch it as an offer of a coffee or meal afterward,” the Bishop said. “Even if they express reluctance, or say no, that offer alone can be enough to ignite a fire in the soul that might have gone out. The Catholic Church has such a beauty to offer, you can be the conduit to help reveal the love of the Lord to your friends. I can go out and ask, but coming from you, their friends, it will have much greater resonance.”

Taking place in the waning days of Advent and the expectant Nativity of the Lord, Bishop Dewane said it was a good time to reset one’s faith life and work to grow closer to the Lord through participation in the celebration of Mass, partaking in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, prayer and participation in Eucharistic Adoration.

The Bishop also spoke about Fiducia Supplicans, a document from the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith published Dec. 18, 2023, which stated “blessings are among the most widespread and evolving sacramentals” and that it is possible to give “blessings for couples in irregular situations and for couples of the same sex.”

Bishop Dewane clarified that the declaration clearly states that the Church’s teaching on marriage between one man and one woman has not changed and emphasizes that such blessings should “never” occur within the ceremony of a civil union “and not even in connection with them” to avoid confusion or scandal.

The next gathering of Theology on Tap in Sarasota will take place at 7 p.m., Jan. 18, at the Mandeville Beer Garden, 428 N. Lemon St., Sarasota. For any questions, please email James Gontis at

News Briefs for the Week of December 8, 2023


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

Father David Vidal, Pastor of Ave Maria Parish, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective November 21, 2023.

Father Augustine Twum Obour, Parochial Vicar of St. Agnes Parish, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective November 21, 2023.

Father Claudio Stewart, Administrator of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective November 22, 2023.

Father Juan Carlos Sack, Parochial Vicar of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, is welcomed to the Presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice and is incardinated into said Diocese, effective November 22, 2023.

Catholic Center Christmas Tree blessed by Bishop

Bishop Frank J. Dewane led the blessing of the Catholic Center Christmas Tree on Dec. 5, 2023, in Venice. The blessing was part of a prayer service that included readings and petitions as staff of the Catholic Center gathered. Afterwards, the tree was decorated, and holiday treats were offered.

Students receive personal Bibles

Sixth grade students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton were each presented with a personal Bible that they will use throughout middle school and will keep for their spiritual growth. The presentation took place on Nov. 17, 2023, by Parish Pastor Father Rafal Ligenza and Liliana Ronderos, St. Joseph Religious Education Director, who visited the sixth graders. Father Ligenza led a prayer service and blessed Bibles for each of the students.

Advent wreaths made in Naples

The Home and School Association of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples and Theology Teacher Erica Szczechowski orchestrated an Advent Wreath Making night on Dec. 1, 2023, for the ladies of the school. This was a community-building event. Let the light of the wreaths guide everyone through this season of anticipation and reflection.

Students learn about kindness

Florida Gulf Coast University Roots of Compassion and Kindness students visited St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers to talk to middle schoolers about kindness. The students worked on communication and teamwork (kind words and kind hands) with games and reflective activities in a spirit of enthusiasm, patience and fun.

Students learning new measuring technique

First grade students in Dixie Kreulen’s class at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring learned how to measure including the question: “Can we measure God’s love?” on Nov. 20, 2023. This is a good example of how Diocesan Catholic schools use an integrated curriculum called “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” expanding the scope of the STREAM model (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and math), into the classroom.

Bishop to speak at Theology on Tap in December

Each month, on the third Thursday, young adults gather for faith, fellowship and fun at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. Theology on Tap is presented by the Diocese Office of Evangelization, and the Dec. 21, 2023, guest speaker will be Bishop Frank J. Dewane. The Mandeville Beer Garden is located at 428 N. Lemon, Ave., and the gathering begins at 7 p.m. For any questions, please email Jim Gontis at

Theology on Tap brings together young adults

Theology on Tap offers an innovative solution to one of today’s most pressing pastoral concerns: how to reach out to young Catholic adults.

Gatherings, coordinated by Marthamaria Morales, Diocese of Venice Youth & Young Adult Director, are held on the third Thursday of each month at the Mandeville Beer Garden in downtown Sarasota, just a few blocks from St. Martha Parish. The bar includes an outdoor deck which offered the ideal location for fellowship and a discussion about the Faith in a comfortable and relaxed setting.

“It can often be difficult for young adults to stay connected to the Faith,” Morales added. “As a young Catholic, it can be easy to feel left out of the Parish because few activities are designed to appeal to them. Theology on Tap is a program specifically for them.”

The idea of Theology on Tap is to bring together young adults where they feel most comfortable while inviting them to discover how Faith can make sense of their everyday lives. The evenings are about coming together to socialize, collaborate, pray, and grow in their spiritual understanding, all while building a strong core community. The outreach began in 2012 in Naples and Fort Myers and rotated through Parishes in Sarasota County for many years before settling on a single gathering place.

Morales, who has been in her position since January 2023, said the monthly meetings range in size from 30-50 young men and women each month. A different speaker, often a priest, speaks on timely topics and a lively discussion often follows.

The featured presenter for the Theology on Tap on June 15, 2023, was Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocese of Venice Director of Catholic Education. Father Belmonte spoke about the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival.

Launched as an initiative of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in June 2022, the National Eucharistic Revival is a three-year movement by the U.S. Bishops to answer the call of Jesus Christ to return to the source and summit of Our Faith – the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. This effort will culminate in 2024 with a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.

The Revival’s first year was titled “The Year of Diocesan Revival,” and efforts focused on formation for Diocesan leadership and Diocesan-wide events (March 2023 Diocesan Eucharistic Congress and Youth Rally). The Revival’s second year, “The Year of Parish Revival,” aims to reach Catholics in their Parishes through renewed attention to the “art” of the Mass, Eucharistic devotions, and small-group faith sharing and formation and began on June 11, 2023, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

Father Belmonte said the Revival is directed toward all Catholics, but there is a special emphasis on those who have fallen away from the Faith, which includes many young adults after they are away from the direct influence of their family.

Offering an overview of what has taken place in Diocesan Catholic schools to support the Revival, Father Belmonte shared a recap of a recently concluded Devotional Project to the Most Holy Eucharist. This including sharing a prayer card with artwork created by school students and on the reverse includes the prayer: “Devotional Prayer to the Most Holy Eucharist.” This prayer was prayed together to open Father’s talk. As an educator, Father also quizzed the young adults about their knowledge of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Next, Father shared an image of the “Defenders of the Eucharist,” a 1625 painting by Peter Paul Rubens, which is on display at the nearby Ringling Museum of Art on the Sarasota bayfront. This artwork depicts seven saints who worked to safeguard and promote the Eucharist (Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Clare of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Norbert and Jerome). Father explained how each had a unique story on how the Most Holy Eucharist has been challenged and defended, dating to the Last Supper.

Following his remarks, Father Belmonte fielded questions from the 30 who were gathered on a hot summer evening. Many asked what more can be done to promote a belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Each month, there are regulars who participate and among the newbies, several said they loved the format and would be returning. Others shared ideas of doing more for young adults at the Parish level, but this outreach is not as widespread as some would prefer.

Morales was pleased with the June turnout as it was very hot and muggy, and she hopes the numbers remain strong through the summer. She will be making an extra promotional push in the coming months.

“I know there is a demand and know young adults want to be a part of the Church. It is all about spreading the word,” Morales said.

The next gathering of Theology on Tap in Sarasota will take place at 7 p.m., July 20, at the Mandeville Beer Garden, 428 N. Lemon St., and the featured speaker will be Father Eric Scanlan, Pastor of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota.

News Briefs for the week of April 28, 2023

Mooney Beach Volleyball state Champs

Congratulations to the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School girls Beach Volleyball Team! They are the Sunshine State Class AA Beach Volleyball champs for the second straight year having competed at the Game Point Event Center in Orlando on April 22, 2023. In addition, the Mooney girls second team were the Silver Champions. Way to go Lady Cougars!

Theology on Tap reaches young adults

Fun, faith and fellowship were part of the monthly Theology on Tap outreach to young adults on April 20, 2023, at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota. The featured speaker in April was Father Shawn Monahan, Oblate of the Virgin Mary, assistant director of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice. The relaxed atmosphere takes place in the garden for food and refreshments, presentations, and discussions about the Catholic Faith. Theology on Tap takes place at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month The next gathering will be May 18, with special guest Father Alex Pince, a priest who was ordained in 2021 and is Parochial Vicar at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. For more information, please contact Mathamaria Morales at

Teacher recognized for service

Coach Krys Kolbe has been teaching physical education at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton for 23 years. She’s also the school’s athletic director. She was nominated as a Bay News 9 A+ Teacher in early April for always striving to inspire her students. “Krys is one of those teachers that if I had the ability to duplicate her I would,” said Deborah Suddarth, the St. Joseph principal. “She is incredible.” Kolbe said initially she wanted to be a doctor but quickly learned she was meant to be a teacher. She said she has always loved to play and being a physical education teacher allows her to do that every day.

School Adopt-a-Road crews in action

Caring for God’s Creation is one of the fundamental lessons taught at each of the 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools. One way to care for the planet is participating in local Adopt-a-Road programs, which is what Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota did on April 22, 2023. The service project crew adopted the stretch of South Tuttle Avenue from Bee Ridge Road to Webber Street. They spent the day cleaning up items, supervised by teachers and parents who also participated. The group did their part to keep Sarasota, and God’s creation, clean.

Neumann basketball team excelled academically

The St. John Neumann Catholic High School Varsity Boys Basketball Team finished the season with a 3.655 cumulative team GPA. This GPA is based on an unweighted 4.0 scale and earned the team the #3 rank in Florida Class 2A and #7 overall. Way to go Celtics!

Fort Myers students share biomed projects

Bishop Verot Catholic High School senior biomedical students gathered in Fort Myers as four young scholars each presented their capstone projects to the student body on April 18, 2023. This presentation is a culmination of everything they have learned in the four-year program. The seniors researched a topic of interest in science and had to pursue a project that had a gap in understanding or research that had not been done before.

Author reads book to students

Young students at St. Ann Catholic School in Naples had a great lunch hour on April 21, 2023, with children’s book author, Anya Beltsina. She visited St. Ann and read from her book “Smiley, Happy Planet Earth.” The visit and reading was both educational and engaging for students.

Students create artwork to celebrate planet

Psalm 24:1 states – “The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” To celebrate God’s creation, fourth grade students at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers did a wonderful job on their Earth Day coffee filter art projects on April 21, 2023. Using the filters and watercolors, the students were able to create their own Earth, each unique, just like the students.



News Briefs for the week of July 29, 2022

Young adult group meets in Sarasota

Young adults gathered for a night of food and fellowship July 21, 2022, at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota, 428 N. Lemon Ave, Sarasota. Father Eric Scanlan, Pastor of Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, spoke to all about the importance of living as a disciple! This young adult group meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month for fellowship, prayer and fun. For more information, please contact Carrie Harkey at

Verot bowlers make junior championship event

Two Bishop Verot Catholic High School seniors, Adam Belof and Gavin Hart, spent the week of July 18-22, 2022, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, representing Southwest Florida at the Junior Gold Bowling Championships. This is an annual national tournament for the top male and female youth bowlers in the United States. Only the best bowlers in the nation qualify, and these two certainly represented the Fort Myers area and Bishop Verot very well!

Football players help nearby Parish

Members of the St. John Neumann Catholic High School football team took a break from practice on July 23, 2022, to do some community service at nearby St. Elizabeth Seton Parish and Catholic School in Naples. The team assembled new desks for the elementary school and refurbished the pews in the church. It was noted that team bonding does not just happen on the football field.

Catholic Charities Summertime Appeal ongoing

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

First Friday Prayer Intention

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. invites you to join them, Friday, August 5, 2022, for a prayer session led by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on for all of the prayer intentions that were submitted for the First Friday Prayer Intentions. Everyone is encouraged to submit their prayer intentions in the comment section of the video post on Facebook. The Foundation also posts the video at If you would like to submit a private prayer via email, please send it to Please know that First Friday Prayer Intentions with Bishop Dewane are a free service brought to you by the Catholic Community Foundation and donations are not expected nor encouraged as part of this program. To learn more about the First Friday Prayer Intentions with Bishop Dewane you can visit our website at

Walking With Moms in Need

Would you know how to help a pregnant woman in need? Maybe it’s your daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, sister, or neighbor. Maybe it’s someone you see in a store, restaurant, or church. Perhaps she is crying, looks distraught or is obviously being treated poorly by someone. Through a new national initiative from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called Walking with Moms in Need, now you will know how to help. Walking with Moms in Need teaches the faithful how to help pregnant women in need, starting by letting them know they are not alone. The nationwide Catholic program calls every parishioner to learn the names of their local pregnancy help centers, the first responders for women with unexpected or difficult pregnancies. If you know of someone who is pregnant and needs help immediately, visit

Marriage Conference coming in October

Registration is now open for the Diocese of Venice Oct. 22, 2022, “Together in Holiness” Marriage Conference, presented in partnership with the Diocese of Venice Office of Family Life and the St. John Paul II Foundation. To register, please visit Bishop Frank J. Dewane said, “It is my pleasure to welcome the second annual Together in Holiness conference to the Diocese of Venice on October 22, the Feast of St. John Paul II. An invitation to all married and engaged couples to join me at this inspiring event is warmly extended. This day of prayer and presentations will enable each couple to reflect upon the great gift of the marriage vocation entrusted to them. I pray that through the intercession of St. John Paul II, the ‘Pope of the family,’ this day will be fruitful for all.” This marriage enrichment conference will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers. Couples will enjoy a day of quality time with their spouse accompanied by dynamic presentations and the availability of the Sacraments, along with access to on-site childcare. This special event is for all couples, engaged, newlywed or long-married!

National Eucharistic Revival

A three-year revival of devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist begins with the Diocesan phase, from June 19, 2022, through June 11, 2023. During the Diocesan Year, there will be a series of events and retreats that encourage the renewal of the Church “by rekindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” The pinnacle of the coming year will be a Diocesan Eucharistic Congress on March 24 and March 25, 2023. This event, which is in the early planning stages, will take place at the Convention Center and Luminary Hotel on the Fort Myers riverfront. The National Eucharistic Revival is a focused effort by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to revive a devotion to and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. To learn more about the National Eucharistic Revival, visit Stay tuned for more information for the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress by visiting

“Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane”

Join Bishop Frank J. Dewane for his monthly radio program on Relevant Radio on 106.7 FM and 1410 AM in Fort Myers and 93.3 FM and 1660 AM and in Naples. “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane” can be heard at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, July 29. Outside of the listening area, access to the program is available at

Support after abortion – Project Rachel

Most women who choose abortion eventually realize that they made the wrong choice and face a lifetime of regret. Even if they confess this sin to a priest, they often find it difficult to accept God’s forgiveness and forgive themselves. Project Rachel is the Catholic Church’s program to help women and men come to terms with an abortion decision and find the hope and healing they need. Watch for more on post-abortion healing in the next edition of The Florida Catholic. For confidential help in English and Spanish, call 941-412-5860 or email

Do You Need Help?

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance, or tele-mental health counseling, please call 941-355-4680 in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands Counties; 239-390-2928 in Charlotte, Lee, Hendry, and Glades Counties; and 239-793-0059 in Collier County between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 pm., Monday to Friday.

Retreat Center Fall Schedule Available Online

The Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center (OLPH) fall group retreats are now available for registration at This includes a new one-day retreat on “Meditation in the Catholic Tradition,” scheduled for Saturday, October 22, the biannual silent Ignatian Preached Retreat, scheduled for Friday, November 18 to Monday, November 21, and the Monthly Day of Prayer series. Would you rather a private, directed retreat? OLPH offers 3-night, 5-night, and 7-night private retreats. To learn more about these retreats, please call 941-486-0233 or visit

Food pantry needs help

The St. Joseph Food Pantry in Bradenton is in need of peanut butter. This staple is an important part of the pantry’s Family Bags and provides a key source of protein for children in need in Manatee County. The Food Pantry is happy to accept bulk, large, and small containers of peanut butter, as well as other non-perishable food items. If you wish to make a financial contribution, your donation can be doubled thanks to a partnership with the Flanzer Trust. Donations can be delivered to 2704 33rd Ave. W. Bradenton, FL  34205, Monday thru Friday 9 a.m. till noon. Please call 941-756 3732 or email if you have any questions or if you need to make arrangements for drop off. For more information about how you can help, please visit

Football players help needy

Judy Bokorney – Special to the Florida Catholic

For the fourth year in a row, the players and coaches of the Ave Maria University football team treated families at the Casa Mara Soup Kitchen at Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee to a Super Bowl tailgate party.

Instead of the typical meal of soup, the tailgate party consisted of all-American menu of chili dogs, baked beans, potato chips, cupcakes, bread and juice.

The coaches prepared the meal and the players served a total of 120 people on Jan. 31, the Friday before the Super Bowl. To mark the occasion, the soup kitchen dining area was adorned with festive Super Bowl themed decorations.

“We wanted to give our families a fun day with some excitement,” said Guadalupe Social Services Program Coordinator Peggy Rodriguez. “We are grateful to the Ave Maria University Football Team for continuing to come out and do this every year. The interaction between the team and the families is so special.” Three raffle prizes were awarded during the meal as well.

“The players and coaches get a lot more out of it than they give and have the privilege to experience joy, love and gratitude,” said Ave Maria University Football Head Coach Joe Patterson. “Sports is about pursuing excellence and virtue, and you want to be as close to virtue as you can. To engage on a human to human level is integral to the development of the players as men.”

Guadalupe Social Services aims to alleviate the suffering in Immokalee with compassion, integrity, and empathy. By empowering the people through assistance provided to them, the main goals are to ensure human dignity and enhance the quality of life for all individuals served. Guadalupe Social Services focuses on offering the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and household items, stability and education.

Thank you to the Ave Maria Football Team for their service!

To learn more about Guadalupe Social Services, the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen and all of the programs of Catholic Charities, please visit

News and photos from across the Diocese

Christmas Day Television Mass for the Homebound

The televised Christmas Day Mass for the Homebound with Celebrant Bishop Frank J. Dewane will air for a full hour on Christmas Day. For viewers in the northern portions of the Diocese (DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Manatee, and Sarasota counties), the Mass will air at 9:30 a.m. on the CW Network. In the southern portions of the Diocese (Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee counties), the Mass will air at 8 a.m. on WFTX-TV (FOX-4). Please check your cable provider for channel listings. Leaflet missals are available upon request by calling Gail Ardy at 941-486-4714 or by writing: TV Mass, Diocese of Venice, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, FL 34285. For more information email

Student artwork nationally recognized

Two St. Martha Catholic School students named as 2018-2019 Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) Christmas Artwork Contest winners earlier in the year, were recognized locally on Dec. 13 for their achievement. Sixth grader Collier Moser, and seventh grader Charlotte Thompson were two of only 24 students nationwide to be recognized with this honor. Additionally, Charlotte’s artwork was named one of two grand prizes and was reproduced as the Christmas Card of the national office of the Missionary Childhood Association. On Dec. 13, Father Bob Kantor, Director of the Diocese Office of the Propagation of the Faith (Missions Office), went to the Sarasota school for a presentation and to personally congratulate the winners and their art teacher, Mary Jo Salomone. Earlier in December, Charlotte attended a Mass in celebration for winners and their families at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The artwork of all 24 student winners is on display there until mid-January.


The St. John Neumann Catholic High School YACHT club hosted a spectacular Salesian day at the circus for students from SJN and Cristo Rey Tampa in Naples.

Mass Honoring Widows and Widowers in Naples Jan. 26

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will celebrate a Mass for all widows and widowers beginning at 3 p.m., Jan. 26, St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th N. Ave., Naples. Dinner will follow in the Parish Hall. A display of photos will be available for viewing during the reception; should you wish to participate with a photo of you and your deceased spouse, please email Gail at, or send a copy in advance to Diocese of Venice, ATTN: Widows and Widowers Mass, 1000 Pinebrook Road, Venice, Florida 34285. There is no cost to attend. Registration is required to plan for food. To register visit For more details contact Gail at 941-484-9543 or


Cheerleaders from Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Christmas Appeal continues

The annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal occurs now through January. The goal is to raise $565,000 and your gifts are much appreciated! The Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal is the agency’s largest fundraiser and critical to operating the social service organization. Your donation will benefit Catholic Charities programs and services available throughout Southwest Florida that assist individuals, families, and seniors all year long. Thank you for your giving spirit! To donate please visit or mail a donation to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 5824 Bee Ridge Road PMB 409, Sarasota, FL 34233-5065.

Venice Mayor Ron Feinsod speaks to students at Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in early December. He visited the school in thanks to their response to a Mayors Feed the Hungry Campaign.

Mass Celebrating Haitian Independence

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites everyone to participate in the Annual Mass celebrating Haitian Independence at 2 p.m., New Year’s Day, at St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. The Mass, which is on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, brings together the various Haitian communities within the Diocese of Venice for one celebration. There is a reception after the Mass in the Parish Hall.

Students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School gather for the lighting of a candle on the Advent Wreath on Dec. 9 in Fort Myers.

Apologetics Conference Jan. 16-17

The Diocese Office of Evangelization is offering three opportunities to attend an Apologetics Conference with Mike Aquilina. An award-winning author of more than fifty books on Catholic history, doctrine, and devotion, Anguilla will speak at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 16, Resurrection Parish, 8121 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers; and then 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., Jan. 17, 2020, Epiphany Cathedral, 310 Sarasota St., Venice. The topics is “Defend Youth Faith: Finding answers to modern problems in the early Church.” There is no cost, and all are welcome. For information, please call 941-484-9543, email, or visit

Card party in Englewood Jan. 8

The St. Francis Assisi Parish Women’s Guild card party will be held at 11 a.m., Jan. 8, in the Parish Hall, 5265 Placida Road, Grove City. Play cards or games until 2:30 p.m.. Please make your reservations by Jan. 6 by visiting to – Parish Forms – Card Party – Reservation form, or by calling 941-697-4899 ext. 6 and leave a message with your name, phone number and number of people at your table. Tickets are $8 and includes your lunch, drinks, playing time and door prizes. All are welcome to attend.



Marriage Prep Retreat Jan. 11

St. Charles Borromeo Parish, 21505 Augusta Ave., Port Charlotte, is offering a pre-Cana retreat called for by the Witness to Love Marriage Preparation program from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Jan.11. Engaged couples attend this retreat before their 5th meeting with their mentor couples, the Theology night with the priest or deacon. Mentor couples and couples preparing for convalidation through the Witness to Love Civil Marriage Initiative are also welcome to attend if they wish. The retreat will be held in the Saint Charles Parish Center from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  The cost is $25 per couple.  Couples should register with Michael Barrett at (941) 585-0668 or by January 4th.

Our 4th Annual St. Nicholas Celebrates Advent event took place recently at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers and included volunters from nearby Bishop Verot Catholic High School.

St. Ann Catholic School honored

The Naples Award Program has selected St. Ann Catholic School for the 2019 Best of Naples Award in the School category. The program is an annual awards outreach honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local business throughout the Naples area. Recognition is given to those that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate advantages of long-term value.

Dinner for St. Vincent de Paul Society Jan. 14

The Knights of Columbus San Marco Council 6344 will sponsor the St. Vincent de Paul Society Dinner, 5:30 p.m., Jan. 14, in the San Marco Parish Center, 851 San Marco Road, Marco Island.  The barbeque dinner includes pulled pork or fried chicken, baked potato, baked beans, salad, rolls and butter, coffee, tea, and dessert. Soda, Wine and Beer are available at a cash bar. The cost will be $25 per person. Credit cards accepted.  Reserve a table. No take-out is available.  This event is open to the public and everyone is invited. Buy your tickets at the Church Office or by calling Joe Granda at 239-389-2823, Mickey Flynn 609-335-2458, Joe Swaja at 239-269-7033, Gene Consolo at 248-321-2204 or John DeRosa at 239-272-0816. For more information, contact 239-389-5633 or visit our website at

Young Adult Missionary Discipleship Society starting

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

Are you a young adult Catholic who wants to become more involved in your Faith? Are you a cradle-Catholic who needs an extra push?

If you think the answer is yes to these or other questions you may have about how to build a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and are from the southern areas of the Diocese, the soon-to-be-formed Society of Missionary Discipleship may be a starting point for you.

Under the direction of the Diocesan Office of Evangelization’s, Youth and Young Adult Outreach, the purpose of the Society of Missionary Discipleship is to form a group of Catholic young adults (ages 21-39) committed to prayer, community, and service. The plan is to begin meeting starting time in September.

The Society is to provide a place for those Catholics who desire to continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and helping others within the Diocese to do the same. Those participating will be like a family to one another, supporting, helping each other grow in holiness and serving the Lord. The aim of this is to increase the participation of the young adult faithful within all Parishes in the Diocese.

Diocese Director of Evangelization Joshua Mazrin said the Society is welcoming to all, just as the Church is welcoming. “Participants will commit to a year of becoming Missionary Disciples of Jesus Christ, as well as growing in fellowship with one another… Members will learn their faith like never before as they grow in a family environment with fellow Missionary Disciples.”

The group will offer a full retreat once a month for all who sign up as well as participation in a ministry/service project. The gatherings will serve as a means to evoke greater participation of the lay faithful within their faith, as well as the Diocese, and to provide them with a community of like-minded individuals. Throughout this process, participants will develop the core values of holiness, prayer, evangelization, fellowship, leadership, study (Biblical, theological, ministry, evangelism), and accountability.

The Mission statement for the Society is:

“The Society of Missionary Discipleship empowers the lay faithful within the Diocese of Venice to boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. Members are equipped spiritually, intellectually, and practically within a communal setting through comradery to take their faith out into the public square.”

Mazrin said the pilot program will include a group of 10-30 young adults from the Fort Myers and Naples area who attend 10 monthly retreats which will provide spiritual enrichment, education in ministry and theology, prayer, fellowship, and team-building. The group will also participate each month in a type of missionary activity (i.e. service to the community; e.g. Street Evangelization, Prison Ministry, Theology on Tap, other aspects of spiritual and corporal works of mercy). The year will conclude with participation in the annual Steubenville Conference.

The basic structure, or curriculum will include: evangelization practices; spirituality; basic Scripture; basic Sacraments; Theology of the Body; basic Doctrine (Christology, Soteriology, Trinitarian Theology, Ecclesiology, Mariology, etc.); and spiritual formation.

Done in a retreat-style, all content will provide solid teaching but be presented to the participants in the context of a retreat, Mazrin explained. The purpose of this is for all transmitted knowledge to be practical for their mission of evangelization as well as applied to their own spiritual lives to grow as disciples.

It is hoped that the members of the Society of Missionary Disciples will go on to the next step – a commitment to serve in a particular capacity with a Parish or Diocesan initiative for a year (while continuing to meet monthly for ongoing formation). The Society of Missionary Discipleship will serve as a means to evoke greater participation of the lay faithful within the Diocese and to provide them with a community of like-minded individuals.

To learn more details about the new Society of Missionary Discipleship, please contact Joshua Mazrin at 941-484-9543 or

Faithful Catholics kayak and pray with new friends

Staff Report

A new young adult group initiative launched in late June with a day of kayaking, fellowship, food and the participation in the Mass.

The Frassati Society is a group for young adults (ages 18-39) in the Diocese of Venice that focuses on growing in community and holiness inspired by the spirituality and active lifestyle of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. The first gathering was June 29 at Robinson Preserve in Bradenton where like-minded young adults rented kayaks to spend time together while taking the time to discuss their faith.

Modeled after the spirituality of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who had a great devotion to serve the poor and the work of evangelization. Born in Italy in 1901, Blessed Pier Giorgio would often organize hiking trips, attend the theatre, museums, and the opera. Through these cultural and active engagements, he would be the example of faith and witness to his friends through the praying of the rosary, reading the Scriptures, and bringing them to Mass.

Following his example, the Frassati Society, which will meet in the northern and southern parts of the Diocese of Venice, engages young adults through activities they desire to do, such as hiking, kayaking, arts and music, as well as partaking in spiritual enrichment through prayer, discussion, and attending the Mass, explained Joshua Mazrin, Diocese of Venice Director of Evangelization.

“In today’s culture of fleeting relationships and superficiality, young adults are craving authenticity and genuine friendships to combat the growing loneliness,” Mazrin added. “Through the Frassati Society, they are able to come together with like-minded people, to be present to one another as friends and family, and to grow together in the faith.”

The principle goals of the Frassati Society are to bring healing into the culture by providing a real community of people and to enculturate the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he concluded.

At the first gathering, the group kayaked for a time and gathered for the Mass, which was celebrated outdoors by Father Shawn Roser, Diocese Vocations Director and Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton. While the initial group was small, the reception was overwhelmingly positive as the act of combining outdoor activity with a strong spiritual component appealed to those who participated.

The next Frassati Society gathering will take place July 20, 10 a.m. at the Celery Fields County Park, 6893 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota. There will be hiking, food and prayer. There is no cost to participate. A gathering in the southern part of the Diocese is currently in the planning stages.

There are several other outreach efforts within the Diocese which target Catholic young adults, including Theology on Tap in Sarasota and Naples, and other parish-based groups in Lee County.

The last Theology on Tap of the season in Sarasota took place June 20 at the Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota with Zander Waves giving a concert and offering his personal testimony before the largest crowd of the year. The gatherings will resume in September.

In Naples, Theology on Tap gathers each Thursday of the month at different parishes and sites in the area and has been doing so for at least four years. Host parishes include St. John the Evangelist, St. Agnes, St. Peter the Apostle, and St. William.

In Lee County, there are two active young adult outreach programs. At St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres the LOFT young adult group meets at 6p.m. on the last Thursday of each month. Meanwhile, at St. John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers, the “Rooted” gatherings take place on the first Thursdays on each month at 7:15 p.m.

Each of these programs exists in order to reach out to young adults, foster moments of conversion, and lead them home to Christ and His Church.

For more details about the Frassati Society, Theology on Tap or any other young adult outreach efforts within the Diocese of Venice, please email or contact Joshua Mazrin at

Renewed Theology on Tap in Sarasota

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic


Theology on Tap offers an innovative solution to one of today’s most pressing pastoral concerns: how to reach out to young Catholic adults.

With successful ongoing efforts in Naples, Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres, Joshua Mazrin, Diocese Director of Evangelization, decided to try to reintroduce the Theology on Tap concept in the Northern Deanery.

The first gathering was Dec. 6 at the Mandeville Beer Garden in downtown Sarasota, just a few blocks from St. Martha Parish. The bar includes an outdoor deck which offered the ideal location for fellowship and a discussion about the Faith in a comfortable and relaxed setting.

Several years ago, Theology on Tap rotated between Parishes in the Northern Deanery, but interest waned when there was a large gap one summer.

Mazrin said this first reintroduction, which had little promotion, drew about 20 people, and served to gauge interest in the concept as well as to help build momentum for having future monthly gatherings with different topics and speakers.

“It can often be difficult for young adults to stay connected to the Faith,” Mazrin added. “As a young Catholic, it can be easy to feel left out of the Parish because few activities even hold their interest. Sadly, young adults can sometimes be overlooked to the extent that even their absence goes unnoticed.”

Two priests were present for the Sarasota gathering. Father Eric Scanlan, Administrator of Incarnation Parish in Bradenton and Diocese Vocations Director, as well as Father Shawn Roser, a Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton who was ordained in July, joined in the fellowship.

Father Roser also offered the opening prayer, which included a blessing for success of the event, the growth in faith for all and for the beverages being consumed.

The idea of Theology on Tap is to bring together young adults where they feel most comfortable while inviting them to discover how Faith can give sense to their everyday lives. The evenings are about coming together to socialize, collaborate, pray, and grow in their spiritual understanding all while building a strong core community.

“This has real potential,” Mazrin said. “We just need to spread the word.”

Based on the response of those who attended in Sarasota Theology on Tap, the word will spread.

One young lady had several people in mind whom she plans to invite to future Theology on Tap gatherings. “This was really nice,” she said. “Meeting Catholics my age is always hard. Plus, it is a struggle to live my Faith because I just don’t have a real connection to my Parish.”

Mazrin noted that the next gathering will be Jan. 24 and more details to announced through the Diocese Young Adults Facebook page at

While the Sarasota area Theology on Tap is just returning, the Naples area gatherings are going strong. The site of the gatherings rotates each Tuesday throughout the month at different parishes and are held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays: First Tuesday at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 625 111th Avenue North; Second Tuesday at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road; Third Tuesday at St. Peter the Apostle Parish, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road; Fourth Tuesday at St. William Parish, 601 Seagate Drive. Call the individual parishes for further details as some gatherings are held off-site.

In Lehigh Acres, the LOFT young adult group meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at St. Raphael Parish, 2514 Lee Blvd. Call 239-369-1831 for further information.

In Fort Myers, ROOTED meets first Thursday of the month, St. John XXIII Parish, 13060 Palomino Lane, Call 941-561-3022 ext. 107.

For more information about Theology on Tap, or if you have ideas about how to reach out to young adults Catholics, please contact Joshua Mazrin at