Sarasota Parish has Teen “Service Week”

Service, prayer, music, fun and food.

Combine those things and you have a formula for a successful “Teen Service Week” for youth who are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Thomas More Parish in Sarasota.

Robbie Anderson, the Director of Religious Education and Youth Outreach at St Thomas More, brought the idea of a faith-based service week from her previous position in the Chicago area. The group began their week with their regular Sunday night meeting on Aug. 1, 2021 with prayer, music and food.

On each morning of the week of Aug. 2-6, the teens met with assigned leaders at the parish and prayed together. From there, they were sent to different locations to serve the community. Their week started with a Sarasota food pantry, then met with teens from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula. In the middle of the week, they assisted at a local soup kitchen and organized the Parishes’ own food pantry.

The longest journey was on Thursday, when they trekked to Immokalee and visited Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and the Catholic Charities offices there, which include a soup kitchen, food pantry and much more. The group also helped in a local environmental cleanup and learned about the difficult working conditions for farmworkers and were educated on unfair wages. The week concluded with the group helping parishioners with small projects around their home.

Anderson said each day began by 7 a.m. and concluded by 9 p.m. At the conclusion of each day, the teens finished with a sponsored meal, played outdoor games and prayed together. As part of the week the youth wrote prayers based on their daily experiences. Examples include the following:

  • “I pray for immigrants who are struggling for an income standard because of their circumstances.”
  • “Please put food on the tables of those in food insecurity.”
  • “God bless those who love and support their communities through organized and consistent efforts.”
  • “That we continue to make a difference in future days and weeks.”
  • “That our work today will make us more compassionate to those who don’t have enough.”
  • “That this week was life changing for all the teens and adults and that what we experienced will motivate us to continue to serve others.”
  • “For a resolution to equality, justice and hunger issues.”
  • “For the homeless people we served today, that they stay safe.”

It was clear to Anderson that the week made a real impact on the youth in various ways.

“At our reflection at the end of the week many said they were made much more aware of the poverty right here in Sarasota that they never imagined existed,” she said. “They were also saying they need to raise awareness of the unfair wages that the farm workers receive.”

Prayer, formation, fun at summer program

“Great!” “Amazing!” “Awesome!” “Fun!” “Fantastic!”

These were just a few of the descriptions from the young boys and girls who took part in the annual St. Michael Parish Summer Fun Day Camp held in Wauchula during the first two weeks of July 2021.

The summer programs were for children from kindergarten through fifth grade and had more than 100 children taking part in a variety of activities, all grounded in helping the boys and girls grow closer to the Lord.

The Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará (SSVM), women religious who serve at the Parish, were helped by a number of other women from their order as well as teen and adult volunteers as they kept the children engaged.

The schedule was simple: an 8 a.m. sign in and then a talk about the Holy Mass with a presentation covering different aspects of full, active and conscious participation in the Mass. They also reviewed the prayers and music. This was followed by going to and actively participating in the daily Mass. At the conclusion of Mass there were additional prayers lead by either a religious sister or teen volunteer.

Following a hearty breakfast, they broke into smaller teams to participate in outdoor activities and games with friendly competitions that helped build teamwork, kindness, compassion and respect for others. A special treat was the inflatable water slide.

In the afternoons, different activities included learning about the life of different saints, presentations on the stage in the Parish Hall including singalongs, and more indoor games followed. Other activities involved some art and crafts that included making a personal rosary and drawing.

Each day concluded with snack time, singing and then a recitation of the Holy Rosary.

In the middle of the week, the eligible children and teenagers (helpers included) had the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There was even a half-day field trip to an indoor gaming center.

Sister Maria Gema de Jesus Ruiz, SSVM, Director of Religious Education at St. Michael Parish, helped organize the camp. She noted how the success of the annual camp is thanks to the collaboration of hard work by the entire Parish community, including the parents and volunteers, as well as help from other Parishes. Those who could not volunteer donated essential items used throughout the week.

One young lady, Angelica, summed up the camp by saying: “This is the best. I love being here with everyone, and I love the (religious) Sisters who are so much fun!”

If you would like to support the children and youth programs led by the religious woman at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, please send donations to: St. Michael Church, Attn: Sisters Program, 409 Alice St., Wauchula, FL 33873.

Reading program prevents summer slide

Summer is a time when young children take time to play games outside, go swimming, and generally do everything fun they feel they missed while in school.

This break from school can cause serious problems for younger elementary-aged children, as they can quickly lose reading and language skills gained during the previous year in what is known as the “summer slide.”

Following an academic year when many students spent time remotely learning due to the global Pandemic, the risk of losing any skills is viewed as greater than ever.

To help prevent the “summer slide,” Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. has partnered with the Patterson Foundation to participate in the “2021 Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge – The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.”

The Reading Challenge is a community-wide effort in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties to help children, especially those from low-income families, succeed in school and in life by ensuring they read at grade level by the end of third grade.

This is taking place at the Catholic Charities Casa San Juan Bosco Farmworker Housing community in Acadia where nearly 30 children are participating in a half-day summer camp focused on reading.

Clara Alvarez, who directs the Casa San Juan Bosco Educational Programs, said the partnership with the Patterson Foundation has helped bring in resources (books, teaching and learning guides) which allow the camp to succeed.

Teen volunteers help their young charges in all aspects of reading, including definitions, pronunciation and word usage in a way that is both supportive and fun.

“For the younger children just having someone read to them is a big help,” Alvarez explained. “For the older children it is about encouraging them to read aloud and without support.”

Many of the students are from bilingual families where English is not always the primary language spoken in the household, therefore the Catholic Charities camp serves as an important opportunity to develop their English skills which are needed to succeed in school.

All books are age-appropriate with the younger children using pop-up books while the older children have books with lots of pictures. As the students advance to the next level they read books with more developed themes and far fewer pictures. For the oldest children, shared reading or solo reading is more common.

For example, a group of four-year-old children sat in spellbound attention as they learned about a train as a teen volunteer read a pop-up book to them. Nearby another teen told a silly story based upon a group of words chosen at random as this effort drew uproarious laughter.

Meanwhile, in the next room, a group of older children read “Make Way for Ducklings,” a children’s picture book by Robert McCloskey while an older group read and alternately discussed “Flora and Ulysses,” an illustrated children’s novel by Kate DiCamillo with 231 pages.

After each book, the children discuss what they learned, sometimes drawing an image from the book or writing a synopsis into a reading journal they each keep which logs all of the books they read but provides room to share what they learned. The younger children receive repeated lessons on vocabulary.

As could be observed with some of the children at Casa San Juan Bosco, the summer camp is helping to develop avid readers with some children filling their logs with dozens of books read during the camp and at home.

One young girl was eager to fill out her log, 20 books by the end of the second week, and asked to take two more books home. “I can’t wait to read what’s next,” she exclaimed.

A nearby boy, a burgeoning artist, created an elaborate illustration that rivaled the book he just completed. With a big smile, he shared his colorful rending with the whole group.

All of this helps to develop multiple skills beyond reading, including understanding complex stories or themes, improving comprehension, and bolstering confidence in written, verbal and artistic abilities.

“It is great to see how excited they get when they get into a new book and start a new adventure,” Alvarez said.

To learn more about the summer camp and all of the programs of Catholic Charities offered within the Diocese of Venice please visit

Ave Youth Conference a success

The weekend of July 9-11, 2021 was a life changing event for the nearly 400 high school age youth who attended the Ave Maria University FEARLESS Youth Conference.

Traveling from all over the state of Florida, and several representing the state of Texas, the youth were led by EPIC Music Ministry who attended the Conference with their own youth group 11 years ago but have now gone on to minister to youth in the thousands both nationally and internationally.

The Conference included daily Mass, group Eucharistic Adoration, music, presentations, talks, fun and fellowship. There was also the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Conference speakers included Father Rick Martignetti, Ave Maria University Director of Campus Ministry, Father Rich Pagano, Pastor of St.  John Paul II Parish in Ponte Vedra, Florida, who is an alumni of Ave Maria, and nationally known conference speaker Mari Pablo.

The closing Mass was celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane on July 11 in the Ave Maria Parish church. The Mass, which served as a fitting conclusion to the Conference, was filled to capacity and included a number of seminarians from the Arch/dioceses of Venice, Orlando, Miami and Palm Beach. Bishop Dewane built upon the theme of the Conference “FEARLESS,” reminding the young men and women how they should not be afraid to open their mind and heart to the call of the Lord. He added that they are chosen by the Lord and called to become men and women of God.

Dates have already been chosen for next year’s youth conference “RENEWED” which will take place on July 8-10, 2022. More information will be posted on the conference website



Camps teach lessons in Faith

Two groups of youth from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula participated in separate camping trips to the mountains of north Georgia in a journey designed to develop self-confidence while at the same time helping to build a stronger relationship with the Lord.

Twenty-two young men travelled from June 7 to 15, 2021 to Vogel State Park in Blairsville, while the 25 young ladies were there from June 17 to June 25.

While based at the state park, the groups began each day with morning prayers, then travelled throughout the region and made certain to attend daily Mass at one of the local Catholic Churches. The evening routine included 30 minutes of talks and small group discussion, 30 minutes of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by dinner and light recreation such as board games and ping pong.

Days were filled with a variety of activities, including daily hiking, rafting, swimming, as well as visits to water parks and more casual walks through mountain towns. Two destinations included Brasstown Bald, the tallest peak in Georgia at 4,784 feet, and whitewater rafting on the Middle Ocoee River near Ducktown, Tennessee. The one difference between the two youth trips was the men opted to take part in a paintball course, while the ladies chose horseback riding,

One young man described his camp experience saying, “This year’s boys summer camp was above my expectations. This would have to be the best one I have been to. It had an equal amount of fun and spiritual learning. The highlights would have to be paintball and whitewater rafting. I also looked forward to the talks we would have in the evening. Overall, I enjoyed it. I will definitely go for years to come.”

One of the young ladies described here experience saying, “This year’s girls summer camp was everything that I hoped for. I was glad that COVID-19 didn’t stop us from going to Georgia as it did last year… The hikes were challenging, but they taught me not to give up even when things are hard to do. In the end, I was able to reap the reward of the beautiful scenery at the mountain tops. We went tubing, horseback riding and ate ice cream. We began each day with morning prayers and finished the day with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. We were always well fed. My favorite activity was white water rafting. I have been going to this camp since 2017 and by far this was my favorite year.”

Another young lady described the trip as the one of the best decisions she has ever made, explaining how she grew in her Faith. This occurred not only through the participation in Mass, prayers and Adoration, but through being in the forest amongst nature, reaching magnificent vistas and seeing waterfalls, all part of the glory of God’s creation. While she said there were challenges, she returned home with new and amazing friends and memories to last a lifetime.

The groups were led by religious women from the Parish, the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, and they were assisted by a number of adult chaperones. Father Juan Lorenzo, St. Michael Parochial Vicar, was able to participate in the first five days of the boy’s camp.

Sister Maria Gema de Jesus Ruiz, SSVM, Director of Religious Education at St. Michael, who organized the trips, said that they “enabled everyone to overcome unexpected obstacles placed before them and to grow stronger in their Faith at the same time by putting their life and experience into the Hands of God.”

Sister Gema said the trip was made possible thanks to a number of benefactors and with the support of Bishop Frank J. Dewane. “It has been an incredible experience for them, and we pray to our good Lord they will always remember the good things they learned.”

The religious sisters have a short time to rest as they will be hosting a two-week day camp at the Parish for elementary-aged children from July 5 to July 16.

If you would like to support the children and youth programs led by the religious woman at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, please send donations to: St. Michael Church, Attn: Sisters Program, 409 Alice St., Wauchula, FL 33873.

Confirmation bestowed on 1,500 in nine months

Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Christian initiation is completed as the recipients become more perfectly bound to the Church as a true witness to Christ.

Confirmation is a Sacrament which must be understood as a continuation of the Faith journey, begun with Baptism, along with the Eucharist, to constitute a single saving event – Christian initiation, changed by this encounter with the Lord, Bishop Frank J. Dewane explained during a Confirmation Mass on May 30, 2021 for the youth of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula.

This May 30 Mass marked the conclusion of more than nine months of Confirmations presided over by Bishop Dewane. From early September 2020 to the end of May 2021 more than 1,500 received the Sacrament at 40 different Parishes. The total number was significantly higher during the past nine months as Parish Confirmations were necessarily put on hold from March to September 2020 due to the global Pandemic. Confirmation classes from the Spring of 2020 were rescheduled to the Fall when possible, or groups were merged into one larger Mass in 2021.

Bishop Dewane stressed the importance of ensuring the Confirmation Masses took place and scheduling them became a top priority. Some Parishes were forced to divide their groups in half or thirds to ensure social distancing was possible. For example, the St. Michael Parish Mass was held at the new St. Paul Parish Church in Arcadia to ensure all confirmandi, and their families, could participate under one roof.

At that Mass, held on Holy Trinity Sunday, Bishop Dewane told the confirmandi that they were given a great opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, a time when they publicly “give witness to who you are as followers of Jesus Christ. It is part of your Faith journey to live the commitment of believers, a beginning of a new life in the Holy Spirit and to become more the man or woman of God you are called to be.”

This Sacrament imbues the recipient with the Holy Spirit, making the person an advocate for the Lord, Bishop Dewane said. “This becomes a permanent part of who you are. Live your Faith to the fullest. Use these Gifts of the Holy Spirit every day. They must become part of who you are. The more you use them, the closer you will grow to the Lord.”

The Sacrament should not be viewed as the end of the journey, but the continuation of the journey of Faith with the new dimension of the Holy Spirit.

“You stand and give a superb witness by answering the call of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane continued. “However, sometimes standing forward isn’t enough to give that witness to Christ. You need to speak up and say who you are as Catholic men and women. You must have courage to do that.”

The term ‘confirmation’ must remind one that this Sacrament involves growth from baptismal grace, Bishop Dewane explained. “It unites us more firmly with Christ; it completes our bond with the Church; it accords to us the special strength of the Holy Spirit in order to spread and to defend the Faith.”

Before the Sacred Chrism was administered, the Bishop asked the candidates to renew their baptismal promises as a sign of their personal assent to the Faith. This is the giving of their assent to a belief in Christ and His Church. The Bishop also extended his hands over the candidates during the Rite. This action is called, “The Laying on of Hands.” In this action, the Bishop imparts the Holy Spirit upon the candidates, completing the grace of their Baptism.

Finally, the candidates are individually presented to the Bishop with the sponsor placing their right hand on the candidate’s right shoulder. Then with his right thumb, the Bishop makes the sign of the cross on their forehead using the Sacred Chrism and says “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The Sacrament of Confirmation requires comprehensive preparation – often years of study and spiritual growth – as it aims to lead candidates toward a personal attachment to Faith in Christ and to reawaken in them a sense of belonging to the Church.

The Diocese of Venice has a religious education program which emphasizes the importance of the Sacrament of Confirmation with a two-year program. The young women and men go through a process where they complete one phase of their Faith journey and prepare to begin the next phase as full Christians who are called to be more and reflect the love and goodness of Christ in their heart and soul.

News Briefs for the week of June 25, 2021

Ordination to the Priesthood July 31

Bishop Frank J. Dewane invites the faithful of the Diocese to the Ordination of Transitional Deacons Mark Harris and Alexander Pince to the Priesthood. This is to take place at 11 a.m., July 31, 2021, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this important event in the lives of Deacons Harris and Pince as well as the Diocese of Venice. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall.

“Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane” available June 25

Join Bishop Frank J. Dewane, for his monthly radio program on Relevant Radio. “Witnessing Faith with Bishop Dewane” can be heard at 8:30 a.m., June 25, 2021 addressing the topic of Religious Freedom. Access to the program is available at

“Franciscan at Home” online workshops

The Diocese of Venice Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation presents “Franciscan at Home,” which offers online workshops for anyone who wants to grow deeper in the Catholic Faith. This is a program sponsored by your Parish at no cost to you. Workshops are available on parenting, youth ministry, prayer, Catholic social teaching, theology of the body, Scripture and much more. Many workshops are available in Spanish. For more information, please call the at 941-766-7334, or visit

Grove City Food Pantry open

The St. Francis of Assisi Parish Food Pantry, 5265 Placida Road, Grove City, is open and distributing food from 9:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. For more information contact Megan at 941-697-4899, or by email at

ZOOM Surviving Divorce Facilitator Training July 8

Nationally known author Rose Sweet will be offering an online “Surviving Divorce” facilitator training via ZOOM 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., July 8, 2021. This is training for the Surviving Divorce: Hope and Healing for the Catholic Family program. Whether you’re a seasoned leader or considering starting a group, everyone can learn something of value to best love and support the divorced. This outreach goes to the deepest aches of the heart and the wounds are complex. While facilitators are not called to bring healing (that is God’s job) they are called to be as skilled as you can be at understanding minds, hearts, and the truth and power of the fullness of Catholic teaching. Sweet is a pioneer in the divorce healing world and will help integrate Catholic principles and practical realities into this outreach. To register, please visit For more information contact Carrie Harkey in the Family Life Office at

Institute starting new course in August

The Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation of the Diocese of Venice is offering a 16-week graduate level online course starting Aug. 24 that introduces students to the principles, practices, and sources of Catholic Theology. The course “What is Catholic Theology? (Ecclesial Nature and Mission of Theology)” counts as a pre-requisite for those beginning the online MA in Theology and Christian Ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville. (Franciscan offers Diocese of Venice students discounted tuition for this online MA). This course is also available to those who wish to attend for their own personal enrichment. For cost and other information and to register for the course, visit the Institute website or call 941-766-7334.

Tele-Mental Health Counseling Services

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. is offering Mental Health Counseling for adults and children provided by licensed mental health therapists. If you or someone you know is feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, or helpless, Catholic Charities can help. For more information, please call 239-455-2655. There is no charge for this service.

2021 Marriage Preparation Retreats

The Diocesan Office of Family Life is offering “Day of Reflection” retreats for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. A specially prepared volunteer team of married couples and a priest will share their experiences and information with the intention of enabling couples to be more aware of the privileges and responsibilities of marriage. The retreats in English are from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., on the following Saturdays: July 10, August 7, and November 13. Please visit to register for the English retreats. Retreats in Spanish take place: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., August 7 and October 30 at St. Jude Parish, 3930 17th Street, Sarasota, and 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., August 14 and December 4, at Our Lady Queen of Heaven, 355 S. Bridge Street, LaBelle. To register for a St. Jude retreat date please contact the parish at 941-955-3934. Please visit to register for a retreat at Our Lady Queen of Heaven, For further information contact Carrie Harkey at 941-484-9543 ext. 3019.

Public Prayer for God’s Mercy Upon America!

Join lay Catholics and others in public prayer asking for God’s Mercy for the United States the last Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. on the east side of U.S. 41, immediately north of Pine Ridge Road, Naples, and opposite the Waterside shops. This public witness of our Faith offers the opportunity to turn to God for His merciful help during this time of great need. The Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Rosary will be prayed. Please bring folding chairs, shade umbrellas, bottled water, and signs if you wish. Parking is available in adjacent lots. If you have questions or require additional information, please email

Ave Maria University 12th Annual Youth Conference

All high school age youth from incoming freshman to outgoing seniors are invited to join us for the 12th Annual Ave Maria University Youth Conference “FEARLESS” July 9-11. This incredible weekend will be full of faith, fellowship, music, and great speakers! The special rate for this year’s conference is only $130 per person and includes lodging, meals, and conference fee and a t-shirt. Call or email 239-348-4725 or or visit us at for more information.

Free Rosary Repair Service

Send your broken rosaries in a padded envelope to Betty and Dick Holden, 7930 Estero Blvd. #502, Fort Myers, FL 33931. Rosaries will be repaired and returned within the week of receipt. Donations of old rosaries are also accepted which will be repaired and sent to missions. Include a note indicating repair or donation. For more details, please call 239-463-3993 or email

FOCUS missionaries commissioned by Bishop

More than 500 FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries and staff were commissioned to serve the Church during the coming year during a ceremony presided over by Bishop Frank J. Dewane

The commissioning was part of the annual FOCUS New Staff Training which took place at Ave Maria University. Bishop Dewane celebrated Mass for the group on June 10, 2021.

The Gospel reading for the Mass was from the conversion of the Apostle Matthew, which Bishop Dewane said was apt as it is the moment when Jesus summons Matthew and says, rise up and “Follow me!”

“Matthew becomes a new man by rising in response to the Lord,” the Bishop continued. “I pray each one of you has taken the opportunity in deciding to be a missionary by rising up to the expectation God has for you. You have to go out and decide the type of missionary you are going to be and then live that response by going forward as a new creation in the Body of Christ.”

Father John Lager, OFM Cap. and FOCUS National Chaplain, said the missionaries are being sent to preach the Gospel and make disciples for Jesus Christ accompanied by the prayers of the faithful.

As part of the commissioning, Father Lager first called each missionary to stand by naming the Dioceses in which they will serve. Next, Father read out the colleges and universities to which the missionaries are assigned.

“All missionaries and staff will accept the official teachings of the Holy Father on matters of faith and morals and the Pope’s authority as the head of the Catholic Church. As a positive expression of Catholic character, a public Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity is part of our service.”

Following the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity by the missionaries, Bishop Dewane gave the group a final blessing noting how the Lord sent His Apostles to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples. FOCUS is now sending forth new messengers of salvation and peace, marked with the sign of the cross.

Following the commissioning, Bishop Dewane blessed special crosses which were given to each FOCUS member identifying them as a missionary.

Father Lager concluded by noting that the missionaries are now in the hands of the Lord and urged them to “be zealous, be bold, be Jesus to others.”

Bishop Dewane concluded the Mass by thanking the missionaries for their “generous yes. You are a beautiful sight. You are in my prayers as you go forward remembering to continue to hear that voice of Christ in your life.”

FOCUS is a Catholic apostolate whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the Gospel. FOCUS missionaries encounter people in friendship, inviting them into a personal relationship with Christ and accompanying them as they pursue lives of virtue and excellence. Through Bible studies, outreach events, mission trips and discipleship, missionaries inspire and build up others in the faith, sending them out to live out lifelong Catholic mission wherever they are. Each year some 800 FOCUS missionaries serve on more than 150 campuses across the U.S. and Europe, as well as seven parishes for good measure.

Church celebrates Pentecost

The journey of the Easter Season is concluded and the gift of the Holy Spirit has descended to provide the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, fortitude, counsel, piety and fear of the Lord.

Celebrated on May 23, 2021, Pentecost Sunday marks an important transition in the lives of the Apostles and clarifies their mission in creating the Lord’s Church on earth and is traditionally viewed as the “birthday” of the Church. Pentecost, which literally means 50, falls 50 days after Easter and is 10 days after the Ascension of the Lord. As a symbol of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit, the clergy wear red vestments.

“We celebrate that Feast of the Holy Spirit, the lifeblood of our Church; the soul of the Mystical Body of Christ,” said Frank J. Dewane at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. “We have to recognize and acknowledge that idea of plurality and unity in the Church. That dynamic plays out in different ways at different times in the life of the Church. The plurality is that all voices are heard and in a modern sense we are diverse, coming from different backgrounds. In that diversity, we must leave room for the Holy Spirit in our world, united in living out a plan according to God.”

Also on Pentecost, those who have been baptized and are seeking to be more fully united to Christ within the Church, receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at cathedrals around the world. At Epiphany Cathedral, Bishop Dewane bestowed the Sacrament upon 59 women and men candidates representing 22 parishes across the Diocese.

These candidates were unable (for whatever reason) to be confirmed at their own Parishes during the past several months. Prior to receiving the Sacrament, the candidates renewed their baptismal promises and the Bishop called upon the Holy Spirit to descend upon and remain with them as they go forward in their lives.

Bishop Dewane thanked the candidates for coming forward to be confirmed and said that the Sacrament of Confirmation must change them as they have been given a new beginning in their lives as they are making a permanent commitment that comes with corresponding responsibilities.

“You can’t go forward as the same person,” the Bishop continued. “You have to be changed as a result of that encounter with Christ in the Sacrament. Go out to give witness about who you are, and who you are becoming. Go forward being doers of your Faith. Develop your prayer life by speaking to Christ as you become ever more that man or women of God you are called to be and remember always to call upon the strength of the Holy Spirit as you go forward in your life.”

During the Sacrament, the Bishop made the sign of the cross on the forehead of each person being confirmed with Sacred Chrism – consecrated at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week – and said: “Be sealed with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.” This Sacrament imbues the recipient with the Holy Spirit, making them an advocate for the Lord.

One woman from St. Leo the Great Parish in Bonita Springs expressed her joy of being confirmed by the Bishop. “I feel so blessed to be here, to present myself to the Bishop and become a full participant in the Catholic Faith.”

A younger man from Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton explained how his Faith journey took place with the support of his mother who recognized the importance of receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. “I started the instruction reluctantly but after today I can thank my mother for being there and understanding what I needed in my life.”

Scouting religious awards presented

Participation in Catholic Scouting is an act of discipline which strengthens body, mind, and soul, but it is also a powerful tool of evangelization and service.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane recognized all Catholic Scouts and members of comporable groups in the Diocese of Venice during the annual presentation of Religious Awards on May 16, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. Prior to the awards presentation about 100 Scouts, Scout leaders and family members, took part in Mass for the Ascension of the Lord Sunday which was celebrated by Bishop Dewane and concelebrated by Father Lawton Lang, Diocesan Scout Chaplain.

During the awards ceremony Bishop Dewane recognized the challenges faced by all during the Pandemic as they worked to earn the various religious awards offered by different Scouting or similar groups. During the ceremony 154 awards were presented to 75 Scouts, some receiving multiple awards. Emily Black of American Heritage Girls Troop 1203 of St. Francis Xavier was the recipient of 17 different awards.

“Your hard work was commendable and identifies your dedication to the Catholic Faith as lived out through Catholic Scouting in the Diocese,” Bishop Dewane said before personally congratulating and presenting each award. “I hope that as you continue to experience the many varied lessons of Scouting, you will also continue to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ and share that experience with others.”

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting awards included: the Rosary Series, the Marian Series, the Faith Series, Footsteps of American Saints, Modern Saints, Light of Christ, Parvuli Dei, St. John the Baptist, Our Lady, and Pope Pius XII. National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry awards included the Women in Scripture series. Diocesan Scout awards included Priesthood Sunday and Pillars of Faith. American Heritage Girls awards included Tenderheart and Explorer.

Of note at the awards ceremony was the presentation of the Pillars of Faith award to Bartosz Fabinski, of Boy Scout Troop 777 of St. Francis Xavier Parish. This award provides special recognition for youth in Scouting who earn all traditional Catholic Religious Medals: Light of Christ, Parvuli Dei, Ad Altare Dei and Pope Pius XII. This is the first time this award has been presented to a Scout in many years as it requires earning key awards at various stages in beginning at the age of 6 or 7 and continuing to age 15 or older. To make this recognition possible this year, Bartosz was able to earn the Pope Pius XII award, the final award in the sequence.

The Pius XII award is also rarely presented and requires a Scout to be 15 or older and educated on different vocations (single, married, religious, ordained). This also incorporates a discussion on current issues facing the Church and society and included an overnight camping retreat at St. Agnes Parish in Naples. In all, 10 Boys Scouts earned this award which was presented in the Diocese for the first time in 10 years.

In addition, American Heritage Girls Troop FL 1203 of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers earned the National Catholic Quality Unit Excellence Award – Pope Paul VI. Adult recognition included the presentation of the following awards: St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Anne, Companions of the Journey, Light of the World, Bronze Pelican, and St. George Emblem.

Near the conclusion of the ceremony, Bishop Dewane was presented with the “Quality Diocese Award,” earned by only 40-50 percent of Dioceses nationally, for meeting certain requirements in supporting Catholic Scouting. This was the eighth year in a row the Diocese has earned this important award. The Bishop noted that while the award is given to the Diocese specifically, it is truly a reflection of the hard work and commitment of Scouts and Scout leaders throughout the Diocese.