News Briefs for the Week of April 30, 2021

Appointment

After consultation with the Priest Personnel Board, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following appointment: Father Daniel A. Flens, as Parochial Vicar of St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral, effective March 1, 2021.

Dispensation to attend Mass ends effective May 1, 2021

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about their experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will be lifted in the Diocese of Venice beginning May 1, 2021. For a letter from Bishop Dewane and the revised guidelines updating Parish safety protocols which includes the need to continue to wear masks at Mass, as well as at all Diocesan and Parish activities, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/daily-resources/diocese-of-venice-responds-to-novel-coronavirus-covid19/ for English and for Spanish, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/hispanic-apostolate/.

Youth group raises money for Earth Day

The St. Columbkille Parish Youth Group lesson for the week was Catholic Social Justice, and Caring for God’s Creation, and in turn they hosted a lemonade stand after Masses on April 18, 2021 with all donations going to help the earth. The group raised more than $600 and opted to split the money and shared it with ECHO in North Fort Myers and the Calusa Nature Center in Fort Myers. ECHO teaches sustainable farming and combats world hunger, while the Calusa Nature Center connects people with nature educating them about our unique ecosystem and environmental issues concerning the region. The success was attributed to the hard work of the youth and the support of the parishioners.

 

Volunteer recognized nationally

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. Volunteer Tim Gunderman of Bonita Springs was recently named one of 6 finalists a finalist for the Catholic Charities USA Volunteer of the Year Award. Gunderman by virtue of his efforts to help people in the Bonita Springs and Naples areas during the past year first made the top 36 then the top 6. A video of each finalist was created as part of the selection process. Congratulations Tim for your time, knowledge and heart in helping to support Catholic Charities.

The St. Vincent de Paul Rummage Sale May 1

Please join the Sacred Heart Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in our continuing efforts to raise money to assist those in need in our community by taking part in a May 1, 2021 Rummage Sale from 9 a.m. to noon at 25200 Airport Road in Punta Gorda. There will be household items, furniture, linens, clothing, shoes, purses, jewelry, books and toys. The rain date is May 8.

Junior Class Retreat theme: “Have No Fear”

The peer ministry team at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples was on campus until late on April 22, 2021 and returned to school bright and early the next day to lead the Junior Class Retreat! The theme of the retreat was “Have No Fear” (Psalm 23) with the focus on letting go of our fears in order to trust more in God. The day included time for prayer and reflection as well as a variety of fun activities

Student places third in countywide Spelling Bee

Congratulations to Elizabeth Burke, a student at Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Parish, for taking third place in the 2021 Optimist Club of Naples Spelling Bee on March 24, 2021.

First graders learn about science

The first-grade class of Anne Boddison at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers recently enjoyed reading stories on inventing and engineering things. The students then had fun working together and using different items from their S.T.R.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) bins to build many unique objects such as flying houses, robots, mazes, and much more. The students then recorded what they built by drawing and writing about what they created in their journals.

Online fundraiser to support Our Mother’s House

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

Porn: Seven Myths Exposed event May 4

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

Stepping into Marriage with Children

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

Year of the Family

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

8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference

All are invited to the 8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference at Ave Maria University from May 14 to May 16, 2021. Featured speakers will include Dr. Mark Miravalle, John Paul II Chair of Mariology, Franciscan University of Steubenville; Kathleen Beckman L.H.S., author and President of Foundation of Prayer for Priests; Dr. Edward Sri, theologian, author, and co-founding leader of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students); and Roy Shoeman, speaker and author of “Salvation is from the Jews” and “Honey from the Rock.” Please visit www.aveconferences.com to register for this event. Lodging and meals available. For more information call 239-348-4725 or email aveconferences@gmail.com

Prayer Vigils continue abortion centers

40 Days for Life continues year-round in Fort Myers and Sarasota! Please join in prayer outside of Planned Parenthood. Help is needed in Fort Myers on Wednesdays and Thursdays when abortions take place and in Sarasota Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays. Your presence makes a difference! When people are there on the sidewalk, the “no show rate” for abortion appointments can go up 75%. For more information about the Fort Myers vigils, please email monash127@aol.com and for Sarasota  40dflsarasota@gmail.com.

Foster Homes Needed in Florida

There are over 20,000 children requiring foster care in the State of Florida with only 5000 families certified to meet their needs. During May, National Foster Care Awareness Month, please consider providing a loving home where a child can heal and thrive. To learn more about foster parenting children in Florida who do not have relatives who are able to care for them, please call 1-83-FOSTERFL or visit MyFloridaMyFamily.com.

News Briefs for the week of April 23 2021

“A Seminarian Story” ninth installment available

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

Online fundraiser to support Our Mother’s House

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

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

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

Science students learn how to help in emergencies

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

 

 

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

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

Youth Mental Health First Aid Workshop

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

Porn: Seven Myths Exposed event May 4

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

Stepping into Marriage with Children

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

Year of the Family

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

Golden Rose Award given to young ladies of Faith

Seeking to recognize the basic tenets of the Venice Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (VDCCW) – spirituality, leadership and service – a group of young ladies was awarded the first ever Golden Rose Award during a recent luncheon.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, who presented the awards to the 2020 and 2021 recipients of the Golden Rose Award on April 10, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall in Venice, congratulated the young ladies for living out a particular call of God in the earlier portions of their lives.

“To those who received the award; you matter to the Diocese in what you do, who you are and most important of all, who you are becoming as young ladies,” Bishop Dewane said. “You are leaders, and you have a call to be there at the Table of the Lord. We are all called, but what you do is distinctive. I urge you to continue to be active in your Parish, your school, your community and in the Church.”

Explaining how much they are appreciated, the Bishop said their actions bring a spirit to their Parishes, which is of a natural energy and reflection of Faith which will serve to inspire others to follow their lead.

“The biggest celebration in your life of service is who you are becoming,” Bishop Dewane added.  “Go forward with that idea of service in the Church. Make your mark. Take the ownership of who you are and truly become more that woman of God you are called to be.”

Felicia Gal, of St. William Parish in Naples is a graduating senior of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples who also turns 18 in a few weeks was thrilled when she heard the news. “When I found out I was nominated it was as a huge surprise,” Felicia said. “I do work with summer camps and sing at Mass as a cantor’s assistant, but don’t do that for recognition. It really is an honor to be here.”

Felicia’s mother, Maria Gal, explained that Felicia always wanted to be involved in activities at the Parish and in helping others. “I am so proud.”

Ellen Bachman, VDCCW Co-President, helped bring the Golden Rose Award to Venice having learned about similar recognition taking place by CCW group in other Dioceses. Bachman said the “write-ups on these girls were both amazing and inspiring. They are our future Church.”

Bachmann also read a congratulatory letter from Jean Kelly, the National CCW President, who said the foundation these young ladies have begun as active Catholic women will serve them well into the future.

Each Golden Rose Award recipient was presented with a certificate and golden rose. They will also receive a membership into the National Council of Catholic Women and a congratulatory packet all courtesy of the VDCCW.

Brenda Dolan, VDCCW Co-President, recognized the hard work of Anne De Camillo, President of St. William Parish CCW, who served as Chair of Golden Rose Committee.

“We are here today to honor these young ladies who exhibit those miraculous gifts and graces,” Dolan proclaimed. “There is a lot on your shoulders. Your values and commitment and the things you do let us know our Church and our country will continue to flourish.”

To Golden Rose Award process began in 2020 when the VDCCW asked Parishes in the Diocese to submit the name of a girl from their Parish whose lifestyle exemplifies the mission statement of the National Council of Catholic Women – Spirituality, Leadership and Service. There were 26 Parishes that responded. The 2020 award ceremony was postponed due to the Pandemic and not all were able to be present for the luncheon.

Those receiving the award for 2020 were: Alexandra Solis, St. Michael Parish, Wauchula; Emily Sansone, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Cape Coral; Mary Fiore, San Antonio Parish, Port Charlotte; Chloe Springer, St. John XXIII Parish, Fort Myers; Miriam Sandoval, St. James Parish, Lake Placid; Emmalee Brown, Epiphany Cathedral, Venice; Arianne Matson, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, Parrish; Valerie Castellan, St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples; Amber Rae Dyer, San Pedro Parish, North Port.

Those receiving the award for 2021 were: Naissa Esperace, St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral; Sofia Herrero, St. Cecilia Parish, Fort Myers; Kylie Morgan Jones, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Fort Myers; Gabriela Vasquez, St. Katharine Drexel Parish; Adriana Iofida, San Antonio; Lillian Brodeur, Our Lady of Light Parish, Fort Myers; Nicoy Jacas, Sacred Heart Parish, Punta Gorda; Sonia Hernandez, St. Michael Parish; McKayla Cantrell, Epiphany Cathedral; Krystyna Mioduszewski, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Venice; Julia Ann Glaser , Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, Sarasota; Chloe Manes, St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton; Katherine Lumpkin, St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Sarasota; Felicia Gal, St. William Parish; Anna Bialkowski, St. Agnes Parish, Naples; Molly O’Brien, St. John Neumann Catholic High School, Naples; Trinity Nicole Forget, St. Ann Parish, Naples; Anne Marie Swafford, Resurrection Parish, Fort Myers.

News Briefs for the week of April 16, 2021

2 Diocesan Seminarians to be ordained Transitional Deacons April 17

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

Cape Coral students at state competition

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

Evangelizing Catechesis: Survey of the new Directory for Catechesis

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

Marriage Prep Retreat for Couples over 55 coming soon

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

Youth Mental Health First Aid Workshop

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

Porn: Seven Myths Exposed event May 4

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

Stepping into Marriage with Children

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

Year of the Family

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

Tele-Mental Health Counseling Services available

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

Vaccines for Homebound Seniors

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

Hundreds prepare to become Catholic

The 2021 numbers of catechumens and candidates presented for the annual Rite of Election was 316. That is great news following a year filled with much uncertainty.

The temporary shuttering of churches for public Mass and ongoing health and safety concerns about meetings or classes could have dramatically impacted those seeking to enter the Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

This year’s numbers are only down about 10 percent from 2020. This is a great accomplishment considering the challenges which needed to be overcome. The largest group was from Jesus the Worker Parish in Fort Myers and included 51 catechumens and 13 candidates.

“This was actually a great time to have RCIA because people who were part of the pandemic had a reason to question their Faith,” explained Anne Chrzan, the Diocese of Venice Director of Religious of Education who oversees the implementation of RCIA programs. “Our Church gave them a place and a reason to believe and have hope!”

The 316 catechumens and candidates, representing 40 different Parishes, were recognized during the annual Rite of Election presided over by Bishop Frank J. Dewane.

Details of the Rite of Election were adapted this year to comply with social distancing requirements necessitated by the Pandemic. There were four Deanery-based celebrations, the first on Feb. 21, 2021 at Epiphany Cathedral for the Northern Deanery, and later the same day at St. Catherine Parish in Sebring for the Eastern Deanery. On Feb. 28, additional Rites took place at Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers for the Central Deanery, and then at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples for the Southern Deanery.

Bishop Dewane recognized the catechumens and candidates for their responding to a particular call from the Lord. “In a world full of indifference, you come forward as a faith-filled person. It marks you. You take a further step to integrate yourselves into the community of faith and worship here in the Diocese of Venice… I am humbled by all of you: by the individual who chooses God; by one who chooses their Faith; by what it is you set out to do; by the determination you have; by the sacrifices you made.”

This response to the Lord does not end at the Easter Vigil (April 4), the Bishop continued, but that response must continue to “change who you are as men and women of God.”

“Mother church is pleased that you come here today to ratify the ‘Yes!’ you have already given to follow the Lord, a ‘Yes!” to Jesus,” Bishop Dewane added. “Once that ‘Yes!’ is said then the true conversion must set about to happen. That is the next step. Do this and know it is my prayer that you will allow the love of God to inspire you throughout your life in the many good things that you do. Let it be that love of God that graces you.”

Chrzan added that the Pandemic created some challenges in RCIA program with some using online teaching options, but those were rare exceptions

“I had one DRE who was skeptical about moving forward during the pandemic, but I asked her to see what Jesus says about that and she had an entire family approach her the following week,” Chrzan explained. “Because she took it to prayer, God gave her a family to bring into the Church!”

The Rite of Election also is called the enrollment of names, because each catechumen writes his or her name in the Book of the Elect. When the catechumens from each Parish were called forward, a sheet with the signed names was presented to the Bishop. Instead of shaking hands with each catechumen, as was done in past years, this year Bishop Dewane welcomed them with a respectful bow.

Catechumens are the unbaptized and unchurched who inquire about becoming part of the Roman Catholic Faith. Many times, catechumens are those who have begun to seek and understand God in their lives and have been led by the Holy Spirit to become Catholic. RCIA is a journey of discovery and Faith. Children and teens ages 7 to 17 participate in similar groups geared to their own age ranges.

After completing the Rite of Election, the catechumens continue their spiritual formation throughout the remainder of Lent, a period of purification and enlightenment – the final, intense preparation for the reception at the Easter Vigil of the Sacrament of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist.

For candidates, those who have been baptized with a Trinitarian formula, the Catholic Church does not require re-Baptism. Candidates have already experienced a journey of Faith. In fact, many have been attending Mass with their families for years but may have never received the Sacrament of Holy Communion or the Sacrament of Confirmation or Sacrament of Reconciliation. They participate in appropriate religious education classes, often with the catechumens, and will receive the necessary Sacraments at the Easter Vigil.

Everyone is encouraged to pray for and welcome the catechumens and candidates at their own Parish and within the Diocese as they continue their journey of discovery in their Faith.

Youth Festival mixes fun with faith

Several times each year there are opportunities for the youth of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula to have fun while at the same time growing closer to the Lord.

The latest Youth Festival brought a group of about 40 together on Feb. 27, 2021 with a variety of activities including talks, guided meditation, praying the rosary and the availability of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The day culminated with Holy Mass.

The religious women who serve the Parish, Servant Sisters of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara, guided the youth through the day, serving as an example by their presence but also joining in the fun and games.

One sister showed off a skill by performing an Irish dance for the group. During lunch sisters spread out and sat with the teens, sharing stories and enjoying the meal together.

Acclaimed speaker Gregory Stearns gave two talks focusing on the impact of lying and the impact it has on the individual as well as on others and society as a whole. Stearns first asked the teens to give examples when it is ok to lie, and later explained the impact that has in every aspect of their life as well as their relationship with God.

“When we lie, all we are trying to do is put forward a version of ourselves that is not real,” Stearns said. “The version of ourselves we put out there is done to make us feel better and so others will like us. The version of ourselves is not who God created.”

When he asked the group if after the talk they would keep lying, one young lady explained that she probably would, but would try hard not to.

This was the answer Stearns wanted to hear. “It is hard to try to be perfect and live up to the lofty expectations that the Lord has for us. Jesus knows we are not perfect, but He wants us to keep trying to improve and that is how we must strive to live our lives. It takes work, but as we take this path, we always have Jesus by our side.”

One of the boys who participated in the day said he likes participating in the events at St. Michael because it is a change from his usual weekend day of playing video games, watching TV shows or even finding ways to get into trouble with his friends.

“Every time the sisters have a festival, you know you are going to have fun,” he explained. And then with a big grin, he added. “Having the quiet time (in prayer and at Mass) is also good, because you can never pray too much.”

Sister Gema Ruiz, Director of Religious Education at St. Michael, explained that the Youth Festival was a huge success because each teen present wanted to be there. Some Parish events are required as part of sacramental preparation, but the recent festival was just for the teens to get together with no added pressure or expectations. “It is a good day. It shows in how they are reacting to each activity. They are having fun and they are learning that Jesus loves them.”

News briefs for the week of Jan. 26, 2021

Children’s Festival held in Wauchula

The annual Children’s Festival was held at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula on Jan. 23, 2021. The Festival brings children from kindergarten through fifth grade to the Parish for a day of prayer and fun.

The day included Mass, a Eucharistic Procession, as well as presentations about how they can grow in their Faith. In addition, there were various games, many of which had a faith-based theme. The women religious who serve the Parish, Sisters Servant of Lord and the Virgin of Matara, organized the festival.

“A Seminarian Story” sixth installment available

The Diocese of Venice in Florida Office of Vocations launched a video series titled, “A Seminarian Story,” to celebrate the 16 Seminarians currently in formation. The first four videos have been released and more will follow approximately every few weeks. The most recent video is about Seminarian David Portorreal who is doing formation at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

Developed with the assistance of the Diocese Communications Department, the goal of the series is to inspire others to follow in the path to the priesthood or religious life, as well as encourage the faithful to continue to support the seminarians as they continue their formation process at different seminaries. “A Seminarian Story” featuring David Portorreal can be found at https://vimeo.com/443069438.

Men’s & Women’s Conferences 2021

Registration is now open for the 2021 Men’s & Women’s Conferences! The Men’s Conference will feature speakers Patrick Madrid and Joel Stepanek on Saturday February 20th.

The Women’s Conference will feature speakers Kimberly Hahn and Mary Ann Weisinger-Puig on Saturday March 13. Both conferences will be held at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (doors open at 8:00 a.m.) with Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Dewane and Confession available all day. To register, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/adultconferences.

Anniversary Masses

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 to be celebrated in two locations. This year, considering the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, each location will have two Masses to allow for appropriate social distancing. The Masses are 10 a.m. and noon on Feb. 6, 2021, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice, and 10 a.m. and noon, March 6, 2021, St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs. All registration is being handled through your local Parish. Please reserve seats at least one week before the Mass you wish to attend.

Begin your year with Jesus in the Eucharist

What better way to begin 2021 than in the presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament? The Office of Evangelization will be hosting several evenings of Eucharistic Adoration with Confession available, music, reflection, and time for silent prayer. Jesus, who makes “All Things New” will bring a newness to your faith in this new year. Locations include Our Lady of Light Parish, Fort Myers, Feb. 2; Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Lakewood Ranch, Feb. 3; St. John the Evangelist Parish, Naples, Feb. 4; Incarnation Parish, Sarasota, Feb. 11; and St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton, Feb. 16. Adoration begins at 7 p.m. and goes until 8:30 p.m.

Bibles presented to Bradenton students

Father Rafal Ligenza, Administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, presented bibles to each of the seventh and eighth graders at St. Joseph Catholic School on Jan. 21, 2021. Father Ligenza presented the bibles as gifts from the Parish and then prayed with the students.

Encountering God in Prayer: A Lenten Journey

Spend this Lent growing in prayer! “Encountering God in Prayer: A Lenten Journey” is a theological and practical online course offered by the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation. The course will guide you through the rich and beautiful teaching on personal prayer found in part four of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Short video lectures, online discussions, prayer exercises and other learning activities will constitute the class content. Students log in each week at times most convenient to them. The instructor, Dr. John Gresham, Executive Director of the Institute, has extensive experience teaching on prayer in courses, workshops, and retreats. The course is $25 and runs from Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 to April 5. For more information, visit www.institute-dov.org, call 941-766-7334 or email john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Water bottle stations make an impact

Each Diocesan Catholic school strives to be good steward of God’s creation, including making every effort to limit the amount of trash. At St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, water bottle filling station were installed to cut down on the waste caused by plastic water bottles. On Jan. 22, 2021 Neumann Senior Tommy Anderson was recognized as the 10,000th water bottle filler at one of the stations on campus. Principal Sister Patricia Roche, Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco, presented Anderson with a certificate during morning prayers/announcements. The stations were installed thanks to the Home and School Association. Since the start of the Academic Year, 31,609 water bottles have been saved from entering the landfill.

Verot student to attend Congress of Future Medical Leaders

Eric Avin, a ninth grader at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, will serve as a Delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders this March. The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students striving for a career as a physician or in a medical research field. The event is designed to honor, inspire, motivate and direct some of the brightest students in the country and to provide a path, plan and resources to help them reach their goal. He was chosen based on the recommendations of a teacher and a Nobel laureate, and on his academic achievement, leadership potential and determination to serve humanity in the field of medicine. During the two-day virtual Congress, Eric will have the chance to hear Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners talk about leading medical research; learn about cutting-edge advances and the future in medicine and medical technology and much more.

Safe Haven Sunday

Pornography is one of the leading causes of addictions, abuse, adultery, divorce, and even human trafficking: it is, in short, a pervasive evil inflicting grave wounds on our families. Pornography creates unsafe environments for children and confuses others about attitudes towards sex and marriage. It is a moral issue. For this reason, March 7 has been designated as Safe Haven Sunday in the Diocese of Venice. This day for awareness will give an opportunity to address the harmfulness of pornography in marriages, families, and culture, while providing helpful resources for all. Detailed information about the implementation of this program will be shared in the coming weeks through your Parishes. If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Harkey, Diocesan Coordinator of Family Life at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Faith and Wine Lee County Feb. 25

The next gathering of Faith and Wine Lee County will be a virtual Zoom event beginning at 7 p.m., Feb. 25, 2021. The speaker is Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, who will present “Small Things with Great Love: To Love like Mother Teresa.” To see the complete line-up of speakers, or to register, visit https://faithandwineleecounty.com.

 

Celebrating Christmas during a Pandemic

The Christmas Season is a time to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ and an opportunity to let the light of the Lord shine forth from within.

Celebrations abounded throughout the Diocese of Venice with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses bringing in the number of faithful not seen since before the start of the global COVID-19 Pandemic.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane recorded a Christmas Day Mass for broadcast on TV to the homebound and also offered a livestream Mass from the Catholic Canter in Venice on Christmas Day.

The message of Bishop Dewane was of hope, not only of the news that vaccines are being distributed, but the “hope that God gave us in sending His Son into the World. That is what we celebrate today… Allow Christ to be the light in your life.”

Aside from the decorated altars, behind the scenes it was the Faithful who magnified the light of Christ through their generosity in supporting those in the community who are less fortunate.

To reach as many children as possible, while still staying safe, St. Margaret Parish in Clewiston, distributed gifts during smaller celebrations throughout December. Each child also received a t-shirt with an image of Jesus embracing a child and the name of the Parish. In all, some 500 children received gifts.

At St. Jude Parish in Sarasota, Pastor Father Celestino Gutiérrez helped to distribute toys and food for 58 families at the Myakka Mission for Migrants brings smiles to the faces of 118 children.

Donors from across the Diocese brought holiday cheer to children at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula, where gifts were distributed following an outdoor Nativity Play on Dec. 19, 2020. In addition to the gifts, the young children of the Parish also received jackets, donated by the Knights of Columbus from Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Lakewood Ranch.

Those in religious education classes at Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda, who usually visited nearby assisted living facilities, turned their disappointment into activities which included handmaking Christmas cards and creating gift bags for residents. The youth created videos of Christmas Carols that were shared with the residents and posted to social media.

Donations not only came from Parishes and the faithful, but from inspiring children who wanted to help kids like themselves.

For example, Renata, Milena and Tyler, along with their friends, all from the Vilano Community in Sarasota, pooled their lemonade stand money to buy necessities and donate them to the mothers at Our Mother’s House in Venice, a residential and support program of Catholic Charities which assists single mothers and their children who might otherwise be homeless.

One young girl from Fort Myers, 5-year-old Chandler Ciccarello, first went to friends and then went on social media to raise money so she could use the money, with the help of her mom, to buy gifts for area needy children. In the end, more than $4,000 was raised and gifts were purchased for 400 children and donated to Catholic Charities of Lee County. Originally the idea was to buy bicycles for children and enough was raised that all children who asked receive a bicycle for Christmas courtesy of Chandler.

These are but a few examples of the spirit of Christmas which spread across the Diocese of Venice this Holiday Season.

News briefs for the week of Dec. 7, 2020

Retired priest dies

Father Arthur Schute, a retired priest who served as Director of Pastoral Care at Bon Secours – St. Joseph Hospital in Port Charlotte from 1997-2005, died Dec. 5, 2020 at the age of 78. Father Schute was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 21, 1967 to the Archdiocese of Newark. He was a graduate of Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Following his retirement in 2005, he continued to assist at Parishes in Charlotte County and was living in the area at the time of his death. Funeral services will be 11 a.m., Dec. 12, 2020, St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Port Charlotte. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Schute and for consolation of his family.

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 8:00 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 ardy@dioceseofvenice.org.

“A Seminarian Story” third installment available

The Diocese of Venice in Florida Office of Vocations recently launched a video series titled, “A Seminarian Story,” to celebrate the 16 Seminarians currently in formation. The first three videos have been released and more will follow approximately every two weeks. The most recent video is about Seminarian James Gates who is discerning his vocation at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. Developed with the assistance of the Diocese Communications Department, the goal of the series is to inspire others to follow in the path to the priesthood or religious life, as well as encourage the faithful to continue to support the seminarians as they continue their formation process at different seminaries. “A Seminarian Story” featuring James Gates can be found at https://vimeo.com/445659054.

Prayer vigil held to halt executions

Members of all five Charlotte County parishes participated in a prayer service on Nov. 30, 2020, outside Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda. The event commemorated the worldwide “Cities for Life, Cities Against the Death Penalty” annual observance. Special prayers and a rosary were offered for an end to the use of the death penalty, for all those on death row and for victims of violent crime.

Students help serve meals

Some 20 Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School students helped set up, serve, and breakdown the 20th Annual Sarasota Ministerial Association Feed the Homeless Thanksgiving Lunch on Nov. 25, 2020. This was the ninth year during which students from Cardinal Mooney volunteered.

Parish helps spread Christmas cheer

Our Lady of Light Parish hosted its annual Service Morning on Nov. 22, 2020 with families and children gathering to make Christmas cards to send overseas for our military as well as Christmas candy jars for local foster children.

Door decorating contest

Sister April Hoffman, a Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco, is seen with a student in front of a decorated door at St. John Neumann Catholic School in Naples on Dec. 3, 2020. The door are decorated for the holidays and part of a school-wide competition.

Mass at Dawn (Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo)

The Mass at Dawn will take place at 6:00 a.m., December 15 – 23, and at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 20 at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 1441 Spear St., Port Charlotte. All are welcome to attend each day or when you are able. This Mass comes from the Catholic custom of gathering for celebration of the Eucharist in predawn hours in the nine days before Christmas. Masks are required. Please call 941-661-8335 for further information.

“What is Catholic Theology?”

The Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is offering a 16-week online course starting Jan. 11, 2020 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 Program in Theology and Christian Ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Anyone interested in a graduate-level introduction to Catholic Theology is welcome to attend for a discounted price. The course is taught by Dr. John Gresham, Executive Director of the Institute, who brings 20 years of experience teaching at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, and Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. For more information, or to register for the course, visit the website of the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation https://institute-dov.org/ and click on the link to COURSES. For other information, contact Dr. Gresham by email john.gresham@institute-dov.org or phone (941) 766-7334.

Help Your Parish

Parishes face increased risk of financial shortfalls due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and its effects on everyday life. Parishes depend on weekly financial gifts to continue their ministries, especially in this critical time of crisis. Please prayerfully consider an online donation to your parish by visiting https://dioceseofvenice.org/ways-to-give/parish-donations-online/. You may also contribute through your usual channels (e.g., envelopes, and through the Parish online giving option). Together we will navigate through this Pandemic, aid those in need, and secure the road ahead for the Parishes within the Diocese of Venice. Please continue to pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died from Coronavirus, for the recovery of the sick, for the strength of healthcare workers and caregivers, as well as for an end to this health crisis. Thank you for your generosity.

Do You Need Help?

If you need assistance from Catholic Charities for food, financial assistance, or tele-mental health counseling, please call the number for your area listed below between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday:

*  Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407

*  Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423

*  Collier County: 844-385-2404.

Youth Rally 2020 style!

The 2020 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally was a huge success, uniting young Catholics in Faith even though the youth were scattered at 20 different locations thanks to restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The central site for the Youth Rally was St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples. There, about 100 youth from St. John the Evangelist, St. William and St. Peter the Apostle parishes gathered in the Pulte Family Life Center, maintaining social distancing and wearing masks when possible. Some of the largest secondary sites were St. Michael Parish in Wauchula and St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Cape Coral.

One young lady from St. John the Evangelist said she enjoyed the day because it provided her time to reflect upon her own spiritual journey while trying to find her place in the world. “It is easy to get lost, but if I listen to the call of the Lord, I will find my way.”

One young man from St. Peter the Apostle was at a previous Diocesan Youth Rally and missed the big crowd – nearly 2,000 in 2019. However, he enjoyed the smaller event because “everyone seemed to be personally talking to me. The speakers talked on my level and seemed to understand the struggle I have in living out my Faith.”

The Youth Rally theme was “Worthy,” from the opening of Chapter 4 of St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians which serves to remind the young men and women that they must “live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane greeted the youth stating, “I am convinced you were called by the Lord to be here (at the Rally), otherwise you would not be here or tuning in to this livestream. The idea of being called is not a one-sided conversation with God. The Lord makes known to you, and to me, the mission that He has for us. We must go out and live that call. Our response has to be worthy of the call we have been given.”

Bishop Dewane stressed that the response from each youth at the Rally will be different based on the gifts and talents they have been given. Because we are each called, in our own way, the Lord is patient with us in our response, never calling upon us to do something we are not capable of doing.

“God knows who we are,” the Bishop continued. “We have to work on turning away from sin and be willing to return to the Lord. Let that worthiness rise up within you and let it make you more!!! In living out that call, you become the witness – the leaven – you are called to speak up for the Lord. You must let the word ‘worthy’ remain with you; think about it in your mind, but more profoundly think about it in your heart and soul.”

The first speaker was Chris Mueller, of everydaycatholic.com, who explained that nothing you can do will be unworthy of God’s love. He added that one doesn’t earn God love, that is always there, even for those who sin, who have flaws or faults, because there is no one who does not have sin. “God says, “Bring them to Me, I will use every part of you, I will make you new, in Me.”

To hear that call, one must hear the call of God through prayer and through living an active Faith life. “By this active participation, God moves our hearts to in fact change us. He makes us new. And by having received that love, we are urge to live our lives in a manner worthy of that call.”

Jackie Angel spoke about the underlying call for all Catholics – to be saints. She explained that this does not mean one will be asked to perform miracles, but one must at least aspire to live in the manner of the saints by being the best Catholic possible.

“To live in the manner worthy of the call to be a saint, one must root out all evil in one’s life, whether it is to remove toxic friends, end destructive behavior, you have to move away from what took you away from the Lord,” Angel said. “You do this because Jesus died for you. The Lord loves you and wants you to be in a relationship with Him and to love you in return.”

Eucharistic Adoration took place in the Family Life Center before Bishop Dewane led the youth to the Parish Church in a Eucharistic Procession. Once in the Church there was additional time for adoration and a Benediction prior to the celebration of Mass.

The day also included a live performance by the band Zander, the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (available at all sites), as well as Catholic trivia.

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