Catholic Faith Appeal

Pastoral Outreach and Offices

For additional information on the following, please call the Development Office at 941-486-4719.

Caritas: 12 parishes and missions, and 6 convents located in poorer areas of the Diocese are supported through the CFA. In addition, a fund is reserved for one-time support of various or educational needs.

Cultural Group Ministry: To actively recognize and consider the cultural aspects and foundations alive in the spiritual and fundamental lives of Catholics of other cultures and to gain insight from the faithful of their own cultural needs and traditions.

Haitian Ministry: Organizes the annual Haitian Mass and other events, as well as working with Haitian priests in the Diocese.

Hispanic, Migrant and Spanish Speaking Ministries: Masses are offered in Spanish in 30 communities to the more than 200,000 Spanish-speaking parishioners in the Diocese. The goal is to meet the needs of the people both materially and spiritually, for example, helping with counseling, information on jobs or referrals to health agencies. Central to this goal is supporting families, encouraging the up-bringing of children in the Catholic faith and instilling Christian values, such as respect and generosity.

AFCAAM: African/Caribbean American Ministries: Provides after-school tutoring programs for more than 70 children, mentoring for teens, GED classes, health screening, health and parenting classes, jail ministry and more. AFCAAM is an organization serving the people of South West Florida, especially the black community.

Peace and Social Justice Office: Coordinates more than 300 parishioners from throughout the Diocese to advocate for peace and social justice for all. Advocates monitor Congress on adequate funds for poverty programs, minimum wage, environmental, housing, and immigration issues, and communicate with Congress to seek debt relief and foreign aid to developing countries. An Environmental Justice Commission also works on pesticide and water issues. The Office sponsors the LEAVEN Conference, a Diocesan Catholic Social Teaching event.

Respect Life Department: Mission is to promote respect for all human life, helping people to accept life as a gift from God, treasured from conception to natural death, regardless of appearance, size, level of development, environment or degree of dependency. The ministry is dedicated to the cause of life through four approaches: prayer, education, public policy and pastoral care. Issues of concern include: stem cell research, abortion, euthanasia, death penalty, natural family planning, and persons with disabilities. Individuals and groups are encouraged to participate in daily prayer and efforts such as 40 Days for Life, prayer vigils at abortion facilities and parish holy hours. Speakers address issues to youth and adults in schools, parishes and organizations. Assistance is provided to pregnant women and their preborn children through Gabriel Project and Pennies for Babies, to women and men who have been touched by abortion through Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard and to those facing difficult end of life decisions through “Decisions for Living” programs. Public policy issues are addressed through action alert networks and visits with legislators.

HIV/AIDS Ministry in various locations throughout the Diocese: Support services include food pantries, clothing, counseling, support groups, direct assistance, housing, etc.

Child and Youth Protection: This program develops and oversees Diocesan safe environment efforts including victims’ assistance, proactive pastoral strategies, preventive measures, codes of conduct and healthy environment training.

Safe Environment Program: Awareness Training and Certification. Part of the Diocese’s continuing effort to provide a welcoming and healthy environment for all those served by the church, especially children and the vulnerable. Mandated for all employees – clergy, religious and lay – and those volunteers who have contact with children and the vulnerable. Safe Environment training is also offered for all parents and children in religious education programs and Catholic schools. Includes child-abuse prevention education, age-appropriate training programs for youth, screening and evaluation of employees and volunteers of the Diocese of Venice.

Televised Mass for the Homebound: The Office of Communication plans and produces the TV Mass for the faithful to view from their homes, nursing homes, hospital rooms and prisons. This includes the purchase of television airtime.

Office of Worship: The Office of Worship assists the Bishop, the primary liturgist of the Diocese, in guiding the faithful in liturgical worship. With the assistance of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and two subcommittees, they help to support the liturgical needs of the Diocese. This is accomplished through liturgical formation, providing leadership and direction for the development of liturgical celebrations, prayer, music and the arts. This office also promotes liturgical formation to clergy and parishes through workshops, ministry guidelines, seasonal newsletters, implementing liturgical changes and answering questions parishes may have relating to liturgy.

Victim Assistance Minister: The Victim Assistance Minister (VAM) is the liaison between the Diocese and those who report being victimized by a representative of the Church. The VAM listens, provides support and understanding on behalf of the Church, focusing on coordinating pastoral care for victims/survivors.

Department of Evangelization:

Criminal Justice: The director coordinates efforts to minister to 23 correctional facilities within the Diocese (10 county jails, 5 state prisons and work camps), there are approximately 1,500 inmates of the Catholic faith. Priests administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to inmates and celebrate Mass. Permanent Deacons, women religious and more than 70 lay volunteers conduct Communion Services, Bible study groups, personal improvement programs and visit with the incarcerated.

Office of Family Life: Coordinates the following:
- Marriage preparation
- Pre-Cana Conference
- One-day Marriage Preparation Program
- Annual Wedding Anniversary Mass with the Bishop in February
- Training for Family Life Ministries in the Diocese
- Separated and Divorced Ministries
- Retrouvaille/Discovery for struggling marriages
- Marriage Encounter for marriage enrichment
- New Covenant for those re-marrying in the Church
- Acts as a resource for domestic violence programs

Scouting Ministry: The ministry serves our Catholic Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the Diocese. Various religious awards are given to individual Scouts throughout the year and we host an all-faith Camporee for 300-500 Boy Scouts.

Contemplative Prayer and Charismatic Renewal Groups: The mission of the first group is to foster the exercise of contemplative prayer in one’s life. The second group engenders the spiritual renewal of God’s people by promoting Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the acceptance of the use of charismatic gifts.

Campus Ministry: Provides educational programming, pastoral counseling, worship services, service opportunities and various other programs and services in colleges and universities throughout the Diocese.

Port Ministry: Provides sacramental and worship services and pastoral counseling for seamen entering our Florida Diocesan West Coast ports.

Programs of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Venice

Catholic Charities-Diocese of Venice: Approximately 13% of the CFA is dedicated to the programs of Catholic Charities. They rely on additional funding for the balance of their budget. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. received Charity Navigator’s 4-star award, the highest rating possible – for 7 straight years. Only 1% of the charities rated have received 7 consecutive 4-star evaluations. Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way.

• Assisted 27,467 families, children and elderly individuals in economic hardship by providing social services including direct assistance, food, clothing, prescription medications and case management.
• Provided 611 families with hurricane and flood related assistance.
• Promoted freedom of opportunity for 4,227 immigrants and migrants by assisting them with the compliance of US Government regulations.
• Provided professional counseling and addiction services to 1,227 individuals and families in crisis.
• Offered educational support to 694 children and 349 adults through one-on-one tutoring and group classes.
• Sponsored 245 refugee families in their resettlement and provided job training, placement and employment status assistance for 2,679 refugees.
• Supported 83 refugee youth and their families with linkages to educational services.
• Provided professional, compassionate HIV/AIDS supportive social services and education to 818 infected and affected family members.
• Provided foreclosure & housing counseling and home ownership classes to 315 families.
• Encouraged 989 birth mothers, homeless mothers and their children on the road to self-sufficiency through programs such as Our Mother’s House.
• Ensured quality day care and early childhood learning experiences for 49 struggling families.
• Provided elderly outreach and in-home services to 262 individuals.
• Provided affordable housing to 20 mothers and 23 infants/toddlers and 14 HIV/AIDS individuals, and development of plans with a view toward additional housing units for special needs populations.
• Managed 4 housing corporations that develop clean, safe, affordable housing for working poor, low income and farm workers.

Adoption Services: A licensed child-placing agency with a long tradition of caring.

Counseling Services: Operates on a sliding fee scale based on gross monthly income of a client’s household. Includes individual, children, family, marital, parenting, group and substance abuse counseling.

Day Care: St. Martha’s Early Childhood Learning Center offers affordable childcare to working families needing assistance

Direct Assistance/Case Management: Catholic Charities offers case management to help clients move toward self-sufficiency and direct assistance such as rent, utility payments, food, clothing and prescriptions to people who are struggling with economic need.

Disaster Preparedness & Response: Catholic Charities responds quickly to set up facilities to aid those in need with food, clothing, shelter and counseling.

Education: After school tutoring, summer camps, holiday programs, translations, ESL classes, School on Wheels, employment, etc.

Elderly Services: Catholic Charities in Charlotte County offers a respite program for caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and Elderly Outreach through various programs.

Emergency Services: Catholic Charities offers emergency financial assistance to people who are struggling with economic need which can be solved with short-term help.

HIV/AIDS Ministry in various locations throughout the Diocese: Support services include food pantries, clothing, counseling, support groups, direct assistance, housing, etc.

Housing Corporations: Construction and management of affordable workforce, low income, special needs and farmworker housing developments. This includes a permanent housing facility for HIV/Aids clients.

Immigration Services & Migrant Services: Provides immigration assistance and information in the following centers:

- Arcadia – Catholic Charities of DeSoto County
- Bonita Springs – Hispanic Services
- Bradenton – Catholic Charities of Manatee County
- Clewiston – Catholic Charities of Hendry County
- Fort Myers – Hispanic and Haitian Services
- Immokalee – Guadalupe Social Services
- LaBelle – Catholic Charities of Hendry County
- Naples – Catholic Charities of Collier County
- Wauchula – administration of FEMA funds

Mothers and Children: Shelter for mothers and infants provided by Our Mother’s House in Venice. Our Mother’s House and Clare House provide programs assisting young single mothers with education, job pursuits, child-care, parenting skills and material aid. Additional pro-life programs include: the Gabriel Project in Immokalee, Choose Life License Distribution funds in Lee County, and the Moses Project in Arcadia.

Refugee Resettlement and Refugee Employment: Assistance to refugees that come to Southwest Florida to start a new life. Many have fled their homeland because of the threat of death and/or oppression and are helped with resettling into American culture and finding employment.


Department of Education oversees Catholic schools throughout the Diocese, parish faith formation programs, Diocesan youth ministry efforts, and the Blessed Edmund Rice School.

The Diocese of Venice has 10 elementary schools, 3 secondary schools, and 2 schools for students with special learning needs. This totals 4,384 students and 398 teachers (all certified by the State of Florida). All of the elementary schools are accredited by the Florida Catholic Conference, a nationally recognized accrediting body and all high schools are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Certified counselors and technology programs are present in all schools. Art, music, physical education and foreign languages are part of each school’s curriculum. Religion classes are taught daily and opportunity is provided for the reception of the Sacraments on a regular basis.

Catechetical Ministry: The Office of Catechetical Ministry provides leadership, direction and support to the parishes and schools, assisting them in implementing effective catechetical and religious formation programs. Its approach is to be parish oriented and family sensitive.

Support of Schools: Direct and indirect monetary support is given to the high schools, elementary schools and Dreams Are Free schools. A current program focuses on enrollment and retention. Additional fundraising is still needed.

Dreams are Free School at Bishop Nevins Academy in Sarasota, and Father Anglim Academy in Fort Myers: The mission, which is an integral part of Catholic education, is to help all children reach their full potential intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, by providing specific opportunities for students with special learning needs.

Blessed Edmund Rice School: The Rice School was established in 1995 as a response to the growing need for lay involvement (volunteer and professional) in the Church. This Diocesan school provides two primary programs for ministerial formation: the Diocesan diploma in Pastoral Ministry and an M.A. in Pastoral Theology, through Barry University. Those interested in personal spiritual enrichment are welcome as auditors. Classes are taught in local parishes. In addition to teaching the laity, the school provides both theological training for diaconate candidates and ongoing formation for the ordained deacons.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat and Spirituality Center: A place full of God’s peace and beauty, which encourages men and women to develop a deeper relationship with the Lord. The Anne Mayer Conference Center serves as a multi-purpose building and accommodates 150 persons. Activities: weekend retreats for families, catechists, pastoral ministers, and various parish organizations, as well as day retreats, days of reflection, workshops and seminars for many Diocesan organizations, schools, churches and leadership teams. Overnight accommodations are provided in villas, each with a meeting area and small kitchen.

Vocations: In addition to the following, the CFA supports continuing education for priests and supports our elderly priests.

Office of Vocations and Seminarian Formation: This Office has three primary functions: promoting vocations in the Diocese, assessing and evaluating candidates who present themselves for consideration for the priesthood, and overseeing the human, spiritual, academic, and pastoral formation of seminarians. Tasked with attracting young men and women to pursue vocations by implementing promotional activities that invite mature, well-adjusted candidates to religious life, and assisting them to discern their specific vocation in a positive, supportive, and Christ-centered environment.

Office For Religious: Provides support, organizes and coordinates ongoing education including events throughout the year for the 101 sisters, 19 brothers and 69 religious order priests living in the Diocese. They are involved in many ministries in our parishes and schools throughout the Diocese, including pastoral ministries, religious education, health and cultural events.

Permanent Diaconate and Diaconate Formation: As of October 2007, there are 92 deacons in the Diocese and 8 diaconate students in formation. Deacons have parish liturgical duties such as officiating at weddings, baptisms, funerals services, assisting at Mass, conducting prayer services, and the administering sacramentals. They serve as hospital and prison chaplains, campus ministers, police and fire department chaplains, as well as Diocesan department heads.

Tribunal Court

Tribunal: The Mission of the Tribunal is to assist the people of God in matters concerning their rights and duties under the laws of the Church as they pertain to Church governance and the administration of the Sacraments. The primary work of the tribunal is to investigate claims alleging the invalidity of marriages, marriages which have been properly entered into. The Court acknowledges that such a presumption can be overturned upon the presentation and proof of grounds for invalidity as found in Church Law.

Administrative Services

The mission of the Church is to continue the work of Jesus Christ. For the Church in the Diocese of Venice to do this requires the support of more than 1000 employees in the schools, parishes, and Catholic agencies within our ten counties. Income to cover the administrative work of the Church is needed. YOU the parishioners are the primary source of support. Your generosity enables the continuation of the work of the Lord. Thank you!

Bishop’s Office: Bishop Frank J. Dewane is the Shepherd for the Catholics in Southwest Florida. He is responsible for all pastoral care, administrative matters, as well as judicial decisions.

Vicar General’s Office: Rev. Monsignor Stephen E. McNamara, V.G., participates in the executive (administrative) governance of the Diocese and is deputized to exercise general episcopal jurisdiction in the name of the Bishop, so that his acts are regarded as the acts of the Bishop himself.

Chancellor’s Office: Dr. Volodymyr Smeryk. Dr. Smeryk’s role is to assist the Bishop in overseeing the administration of all Diocesan Catholic Center departments and Diocesan policies. He also performs duties required by Canon Law. He serves as liaison to the Bishop and as his representative to various Diocesan entities.

Communications Department: The department provides a wide range of services such as public relations, media relations, a weekly diocesan newspaper (The Florida Catholic), the TV Mass, the diocesan web site, and a diocesan pastoral bulletin (The Mustard Seed).

Office of Information Technology: Mission is to assist diocesan departments, agencies, parishes and schools with the implementation, maintenance and use of information technology, and to enable people to perform their ministries more effectively and efficiently through the use of technology.

Finance Department: The Finance Department is responsible for the oversight of the finances of the Diocese and provide the Bishop with financial reports and services to direct the fiscal management of the Diocese. The Diocese Savings & Loan Program is also administered by the Finance Department.

Internal Financial Services Department: To provide financial advisory and consulting services to all parishes, schools, missions, and other Diocesan entities. This includes Diocesan Financial Policy and Procedures, payroll and financial reporting, budgeting and other accounting/bookkeeping issues. Conducts training and workshop sessions for financial administrators of all Diocesan entities. Coordinates financial reviews for Diocesan entities with CPA firms and performs follow up and operational reviews of Diocesan entities. Provides other assistance and service to Diocesan entities and the Diocese.

Human Resources Department: An internal resource in providing a full scope of human resource services for Diocesan entities such as policy design and interpretation, disciplinary procedures, mediation process, recruiting strategies, leadership training, performance appraisal and regulatory compliance issues.

Legal Department: Serves as a resource to all of our parishes, schools and Catholic agencies in legal matters; to assist the administration in risk management issues, formulation and implementation of related policies. Background screening for priests, religious, all employees and all volunteers is handled through the Legal Department.

Office of Stewardship and Development: To coordinate efforts of the parishes of the Diocese in their CFA campaigns and assist parishes with their individual parish needs in regard to fundraising, stewardship and planned giving efforts. In addition, this office organizes an annual Stewardship Day Conference open to all parishioners, and is a resource to the Catholic schools in their development efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the money for the CFA used for?

The funds raised by the CFA help your parish to pay its Diocesan assessment, which is based on parish income. The assessments pay the parishes share in supporting the following work in the Diocese of Venice:

Catholic Charities, Respect Life Ministry, Office of Vocations, Catholic Schools, Religious Education, Seminarian education, Support of missions/convents, Outreach to the homebound, TV Mass for homebound, Criminal Justice, HIV/AIDS Ministry, Campus Ministries, Office of Ministry, Permanent Diaconate, Support of poor parishes, Office of Family Life, Peace and Social Justice, Safe Environment Program, Haitian Ministries, Diocesan services, Tribunal, Hispanic Ministries, Diocesan Retreat Center, Blessed Edmund Rice School

How does the CFA benfit my parish and me?

Thousands of Catholics in the Diocese are directly or indirectly served through Diocesan agencies and programs that are beyond the scope of an individual parish. While your gift to the CFA helps to pay your parish assessment, a portion of money that is pledged over the parish goal will be returned to your parish for its own programs and services.

Why does Catholic Charities do additional fundraising?

Approximately 13 % of the entire Diocesan budget is given to Catholic Charities to help support its very worthwhile presence in our Diocese. However, this amount is only a percentage of the money needed to achieve Catholic Charities mission. In addition to what the Diocese provides, aggressive fundraising is needed to meet its budget.

Why are the administrative services included?

The mission of the Church is to continue the work of Christ. To achieve this requires the Diocese to be a business overseeing more than 1000 employees in our schools, parishes and agencies. A commercial business would produce an income but, in the Church, the parishioners are the primary source of income.

Are CFA funds used to pay legal fees or settlements from sexual abuse cases?

No. In fact, money contributed to the CFA helps to fund programs to prevent sexual misconduct in any form through the Offices of Child and Youth Protection and the Safe Environment Program.

Why are there so many mailings?

More than 4 million dollars of the Appeal is generated through the mailings. Once you have made a gift to the CFA, all mailings to you will stop with the exception of a thank you letter and tax receipt at the end of the year. Tax receipts are sent to anyone who gives a gift of $250 or more, as required by the IRS. It is always wise to keep receipts of your charitable giving for audit purposes.

How much should I give?

As Christian stewards, we should take the time to reflect on our individual God-given gifts of time, talent and treasure. Charitable giving is a reflection of our Christian stewardship of treasure. Giving back to God, either through contributions to our parish, the CFA, or other charities, should require a sacrifice that reflects God’s generosity to us individually. Therefore, your gift is a personal decision between you and God and should be made after careful consideration.

Why should I make a pledge instead of a one-time gift?

Making a pledge allows you to spread your gift throughout the year, which may make it easier for you to pay, and may also allow you to give a larger gift. Pledge statements, which are simply reminders and not bills, are sent out monthly unless otherwise requested. You can pay your pledge anytime before the end of the year. If your situation changes, you may also cancel or increase your pledge.

How can I make my gift?

You can make a gift through cash, check, credit card, direct debit, on-line giving, stock donations, and charitable distributions from your IRA, etc. For bequests and gift annuities, credit is given to the parish when the gift is realized.*

Give us a call at 941-486-4719 and we’ll happily answer your questions. For online donations, CLICK HERE. If you donate stock please call us first in order to obtain the correct DTC number and to make sure your gift is properly credited.

*Bequests and gift annuities are not assessed by the Diocese and may be designated for any acceptable purpose. Please call the Diocese at 941-441-1124 for more information about remembering your parish in your estate plans.

Can I put my donation directly into the parish offertory collection?

Twice yearly, the parish will take up a collection for the CFA. At other times, if you wish to make a gift, please use a CFA envelope or mail your gift directly to the following address:

Catholic Faith Appeal
P.O. Box 60759
Fort Myers, FL 33906

WAIT! There may be fifty donors in the Diocese with your last name. Every donor to the CFA has an individual constituent number. If you are making more than one gift, please call us at 941-486-4719 to find out your individual number to ensure you and your parish receive proper credit. Better yet, make a pledge and we will send you monthly statements to help you track your giving!