Roman Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida
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Roman Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida
Diocese of Venice in Florida
Dioecesis Venetiae in Florida
Coat of Arms Diocese of Venice, FL.png
Country United States
Territory The counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, and Sarasota
Ecclesiastical province Province of Miami
- Catholics

245,000 (12.4%)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Roman Rite
Established June 16, 1984
Cathedral Epiphany Cathedral
Patron saint Our Lady of Mercy
St. Mark the Evangelist
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Frank Joseph Dewane
Metropolitan Archbishop Thomas Wenski
Diocese of Venice in Florida map 1.png

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida (Latin: Dioecesis Venetiae in Florida) is a Roman Catholic diocese in Florida, founded on June 16, 1984 serving Southwest Florida. The Diocese of Venice includes the ten counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, and Sarasota.

As bishop John Joseph Nevins resigned for reasons of age on January 19, 2007, he was succeeded as ordinary by bishop Frank Joseph Dewane.


The Beginnings of Catholicism in Southern Florida

1510s: Juan Ponce de Leon and Calusa resistance to missions

The first Spanish explorers came ashore in what is now the diocese in the 16th century. Their arrival brought the first Catholic missionaries, whose purpose was to set up permanent missions in the name of Spain and the Catholic Church. Conquistador Juan Ponce de León was the first European to arrive in Florida, in 1513. He explored its west coast between 1513 and 1521.

Ponce de Leon encountered the resident Calusa tribe, who first welcomed the Spanish, but later objected because the explorers had desecrated their sacred places, and fought the invaders. The Calusa objected to the construction of missions, and frequently attacked them. When Ponce de Leon was injured in an attack the expedition and mission on the West Coast was abandoned.

1539-1542: Hernando de Soto's expedition

Seven years later Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto brought priests to Florida in an attempt to evangelize the native tribes during an exploration of the coast from 1539-1542. DeSoto led an expedition of 10 ships and 620 men, which included 12 priests. They landed near what is now Bradenton on May 25, 1539. Mass was celebrated almost every day by the expedition priests. Later, when DeSoto landed at Shaw's Point near the mouth of Tampa Bay, the men named it "La Bahia de Espiritu Santo," in honor of the Holy Spirit. The sheer number of DeSoto's forces caused the Calusa to abandon their settlements along the harbor entrance. (A memorial to the Eucharist and a Memorial Cross were built and dedicated in the area near DeSoto's landings by Bishop Emeritus John J. Nevins in 1994 at De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton.)

1560s: Jesuit mission at Mound Key

Other efforts to bring missionaries to Florida were unsuccessful until Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, founder of Saint Augustine and Governor of Spanish Florida, sought peace with the Calusa and founded a military outpost there in February 1566. Pedro Menendez sought assistance from the Jesuits, who agreed to send a small contingent to Florida. Before leaving the San Carlos Bay area, Menéndez established a Jesuit mission at Mound Key near the mouth of the Estero River in what is now Lee County, and left a garrison of soldiers to guard it. Called San Antonio de Carlos, it was the first such mission in the Spanish New World and the first Catholic presence within the territory of the present Diocese of Venice in Florida. Father Juan Rogel and Brother Francisco de Villareal spent the winter studying the Calusa language, and proceeded to work among the tribe in southern Florida. The establishment there of a fort and settlement at Mound Key was the first such effort to colonize the area. A chapel was built at the Jesuit mission in 1567. Due to frequent conflict with the Calusa, the Mound Key area was abandoned by the Spanish in 1569.

Post Civil War

After the end of the US Civil War in 1865, missionaries from Savannah, St. Augustine, and Tampa, began visiting the areas south of Tampa Bay that later became the Diocese of Venice. In 1889 the care of the area within the Diocese fell under the jurisdiction of the Jesuit Fathers from Tampa, who made regular visits to Bradenton, Fort Myers, Arcadia, and adjacent missions. The first missions and Catholic communities within the current Diocese of Venice in Florida were located at Sacred Heart in Bradenton (1868), Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (later St. Francis Xavier) in Fort Myers (1878), St. Paul in Arcadia (1882), Sacred Heart in Punta Gorda (1888), St. Martha in Sarasota (1889), St. Michael in Wauchula (1915), St. Joseph in Bradenton (1915), and St. Catherine in Sebring (1918).

Creation of the Diocese

Epiphany Cathedral
Diocesan Pastoral Center

The Diocese of Venice in Florida was erected by Pope John Paul II in 1984 from parts of the Archdiocese of Miami, the Diocese of Orlando, and the Diocese of St. Petersburg; Bishop Emeritus John J. Nevins was the founding Bishop.

Bishops of Venice

The list of ordinaries of the diocese and their years of service:

  1. John Joseph Nevins (1984-2007)
  2. Frank Joseph Dewane (2007-present)


Ascension Parish

Ave Maria Oratory Quasi-Parish

Christ the King Chapel

Epiphany Cathedral Parish

Holy Child Mission

Holy Cross Parish

Holy Family Mission

Holy Martyrs Mission

Incarnation Parish

Jesus the Worker Parish

Our Lady of Grace Parish

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish

Our Lady of Light Parish

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish

Our Lady of Mercy Parish

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish

Our Lady of the Angels Parish

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish

Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish

Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish

Resurrection of Our Lord Parish

Sacred Heart Parish (Bradenton)

Sacred Heart (Punta Gorda)

San Alfonso Mission

San Antonio Parish

San Jose Mission

San Juan Diego Mission

San Marco Parish

San Pedro Parish

Santa Rosa De Lima Mission

Santiago Mission

Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish

St. Agnes Parish

St. Andrew Parish

St. Ann Parish

St. Bernard Parish

St. Catherine Parish

St. Cecilia Parish

St. Charles Borromeo Parish

St. Columbkille Parish

St. Elizabeth Seton Parish

St. Finbarr Parish

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish

St. Francis of Assisi Parish

St. Francis Xavier Parish

St. Isabel Parish

St. James Parish

St. John the Evangelist Parish

St. John XXIII Parish

St. Joseph Parish

St. Joseph the Worker Parish

St. Jude Parish

St. Katharine Drexel Parish

St. Leo Parish

St. Margaret Parish

St. Martha Parish

St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish

St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish

St. Michael Parish

St. Michael the Archangel Parish

St. Patrick Parish

St. Paul Parish

St. Peter the Apostle Parish

St. Raphael (Englewood)

St. Raphael Parish (Lehigh Acres)

St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Mission

St. Therese Parish

St. Thomas More Parish

St. Vincent de Paul Parish

St. William Parish

High schools

* Operates independently with blessing of diocese.

Diocesan elementary Schools

  • St. Charles Borromeo School, Port Charlotte
  • St. Ann School, Naples
  • St. Elizabeth Seton School, Naples
  • St. St. Catherine Catholic School, Sebring
  • St. Andrew School, Cape Coral
  • St. Francis Xavier School, Fort Myers
  • St. Joseph School, Bradenton
  • Epiphany Cathedral School, Venice
  • Incarnation School, Sarasota
  • St. Martha School, Sarasota
  • Rhodora J. Donahue Academy, Ave Maria

Diocesan special needs Schools

See also


External links

Coordinates: 27°06?N 82°26?W / 27.100°N 82.433°W / 27.100; -82.433

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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