VENICE — Catholics from across the Diocese of Venice will attend a special celebration commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Ordination to the Priesthood of the Most Rev. John J. Nevins, founding Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, starting with a Mass at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 7 at Epiphany Cathedral.
The Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, the second Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, and bishops throughout Florida were concelebrate the Mass. Priests, deacons, family and friends from across the 10-county diocese are expected to attend. The Mass will be followed by a reception in Epiphany Cathedral parish hall.
Nevins was ordained to the priesthood at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on June 6, 1959. He served the Archdiocese of Miami in many capacities before being ordained as an Auxiliary Bishop in 1979.
It was in 1984, when Pope John Paul II appointed then-Auxiliary Bishop Nevins to lead the newly created Diocese of Venice in Florida which included a 10-county area carved out of the existing Archdiocese of Miami, the Diocese of St. Petersburg and the Diocese of Orlando. The Diocese of Venice includes Collier, Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota counties.
The Catholic population in the 10-county Diocese exploded from approximately 115,000 to more than 200,000 parishioners under his tutelage. In an effort to better meet the spiritual needs of this burgeoning Catholic population, Nevins added more than a dozen parishes to the original 39, and increased the number of chapels and missions to 13. He also oversaw the ordinations of 50 men to the priesthood. Nevins established a new elementary school, a school for adult formation and two retreat centers. Under his motto: "To Serve with Mercy," he responded to changing societal needs by instituting many Diocesan ministries, including those to migrant farm workers, unwed mothers, refugees and people with HIV/AIDS.
Nevins retired on his 75th birthday in January 2007 and was replaced by Bishop Dewane.
The recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the priestly ordination of Nevins is the latest in a series of yearlong events as part of “A Year of Celebration” which marks the 25th Anniversary of the Diocese of Venice.
For more information contact the Communications Department of the Diocese of Venice at 941-486-4701 or visit www.dioceseofvenice.org.