• Two local priests publish books on prayer Posted in: Diocesan News

    Two priests of the Diocese of Orlando, Father Eamon Tobin, pastor of Ascension Parish in Melbourne, and Father David Scotchie, pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish in Oviedo are passionate about proclaiming the word of God, both in their parish communities and to people around the world. Both pastors have recently published books on prayer and are touching lives with their writing.

    FATHER EAMON TOBIN

    “I have no background in writing or English grammar,” said Father Tobin. “I started writing booklets for RCIA and Sister of Notre Dame Margaret Gilmore at St. Joseph’s Parish in Winter Haven encouraged me to send the booklets to Ligouri – they accepted two – Forgiveness and Reconciliation.”

    That affirmation was enough for Father Tobin to expand his work on forgiveness to a book – “How to Forgive Yourself and Others” first published by Ligouri in 1983. He followed that book with another, “Prayer: A Handbook for Catholics,” first published by Ligouri in 1989, but it eventually went out of print.

    The book was revised and re-released this January from Dynamic Catholic with two new chapters and new title: “13 Powerful Ways to Pray.” It is divided into two sections: Four Keys to an Effective Prayer Life and Thirteen Forms of Prayer.

    “People can be frequent pray – ers, but at the same time fearful of God, judging others, with little or no compassion for the poor – so prayer doesn’t impact their lives,” Father Tobin said. “Effective prayer impacts our lives.”

    The book is practical. It addresses the challenge of unanswered prayer; how prayer should help us forgive life’s hurts; how prayer helps us make good decisions; and the problem of dryness. Each chapter ends with four questions for personal reflection, small group discussion and a suggested spiritual exercise.

    “I grew up in a prayerful family where I saw my father on his knees on the kitchen floor before he went out to the fields,” Father Tobin shared. “My aunts did a holy hour every mid-morning; another image is of my Aunt Daisy – stick in one hand, rosary in the other bringing the cows in from the fields and farmers in the field, caps off – stopping what they were doing to pray the Angelus. And every evening the rosary – never an exception – visitors were asked to join in and everyone had their decade. I was surrounded by that atmosphere of prayer – the image of St. Patrick’s breastplate – Christ within me, Christ before me…”

    FATHER DAVID SCOTCHIE

    “Writing is a hobby,” explained Father David Scotchie, who is also a contributor to the Florida Catholic. “I have a degree in physics and a doctorate in preaching. I love to read and recognize writing is a dinosaur – I really should be doing online or podcasts. I’m self-published. I spent a few hundred dollars to publish a book and it’s been a joy for me.”

    Father Scotchie has written and self-published two books. His first, “A Prayer for Hope: I Can’t. You Can. I’m Yours.” is a prayer of surrender intended for people in overwhelming situations – divorce, death, addiction.

    “The book is a presentation and explanation of one simple prayer of six words that a person can remember – ‘I Can’t. You Can. I’m Yours’,” explained Father Scotchie. “It’s specific to those in need of hope, embraces the grieving, ill and despairing. The prayer admits ‘I can’t handle this; God, I know you can; I trust you.’ It renews that relationship with God.”

    Ordained in 1993, Father Scotchie explained that people see his collar and expect him to offer to pray with them.

    “I’ve never had the words for spontaneous prayer and I felt uncomfortable praying for people publicly,” Father Scotchie explained. “I’ve learned over the years to pray with another on the spot. When we pray with someone, we do what Jesus did and invoke God’s power. Jesus didn’t say, ‘I’ll pray for you’ – he did it. As the priesthood of people we do what Jesus did. It changes the relationship from sympathy to giving witness to God in our lives.”

    Thus, his latest book – “Can I Say a Prayer with You? A Beginner’s Guide to Praying with Someone” seeks to overcome the reluctance or fear of spontaneous prayer and provide the training and desire to help others become prayer for and with others.

    Susan D’Aulerio is a parishioner at Most Precious Blood who read both of Father Scotchie’s books and took action.

    “I was at Dunkin’ Donuts and overheard a young man phoning various social service agencies,” D’Aulerio explained. “His wife kept going outside crying. She told me that they were living in their car and trying to get some help. I remembered from reading Father David’s book that we should pray on the spot. I asked them if I could pray for and with them. I have never been comfortable praying out loud for someone, especially strangers, in the middle of Dunkin Donuts.  It was truly the words of the Holy Spirit that flowed from my lips.  I held their hands, we embraced, I bought them something to eat and explained the concept of: I can’t. You can. I’m yours.  Both of Father David’s books have impacted my life, which in turn impacted this young couple’s life as well.”

    “I encourage people to write their own books,” Father Scotchie said. “You don’t have to be a published author. Everyone has a story and why not share it? It’s my message.”

  • God Calls Everyday People Posted in: Diocesan News

    In a time when the noise and busyness of the world gets in the way of time set aside to grow in faith, hearing God’s call is getting harder than ever. To enable youth to hear that call, this year Focus 11, an annual diocesan vocations awareness event, offered almost 600 students the opportunity to learn about vocations to religious life, the priesthood and marriage and how to discern to which one God is calling them. The two-day event was held Feb. 14-15 at Holy Family Parish in Orlando.

    Students made rosaries, participated in a scavenger hunt and listened to vocation stories. Each day began with Mass, reminding them that Christ accompanies them in this journey and created each person with a particular vocation in mind.

    Bishop John Noonan pointed to the question Jesus asked the blind man in Mark 8, “Do you really want to see?” This is the key, explained Bishop Noonan. “It’s the same with us,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t want to see. And Jesus is encouraging us to see the truth.” He referred to the difficulties people have letting go of personal plans in order to follow the truth in which Jesus wants everyone to share and live.

    Referring to the story of Noah he said, “God asked Noah to build an ark. This was a monumental task, but God helped him. Noah was open to God’s help and guidance. Sometimes God asks great things of us and we are afraid.”

    Father Josh Swallows, parochial vicar at Annunciation Parish in Altamonte Springs, related his experience. “There was this part of my calling that’s attractive and terrifying.” Through prayer and discernment, he was able to come to terms with it and overcome his fears.

    The day was spent unpacking those two precepts: truly wanting truth to be revealed and then having the trust to surrender and embrace God’s will for our vocation.

    The panel of sisters, priests and seminarians’ vocation stories was as diverse as squares on a patchwork quilt. From Servant of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary Sister Rachel Gosda hearing an inner voice that would not rest to God’s helping Third Order Regular Franciscan Father Anthony Aarons find a coconut, leading to his discovery that God answers prayers— each witness was a testament to God’s desire to meet us where we are.

    Speaking for the call to marriage, Regina and Dan Boyd shared the story of their courtship and how God revealed his will for them. Their journey led them to a long period of patient waiting, discernment and prayer before they embraced God’s will.

    “It’s all very personal for each individual,” said Servant of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary Sister Christine Hernandez. “For me, I was working in my car and I felt a voice, way above me telling me, ‘You should be nun.’ It was a strong voice, not a scary voice. And I knew that it was something bigger than me, outside of me because I had never thought of it. I didn’t even know nuns existed.”

    Everyone agreed that discerning their vocation required asking God what He wanted for them. Father Benjamin Lehnertz, parochial vicar at Holy Family Parish, said, “When I did, I started asking: Lord, help me to want what you want. Help me to desire what you desire. Help me to choose what you choose. And that is when I started to be drawn with a desire to the priesthood.”

    Daniel, a sixth grade student from Holy Family Catholic School said what most impressed him was, “What they (religious) actually go through to achieve this beautiful thing and that they can do this all through trusting in God.”

    His take away was, “God will do anything for you, from really big things to small things, like just giving you a coconut. It helps me listen more to God instead of what I want to do. I learned to pray to God before I make a big decision that might impact peoples’ lives.”

    In closing, Father Swallows said, “We are all called to follow Jesus in a radical way, no matter what your vocation is. How do you want to give your life?”

  • Resurrection Catholic School Celebrates Catholic Schools Week Posted in: Ace Reporter Articles

    National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States, taking place since 1974. The annual observance starts the last weekend in January and runs all week. This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

    Resurrection Catholic School (RCS) students started Catholic School’s Week by attending Mass as a family. Students showed pride by greeting parishioners and wearing the school’s Mass uniform to church during Saturday and Sunday Masses.

    New families were invited to an Open House to share RCS’s outstanding academic programs, religious education, and service opportunities.

    On Monday, the community was celebrated. RCS Student Government members joined with four other Catholic schools to volunteer at the Agape Food Bank packaging meals and sorting food items in an effort to reduce hunger in our community. Baby bottles were also distributed to students to collect money for Options for Women. In addition, each homeroom chose a different service project in which to participate to benefit the community.

    Tuesday was a day for celebrating students and their accomplishments. Each student had the opportunity to dress out for a cause as money was collected for the Catholic Charities Adoption Center. All students took part in participating in a Go-Take-a-Hike Walkathon.

    On Wednesday, National Appreciation Day, Catholic schools are recognized for the contributions they make to their communities and the role they play in preparing students to be faith based citizens. This is also a day RCS celebrated grandparents and what they mean to us.

    Thursday was a day for celebrating vocations. Students in grades three to eight joined Father Luis Salazar and Father Tim Murphy as they shared their journey on how they were called to the priesthood.

    On the final day, Resurrection Catholic School honored its teachers, administrators and staff who support students in their education journey. In addition, parents, grandparents, alumni, parishioners and school board members were also recognized for their volunteer service.

    It was a great week to appreciate the privilege of a Catholic education, support our community, learn something new, and of course – have fun!

    Article written by Samantha L., a 7th grader at Resurrection Catholic School, Lakeland.

  • Korean Veterans Share and Teach St. Paul Students Posted in: Ace Reporter Articles

    Veterans from the Lake County Korean War Association, Chapter 169 came to speak at St. Paul Catholic School in Leesburg last month. There were four presenters, three of whom served in the war. The fourth presenter was the wife of a soldier who served the United States in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

    The veterans spoke to students in grades four through eight, and students were eager to ask the brave veterans about their experiences in Korea. St. Paul students have a close relationship with the Korean War veterans as they visit the school each year. This year, the students were lucky enough to meet a two-star general who used to build bunkers for other generals. What is learned from these veterans is then applied to a research project based on the Korean War.

    The veterans have used St. Paul student work in their presentations to other schools. The students always look forward to seeing them again next year.

    Article by Christian G., an 8th grade student from St. Paul Catholic School, Leesburg. Photos by Mrs. V. Pfahler

  • Soaring into Catholic Schools Week Posted in: Ace Reporter Articles

    The students at Saint Joseph Catholic School in Winter Haven enjoyed celebrating Mass with Bishop John Noonan on Friday, January 27th.  During the homily, he asked many children if they enjoyed being at school and what they do for Valentine’s Day. Then he said, “The best way to show love on Valentine’s Day is to show God your love.”

    After Mass, middle school students performed “Let Your Light Shine” for the Bishop.  They sang “Running in Circles” and signed the words.  The song reminded the students that Jesus is always with them and brings them peace.

    Following the middle school’s performance, class pictures were taken with Bishop Noonan. The day the bishop visited our church was a special day for everyone to enjoy. Bishop Noonan was the light of our day.

    Article written by Kaydence S., a  6th grader at St. Joseph School , Winter Haven.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

  • Catholic Schools Week at St. Joseph Catholic School Posted in: Ace Reporter Articles

    On Tuesday, January 31, 2017 St. Joseph Catholic School students participated in stations consisting of fun activities to celebrate Catholic Schools Week. At one of the stations, students walked toiletries that they had collected over to Catholic Charities of Central Florida with their little buddies. It was a great experience for the little ones to see all the donations collected.

    Making rosaries out of pipe cleaners and beads was another activity. Students made their own rosaries and the younger children received help from the older students. It was a great way to tie in religion with arts and crafts.

    An unusual activity was buddy reading in a dark hallway with flashlights. At our school we have older students who help mentor and guide younger students. We call them buddies. The older buddy read to the younger buddy, and then they switched roles.  Buddy groups played games together. There were Dominoes, Monopoly, and many other interesting games that were generously donated by different families.

    Parents had a chance to visit and have lunch with their children, picnic style.  Any students whose parents could not make it ate with the other students and their teachers.

    To end the day, the children went to their homerooms for a movie and popcorn. It was a fun-filled day full of religious experiences.

    Article written by Caroline J., a 6th grader St. Joseph Catholic School, Winter Haven.

  • Traditions Rich in Faith and Heritage Posted in: Ace Reporter Articles

    2017 is upon us and we can all look forward to what’s to come in the new year. Resurrection Catholic Parish in Lakeland has a diverse congregation and various ways of celebrating the New Years, Feast of the Epiphany, and making resolutions.

    Resurrection Catholic School (RCS) Principal, Mrs. Deborah Schwope has a Polish background and her celebrations are based on Lithuanian tradition carried on by her family.  Mrs. Schwope decribed one unique aspect, “The first person to enter the house on New Year’s Day should be a blonde-haired boy,” she said. It is believed it would bring good luck for the year. “It was always my blonde headed brother!” she said adding, “I always invite my children to come to dinner on New Year’s Day and my blonde haired grandsons enter the house first to bring me good luck.”

    Mrs. Schwope has very interesting traditions for the Epiphany as well. “On the Feast of the Epiphany we bless our house with holy water and mark the symbol 20 + C + M + B + 17. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials for the names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, or ‘May Christ bless the house,’” she said.  “The “+” signs represent the cross and 2017 is the year.”  She keeps her holy water in her grandmother’s cookie jar which is in the shape of a Franciscan Brother who has written on his ample belly, “Thou shall not steal.”  Schwope smiled and said, “Then they bake cookies to fill the belly of the cookie jar so we are blessed with good food all year long.”  Personally, this writer loves that idea!

    Sydney H. is a 7th grader at RCS said her traditions are rooted in spending quality time with family on New Year’s Eve.  “My family went to Circle B and hiked,” she said. Sydney explained that afterward they went out to a favorite restaurant and to see a movie together.  The night was young and the tradition is to watch the ball drop, so they went home and “played cards, and watched the ball drop. We celebrated with sparkling apple juice.”  Spending time together as a family is special to the Harrington’s.

    Sydney also believes in resolutions built around faith and personal growth. Her faith-based resolutions and personal goals are as follows: “To live a simpler life, one with God and not false worship items. Pray more…. picking a theme for each prayer instead of saying the same ones. To be thankful for what I have and not what I don’t and to let God into my life and let him work through me.”

    These were followed by personal goals to “Set specific goals and achieve them with hard work. To be a better more trustworthy person, and to be mature in actions, thoughts, and words, and have a healthier diet”.  All admirable goals!

    The New Year is a time of reflection, and each of us should not only look back and evaluate the previous year, but look forward to reaching new heights in the year to come!  We should also consider establishing our own family traditions if none currently exist, to celebrate the New Year and the Epiphany.

    Article written by Samantha L., a 7th grader at Resurrection Catholic School, Lakeland.

  • Learning the Faith Through Art Posted in: Ace Reporter Articles

    On August 22, 1990, the feast of  the Virgin Mary’s queenship, ground was broken for a main Church that today sits 2,000 people, with standing room for many more. With the blessing of St. Pope John Paul II, this church became the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe in Orlando.

    Today, the Basilica hosts a multitude of works of art expressing the life of Christ and the history of the Church. One can find beautiful stained glass windows, sculptures, mosaics, oil paintings, perfectly manicured landscaping, and the magnificent architecture of the Basilica itself. Adjacent structures include a Museum of Religious Art, an Interactive Pilgrimage Center, a bell tower, and a gift shop. The grounds are extensive with gardens, ponds, and a stone pathway that forms the five decades of the Rosary. Altogether, the site is a wonderful and art-filled area celebrating the Catholic faith.

    On January 6th, 2017, the 7th grade class of St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School visited the Basilica to learn more about our Catholic Faith. Fifty-five students were split in ten groups and ten tour guides walked with the students to ten selected stations in and out of the Church. Students Katherine and Lily shared their experiences about their visit to the Basilica. Katherine was particularly impressed with the original oil painting of “La Imaculada” by Esteban Murillo, which shows Our Blessed Lady being assumed into Heaven. Lily was deeply touched by a bronze sculpture of “St. Joseph and the Child Jesus” that depicts Joseph and a young Jesus in the carpenter shop.

    I highly recommend Catholic schools in the area to take a field trip to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. It is both a great teaching tool as well as a sacred place for reflection and inspiration.

    Article written by Henri R., an 8th grader at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School, Altamonte.

  • Teaching, the Vocation of a Lifetime Posted in: Ace Reporter Articles

    Everyone can agree on the importance of education. Teachers impact many lives during their careers and can influence children who will make a big difference in society. Recognizing talented teachers for their hard work and dedication is important. Two teachers from Resurrection Catholic School in Lakeland were recipients of the Teacher of the Year Award.

    Mrs. Lisa Schaal, middle school science teacher, was awarded this honor in 2016. Outside of teaching, Mrs. Schaal enjoys being around family, sports, cooking, and playing card games.

    Elementary school teacher, Miss Jennifer Jones, received her recognition in 2014. Miss Jones enjoys hanging out with family, visiting Disney, and reading. Both were very grateful and humbled by the special recognition from their peers and felt proud to represent such a talented group of educators.

    When asked if God had influenced their decision to be a teacher, Mrs. Schaal said it had. She said it is important to instill that living the Beatitudes are the heart of Jesus’ teachings. “Being a Catholic teacher gives me a chance every day to showcase my love of Jesus by trying to do my best and set the example,” Schaal added. “It is important that our students hear us talk about our faith so that they will be comfortable in doing that as well.”

    Miss Jones had always wanted to be a teacher, but felt a calling during college when a volunteer was needed to teach at a small school in New Mexico as a Catholic mission opportunity. She never looked back, “God continues to tug on my heartstrings and remind me of why I am here,” said Miss Jones. “It’s a hard feeling to put into words, but when you are doing the work that God has called you to do, you just know it with your entire being. That doesn’t make it easy to live out your faith, but it brings a peace to your life.”

    Both women were very passionate about increasing interest in a teaching career. “Teachers are professionals and need to be proud of their career path and recognize it is a profession that ignites all other professions,” Mrs. Schaal stated. “Universities need to continue to offer rigorous programs and entice both females and males to major in education.”

    This thought was reinforced by Miss Jones who added, “Learning never stops; students need to see their educators as role models and positive leaders.”

    Both Teachers of the Year see the biggest challenge they face is helping children develop a love for learning and to see the importance of this gift of education. Teachers want each child to know that they can succeed and achieve their goals.

    Schaal and Jones are both excited about the future of education. Miss Jones commented, “I love where education is going with the focus on the individual and determining what makes each student special and how best to help each succeed.” Mrs. Schaal agreed saying, “We are moving in the direction of teaching students to challenge themselves and to problem solve. We are allowing for more collaboration and getting students to set goals for their own learning.”

    The profession of teaching has changed with technology allowing the sharing of ideas. Asking questions of other teachers and using these valuable resources offer new approaches that could benefit the students. Mrs. Schaal summed it up this way: “Don’t settle for easy or mediocrity. The ultimate goal is to create students who have perseverance and respect for everyone.”

    As for advice to new teachers entering the profession, Mrs. Schaal and Miss Jones expressed that teaching can be very challenging and the hours required are much more than many realize, but the rewards make it all worth it. Making a difference in a child’s life is a thing to cherish.

    Article written by Samantha L, a 7th grader at Resurrection Catholic School, Lakeland.

  • Bishop Noonan Celebrates Mass with St. Paul Students Posted in: Ace Reporter Articles, Archbishop Thomas Wenski

    On January 20, 2017, Bishop John Noonan came to visit the students at St. Paul Catholic School in Leesburg. The day began with Friday Mass, as Bishop Noonan led the congregation.

    During the Mass, Bishop Noonan asked every grade how they were doing on that wonderful Friday morning. The morning Mass was full of laughter and joy, just as it should always be.

    After Mass, the bishop walked the St. Paul campus, entering classrooms and interacting with the students, answering questions. When asked, “What is your favorite part of being the bishop?,” he answered, “My favorite part of being bishop is visiting all the different parishes and schools.”

    The Orlando Diocese contains nine counties and includes 36 elementary schools, five high schools, and 91 different parishes and missions. In addition to being the shepherd of the faithful, part of his role as bishop is to oversee all of the administration within the diocese.

    Article by Christian G., photo by Jonah L., 8th grade students at St. Paul Catholic School, Leesburg.