All posts by Maria

Saint Leo University Welcomes Record-Setting Class of 2023

There were plenty of smiles on Thursday, August 15, 2019, and Friday, August 16, 2019, as Saint Leo University welcomed its largest class of incoming students. While it was sticky, hot, and rainy, students and their parents had much help in moving their belongings into their residence halls. As a vehicle would pull up, a swarm of students, faculty, staff, and alumni would pull items and haul them into the students’ rooms.

New Student Orientation included a Welcome to the Pride event to cheer on the more than 1,000 members of the Class of 2023 and introduce them to Saint Leo. Some of the university’s new international students paraded with the flags of their countries— the class comes from 60 countries around the world.

The university welcomed more than 800 new freshmen and 180 transfer students to the campus, north of Tampa in Pasco County. This represented a more than 45 percent increase over last year’s new student enrollment at Florida’s oldest Catholic university.

“Loving God, for all of us this is a time of transition from the rest and relaxation of summer,” said Father Kyle Smith, university chaplain, in an opening prayer at the Welcome to the Pride event.  “Turn the sadness of leaving family to the joy of making new friends.”

This year, Saint Leo held a formal convocation ceremony to welcome the students as scholars and stress the importance of academics. Faculty and administration processed in academic regalia. The new students received Saint Leo lapel pins from university leadership to symbolize their membership in the scholarly community. “You must be honest, fair, diligent, and dedicated,” said Dr. Mary Spoto, vice president of Academic Affairs.

Classes begin Tuesday, August 20.

2019 Saint Leo University Welcomes Record-Setting Class of 2023

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.


The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 12,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 93,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.

Catholic Bishops Urge Governor DeSantis to Spare the Life of Gary Ray Bowles

Gary Ray Bowles is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, August 22, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. for the 1994 murder of Walter Hinton. Bowles additionally pled guilty to five other murders and is serving life sentences for two of them.

In a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Michael Sheedy, executive director, Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, acknowledged that Bowles’ actions caused grievous harm to the victims, their loved ones, and the community. Sheedy also noted Bowles’ history of childhood trauma as a victim of abuse, homelessness, and child prostitution.

Urging the governor to stay the scheduled execution, Sheedy writes, “Intentionally ending Mr. Bowles’ life is unnecessary. Society can remain safe from any future violent actions of his through life-long incarceration without parole. Premeditated, state-sanctioned homicide of Mr. Bowles would only perpetuate the cycle of violence that victimized him, and which he later perpetuated.”

The Catholic Church has long advocated for an end to the use of the death penalty. Preceding each execution for nearly four decades, the Florida bishops have urged governors to commute the sentence of the condemned to life in prison. This is the second death warrant signed by Gov. DeSantis.

Prior to Bowles’ scheduled execution, Catholic faithful and members of the community will gather across Florida to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for those on death row, for the governor as he confronts the decision to proceed with the execution, and for an end to the use of the death penalty.

Read the full text of the letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Additional recent commentary on the death penalty by Florida bishops:

Please take the following two actions in support of human life and dignity.

Catholic faithful and members of the community will gather across the state to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for those on death row, for an end to the use of the death penalty, and for Governor DeSantis as he confronts the decision to proceed with the execution. See information on local prayer vigils below.

Thursday, August 22, 2019
11:30 a.m. Followed by Benediction.
St. Vincent de Paul Parish
4843 Mile Stretch Drive
Holiday, FL

Thursday, August 22, 2019
Spirit FM 90.5 WBVM Tampa will be praying on air at 5:50 p.m. Spirit FM is also available on the internet at

Please send a message to Governor DeSantis urging him to stay Mr. Bowles’ execution and to make this first death warrant his last. Urge Governor DeSantis to Spare the Life of Gary Ray Bowles.

Cristo Rey Tampa Announces New President Scott Morreale

Scott Morreale

Fr. Timothy Zak, SDB, Provincial Superior, Salesians of Don Bosco, Province of St. Philip the Apostle, and the Board of Members, announces today that Scott Morreale has been appointed to the position of President of Cristo Rey Tampa High School effective August 19, 2019.

“Scott brings professional qualifications and personal skills that he is ready to put at the service of the Salesian mission of Cristo Rey Tampa, that of educating and evangelizing young people.  He shared how he sees this opportunity to be president as part of his search for his personal mission in life, and his openness to God’s plan for him. The Salesians of Don Bosco are looking forward to starting this new academic year with the school’s first graduating class, full of energy and excitement, now under the direction of a new, high-energy and enthusiastic president,” said Fr. Zak, SDB.

“Over the last few months, we have reviewed resumes and interviewed numerous candidates searching for the right person to lead Cristo Rey Tampa. The Salesians of Don Bosco Board of Members, Cristo Rey Tampa Board of Directors, and the Cristo Rey Network believe Scott Morreale is that person with his unique combination of business, education, and community service experience”, said William “Bill” J. Garrett, Interim President of Cristo Rey Tampa.

“It is an honor, and the opportunity of a lifetime, to serve as President of Cristo Rey Tampa High School. I am grateful to the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Cristo Rey Tampa Board of Directors, and the Cristo Rey Network, for their confidence in me. This is a very exciting academic year in the history of Cristo Rey Tampa. My team and I will be working very hard, on behalf of our students and their families, to make it something we can all be proud of”, said Scott Morreale, New President of Cristo Rey Tampa.

Morreale has over 26 years of professional experience in business development and management and holds a Master of Business Administration from St. Leo University, where he worked for five years as the National Director of Sales & Business Development. He received a Bachelor of Science in Education/Management from Canisius College, Buffalo, NY.

His professional experience includes 17 years at The Finish Line, Inc. as National Director of Personnel & Business Development, and most recently, 4 years as Executive Vice President of Sales & Business Development for Fusion Logistics in Tampa.

Morreale is a member of Leadership Tampa Bay class of 2012, was President of the Tampa River Lights Festival, State of Florida Workforce Job Board of Directors, Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) Board of Directors, and national advisory board member for Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA).

On August 15, 2016, Cristo Rey Tampa opened its doors to provide a Catholic, college-preparatory education to families with limited educational options. This year, these students will be the school’s first graduating class.

Salesians of Don Bosco
The Salesians of Don Bosco is the religious sponsor for Cristo Rey Tampa. The second-largest Catholic religious order in the world, Salesians are serving youth in the spirit of its founder – St. John Bosco in different initiatives: schools, oratories, youth centers, technical and professional training centers, parishes, foreign missions, and activities in the realm of mass media and social communications. The Salesians began serving the Tampa community in 1928 at Mary Help of Christians Center. Click here for more information. 

About Cristo Rey Tampa
Cristo Rey Tampa Salesian High School is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created to provide low- and moderate-income families with a Catholic, college-preparatory education and real-world work experience through its Corporate Work Study Program. Cristo Rey Tampa is a member of the Cristo Rey Network, the first in Florida. Click here for more information.

About the Corporate Work Study Program
The Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization designed as an innovative economic model that enables students to receive a private, college preparatory education while gaining invaluable real-world work experience from leading corporations and non-profit organizations. Students earn a portion of their education by participating in the CWSP. Click here for more information.

About Cristo Rey Network®
The Cristo Rey Network® is the largest network of high schools in the country serving low- to moderate-income students with more than 12,000 students in 37 schools in 24 states plus the District of Columbia. Its proven formula has 100% of network graduates accepted into college, andthey complete college more than three times the rate of students from the same socioeconomic background. Click here for more information.

U.S. Bishops Call for Change in Language and Rhetoric of All Americans after Hate Filled Violence

Today, Bishops from three committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed their deep concern about racism and xenophobia that apparently motivated this weekend’s massacre in El Paso and that have motivated numerous other recent mass shootings in the United States. The Chairmen called on our elected officials to exert leadership in seeking to heal the wounds that these shootings have caused and to deal with the scourges of racism, xenophobia, and religious bigotry, including refraining from expressing hurtful, painful, and divisive rhetoric that dehumanizes and polarizes people on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the Committee on Migration, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, FL, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development, and Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism offered the following comments.

“The tragic loss of life of 22 people this weekend in El Paso demonstrates that hate-filled rhetoric and ideas can become the motivation for some to commit acts of violence. The anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim, and anti-Semitic sentiments that have been publicly proclaimed in our society in recent years have incited hatred in our communities. Hatred and harsh rhetoric were echoed in the El Paso shooter’s explanation about why he committed this weekend’s shooting, as well as being evident in the motivation of the shooters who attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year and the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015. We, therefore, renew our call to all to act swiftly to stop using hate-filled language that demeans and divides us and motivates some to such horrific violence. Instead, we ask our leaders and all Americans to work to unite us as a great, diverse, and welcoming people.”

Celebrating the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary falls on Thursday, August 15 in 2019. On this holy day of obligation, we commemorate when Mary’s body and soul were assumed into heaven and she passed into eternal life.

In the mystery of her Assumption, Mary experiences immediately what we all will experience eventually, a bodily resurrection like Christ’s own. “The Immaculate Virgin . . . when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of death” (CCC, no. 966, citing LG, no. 59).

Check your parish’s bulletin or website for Mass times. Find a listing of our parishes here.

The Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg will live video streaming the 8:15 a.m. School Mass so that any of the faithful who are homebound may watch.

Click here or watch the live video stream below.

U.S. Bishops Issue Statement After a Tragic Shooting in Dayton, Ohio

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, and President of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development have issued the following statement in response to the tragic shooting last night in Dayton, Ohio.

Full statement follows:

“We extend our condolences to the families and friends of those murdered in Dayton last night. The lives lost this weekend confront us with a terrible truth. We can never again believe that mass shootings are an isolated exception. They are an epidemic against life that we must, in justice, face. God’s mercy and wisdom compel us to move toward preventative action. We encourage all Catholics to increased prayer and sacrifice for healing and the end of these shootings. We encourage Catholics to pray and raise their voices for needed changes to our national policy and national culture as well. We call on all relevant committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to outline a reinvigorated policy agenda and pastoral campaign to address ways we can help fight this social disease that has infected our nation. The Conference has long advocated for responsible gun laws and increased resources for addressing the root causes of violence. We also call upon the President and Congress to set aside political interests and find ways to better protect innocent life.”

President of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Domestic Justice Chairman issued a Statement Following Shooting in El Paso

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement in response to the tragic shooting at the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas.

The full statement follows:

“This Saturday, less than week after the horrific instances of gun violence in California, yet another terrible, senseless and inhumane shooting took place, this time at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas.

Something remains fundamentally evil in our society when locations where people congregate to engage in the everyday activities of life can, without warning, become scenes of violence and contempt for human life. The plague that gun violence has become continues unchecked and spreads across our country.

Things must change. Once again, we call for effective legislation that addresses why these unimaginable and repeated occurrences of murderous gun violence continue to take place in our communities. As people of faith, we continue to pray for all the victims, and for healing in all these stricken communities. But action is also needed to end these abhorrent acts.”

U.S. Bishops Release Statement on the Federal Government’s Decision to Resume the Use of the Death Penalty

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice and Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development has issued a statement on the federal government’s decision to resume the use of the death penalty.

The full statement follows:

“In his address to Congress during his 2015 Apostolic visit to the United States, Pope Francis, echoing the views of his predecessors, called for ‘the global abolition of the death penalty.’ He further stated that, ‘[A] just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.’ As the Catechism of the Catholic Church now provides, ‘The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.’

At their meeting in June, the Catholic Bishops of the United States voted overwhelmingly to update the Catechism for use by adults in the United States to reflect this position. This is consistent with comparable calls by the Bishops for over forty years, including in their 2005 statement, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.

In light of these long held and strongly maintained positions, I am deeply concerned by the announcement of the United States Justice Department that it will once again turn, after many years, to the death penalty as a form of punishment. I urge instead that Federal officials take this teaching into consideration, as well as the evidence showing its unfair and biased application, and abandon the announced plans to implement the death penalty once more.”

“Sounds FUN!” Summer Camp Provides a Glimpse into Inner-workings of Radio Station

Diocesan radio station Spirit FM 90.5 hosted its very first, “Sounds FUN!” radio summer camp this summer. Three camp sessions were held for middle school students from our diocesan Catholic schools and local homeschool groups. Each session was two days long and offered students a glimpse of how a radio station operates.

During the camp, the budding broadcasters learned about the history of radio and how the music is chosen and scheduled. Students also wrote and produced their own 30 second on-air spots. Each camp session concluded with Mass in Spirit FM’s studios with campers serving as readers and altar servers.

Reflecting upon the camp, Abby Watts, Spirit FM Promotions Director said, “Radio is a unique medium. Even with all the other audio platforms available, there is still something special about radio that connects people. We loved giving the kids a chance to learn in a hands-on way and perhaps discover that they have a love for this industry.”

Click on the album below to see photos from the camp sessions.

2019 Spirit FM's "Sounds FUN" Summer Camp

 About Spirt FM:
Spirit FM 90.5 is a radio ministry that is owned and operated by the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Programming includes contemporary Christian music, prayer, and conversation that inspires listenersto center their lives on Jesus Christ and Gospel values. The Spirit FM studios are located near downtown Tampa on the parish grounds of Christ the King Catholic Church and transmit at 90.5 FM with a powerful 100,000-watt signal. To learn more, visit:

Beware of Text Message, Email and Social Media Scams

It has come to the attention of the Diocese of St. Petersburg that parishioners have been receiving text messages and emails asking for money and gift cards from people pretending to be our priests. Our priests and staff do not contact individuals via text message or social media to ask for money or personal information.

Do not reply to such text or social media messages and report them to your parish and the Diocese.

When internet fraudsters mimic a legitimate individual, organization or business to trick consumers into giving out personal information or money, it is called phishing. When fraudsters do this via text messaging, it is called smishing.

To protect yourself from smishing, phishing, email scams and hoaxes, follow these tips from the Federal Trade Commission.

  • Be aware. Legitimate organizations never ask for personal or financial information (such as usernames, passwords, PINs, credit or debit card numbers) via text message, social media, or emails.
  • Do not be rushed. Smishing scams try to create a false sense of urgency by implying that an immediate response is required or that there is limited time to respond.
  • Verify the legitimacy of a text message, social media message, or email that you receive from any organization, including a church. Call the office and speak to a representative who can assist with verifying the legitimacy of the communication. Do not  call any phone numbers that may have been included in the suspicious message. Contact the organization by the information listed in your records.
  • Ignore suspicious text messages, social media messages, and emails from someone who claims to need your personal information or financial assistance.
Learn ways to avoid smishing, phishing and other scams at and via the articles below.
Visit to learn about protecting your family online.