Carol Hart, Chairman
Stephanie Bashein Emerson
DIOCESE OF VENICE IN FLORIDA
(The following copied from the website for the Venice Diocese)
The Florida Catholic - Venice Edition
Sarasota nun receives national award for AIDS ministry
Sister Frances Nevolo, OLC,
Sisters Of Our Lady of Charity, Director of Bethesda House, was honored
at a national convention.
By: Josh Noem
(SARASOTA - Aug. 23, 2001) Sister Frances Nevolo, OLC, who directs a Sarasota day center for those affected by HIV/AIDS, was recently honored by the National Catholic AIDS Network at the
organization's annual conference in Chicago for her service and outreach efforts.
Two people, a male and a female, who minister to those with HIV/AIDS are chosen every year to be recognized with the Lumina Award, which is presented at the conference's closing dinner.
Sister Nevolo, director of Bethesda House, was one of this year's recipients for her "generous and dedicated service in HIV/AIDS ministry," the award read. She was also a presenter at the July
"I was overwhelmed and deeply honored," she said. "I have a great regard for the network and the people there."
In addition to recognizing her work with Bethesda House, the award acknowledges Sister Nevolo's outreach to the homeless, her service to the marginalized and her networking with ministers of all faiths.
"It is a witness to the church's involvement," she said. "It was a strong affirmation."
The Bethesda House staff, other ministers from Sarasota, and diocesan personnel wrote letters to nominate Sister Nevolo for her "committed and compassionate service."
The gathering brought nearly 1,000 people together from the nation and internationally to share their experiences in Catholic ministry to those with HIV/AIDS.
A highlight of the conference for Sister Nevolo was when Auxiliary Bishop Priamo Tejeda, a retired bishop involved in HIV/AIDS ministry in the Venice Diocese and a network board member, gave a homily at the Sunday Mass. His homily was interrupted four times by applause from the congregation, Sister Nevolo said.
His homily likened the story of Mary and Martha in the Gospel to the need for both presence and service in AIDS ministry, she said. "As a bishop, he spoke not just as a shepherd and a teacher, he spoke with
a prophetic voice," she said. Sister Nevolo explained that she became interested in serving those
with HIV/AIDS because the ministry fits the charisma of her religious community. She was hired by the Venice Diocese ten years ago to serve those with HIV/AIDS in Sarasota County. She spent two years at an HIV clinic, then became director of Bethesda House. Looking ahead to future trends in ministering to those with HIV/AIDS, she explained that "people are seeing more and more homeless people, which is more than a red flag for us."
"We need to be aware that (those with the disease) are like many other people who live on very limited incomes or disability (stipends). People with HIV/AIDS are just not able to meet all of their needs and keep up with the cost of living," she said. An average of 40,000 people are infected with the disease every year, a number that has not changed in the last five years, she said. Bethesda House and its outreach to south Sarasota County, Joseph Place, has nearly 250 active clients, she said.
"The pandemic has not gone away. It is a challenge to the church and to the people in the pews."
She suggested that parishes and individuals "get educated and become
aware of how destructive and widespread the virus is," she said. "It is not a white, gay men's disease. Children and women are infected
She urged parishes to respond by forming care teams that would organize people to deliver food or provide transportation. "Certainly prayer support is needed, but people need people and they
need service," she said.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
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