Catholic Lay Groups Grow in Numbers

By Joan D. Laguardia
News-Press [Fort Myers, Florida]
Downloaded February 22, 2003

Bishop John J. Nevins of the Diocese of Venice is not opposed to Voice of the Faithful, a lay Catholic group that soon might have three chapters operating in his diocese.

"Bottom line, Bishop Nevins is not opposed to Voice of the Faithful and their main goals as we understand them to be," said Gail McGrath, diocese spokeswoman.

The goals of Voice of the Faithful are to respond to survivors of sexual abuse by priests, to support priests of integrity and to effect structural change that helps ensure that this type of abuse never occurs again in the church.

Roman Catholics in Massachusetts formed the organization in March. Since then, 250,000 Roman Catholics worldwide have joined chapters.

About 10 new members joined VOTF - Greater Fort Myers, which held its first informational meeting last week, said Goz Gosselin of Fort Myers, Florida regional adviser for the new group.

"We are now a total of a little under 30," he said. National organizers say groups must have at least 30 members to be official.

Organizers of the 6-month-old chapter in Naples, Voice of the Faithful of Southwest Florida, are working with Marco Island residents to start a chapter there. It would be the third in the Diocese of Venice.

In addition, Gosselin said he is working with Palm Beach residents to start a chapter there.

Chapters are growing quickly in Southwest Florida because winter residents have brought their support for the organization here, said Peg Clark, a founder of the Naples group, which has about 200 members.

She also said Southwest Florida has the Catholic population to support the organization.

McGrath said she expects Voice of the Faithful to support Nevins because "the diocese has been doing for years what VOTF espouses."

  • WHAT: VOTF - Greater Fort Myers meeting
  • WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, March 10
  • WHERE: The Lee Plantation Club House, 10950 Old South Way off Pine Ridge Road in Fort Myers
  • INFORMATION: Call Goz Gosselin, 466-1594 or e-mail terriandgoz @prodigy. net. For information about Voice of the Faithful of Southwest Florida, call (239) 417-3077.


Naples VOTF chapter:

Diocese of Venice:

E-mail VOTF:


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