Dorothy Gereke, formerly Sr. Concetta the co-founder of TEC in 1965, moved to Boca Raton FL in 1972. Soon afterward she met Dick and Colleen Venezia who were the Marriage Encounter contact couple for the area. They soon became good friends, and their conversations not infrequently included a mention of TEC.
In planning TEC’s 20th anniversary celebration in 1985, the TEC Conference decided to invite the co-founders to deliver the keynote addresses. Oblivious to the fact that TEC was still in existence, Dorothy enthusiastically and gratefully accepted the invitation. She returned home after the convention, committed to see a TEC center established in the Diocese of Palm Beach. Using personal resources she sent several young adults to Omaha and Denver to experience a TEC weekend. She recruited older adults as well, including Dick and Colleen who traveled to Denver to experience their TEC.
With the support of the bishop and the participation of enthusiastic adults --- many of whom were from the Midwest --- the first Palm Beach TEC was held in 1986. A busload of TECers came from Western Kentucky to give their support, and Palm Beach TEC was on its way. Having been ordained a permanent deacon in 1985, Dick became an integral part of the development and growth of Palm Beach TEC, and it was not long before he became Coordinator of Region XIV (southeastern United States and the Bahamas). He made many contacts while serving TEC at the national level and in his capacity as Region Coordinator he utilized some of those contacts in the establishment of TEC in Atlanta. Palm Beach TEC provided most of the team. Some team members came from Western Kentucky, including the team’s spiritual director. Integral to the establishment of Atlanta TEC were TECers from other parts of the country who had moved to Atlanta. Their experience and leadership contributed greatly to Atlanta’s success in the early years in light of the fact that geographical considerations limited the influence and participation of Palm Beach TEC to the first few Atlanta weekends.
Sadly enough, both Atlanta and Palm Beach TECs closed after several years of existence, Atlanta TEC in 1995 and Palm Beach TEC in the late 1990s. Atlanta, however, was successfully restarted in 1997. A young lady from Atlanta TEC was studying in Miami and was a leader in a Eucharistic adoration group called “Spirit and Truth.” It was through her influence after making an Atlanta TEC that several south Floridians traveled to Atlanta to experience a TEC weekend.This small group was enthusiastic about helping to establish TEC in the Archdiocese of Miami but lacked the support of the Office of Young Adult Ministry. Hearing that (Deacon) Dick Venezia had been very involved in TEC for many years and was serving in the Archdiocese they invited him to a meeting to discuss their hopes.
As it happened, Dorothy was visiting Dick at his home in the Florida Keys, casually mentioning the upcoming Spiritual Directors Workshop to be held in the St. Louis area. Palm Beach TEC had closed by then and so there was no apparent reason for him to be interested in participating. Nevertheless he felt the call to attend the workshop, a call that was validated when the group that had experienced TEC in Atlanta contacted him, expressing the desires of thegroup that TEC be established in Miami. Deacon Dick had a personal relationship with the auxiliary bishop who interceded with the Archbishop to secure the permission for TEC to be established in Miami. Dick enlisted the help of the Atlanta community and the support of the TEC Conference. Several Atlanta TECers (including some who had moved from Atlanta) joined with some TECers from the Miami area to put on Miami Sonshine TEC #1 on Valentine’s Day weekend of 2006.
The Diocese of Palm Beach borders the Archdiocese of Miami. It was natural that some candidates would be attracted to TEC from the north. Furthermore, a few interested members of the old Palm Beach TEC surfaced and were very interested in becoming involved. Dorothy’s home is in the Diocese and Dick was incardinated there as well. It was only natural that Palm Beach TEC should be revived. Once again Dick received permission to establish a TEC center --- this time in his home diocese. A core group was formed and the first Palm Beach TEC in the new era, TEC #36, was held in February of 2009, the team being composed of TECers from Miami, Palm Beach, and Atlanta. Later that year the two groups merged into what is now known as Sonshine TEC.
What goes around comes around!
Labor Day Weekend
August 31st - September 2nd, 2019