All posts by Maria

Bishop Parkes Named Saint Leo University Trustee

Saint Leo University welcomed the Most Reverend Gregory L. Parkes, bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL, as its newest member of the university’s board of trustees, effective July 1. Members of the volunteer board exemplify the university’s six core values and give of their time and expertise to ensure Saint Leo students receive the best possible education.

Bishop Parkes was installed as the fifth Bishop of St. Petersburg on January 4, 2017. He succeeded Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, who served the diocese since 1996. Lynch, Saint Leo Class of 1997, previously served on the university’s board of trustees.

Bishop Parkes was born in Mineola, NY, and attended St. Rose of Lima School in Massapequa, NY, Massapequa High School, and Daytona Beach Community College before earning a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University.

Prior to entering the seminary, he worked in the banking industry in Tampa. He attended St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, FL, from 1993 to 1996 and the Pontifical North American College in the Vatican City State from 1996 to 2000. He holds a Sacred Bachelor of Theology (STB) degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University (1998) and a Canon Law (JCL) degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University (2000). He was ordained a priest on June 26, 1999.

His assignments after ordination included: parochial vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church in Orlando from 2000 to 2004 and the pastor of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Celebration from 2005 to 2012. Bishop Parkes served the Orlando diocese as vicar general and chancellor for Canonical Affairs while serving as pastor of Corpus Christi Parish.

Bishop Parkes was ordained and installed as the fifth Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee on June 5, 2012. In January 2016, he began an appointment as episcopal liaison to the National Council of Catholic Women for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

In addition to Saint Leo University’s Board of Trustees, Bishop Parkes serves on the board of directors for Catholic Relief Services; the board of trustees for St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary and St. John Vianney College Seminary; the USSCB budget and finance committee; the USSCB Native American Affairs subcommittee, and the Table Foundation Board.

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 our 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. We welcome people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourage learners of all generations. We are committed to providing educational opportunities to our nation’s armed forces, our veterans, and their families. We are regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and we guide all our students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

Saint Leo University remains the faithful stewards of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where our founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 15,000 students, we have expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintain a physical presence in seven states. We provide highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 82,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.

The Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America

This summer, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops convened an unprecedented gathering of key leaders from dioceses and Catholic organizations from all across the country in order to assess the challenges and opportunities of our time, particularly in the context of the Church in the United States. This has been an ongoing initiative of the Bishops’ Working Group on the Life and Dignity of the Human Person. The gathering assembled Catholic leaders for a strategic conversation, under the leadership of the bishops, on forming missionary disciples to animate the Church and to engage the culture.

Click here to read the Closing Address from Archbishop Christoph Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. Click here to see photos that our delegates took at the Convocation.

Prayer for the 2017 Convocation of Catholic Leaders

The following people are the delegates from the Diocese of St. Petersburg who attended.



Dale Brown

Associate Director, Lay Pastoral Ministry Institute

Mike and Megan Buckler

Director of Youth Ministry, Our Lady of the Rosary

Sabrina Burton-Schultz

Director, Life Ministries

Gerri Drummond

St. Peter Claver Parish Youth Group Ministry

Mark Dufva

Executive Director of Catholic Charities, DOSP, Inc.

Carlos Flores

Associate Director of Hispanic Ministry / Diocesan Pastoral Council

Diane Kledzik

Associate Director, Evangelization, SCCs & Adult Faith Formation

Rev. Monsignor Robert Morris

Diocesan Vicar General, Pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish

Rev. Msgr. Brendan Muldoon

Pastor Emeritus of St. Jerome Parish

Most Rev. Gregory Parkes

Bishop of St. Petersburg

Rev. Justin Paskert

Campus Minister at USF Catholic Student Center, Parochial Vicar of Corpus Christi Parish

Ray and Terry Pawlicki

St. Rita Parish Parishioner and Volunteer

Rev. Robert Schneider

Director, Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Ministry, Pastor of St. Stephen Parish

Mary Woltman

President, Diocesan Council of Catholic Women

New Priest for Our Diocese

Bishop Parkes ordained Reverend Elixavier “Xavy” Castro to the priesthood on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle. Praise be to God!

Photos (more will be posted in the coming week, so please continue to check back). If your parish would like free digital copies of any of the photos, please contact the Office of Communications at 727-344-1611 ext. 5307 or at


2017 Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Thursday, May 25, is the 40th day after Easter, when the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord – when Jesus ascended bodily into heaven in the sight of the apostles.

Since the year 2000 in our diocese and the province of Florida, this holy day of obligation is transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter (this year it is on May 28).

Therefore, attending Mass on May 25 is not required (although it is wonderful to do so if you are able).

Pope Francis Gives TED Talk

Pope Francis recently gave a TED Talk, urging people to make real connections with each other. “Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough,” Pope Francis said. “Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face.”

Read more about it in this Catholic News Service article.

Watch Pope Francis’ TED talk below. For subtitles in other languages, visit the TED talk website.

2017 Chrism Mass

The Chrism Mass was held at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle. The Mass of Chrism usually takes place on Holy Thursday, but since the Diocese of St. Petersburg is so large and the priests and other people have to travel so far, it is held on Tuesday in the Cathedral during Holy Week.

Photos / Video

At this Mass, priests, in the presence of the bishop, renewed their personal dedication to Jesus Christ, promised to unite themselves closer to Christ and renewed their commitment to priestly service. The people promised to support their priests and the bishop asked everyone to pray for him.

During this calendar year 2017, twenty one of our priests will celebrate a 25th, 40th, 50th, 60th, and 65th anniversaries of ordination. As is our tradition, Bishop Parkes honored them at the Chrism Mass. See the names of those celebrating below.

25th Anniversary

  • Very Rev. Richard Jankowski, V.F.
  • Rev. Robert G. Romaine
  • Rev. Stephen C. Ryan, S.D.B.
  • Rev. Jose Tejada

40th Anniversary

  • Rev. Hector J. Cruz, S.M.
  • Rev. Jose George
  • Rev. Jerome J. Massimino, O.F.M.
  • Rev. John W. McDowell, O.F.M.
  • Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
  • Rev. Msgr. Cesar Petilla

50th Anniversary

  • Rev. Raul M. Acosta, S.D.B.
  • Rev. William R. Bigelow
  • Rev. Terence K. Fleming
  • Rev. Malachy Kilbride, C.S.Sp.
  • Rev. Gerasimos T. Murphy, B.S.O.
  • Rev. David J. Tickerhoof, T.O.R.

60th Anniversary

  • Rev. Joseph Braun, M. Afr.
  • Rev. Msgr. Diego Conesa
  • Rev. Msgr. Michael F. Devine
  • Rev. Msgr. James C. Lara

65th Anniversary

  • Rev. Bernardas Talaisis

During the Mass of Chrism, the Oil of Chrism was consecrated by the bishop. The bishop mixed olive oil and balsam in a large container before consecrating the Oil of Chrism. This oil is used in local churches during the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, in the Cathedral for the sacrament of Holy Orders, and in the blessing of new church altars.

Parish priests or deacons then transported the Oil of Chrism to their local parishes and missions.

The bishop also blessed the Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick. The Oil of Catechumens is used in a ceremony with people who are preparing to enter the Catholic Church, before they are baptized. The Oil of the Sick is used in the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, when people who are seriously ill are blessed.

Two representatives from 74 parishes, the University of South Florida, Pastoral Center and 7 missions in the Diocese brought vessels of olive oil for the bishop to bless for the Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick. These blessed oils were brought back to their parishes and missions and solemnly presented during local Holy Thursday evening services.

Survey & Listening Sessions with Bishop Parkes

As he settles into his new position as fifth Bishop of St. Petersburg, Bishop Parkes would like to hear the input and opinions of the faithful.

He will be holding nine listening sessions across the Diocese over the next several months to hear the answers to the following three questions.

  1. What are we doing well as a diocese?
  2. What things could we improve upon as a diocese?
  3. What things in ministry should we be focusing on as a local Church?

See the dates and locations for the listening sessions below. If you are unable to attend one of the nine listening sessions, Bishop Parkes would still like your feedback. Please answer the questions via a bilingual, anonymous, online survey (link below). All responses will be read and considered.

The survey is now closed. The survey was available through April 30,2017. 

PDF Flyer English (Word: Color / B&W) (PDF: Color / B&W) | Image for Social Media

PDF Flyer Spanish (Word: ColorB&W)  (PDF: ColorB&W) | Image for Social Media

February 27, 2017
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
St. Stephen Parish
5049 Bell Shoals Road
Valrico, FL 33596

February 28, 2017
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
St. Lawrence Parish
5225 N. Himes Ave
Tampa, FL 33614

March 6, 2017
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Espiritu Santo Parish
2405 Philippe Pkwy
Safety Harbor, FL 34695

March 14, 2017
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
St. Scholastica Parish
4301 W. Homosassa Trail
Lecanto, FL 34461

March 20, 2017
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
St. Mark the Evangelist Parish
9724 Cross Creek Blvd
Tampa, FL 33647

March 24, 2017 – IN SPANISH
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
St. Clement Parish
1104 N. Alexander Street
Plant City, FL 33563

March 27, 2017
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
8014 State Road 52
Hudson, FL 34667

March 28, 2017
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish
5030 Mariner Blvd.
Spring Hill, FL 34609

April 17, 2017
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
St. Petersburg Catholic High School
6333 9th Ave. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33710

Saint Leo University Makes Difference With Bottle Caps

More Than 12,000 Pounds Recycled to Purchase Wheelchairs for Children

Giving back to the community is a central part of life at Saint Leo University, and a recent project not only helped others, but also protected the environment. Students, faculty, staff, and community organizations and businesses collected bottle caps for Caps of Love, a Florida-based nonprofit organization that recycles plastic tops.

The proceeds from recycling the plastic are used to purchase new and refurbished wheelchairs for children with mobility disabilities.

Under the guidance of the Office of Residence Life, Saint Leo collected 12,000 pounds of plastic caps—enough to fill 21 pallets. On Thursday, March 23, Saint Leo held a celebration and send-off for the Caps of Love project featuring food, music, and giveaways while a truck was loaded to take the caps for recycling at Commercial Plastics Recycling in Tampa.

Saint Leo University had many partners in this project including Home Depot; Zephyrhills Water; Rowland Transportation; Sabrina Burton Schultz and the Diocese of St. Petersburg; Montessori by the Sea School; Pasco-Hernando State College-North campus; Southern Charm Mobile Home Park in Zephyrhills; The Rock Church in Brooksville; Trinity Church of Wesley Chapel; Highlander Café located in Crystal River; Naval Air Station Pensacola; Domino’s Pizza; and several Pasco and Hillsborough county schools and scout troops.

Last year, Saint Leo University collected more than 8,000 pounds of plastic bottle caps, which filled 14 pallets.

“Saint Leo University participates in this program to promote giving of our time and realizing that together as a community we can make a difference,” said Heidi D’Ambrosio, senior coordinator for Residence Life.

The goal of the Caps of Love organization is to, “educate the public on how to identify and recycle correctly and to provide wheelchairs to the physically challenged under the age of 21,” in the United States, according to its website.

Saint Leo students sorted through transparent and colored bottle caps and separated them into three types. The main types of plastic Caps of Love recycles are: Polypropylene No. 5, Polyethylene No. 2, and Polyethylene No. 4. The caps were boxed for shipping to the recycling company.

“I think this program is fantastic because it is a way to make a difference in a child’s life and it has brought the community together as well as four counties,” D’Ambrosio said.

The university will continue the project and collect more bottle caps for Caps of Love, hoping to top this year’s total. See accompanying photos by clicking here.