All posts by teresap

Internet Pornography: Equipping Parents for an Ongoing Conversation

As a parent, do you know how to speak to your children about the dangers of pornography? What is the right age to speak to your child? How do you encourage conversation about this critical issue?

The Diocese of St. Petersburg is helping parents to navigate these issues and more during a free workshop that will be offered at two locations for your convenience.

Why Attend

Forty-three percent of children first view pornography before age 13.

Scientific research on the brain reveals exposure to pornography has long-term, harmful effects to our society through abuse, broken families and damaged relationships.

What You Will Learn

Accountability Services that Monitor Internet Activity and Apps

Science and Porn: The Risks Are Real and Dangerous

How to Speak with Kids: Teaching Respect and Responsibility

How to Protect and Guide your Family in a Hyper-Connected World

One Workshop Two Locations/Dates

Feb. 27, 7 pm – 9 pm, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 1955 S Belcher Rd, Clearwater
Feb. 28, 7 pm – 9 pm, St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, 9724 Cross Creek Blvd, Tampa

All Parents Are Invited

For more information contact: Brian A. Lemoi, Executive Director, Department of Evangelization & Lifelong Faith Formation, Diocese of St. Petersburg, 727-341-6849,

Click here to register: (Registration Deadline:  February 20, 2018)

About the Speaker: Ryan Foley, Vice President of Business Development

Ryan Foley is the Vice President of Business Development for Covenant Eyes, which provides Internet Accountability and Filtering. Ryan has continually worked in the technology field with a specific focus on security. He has served as the Executive Director of Mission Network and ePriest, and is the founder of Faith Interactive, all of which support parishes and Catholic leaders in communicating effectively using digital tools. He is now applying his passion for security in support of families, working to protect them from Internet pornography through his work with Covenant Eyes.

Tampa Bay Youth and Young Adults Will March for Life

More than 400 people from the Tampa Bay area, mostly students, will be taking part in the National March for Life in Washington D.C. on January 19.

Ryan Phelan, Associate Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, will be leading a contingency of 250 marchers. He booked flights on five different planes for the group, secured hotel rooms, organized logistics, enlisted chaperones and mapped out the agenda which includes a Youth Rally event with 20,000 other pro-lifers at the Capital One Arena in D.C.

“Some people call it a protest but it’s actually a very peaceful witness to the lawmakers and the world that we care about the lives of the unborn, as well as the moms and dads facing a crisis pregnancy,” said Phelan. “It’s a respectful, loving, peaceful event.”

This is the sixth year Ryan is leading a group to D.C. and the movement to march on this issue has grown since starting out with 50 participants the first year.

“The Diocesan participation continues to grow because this opportunity to advocate for life is important to the young people in our communities. They are the ones who are continually asking to attend. They are the leaders of the pro-life movement in our Diocese,” added Phelan.

The March for Life is the world’s largest pro-life event that attracts more than 200,000 people. It first started in 1973 after the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. The theme this year is “Love Saves Lives.”

To learn more and to get involved in the pro-life movement, click here.

January is Poverty Awareness Month

Each January, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the U.S. Bishop’s anti-poverty program, provides resources to help Catholics live in solidarity with the poor.
Liturgical and practical resources in both English and Spanish can be found here. These include bulletin announcements, prayers of the faithful, ideas for parish activities, reflections on the readings, and a calendar that highlights ways to learn more about poverty in America.

The domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is working to break the cycle of poverty and to remind us that we are all children of God. Solidarity invites us to remember that we are part of one global human family and share in each other’s joy and suffering

Poverty is not a catch-phrase—it is a serious reality that many are living. Over 40 million people live below the poverty line the United States. Our faith invites us to respond to the needs of those who are in most need. “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

For more information, visit

More than 300 Nativity Scenes from Around the World on Display in Plant City

Nativity scenes have been a popular Advent and Christmas decoration for centuries and are cherished by people of all ages. Now, there is an opportunity to see 300 nativity scenes on display in one room.

Saint Clement Catholic Church (1104 North Alexander Street, Plant City) is presenting “Nativities Around the World.” These artistic and unique Nativities are from different periods in history and from many different styles. The display will be open on Sundays (except December 24) through January 5, 2018.  Group tours can be arranged by contacting Carol Rodriguez, 813-727-5214 or

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to see the birth of Jesus from many different perspectives and to really feel the joy of the season,” said Carol Rodriguez, volunteer coordinator, St. Clement.

The displays all belong to Father Henry Riffle, a retired priest of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, who has a passion for collecting nativity scenes.

Father Riffle said his family instilled the love of Nativity scenes in his heart and he still owns the first Nativity set his parents purchased when they were married. In 1980, his hobby of collecting Nativity scenes started to greatly expand. That’s because he quit smoking for health reasons and the money he saved from buying cigarettes was instead spent on buying Nativity scenes.

A nativity scene (also known as a manger scene, crib, crèche) tells the story of the birth of Jesus and   includes figurines representing the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.  Many artistic details can be added such as the Star of Bethlehem, the Three Kings and the animals that would have been present in a manger setting. St. Francis of Assisi had a special devotion to the Child Jesus, and he is credited with creating the first nativity scene on Christmas Eve of the year 1223.

Save the Date for the Catholic Men’s Conference

Men: Take Your Faith Life to the Next Level
Women: Give a Faith Filled Christmas Gift to the Men in Your Life

Whether you are married or single, a retiree or a high school student, a faith warrior or just starting your faith journey – the Tampa Bay Men’s Conference is your opportunity to take your spiritual life to the next level!

Three dynamic, internationally-known speakers will be in the area for a one-day event specifically designed for men of all ages.

Jeff Cavins is an entertaining and exciting public speaker and biblical expert. He communicates the Catholic faith at a level that everyone can understand, taking theological truths and expressing them in a way that’s relevant and life-changing.

This priest, who is originally from England, is a well-known author who has written many books about his quest to grow closer to Christ, including How to Be an Ordinary Hero. He has also had three of his screenplays produced, and is working on a thriller set in the English Reformation

This 52-year-old Christian speaker travels the globe telling audiences how he changed his life following heavy involvement in organized crime and long stretches in prison. The story of his conversion from criminal to Christian is captivating!

For more information or to Reserve Your Tickets visit

8th Annual Tampa Bay Men’s Conference
“Catholic Men in a Modern World”
February 10, 2018, 8am – 3pm

Higgins Hall
5225 N Himes Ave
Tampa FL 33614

This event is presented by Suncoast Catholic Ministries, a ministry in the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Pinellas Hope Turns 10


Bishop Gregory Parkes invites the community to the 10th-anniversary celebration of Pinellas Hope on Friday, Dec. 1 from 4 pm to 5:30 pm.

The shelter camp for up to 300 Pinellas County homeless adults opened on December 1, 2007 on 10 acres of land provided by Bishop Robert N. Lynch (now retired) and the Diocese of St. Petersburg. It was initially developed as a pilot program in response to extreme homelessness in the city of St. Petersburg and throughout Pinellas County and was expected to be open only five months. Pinellas Hope is operated by Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg and it was expanded in 2010 with the support of local and state governments to include permanent buildings used to provide assistance (e.g., education, counseling, basic medical and dental care) to its homeless residents and apartments. In 2016, Hope Cottages™, re-purposed 20-foot shipping containers, was introduced to replace tents.

Friday, December 1, 2017 at 4 pm (To RSVP, please visit

Pinellas Hope, 5726 126th Ave. N., Clearwater

A celebration of Pinellas Hope’s 10th Anniversary (We will provide camp tours, including the new Hope Cottages™ and new Veterans’ efficiency apartments after the presentation.)

The following will provide comments on the impact of Pinellas Hope in our community:

Bishop Gregory L. Parkes
Frank Murphy, Secretary of Administration for the Diocese of St. Petersburg
Rick Baker, former Mayor of St. Petersburg
Mark Dufva, Executive Director, Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg
Original Pinellas Hope resident will share her uplifting testimony

About Catholic Charities

Since 1945, Catholic Charities has provided social services aimed at supporting and preserving families and promoting self-sufficiency and social justice. As an accredited agency, Catholic Charities is a non-profit leader in serving the poor and vulnerable within Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties. Under the auspices of the Diocese of St. Petersburg (, it operates three broad umbrella Ministries of Mercy: Foundations of Life, Shelters of Hope, and Friends in Need. Over 15,100 individuals were served last year with assistance including but not limited to: food (over 200,000 meals) and clothing, emergency shelter, affordable housing for the elderly, low income, farmworker families, and those suffering from HIV/AIDS and other disabilities, respite care and medical screening, immigration, citizenship and refugee services, pregnancy and adoption services, and disaster relief. Learn more about the many services provided at

Collection on Dec. 9-10 Helps Aging Sisters, Brothers and Priests in Religious Orders

Catholics in the Diocese of St. Petersburg will have the opportunity to “give to those who have given a lifetime” as part of the collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious, to be held in parishes Dec. 9-10. Coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) in Washington, D.C., the annual appeal benefits 32,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests whose religious congregations lack adequate retirement funding.

Last year, the Diocese of St. Petersburg contributed $202,468.32 to the collection. In 2017, the Sisters of St. Clare received financial assistance made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious. Women and men religious who serve or have served in the diocese but whose communities are based elsewhere may also benefit from the annual appeal.

The 2016 collection raised almost $30.7 million. Roughly 94 cents of every dollar aids senior religious. In June, the NRRO distributed $25 million to 390 religious communities across the country. Communities utilize these funds to bolster retirement savings and subsidize expenses, such as prescription medications and nursing care. Throughout the year, additional funding is allocated to assist religious communities with the greatest needs and to promote ongoing education in retirement planning and eldercare delivery.

“We are humbled and profoundly grateful for the love and support of Catholics across the nation,” said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, the NRRO’s executive director.

Despite this generosity, many religious communities still struggle to provide for aging members. Only 41 of the 539 communities submitting data to the NRRO in 2016 were adequately funded for retirement. Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests—known collectively as religious—served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits. Today, hundreds of religious communities lack sufficient retirement savings. Compounding the funding shortage are the rising cost of care and the decrease in income that has resulted from the declining number of religious able to serve in compensated ministry.

In addition to providing assistance for day-to-day needs, collection proceeds underwrite initiatives to help religious communities address the factors underlying their retirement shortfalls. These efforts have facilitated solutions such as collaborative care facilities, strategic partnerships with health-care providers and numerous cost-saving measures.

“I visit many religious communities and see the good works that members young and old provide,” said Sister Still. “Generosity to the annual collection ensures our office can furnish support to help these communities care for older members while continuing their ministries and witness.”

Visit to learn more. To view/download a fact sheet, click here.

“Caring for All of Humanity” -Partnership that Helps the Homeless is Recognized for Excellence

On Oct. 24, the Florida Hospital Association recognized Baycare with a Community Benefit Achievement Award for their Medical Respite Program located at Pinellas Hope.

If a homeless patient is ready to be discharged from one of four BayCare hospitals, but still needs medical assistance, the patient can stay at the Medical Respite Center of Pinellas Hope to receive additional care. The BayCare Medical Respite Program provides housing, medications and other healthcare services to support patients’ recovery.

St. Anthony’s Hospital opened a 10-unit Medical Respite Center within Pinellas Hope in 2009. St. Anthony’s operates the program in collaboration with Catholic Charities, Morton Plant Mease Health Care and BayCare.  St. Anthony’s also has received grants from Allegany Franciscan Ministries to help operate the program.

Each Medical Respite client resides in a casita, a small one-room housing unit, and receives daily care and support. Some clients simply need a stable place to regain their strength while others need continued medical treatment. Clients who need such services as wound care, IV antibiotics or other medical treatment receive visits from BayCare Home Care Services.

Before a client is discharged from the program, an appointment is established for the client with a primary care provider and ensures access to prescribed medications. Each client moves into some type of housing, including the Pinellas Hope camp if needed. The program has assisted more than 320 clients.

“That’s why it’s (called) Pinellas Hope. It gives hope to people who have maybe lost some of it and it’s our way of caring for all of humanity,” said Sr. Mary McNally in a video interview (below). Sr. Mary is St. Anthony’s Hospital vice president of mission who oversees the coordination of the Baycare Medical Respite Program.

Diocesan V Encuentro Comes to a Close

More than 900 people from over 18 parishes gathered at St. Jude the Apostle Cathedral on October 14 for the closing celebration of the V Diocesan Encuentro. The word Encuentro is Spanish for encounter and it refers to the process of meeting people in a friendly way to learn about their struggles and accompany them on their faith journey.

The closing celebration was the culmination of ten months of reflection and consultation that occurred at the parish level. This process seeks to enhance the ways in which Hispanics/ Latinos respond to the call of the New Evangelization to become missionary disciples serving the entire Church.

“The V Encuentro allowed me to encounter many young people who seem lost. They are not Christian and they do not believe in anything awaiting them after death.  This realization made me and many other members of my church dig deeper into our faith in order to be able to go out and evangelize people, with a focus on members of our parish who seem to be drifting away from the church,” said Sofía Pérez, a young adult parishioner from Incarnation Catholic Church in Tampa.

Over the past 10 months, parish communities have been formed to pray and reflect on how they can go to the peripheries and accompany our brothers and sisters who are not currently connected with the Church or have fallen away from the faith.

Encuentro participants have been learning a new missionary process, which involves recognizing their own need for God’s love and mercy and then bringing this hope in Christ to others.

“The V Encuentro is important because we follow the example of Jesus that we read about in the gospels and we respond to Pope Francis’ call to go out and bring the joy of the Gospel to the periphery,” said Carlos Flores, Director of Hispanic Ministry, Diocese of St. Petersburg.

All the parishes that participated in the V Encuentro created a “working document” that reflects the information gained from the missionary encounters and represents the observations and insights of the Parish Encuentro Team. These documents along with the recommendations stemming from the Parish Encuentros and the Diocesan Encuentro will be presented to Bishop Gregory Parkes and will become part of the Diocesan Working Document to accompany the 24 delegates of the Diocese of St. Petersburg to the Regional Meeting of Episcopal Region XIV to be held in Miami from February 22 to 24, 2018 and to the National V Encuentro to be held in Grapevine, TX from September 20 to 23, 2018.

“The V National Encuentro is a unique opportunity to engage the faithful of our diocese and country in becoming missionary disciples.  The fruits of the Encuentro will be realized in our diocese through the ministries of our parishes.  I ask for your prayers and support for this important initiative,” said Bishop Gregory Parkes.

To view a gallery of photos from the Diocesan V Encuentro/Hispanic Mass click here. A video highlight is available below.

Hispanic Mass V Encuentro from Diocese of St. Petersburg on Vimeo.

Join Bishop Parkes in Praying for the Faithful Departed

On Thursday, November 2 at 10:00 a.m., Bishop Gregory Parkes will celebrate Mass in observance of All Souls’ Day at Calvary Catholic Cemetery (5233 118th Avenue N. Clearwater).

Catholics around the world take part in the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day), a time to pause, reflect and pray for our dearly departed during a special Mass dedicated to all souls. While we are called to pray often for those who have passed on and every Mass includes such prayers, this special day is the beginning of a month-long period of reflection.

Please gather with us around the outdoor altar as Bishop Parkes and some of the priests of the Diocese of St. Petersburg celebrate Mass on All Soul’s Day.

Ample shade-covered seating is provided or you are welcome to bring your own folding chairs or a blanket and sit beneath the majestic trees of the cemetery.

The Catholic Church believes the bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection. The burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy; it honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2300)

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

For more information, click here.