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Hurricane Michael Relief Efforts around the Diocese

“So many people have lost everything: homes, property and even their livelihood. The scenes of destruction are heart-wrenching, knowing that when we see a place where there once was a house, a family used to live there and are now homeless,” said Bishop William A. Wack of Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee in an Oct. 12 letter to his diocese.

But for the grace of God, that could have been us. We are doing our best to help our brothers and sisters in the Panhandle recover from this devastating storm.

Here are some of the ways our parishes. schools, and entities are helping. If you have a relief effort to add to this list, please email

Special Collection for Disaster Relief
Bishop Gregory L. Parkes is asking all parishes and missions to hold a special collection on the weekend of October 20-21 or October 27-28 for the needs of people affected by natural disasters, including Hurricane Michael. 100% of these disaster relief funds will benefit people affected by natural disasters.

Volunteers Needed in the Panhandle
The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, in collaboration with Catholic Charities of NW Florida, are seeking volunteers. Two-thirds of their diocese was majorly impacted by Hurricane Michael. They  need 50 volunteers seven days a week for several months! Catholic Charities is staging food and water distribution at Saint Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City and assistance is needed in distributing water, basic supplies and unloading trucks. The water and supplies are going directly to the Panama City Community and our other churches in the area.  Anyone who is able to assist in this effort is encouraged to sign up here.

Catholic Charities of St. Petersburg
Catholic Charities is collecting the following items now through Thursday, October 25 for Hurricane Michael victims at the following locations. Each location is open from 8am – 5pm Monday through Friday. Flyer (PDF)

  • water
  • cleaning supplies and gloves
  • baby diapers
  • non-perishable food items
  • sunscreen
  • toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, etc.)
  • Tarps
  • Pet Supplies
  • Baby food and formula
  • hand sanitizer
  • bug spray

No Clothing or Household Items Please

Drop Off Locations

Citrus County
Citrus Outreach Center
9020 W. Atlas Drive
Homosassa, FL 34448

Hernando County
Foundations of Life Pregnancy Center
8370 Forest Oaks Blvd.
Spring Hill, FL 34606

Hillsborough County
Catholic Charities
2021 E. Busch Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33612

Pasco County
Foundations of Life Pregnancy Center
37733 Meridian Avenu
Dade City, FL 33535

Pinellas County
Catholic Charities
1213 16th Street N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33705

St. John Vianney Catholic School
500 84th Ave., St. Pete Beach, FL 33706

Collecting gently used books to send to a shelter in Havana, Florida where many children are being housed. They are also doing a school-wide monetary collection.

St. Matthew Parish
9111 90th Ave N., Largo, FL 33777
(727) 393-1288

Financial collection October 27-28. Youth Ministry is collecting diapers and wipes, peanut butter and pet food through November 15. Donations can be placed in the Youth Room (Guardian Angel Room next to the Kitchen).

St. Raphael Catholic School
1376 Snell Isle Boulevard, N.E., St. Petersburg, FL 33704

The House of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton will be heading up a donations drive for people affected by Hurricane Michael. We have been in contact with Sol Relief, an aviation non-profit group, and they will fly all donations that are collected by this Friday, October 19th to the Panhandle!

The list of items they will fly are:

  • Hygiene products/Toiletries – High need
  • Wet wipes / hand sanitizer – High need
  • Lights – headlamp/flashlight/solar light
  • Portable phone charger – solar or battery pack
  • First Aid Kit
  • Water bottle with filtration
  • Travel Pillow
  • Multi Tool
  • Compact kids games
  • Notebook / pens or markers
  • Story Books
  • New Underwear

If you are interested in more information about Sol Relief you can visit their website at:

Additionally, the school will be sending the profit from the Donut sales to Catholic Charities to assist with Hurricane Relief. Students are also writing letters and making prayer cards for children in a Catholic school that was affected by the hurricane.


Pope Francis and Bishop Parkes Invite All Catholics to Increased Prayer During the Month of October

Pope Francis has invited all Catholics to pray a rosary daily during the month of October “to join in communion and in penitence, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other.”  Read more details here.

In addition, Bishop Parkes has invited all parishes in the Diocese of St. Petersburg to conclude each Mass during October with the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Here is a guide praying the rosary and a graphic of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

Blessing of the Animals in Honor of Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

God made all creatures, great and small! Parishioners throughout the Diocese of St. Petersburg were invited to send in their pet’s name and a photo to be included in a special photo album with a prayer for animals in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures. See the album below.

If you’d like to email your pet photo or a photo from the pet blessing at your parish to be included in this album, please email it to Please note that in order to include any photos of minors, we must have parental/guardian permission on file with your parish, school, or the diocesan offices.

Franciscan Pet Blessing

Blessed are you, Lord God,
maker of all living creatures.
You inspired St. Francis to call all
animals his brothers and sisters.
We ask you to bless our pets. By
the power of your love, enable
our pets to live according to your plan.

2018 Blessing of Animals around the Diocese

Congratulations to Monsignor Anton Dechering, Recipient of the 2018 Father Luis de Cancer Award

A retired priest with 56 years of dedicated service was honored with the 2018 Father Luis de Cancer Award for Distinguished Priestly Service on October 2, 2018. He is the 22nd priest in the Diocese of St. Petersburg to be honored with this award.

In addition to serving as a priest and pastor, Monsignor Dechering has also ministered to young people as a teacher and as the Director of Scouting and Chaplain for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Because of his strong commitment to young people of the Diocese, Monsignor Anton Dechering was selected to be this year’s award recipient during the annual Convocation for Priestly Renewal, held at the Bethany Center. The theme for this year’s Convocation is focused on youth: “Church of Today, Hope of Tomorrow: 21st Century Youth Ministry.”

Monsignor Dechering was unable to attend the award presentation due to illness. However, he received a surprise call from Bishop Gregory Parkes via speaker phone to hear the good news in front of all priests attending the convocation. He thanked Bishop Parkes and said he was honored by the recognition. Monsignor John Neff, who received the honor in 2006, accepted the award on behalf of Monsignor Dechering.

Ordained for the Diocese of St. Augustine on December 19, 1962, in the Church of Cristo Rey, in Rome, Monsignor Dechering served as Assistant Pastor of parishes in Tallahassee and Bradenton, as well as for the Cathedral Parish of St. Augustine.

In 1968, he was incardinated into the newly established Diocese of St. Petersburg. After serving for three years as Pastor of St. Paul Parish, in Arcadia, Monsignor Dechering was assigned to St. Raphael Parish, St. Petersburg, where he led the community as its Pastor from 1971 to 1996. He was subsequently appointed Pastor of Blessed Trinity Parish, St. Petersburg, where he faithfully served for 17 years until his retirement on July 1, 2013.

In August 1999, at the request of Bishop Robert Lynch, Pope John Paul II conferred the title Prelate of Honor of His Holiness upon Monsignor Dechering.

Throughout his nearly fifty-six years of priestly ministry, Monsignor Dechering has also assisted in numerous diocesan positions. Among them, he has served as Chaplain for the Southern Deanery of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, Diocesan Coordinator for the Charismatic Renewal, and Trustee of the Diocesan Pension Board. In addition, he has served as Diocesan Director of Scouting and as Chaplain for Catholic Scouting for Girls since 1971.

Learn more about the establishment of the Fr. Luis de Cancer Award and previous recipients here.

Seminarian Ralph D’Elia Ordained a Deacon

Our seminarian Ralph D’Elia was ordained a deacon on Thursday, September 27, 2018 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He is called a transitional deacon, meaning that he will be ordained a priest, God-willing, in May of 2019.

2018 Transitional Diaconate Ordination

Deacon Ralph is from St. Timothy Parish in Lutz. He is a fourth generation Tampa native. After experiencing a life-changing conversion in high school, Deacon Ralph began discerning a call to the priesthood.

However, after some time, he chose to travel a different path. Following high school, Deacon Ralph decided to embark on a future in law and politics. Contrary to what he anticipated, the more he immersed himself in realizing his own plans, the more he recognized that those plans were incapable of fulfilling his deepest desires.

Grateful for the experiences of his four years in college, it became clear that the time had come to follow Christ in the particular way in which he was being called. Upon graduating from the University of South Florida, Deacon Ralph entered St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami where he studied philosophy. Next year he will begin his fourth year of theology studies.

Catholic Relief Services Teams Deployed to Indonesia Tsunami Response; Assist Local Partners

BALTIMORE, MD, September 30, 2018 — A Catholic Relief Services (CRS) emergency response team is en-route to Palu, the city most affected by the tsunami that struck Indonesia on Friday, following a 7.5 earthquake, and has killed at least 800 people and toppled buildings, shopping malls and mosques. Infrastructure has also been badly damaged, and with landslides blocking roads, getting immediate relief to survivors has been a challenge.

“Humanitarian groups are struggling to get people into affected areas,” said Yenni Suryani, CRS’ Indonesia country manager from Jakarta. “With the airport damaged, getting access to Palu and Donggala is a huge problem. Responders and local aid groups are having to drive overland 10-12 hours. That means a bottleneck for relief supplies in coming days. Landslides are hindering road travel in some places. There’s very limited electricity in Palu but power is out almost everywhere. Some mobile phone towers have been repaired allowing limited communication, but it’s unreliable.”

While government agencies search for survivors, fears are mounting that the death toll will climb in the coming days and weeks. “There’s a dramatic rescue operation happening in Palu as people are calling out from under the rubble of a shopping mall and hotel,” Suryani said. “Last night, witnesses reported seeing lights, possibly from cell phones, under collapsed buildings.”

CRS teams, deployed to support local partners in the area, are ready to address immediate needs with relief supplies, including tarps, blankets and sleeping mats and also sanitation and clean-up kits.

“The lack of water and fuel will be an additional challenge. The closest reliable fuel points are hours from the affected area, and that will hamper reaching more distant communities and transporting relief goods,” Suryani said.

CRS has many years of experience responding to disasters in Indonesia, a country that experiences frequent earthquakes and was devastated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004.

For updates on the response to the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia, go to

Pope Francis invites the faithful to pray the Rosary in October

Pope Francis’ invitation

The Holy Father has decided to invite all the faithful, of all the world, to pray the Holy Rosary every day, during the entire Marian month of October, and thus to join in communion and in penitence, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael  Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other.

In recent days, before his departure for the Baltic States, the Holy Father met with Fr. Fréderic Fornos, S.J., international director of the World Network of Prayer for the Pope, and asked him to spread this appeal to all the faithful throughout the world, inviting them to conclude the recitation of the Rosary with the ancient invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium”, and with the prayer to Saint Michael Archangel that he protect us and help us in the struggle against evil (cf. Revelation 12, 7-12).

The prayer – the Pontiff affirmed a few days ago, on 11 September, in a homily at Santa Marta, citing the first book of Job – is the weapon against the Great Accuser who “goes around the world seeking to accuse”. Only prayer can defeat him. The Russian mystics and the great saints of all the traditions advised, in moments of spiritual turbulence, to shelter beneath the mantle of the Holy Mother of God pronouncing the invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium”.

Sub Tuum Praesidium

The invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium” is recited as follows:

“Sub tuum praesidium confugimus Sancta Dei Genitrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo Gloriosa et Benedicta”.

[We fly to thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin].

With this request for intercession the Holy Father asks the faithful of all the world to pray that the Holy Mother of God place the Church beneath her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attachks by the devil, the great accuser, and at the same time to make her more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.

Prayer to Saint Michael

The Holy Father has also asked that the recitation of the Holy Rosary during the month of October conclude with the prayer written by Leo XIII:

 “Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio; contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute, in infernum detrude. Amen”.

[Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen].

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Committee on Pro-Life Activities Applauds Cancellation of FDA Fetal Tissue Contract, Urges Additional HHS Action

September 27, 2018

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement today applauding initial steps taken by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to terminate a Food and Drug Administration contract to purchase aborted baby parts for research, but urging quick action to cease all funding for research using body parts from aborted babies.

Cardinal Dolan’s full statement follows:

We applaud Secretary Azar and the Administration for cutting off ties to a company whose business is to procure aborted baby parts for research. Not only has this company been referred for criminal investigation by the House and Senate but using federal tax dollars for such purposes is unethical and unacceptable.

While we are grateful for this first step, it remains incumbent on the Administration to act quickly to cease all funding for research involving body parts from aborted babies. The question is not exclusively what is permitted by law, but what is right and just. For the federal government to create a demand for abortion and use these children’s body parts for research is wrong. We look forward to receiving answers to the questions we and other pro-life organizations asked of Secretary Azar in our September 11, 2018 letter regarding the funding and use of fetal tissue from aborted babies. Under a pro-life Administration, there is simply no room for callously using aborted children to further a research goal. This must stop immediately.  Our government should only use taxpayer dollars for ethical research.

40 Days for Life Begins September 26

From September 26 through November 4 , 2018, our community will unite with many others from coast to coast – and internationally – for a major simultaneous pro-life mobilization – the 40 Days for Life campaign. Faithful believers are praying that these efforts will mark the beginning of the end of abortion.

Vision and Mission
40 Days for Life is a focused pro-life campaign with a vision to access God’s power through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion.

The mission of the campaign is to bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion.

Campaign Components
One of the strengths of 40 Days for Life is its simplicity. The campaign is made up of three key components:

Prayer and fasting: inviting people of faith throughout our city and across the country to join together for 40 days of fervent prayer and fasting for an end to abortion

Peaceful Vigil: standing for life through a 40-day peaceful public witness outside of three local abortion mills:

  • All Women’s Health Center (4131 Central Ave. St. Petersburg, 33713)
    To Learn more about 40 Days for Life  or find additional campaigns in the St. Petersburg area, visit
  • Women’s OB/GYN Center of Countryside (28960 US 19 North, Clearwater, 33761)
    To Learn more about 40 Days for Life or find additional campaigns in the Clearwater area, visit
  • Tampa Woman’s Health Center, Inc. (2010 E Fletcher Ave, Tampa, FL 33612)
    To Learn more about 40 Days for Life  or find additional campaigns in the Tampa area, visit

Community Outreach: taking a positive, upbeat pro-life message to every corner of our city through media efforts, church and school outreach, petition drives, and public visibility.

We invite you to join us in prayer, fasting and vigil. For more information, contact the Office of Life Ministries at 727-344-1611 or at

Hurricane Florence Relief

Support individuals and families impacted by Hurricane Florence. Catholic Charities USA forwards 100 percent of funds raised to Catholic Charities agencies that serve affected communities. Catholic Charities is working with local partner agencies to address the immediate and long-term needs of families affected by Hurricane Florence.

Text CCUSADISASTER to 71777, call 1-800-919-9338 or visit to donate.

Relief Graphic for Bulletins (PNG)