All posts by teresap

National Child and Youth Protection Leader Affirms Diocese of St. Petersburg

During the week of July 8, 2019, the Diocese of St. Petersburg welcomed a visit from Deacon Bernie Nojadera, Executive Director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, based in Washington D.C.

The purpose of the visit was for Deacon Nojadera to learn how the Diocese of St. Petersburg is fulfilling its commitment to protect children and vulnerable persons from abuse and heal those who are survivors of abuse. While here, he met with Michael Craig, Director of the Diocese of St. Petersburg Safe Environment Office, John Lambert, Victim Assistance Coordinator, Bishop Gregory Parkes and members of the Diocesan Review Board. He also participated in meetings with pastors, business administrators and youth ministers from across the Diocese

Upon the conclusion of his visit, Deacon Nojadera sent a letter to Bishop Parkes to share his sincere appreciation and admiration for the work of the Diocese in safeguarding children and vulnerable persons entrusted to its care.

“You are modeling, for all, the needed transformation and renewal of our Church,” said Deacon Nojadera in his letter. Click here to read the letter.

Additional Information:

The Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection is a resource for dioceses for implementing safe environment programs and for suggesting training and development of diocesan personnel responsible for child and youth protection programs; taking into account the financial and other resources, as well as the population, and demographics of the diocese. To learn more, click here.

Saint Leo University Ready to Welcome Record 1,001 New Students

 Move-in Day for New Lions Set for August 15, Classes Begin August 20

There will be many new faces at Saint Leo University as the new academic year kicks off next week. Make that: There will be lots and lots of new faces! The university is expecting 815 new freshmen and 186 transfer students—1,001—when classes begin on August 20. University officials believe this is the largest incoming group of students in the university’s 130-year history.

Last year’s incoming class totaled 689, with 561 freshmen and 128 transfer students. Saint Leo also will see an increase in international students, from 86 last year to 181 this year.

Notable characteristics of the incoming Fall 2019 class include:

  • 50 percent are from Florida;
  • 31 percent are from out of state;
  • 19 percent are from international countries;
  • 24 percent are first-generation students;
  • SAT scores increased from 1070 to 1182; and,
  • Unweighted average GPA is 3.26.

“The university was able to not only enroll a new student class that increased by 45 percent over last year, but we also were able to significantly improve the academic quality of the incoming class through changes to our admissions policy to utilize students’ unweighted GPA and our new test-optional policy,” said Dr. Senthil Kumar, vice president for University Campus Admissions & Center for Global Engagement. “This is a compliment to the talented high schools and community colleges with whom we collaborate.”

The most popular major for the incoming students is biology-biomedical and health sciences. That is followed by criminal justice, business (undecided specialization); undeclared; sport business; psychology-general; management; criminal justice-criminalistics; elementary education (K-6); psychology-clinical/counseling; and cybersecurity.

Photo caption: Saint Leo University’s campus is ready to welcome 1,001 new students. Photo courtesy of Saint Leo University

 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 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. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 12,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 93,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.




Black Catholic Ministry Seeks to Unite

The Black Catholic Ministry held its quarterly meeting on Saturday, July 20, 2019 at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tampa. One of the main topics on the agenda was an update on the diocesan initiative to confront racism, including the recent listening session on racism with Bishop Gregory Parkes of the Diocese of St. Petersburg and Bishop Shelton Fabre of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee on Racism. The listening session was followed by a workshop on racism, and a series of civil dialogues on racism, held at various parishes in the Diocese.

Another initiative that was addressed at the meeting was the plan for upcoming workshops on Building Intercultural Competencies for Ministers, which will be introduced to the Diocese in the coming months. A diverse team of presenters will be trained to conduct the workshops. Members of the Black Catholic Ministry were encouraged to participate in the workshops when they occur.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg’s Black Catholic Ministry meets quarterly to review and discuss what is going on around the Diocese, share information about upcoming events, and plan future activities. The purpose of the ministry is to help connect people of African descent to one another, to connect our parishes in fellowship, to help inform the Church on matters that impact Black Catholics, and to bring awareness of the history and contributions of peoples of African descent to the Catholic Church, particularly in the United States.

Meeting time was set aside for the group to view the recording of the recent webinar “How to Disrupt Racism” by Donna Grimes, Assistant Director for African American Affairs, USCCB.

The ministry is currently working on plans to host a day of reflection on the six persons of color whose causes for canonization are in progress.

For more information about Black Catholic Ministry, click here.

Catholic Bulls Are Invited to Welcome Home Weekend!

The Catholic Student Union at the University of South Florida is having a Welcome Home Weekend for students, parents, alumni, and friends of the CSU. The fun and faith-filled celebration will kick-off the start of a new school year. See the list of activities below:

Saturday, August 24, 5:00 p.m. – Vigil Mass followed by a relaxing and fun event to catch up with old friends and make new ones! There will be food trucks, a live band, and games!

Sunday, August 25, 10:00 a.m. –  Bishop Gregory Parkes celebrates the Red Mass, a liturgical celebration to invite the Holy Spirit into the 2019-2020 Campus Ministry year. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. And kindle in them the fire of your love. Mass will be followed by fellowship and fun.

The students and staff of the Catholic Student Union would love for everyone to participate in either of these celebrations!

For more information or to contribute to Campus Ministry please visit their website: or contact if you have any questions!

New Family Ministry at St. Stephen is a Success

“Grown in Love, Strengthened by Faith and Protected by the Loving Hands of Jesus Christ” is how St. Stephen Parish in Riverview is describing their new Family Ministry that started as a response to the diocesan vision, Courageously Living the Gospel.

Anthony & Cindy Basilicato, parents of two young children, are leading the initiative and have helped organize the first two Family Ministry Nights with the help of seven core families that were invited to volunteer.

“It was easy recruiting people to volunteer because they saw the need. We have lots of families and we have been discussing ways for Catholic families to hang out together, to meet each other,” said Anthony.

The Family Ministry Night is an opportunity for families to come together to socialize and to learn about the faith in a fun environment. More than 150 people attended the June 29 event and about 100 attended the July 27 gathering.

At the July event, planners organized a scavenger hunt. Families interviewed other families to “find” ministry volunteers, such as altar servers and catechists and asked them why they enjoy serving the Church. Families also have an opportunity engage in acts of service at each event.

In July, the families wrote cards for seminarian Kenny Keenan who recently finished his summer internship and they signed up to pray for him over the coming year. In June, families were asked to bring a food donation for the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry.

Events like this help to build a strong network of Catholic families while providing activities for spiritual growth in a fun-filled environment. The event targeted families from public, private and home-schools. All were welcome.

“We have a lot of new younger families and we need to reach out to them,” said Father Dermot Dunne, pastor. “I hope the Family Ministry gatherings continue to be a simple evening where families can get together for fun and faith and be with each other. It’s a good way to let the children run and play games in a safe environment.”

As part of their pastoral plan for Courageously Living the Gospel, the parish is planning to expand the number of events that engage parishioners, including a “meet and greet” social event. They also plan to establish small faith communities.

One of the goals for Courageously Living the Gospel, diocesan-wide, is that all parishes will enhance or establish family ministries to respond to the diverse needs of families by Pentecost 2020.


Local Parish & School Host Neighborhood Block Party for Missionary Outreach

In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis refers to a parish as a “center of constant missionary outreach.”

St. Patrick Parish & School in Largo demonstrated one way to do missionary outreach by co-sponsoring a block party with the City of Largo on Saturday, July 20th to celebrate the reopening of Trotter Road. The event included entertainment, free food and games. The road had been closed for construction since March 2018.

In order to promote the event, the parish included a listing on the local E-News Website,

Patty Ruppel, Advancement Coordinator, St. Patrick Catholic School and Sr. Kathleen Luger, St. Patrick Faith Formation Director, led a team of volunteers who worked hard to show hospitality to the participants of the event.

Diane Kledzik, diocesan director of Marriage and Family Life, also served on the committee, along with her teenage son and her parents. Organizers say it was a great way to reach the people of the neighborhood, including people who are not even Catholic and had never been on the campus.

“My son and I created trivia questions about St. Patrick School and Church and the City of Largo, and each napkin holder had a few questions on it to encourage discussion at the tables.  We posted the answers to all 100 questions on the walls,” said Kledzik.

“Since it rained, many were glad to stay inside and eat hotdogs, instead of picking up food and leaving.  Therefore, we were able to talk with a lot of folks from the neighborhood, parishioners who had been away, and even those who attended St. Patrick School, but have not been on campus for a while,” added Kledzik.

People of all ages helped with the event from teenagers to those in their 80s.

This event addressed the goal areas of Courageously Living the Gospel, such as missionary discipleship, evangelization, family and youth ministry. Discussions are underway to see if this event can become an annual neighborhood block party.

The St. Patrick’s pastoral plan for Courageously Living the Gospel, calls for a renewed effort to educate parishioners as missionary disciples by providing resources and training. They also hope to form small Christian communities to further their evangelization efforts.





Diocese Introduces Guidelines for Building Intercultural Competencies

Our parishes are called to equip parishioners as missionary disciples and in order to do this, leaders need insight into how the Catholic faith and identity are connected to culture. That’s why the Diocese of St. Petersburg has introduced an initiative to help parishes improve how they welcome, receive, and encourage diverse cultures and invite them to assume roles of leadership in the Church.

This initiative is called “Building Intercultural Competencies for Ministers” (BICM) and it was first developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church. The program focuses on training for intercultural competency to help parishes thrive by enabling them to tap into the vitality of emerging new groups.

On May 14, 2019, 44 local leaders received an overview of BICM during a Mentorship Session for Ministers hosted by the Department of Evangelization, Formation, Youth, & Family Life. The presenters were Carlos Flores, Director of Hispanic Ministry and Dale Brown, Director of the Lay Pastoral Ministry Institute (LPMI). Attendees were introduced to the five guidelines that have been developed into five learning modules recommended by the USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church:

  • Frame issues of diversity theologically
  • Seek deeper understanding of culture
  • Develop intercultural communication skills
  • Expand knowledge of the obstacles that impede effective intercultural relations
  • Foster ecclesial integration/inclusion

 “Building Intercultural Competencies for Ministers provides a basic level of awareness and proficiency in the area of intercultural competence and will help parishes in realizing the goal of evangelization in our vision, Courageously Living the Gospel,” said Flores.

This Fall, participants of LPMI will also receive an overview of BICM during their orientation session. The Diocese of St. Petersburg will launch a series of workshops in the Spring of 2020 (Dates TBD) that will provide in-depth training on the guidelines for BICM.

For more information about Building Intercultural Competencies for Ministers, go to


Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle Taps into the Power of Prayer

What started as a Lenten devotional opportunity has become a daily practice at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle. The Cathedral now offers Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament weekdays from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. and it has brought new blessings and graces upon the parish community.

The bold leap of faith to introduce daily Adoration was part of the parish planning process for Courageously Living the Gospel. Committee members explored what ministries or programs would be relevant to their community and a renewed emphasis on prayer was top on the list.

“One of our goals is to develop a real sense of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, calling people together to pray at Mass and understanding that the Mass is the source and summit of our Christian life,” said Father Arthur Proulx, rector, Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle, St. Petersburg. “We also want to invite people to come to the cathedral to pray before Jesus’ Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament,” he added.

The parish implementation committee for Courageously Living the Gospel is made up of parishioners and staff from a variety of ages and stages of life. They are focusing on prayer because prayer helps us focus our attention on God and to grow in faith and holiness. They also believe a strong prayer life is necessary to equip their parishioners with the confidence to become a community of disciples living the Gospel.

Last year, the Cathedral also introduced Adore, Eucharistic Adoration that brings together young people, families and individuals from the parish and from across the Diocese.

“A success for our parish has been a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, which we call Adore. We have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with prayer and praise music and our church is nearly full when we do this. Our committee has decided we want to continue this and to do this with even more enthusiasm and invite even more people to come to the cathedral, which of course is the mother church for the Diocese of St. Petersburg,” added Father Proulx.

The parish is also seeking to introduce more opportunities for communal prayer of the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

“Communal prayer is important to foster a culture of accompaniment where together parishioners are supported and encouraged on their spiritual journey,” said Linda Barron, a parishioner who serves on the planning committee.

The parish also seeks to develop an outreach to pray for non-participating members of the parish and enhance opportunities for intercessory prayer.

“The act of praying for our brothers and sisters brings comfort and helps to carry one another’s crosses with persistence and love. This act of love brings hope and healing to those prayed for and renews our faith in our merciful God to answer our prayers according to His will,” added Barron.

They also seek to develop a prayer initiative to pray for priests and deacons in the parish

“Priests and deacons are on the front lines battling all societal challenges. Praying for our priests and deacons will provide them with spiritual support, help us grown in faith and unite as one Body in Christ,” said Barron.

Some of the Cathedral’s other prayer initiatives include:

  • Promote holy hour for vocations.
  • Focus on Prayer Warriors Ministry to track prayer requests, grow requests, recruit volunteers, and find new ways to obtain prayer intentions.
  • Recruit volunteer prayer coaches.
  • Guide parishioners on ways to pray.




Save the Date and Save a Life: Attend the Foundations of Life Gala on November 16th

Join Bishop Gregory Parkes and pro-life supporters from across the Diocese of St. Petersburg for the Foundations of Life Gala & Silent Auction on Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at the beautiful Higgins Hall (5225 North Himes Avenue, Tampa).

This extraordinary evening of hope will feature guest speaker Melissa Ohden, an abortion survivor who will share her amazing story.

All proceeds benefit the life-saving and life-changing ministries of Catholic Charities and their services to pregnant women and post-abortive women. These charities are the Foundations of Life Pregnancy Center, the Knights Women’s Center, Tampa, Project Rachel Post-Abortion Healing and Perinatal Comfort Care.

Bishop Gregory Parkes will offer the opening prayer and the Master of Ceremony will be Rob Marsicano of Spirit FM 90.5.

Sponsorship Opportunities:
Sponsors are the difference makers whose love and support are the keys to our success each year!  Sponsorship benefits include preferred seating, table for 10, sponsor signage, gala program & website recognition. The levels include:

Champion of Life: $10,000
Protector of Life: $2,500
Defender of Life: $5,000
Angel of Life: $1,000

Other Ways To Support the Cause:
Table Reservations: $650 (Includes a table for 10 guests)
Individual Tickets: $65

For sponsorships, reservations, and silent auction donor information, call 813-631-4393.

Make checks payable to Catholic Charities with Gala 2019 in the memo line and send to Foundations of Life Gala, 6515 N. Armenia Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604. For your convenience, online reservations are available at

Foundations of Life is a ministry of Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg, Inc., a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Federal Identification Number: 59-0875805

Summer of Service – Over 300 Catholic Teens Make a Difference

More than 300 teens representing 19 schools and parishes in Tampa Bay chose to spend part of their summer vacation serving others as part of the Good Samaritan Project organized by the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office. The students volunteered June 24-29 in Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando Counties and experienced a transformation in faith as well!

“There are countless examples from the week of people inspired by the hard work of these good Samaritans, but also stories of conversion to Christ and the Catholic Church. At least one teen made his first confession, one expressed desire for baptism, and many turned to Jesus in prayer, in adoration, Mass, or a Marian procession. Some stepped up into a leadership role in ministry for the first time, and others led by example in taking the lowliest jobs without complaint. The young church lived the Gospel courageously at GSP because Christ is alive in the young church,” said Michael Buckler, Regional Associate Director, Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

The name for this initiative comes from the biblical story of the Good Samaritan.  When Jesus tells the story, he tells us twice to go and do likewise. The Good Samaritan Project is an opportunity for the young church to go and do. Not only do they serve and show mercy to various persons and organizations, they also exemplify what a life in Jesus Christ can and should look like, both to those they serve and to one another.

“I’m courageously living the Gospel by doing God’s service, such as stocking a food pantry. It feels great to help families get the food they need,” said Jose Zamora, 18, a parishioner from St. Anne Parish, Ruskin. “I hope I can touch someone’s heart or brighten someone’s day.”

2019 Good Samaritan Project

Click on photo album above to view photos of the Good Samaritan Project! 

This year’s theme was Courageously Living the Gospel. During the week-long adventure, teens volunteered during the day and gathered for prayer and games in the evening. The event would not be possible without the support of young adult chaperones who guided the teens every step of the way.

Over 20 teens volunteered at the Homeless Empowerment Program in Clearwater sorting and tagging items in the thrift store and preparing meals for the homeless in the kitchen. Some teens painted fences at a horse therapy program that helps children with special needs. Teens and their adult chaperones helped out at other agencies, including Metropolitan Ministries, Volunteer Way, Youth and Family Alternatives (a foster care agency), Gulfside Hospice, ARC Nature Coast, and Sunshine Christian Homes.

Beatriz Lopez-Gomez, 14. also of St. Anne Parish, said she gladly she gave up one week of her summer to help those less fortunate. “I feel joy because I’m helping people who need it. We’re serving with passion and we’re happy to be here,” said Lopez-Gomez.

The Good Samaritan Project started in 2012 with summer service projects in Pasco and Hernando Counties. The program has grown in the number of participants and the number of service sites. The five pillars of the Good Samaritan Project are community, service, leadership, prayer and growth.