Over 1,300 people gathered at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle on Sunday, May 6, 2018 to pray during a Holy Hour as Bishop Parkes consecrated the Diocese of St. Petersburg to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“It brings great joy to my heart as your bishop to gather with you here this afternoon and to see a full cathedral, standing room only,” said Bishop Parkes at the start of his homily that followed readings from Sacred Scripture. The liturgy started with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and ended with Benediction, a blessing that is made while holding the monstrance and making the Sign of the Cross over the assembly.
More than a dozen parishes hosted their own Holy Hour while streaming video of the liturgy at the Cathedral. Over 1,100 viewed the event via live stream through the diocesan website and more than 2,000 participated in the ceremony through the diocesan Facebook page. Bishop Parkes thanked those who were participating via the video stream in their parishes and homes.
“It’s certainly a witness and a testimony to your great devotion to our blessed Mother and also to the devotion that exists here in our diocese. I give thanks and praise to God. I know this brings great joy to our Blessed Mother as well and to our Lord,” Bishop Parkes said of the many families and individuals who had made a pilgrimage to the Cathedral or were joining virtually.
Bishop Parkes led a prayer of consecration in front of a large icon of the Blessed Mother depicting her pierced heart. Many individuals who completed a book-based retreat of 33 Days to Morning Glory, also made their personal prayer of consecration during the Holy Hour.
Click on the photo to the right below to see images from the Consecration.
“When considering the significance of this anniversary year it was decided that the theme should contain the ideas of gratitude, joy and hope. Specifically, to remember the past with gratitude, celebrate the present with joy and look to future with hope. In addition to various celebrations that will take place throughout the year, I expressed my desire that the anniversary jubilee also include a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” said Bishop Parkes.
Bishop Parkes explained that on the cross, Jesus said to his mother, “Behold your son,” referring to John, and to John, “Behold your mother.” The apostle John is a figure of the Church and of each person.
“Therefore, the fact that Mary is not only the mother of God but our mother as well, is certainly a source of joy. We take her into our hearts and homes and entrust ourselves to her care through this consecration to her immaculate heart,” he added.
Bishop Parkes said we can also look to Mary with hope. “As the first disciple and most perfect and faithful disciple of her son, she is with Him and with God the Father in Heaven. She is where we hope and long to be one day and in her maternal care and concern, desires to help us through her intercession to achieve this end for which we were created.”
Stephanie Martinez, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Land O’ Lakes, participated in the Holy Hour at the Cathedral. “I believe it helps to bring peace to the whole world through the Fatima mission. I have been consecrated myself for 20 years. Everything takes on a deeper meaning, like the Mass,” she said.
Jenny Steiner, of St. Patrick Parish in Largo, attended the Holy Hour with her husband. “We wanted to come to this dedication because it’s the 50th anniversary of the Diocese,” said Steiner. It was her first time at a Holy Hour and her first time at the Cathedral. Steiner and her husband stopped attending Mass for a year or two. “We are getting back into the faith,” she said. “God spoke to me and said this is the right thing to do. We decided to come back together.”
The hope is that through consecration to Mary, more people will feel called to participate in the life of Christ.
“The Blessed Mother desires nothing more than we draw closer to her son and that we spend eternity with Him,” said Bishop Parkes.