Bishop Parkes to Visit Pope Francis Next Week

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(Photo above shows Bishop Gregory Parkes greeting Pope Francis in May of 2014 after the Holy Father’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. Bishop Parkes was in Rome with seminary classmates to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.)

During the week of February 9-15, 2020, Most Reverend Gregory Parkes, Bishop of St. Petersburg, along with the other diocesan bishops of the southeast U.S. (Region XIV of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) will be in Rome for their scheduled ad limina visit, during which they will meet with Pope Francis to discuss the state of matters in their dioceses and in the U.S. in general. (Follow him on social media to see photos from his visit: Facebook Twitter Instagram)

“We’ll probably have a chance to make individual comments to the Holy Father and I’m praying about and discerning what I want to share with him about our Diocese. I think there’s a lot of good news. I’d like to share some of that, including our vision Courageously Living the Gospel and how we’re trying to live the Good News and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ here in the Diocese of St. Petersburg,” said Bishop Parkes when asked about the upcoming meeting.

The term ad limina comes from the longer Latin phrase ad limina apostolorum, meaning “to the threshold of the apostles.”  During their stay in the Eternal City, Bishop Parkes and his brother bishops will make a pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul, in addition to their meeting with the Holy Father, which will take place on Thursday, February 13th.  They will also travel to the various dicasteries (Vatican offices) and will have daily opportunities to gather for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Prior to the bishops’ visit and according to canon law (canon 400.1), each diocesan bishop is to send a “Quinquennial Report” (5-year update) which provides a comprehensive overview of the state of the diocese since its previous report.  While the ad limina visits should be scheduled every five years, the last one took place 2012.  Scheduling challenges often result in a longer period between visits.

The 195-page report covers the period 2011 through 2018 and consists of 22 sections, followed by a brief summary.  Topics that are covered include: Catholic schools and parish faith formation programs, missionary collections, our relationship with other Christian communities and with non-Christian religions, social justice efforts, methods of communication, the financial state of the diocese, the state of clergy and religious in the diocese, Catholic health care facilities and more.  A detailed description of our diocesan vision, Courageously Living the Gospel, was also provided.  For a four-page summary of the report, please click here.

 Deacon Rick Wells, Chancellor of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, was tasked with arranging for the completion of the Quinquennial Report and submitting it for review by Bishop Parkes.  “The report is truly a team effort, requiring input from departments throughout the Pastoral Center.  My responsibility was to help tie it all together,” said Deacon Wells.

By preparing and submitting a regular summary of the ministry taking place within their boundaries, bishops and their diocesan staff members show accountability to the Holy Father and his officials.  Deacon Wells compared the summary to a “physical exam.”  “It is important to have a regular check-up to make sure that things are operating well and to see what can be improved.”

This year’s ad limina will be the first for Bishop Parkes since his ordination to the episcopacy in 2012.  The last visit took place while he was still “Bishop-elect Parkes,” shortly before he was ordained and installed as Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee.