Congratulations to all of our priests who are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year! These four priests are amongst the 21 who will be recognized at the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. The Chrism Mass is not open to the public due to social distancing requirements, but will be available to watch via livestream on our website, Facebook page or YouTube channel.
25 Years of Episcopal Ministry
Most Rev. Robert N. Lynch was born in Charleston, West Virginia. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 13, 1978, for the Archdiocese of Miami. The following year, he was appointed as rector and president of St. John Vianney College Seminary, in Miami. He was later selected to work for the now-U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including for a term as General Secretary, before returning to Florida, where he would be promoted to the episcopacy by Pope John Paul II. On January 26, 1996, Bishop Lynch was ordained and installed as fourth Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, an office which he faithfully held until his resignation due to age was accepted by Pope Francis on November 28, 2016. He remains active by assisting in parishes as needed and by providing parish missions and retreats.
25 Years of Priestly Ministry
Rev. John J. Blum was born in Baltimore, Maryland but grew up in Largo, where he attended St. Patrick Catholic School and graduated from Largo High School. After graduating from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, Boynton Beach, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Robert N. Lynch on May 18, 1996. He has served as parochial vicar of Christ the King, Tampa; St. Ignatius of Antioch, Tarpon Springs; and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Spring Hill. From 2007 to 2020, he served as pastor of St. John Vianney Parish, St. Pete Beach, and is currently pastor of St. Timothy Parish, Lutz. He has also provided assistance as diocesan Vocations Director and as a member of the Priest Personnel Board.
Rev. Rafael E. Martos is a native of Cuba and was ordained for the Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba on September 12, 1996. After serving in his home archdiocese for four years, he came to the Diocese of St. Petersburg in December 2000, where he had provided excellent pastoral ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics in our Diocese over the past 20 years in the following parishes: St. Anne, Ruskin; St. Rita, Dade City; St. Clement, Plant City; and St. Francis of Assisi, Seffner. Since 2018, he has served as Parochial Vicar of St. Clement Parish, Plant City, with oversight of the migrant community (San Juan Diego Mission) within the parish boundaries.
Rev. Edwin Palka was born in Marshall, Michigan. On May 18, 1996, he was ordained for the Diocese of St. Petersburg by Bishop Robert Lynch. During his 25 years of priestly ministry, he has served as parochial vicar of the following parishes: Christ the King, Tampa; Our Lady of Lourdes, Dunedin; St. Cecelia, Clearwater; St. Rita, Dade City. He was later appointed as pastor of St. Rita Parish. He has also served as pastor of St. Anthony of Padua, San Antonio and is currently pastor of Epiphany of Our Lord Parish, Tampa, where he has worked to develop and expand the Traditional Latin (Extraordinary Form) Mass. In addition to his parish duties, Father Palka has also served as the diocesan chaplain for the Boy Scouts.