More than 300 people participated in a Holy Hour at the Cathedral of St Jude the Apostle on Sunday, June 7, 2020, to pray for peace, healing and change following the brutal death of George Floyd and the national protests that have erupted.
Bishop Gregory Parkes led the solemn prayer service inside, and a group also gathered outside at the corner of 5th Avenue and Tyrone Boulevard in St. Petersburg. The event provided a peaceful witness to the community and a visible show of solidarity with those who have suffered the effects of racial injustice. Demonstrators carried signs with messages to show solidarity and express their hope for change.
In his reflection Bishop Parkes said, “We pray for healing from the wounds of sin and division. We pray for hope in a better day when we will more perfectly be the people that God has created and called us to be. We also pray for change in the structures, institutions and laws which still today offend the dignity of our common humanity. We can make a difference as individuals, as a Church, and as a community. It begins with us. And so, we pray for conversion of minds and hearts where racist thoughts and hatred are harbored and fester.” Read the full reflection here and watch video of the reflection below.
Deacon Josh Bertrand, who will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of St. Petersburg on August 15th attended the prayer vigil. He said, “The important thing is that we need to approach the Lord in mercy and love and ask the Lord for the grace to reflect on how we view other people and if there’s any hint of racism, we ask the Lord to heal us and if need be, take that to confession.”
High school student, Diego Ortiz-Lopez, of Puerto Rican descent, attended the event with his mom. “Us being minorities, we understand the hardships African Americans go through each day. We wanted to show our support and solidarity. I feel like our generation will wipe out racism because of our friendships and how we talk to each other,” he said.
Loretta Reiman, a parishioner of St. Paul St. Pete, is a member of the Diocesan Life, Justice and Advocacy Committee. She said, “This is so wonderful to see so many Catholics take a stand against racism, which is a sin. We need to examine our hearts and help each other through this. We do know how to love one another. That’s what we’re taught to do. I look forward to a new togetherness in our Diocese.”
Fr. Stephan Brown, pastor, St. Joseph Catholic Church, St. Petersburg, was moved by the experience, “This is an important moment for us in the Diocese of St. Petersburg as priests and laity gather together in prayer. Prayer can truly change things. We must pray, act and seek justice and equality for all persons. We cannot have a Respect for Life movement and not respect the lives of people in our African American communities and those who continue to suffer.”
Find photos and watch video of the Prayer Vigil below, as well as links to coverage of the event in the news.
To learn more and to sign up for email updates, please visit: dosp.org/racialharmony.
Coverage of the Prayer Vigil in the News
June 8, 2020 – Bishop Gregory Parkes Prays For Peace, Unity, And End To Racism
June 7, 2020 – Diocese of St. Petersburg holds vigil inviting people to peacefully protest and pray
June 4, 2020 – Tampa Bay’s Catholic bishop to hold prayer vigil for racial harmony and justice