Open Wide Our Hearts

“We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”  – Pope Francis, June 3, 2020

Violent actions against African Americans have become all too common. When we witness those actions, such as the one that took the life of George Floyd, we know it is our responsibility to respond. Our faith calls us to speak out against racism and work to transform structures that continue to disregard the equal dignity of all people. Find resources below to help us pray, learn, and act together to transform our hearts, our policies, and our country. 

Here are some of the ways we’ve been working toward racial harmony in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. The Diocesan Racial Justice Committee sponsored an 8-week online module on Faith and Racial Healing from February-April, 2020. The committee later organized a Holy Hour of prayer led by Bishop Gregory Parkes 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 nationwide protests that erupted. 

Also in 2020, the Racial Justice Committee of the Diocese of St. Petersburg hosted two “Conversations about Race” and a webinar titled, “Why Do They March?” Also, numerous resources have been compiled to help Catholics open wide their hearts to achieve racial harmony.

In 2020, Bishop Parkes called for a Day of Prayer and Fasting to End Racism.

In 2018, the Diocese of St. Petersburg held a listening session, a day-long workshop and a series of civil dialogues to encourage the faithful to share how racism is impacting their lives in the Church and the community.  According to a Tampa Bay Times editorial, “Bishop Gregory L. Parkes is well serving his pastoral mission by trying to foster a greater degree of understanding, respect and dignity across the Bay Area.”

In the late 1990s, the community of St. Joseph Parish in St. Petersburg helped to form CUCA – Congregations United for Community Action. The group marched against illicit drug use and governmental neglect while marching in favor of racial and religious reconciliation. Father Bill Mason, pastor of St. Joseph at the time, was one of the earliest co-leaders of CUCA.

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Click here to find prayer resources to help overcome racism.


Click here to find resources to deepen your understanding of the sin of racism.


Click here to learn how you can join us in ending racism.

Statements from Catholic Leaders

Click here to find statements responding to the death of Mr. George Floyd and the justified outrage expressed around the country.