The Diocese of St. Petersburg is committed to promoting racial justice. Following the tragic and horrific events of Charlottesville in 2017, the Bishops of the United States formed a committee to focus on addressing the sin of racism and the urgent need to come together as a society to find solutions.  In response, the Racial Justice Committee was formed in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. 

See the ways we’ve been working toward racial harmony in our diocese, from a prayer vigil to recordings of online discussions, here or by clicking on the “History” section below. Find upcoming events here. Sign up for our email list below to receive information on upcoming events and the latest news.

History

On September 5, 2018, Bishop Parkes held a Listening Session designed to offer the faithful an opportunity to share how racism has impacted our lives, our parishes and the Church.  He was joined by Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Chair of the US Bishops Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Listen to attendees reflect on the session below.


The Racial Justice Committee followed this with a study day and a series of civil dialogues in parishes around the Diocese. A small group participated in the JustMatters Faith and Racial Healing Program.


On June 7, 2020, Bishop Parkes led a Prayer Vigil for Peace, Healing and Change. Learn more about the Prayer Vigil, including photos and videos, here.


On June 8, 2020, St. Joseph Parish in St. Petersburg held a community forum on race and police brutality in St. Pete.


On July 27, 2020, an online discussion took place called: Why Do They March? Answering the Questions that Divide Us so that Understanding and Love Can Unite Us. A panel of five Tampa Bay area Catholics responded to some challenging questions regarding racism. Watch the recording.


September 9, 2020 – Bishop Parkes asked that all people of faith observe September 9 as a Day of Prayer to End Racism and Violence


St. Joseph Catholic Church and St. Paul Catholic Church, both located in St. Petersburg, entered into a process to courageously listen and dialogue on race. On October 22, 2020, local pastors, Monsignor Robert Gibbons of St. Paul, and Father Stephan Brown, SVD of St. Joseph had a conversation that was streamed on St. Joseph’s Facebook page and website. Watch the recording.


October 28, 2020 – Monthly Conversation about Race online discussion. The speaker Monsignor Carruthers, parochial administrator of Resurrection Parish in Riverview. He talked about “Racism is a Life Issue.” Watch the recording.


November 19, 2020 – Monthly Conversation about Race online discussion. The speaker was Dr. Moneque Walker-Pickett, a professor at St. Leo University. She talked about “The Result of No Action: Why We Need to Work Together for Justice.” Watch the recording.


February 24, 2021 – Monthly Conversation about Race online discussion. The speaker was Dr. Ansel Augustine, Executive Director of Cultural Diversity and Outreach for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. He talked about “Black History Month – Why It’s Important” and what we can do in observance of it in February and beyond. Watch the recording.


March 24, 2021 and March 25, 2021
Can American be Bi-lingual and United?
Presenter: Fr. Rafael Capó, the Vice President for Mission and Ministry and Dean of Theology at St Thomas University, is a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami and a Missionary of Mercy by appointment of Pope Francis. Here are links to the dialogue that took place in English and the one that took place in Spanish.

How Can I Respond?

5 Ways You can Cultivate Peace and Work for Racial Justice with your Parish Community

Printable ACTION Handout


1. Listen to and know the stories of our brothers and sisters who have suffered from racism throughout history and continue to today. Actively seek opportunities to engage with people of diverse backgrounds.

2. Work to address both individual and systemic racism. Racism can be individual, when persons fail to recognize certain groups as created in the image of God and equal in dignity, or it can be systemic, where practices or policies are upheld that treat certain groups of people unjustly. These systems are often perpetuated due to the silence or unawareness of many. Commit to learning more about racism and employment, housing, wealth, education, criminal justice, and voting—and then get involved in diocesan, parish or community efforts to pray and work for conversion of both hearts and systems.

3. Think about what you can do, wherever you are. In your family, think about who you socialize with on a regular basis. Intentionally create opportunities to interact with those you may not run into over the normal course of your week. Where in your community do you see diverse groups of people come together?

4. As individuals and communities of faith, examine your conscience. Here are a few things you can ask yourself.

  • Do I interact with people who are different from me outside of work or school?
  • Have I taken the time to listen to the voices of others who don’t look like me or have a different background and life experience than me? Do I listen or try to argue?
  • Have I ever said the following phrases or something similar: “she’s pretty for a black girl” or “he’d be handsome if he wasn’t so dark” or other such judgments on beauty and acceptance?
  • Do I blame the victims who suffer poverty and/or oppression for their plight?
  • Do I dismiss the concerns or observations of others as simply being “overly sensitive” or being “politically correct”?
  • Do I ask someone that I am an acquaintance with in social or professional settings to speak for their entire culture?
  • Do I use a friend or family member who is of a different background than my own to “prove” that I have said or done nothing wrong?
  • Have I ever said, “I’m not racist, but…”?
  • Do I automatically associate negative attributes to an entire group of people?
  • Do I use dehumanizing language about others, referring to people as “thugs, animals, illegals,” etc.?
  • Do I categorize other ethnicities into groups like “good” and “troublesome”?
  • Do I take the time to learn and listen to the stories of others’ lives in order to better understand them and the challenges they may face that I do not?
  • Do I see Jesus Christ in each and every person I encounter every single time? Do I love each and every person regardless of their heritage, the choices they have made, their status in society, or the perception I may have of them?

    Source: https://togoforth.org/2017/12/28/engaging-in-a-racial-examination-of-conscience/

Next Steps

1. Sign up for our email list below to stay informed about study groups, civil dialogue, legislative advocacy and upcoming events within the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

2. Consider joining a community organizing group that is making a difference locally:

  • Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, HOPE, is a multi-issue, grassroots, community organization consisting of 23 multicultural and interfaith member congregations throughout Hillsborough County. HOPE’s mission is to promote justice, fairness, and the dignity of people, by engaging and training people to responsibly and successfully act together to hold officials accountable to improve the systems affecting the quality of life in our communities.
    Member Parishes: St Peter Claver Catholic Church, Nativity Catholic Church, St. Stephen Catholic Church
    www.HillsboroughHOPE.org   813-221-HOPE (4673)
  • Faith and Action for Strength Together, FAST, is a congregation-based community organization in Pinellas County whose purpose is to train low- to moderate-income residents from diverse congregations to work together to identify root causes of community problems and take action on these problems.
    Member Parishes: St. Joseph Catholic Church, Espiritu Santo Catholic Church, Holy Family Catholic Church, St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Holy Cross Catholic Church, Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, St. Jerome Catholic Church, St. Matthew Catholic Church, St. Michael Catholic Church, Blessed Trinity Catholic Church
    http://www.fast-pinellas.org  Phone: 727-823-9197
  • Faith in Florida: The mission of Faith in Florida is to build a powerful multicultural nonpartisan network of congregation community organizations in Florida that will address systematic racial and economic issues that cause poverty for our families. With multiple different religious denominations and faith traditions represented, Faith in Florida seeks to provide a prophetic, interfaith voice on civil rights restoration, immigration and healthcare expansion.
    https://faithinaction.org/federation/faith-in-florida/

3. Read Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, the pastoral letter against racism by U.S. Bishops in English or Spanish.

4. Share and discuss the resources on dosp.org/racialharmony with your community.