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Bishop Parkes’ Path to Priesthood 

Bishop Gregory Parkes celebrates 25 years of priesthood on June 26, 2024. In honor of this special anniversary, we are sharing the bishop’s journey from a young man in Long Island, New York thinking about a career in Hospitality Management to becoming a priest and now bishop. 

Growing Up

His parents named him Gregory Lawrence Parkes and he grew up in Massapequa, a town on Long Island, NY. He attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic School and thought about priesthood briefly in the second grade. He and his two brothers were altar servers, and their parents were active in parish ministries. 

Young Adult Years

In high school, he thought about working in Hospitality Management and after graduation he moved to Daytona Beach, near his grandmother’s house, and attended community college. Then he transferred to Florida State University. He had a typical college experience, joined a fraternity, attended football games, and changed his major to Finance. During his college years, he attended Mass each Sunday at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More, across from the FSU campus. He credits his parents for showing him the importance of Mass participation each Sunday.

Career In Banking 

He moved to Tampa after college graduation and worked in banking. He received several promotions and enjoyed a lot of material success, but he lacked peace, happiness, and fulfillment. He had a rebirth of faith and started attending daily Mass. He was open to marriage, but it became apparent that God was leading him somewhere else.  

“I truly believe that it was in those quiet moments of prayer, in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the presence of our God, that I heard His voice in my heart in a definitive way calling me to serve Him and to serve His people as a priest.” – Bishop Gregory Parkes 

The Call 

He started spending much more time in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament at his home parish, Christ the King, Tampa and in other parishes around the Diocese of St. Petersburg. He asked God, “What are you calling me to do with my life?” Soon after, he moved back to the East Coast of Florida and met with the Vocations Director of the Diocese of Orlando. He then enrolled at the seminary in Miami, the same place where his younger brother had started attending one year earlier. He was ordained June 26, 1999. 

The Second Call 

In 2012, then Father Parkes received a call that would change his life once again. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to become Bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. In November 2016, Pope Francis appointed him as fifth Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg. He was installed as our shepherd on January 4, 2017.