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 | By Katie Camario

Honoring the Legacy of Bishop W. Thomas Larkin

The Diocese's second bishop would have turned 100 on March 31, 2023.

March 29, 2023 | One hundred prayers are being offered up this week by the students at Bishop Larkin Catholic School in honor of the school’s namesake, Bishop W. Thomas Larkin, one hundred years after his birth. 

“Each of our ten classes are going to create and write ten special prayers. That may include prayers for our school, families, and our community,” said school principal, Stacy Cervone. 

Bishop Larkin was appointed Second Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg on April 18, 1979. He was invited to Rome to be ordained by Saint Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica on May 27, 1979, and he was ordained a bishop along with twenty-five other new bishops.  

A period of tremendous growth occurred during Bishop Larkin’s tenure leading to the opening of fifteen new parishes and three new schools.

In 1986, the bishop established the radio station, WBVM-FM 90.5, and was one of the first voices heard during its inaugural broadcast.

“This begins our first day of broadcasting for WBVM-FM,” he said over the airwaves May 26, 1986. “On behalf of the staff and management of WBVM-FM. This is Bishop Larkin bidding each of you a pleasant day.”

The radio station he founded is now known as Spirit FM 90.5.

Bishop Larkin is also credited with expanding the outreach of social ministries to minorities in the Diocese, by creating the Hispanic Ministry and Black Catholics offices. Principal Cervone says his legacy serves as an example and inspiration to the students, teachers, and staff at the school.

“Bishop Larkin’s legacy continues at our schools,” said Cervone. “One of the best ways that we can commemorate the memory of Bishop Larkin is by serving others as he did.”

Each year during the week of March 31st, the school has committed to participating in a school-wide service project as way to teach students the Catholic traditions of compassion, service, and leadership.

Principal Cervone says Bishop Larkin is a great role model who can help her students understand how they too can fulfill that vision.

“It’s just such a wonderful time to stop and pause and remember the man who served all of us, those in our Diocese and who serve the Lord,” she said.

Bishop Larkin retired on November 28, 1988, and remained active for many years following his retirement.  He died on November 4, 2006, after a long battle with leukemia.

A printed biography distributed during his funeral Mass by the Diocese read in part, “Bishop Larkin was not only a Christian witness but also a key figure in the growth and development of the Church in Florida. His witness and example manifested the presence of Jesus Christ in his life. Ever true, his motto, All things through Him, and his service to the Church stands as an outstanding example of placing the Lord first in all things!”

The public is invited to attend a Memorial Mass to commemorate Bishop Larkin's 100th birthday. It will be celebrated by Bishop Gregory Parkes on Friday, March 31, 8:30 a.m., at St. James the Apostle Catholic Church, 8400 Monarch Drive, Port Richey.

Editor’s Note: The audio of the first broadcast on WBVM with Bishop Larkin can be heard here.