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 | Teresa Peterson

“I Give Thanks Today for the Gift of 25 Years of Priesthood”

Approximately 500 seminarians, priests, deacons, religious, and faithful Catholics from around the Diocese of St. Petersburg stood and cheered for Bishop Gregory Parkes at the end of his Silver Jubilee Mass. They were at the church to pray in thanksgiving for the bishop's compassionate leadership and ministry, which has spanned 25 years. His brother, Bishop Stephen Parkes, who is also his closest living relative, delivered the homily offering stories from their youth as well as more recent times. Below in their own words are some of the most notable remarks from this extraordinary day!

Bishop Gregory Parkes:

My Greatest Blessing

“I really didn't want anything big or special to celebrate my 25th anniversary. But somebody reminded me that it's not about me. It's really about God and about giving thanks and praise to Him for His goodness, for His grace, for his blessing. The blessing, of course, is that He called me to be a priest. I would say that's the greatest blessing of my life. Over these 25 years, I've done my best to serve Him as a priest, sometimes not very well, but despite my weakness, I've still tried to serve as best as I can.”

I Never Could Have Imagined

“Nearly half of my priesthood has been as a bishop, which I never could have imagined on the day I was ordained, June 26, 1999, on the floor at St James Cathedral in Orlando. Along the way, I have had the blessing of meeting so many wonderful people, of working with great pastoral staffs in the three dioceses in which I've served, and that's been a great blessing and consolation to me in my priesthood and now as a bishop.”

Giving Thanks

“This is a day to give thanks, and that's what I try to do each and every day. My Episcopal motto that I chose is, "To your name (or to God's name), give the glory." It's what I've always tried to do, through my life, through my ministry, is to give glory and praise to God through the good times and through the challenging and difficult times as well.”

Bishop Stephen Parkes:

About Their Parents

“I don't think they sprinkled holy water on us while we were sleeping at night, but I would say that what they did was create a home in which we were very faithful, where we knew that the church was a second home, where the presence of Christ was at our dinner table each evening."

About His Brother, Bishop Gregory Parkes

“You exhibited qualities growing up of kindness and gentleness, and that's coming from the younger brother.”

“You were a seminarian in Rome and you had the opportunity to meet then Pope John Paul II, to attend liturgies, and be inspired by him. I believe you were asked a number of times to be the cross bearer at St. Peter's Basilica, because they knew the Cross would be well seen by all at the Basilica."

About Carrying Crosses

“God was good to us in many ways, but also life is never without struggle and without suffering. But we model our lives on the mystery of the Lord's Cross. I think this is especially relevant for us as brothers who have experienced loss in our family, but also sometimes health issues. I think we can look at that and bring our suffering, our woundedness, our pain, to the Lord and to the Cross, because we do know He did not stay on a cross. He did not stay in a tomb. He rose from it and as instruments of God's love, as priests and bishops, it is important that we are able to be joyful and courageous witnesses."

Doug Parkes (Uncle of Bishop Stephen and Bishop Gregory Parkes):


“I get emotional every time I think about them (Bishop Stephen and Bishop Gregory). We've been a part of their lives, and when we come here, we see the joy that they bring to others. That's really important. Their mom and dad are gone. My brother was his dad, and so I represent them.”


“We try to give our children a foundation of faith, and they make with it what they will. Stephen and Greg both did that, and now they're sharing their gifts with others.”

Janice Grigg, Parishioner, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church

Why She Attended the Silver Jubilee Mass

"I came here in thanksgiving. The bishop has been so good to our Diocese. I am a Marian servant, and the bishop has been so supportive of the House of Prayer and the Marian servants. I heard his witness at the Magnificat Breakfast. I helped with the Marian Congress. At the Marian Congress, Father Morgan said, ‘This is your cathedral. This is everyone's cathedral.’ I feel so at home here.”


To view more photos from the Silver Jubilee Mass, click the arrow below.

Bishop Parkes Silver Jubilee Mass 2024