St. Petersburg Diocese Welcomes New Bishop

Nov 28, 2016

A new bishop will lead The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Petersburg, which serves Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

On Monday, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Gregory Parkes to the Diocese.

He succeeds Bishop Robert Lynch, who has headed the St. Petersburg Diocese since 1996. Lynch is 75, the age at which Catholic bishops are required to turn in their resignation to the pope.

Parkes became an ordained priest in 1999 after working for many years in Tampa's banking industry. At the time, he attended Christ the King Catholic Church in South Tampa. It was there Parkes said he prayed for a new direction in life.

"Because I was doing okay in my career but I wasn't overly happy or fulfilled,” he said at a Monday news conference. “And I didn't think that was God's ultimate will for me so really in a certain sense the origin, the foundation of my vocation was discerned here in our diocese."

Parkes was most recently a bishop in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

The most notable change for him, he said, is that the Catholic community in Tampa Bay is much larger.

"But yet the needs are similar. People are searching. They're looking for meaning, they're looking for fulfillment in their lives, they're looking for hope and that's the role of a bishop and his priests, is to bring that to them."

The 52- year old Parkes will be installed as the new bishop of the St. Petersburg Diocese in January.