Seek always the face of the Lord (Psalm 105).
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Today I have joyous news to share with you about one of our beloved priests, Very Reverend Stephen Parkes. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has found him worthy of an ecclesiastical appointment to Bishop of the Diocese of Savannah and has made this announcement today. Bishop Elect Parkes will be travelling to and from the Diocese of Savannah while continuing to serve as pastor of Annunciation Catholic Church until September 23 when he will be ordained and installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Savannah.
A priest of twenty-two years, Bishop Elect Stephen Parkes, in my humble opinion, will be an excellent bishop. He serves in many leadership roles in the Diocese of Orlando, including Chair of the Presbyteral Council, Vicar Forane for the North Central Deanery, member of the Priests’ Personnel Board and College of Consultors, member of the Diocese of Orlando Real Estate Committee, and on the Endowment Board of Trustees of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. He also serves on the Diocese of Orlando Seminary Admissions Committee and as the Diocese of Orlando Clergy Representative for the Board of Trustees at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary. He is Chaplain for Legatus, an association of the faithful, and recently resigned as one of the founding members of Board of The Catholic Foundation of Central Florida.
All of these committees and memberships have helped Bishop Elect Parkes to understand the workings of a Diocese and its various aspects. More importantly, Bishop Elect Parkes is a blessed and gifted pastor. Annunciation Catholic Church is one of the largest in the Diocese of Orlando and he entered the parish during a difficult transition with much sacrifice on his part. He is attentive to the spiritual gifts and needs of the people and immersed in parish life, so much so that when he learned of his appointment, his care and concern was about those young people who are scheduled to receive the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation and being able to confer those Sacraments before his departure. The blessing of the remodeled Sanctuary in which he led his parishioners to plan and build was one of great joy. As pastor of this well-established parish, he has met the holy people of God with the grace of a true shepherd.
In 2005, Bishop Elect Parkes was called to lead the faithful to form a community for the erection of Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in Oviedo. As a newly established parish, he gathered the scattered across various areas of rural Seminole County (not so rural any longer!) forming the people of God to lay the capstone of this parish in His glory. From the beginning, Christ was the foundation of this journey of faith.
In his leadership, Bishop Elect Parkes is attentive to the needs of the priests as he comes to know them. During his tenure at Annunciation Catholic Church, he was attentive to the spiritual and health needs of Monsignor Patrick Caverly, pastor emeritus, who died in 2017. Bishop Elect Parkes matured in his priesthood because of this gift. He has volunteered to serve on a committee to address the needs of senior priests because of this beautiful relationship.
I have attended various retreats and gatherings led by Bishop Elect Parkes. I am inspired by his meticulous planning of these spiritual offerings so that attendees encounter a closer experience with God. His choice of theme always is central to our faith in God and every aspect of his leadership is centered around God’s Presence among us.
I know you join me in my prayer of thanksgiving for Bishop Elect Stephen Parkes. We will miss him, but rejoice in having this time to know him and receiving the fruit of his priestly ministry here in the Diocese of Orlando. We will support him during this time of transition and offer him any assistance as he prepares to leave us. We say, Seek the face of the Lord, Bishop Elect Parkes. He is calling you. Be His light among us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend John Noonan
Bishop of Orlando