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Bishop Lynch of St. Petersburg retires; Bishop Parkes named successor

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Bishop Lynch of St. Petersburg retires; Bishop Parkes named successor

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis
has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, and named as his successor Bishop Gregory L. Parkes of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida.

The changes were announced Nov.
28 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Lynch, who has headed the
St. Petersburg Diocese since 1996, is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope. Bishop Parkes, 52, has been the bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee since 2012.

“I’m very grateful to Pope Francis for appointing me bishop of St. Petersburg,” Bishop Parkes said in a statement. “It has been a joy to serve as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee for the past four and a half years. I’m going to miss the panhandle and all those
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting during my time here.”

He will be installed as the
fifth bishop of St. Petersburg Jan. 4 at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg.

Bishop Parkes told Catholics of
the St. Petersburg Diocese that he felt “blessed to be your new shepherd. Please pray for me that I will be a good shepherd, that I will be faithful shepherd, a holy shepherd.”

Bishop Lynch said in a statement
he is “relieved and grateful to Pope Francis” for giving the diocese
a new bishop who is “a shepherd like his own heart.”

On March 20, 2012, Pope Benedict
XVI appointed then-Father Parkes to be the fifth bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
He was installed June 5, 2012.

Born in Mineola, New York, April
2, 1964, Bishop Parkes attended Daytona Beach Community College in Florida before earning a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University. He went to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida, from 1993 to 1996, and the Pontifical North American College in Rome, from 1996 to 2000.

He earned a sacred theology
degree in 1988 and a canon law degree in 2000, both from the Pontifical Gregorian University, also in Rome.

He was ordained a priest of the Diocese
of Orlando, Florida, by Bishop Norbert M. Dorsey June 26, 1999. He has two brothers, Christopher Parkes and Father Stephen Parkes, who is a priest of the Diocese of Orlando.

After his priestly ordination,
then-Father Parkes’ parish assignments included parochial vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church in Orlando, 2000-2004, and parochial administrator and pastor of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Celebration, Florida, 2005-2012. He also was the Orlando Diocese’s vicar general and chancellor for canonical affairs.

For six years before his episcopal ordination to head the St. Petersburg Diocese in January 1996, Bishop
Lynch was general secretary of what was then the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Catholic Conference in Washington. Before that, he was a staff member at the bishops’ conference as both layman and priest,
including a stint as associate general secretary.

Born May 27, 1941, in Charleston,
West Virginia, Robert Nugent Lynch received his bachelor of arts degree from the Pontifical College Josephinum in Worthington, Ohio, in May 1963 and his master of divinity degree
from Pope John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, in May 1978. That same month, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Miami.

He served as associate pastor of
St. James in North Miami, then as rector and president of St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. As the fourth bishop of St. Petersburg, he succeeded Archbishop John C. Favalora, who had been named Miami archbishop a year earlier.
Bishop Lynch chose as his motto, “Pro Amicis Suis” (“For his friends”).

Bishop Lynch continued the reorganization and management of the diocese begun under Archbishop Favalora.
He commissioned the building of a new pastoral center, which was formally dedicated March 31, 2000. He also took an active role in planning for the future construction of new Catholic high schools, and improvements to the existing schools.

In one of his last blog posts as
St. Petersburg’s bishop, Bishop Lynch recounted his recent trip in late October to Rome, where among other things he visited four men studying there to be priests for St. Petersburg.

“As I enter the remaining months
of my leadership of the local church of St. Petersburg, I do so with the knowledge that almost all of my seminarians are not pursuing priesthood for respectability, ambition, power and influence but to be comfortable with a pastoral strategy that makes sense in a changing world and culture,” he wrote
Oct. 28.

He added: “The very best things
I bequeath to my successor are the future priests he will ordain for your service and that of the Lord.”

The St. Petersburg Diocese covers
about 3,200 square miles. It has a total population of just over 3 million, of whom just over 445,000, or 14 percent, are Catholic.


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