Dear Friends in Christ:

Next weekend, we have the opportunity to celebrate the Ordination to Priesthood of Deacon Matthew Hawkins.  I remember six years ago when Matthew came to live with us for eight months before heading to the Seminary for Philosophy studies.  He was very dedicated in any task that he was given and I remember thinking,….. he will make a great Priest!   As we have seen him grow through these years and have witnessed through his homilies and ministry, he has a beautiful spirituality and love for God.  Soon to be Fr. Hawkins may seem kind of quiet at first but he delivers a powerful message.  Information regarding his Ordination and First Mass of Thanksgiving is located on this page.  I hope that you will consider attending either or both of these celebrations.  If you have never been to an Ordination, perhaps this is a perfect opportunity to do so.  Immediately following his First Mass of Thanksgiving there will be a reception in the St. Gabriel Life Center where you can extend your good wishes and prayers to him.  It is customary to ask a newly ordained Priest for a blessing, so don’t be afraid to put him to work right away!

This year I celebrate my 20th anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood.  I never regret the day that I laid prostrate on the hard floor of the Cathedral and prayed the Litany of Saints, asking for their help in my future ministry.  Some of you may have attended my First Mass of Thanksgiving which was held here at Annunciation Catholic Church.  The parish of Annunciation holds a very special place in my heart since I spent seven years here for my first assignment and now seven years as Pastor.  It is hard for me to believe that twenty years have passed since my Ordination!  My journey of Priesthood has brought me many joys, much peace and I look forward to serving for many years in the future.  Every day I wake up and am grateful that God called me to be a Priest in the Diocese of Orlando.  I hope that many young men in our parish will continue to be inspired to discern a Religious Vocation.  You will never regret being open to the invitation.  The words below helped to inspire me on my journey….

If not now, then when? If not here, then where?
If not you, then who? If not for the Kingdom, then why?

Thank you for helping me to be the Priest and Pastor that God has called me to be.  Please know that I pray for you, your intentions and your loved ones each day.  I ask for you prayers as well that I can be the Priest that you need and deserve.  We may not see each other each day but may we meet each day in our prayers!

In Christ,

Very Rev. Stephen D. Parkes, V.F.