SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Bishop Stephen Parkes was ordained as the 15th Bishop of the Diocese of Savannah on Wednesday at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist.
This ordination and installation of Bishop Parkes was likely different from all before in modern history, as everyone inside wore masks, and those involved with the ceremony lathered up with hand sanitizer.
Pope Francis named Parkes the new bishop of the Diocese of Savannah earlier this summer.
“I’m pretty excited to be here, obviously I just moved here, and I’m very grateful to the Holy Father Pope Francis, for appointing me as the 15th Bishop of Savannah,” Parkes said.
Inside, only about a quarter of the capacity for the Church. WTOC was told the majority of people in attendance were from Bishop Parkes' previous diocese in Florida. The church took every precaution to make sure folks from the same families sat together, and that there was proper social distancing.
Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, Bishop Parkes' predecessor in the Diocese of Savannah, was one of the consecrators for the ordination. His first as Archbishop of Atlanta.
“You come among us as a loving shepherd, a man of sustained faith. One who can lead this mission diocese and who can help bring a solidarity among God’s people so that all can rejoice in the Lord always,” Archbishop Hartmayer said.
Bishop Parkes will now lead roughly 77,000 members of the Catholic Church in 90 Georgia counties.
Archbishop Hartmayer pointed out Bishop Parkes and his brother, a bishop over the Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida, are the 11th set of brothers to become brothers in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.
Bishop Parkes gave a nod to that fact in a moment of levity during his address to the crowd.
“I ask for your prayers each day. As an aside, if you simply pray to God for Bishop Parkes, you now get a two-for-one. Please whisper my name to the Almighty so that I can be the shepherd that our Diocese and the Church needs and deserves,” Bishop Parkes said.