SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Twenty-two years into his service as a priest, Father Stephen Parkes comes across as a humble man, deeply moved by his new role as the 15th Bishop of the Diocese of Savannah.
“Today I ask you to please pray for me, that I can be the shepherd that God has called me to be, that you need and deserve,” Parkes said at a news conference Wednesday.
Most recently a priest in the Diocese of Orlando, Parkes also served nearly a decade as a campus minister at the University of Central Florida. A climate that, combined with his faith, has surely prepared him to serve the 90 counties of the Savannah diocese.
“The fresh air. The sunshine, clouds, humidity it’s all fine with me,” Parkes said. “It’s fine because it’s all a part of God’s creation.”
Wednesday’s announcement was closed to the public because of the pandemic. At one point, Bishop-Elect Parkes spoke directly to his flock, who was watching from home, about the “extraordinary times” surrounding the change in leadership.
“For all of us, now more than ever, we need hope and healing. We need recognition of God’s image that is in the life of every human person,” he said.
Service to the church runs in the family. The bishop-elect has an older brother who serves as bishop for the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
Parkes will take over the spot left vacant by former Bishop Gregory Hartmayer, now the Archbishop of Atlanta. The bishop-elect will be ordained at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Sept. 23.