Most Rev. Gregory L. Parkes, the newly ordained bishop of the Pensacola-Tallahassee Catholic Diocese, will be the featured speaker at the inaugural Dogwood Gala on Oct. 5 at the Hurlburt Soundside Club. The gala benefits the Fort Walton Beach office of Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, which serves people in need in both Okaloosa and Walton counties.



“We are so happy to have our new bishop play such an important role at our gala,” said Ann Imburgio, regional director of the Fort Walton Beach office. “The Dogwood Gala is our biggest fund-raiser of the year, and it helps to pay for all of the services we provide to the community.”
Founded by the Trinitarian Sisters in Pensacola in 1928, Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida serves people of all religions, races and nationalities. The Fort Walton Beach regional office, which opened in 1971, provides a wide array of services, including emergency financial assistance, a food pantry, mental health counseling, disaster relief, adoption services, and the new jobs initiative, Spirit Works.
The Dogwood Gala will feature a cocktail reception starting at 6 p.m., followed by a three-course seated dinner and the program starting at 6:45. Musical entertainment will be provided by violinist Carol Hayes, pianist Leo Tisa, and soloist Deacon Walt Richardson. The event also will include a silent auction featuring a wide variety of vacation packages, sports and entertainment memorabilia, and items donated by local merchants.
The culmination of the evening will be the speech by Bishop Parkes, who was ordained to the episcopacy and installed as the Fifth Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee on June 5, having been appointed to the position by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, on March 20. He earned a theology (S.T.B.) degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1998 and a canon law (J.C.L.) degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 2000. He was ordained a priest of the Orlando diocese by Bishop Norbert Dorsey on June 26, 1999.
Bishop Parkes was born in Mineola, N.Y. He attended St. Rose of Lima School in Massapequa, N.Y.; Massapequa High School; and Daytona Beach Community College before earning a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University. Prior to entering the seminary he worked in the banking industry in Tampa. He attended St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach from 1993-1996 and the Pontifical North American College in the Vatican City State from 1996-2000.
He holds a Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University and a Canon Law (J.C.L.) degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained a priest of the Orlando diocese by Bishop Norbert Dorsey on June 26, 1999.
Bishop Parkes' episcopal motto is "Nomini Tuo Da Gloriam" which translates to "To Your Name, Give the Glory" which is drawn from Psalm 115.
“This will be the first opportunity for many people to meet the bishop and hear him speak,” Imburgio said. “It’s going to be a wonderful event.”
Tickets are $100 per person, and may be reserved by calling Evelyn or Kelly at 850.244.2825, or visiting Dogwoodgala.com. Sponsorship opportunities are available.