The leader of a half-million Catholics in the greater Tampa Bay area spent the day bringing faith and hope to the homeless.

  • Bishop Gregory Parkes holds mass at Pinellas Hope
  • Easter meals provided by local restaurateur
  • "There is always hope," Parkes says

For the first time, Bishop Gregory Parkes of the Diocese of St. Petersburg held mass for residents at Pinellas Hope.

"It's a blessing, it's also an honor to have him here as well," Justina Anaclerio said.

Anaclerio has been living at Pinellas Hope for several months after falling on hard times.

"I sustained some injuries from a car accident, and it's been kind of difficult to find a job. And I'm still looking," she said.

While she looks for work and tries to get back on her feet, Anaclerio said Pinellas Hope has given her a place to stay and some peace of mind.

"It also helped me to relax a little bit because where I was staying before wasn't relaxing, and this helped me get my mind centered," Anaclerio said.

Many residents said they were shocked to see Bishop Parkes take the time to pray for and get to know the residents. He said that is what Easter is all about.

"No matter who we are, no matter what our state is in life, rich or poor, powerful and weak, the Lord came for each one of us," Parkes said.

As he broke bread and had a hot meal with those in need, Parkes shared an important message.

"There is always hope. Our Lord came to serve those who are mostly poor and mostly sick, those who are sick, and he's still present for each one of us today," he said.

All of the Easter meals provided at Pinellas Hope on Easter Sunday were donated by local restaurateur Steve Westphal.