Bishops of Florida Call for Mercy for the Condemned

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Hopeful that growing opposition to the death penalty will lead to the end of its use. Prior to the scheduled execution of William Frederick Happ, the Bishops of Florida call on Governor Rick Scott to demonstrate mercy and commute Mr. Happ’s sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Happ is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, October 15 at 6:00 p.m. at Florida State Prison near Starke.

fcc logo Blue300Hopeful that growing opposition to the death penalty will lead to the end of its use. Prior to the scheduled execution of William Frederick Happ, the Bishops of Florida call on Governor Rick Scott to demonstrate mercy and commute Mr. Happ’s sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Happ is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, October 15 at 6:00 p.m. at Florida State Prison near Starke.

The Church views all individuals, even those who have caused great harm, as possessing a human dignity that is sacred and instilled in us by God. A respect for all human life is recognized by those around the state who will gather prior to Mr. Happ’s execution to pray for his victim, Angela Crowley, and all victims of violent crimes and their families, for persons on death row awaiting execution, and for the end of the use of the death penalty.

“The vigils and prayer services held in each of Florida’s dioceses prior to an execution demonstrate a growing sign of unity against state-sponsored killing,” said Michael Sheedy, director of public policy for the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The bishops are hopeful that these activities will continue to grow, and a groundswell of those who oppose capital punishment will move our government leaders to rethink their position and take the steps necessary to end the use of the death penalty in Florida.”

Catholic faithful and members of the community are invited to gather in solidarity at the following times and locations:

Archdiocese of Miami

A prayer vigil will be held following 11:45 a.m. Mass on Tuesday, October 15 at St. Martha Catholic Church, 9221 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Shores. Contact: Juan Di Prado, (305) 762-1046, jdiprado@theadom.org.

Diocese of St. Augustine

Prayer vigils will be held on Tuesday, October 15 at the following locations:

  • In front of the St. Augustine Beach City Hall, corner of A1A and 16th Street, 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Contact: Nancy O’Byrne, (904) 461-9216, obyrnen@bellsouth.net.
  • In front of the new Duval County Unified Courthouse, 501 W. Adams Street, Jacksonville, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Contact: Jackie Gunning, (904) 449-3328, jacqueline.gunning@bmcjax.com or Sr. Maureen Kelley, (904) 704-0313, mkelleyop@att.net
  • In front of the Flagler County Courthouse, 1769 E. Moody Blvd, Bunnell from  5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Contact: Jackie Morelewicz, (386) 986-3146, jackiem@cfl.rr.com.
  • Across the highway from the Florida State Prison Execution Building, Starke from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Contact: John Linnehan, (904) 504-1004, metanoia.mx@gmail.com.

A carpool will be leaving on Tuesday, October 15 at 4:30 p.m. from the parking lot of St. Augustine Church and Catholic Student Center, 1738 W. University Avenue, Gainesville to attend a prayer service at Florida State Prison near Starke. Contact: Michelle Garcia, (352) 372-3533, info@catholicgators.com.

Additional Contact: Kathleen Bagg, Office of Communications, Diocese of St. Augustine, (904) 262-3200. 

Diocese of St. Petersburg

Spirit FM 90.5 WBVM Tampa will be praying on air Tuesday, October 15 beginning at 5:50 p.m. Spirit FM is also available on the internet (www.spiritfm905.com). Contact: Sabrina Burton Schultz, (727) 344-1611, sab@dosp.org.

A prayer service will be held on Sunday, October 13 at 7:45 p.m. at Nativity Catholic Church, 705 E. Brandon Boulevard, Brandon. Contact: (813) 681-4608. 

Diocese of Orlando

St. Patrick Catholic Church, 6803 Old Hwy 441 South, Mount Dora will host a prayer service on Tuesday, October 15 at 3:00 p.m. Contact: Bernard Welch, blwmm@embarqmail.com.

A bus will be leaving from the parking lot of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 201 University Blvd., Daytona Beach, on Tuesday, October 15 at 2:30 p.m. for a prayer service outside the Florida State Prison in Starke. Contact: Office of Advocacy and Justice, (407) 246-4819, advocacyjustice@orlandodiocese.org

Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee

A holy hour will be held at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1008 Fortune Avenue, Panama City on Monday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m. (CDST). Contact: (850) 763-1821, stj.office@knology.net or Peggy DeKeyser, Office of Communications, Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, (850) 435-3528, dekeyserp@ptdiocese.org.

Diocese of Palm Beach

Catholic Charities Respect Life Office in partnership with the Diocese of Palm Beach and Pax Christi will host a prayer service on Tuesday, October 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the Chapel at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola, 9999 N. Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens. The service will be followed by a procession and silent vigil in front of the Cathedral from 5:45 – 6:15 p.m. Contact: Dianne Laubert, (561) 313-2280, dlaubert@diocesepb.org.

Diocese of Venice

A prayer vigil will be held in the Chapel at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church, 1922 SW 20th Avenue, Cape Coral on Sunday, October 13 at 7:00 p.m. Contact: Maria, (239) 540-7096, maria1403@juno.com.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 425 South Tamiami Trail, Osprey will hold a prayer vigil on Tuesday, October 15 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Contact: Janine Marrone, (941) 497-4917.

In addition, Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty will sponsor a community prayer vigil scheduled for Tuesday, October 15 at 6:00 p.m. in front of the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee and an interfaith Service of Remembrance in the Capitol Building Plaza Level Rotunda the day after the execution, Wednesday, October 16 at noon. Contact: Sheila Meehan, (850) 524-0080.

The Florida Catholic Conference is an agency of the Catholic Bishops of Florida. The archbishop and bishops of the seven (arch)dioceses in Florida constitute its board of directors.