FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Director of Social Concerns/Respect Life
Prior to Scheduled Execution, Catholics in Florida Pray for the Condemned on Death Row and the Victims of Their Crimes
Tallahassee (July 31, 2013) – The Catholic Bishops of Florida offer sincere sympathy to the families of the multiple victims who suffered from the actions of John Errol Ferguson, scheduled for execution August 5. At services to be held around the state, prayers will be offered for the victims and their families, that they have received comfort and healing, as well as to seek forgiveness and God's mercy for the condemned.
The Catholic Church affirms the dignity of every person, both victims and offenders. Mr. Ferguson’s execution will neither restore life, nor take away the pain caused by his horrific crimes. Taking the life of another in the name of justice perpetuates violence and diminishes our own dignity. Mr. Ferguson’s 35 years on death row affirms the ability of the modern penal system to protect society from those that have caused great harm. Punishment can be justly achieved with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. In October 2012, the Bishops of Florida issued a statement urging the commutation of Mr. Ferguson’s sentence: http://www.flaccb.org/statements/2012/121011Fergusonexecution.pdf
Catholic faithful and members of the community will gather at the following times and locations to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for persons on death row awaiting execution, and for the abolition of the death penalty:
Archdiocese of Miami
A prayer vigil will be recited following 11:45 a.m. Mass on August 5 at St. Martha Catholic Church, 9221 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami Shores. Contact: Juan Di Prado, (305) 762-1046, email@example.com.
Diocese of St. Augustine
Prayer vigils will be held on Monday, August 5 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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
• In front of the new Duval County Unified Courthouse, 501 W. Adams Street, Jacksonville, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Contact: Martha Malone, 904-608-7225, email@example.com.
• 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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
• 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, email@example.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 Monday, August 5 beginning at 5:50 pm. Spirit FM is also available on the internet (www.spiritfm905.com). Contact: Sabrina Burton Schultz, (727) 344-1611, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diocese of Orlando
St. Patrick Catholic Church, 6803 Old Hwy 441 South, Mount Dora will host a prayer service on Monday, August 5 at 3:00 p.m. Contact: Bernard Welch, email@example.com.
Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee
A holy hour will be held at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1008 Fortune Avenue, Panama City on Monday, August 5 at noon (CDST). Contact: (850) 763-1821, firstname.lastname@example.org or Peggy DeKeyser, Office of Communications, Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, (850) 435-3528, email@example.com.
Diocese of Palm Beach
A prayer service will be held on Monday, August 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the Chapel at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola, 9999 N. Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens, 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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diocese of Venice
A prayer vigil will be held on Monday, August 5 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 425 South Tamiami Trail, Osprey (Sarasota County). Contact: Janine Marrone, (941) 497-4917.
In addition, Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty will sponsor a community prayer vigil scheduled for Monday, August 5 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, Tuesday, August 6 at noon. Contact: Sheila Meehan, (850) 524-0080.
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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.