Prayer Vigils to be Held Around the Diocese for Execution Victim
August 6, 2019 •

Gary Ray Bowles is scheduled to be executed on August 22 at 6 p.m. Bowles was sentenced to death after pleading guilty to the 1994 murder of Walter Hinton in Duval County, Fla. He also confessed to five other murders, and is serving life sentences for two of those. His death warrant is the second to be signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Prayer vigil for a 2017 execution. (Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Woody Huband)

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “No matter how heinous the crime, if society can protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so.” (A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death)

Parishioners are encouraged to pray for Bowles and an end to the death penalty, as well as write letters to discourage Governor DeSantis from signing any more death warrants.

“The majority of [men on death row] have been there for three decades or more, and our safety and security has never been threatened.  It is absolutely not necessary and not permissible by our Catholic faith,” said Deacon Lowell “Corky” Hecht, director of prison ministry for the Diocese of St. Augustine.

Prayer vigil for a 2017 execution. (Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Woody Huband)

Prayer vigils will be held across the Diocese of St. Augustine for Bowles and his family, his victims and their families, for our society, which continues to impose violence in return for violence, and for an end to the use of the death penalty, at the following locations and times:

Alachua County

Catholic Gators and GCADP will carpool to the Florida State Prison in Starke. Meet at Emmanuel Mennonite Church, 1236 NW 18th Ave, Gainesville, Thursday, Aug. 22, at 4:30 p.m. Participants will attend the prayer service at the prison. Contact: Miriam Elliott at (352) 278- 4342.

Bradford County

Across the highway from the Florida State Prison Execution Building, Starke, Thursday, Aug. 22, at 5 p.m. Contact: Miriam Elliott at (352) 278-4342.

Duval County

In front of the new Duval County Unified Courthouse, 501 W. Adams Street, Jacksonville, Thursday, Aug. 22, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Contact: Jackie Gunning at (904) 449-3328 or by email at or Sister Maureen Kelley at (904) 704-0313, email

Flagler County

In front of the Flagler County Courthouse, 1769 E. Moody Blvd, Bunnell, Thursday, Aug. 22 from 5 to 6 p.m. Contact: John Bangert at (301) 318-6832 or by email at

St. Johns County

In front of the St. Augustine Beach City Hall, corner of A1A and 16th Street, St. Augustine Beach, Thursday, Aug. 22, from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Contact: Nancy O’Byrne at (904) 422-3618 or by email

To download a PDF of the prayer vigil schedule, click here.