Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s recent Crisis article, “The Tale of Two Fr. Jameses,” warrants a revisit in light of the emergence to the national stage of a third Father James, Fr. James Parker of the Rockford, Illinois, diocese. In his article, Fr. Longenecker suggests that neither of the two ways, represented by Fr. James Martin and Fr. James Altman, has proved throughout history to be the best way forward. Instead, he cites a “third way” described by historian Joseph Stuart, the “simple way of radical discipleship.” But is the third way Fr. Longenecker presents the path to peace in a common Church?
The case of a third Fr. James suggests that the answer to that question is no. Fr. James Parker is the very epitome of what Fr. Longenecker describes as living a “radical Christian life.” He does not curse the dark, but rather lights a candle everywhere he goes. He is the essence of a priest who lives that “radiant, radical, and revolutionary Christianity” focused completely on doing what he can with what he has where he is. He serves his people through the sacraments and through devotions to the Eucharist, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Fr. Parker livestreams Mass every morning, followed by a Divine Mercy Chaplet (which he livestreams again every day at three o’clock). He then makes visits to hospitals and the homebound, and he visits the school, when in session. He ends each day with a livestreamed Rosary Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, which is usually watched by as many as 70 parishioners. Every night.