BATAVIA TOWNSHIP – The heat took some of the oomph out of a planned prayer vigil to support a priest destined for removal from Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia Township, as about 80 people came Thursday night as opposed to hundreds that turned out last week.
Children carried handfuls of signs with Rev. James Parker’s photo on them while a sparse crowd gathered in back of the church and began to sing hymns.
This is the third vigil at the church in an effort to keep Parker from being removed, or at least to be sure he is assigned to a parish if he does leave by June 16.
The Rockford Diocese determined that Parker should leave – but the popular priest has said he will not leave unless he has a formal, written notice from Rockford Bishop David Malloy.
Among those who turned out despite the 90-degree heat were Jenny and Scott Russell of St. Charles, to show support for Parker.
“Mostly to show Fr. Parker that we support him and that we appreciate all that he’s done for us,” Scott said. “And also just to stand up and to pray for the situation – to pray for the bishop. There’s been a number of priests who have been sidelined from parish work unjustly. And that’s not right. That’s clearly what they’re trying to do (to Parker), but they won’t put anything in writing.”
As to what he hopes will happen by coming to support Parker, Scott said, “God’s will.”
“I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen, but we want to pray that God’s will is carried out,” Scott said.
Before the group began singing hymns before going into the church for prayer, organizers announced that there was another group going to Rockford at 7 a.m. Sunday to continue their public show of support for Parker.