BATAVIA – Just hours after vowing to fight to remain at Holy Cross in Batavia on Wednesday, the Rev. James Parker is no longer at the church.
According to Holy Cross parishioner and Batavia resident Sylvia Keppel, she and a group of other parishioners were praying outside the church Wednesday night when a man drove up at 7 p.m. and informed the group that Parker was no longer on church premises.
“He said that Fr. Parker was given a letter at noon and left immediately,” Keppel explained Thursday. “We were told that [Parker] would not be back at the church Wednesday night or Thursday. We were also told he is staying at a location off-site, but not given specifics. Right now I’m waiting to see what happens next. I’m not happy that he is being removed from ministry.”
Keppel said the man introduced himself, but she did not hear what he said. She said that Parker is expected to release a statement “soon.”
Penny Wiegert, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Rockford, confirmed Thursday afternoon that Rev. Parker has left the Batavia parish. She said that Parker’s replacement, the Rev. Jared Twenty, is at the church.
“Fr. Twenty celebrated mass this morning and met with the staff,” she said. “[Parker] indicated to Fr. Twenty that he is residing with friends.”
Calls to Holy Cross Church regarding Parker’s departure have not yet been returned.
Parker had vowed to fight to stay at the parish, after the Diocese of Rockford ordered him to leave by June 16.
Parker issued a statement on Tuesday, citing canon law, asserting his appointment was for an indefinite duration, so he will stay until Bishop David Malloy follows canon law in ordering him to leave.
In response, the diocese also cited canon law to support its position that Parker’s term was for six years — he served one additional year — and now that his term has ended, Twenty was appointed as parochial administrator of Holy Cross.
Parker stated that he did not recognize Twenty’s appointment as legitimate and that he would remain as pastor and not give up any of his duties.
True to his word, when Twenty came to Holy Cross intending to celebrate the 6:30 a.m. Wednesday Mass, Parker was already at the altar, celebrated the mass himself, and Twenty left, sources said.
Parker’s name has been removed from Holy Cross’s website, and Twenty is now listed as parochial administrator.