Servant of God Frank Parater was a seminarian for the Diocese of Richmond, whose cause for beatification was opened in October 2001. He desired to lay down his life for Christ as a priest. He burned with an intense love for souls and wanted to see souls converted to Christ and His Church. In a time when fewer and fewer men are answering the call to become priests, Frank is an example and an intercessor to turn to for holy vocations to the priesthood.
Francis “Frank” Joseph Parater was born on October 10, 1897, into a devout Catholic family in Richmond, Virginia. His father was Captain Francis Joseph Parater, Sr. and his mother was Mary Raymond, who was Francis Senior’s second wife. Frank was baptized at Saint Patrick’s Church on Church Hill in Richmond.
Frank’s father cared for the garden at the Monastery of the Visitation near their home, which allowed Frank to walk to daily Mass and serve as an altar boy until he left for college. He attended Xaverian Brothers School and Benedictine High School. He graduated in 1917 as valedictorian. He was active in Boys Scouts of America and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
In 1917, Frank began studies for the religious priesthood at Belmont Abbey Seminary in North Carolina. His desire was: “To strive by every possible means to become a pure and worthy priest, an alterus Christus [sic].” He fostered a life of prayer through devotion to Our Blessed Mother in the Rosary and the Memorare. He frequented the Sacraments, especially daily reception of Holy Communion and weekly Confession.
While at Belmont, Frank decided to become a diocesan priest in the Diocese of Richmond in order to serve his native state of Virginia instead of pursuing monastic life. He saw the great need for priests and wanted to help grow the Catholic Church in Virginia. Frank believed that there is no greater gift he can give to others than Jesus Christ. He wanted to live the evangelical zeal the Church is called to by Our Lord in the Great Commission.
In the fall of 1919, He was sent to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He was happy in his studies and fostered many relationships with fellow seminarians. His spiritual life continued to deepen. In December, he wrote an Act of Oblation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, while he was in perfect health. He did not show it to anyone.
He consecrated His entire life to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the will of God. He knew that “the Sacred Heart never fails those that love Him.” His life belonged completely to Jesus and he wanted to be used to save souls. The only life worth living is one surrendered entirely to Christ for the salvation of souls.
From an early age, Frank wanted to give his life even to the point of death to God for the sake of others. Such was the immensity of His love for souls. He wrote in his Act of Oblation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: “I have offered everything I have—everything—for the conversion of non-Catholics in Virginia. This is what I live for, and, should I die, what I die for.” As a seminarian, he knew that the calling of a priest is to give himself away to Christ for the salvation of souls. The more a priest dies to self, the more souls Christ saves through him. Frank wanted to live this sacrifice.
In the end, Frank gave his life as an oblation for the people of Virginia and the Diocese of Richmond. He died at 22-years-old from rheumatic fever on February 7, 1920, two short months after composing his Act of Oblation. Even though he was unable to be ordained a priest before his death, he lived the priestly sacrifice through his suffering in union with Christ Crucified for souls.
He knew that in death, he would be able to serve the Church to an even greater degree as an intercessor before the Throne of God. He wrote: “I shall be of more use to my diocese in Heaven than I could ever be on earth.” May he intercede for the Church in asking Our Lord to raise up an abundance of holy vocations to the priesthood and one day be counted among the Blessed.
Frank Parater Act of Oblation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
To be read only in the event of my death at Rome.
I have nothing to leave or to give away save my life, and I have already consecrated it to the Sacred Heart to dispose of it as He wills. I have offered everything I have – everything – for the conversion of the non-Catholics of Virginia. This is what I live for, and, should I die, what I die for.
Death does not sadden me; rather it is the most welcome, the most beautiful event of life. Death is God’s messenger who comes to tell us that our noviceship is over and to welcome us to the true life.
I do not write this out of melancholy or morbid sentimentality—for I love my life here, I love the College, the men, and Rome itself. But I have longed to die and be buried close to the saints. I dare not ask God to take me to Himself for fear of appearing so ungrateful for the gift of life or as if I wanted to avoid the graver responsibilities of living. At any rate, perhaps never again will I have less to answer for, perhaps never will I be more ready to meet my Creator, my God and my All.
Since I was a child I have wanted to die for the love of God and for my fellowman. I do not know whether I shall ever receive such a grace; but if I do live, it will be for the same end. Every act of my life here is offered for God, that the Church may spread and prosper in Virginia. I have always desired to be only a little child, that I might enter the kingdom of God. When the day of resurrection comes, I want to remain as a child and that it be allowed to me to follow St. John Berchmans, St. Aloysius and St. Stanislaus as their servant and friend. Do we serve God less worthily in Heaven by prayer than we do on earth by our activity? No, surely it is not selfish to want to be with Him Who has loved us so much.
And there I will not be leaving those who are dear to me; I will always be close to them, and I will be able to help them much more that I could here on earth. I shall be able to be of more use to my diocese in Heaven than I could ever be on earth.
If it is God’s holy will, I shall go back to Him on Good Friday 1920, and I shall never leave Him again. But not my will, Father, but Thine be done!
Rome, December 5, 1919.