Fr Thomas Parker
(28 March 1924 - 31 January 2017)
Thomas Parker was born in Glasson, County Westmeath, Ireland, on 28 March 1924. He was educated at Glasson National School and St Finian’s College, Mullingar.
Glasson, County Westmeath [Wikipedia]
He entered St Columban's, Dalgan Park, Navan, in September 1941 and was a member of the first class of Probationers in the new building. He was ordained priest on 21 December 1947. Due to the accidental death of one of his brothers in March 1948, he was not sent immediately to the missions but was assigned for a year to pastoral work in the Cathedral Parish in Galway. He was then assigned to Korea.
Kimiidera, Wakayama City, Japan [Wikipedia]
He arrived in Korea on June 1950, but with the onset of the Korean War he and other colleagues were assigned to Japan later that year. Those were very difficult years in Japan: parish congregations were tiny and huge efforts were made to reach out to people who had little interest in Christianity. For the next 17 years Tom served in Fukuoka, in Gobo, in Hashimoto, in Montana, in Kamogawa, in Shingu and in Wakayama City where he was Area Superior.
Supper at Emmaus, Hendrick Terbrugghen [Web Gallery of Art]
But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them (Luke 24: 29).
'Father Tom was an excellent host . . .'
In January 1977, he was assigned to the USA and to the General Mission Office in Omaha, Nebraska. Over the following twenty years he served in many of our houses including Quincy, MA, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Father Tom was an excellent host wherever he was assigned, and his friendly, open personality made him very effective on promotion work. When his health deteriorated he returned to Ireland, and entered the Dalgan Retirement Home in 2008.
Man Praying, Vincent van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]
Father Tom was a dedicated missionary priest. Asked in an interview what kept him going over the years he replied, 'Well, I suppose saying one’s prayers, and all the prayers offered for us by people at home and in many other places . . . you can’t explain what kept you going . . . a miracle, really, when you look back at it now'.
Father Tom died peacefully on 31 January 2017. He is survived by one brother, Brother Colman Parker, a Marist Brother. His funeral will take place on Friday 3 February in Dalgan Park.
May he rest in peace.
Hamabe no uta 浜辺の歌 Song of the Seashore
Composed by Tamezō Narita
Text by Fr Cyril Lovett, slightly edited here.