An Exemplary Jesuit Priest
The story of Father Frank Parrish, S.J. is that of a priest for our times, a spiritual person set before the faithful for emulation, especially those aspiring to the priesthood.
An Extraordinary Life
Frank Parrish was born in the little town of Garvanza, which is now Highland Park, in Los Angeles County. He was baptized by Father Richard Gleeson, S.J., (founder of Saint Ignatius Loyola Church and Loyola University). He graduated from Loyola High School in 1929 and entered the Society of Jesus. He was ordained June 13, 1942 in San Francisco (Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral).
Father Frank’s Handwritten Letter to Jesus (1945)
Dear Jesus, Help me, my Jesus, to go all the way in my personal love for You – not to be continually holding back. I want to give myself to You.
Jesus, I love You dearly. You are the only One I desire to serve. Help me to get rid of my selfishness and think only of You. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, I love You with my whole self and I’ll prove my love for You with Your grace. Help me to draw my boys very close to You.
Your devoted priest,
(signed) Your Father Frank
Sacred Heart Assignment (1945)
In 1945 Cardinal James Francis A. McIntyre appointed Father Frank Archdiocesan Director of the Apostleship of Prayer and the League of the Sacred Heart. The directorship was in addition to the appointment he already held as archdiocesan spiritual director for the deaf and hearing impaired. He held these two archdiocesan positions, and was actively engaged in giving retreats, missions, days of recollection, conferences, lectures, and radio and TV programs – all for the purpose of spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart. Father Frank’s ministry continued for the rest of his life.
Appointed Confessor for Cora Evans (1945)
Also, in 1945 Father Frank was appointed confessor and spiritual director for Cora Evans. This was in direct response to Cora’s plea to the Provincial of the Jesuits, Father Joseph J. King, S.J. The details of their first encounter, and his guidance of her soul, are described in About Cora section of this Website.
God’s Miracle Resulting from Fr. Frank’s Blessing (1990)
On February 23, 1990, Father Parrish was called to Santa Teresita Hospital in Duarte to minister to his unconscious friend, Jesuit Father John Houle, who was dying from terminal pulmonary fibrosis. Father Frank blessed the patient with a first class relic of Blessed Claude la Colombiere, “Instead of praying to several saints, I implored Blessed Claude only. When I left the room, I told the small group of relatives and friends that he was going to be all right. I don’t know how, but I knew it.” The next day, Father Houle regained consciousness and began a startling recovery.
The miracle was investigated and approved by the Vatican. On May 31, 1992, Father Frank and Father Houle sat side-by-side in the front row of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, witnessing the solemn canonization of Saint Claude.
The Final Years
In his later years, he lived at Santa Teresita Hospital where he prayed with patients and their families, the Carmelite Sisters and the staff, and visited the children at the hospital’s day care Center. He even offered Mass from his bed until one week before his death. During the last week of his life, Jesuit priests visited daily and said Mass in his room.
The First Person to Preach the Mystical Humanity of Christ
Opening Retreat Prayer
“Oh Divine Lord Jesus, we love you so much and we want you to spend the day with us. Take possession of our humanities that we may be your mystical humanity in the world that needs you so much. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place our Trust in You. Mother Mary, my Mother, our Mother Mary, and all of the Saints in Heaven, especially Saint Claude la Colombiere, pray for us”
You Become His Mystical Humanity
“He loves each one of you so much that he died for you alone. He would have climbed up the cross of Calvary and died for you and he dies in the mystical un-bloody manner in the Mass that we might continue his life through our humanities. We become his mystical humanity.”
The Eucharistic Spirituality of Saint Ignatius
“Wasn’t that a beautiful Gospel? I selected it especially because it is exactly what our dear Lord wants us to do – to spread his divine life and human life dwelling within us. Not only does Jesus give us his own divine life, but he gives us his human life as well. Haven’t we always said, since children, the Eucharist is the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus? And I believe this, and I believed it all my life and I believe that is probably the reason why I became a Jesuit priest. This is the spirituality of Saint Ignatius, the humanity of Jesus dwells within us – as well as the divinity.”
“I saw in my imagination the flames of the Eucharist engulfing my humanity. And then I said, ‘Aha, at last I can understand why Cora (Evans) insisted so much on the necessity of the Eucharist.’ That brought home to me what is meant by the mystical humanity of Jesus. We are taking Christ’s place in the world of today, which is so engulfed in materialism and things of time and pleasure, of here and now, that people are not aware or don’t leave themselves open to be aware of the divine gift of God dwelling within them.”
The Divine Indwelling
“Jesus dwells in His glorified humanity, as well as His Divinity, in each one of us when we receive Holy Communion. What a gift that is. I can study Christ in all of his human activities and how forgiving and kind he was, and loving and constantly giving of himself. This is the Jesus that I am trying to be like; giving of Himself. This is how I, miserable being that I am, can give back to my Heavenly Father a love that he accepts, because it is on the divine level – Jesus in his divinity working through me.”
The Heart of our Catholic Faith
“It is that we become His other humanity – His resurrected life. He continues to live in His resurrected life through our humanities. To me this is the very heart and apex of our Catholic faith. Cora (Evans) did say this is the last great devotion in the Catholic Church, the divine and human indwelling of Christ.”
“Above all, I thank God most especially for giving me the greatest gift of all – His own Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist, and a continuation of His most powerful prayer on Calvary – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. For all of these, and infinitely more, I thank You God.”
“I had the pleasure of knowing Fr. Frank Parrish, S.J. for many years. I always found him true to form: grateful for the gifts the Lord had given him, deeply committed in his devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and unsparing in his love and care for all he met. Father Frank was convinced of Christ’s indwelling in our lives. Letting this truth take hold of us can be the first step in a new moment of one’s life.”
Rev. Thomas H. Smolich, S.J.
Jesuit Conference of the United States
A Heart Aflame with Love
“If we really want to give Father Parrish the highest of tributes, we will approach that great, loving, open heart of his and ask him to obtain for us from God a similar deep conviction that a heart is aflame with love for us – the Divine Heart. Father Frank Parrish was active and energetic his whole life regarding the affairs of Christ – and we can expect him now only to be all the more active regarding the affairs of Christ in our behalf.”
Sister Regina Marie, O.C.D.
Carmelite Sisters of The Most Sacred Heart
Fr. Frank's Living Legacy
“As a renowned retreat master, Father Frank promulgated the Mystical Humanity of Christ, encouraging the lay faithful to live with a heightened awareness of the living indwelling presence of Christ in the ordinary circumstances of their lives. His living legacy is the organization he founded to continue the mission that was entrusted to Servant of God Cora Evans by Our Lord.”
The Qualities of Jesus
“Bless Father Frank. Help me to see You in Father Frank, the road won’t be hard if from time to time I may see the crown on Father Frank. He is humble, kind, and so much like You, Jesus, he has all your qualities – what more does he need? Let Thy crown be visible on him when I’m down, let the crown be ever in his reach. Don’t embrace me, Jesus, embrace Father, for I am not worthy.”
November 29, 1948
Commissioned to Bring the Soul Nearer to God
Spiritual direction of a mystic is something the profound theologian Adrienne Von Speyr explains well. Adrienne tells something that is exemplified in Father Parrish’s directorship of Cora Evans. Von Speyr writes, “There is one person who has a special position between the soul and God, namely the spiritual director officially appointed by the Church. He is commissioned to bring the soul nearer to God, but it is also his task to a great extent, to represent God to the soul. He stands in a special relationship to God’s omniscience . . . he is given antennae, as it were, to enable him to see and understand, in faith, as much as he needs in order to undertake the soul’s guidance.” Father Parrish as a director of a mystic is in the same position that Saint Claude had who was officially the spiritual director of Saint Margaret Mary. We should have reverence for Father Parrish.
Father Philip J. Conneally, S.J. (1914-2008)
A memoir of Father Frank Parrish, S.J. (2004)