February 7, 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Francis J. Parater, Servant of God.
A seminarian of the Diocese of Richmond, Parater was studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome when he died of rheumatic fever.
In 2001, a tribunal was established to examine Parater’s reputation for holiness, the first step toward canonization as a saint.
Popes Benedict XV and Pius XI requested a copy of Parater’s Act of Oblation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was discovered after his passing:
“I have nothing to leave or give but my life, and this I have consecrated to the Sacred Heart to be used as He wills.
“I have offered my all for conversions to God of non-Catholics in Virginia. This is what I live for and, in the case of death, what I die for. Death is not unpleasant to me, but the most beautiful and welcome event of life. Death is the messenger of God come to tell us that our novitiate is ended and to welcome us to the real life. Melancholic or morbid sentimentality is not the cause of my writing this, for I love my life here, the College, the men and Rome itself. But I have desired to die and be buried with the saints. I dare not ask God to take me lest I should be ungrateful or be trying to shirk the higher responsibilities of life; but I shall never have less to answer for—perhaps never be better ready to meet my Maker, my God, my All.
“Since I was a child I have desired to die for the love of God and for my fellow-man. Whether or not I shall receive that favor I know not but if I live, it is for the same purpose; every action of my life here is offered to God for the spread and success of the Catholic Church in Virginia. …
“I shall be of more service to my diocese in heaven than I could ever be on earth.”