Last Saturday, Msgr. Jim Parizek died after 71 years among us, of which 45 of them he served as a priest of the Diocese of Davenport. It was inevitable, as for all of us; but not expected when he was putting up such a determined fight to win over cancer.
How does one summarize the life of a man — a priest, who filled his time and space on earth with dedication, service, suffering, and totally completed everything demanded of him and his vocation? It is a hard question.
It’s not enough just to say that he generously followed in the footsteps of his high priest who called him to serve rather than to be served. Fr. Jim fulfilled the requirement of discipleship and took up his cross as much as was humanly possible.
My first thought was Isaiah’s prophetic description of what scholars have called the first Servant Song. Of course that would be how the Messiah would be known. But the Servant Song is comparable to the legacy that Fr. Jim leaves for us. Here is the prophet quoted in summary:
“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
My beloved in whom I delight;
And he will proclaim justice…
He will not contend or cry out,
Nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
A smoldering wick he will not quench,
Until he brings justice to victory.”
Whether as chancellor, officialis, judicial vicar or pastor, Fr. Jim was a chosen vicar for justice. He was a soft-spoken individual, not crying out for recognition or sympathy. He was not into parading his talents or accomplishments. But as a gentle man at all times, he humbly pursued justice through his role in the Tribunal.
With retirement of a little more than one year, the good monsignor spent most of it engaged in the battle with cancer. As with a “bruised reed,” he did not break down but did his best to show us how to bear suffering. The battle is over for him now. No matter how you look at the conclusion, he was victorious.
I’m sorry that all most of us could do for you Jim, was to pray. You fought a good fight. From you we have learned the lesson of the Cross as the banner of victory is the sign of contradiction. I know we can expect and depend on you to intercede for us.
Now, can I take the liberty to add a personal contribution that you, Jim, made to my life? I know we all have been touched by your life in so many ways. In 1975 you were still a “baby priest” in your first assignment and I was 20 years your senior. You and I, McAleer and Hitch took off on a Sunday afternoon in June on the Maiden Voyage of what became the “Easy Access” Canoe Club. Destination was the Upper Iowa River starting at Lime Springs.
It was spring flood time and the fast water took us into downed trees at the turn of a quick curve. For a while, I thought this could be the end. We survived and saved the canoes and all that was tied down and spent a wet camp night. The only real disaster was that we caught up with only the lite beer that floated downstream ahead of us. When we finally dried out, your Breviary was one volume of swollen pages. There is more to the story, but you know it all anyway.
Thanks again Jim, for everything you did for us — brother priests, the Church and the Praise to our God for all His People.
– Msgr. Francis Henricksen
Msgr. Parizek was a longtime pastor, judicial vicar
Msgr. James Francis Parizek, JCL, 71, died Feb. 3 in Chicago.
A native of Iowa City, he attended schools there. He graduated from St. Ambrose College in Davenport and completed his theological studies and earned a master’s degree in theology at the American College of the University of Louvain in Belgium.
On July 15, 1972, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Gerald O’Keefe at St. Wenceslaus Church in Iowa City. Then-Father Parizek served as an associate pastor at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport from 1972-76.
He completed his licentiate in Canon Law in 1978 from the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. In 1976, he was appointed assistant chancellor for the diocese and auditor for the tribunal. In 1978, he became vice officialis and prosynodal judge. As a member of the Canon Law Society of America, he served as secretary of the national office and was later named to the board of governor’s national office.
In 1981 Fr. Parizek was appointed vice chancellor, judicial vicar and director of the tribunal where he served until 2001. In 1989 he received the title monsignor.
From 2001-02 he served as parochial vicar at Holy Family Parish in Davenport. He served as promotor of justice and dean of the Davenport Deanery from 2010-16. He was instrumental in the development of a ministry to the hearing impaired in the diocese and was active in serving this community. He also served on the Diocesan Council of Conciliation, beginning in 1991. He served as pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport from 2002-16, and then retired.
Visitation for Msgr. Parizek will be held Thursday, Feb. 8 from 4-7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. A Vigil Service for the Deceased will be held at 7 p.m. Visitation will also be held Friday from 10 a.m. until his funeral at 11 a.m. at the cathedral.