Fr. Jonathan D. Parks, S.D.B., former principal of St. Dominic Savio
High School (1990-1993)/Savio Prep (2001-2004) in East Boston, died
on July 11 in Marrero, La., after a months-long illness. Fr. Parks
had also been principal of Don Bosco Technical High School in Boston
(1980-1983). Fr. Parks was 60.
Fr. Parks was pastor of St. Rosalie Catholic Church in Harvey, La.,
at the time of his death.
A former teacher at Don Bosco Tech, Jack Sullivan, wrote to Fr.
Parks early in July to assure him of prayers and commend his
professionalism and his success “in carrying on Don Bosco’s vision.”
Fr. Parks was born in New Orleans on Sept. 26, 1949, and raised in
Gretna, La. He met the Salesians when he attended Archbishop Shaw
High School in Marrero, where he was in the second graduating class
(1967). Strongly influenced by the Salesians who taught him, he
entered Don Bosco Seminary in Newton, N.J., in 1967 and made his
religious vows as a Salesian on Aug. 15, 1969.
Fr. Parks earned a Bachelor’s degree from Don Bosco College in
Newton in 1972 and was assigned to teach U.S. history and religion
at Archbishop Shaw High School for two years.
In 1974 he enrolled in the Pontifical College Josephinum in
Columbus, Ohio, for theological studies. He earned an M.Div. and was
ordained a priest on May 19, 1978, in Columbus. After ordination Fr.
Parks served young people and the Salesians as a teacher and school
administrator in Cedar Lake, Ind. (1978-1979), Ramsey, N.J.
(1979-1980, 1988-1990), Tampa (1983-1988), besides the two Boston
schools. He also was a vocation director for the Salesians
After earning a doctorate in educational administration and
superintendency at Boston College in 1996, Fr. Parks was appointed
superintendent of schools for the Salesians’ Eastern U.S. Province
in 1999 and served until 2004. He assisted St. Rosalie Church as
associate pastor from 1996 to 2001.
Fr. Parks was a frequent speaker at the National Catholic Education
Association and a member of various boards, including the National
Religious Vocation Conference and Cafe Hope in Marrero. He was a
member of the presbyteral council of the archdiocese of New Orleans
and a consultant to the Office of Education of the archdiocese.
The most difficult part of Fr. Parks’s pastorate in Harvey was
Hurricane Katrina. He stayed through the storm, left briefly
afterward with all the other Salesians, and worked very hard for
months to support needy parishioners and anyone else, as well as to
repair the damage t
hat the storm had caused to the parish facilities.
Former Salesian provincial Fr. James Heuser said of Fr. Parks: “The
West Bank of New Orleans gave us a gift in Fr. Jonathan, with his
strong sense of family and friendship, and an effusive and joyful
Southern style. In these last years he returned to the West Bank and
was a gift to them, enriching so many who struggled through hard
times with his priestly zeal and simple devotional faith. Greatly
loved by many, he will be greatly missed.”
Mary Wenzel, principal of St. Rosalie School, wrote to the students’
parents on the day Fr. Parks died: “Saint Rosalie school and parish
communities are experiencing a tremendous loss, as Fr. Jon touched
many people’s hearts and lives in a very special way. He was always
there for everyone and ministered to anyone who crossed his path.
Fr. Jon was a true Salesian [who] daily continued the great work of
Don Bosco’s principles of reason, religion, and kindness, especially
with the children. He loved the children dearly and enjoyed spending
time with them around campus all the time.”
Fr. Parks is survived by his twin brother Joseph Anthony Parks of
Pineville, La., his younger brother Kenneth of Virginia Beach, Va.,
and his sister Christine Fleming of Gretna.
Funeral services were scheduled for July 14 in Harvey and Westwego,
La., and burial in a family plot in Gretna. Later in the summer the
New Rochelle Province will hold a memorial service for Fr. Parks in
the New York area.