Aloysius Schwartz

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Servant of God Aloysius Schwartz
Svaloysiusschwartz.jpg
priest; founder, Sisters of Mary of Banneux and Brothers of Christ
Born 18 September 1930
Washington D.C.,
United States United States
Died 16 March 1992
Manila,
Philippines Philippines
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Feast 16 March

Servant of God Aloysius Schwartz (September 18, 1930-16 March 1992), was a Roman Catholic American priest who began charity programs for poor orphans in Korea, the Philippines and Mexico, and founded of the Sisters of Mary of Banneux and the Brothers of Christ.

Early life and family[edit]

Aloysius Philip Schwartz was born in Washington D.C. on September 18, 1930 to Louis Schwartz and Cedelia Bourassa. His father sold furniture door-to-door, and she had come to work in Washington D.C. during the First World War, where she met her future husband. She has been especially attracted to him because he was the only boy who joined her for the Novena of Grace, which she had learnt of after moving to the capital from her native Montana.

At the age of 16, Bourassa died of cancer, and Aloysius grew up with the idea of becoming a priest. As time passed, this idea become more intense and specific. He would become a secular priest, he would work as a missionary, and his apostolate would be to the poor and the needy.

Seminary life and ordination[edit]

In 1944, he entered St. Charles Seminary in Maryland. He finished his B.A. Degree at Maryknoll College in 1947 and joined the Maryknoll Missionaries. But he was disappointed, he felt they were rich too American. Discussions with others failed to dissuade him; for, although he had yet no experience in the foreign missions, he considered that compared to the underdeveloped countries, the Americans and with them, the Maryknollers were too rich. This was not for him, and he looked around for a seminary that would from him into a poor diocesan priest in the foreign missions.

He came to know the Belgian Société des Auxiliaires des Missions (S.A.M.) founded by Fr. Vincent Lebbe, the so-called "Apostle of Modern China." Its primary purpose was to form European secular priests working under the jurisdiction of indigenous bishops in Africa and Asia. He studied his Theology at Louvain Catholic University in Belgium. He used to spend his vacation helping at the rag pickers’ camps for the derelicts of the French society. His first visit to the Shrine of the Virgin of the Poor inspired him more to dedicate his priesthood to the service of the poor in fulfillment of the message of our Lady.

He was ordained as a diocesan priest on June 29, 1957 at St. Martin's Church, Washington D.C. by Bishop McNamara. He offered to worked under the Bishop of Busan in South Korea. His first assignment although he was told that he might not be able to endure because of his somewhat delicate health condition, he was accepted and legally separated from the S.A.M.

Work in Korea and the Philippines[edit]

On December 8, 1957, he arrived in Korea. As a consequence of the Korean War, there were many widows, orphans, beggars and street children. Almost one-half of the adult population were not employed productively, so they resorted to selling rags and waste paper, begging, and worst, stealing. He thanked God that after 13 years of preparation, finally he arrived at the place where he could serve Him through the poorest of the poor.

He was full of zeal and worked so hard, but one day he collapsed while saying Mass and was diagnosed to have hepatitis. His recovery was slow so he was advised to go back to the United States. Without money for his plane fare, he had to beg for transportation from an American ship. While in the US, he decided to raise funds for the poor in Korea. He made mission appeals at parish Masses on Sundays.

In December 1961, he returned to Korea and was assigned as a pastor of St. Joseph's Parish. He lived like the poor people around the parish and continued helping the needy. He organized the Legion of Mary ladies to assist him in helping the poor. Later he thought that in order to serve the poor in the mind and heart of Jesus, they must be consecrated.

He founded the Religious Congregation of the Sisters of Mary on August 15, 1964 in Amnamdong, Busan and on May 10, 1981, the Brothers of Christ. As a founder, he was a model of service to the poor, which emanates from his unwavering faith and love of God present in the Eucharist, in the Scriptures, and in the poor. His zeal for God and for the poor also incarnated in the sisters' and brother's heart.

Together with the Sisters and Brothers, Schwartz established Boystowns and Girlstowns to take care, educate and give a bright future to the orphans, street children, and children coming from very poor families from day-one to their late teens. They also built hospitals and sanatoriums for very indigent patients as well as hospices for the homeless and handicapped elderly men, retarded children, and for unwed mothers. They were also involved in the pro-life activities. His idea of helping the poor was not mainly material but above all spiritual. He wanted to offer many souls to God and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 1983 he was a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, an award given annually in honour of President Ramón F. Magsaysay. Jaime Cardinal Sin, then the Archbishop of Manila, presented the award to Schwartz, inviting him to set up his Religious Community in the Archdiocese of Manila.

In 1985, seeing the urgent need of the poor and with total confidence in God's providence, he founded the Sisters of Mary at Sta. Mesa, Manila, thus expanding his charity programs in the Philippines. Construction of buildings and rounding up of children from the slum and very poor areas were done and in a few months, they launched the work.

Illness and death[edit]

In 1989, he was diagnosed to have a terminal illness. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He accepted with it with joy, serenity and courage, and regarded it as a gift from God. In spite of his deteriorating health, he established Boystown and Girlstown in Mexico, which he called his "unfinished symphony".

With humility, courage, and unwavering faith, he suffered and accepted a lot of humiliations, criticisms, pains, incredible trials, and difficulties. He did his best to relieve the suffering of the poor. His illness made him immobile, still even on a wheelchair, he continued to fulfill his duties with joy. He spent hours before the Blessed Sacrament, praying the rosary, hearing confessions, and preaching in words and examples the virtues of truth, justice, chastity, charity and humility, penance and fortitude. His love for God and the poor consumed him. He did not only help the poor but also he lived poorly.

Schwartz died on March 16, 1992 at the Girlstown in Manila and was buried at the Boystown in Cavite, now Girlstown.

Legacy[edit]

The Sisters of Mary and the Brothers of Christ, continue to live his charism of serving gratuitously tens of thousands of the poorest of the poor in Korea, Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil and Honduras.

The official opening of the Causes of Beatification and Canonization of Aloysius Schwartz took place at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Metropolitan Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines on December 10, 2003.

On May 29, 2004 at The Sisters of Mary Girlstown Complex, Bo. Biga, Silang Cavite, Philippines, Socrates B. Villegas, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila and Episcopal Delegate in behalf of Gaudencio Rosales, Archbishop of Manila, solemnly declared the Archdiocesan Process of the Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God, Aloysius Schwartz, founder of the Sisters of Mary and Brothers of Christ, closed.

His virtuous life has encouraged a lot of kind-hearted people to lend a hand to those who are greatly in need.

Canonization Process[edit]

Here is the Process for Sainthood of Schwartz:

  • Postulator: Fr. Samson Silloriquez, OAR
  • Petitioner: Sisters of Mary, 1000 Cordillera St., Bacood, Sta. Mesa, Manila 1016, PHILIPPINES

References[edit]