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Maryknoll Convent School in Hong Kong
Ruins of an orphanage built by the Maryknoll Fathers in the early 20th century in Tian Tou, Chi Xi, Tai Shan, Guangdong Province, China.
Ruins of an orphanage built by the Maryknoll Fathers in the early 20th century in Tian Tou, Chi Xi, Tai Shan, Guangdong Province, China. According to Fr. Thomas A Peyton, who now stations in Hong Kong, this was where the Maryknoll Fathers started their relief work in China. Photo taken on 2011 March 20.
Fr Thomas A Peyton, a Maryknoller residing in Hong Kong, and Mr Martin Lai, principal of Maryknoll Secondary School in Hong Kong. Photo taken in front of the ruins of a Maryknoll Fathers orphanage in Tian Tou, Chi Xi, Taishan (previously known as Toishan), China on 20 March 2011.
According to Fr. Thomas A Peyton, who now stations in Hong Kong, this is the first church built by the Maryknoll Fathers in China. Located in Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, China. The building has been turned into a small hostel run by the local parish. Revenue generated subsidises operation of the local church. Photo taken on 2011 March 20.

Maryknoll is a name shared by three organizations that are part of the Roman Catholic Church and whose joint focus is on the overseas mission activity of the Catholic Church in the United States. These organizations consist of a society of apostolic life for men, a religious institute for women and a lay group, respectively: The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers (The Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America);[1] The Maryknoll Sisters (The Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic); and the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. While sharing a name and similar origins, the organizations are independent entities that work closely together in many of their missionary endeavors.

Throughout its 100-year history Maryknoll has emphasized ministry and missionary work particularly in East Asia, China, Japan, Korea, Latin America and Africa.

Maryknoll's headquarters are in the Village of Ossining, Westchester County, New York.


Founding and Expansion in the U.S., 1911-1927[edit]

Maryknoll was established in 1911 as the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America by the Bishops of the United States. Responsibility for its development fell to two diocesan priests, Fr. James Anthony Walsh of Boston and Fr. Thomas Frederick Price[2] of North Carolina, with the commission to recruit, send and support U.S. missioners in areas around the world. In the year following its founding, three men joined the community as members (i.e., persons fully committed to the mission work), and the first religious brother, Thomas McCann, took orders. The ranks of Brothers increased to ten by the end of World War I. The men joining during this period were generally skilled tradesmen; much of their early work consisted of constructing buildings. They were called the Brothers of St. Michael and their lodging, the "St. Michael’s Residence", can still be seen on the Maryknoll grounds.[3]

By 1921, the community consisted of 20 priests, a dozen brothers, and about 65 seminary students. The facilities were four wooden farm buildings, situated on a hill named "Mary's Knoll". A modern fieldstone building in the compound housed the offices of The Field Afar. (A large fieldstone seminary had been started, but would not be completed until the 1950s.) In addition to their studies, the students performed maintenance chores and helped take care of livestock. The seminary was not severe; they got some afternoons off to hike or ride bicycles in the surrounding Westchester hills.[4]

Oversea Mission, 1918 onward[edit]

The first band of American missioners from the newly founded Maryknoll arrived in the Orient in the year 1918. There were four of them, namely

Fr Walsh and Fr Meyer arrived first, Fr Price and Fr Ford some weeks later. Their first point of debarkation in South China was Hong Kong (which was a British colony at the time) on 30 October 1918. While they were in Hong Kong, they stayed briefly with the Paris Foreign Mission Fathers at Battery Path.[5] From Hong Kong, they went to Yeungkong (now known as Yangjiang) and started their missionary work in China from there.

The number of missionaries in China had grown to 27 (25 priests and two Brothers) as of 1927. The missions were centered in and around Kong-Moon (known since 1951 as Jiangmen), whose six million inhabitants were plagued by the civil wars of the Warlord era, flooding, dysentery, bandits, and smallpox.[6]

A mission to Korea, begun in 1922, had also grown significantly by 1927, to 17 priests and two Brothers. It was centered in the north of Korea, around the city of Pyongyang.[6]

The early missionaries concentrated in East Asia, particularly China and Korea. During WW2, however, numerous South American countries were added as mission sites.[7]

Maryknoll Sisters, 1911 onward[edit]

Women played an important role at Maryknoll from the start. In 1911, several women joined the community as part of the The Field Afar staff. The Church officially recognized the Maryknoll Sisters as a religious community on February 14, 1920. A 1905 graduate of Smith College, Mollie Rogers, led the community under the name Aimaboy. A Motherhouse was started in 1927 and (unlike the seminary building) completed within a decade.[3]


Panorama of a missionary station built by Maryknoll Fathers (Makoko, Tanzania)

As of 2008, there are over 475 Maryknoll priests and Brothers serving in countries around the world, principally in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Throughout their history, especially in the first half of the 20th century, Maryknoll missioners played a large role in the Catholic Church in East Asia where some missioners still work. Maryknoll also has extensive connections with many Latin American countries, where it has long worked to help alleviate poverty and bring constructive changes to the life of Latin America's poor.[8]


Other notable Maryknollers[edit]

Residents at Gate of Heaven Leprosarium in Kongmoon 厓門倉山 Many of the buildings there erected by Bro Albert Staubli are still standing today. Photo taken on 2011 March 20.
  • Maryknoll Seminary alumni
  • Patrick Joseph Byrne, Apostolic Delegate to Korea from 1949 to 1950 who died in the custody of the Communists in Korea.
  • Ron Hennessey, Maryknoll missionary
  • James Keller, founder of The Christophers
  • Thomas Frederick Price, one of the two Maryknoll founders. Fr Price was one of the first four Maryknollers to arrive in China in 1918.[12] Price Memorial Catholic Primary School was founded in Hong Kong for the his labour in missionary work.
  • Bishop James E. Walsh, Maryknoll missionary. Fr James Edward Walsh was one of the first four Maryknollers to arrive in China in 1918.[9] Ordained bishop of Kongmoon in 1927, he was imprisoned in 1959 and released in 1970 due to the improving US-China relationship. He became the last American missionary to be released by the Communist Chinese government.[13] A primary school named Bishop Walsh Primary School was set up by the Maryknoll Fathers in Hong Kong in 1963. The school is now run by the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong [14]
  • Bishop Adolph John Paschang, Maryknoll missionary. A primary school named Bishop Paschang Memorial School was set up by Fr. John M. Mcloughlin, M.M. in Hong Kong in 1969. The school is still run by the Maryknoll Fathers in Hong Kong [15]
  • Everett Francis Briggs, Maryknoll missionary, studied the history of the Monongah Mining Disaster of December 6, 1907 described as "the worst mining disaster in American History". After discovering there was no memorial, he sought to ensure that the victims of the tragedy were not forgotten.
  • Roy Bourgeois was ordained to the priesthood in the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in 1972, after which he worked with the poor in Bolivia until 1975. An outspoken critic of US foreign policy in Latin America, he founded the non-profit human rights organization, School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) in 1990. In 2005 he was awarded the Thomas Merton Award for his work. Following his participation in a women's ordination-to-the-priesthood ceremony in August 2008, he was warned of possible excommunication latae sententiae, marking the beginning of a four-year-long period of discussion and negotiation between Bourgeois and the Church, through the Maryknoll Society. Finally, on November 19, 2012, it was announced that Bourgeois had been officially canonically dismissed from both the Maryknoll Society, and the Roman Catholic priesthood, effective October 4, 2012.[16]
  • Fr. Vincent Robert Capodanno former Maryknoll missionary, Servant of God, and Medal of Honor winner during the Viet Nam War as a Navy Chaplain attached to the US Marines. He did his missionary work in Taiwan.
  • Fr. Joseph G. Healey serves in Kenya. He is noted for his innovative use of proverbs and other local verbal arts in ministry.

Schools in Hong Kong[edit]

Several notable schools in Hong Kong were founded by Maryknollers; and several are still run by them.

Founded by the Maryknollers[edit]

The last three schools were in fact founded by the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, commonly just known as the Maryknoll Sisters. Maryknoll Convent School is still managed by them in Hong Kong. However, sponsorship of the two Marymount schools was transferred to Christian Life Community. Nevertheless, these three schools are frequently viewed as members of the Maryknoll family in Hong Kong.

(The first school managed by the Maryknollers in Hong Kong was called St. Louis Industrial School, between 1921 and 1927, run by Fr Raymond Lane and Brother Albert Staubli. Management of the school was handed over to the Salesians in 1927 and later renamed as St Louis School.[17] Likewise, the first school founded by the Maryknollers in China was called St. Thomas School, a primary school in Yangjiang (previously known as Yeungkong) with the first graduation held in July 1923.[17] The second school founded by the Maryknollers in China was called Sacred Heart School, also a primary school, set up by Fr Bernard F. Meyer in Gaozhou (previously known as Kochow), with inauguration held on 5 October 1923. and first graduation in 1926 [17] Fr Adolph John Paschang once served in this Sacred Heart School in Gaozhou.[18])

Still run by Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers
  2. ^ "Maryknoll priests visit grave of Fr. Thomas F. Price in Hong Kong, China, 1923.". Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  3. ^ a b Cherishing Maryknoll's History by Fr. Dennis Moorman, MM.
  4. ^ Out to Change the World (a biography of Fr. James Keller) by Richard Armstrong, Crossroad Publishing Company (New York, 1984), p. 11. This work will be referred to as "Armstrong" hereinafter
  5. ^ Smith, Jim, Downs, William (1978), Maryknoll Hong Kong Chronicle 1918 - 1975 (Chronicle), Catholic foreign Mission Society of America 
  6. ^ a b Armstrong p. 15
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b "A Brief History -- The sending of missioners from the U.S. Church was seen as a sign of the U.S. Catholic Church finally coming of age.". Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  10. ^ Jean-Paul WIEST (1988). Maryknoll In China – A history, 1918 -- 1955. M.E. Sharpe Inc, Armonk, NY. ISBN 0-87332-418-8. 
  11. ^ "Bishop Ford Memorial School official web page". Retrieved 2011-04-30. 
  12. ^ "Thomas Frederick Price -- A devout Catholic in the tar heel state of North Carolina, Rev. Thomas Frederick Price found a natural calling to share his faith in the midst of antipathy.". Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  13. ^ "Rev. James E. Walsh M.M.". Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  14. ^ a b "Bishop Walsh Primary School official web page". Retrieved 2011-04-30. 
  15. ^ "Bishop Paschang Catholic School official web page". Retrieved 2011-04-28. 
  16. ^ Sadowski, Dennis (19 November 2012). "Maryknoller dismissed from priesthood for supporting women's ordination". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c d e (Chinese (Taiwan)) BARRY, Peter (溫順天神父) (1977), 瑪利諾會在華傳教簡史 (Masters thesis), 台灣大學歷史學研究所 
  18. ^ "Fr. Paschang and graduating class at Gaozhou, China, 1926". Retrieved 2011-05-01. 

External links[edit]