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|Priest; Founder: Sisters of Mary of Banneux and Brothers of Christ|
|Born||18 September 1930
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Died||16 March 1992
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Feast||16 March, 18 September|
Venerable Aloysius Schwartz (September 18, 1930 – March 16, 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. He was declared Venerable in 2015.
Early life and family
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 his mother had come to work in Washington, D.C. during the First World War, where she met her future husband. She had been especially attracted to Louis because he was the only boy who joined her for the Novena of Grace, which she had learned after moving to the capital from her native Montana.
Aloysius was the third child of eight siblings. His mother died of cancer when he was 16 years old. He 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
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. Although active and happy at Maryknoll, nevertheless he was disturbed by the upper middle class standard of living enjoyed by the students. He began to search for a religious group whose living conditions were more in keeping with his ideals.
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 work 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
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. He met Jaime Cardinal Sin, then the Archbishop of Manila, who invited 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
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.
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.
On October 6, 2012, the Positio Super Vita Virtutibus et Fama Sanctitatis was submitted to His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints which was studied by the Theologians. The Special Congress of the Theological Consultors gave its favorable vote on March 6, 2014. The Cardinals and Bishops in the Ordinary Session of December 16, 2014, chaired by H.E. Cardinal Angelo Amato, have affirmed that the Servant of God has exercised the theological, cardinal and concomitant virtues to a heroic degree.
On January 22, 2015, the Sovereign Pontiff Francis, ordered that the Decree of the Heroic Virtues of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz be promulgated.
On March 14, 2015, a Eucharistic Celebration, presided by H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle of Manila, was held at the Sisters of Mary Girlstown in Silang, Cavite, Philippines in thanksgiving for the Promulgation of the Decree, attended by the Sisters of Mary, Brothers of Christ and almost nine thousand children of Fr. Al's Boystowns and Girlstowns, graduates from Korea, Philippines, and Mexico, benefactors and friends from different countries. (Sisters of Mary)
His virtuous life has encouraged a lot of kind-hearted people to lend a hand to those who are greatly in need.