James Edward Walsh

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James Edward Walsh, MM
Born1891 April 30
Died1981 July 29 (aged 90)
Resting placeMaryknoll, Ossining, New York
NationalityUnited States
OccupationMissionary, bishop, priest, educator, relief worker
Years active1915—1981
SuccessorBishop Raymond Aloysius Lane

James Edward Walsh (April 30, 1891 – July 29, 1981)[1] was an American Roman Catholic priest and a bishop in China. He was a member of the Maryknoll order, and a missionary in China.[2]

Early life[edit]

Father Walsh was born in Cumberland, Maryland on April 30, 1891 to Mary Concannon and William E. Walsh.[1] He was the second child of nine. He worked as a timekeeper in a steel mill until he became aware of Maryknoll, a new American order. In 1915, he became the second priest ordained in this order.


He and three other men were sent on the order's first foreign mission to China in the year 1918. The other three were Father Thomas Frederick Price, one of the founders of Maryknoll and Superior of the group; Father Francis Xavier Ford; and Father Bernard F. Meyer.

Fr. Walsh and Fr. Meyer arrived first, Fr. Price and Fr. Ford some weeks later. Their first point of debarkation in South China was the British colony of Hong Kong on 30 October 1918. While they were in Hong Kong, they stayed briefly with the Paris Foreign Mission Fathers at Battery Path.[3] From Hong Kong, they went to Yeungkong (now known as Yangjiang) and started their missionary work in China there.

At the age of thirty-six, on 22 May 1927 he was consecrated a bishop for the Diocese of Kongmoon (now known as Jiangmen) in China. The ceremony was held on Sancian Island (now called Shangchuan Island), a lonely spot off the coast of South China where St. Francis Xavier, the Apostle to the Indies, died in 1552.[2][3]

In 1936, Bishop Walsh left China to return to the United States as head of Maryknoll. However, following the Holy See's special request for his service in China, he returned to take charge of the Catholic Central Bureau in Shanghai in 1948 to coordinate mission activities in China.[2]

When the Communist Party of China seized power in 1949 they began harassing Catholic clergymen. The Catholic Central Bureau was shut down by the government in 1951. When Walsh's superiors in Maryknoll inquired about his safety he responded by saying, "To put up with a little inconvenience at my age is nothing. Besides, I am sick and tired of being pushed around on account of my religion."[2]

Walsh was eventually arrested by the communists in 1958 and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He spent twelve years of his prison sentence in isolation and was suddenly released in 1970. He was deported via a footbridge to freedom in Hong Kong on 10 July 1970.[2] He became the last Western missionary to leave Communist China after the Red "Liberation" in 1949.

Bishop James E. Walsh returned to the United States and died at the age of ninety on July 29, 1981, in Maryknoll, New York, from a heart ailment .[1]

See also[edit]


  • Ray Kerrison, Bishop Walsh of Maryknoll. Prisoner of Red China, New York, Putnam, 1962, 314 pages


  1. ^ a b c Maryknoll International Biography, July 29, 2000
  2. ^ a b c d e Our Sunday Visitor, "They go after priests", Robert P. Lockwood, December 10, 2006, page 17
  3. ^ a b Smith, Jim, Downs, William (1978), Maryknoll Hong Kong Chronicle 1918 - 1975 (Chronicle), Catholic foreign Mission Society of AmericaCS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "Bishop Walsh Primary School official web page". Retrieved 2011-04-30.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Vicar Apostolic of Kongmoon
1924 – 1936
Succeeded by
Adolph J. Paschang, M.M.
Preceded by
Titular Bishop of Sata
1927 – 1981
Succeeded by