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Our Founder, Father Al

Serving the Lord With Joy: Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz

Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz was born in Washington D.C. on September 18, 1930. He grew up with the idea of becoming a priest and working as a missionary serving to the poor.

In 1944, he entered St. Charles Seminary in Maryland, finished his B.A. Degree at Maryknoll College, and went on to study his theology at The Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

He would spend his vacation time helping at ragpickers’ camps for the derelicts of the French Society.

He was inspired to dedicate his priesthood to service of the poor.

Visiting Banneux, where the Virgin of the Poor appeared, he was more inspired to dedicate his priesthood to the service of the poor in fulfillment of her message.

Msgr. Schwartz was ordained as a diocesan priest on June 29, 1957 and was assigned to Busan, South Korea on December 8, 1957. He founded the Religious Congregation of the Sisters of Mary to serve the poorest of the poor on August 15, 1964, and the Brothers of Christ on May 10, 1981.

He established Children’s Villages to take care of, educate, and give a bright future to orphans, abandoned, and young children coming from very poor families. He also built hospitals and tuberculosis sanitoriums for very indigent patients; hospices for the homeless, handicapped elderly men, retarded children, and unwed mothers.

In 1985, he began work in the Philippines.

In 1989, he was diagnosed as having the terminal illness Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He accepted the illness with joy and serenity as a gift from God. In spite of his deteriorating health, he established a Children’s Village in Mexico in 1990.

With humility, courage, and unwavering faith, he suffered and accepted humiliations, criticisms, trials, pains, and difficulties in order to serve and love God through the poor. His illness made him immobile, but even in a wheelchair he continued to fulfill his duties with joy.

His love for God and the poor consumed him and he was able to help the poor while also living a life of poverty.

He spent hours before the Blessed Sacrament praying the rosary, hearing confessions, and preaching through words and examples the virtues of truth, justice, chastity, charity, and humility.

On March 16, 1992, he breathed his last at our Children’s Village in Manila and was buried at the Children’s Village in Cavite, Philippines.

The Process for the Causes of Beatification and Canonization has been officially opened by the Vatican. Father Al has been declared a servant of God and hopefully he will be declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

Click here for a copy of Msgr. Schwartz’ biography and an intercessory prayer card.

Over the years, Father Schwartz received many awards for his work, including:

1975 – Korean Presidential Award
1976 – Korean National Award (presented for the first time to a foreigner)
1983 – Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Relations (generally known as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Peace)
1984 – nomination for the Nobel Prize for Peace
1988 – Mother Theresa Award of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
1992 – second nomination for the Nobel Prize for Peace.

He also wrote several books.

Killing Me Softly: The Inspiring Story of a Champion of the Poor – Aloysius Schwartz

This autobiographical account of the last years in the life of the internationally acclaimed founder of several Boystowns and Girlstowns – in Korea, the Philippines, and Mexico – is as moving as it is inspiring. In it the author recounts his ongoing battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) while trying to maintain and staff his growing number of homes for orphaned youngsters, a residential village for destitute, homeless, and handicapped men, two full service hospitals, a fledgling congregation of religious women, the Sisters of Mary and another of men, the Brothers of Christ.

The Starved and the Silent: The Dramatic Encounter of an American Priest With Christ’s Poor in Korea – Aloysius Schwartz

Although this book is autobiographical in form, the story of the author’s life is only the backdrop against which is played out the drama of “the starved and the silent” people of Korea – a drama of privation so complete and despair so intense as to be almost beyond the imagination of a member of “the affluent society”. Father Schwartz explains first the circumstances which led him to become a parish priest in Busan, Korea, rather than a missionary; then he describes his parish activities as pastor, economist, social worker, and psychologist among a people incredibly different from us in their way of life, their needs, and their goals.

Poverty: Sign of Our Times – Aloysius Schwartz

Christ’s presence in the poor: that is the reality to which too many Christian eyes are dimmed. Yet all our talk of reform and renewal will come to naught unless the Church – and we are the Church – faces the challenge of poverty. Today the Church is, in the eyes of most of the world, almost a middle class phenomenon, the Comfortable Church.

This disturbing book should shake our complacency. There is urgency and holy anger in its pages. But time is running out, and there is need for the anger and anguish of concern. The work raises questions in stark perspective and tells us that unless the Church becomes the Church of the Poor, it cannot hope to speak to modern man.

A Heart for the Poor: The Thought and Spirituality of Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz – Rev. Msgr. Jesus-Romulo C. Ranada

The thought and spirituality of Fr. Al reveals a Father whose heart goes out especially to those who are poor among his children. Not that he has favorites, but that he wants to generate more love for those who have none, or who have less, in order for these less fortunate ones to be loved and become themselves love, and so fill the world with the same gift that is love.