Where Are Our Fr. Al’s

by | Jul 30, 2020

Catholic churches are being set on fire in various parts of the world, while statues of saints have been pulled down or undergone desecration. Some Masses have recently been interrupted by individuals who’ve walked onto the altar without restraint. Sacrilege has taken place with the Eucharist.

It does seem something has come into the Catholic Church the past few months. Exorcists agree.

“In this time, it appears the Prince of the World has been almost completely unleashed,” said exorcist, Monsignor Stephen Rossetti last week. “It used to be that Satan did his evil in a hidden way. Now, it is open warfare.”

Certainly, this losing trifecta of the coronavirus, a free-moving anarchist movement, and an American presidential election has birthed something new. It is a bewildering thing; this new strangeness and fear that has set in. It is like a shifting shadow, a soft panic that pushes invisibly through summer skies like a poisonous gas.

Mysteriously, very few American bishops have addressed the fog or attacks against the Church. It has become evident that the Catholic Church sorely lacks heroes today, clergy who lead fearlessly with a wholesale rejection of the Heresies of Modernism and antagonistic forces wreaking havoc in American cities. Many shepherds seem to have been rendered silent or have even fallen prey to supporting the latest secular movement – when they were ordained to know their primary duty was to attend to matters of the soul. Their Church is suffering, communities are fearful, and more and more families feel fractured in this unforgettable calendar year of 2020. The clergy’s prophetic voice is vital for this time.

And I keep thinking of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz.

Amid 2020’s charmless days, I began to write a book (due to be released this winter) detailing the staggering manner of Fr. Al’s life. I conducted several dozen interviews with individuals throughout the world and had many long conversations with his surviving siblings to better understand this American-born father to the forgotten. I read each of the 681 pages of the Positio (a log of the Vatican’s investigation of his life to study his cause of canonization). I read three of his own books, four others written about him, and listened intently to hours of his recorded retreats and homilies. It crescendoed into something unanticipated: I saw that the witness of his life provided solutions to all that haunts us today – and it is the purpose of my book to show you how and why this is so.

Fr Al, who we at World Villages for Children remain in awe of, is vital for these days. He, too, toiled with a virus, societal upheaval, isolation, disordered reason, idle and prideful clergy, and godlessness. He endured the same heaviness and harshness we do today, but he was never blunted; he just became a conqueror. In fact, he used these same stumbling blocks as fuel to become a saint. He feared no one but God and feared nothing but sin.

I wrote a book, The Priests We Need to Save the Church, that was released by Sophia Institute Press in 2019. It was read by bishops, priests, and seminarians throughout North America and beyond. Readers – clergy and laity alike – shared they were inspired by this priest we need. I told them that I had become acquainted with one of these priests. I knew his identity – his name was Aloysius Schwartz – and that I was set to write the story of his life. And BAM, just like that, a sluggishness entered into conversations.

It was virtually impossible to explain Fr. Al to anyone, including those who asked, How’s the book on that priest coming along? When I answered, that glazed-eye look came. What I’d gathered on Fr. Al was broad and mighty, like a blue whale on the open sea. And I am like most others – unless something becomes narrowly defined, I often drift. When I suggest Da Mimmo’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy to a friend seeking a recommendation to celebrate his wedding anniversary, he’s suddenly all ears. To this same man, if I describe the early life in Korea of a missionary priest he’s never heard of, half of his mind is on Shrimp Fra Diavolo.

I am little more than an old sportswriter who has come to know a winner when he sees one. And I want to present a true winner for you in this book, a priest who will be especially helpful in these tough days. If you take Fr. Al to heart, he will work his way into your being – into your senses and behavior. You may find yourself a bit grittier, bolder, and more prayerful and hard-working. You will likely find yourself resolved to be more sacrificial and outspoken in your love for Christ.

That’s why I am happy, dear reader, you have made it thus far. I have gotten to know Fr. Al well. I want you to know him, too. I believe he is the hero you need, the one you’ve been seeking.

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