VENERABLE Aloysius Schwartz was born in Washington D.C. on September 18, 1930 to Louis Schwartz and Cedelia Bourassa. He grew up with the idea of becoming a priest and with the passage of time, this idea became more specific – he would become a secular priest, work as a missionary and his apostolate would be to the poor and the needy.
In 1944, he entered St. Charles Seminary in Maryland. He finished his B. A. Degree at Maryknoll College and then he joined with Societe des Auxiliaries des Mission (S.A.M.) and studied his theology at Louvain Catholic University in Belgium. He used to spend his vacation helping at the rag-pickers’ camps. During his first visit to the Shrine of the Virgin of the Poor, he felt inspired 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. and he chose Korea as his first assignment although he was told that he might not be able to persevere because of his somewhat delicate health. On December 8, 1957, he arrived at Korea. As a consequence of the Korean War, there were many widows, orphans, beggars and street children. Almost one-half of the adult population was without productive employment and reduced to selling rags and waste paper, begging, and stealing as a last resort. 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 transportation from an American ship. While in the U.S., he decided to make an effort to raise funds for the Korean poor. He made mission appeals at parish Masses on Sundays. He didn’t mind the role of a beggar to be able to help the poor.
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, through Divine inspiration, 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 an excellent model of genuine service to the poor, which emanates from his unwavering faith and love of God present in the Eucharist, in the Scriptures, in others especially in the Poor. And his zeal for God and for the poor is also incarnated in the sisters’ and brothers’ hearts.
They established Boystowns and Girlstowns to take care, educate and give a bright future to the orphans, street children and children from very poor families from day-one to their late teens. They also built hospitals and sanatoriums for very indigent patients; hospices for the homeless and disabled elderly men, retarded children and for unwed mothers. They are also involved in pro-life activities. His idea of helping the poor is not mainly material but above all spiritual. He always wanted to give the best service to the poor and to offer as many souls to God and to the Blessed Virgin.
In 1983, he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his excellent Charity works in Korea and for the first time, he came in Manila. In 1985, seeing the urgent need of the poor especially the children and through the invitation of His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin and his total trust in God’s providence, he started a new religious community in the Archdiocese of Manila. Thus, expanding his charity works in the Philippines. Construction of buildings and rounding up of children from the slum and very poor areas were done and in few months, they launch to work. In 1988, he received the Mother Teresa Award from the Manila Jaycees in Manila. In 1989, he was invited by His Eminence, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal to establish his charity programs in Cebu. At present, they are taking care and educating almost 12,000 boys and girls who are coming from different provinces of our country. They are being provided with food, clothing, shelter, high-quality high school education with intensive vocational training totally free-of-charge in preparation for a bright future at their Sisters of Mary Boystown and Girlstown Schools in Sta. mesa, Manila; Silang, Cavite; Talisay City and Minglanilla, Cebu.
In 1989, he was diagnosed to have terminal illness, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which he accepted with much joy, serenity and courage, as a gift from God. He suffered excruciating pains due to his illness yet he smiled and cracked jokes to make others happy. In spite of his deteriorating health, he established Boystown and Girlstown in Mexico, which he called his “unfinished symphony”.
With humility and courage, he suffered and accepted a lot of humiliations, criticisms, pains, and incredible trials and difficulties. As he suffered, his faith, hope and love were intensified. He did his best to relieve the suffering of the poor. His illness made him immobile but 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, preaching and living heroically the virtues of truth, justice, chastity, charity, humility, penance and fortitude. His love for God and the poor consumed him. He did not only help the poor but he also lived poor. On March 16, 1992, he breathed his last at the Girlstown in Manila, Philippines and he was buried at the Boystown in Silang, Cavite.
Msgr. Schwartz was a recipient of several awards in Korea, U.S.A. and the Philippines and even before his death, he was nominated for the second time for the Nobel Prize but he attributed all these achievements to the Virgin of the Poor, whom he said is the foundress, the directress and chairman of the board and protectress of the Sisters of Mary and he accepted these with humility for the welfare of the poorest of the poor but never for his own honor. The Archdiocesan cause for his beatification and canonization was opened on December 10, 2003 and closed May 29, 2004. All the documents had been submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Holy See and now we are waiting for a miracle for his possible beatification and another one for his canonization.
The religious Congregation of the Sisters of Mary received its Pontifical Approval on March 2, 2000 and the Brothers of Christ, their diocesan right on September 15, 1999. With faith and courage, they continue to live the charisma of their founder of serving gratuitously tens of thousands of the poorest to the poor in Korea, Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala and Brazil.
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