Aloysius Schwartz was born on September 18, 1930 in Washington, DC. His parents were Louis Schwartz and Cedelia Bourassa. Both parents came from devout Catholic families. Cedelia, introduced to Louis by her sister, who was dating Louis’ brother, was attracted to Louis because he was the only boy who would join her to pray the Novena of Grace. The two Bourassa sisters eventually married the two Schwartz brothers.
Aloysius was the third of eight children. Sadly, his mother died of cancer when he was only sixteen. His desire to enter the priesthood grew as he did, and in 1944 he entered seminary at St. Charles Seminary in Maryland, joining the Maryknoll Missionaries after finishing his BA at Maryknoll College in 1947. Though he was happy with the Maryknolls, Schwartz was teaching more well-off students, and he desired to work with the poor.
Schwartz studied Theology at the Louvain Catholic University, Belgium, famously spending his school vacations working with the rag pickers of the French society. He visited the Shrine of the Virgin of the Poor in Banneux and heard the call to dedicate his priesthood to working for the poor.
Ordained on June 29, 1957 in Washington, DC, Scwartz’ first assignment was to Busan, South Korea, where he arrived on December 8 of that year. The Korean War had devistated the peninsula, and there were many widows, orphans and unemployed. Many supported themselves by begging, selling rags and waste paper, or even by theft. Fr. Schwartz threw himself into his work, living like the poor he served. He returned to Korea after a time back in the United States recovering from hepatitis (he had spent his time in the US raising funds for the Church in Korea), and was assigned to St. Joseph parish in Busan. On August 15, 1964, he established the Sisters of Mary to assist in the work for the poor. Later, on May 10, 1981, he founded the Brothers of Christ for the same purpose. With the Sisters and Brothers, Fr. Schwartz founded Boystowns and Girlstowns to provide shelter and an education for orphans, street children and the children of poor families. He also founded hospitals and sanitariums for the indigent, and hospices for the homeless, handicapped, elderly, mentally retarded and for unwed mothers. Fr. Schwartz and his helpers were also dedicated to pro-life activities. His dedication to the poor went beyond meeting their physical needs, focusing even more on the spiritual needs of the poor, for he saw Christ present in them and desired to win many souls for Christ and His Mother. His great devotion to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to the Holy Scriptures sustained him in his work, for which he sometimes met with great resistance, even from the Korean bishops.
In 1983, “Fr. Al,” as he was known to all, received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, given in honor of the former Philippine president. At this time, He met Jaime Cardinal Sin, the archbishop of Manila, who invited Fr. Schwartz to bring his ministries to the Philippines. Two years later, Fr. Schwartz founded the Sisters of Mary of Sta. Mesa in Manila.
In 1989, Fr. Schwartz was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). His health would deteriorate from this point on, even forcing him into a wheelchair. Even still, he continued his tireless work for the poor, established a Boystown and Girlstown in Mexico and continuing to celebrate Mass, hear Confessions and teach the virtues.
Fr. Schwartz died on March 16, 1992 at Girlstown in Manila and was buried at Boystown in Cavite Province, Philippines. His Sisters of Mary and Brothers of Christ continue their work for the poor in Korea, the Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Brazil.
The cause for Fr. Aloysius Schwartz’s canonization began formally at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Manila on December 10, 2003. Fr. Schwartz’s life of heroic virtue was formally recognized and he was assigned the title “Servant of God” on March 6, 2014, and Pope Francis declared Fr. Schwartz “Venerable” on January 22, 2015. His cause has progressed with unusual rapidity.
“To serve the poor in the name of Christ is not a game. It is not play-acting, nor is it child’s play. It means constant pain, discomfort, humiliation, suffering and sacrifice. In a word, it means the Cross.” Ven. Aloysius Schwartz (aka: “Fr. Al”).
“Almighty, ever-living God, giver of good gifts, You have filled Msgr. Al with an ardent love for You and for souls. You have inspired him to dedicate his life to relieve the suffering of the orphans, abandoned, the sick and poor, especially the youth, which he did with all humility and courage until the end of his life. May his holy life of love and service to the poor be recognized by the Church through his beatification and canonization.
For Your honor and glory, we pray that the life of Msgr. Al. be an inspiration for us in striving for perfection in the love of God and service to others. I ask You to bestow upon me, through the intercession of Fr. Al (tell God, through Fr. Al, the favor that you request). I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, and the maternal aid of Mary, the Virgin of the Poor. Amen.”
Our Father … Hail, Mary … Glory Be …
For any prayers or favors received through the intercession of Ven. Aloysius Schwartz, please notify: The Sisters of Mary, Biga II, Silang 4118 Cavite, Philippines; Tel. No. (6346) 414.2575; (6346) 865.3097; (632) 529.8321; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources: “Father All’s Journey Toward Sainthood,” http://www.fatheralsainthood.org; “Priest who fought poverty, bishops, now ‘venerable,” INQUIRER.net; “Aloysius Schwartz,” Wikipedia.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.