Excerpt from Fr. Al's Journey Toward Sainthood
Today, throughout our world - from Central and South America to parts of Asia - children born into poverty are being given an opportunity to lead a better life.
They're part of a loving family in Christ ... one that's devoted to providing them with food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and an education...
... just as it's been given to the thousands of other children who've come before them.
This is happening because of World Villages for Children -- founded in 1964 by Monsignor Aloysius Schwartz - more affectionately called "Father Al" by those whose lives he touched. His was a life of unconditional love ...
... a life dedicated to helping children break free from the destructive cycle of poverty. Without Father Al's untiring devotion to the poor, many impoverished youngsters would never have had an opportunity for a better future.
This faithful priest spent virtually his entire life bringing hope to the world's underprivileged.
Born in Washington, DC, on September 18, 1930, Aloysius Schwartz heard his calling to serve the Lord at a very young age - entering the seminary when he was only 13, where he attended high school and college - later going to the University of Louvaine in Belgium, where he completed his theological studies.
Then - on June 29, 1957, at the age of 26 - he was ordained a priest. Inspired by frequent visits to the Shrine of the Virgin of the Poor while studying in Belgium, Father Al made the decision to devote himself to serving those in dire need.
Only a few years before Father Al's ordination, an armistice ended the Korean War. But this horrible conflict left behind thousands of desperate widows, orphans, beggars, and street children.
The situation seemed hopeless, with nearly half of South Korea's population being unemployed. This turned otherwise productive and honest people into rag sellers, beggars, and sometimes thieves.
Eager to help, Father Al arrived in that country on December 8, 1957, ready to begin his life-long work.
But shortly after his arrival - without warning - Father Al collapsed while saying Mass. Diagnosed with hepatitis, he was forced into returning to the United States to regain his strength.
Although his body was extremely weak during this time, his spirit was incredibly strong. And his commitment to serve the poorest of the poor went unchanged.
So - while recuperating over the next few years - Father Al went from parish to parish in the United States and Europe, making appeals at Sunday Mass for his life-saving mission work.
During this time, in early 1961, he established a fundraising organization known as Korean Relief - later changed to Asian Relief, and known today as World Villages for Children.
At the end of 1961 - having recovered from his long illness - Father Al returned to South Korea, where he was assigned as a parish priest. Leading a humble life, Father Al continued to express his unwavering faith in God by serving the poor.
But being a realist, he knew help was needed from others - and that he couldn't do it alone. So in 1964, Father Al founded the Sisters of Mary - a religious order that today carries on his worldwide charitable programs.
One of the urgent problems of poor people was that they couldn't afford to pay school tuition fees for their children. Therefore, Father Al purchased land, which was formerly a garbage dumping place, and built a little school for children of the poor families.
Today, Father Al's vision is giving hope and education to over 22,000 children.
On October 25, 1970, the Sisters of Mary's Mercy Hospital opened, because Father Al and the Sisters realized the urgent necessity of a general hospital while running three dispensaries in the slum areas. Father Al built the hospital so that the poor patients could be admitted for surgery and hospitalization.
Father Al - together with the Sisters of Mary - began to establish Boystown and Girlstown facilities for orphans, street children, and others from very poor families.
They also built hospitals and sanatoriums for indigent patients - as well as hospices for disabled elderly men who were homeless, retarded children, and unwed mothers. Here was an example of being a Good Samaritan in every facet of one's life.
"See the reality, the flesh and blood reality. And when you're confronted with a child who's sick and tubercular, who's homeless, you can't be indifferent. You have to help this individual on a one-to-one, on a person-to-person basis."
In the early 1980's, Father Al founded another religious order - the Brothers of Christ. And later, in 1985 - working with the Sisters and Brothers - he began to extend his charitable programs to the Philippines, at the invitation of local church and government officials.
By the late 1980s, however, Father Al's health began to fail once again. But this time it would be fatal. In a message delivered in late 1991 to those who supported him, Father Al explained his terminal condition.
"The disease with which I am currently afflicted is called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - ALS - or, more popularly, "Lou Gehrig's Disease." So you see, it is a terminal illness. The time span from diagnosis to death is usually three years. I am now well into my third year. Although the disease of its nature is very unpredictable, it is possible - even probable - that I am now in my final year."
To Father Al, this incurable illness was a gift from God - a gift he would bear with serenity, joy and tremendous courage.
Understanding that his physical life would soon be at an end - and realizing that children elsewhere in the world desperately needed his help - Father Al made the decision to expand his caring work to Central America.
So in that region of the world - just as he was doing in South Korea and the Philippines - Father Al began to help needy children living in dire circumstances.
In 1990 - on his behalf - the Sisters of Mary began building a Boystown-Girlstown complex just outside of Mexico City. And following Father Al's plan, they've now expanded World Villages for Children programs into Guatemala and Brazil.
Through the generosity of kind people around the world, Father Al was able to offer a new life to children of poverty, giving them food to eat ... clean clothes to wear ... a safe roof over their heads ... medical care to keep them healthy ... as well as a good education - basic yet crucial necessities that are needed to break the cycle of poverty.
So how could this unassuming priest make such a positive difference in the lives of so many? How could he build and operate such large facilities to care for so many needy children? And how could he accomplish all of this in such faraway regions of the world?
To Father Al, it was very simple. His work was God's work. And he let Jesus be his guide.
"At the Last Supper He said, ‘My peace I give you, My peace I leave with you.' And then He speaks to the children. ‘Let the little children come up to Me,' He said, ‘for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.' And Jesus takes each child - one by one - into His arms ... caresses the child ... blesses the child. And He does this with a smile on His face. Also He speaks to the poor and lonely. ‘Come to Me all of you who labor and are burdened. I will refresh you.' He speaks to these poor and lonely people with a smile on His face and with an attractive, joyful expression.
Father Al's loving smile never faded, even through his pain. He refused to give in to negative thoughts ... to harbor feelings of self-pity ... or to question the will of God.
This gave him the strength needed to continue improving the lives of others. With humility and courage - although paralyzed and in much physical agony - Father Al continued doing God's work, for as long as he possibly could.
After this brief visit to his newest Boystown-Girlstown Village in Mexico - one that he called his "unfinished symphony" - Father Al returned to the Philippines where he appointed Sister Michaela as his successor.
The next day, on March 16, he left this earth to live eternally in the presence of God.
Father Al's memorial service was conducted at the World Villages' Girlstown complex in Manila then moved to Silang, Cavite, Philippines - with thousands of admirers lining the streets to pay their last respects. This selfless priest was then laid to rest at the nearby Boystown complex in Cavite. (now Girlstown complex when Boystown was moved to the new complex in Adlas, Silang Cavite).
There, Father Al's remains are entombed in the Virgin of the Poor Chapel - a replica of the Belgian Shrine that inspired his life-long devotion to serving those in desperate need.
Although he is no longer with us, Father Al's deep love and courageous spirit live on. Today, the Sisters of Mary, under the leadership of Sister Michaela, continue helping the poor break free from a life of poverty, suffering and despair.
With the generous support of many concerned people throughout the world, they are now caring for and educating more than 30,000 needy children.
Through World Village for Children, the important work begun by Father Al continues to improve the lives of thousands of people in the Philippines ... South Korea ... Mexico ... Guatemala ... and Brazil.
Currently, there are nine World Villages where poor children - mostly of high school age - are provided with food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and an education.
In this loving environment that Father Al created, children in need are being given a chance to build new lives for themselves. They're being prepared to make productive contributions to their cultures. And, after leaving the Villages, they're giving back by helping their families and communities - creating a cycle of love and help.
The life of Monsignor Aloysius Schwartz was one filled with love - love for God and love for the world's poor. Although this devoted servant of God is no longer with us in a physical sense, his spirit lives on as he continues helping the poor through the Sisters of Mary, the Brothers of Christ, and World Villages for Children.
Selected boys and girls group rendered us some dance numbers as a gesture of thanks. c",)
Thanks for inviting me to be part of this outreach and thanks to the donors! More power and God Bless you more!
Manila Boystown Complex
The MBT was established in 1947 as a residential care center for Manila's poor boys aged 8 to 16. Aside from its Boys Home, the MBT includes a Girls Home for those aged 3 to 16, a Home for the Aged for those aged 60 years and older, and a Foundling Home for boys aged 3 to 7 years old. Boys Town currently has more than 500 wards, with the Home for the Aged having the most residents at 236. This is followed by Boys Home, with close to 150 wards. Male and female wards are allowed to stay at the complex until they finish high school. (GMANews.TV.2008)
Parang, Marikina City
The day will come when my body will be upon a white sheet
neatly tucked under four corners of a mattress located in a hospital;
busily occupied with the living and the dying.
At a certain point a doctor will determine that my brain
has ceased to function and that,
for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped.
by the use of a machine. And don't call this my deathbed.
Let it be called the bed of life, and let my body be taken
from it to help others lead fuller lives.
Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise,
a baby's face or love in the eyes of a woman.
Give my heart to a person whose own heart
has caused nothing but endless days of pain.
Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car,
so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.
Give my kidneys to the one who depends
on a machine to exist from week to week
Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body
and find a way to make a crippled child walk.
Take my cells, if necessary, and let them grow so that,
someday a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat
and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her window.
If you must bury something, let it be my faults,
my weakness, and all prejudice against my fellow man.
Give my sins to the devil.
Give my soul to God.
do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you.
If you do all I have asked, I will live forever.
About the Author
Robert N. Test was one of the pioneers in promoting organ and tissue donations. In 1976, he wrote an essay titled "To Remember Me." It was first published in The Cincinnati Post and later in Ann Landers' column, as well as in Reader's Digest.
We mourn his passing. We will surely miss him. Goodnight our dear Kuya Nuggets.
Some of my treasured pics of him:
We love you very much and we are very proud of you.
Looking forward to your Golden Wedding Anniversary! Cheers! c",)
- From your 7 children (Oyhet, Alan, Bimbo, Shiela, Al, Enzo and Doc), sons & daughters in law and your bunch of grandchildren (Myka, Lanrenz, Ken, Jan, Alex, Kyla, Aalanah, Aaliyah, Alejandro & Yuri)
BIOGRAPHY of Aloysius Schwartz
ALOYSIUS SCHWARTZ was born September 18, 1930 in Washington, D.C., as America entered the second year of the great depression. His father, Louis F. Schwartz, had come to the city from nearby Baltimore, Maryland during the 1920s to look for work. Although he had only a fourth grade education, he became a furniture salesman and was successful enough to purchase a small rental property in the northeast section of the city and to marry a beautiful young secretary who had come to Washington from Montana and was working at the Government Printing Office. Cedelia Verrasa was a "catch." She had turned down a dozen marriage proposals before accepting Schwartz, who attributed his success to the fact that he was willing to accompany her to the Roman Catholic masses, vigils and novenas she was so fond of attending. Louis Schwartz had been a good church member; his courtship and marriage encouraged him to become more faithful and devout.
In accordance with the middle class custom of the period, Cedelia Schwartz left her job when she married. The Schwartzes had seven children, of whom ALOYSIUS was the third, preceded by a brother and sister and followed by four sisters. Although he was christened PHILIP ALOYSIUS, his first name was never used by the family and he was always called AL.
Before his birth economic necessity had forced the family to move from a more desirable location to the house which his father had bought earlier as an investment. AL was raised in this house in a lower middle class neighborhood, adjacent to a slum occupied by poor black families. Though his family had little money, AL never felt deprived. The children were sent to parochial school—Holy Name Grammar School—rather than to public school, and AL remembers his mother giving clothing and food to the poor black families who lived nearby. Yet it was difficult to provide for a large family. When Louis was unable to work for over a year while recovering from a serious case of pneumonia, Cedelia returned to work to support the family. She died of cancer when AL was 15; his father never remarried.
AL remembers that in those difficult years his family would visit an aunt who was a nun in a convent near Washington. The contrast between the comfortably ordered life of the nuns, and the daily struggle for economic survival in the Schwartz household, was unavoidable. Repelled by the comforts yet attracted by the religious example of the sisters, he never considered any vocation other than the religious. His earliest memories are of wanting to be a priest, but one who would move in the direction of a life of simplicity. By 1944 when he followed his brother into St. Charles Seminary (four-year high school and two-year college) near Baltimore, he had also decided to be a missionary and serve the poor and expressed an interest in entering the Maryknoll Society, a Catholic mission organization.
AL’s determination to enter the priesthood did not result in sanctimonious behavior. Nicknamed "Little Mouse"—his older brother who preceded him at the seminary was "Big Mouse"—he was an energetic, if at five feet seven inches tall slightly undersized, participant in all school sports. His mischievous behavior once earned him a paddling with one of his teacher's wooden shower clogs. The instructor's rule was to hit offenders with as many strokes as were necessary to bring tears. The school record was 52; AL SCHWARTZ lasted for 35 before breaking down. He has a very positive memory of that incident; even today he feels the punishment was justified and is grateful for it.
Although the faculty at St. Charles encouraged the boys to become priests, they did not stress missionary activity. SCHWARTZ, however, persisted in his goal and in 1948 entered into Maryknoll Seminary (college), then located in Lakewood, New Jersey. The following year SCHWARTZ was assigned to the new Maryknoll Seminary at Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree there in 1952.
Although active and happy at Maryknoll, SCHWARTZ nevertheless was disturbed by the upper middle class standard of living enjoyed by the students. A survey conducted in his sociology class revealed that Maryknoll seminarians enjoyed a life style "equivalent to that of the top forty percent of the American population," which he extrapolated to mean the top five percent of the world's population. "That one should prepare for a life among the poor by living rich struck me as being at least a bit illogical," he later wrote.
He began therefore to search for a religious group whose living conditions were more in keeping with his ideals. When, as editor of the college magazine, he researched and wrote an article on Fr. Raymond de Jaeghar, a Belgian priest of the Societ� des Auxiliares des Missions (Society of the Auxiliaries of the Missions, S.A.M.), who had spoken to a group of Maryknoll seminarians, he realized he had found such a group. The Society was an order which had been formed in the twentieth century for the purpose of training European priests to serve in Asia and Africa under native bishops. SCHWARTZ applied to be admitted to the Society and to study under its auspices at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He was accepted in the beginning of his novitiate year and left Maryknoll to begin his studies at Louvain in the winter of 1953, as the only American there.
Although the seminarians lived in a chateau, their lives were far from regal: the rooms were cold and drafty, the food plain and spare. In addition to adjusting to the spartan life-style, SCHWARTZ was studying in a foreign language, adapting to a foreign culture and catching up on several months of academic work which he had missed while awaiting admission. Despite these difficulties he finished his first year's work successfully and was "more than satisfied by the change."
During the five years at Louvain the young man spent his summers and other vacations doing social work or traveling. Two winter holidays and one summer were spent in Paris working with Abb� Pierre in his ragpickers' camps which harbored the derelicts of French society— beggars, alcoholics and the destitute, who came from the streets and were cared for, comforted and given employment by the good priest. One summer was spent working in a dispensary run by a French Franciscan in North Africa At other times SCHWARTZ traveled through Italy and Sicily. These experiences contrasted with the summer work he had done in his high school and college days in the United States, when he earned good money working as a house painter and a Fuller Brush salesman.
In 1957 SCHWARTZ returned to Washington for his ordination at St. Martin's Church, in the parish where his father then lived. He was thereupon assigned to Pusan, Korea, to study the language and eventually to take up his duties as a parish priest under the authority of a Korean bishop. He arrived in Pusan in the cold of early December the same year.
Fr. SCHWARTZ' first impression of Korea was of the bitter poverty of the people. Still suffering from the dreadful dislocations of the Korean War which had ended in 1953, the refugees who packed Pusan were propertyless, jobless and homeless, squatting any place they could find and living under the most abject conditions. Families had been separated by the war and children, neglected and cold, fought for survival on the city streets.
When SCHWARTZ joined the Diocese of Pusan the city had a population of over one million, of whom some 20,000 were Catholic—today the population is over four million. The Korean bishop, John Choi, had a staff of 50 indigenous and foreign priests to care for his flock and to administer the distribution of Catholic Relief goods to the needy of the city. SCHWARTZ began to study the Korean language with Damiano Park who became not only his informant about Korean life and culture, but also his most trusted friend and colleague. Through Damiano, who took him into the squatters' hovels and translated the tragic stories of those who lived in them, SCHWARTZ became an intimate observer of the lives of the poorest of the poor.
Within a few months of his arrival, however, the young priest collapsed while saying early morning mass. His illness was diagnosed as hepatitis. Complications set in and his condition deteriorated to such a point that in 1959 he was sent back to the United States to recover his health. Bishop Choi asked him, while he was in the U.S., to raise money for the diocese and try to interest other priests in serving in Korea.
SCHWARTZ returned to an America that dazzled him with its affluence after the poverty of Pusan, "with its thousands of tents, shacks, and squatter huts; its teeming, squalid overcrowded streets; . . . its beggars, refugees, orphans, ragpickers, dumpdwellers, and thousands of hungry people lining up at feeding stations each day."
While regaining his strength at his father's home in Washington, SCHWARTZ began co speak in Catholic parishes about the conditions in Korea and to ask for donations for the diocesan work in Pusan. He was delighted when contributions grew to over $25,000. The bishop wrote telling him to keep the money in his own account to use for building a church which would be SCHWARTZ' parish church when he returned, but a chance meeting changed this plan.
During a retreat at a Trappist monastery in Berryville, Virginia, SCHWARTZ started a conversation with a fellow retreatant while they were washing dishes together in the monastery kitchen. His co-worker was Gratian Meyer, a consultant for direct mail fund-raising campaigns in the Washington area. After hearing SCHWARTZ' story of the desperate need of money for the poor in Korea, and of his efforts to raise funds, Meyer suggested that he help him form an organization which could raise money through appeals mailed to large numbers of prospective donors.
With Meyer's guidance and the help of lawyers SCHWARTZ prepared the papers necessary to establish a tax-exempt charitable corporation. Originally named Catholic Korean Relief, it was later changed to Korean Relief when it became apparent that the original name was often confused with that of the well established Catholic Relief Services. Using the $25,000 as seed money, SCHWARTZ and Meyer obtained lists and sent out test mailings. When Bishop Choi arrived in Washington in April 1961 at SCHWARTZ' invitation to begin a fund raising trip SCHWARTZ had organized for him, SCHWARTZ described the methods and projected aims of Korean Relief. His graphs and charts of the organization prominently featured a large question mark over the amount of funds to be realized. When he asked Choi if he understood what the project entailed, the bishop retorted cannily, "Yes, like gambling!" "Exactly," SCHWARTZ replied.
With the approval of Choi a small office was established and larger mailings undertaken. The response was so promising that Choi suggested SCHWARTZ stay in the U.S. to run the operation, but SCHWARTZ was eager to return to Korea and parish work. He accompanied Choi on his tour of parishes in the United States, and, after placing the administration of Korean Relief in the hands of professionals, joined him in Europe for further fund-raising. They realized over US$100,000 and returned to Korea together in time for Christmas.
In July of 1962 SCHWARTZ assumed the duties of parish priest of Song-do, one of the worst slum areas of Pusan. There he found conditions which worried him. Large numbers of prospective converts seemed to be motivated by a desire for access to goods distributed by Catholic Relief Services rather than spiritual convictions. He also perceived abuses in the distribution of these goods.
Established after World War II to use Catholic churches abroad as distribution points for surplus American goods, Catholic Relief had instructed priests to share supplies with the needy regardless of religious affiliation. But in practice major irregularities became common. SCHWARTZ estimates that when he entered Song-do parish "one half of the relief goods was being sold to merchants and the money used for church maintenance," and that the remainder was being doled out only to parishioners and those who had entered instruction to become Catholics. These practices seemed reasonable to the hard pressed Korean clergy, who felt it was their duty to maintain their churches and to convert souls, but to SCHWARTZ it appeared a distortion of the aims of the entire program. He brought the abuses to an end, suffering some loss of converts in the process, but satisfying his conviction that the goods should not be sold and should be distributed on the basis of need, rather than on evidence of religious belief. He was also determined to see that the funds raised by Korean Relief were not subject to similar misuse.
As Korean Relief funds began to increase, Choi and SCHWARTZ found themselves in control of more readily available money than any other welfare organization in Korea, and they were unfettered by red tape or bureaucratic restraint. Any appeal which was documented well enough to satisfy the priest and his bishop of its worthiness could be met simply by their agreement to get out the Korean Relief checkbook of which SCHWARTZ had control. Requests for help were received from other dioceses and SCHWARTZ basked in the approval of his bishop as they doled out money for charity throughout Korea. When Choi and SCHWARTZ later disagreed the fact that Choi was not a signatory meant that SCHWARTZ could insure the use of Korean Relief funds for purposes he felt were most deserving.
Korean Relief was in danger, however, from an unsuspected quarter. In the United States the organization was being attacked by members of the hierarchy who complained that their charitable needs were suffering while American money was being siphoned abroad. The complaints reached the Vatican and in June 1963 Bishop Choi received an order to stop operations. In reply SCHWARTZ went personally to the Vatican to plead his case and won a stay of closure on grounds that the program could not be abruptly turned off: "you have contracts and printing and all such things in the works." Cardinal Agagianian who heard his presentation agreed to overlook the breach of discipline and to allow continuation of the solicitations. In response to a second cease and desist order from the Vatican about a year later, SCHWARTZ, with the full approval of Bishop Choi, removed administration of the corporation from Washington to Pusan which was legal canonically. SCHWARTZ believes that if he had stopped Korean Relief when ordered, he would never have gained permission to reestablish it, and that his refusal to comply was therefore justified.
Drawing on the salesmanship techniques learned in his youthful experience with the Fuller Brush Company, SCHWARTZ decided that the most effective letters of appeal would be those in which a premium or gift was sent. Test mailings which included a hand-embroidered handkerchief brought donations from a third of the recipients; the same letters sent without an enclosure produced contributions from only seven percent. On this basis SCHWARTZ organized a cottage industry in the slums to embroider items to be used as inducements.
Concentrating in areas where an estimated 40 percent of the working-age population was either underemployed or not working at all, SCHWARTZ arranged for the selection and training of local women as leaders. These leaders were chosen for their skill in needlework, sense of responsibility and ability to motivate others. They were given the Job of conducting sewing tests for the women of the parish, and selecting workers for the program on the basis of skill, need and desire to work. Religious affiliation was not to be considered. Leaders were also responsible for the distribution of cloth and supplies to the women who worked in their own homes. When the embroidery was completed the leaders took the cloth to four centers in the slums where the work was inspected and payment made. The embroidered pieces were then cut, hemmed and finished as handkerchiefs or table scarfs, and mailed out with Korean Relief letters. In 1964 over one million such items were processed and mailed out of the country. The proceeds from the responses were plowed back into the handkerchief industry or given to selected Korean charities. By 1965 SCHWARTZ could write that from the profits of "Operation Hanky" as it came to be known, he had "built one hospital, two dispensaries, an orphanage, an old-age home, and a boy's technical school," and had launched a day care center, an irrigation project and a cooperative farm program. In addition he mentions granting funds to "over thirty hospitals, leper colonies, orphanages, schools and other works of charity scattered throughout Korea."
At the height of Operation Hanky SCHWARTZ employed over 3,000 slum women in the production of embroidered articles, and another 300 women in the office where the Korean Relief mailings were prepared and sent out.
As early as 1964 SCHWARTZ had decided to help Korean orphans. In his visits to various organizations he had been disturbed by the quality of care such children received, describing them as "suffering from a common orphanage disease known as 'institutionalism' whose symptoms were a general listlessness, lack of vitality, and a sense of inferiority." "Of all the poor, helpless, and destitute people of Korea, the poorest, the most helpless is the orphan child," he wrote. Not only does the orphan "lack the physical and material necessities of life, but what is more, he lacks the spiritual and psychological requisites of a full life; namely, a mother's love and the warmth of a family."
With characteristic fervor SCHWARTZ set about supplying these needs. Through Korean Relief he had the money to provide the material necessities but he had to create the family. Certain that there were Korean Catholic women who would be able to nurture these children if called upon and trained, he advertised in the weekly Catholic Shibo for women between the ages of 24 and 35, who had been baptized, had at least a grammar school education, were in good health and had a sincere desire to serve the poor. From the 75 who responded he selected 11 to train as "orphan mothers" in a secular organization he at first called the Maria Pomohwe (Mary Orphan Mother Society), but which soon grew into a religious congregation called the Mariahwe, or Sisters of Mary.
The 11 neophyte mothers were placed under the tutelage of a Korean Benedictine sister who had been working with SCHWARTZ in the parish for several years. Teacher and trainees lived and studied together. Mornings were spent in the study of child psychology, child care and in classes on Christian doctrine, scripture and ascetic theology; in the afternoons the women were sent to work with children in nearby orphanages. After a year of training each woman was to become the mother of a small group of children and live with them in cottages provided by SCHWARTZ on parish property.
Even before completion of the first year's training SCHWARTZ found children for the proposed Family Unit Orphan Program: three youngsters were thrust into his care when their destitute father died after receiving the last rites. At the end of the year 120 more children from various orphanages were placed in the hands of the graduates of the orphan mother training. As other Korean women joined the Sisters of Mary in ensuing years the work expanded to service in the slum dispensaries and with Operation Hanky, which was pumping large amounts of money into the slum economy.
In 1968 the decision of the Korean government to increase further the cost of overseas postage—making a 1,300 percent increase since his program began—forced SCHWARTZ to return the operation of Korean Relief to the United States, where opposition of the clergy had ceased. He found office space in Hyattsville, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.) and put one of his younger sisters in charge; however he continued to direct the operation by telephone and mail from Pusan. When his sister married, he placed the office in the hands of William Vita, a brother-in-law. Operation Hanky was phased out because of the cost of mailing the giveaways, but Korean Relief continued to grow.
SCHWARTZ now focused his attention on other slum projects. In 1966 he had established the Home for Working Boys to help young street vendors by giving them training in financial management and help in obtaining an education to prepare them for useful adult lives. A Korean ax-policeman had been placed in charge and he taught the boys judo for self-defense and as a means of increasing their self-esteem. Now he opened Amidong Free School, a middle school for 400 girls. It was sited near one of the slum dispensaries on top of a forlorn hill crowded with squatters' huts.
As he began to develop more charitable projects of his own, it became apparent that he and his bishop were at odds. SCHWARTZ felt that Korean Relief money should be spent for the purpose outlined in his appeals—to alleviate the misery of the poor. Choi felt that the money should be placed at the disposal of the diocese to be used for church needs, and that, as SCHWARTZ' superior, he should be responsible for its distribution.
The bishop's determination to exercise control over Korean Relief monies was met with an equal determination by SCHWARTZ that the funds he had solicited for the poor should not be spent in ways which were not related to that purpose. Attempts at compromise failed as the bishop believed that any concession meant a weakening of his authority. The situation was further complicated by SCHWARTZ' nationality, which underlined a clash of mores, and the emotional issue of an alien priest defying his native bishop. The debate became so heated and the positions so intractable that SCHWARTZ became a source of controversy within the entire Korean church.
At the same time that relations between priest and bishop were deteriorating, SCHWARTZ became involved in a serious lay confrontation which was to engage him in litigation and conflict for several years.
The Mariahwe Sisters in 1969 volunteered to assist at the city-supported Hospice for Dying Vagrants, whose administration had been contracted to a Korean of unsavory reputation. By letting the hospice become a veritable death camp, the manager was able to turn a tidy profit. Appalled at the conditions they found, the Sisters convinced SCHWARTZ to ask the mayor to let them run the institution. The mayor agreed and assigned the hospice and its 100 or so inmates to SCHWARTZ and the Sisters in September 1969.
Housed together in makeshift sheds, some of the men and women in the hospice were mentally deranged as well as sick. Many had been stripped of all their clothing to prevent their escape. They were indescribably filthy, and the stench of the place was so overwhelming that a team of painters walked off the job and returned only after SCHWARTZ called in a fumigation unit from the U.S. Army.
The Sisters' first move was to wash the patients to rid them of vermin. Little by little they restored cleanliness and order, and conditions began to improve. The death rate of 20-30 per month dropped dramatically. When Mercy Hospital, which was designed by SCHWARTZ to provide free medical care for the poor, opened in 1970, the patients in the hospice were removed there for treatment. The hospice, converted into the Tuberculosis Center, is still operated by the Sisters.
When priest and Sisters took over the hospice they were unaware that many of the patients had come from a camp for street people located only a hundred yards down the hill. Nor were they aware that the hospice and camp had been under the control of the same racketeer, who viewed the unfortunate souls under his care as useful commercial properties. In return for sweeping these derelicts from the streets of Pusan, and keeping them concealed from the public eye, he was given welfare payments and relief goods which he blackmarketed at considerable profit. As street people were generally familyless and considered socially undesirable, no questions were asked. In consequence some 2,000 men, women and children lived in conditions of the utmost depravity under the control of criminal elements within the camp. Violence and exploitation were common and murders were not unknown.
Sisters working at the hospice were soon made aware of the existence of the camp by the sounds of blows and screams which could be heard during the quiet night hours; camp runaways appeared at the hospice asking for help or medical attention for broken bones and concussions. When SCHWARTZ saw a 12 year old girl from the camp dying from a combination of malnutrition, tuberculosis and neglect, he determined that something must be done and asked the mayor to turn the camp over to the Sisters. But negotiations broke down when it was revealed that, unlike the hospice, the camp was located on property owned by the racketeer, not on city land. SCHWARTZ attempted to buy the property and the "franchise" for the care of the people; his offer was refused. The owner, already disgruntled that the hospice had been taken from him, was not about to give up a second lucrative business. SCHWARTZ then negotiated for the children within the camp. He offered to give the racketeer US$20,000—ostensibly for the purchase of food for the camp's inmates. In return he asked that all the boys in the camp be released to him, and that the Sisters be allowed to inspect the camp kitchen to make sure the money was properly used. The racketeer agreed and in July 1970 200 young boys were marched up the hill to the hospice under the clubs of camp thugs. Distrustful of the gangster's word the Sisters, in what SCHWARTZ describes as a "very courageous and bold manner," did penetrate the camp and inspect the kitchen. After looking carefully at all of the facilities and asking searching questions the Sisters concluded that the US$20,000 given to the gangster had been pocketed for his own personal use.
The boys were housed in a newly completed, but as yet unoccupied, building which SCHWARTZ had planned to use as a middle school. To control the boys and help them get settled he called on the director of his Home for Working Boys. The tough ax-policeman brought some of the older, judo-trained youth with him to help maintain order. For a week they physically controlled the animal-like behavior of the children—who were unused to any amenities or to any form of discipline other than brute force. On the weekend SCHWARTZ suggested they take a break and let the Sisters manage the institution. The Sisters moved in and never left. With their firm but gentle rule, and SCHWARTZ' help, they established their authority. From this core group of boys "purchased" in 1970 grew the whole Boystown program.
The conflict with the racketeer, however, accelerated. SCHWARTZ collected evidence concerning abuses within the camp which led him to believe that criminal charges should be made against the man. A meeting of priests of the diocese was called and SCHWARTZ convinced 24 of them to sign a document supporting him; then he filed charges.
The racketeer fought back. When SCHWARTZ secured a signed statement from an ex-inmate of the camp concerning crimes he had witnessed there, the man disappeared within two days. Even though a reward was offered, no trace of him was ever found. Strong arm tactics continued. Two-thirds of the priests who had signed the document of support were pressured into withdrawing their signatures. Criminal charges filed by SCHWARTZ against the racketeer were met by countercharges of the same crimes filed against SCHWARTZ. To answer the counter-charges the priest was forced to spend hours and days answering the questions of Korean prosecutors, providing documents and giving testimony.
The racketeer had political connections both in Pusan and nationally, and proceeded to use them to try to force SCHWARTZ to give up the fight. City officials were coerced. Accusations were made to American congressional delegations, church officials, the New York Times and the U.S. Department of State and Federal Bureau of Investigation. As a result Korean Reliefs tax returns were subjected to an audit by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service—an investigation which SCHWARTZ welcomed. The charity's accounts were in perfect order and the audit, in his words, "left me smelling like a rose." Nevertheless the proliferation of charges, by their very existence, bred confusion and distrust.
The bishop exerted strong pressure on SCHWARTZ—including pounding the table and threatening him with suspension—to drop charges against his adversary, and even released information to his opponent which was used against him. Although the Vatican was informed of SCHWARTZ' dilemma, the church was reluctant to enter the controversy and Korean church officials were concerned by a foreign priest defying his bishop. The matter of right and wrong was becoming obscured by side-issues, and SCHWARTZ was in danger of being sent from Korea and losing control over the programs for the poor he had already established. At one point he was actually convicted of libel by a Korean court (since in Korea public charges, even though true, are considered libelous), and sentenced to a year in prison. He appealed and the sentence was reduced to a fine.
With his back to the wall the beleaguered priest and his supporters fought back. With the bishop's approval he incorporated Korean Relief in Korea in his own name, taking it outside the bishop's control (Korean Relief in the U.S. was a U.S. corporation and never under the bishop's control whereas Korean Relief in Korea then was part of the bishop's corporation and therefore could not be separated without his signature). The Sisters of Mary walked Pusan's streets and obtained 140,000 signatures on a petition of support which was forwarded to Korea's president, Park Chung Hee. The mayor of Pusan expressed approval of SCHWARTZ' work with the hospice and the orphaned boys. Some of the foreign priests signed documents favoring SCHWARTZ and other Korean bishops spoke up for him, but it was 1975 before the situation was resolved and then only through the personal intervention of President Park.
The mayor of Pusan, who had been so impressed with SCHWARTZ' work with the street derelicts and orphans, had been promoted to mayor of Seoul and had asked SCHWARTZ to set up a program in Seoul for 800 of the 2,000 abandoned children in the city-run Children's Protective Camp. Spending over a million dollars in Korean Relief funds, SCHWARTZ constructed dormitory and school buildings at the camp site. The dedication of the first building in May 1975 was attended by President Park's eldest daughter, who arranged for SCHWARTZ to be invited to a dinner attended by the president and mayor. During the evening the mayor asked SCHWARTZ if he would assume responsibility for all the children in the camp in return for government defrayal of 50 percent of their maintenance costs. In President Park's hearing the priest replied that he was short of funds but that he would take the children if the city would provide for their full care. The president ordered the mayor to do so, thereby assuring SCHWARTZ custodianship of all the waifs in the city.
At this point SCHWARTZ gave the president a report of his legal status—"up to my eyeballs in law suits"—and a description of his struggle with his adversary in Pusan. The president was sympathetic. Within two weeks all suits were dropped and Fr. SCHWARTZ was suddenly rehabilitated.
The camp was dissolved and all of the children there at that time were turned over to SCHWARTZ and the Sisters of Mary on a permanent basis. Of the nearly 1,000 adults at the camp, many of the women were farmed out to other welfare institutions in the Pusan area. SCHWARTZ prepared temporary quarters for the men, many of whom were old and crippled, and the Sisters of Mary took care of them for about 10 months until the city set up another program that was run by a Protestant minister who took over the men and continues to run this program today.
The years of conflict with racketeer and bishop produced changes in the status of Korean Relief programs. Now removed from any control by the church hierarchy, they are in closer cooperation with the Korean government. For example, Korean Relief financed the construction of the Boystown facilities in Pusan and Seoul and the Sisters of Mary run them, but the Korean government holds title to the buildings and property in Seoul. In Pusan, excepting the TB center which is government owned, the buildings and property are part of the Korean Relief for the Sisters of Mary corporation. The government also provides about one-fourth of the funds needed to maintain the programs.
When SCHWARTZ first began to work with orphans he sent the boys to regular Korean schools, but soon saw that when placed with other children they did not prosper. In the Confucian-based, family-oriented Korean society, the orphan child is perceived as an undesirable, lacking in familial virtues, with whom social equality is unthinkable. The orphan suffered from discrimination by his schoolmates, and often by his teachers, with a concomitant erosion of his already small store of self-esteem. To overcome this problem and to provide an education appropriate for the poor orphan's special needs, SCHWARTZ established the Education Corporation in 1973 and built Boystown Grammar School in Pusan. The following year he built a middle school for both boys and girls, and a grammar school in Seoul and a school for the handicapped. In 1976 he opened Boystown Technical High School, geared toward preparing the boys for a vocation. By the end of 1980 he had built Boystown Technical College in Pusan to ensure that the boys would have technical skills to enable them to provide for themselves as adults. The younger children in Seoul study through elementary school and then attend middle school through technical college in Pusan. Girls—who represent only 20 percent of his wards because relatives and neighbors will often take orphan girls into their homes to help with housework—attend public elementary school, Amidong Middle School in Pusan, and local high schools, after which they are sent to live with selected Korean Catholic families until appropriate marriages can be arranged. Beginning in 1984 they will be able to enter Boystown High School where, for the first time, an extensive electronics training program will be offered. The electronics courses will be subsidized by the largest industrial conglomerate in Korea, the Samsong Group which, in addition to donating equipment and providing assistance in setting up the program, has promised to employ qualified graduates.
With the opening of the Technical College in Pusan in 1981, SCHWARTZ could boast of building a complete, self-contained Boystown educational program from preschool through college, devoted to the special needs of the 4,000 children in his care in Pusan and Seoul. Administered by the Sisters, but staffed by highly paid male professional teachers, the Boystown schools emphasize preparation of students for vocations to ensure them immediate employment in Korea's burgeoning economy. Jobs are found for all graduates, as well as a place in town for them to live, usually with Boystown alumni. SCHWARTZ is proud of the education offered and feels that it surpasses vocational education offered in public schools. In a vocational test given recently to 1,200 high school graduates from all over the country, Boystown alumni had the seven top scores.
Extracurricular activities are not neglected in Boystown and Girlstown. Physical exercise is required for all, even the handicapped, and SCHWARTZ' favorite sport of distance running has captured the enthusiasm of both children and staff. There are active intramural sports programs and interscholastic competitions. Boystown has produced championship soccer and basketball teams, and competitive swimmers and runners. The halls of the main buildings at both Pusan and Seoul are decorated with trophies and plaques, each one adding to the pride the children have in their school and to their own self-esteem. In addition to sports Girlstown and Boystown enjoy bands, music programs, outings and dances. Birthday parties are given one day a year for all the children in each age group because so few of them know their actual birthdates.
Today the students receive medical attention at one of the two Korean Relief hospitals, Mercy in Pusan and Doty in Seoul. The latter, completed in 1982, is named in honor of the father of the major donor, George Doty, an American broker who has been a consistent and generous patron of Korean Relief. Mercy has 120 beds and Doty 150, but both can accommodate more patients because mattresses can be put—Korean style—on the radiant heated floor. Each treats about 300 outpatients daily. Since SCHWARTZ feels that for too long the poor have received inferior care, both hospitals pay high salaries to attract the finest medical staff, demanding in return the highest level of skill and dedication.
As priest and spiritual director, Fr. SCHWARTZ is very concerned with ethical and spiritual values practiced by Korean Relief institutions, their staffs and their wards. To learn sharing and giving, older children are encouraged to volunteer time with retarded and handicapped children, taking them out to play, or walking them on their backs. SCHWARTZ calls this "therapy for both" and says it is very effective. Concepts of truthfulness, trustworthiness, honesty and justice are stressed, and spiritual values are reinforced by religious and moral instruction. Although conversion to Catholicism is not required, about ninety percent of the children are baptized within their first few years at the institutions. SCHWARTZ says that he could not succeed in his work with the children without his faith. As for the children, "it gives the kids direction," he says, "it gives them stability, it gives them a sense of personal value and respect for the individual."
As Spiritual Director of the Sisters of Mary, Fr. SCHWARTZ spends a great deal of time giving them instruction, preaching, leading meditations and conducting retreats, as well as conducting classes, seminars and conferences to add to their professional expertise. Vowed to poverty, the Sisters receive no pay for their work. They receive no diplomas or certificates for their training in child welfare and hospital administration, but they are constantly being educated for their jobs, both in the classroom and through practical experience. SCHWARTZ is immensely proud of them. He states that in practical judgment he would confidently pit his Sisters against any trained child psychologist or expert sociologist: "they are incredible."
The Sisters, who now number 150, are carefully selected. Only one out of ten applicants is accepted after an interview by the Sister Superior and a final interview by Fr. SCHWARTZ. The acceptees are immediately put to work with the most difficult children—the braindamaged and handicapped—while at the same time they undergo a program of study and spiritual formation. At the end of the first month there is a review, and about half the applicants drop out; of those remaining, half will leave within the next three or four years of training. In addition to the usual religious vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, the Sisters promise to devote themselves to the service of the poor. These vows are renewed each year. The total dedication of the Sisters to live and work with the poor, SCHWARTZ feels, is seldom found among paid professional help and therefore their contribution can not be duplicated.
In 1980 SCHWARTZ was asked by the mayor of Seoul if he would take over the administration of Kaengsaengwon (New Life Village), a city-run camp for street people similar in purpose to the vagrants' camp in Pusan. Although he felt that the expanding Boystown programs were occupying all the energies of his Sisters, a visit to the camp convinced him that something had to be done for the inmates which could never be accomplished by the existing institution. The camp, which was managed by officials sitting in city hall, consisted of 13 old barracks that had been designed for 800 occupants but held over 1,200; each barrack had come under the control of an ax-convict who ruled his territory with an iron hand. The mentally deranged and the violenceprone members of the camp were pacified by drugs, the sick given minimal attention; many of the 300 deaths a year were due to neglect. All, including the city administrators, were terrorized by the criminal element in control of the institution.
SCHWARTZ and the Sisters took charge of the camp on January 1, 1981 and SCHWARTZ tried for six weeks to work out a modus vivendi with the ax-convicts, finally offering to "buy them out" with "severance pay" if they would leave, but they refused to cooperate in any way. Realizing that he had to fight force with force, he advertised in a Seoul newspaper for experts trained in the martial arts, offering excellent salaries. He was beseiged by applicants—tae kwon do and karate experts, judo black-belters and ax-commandos who had fought in Vietnam. From this tough group SCHWARTZ selected a 13 man security force with which he intended to establish control of Kaengsaengwon.
News of the project, however, flew ahead of him and the night before the planned takeover of the camp, the criminals incited a riot. SCHWARTZ answered a call from the Sister-in-Charge and rushed to the camp to find it a shambles. The five or six policemen assigned to the site fled. SCHWARTZ was roughed up by the drug-and-alcohol-crazed thugs but, with the help of a friendly inmate, managed to hide in a shed with the Sister until negotiations could be opened with the leaders— whose demands included a payment of over US$10,000 to each and the dropping of all criminal charges against them. While talk was going on a troop of riot police arrived and SCHWARTZ and the Sister slipped away to safety.
The next day SCHWARTZ received an ultimatum to appear at 2:00 p.m. to complete the deal. He arrived at the camp but not alone. Armed with the full support of the mayor and the chief of police, and two truckloads of riot police, he saw the camp cleared of the criminal element. Three of the worst offenders were jailed. SCHWARTZ moved in his private security force and within a short time order was restored, the camp cleaned up and the Sisters firmly in charge. Physical activity was substituted for medication whenever possible, skills were taught, proper nutrition supplanted easy access to drugs and spirits, and the Sisters' gentle rule was enforced. Treated with kindness and respect, the men of the camp responded with gratitude and obedience. In SCHWARTZ' words, "they became like lambs."
As it was difficult for the Sisters to enter the living quarters of the adult males SCHWARTZ organized a group of young men into a religious order, similar to the Mariahwe, to work in the camp. Called the Christohwe, or Brothers of Christ, the order now includes 13 postulants who have committed themselves to serve the poor. Carefully selected for motivation and manliness (the group includes two ax-paratroopers), the Brothers serve under the supervision of SCHWARTZ and the Sisters. Their work has proved so effective that SCHWARTZ is seeking 20-30 more recruits so that he can expand activities.
At present Kaengsaengwon shelters over 1,500 destitute men and receives a half dozen or so more each day from the city streets. They include the physically and mentally handicapped, the aged and the sick, with, among the latter, some 300 tuberculars. A vocational training center has been set up to teach welding, plumbing, carpentry and basketmaking to the camp inmates, and to train older boys who cannot fit into the Boystown educational program. Today approximately 80 percent of the inmates are engaged in making handcrafted articles, or in other work for which they are paid. All are expected to participate in some form of physical exercise. SCHWARTZ is now in the process of building new facilities to replace the decrepit barracks which, though renovated, are inadequate to serve the growing population.
The success of Korean Relief fund-raising and his direct access to these monies gives SCHWARTZ considerable flexibility in developing his projects. He has had no grand overall design. Instead his programs have grown from needs, as he perceives them, and he has been able to meet these needs with a minimum of red tape and delay. He does not set aside funds for the future, preferring to assuage immediate wants. In the current year (1983) he expects Korean Relief to raise over US$5,000,000 for his various projects, which include a US$300,000 kindergarten building in Seoul.
The irony of a priest, dedicated to poverty and living in the simplest of circumstances—a single room with bed, desk and small refrigerator—being the sole proprietor of a multimillion dollar fund-raising enterprise is not lost on SCHWARTZ. But he has a high regard for the proper use of money and a skill in raising it that would be the envy of many a corporate executive. Although Operation Hanky is now defunct, he still uses the concept of enclosing inexpensive premiums (e.g. Christmas seals) with his solicitation letters and has discovered that the strategies which work best in the United States also work best in Europe, even down to the optimum number of gift enclosures. (For paper items the magic number is five.) He maintains Korean Relief offices in the U.S., Germany and Switzerland and visits them once or twice yearly, but does little mailing in Korea because he finds Koreans have not yet learned to give outside the family.
Handling Korean Relief as a one-man-show, SCHWARTZ chooses the lists of prospective donors, composes the letters and flyers and even takes the photographs which are enclosed. The costs of the mailings represent 35 to 40 percent of the realized contributions, because he seeks to reach an ever wider, but less certain, body of givers. First-time donors are put on a special list and receive up to ten letters a year concerning Korean Relief programs. SCHWARTZ regrets that he does not have time for personal contact with his contributors, most of whom he has never seen though they may have given thousands of dollars.
It is a matter of concern to him that there is no one trained to carry on his work, either as fund-raiser or program organizer. As early as 1966 he published a book, The Starved and the Silent, in which he described some of his experiences and aims, in the hope that he could inspire likeminded American priests to join him and perhaps start a missionary society which would minister to the poor. A second book, Poverty, Sign of Our Times published in 1968, outlined the theological basis of his ideas. Six American priests were accepted by him and joined him in Pusan, but no order was ever formed. Three left the priesthood and married. One, after 12 years in a slum parish SCHWARTZ had set up, returned to the U.S. as a result of a physical breakdown, is now pastor of a Korean parish there and wants to return to Korea. Of the remaining two who had difficulty with the language, one is also pastor of a Korean parish in the U.S. and still helping Fr. SCHWARTZ, and the other is working in a slum parish in South America. SCHWARTZ takes some of the blame himself for this slim recruitment and commitment—"my ideals were perhaps too demanding," he says. He hopes that the two Boystown graduates presently in seminary will come back and help him carry on the work he has begun, but basically he puts his trust in God. In the meantime he continues his work with the assistance of his devoted Sisters, staff and the Brothers (who have vowed to serve but are non-ordained priests).
The priest and his work have not escaped criticism. SCHWARTZ has been accused of being high-handed and insensitive in his dealings with Korean church and government authorities, and there is still some residue of bitterness in the church hierarchy concerning his insistence that Korean Relief funds be spent exclusively in his own projects. Some experts have carped at the large size of the Boystown/Girlstown institutions and the lack of academic degrees of the Sisters who run them. These criticisms, SCHWARTZ feels, can be answered by the results. The glowing health and enthusiasm of the boys and girls are self-evident; the dedication of the Mariahwe and the Christohwe to their work, and their loyalty to their Spiritual Director are apparent; the drop in the death rate among the adult derelicts and the handicapped children is measurable.
The Korean government recognized the achievements of SCHWARTZ by awarding him the Presidential Medal for Civil Merit in 1975. In the following year he became the first non-Korean to be given the government's highest honor, the May 16th Citizen's Award for Education. He also received an Honorary Doctorate in 1975 from Fordham University in the U.S.
Although thousands of Korean orphans (or "social orphans" whose parents are unable to care for them) have passed through the Boystown and Girlstown at one stage or another since their inception, those who have been with Fr. SCHWARTZ throughout their school years are just now entering Korean society. SCHWARTZ believes that the real test of his programs will come when these young people have become parents themselves. It is his hope that the spiritual and ethical values, comradeship, and compassion developed through their years in Boystown/Girlstown will produce citizens able to meet and transcend the bonds of familial responsibility, citizens who can show a larger concern for their fellowmen, especially those who are most in need. In the meantime his job is to maintain the institutions and values which attempt to fulfill the Boystown motto—"The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive."
Korean Relief: Brochure. 1981.
"Rev. Schwartz to Get May 16 National Award," Korea Herald Seoul. May 9, 1976.
Schwartz, Aloysius. "Helping Destitute Youngsters, the Aged and the Infirm—My Korean Experience." Presentation to Group Discussion. Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, Manila September 1, 1983. (Typewritten transcript.)
______. "The Mariahwe Story," Pastoral Xchange. Maryknoll Regional Catechetical Newsletter. Seoul. Vol. 6, no. 1, January 1978.
______. Poverty, Sign of Our Times. Long Island, New York: Alba House. 1968.
______. The Starved and the Silent. New York: Doubleday & Company. 1966. Willoughby, William F. "The Priest Who Helps Korea's Orphans Survive," Washington Times. June 8, 1983.
______. "Running with Washington's Saint in the Making," Washington Star. July 16, 1977.
Interview with Fr. Aloysius Schwartz. Interviews with and letters from persons acquainted with him and his work. Visits to Pusan and Seoul Boystowns and Girlstowns.
This is a bit longer but still this is not enough especially if we will include his biography from 1983 until his death on March 16, 1992 and the history of The Sisters of Mary and the charitable works he left behind that is still flourishing. Truly, he is a man of God, a Saint to all of us his children. We love you Fr. Al! c",)
RESPONSE of Aloysius Schwartz
Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies
31 August 1983, Manila, Philippines
It is with mixed feelings that I accept the Award this evening. Certainly I am very grateful. I am pleased. And I am honored. At the same time, I am a bit uneasy inside, somewhat embarrassed and somewhat discomfited.
The announcement of the Award on August 12 generated enormous publicity in Korea. The newspapers, TV, radio and a number of magazines gave excellent coverage to the news. This publicity has already proven useful and helpful to my work.
More than this, the Award announcement was a tremendous morale booster for the 4,000 or so orphaned boys and girls I care for in Pusan and Seoul—and the 150 dedicated Korean Sisters who look after them. The Sisters and the children were absolutely elated when they heard the news. Not only that, but the Boystown and Girlstown graduates—who have left me and are now living on their own in society—were just as excited. Many have written or phoned. One boy called up and told me that they were dancing in the factories after they heard the announcement. It does my heart good to see the Sisters, children and graduates so excited and happy. And for this I am tremendously grateful.
At the same time, as I mentioned, I am a little embarrassed. In the gospel Christ in effect says: When you give alms to the poor, or for that matter, do anything worthwhile, don't spoil it by sounding a trumpet and telling the whole world about it. Rather enhance the beauty and the value of whatever little good you do by doing it in a quiet and hidden manner. In fact, your right hand should not even let your left hand know what it is doing. In accepting this Award I am not only telling my left hand what I am doing—but I am telling the whole world as well.
Therein lies the dilemma and the source of my mixed feelings. But in balance I think the positive elements far outweigh these negative and somewhat scrupulous reservations. In the Psalms it is written: "Not to us, O Lord, not to us—but to Thy Name alone give glory." My feeling and my hope is that by accepting this Award I will be giving honor and glory to God. And ultimately this is what really counts.
So, to conclude these brief remarks, as we say in the "home country": "Kamsa hamnida. Kamsa hamnida. Taedanhi kamsa hamnida." Which means simply: "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so very, very much!"
CITATION for Aloysius Schwartz
Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies
31 August 1983, Manila, Philippines
In this century of modern mass warfare few countries have been as devastated as Korea. Armies that 30 years ago carried their campaigns down the peninsula left the "land of the morning calm" scarred almost beyond recognition. Cities were leveled by artillery and bombs. Bridges, roads, dams and farmsteads were badly damaged; livestock was eaten by the soldiers; and several million Korean civilians were among the casualties.
For the survivors, the loss of family and the wreckage of society were even more traumatic. In the mass flight south from the communist invaders tens of thousands of parents lost their children; some families are only now being reunited through televised appeals. In the cold Korean winters, amidst the confusion of combat, many a child seeking shelter or a warm bowl of barley-gruel disappeared. War left nearly one-half the adult population without productive employment and reduced to selling rags and waste paper, begging, and stealing as a last resort. When Fr. ALOYSIUS SCHWARTZ arrived—four years after the war's end—as a secular priest in the southern diocese of Pusan, most of the city's then over one million residents still lived in makeshift shacks.
Born in 1930 in Washington, D.C., SCHWARTZ had decided in grade school upon his vocation as a missionary priest, and in college on serving the poor. Studying initially in a Maryknoll seminary, he found the living conditions too plush and transferred to the Societe des Auxiliares des Missions in Louvain, Belgium, where he completed his schooling. He was ordained in Washington and promptly left to take up his assignment in Pusan.
Amidst the poverty and cruelty of what in 1957 was one of Korea's worst slums, he assisted in diocesan work while learning the Korean language. Deeply sympathetic to the human tragedy around him, and angered by pious complacency, Fr. SCHWARTZ increasingly became convinced that Christianity must be expressed through a "church of the poor." Invalided to the United States in 1959 for complications arising from hepatitis, he pondered how to proceed, and in 1960 founded Korean Relief, Inc., to raise funds by mail in the U.S. to be used in service to the poor.
Returning to Pusan in 1962 he was appointed pastor of the depressed Song-do parish, where ministering to spiritual needs proved to be only part of his calling. Disturbed by the poor care given orphans, he enlisted and trained young women volunteers to become "mothers," each to 10-12 of the orphans under his care.
From such beginnings grew Pusan's Boystown and Girlstown, which now provide kindergarten through technical high school—and recently junior college, for some 1,400 of the most underprivileged. Boystown and Girlstown in Seoul followed, where over 2,600 are similarly educated and cared for. Fr. SCHWARTZ conducts mass on both campuses to build spirits, and encourages sports to build bodies, teamwork and self-confidence. His hospitals in Seoul and Pusan, and Tuberculosis Sanatarium in the latter, serve only the poor and are staffed by some of Korea's ablest medical personnel. Kaengsaengwon, another home, provides care for 1,500 destitute aged and disabled adults, and training for 200 poorly adjusted or retarded youngsters. Operating these institutions are the Sisters of Mary, founded by SCHWARTZ from the nucleus of "orphan mothers," and now numbering 150 Korean women. Assisting them are the 13 men of his new order, the Brothers of Christ, likewise dedicated to serving the poor. Visitors remark on the spontaneity, cleanliness and health of the young charges, the involvement of the sick and elderly, and the fine maintenance of all the facilities.
Fr. SCHWARTZ raises three-fourths of his annual budget—today approximating US$8 million—through a direct, personal, mail-appeal-for-Christian-giving to millions of Europeans and Americans each year. The Korean Government covers the rest of the costs, recognizing that Fr. SCHWARTZ provides for that sector of society which has not benefited from the nation's remarkable economic advances of the past two decades. Although gangsters and others have tried to thwart his interference with their exploitation of Korea's social outcasts, and have tested his perseverance, no one has shaken his determination that the poor not only must be fed and clothed, but also given the education and skills to enable them to participate fully in society.
In electing Fr. ALOYSIUS SCHWARTZ, priest of Pusan, to receive the 1983 Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, the Board of Trustees recognizes his mobilizing European and American support to succor acutely deprived Korean youngsters, homeless elderly and infirm.
Almighty, ever-living God, giver of all 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 the 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
For your glory and honor, 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.
Bestow on us, through his intercession the ...(mention the favor you ask for.)
We 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 ...
(With Ecclesiastical Approval)
For favors granted, kindly write to:
The Sisters of Mary School
Brgy. Biga II, Silang 4118 Cavite, Philippines
Tel. No. 046-865-3097 or 02-529-8321
Check out the photos below to feel the celebration. Truly, the works & memories of a great man will never be forgotten even after so many years that he is gone. We love you Fr. Al! c",)
More pictures here.
Check out Ate Shaye's FB album here for more...
May isang pag-ibig na wagas
Ito'y inihandog sa mahihirap
Taglay mong pagmamahal na nagbigay ng liwanag
Sa mga pusong salat sa ginhawa
Tanglaw ka, ilaw at gabay
Sa mga kabataang mahal mong tunay
Na nakamtan ang mapagkalinga mong mga kamay
Upang tahakin ang landas ng Maykapal
O Fr. Al, dakila kang ama
Ang pag-ibig mo ay wagas at magpakailanman
Maging buhay iyong inialay
Sa mga dukha at walang malay...O Fr. Al
Sa aming puso, laging naroroon
Ang iyong mga aral at patnubay
Katapatan sa Maykapal at pagmamahal sa Inang Banal
Kalinisan at pag-ibig na wagas
Kailanman, O aming ama
Ika'y mananatili sa aming puso
Pagmamahal at liwanag mo'y aming ikakalat
Salita't gawain mo'y aming gabay...(Koro 2x)
In loving memory of the 19th Death Anniversary of our Beloved Servant of God, Fr. Aloysius Schwartz (18 September 1930 - 16 March 1992)