In 1957, at twenty-seven years old, Washington D.C.
native Fr. Aloysius Schwartz asked to be sent to the saddest place in the world: South Korea in the wake of the
Korean War. Now just a few months into his priesthood, he
stepped off the train into a dystopian wasteland. Squatters with
blank stares picked through hills of garbage. Paper-fleshed
orphans lay on the streets like leftover war landmines. These devastating scenes crushed him.
Yet within fifteen years, he had changed the course of Korean
history, founding and reforming orphanages, hospitals, hospices, clinics, schools, and the Sisters of Mary, a Korean
religious order dedicated to the sickest of the sick and the
poorest of the poor. He himself—like the Sisters—lived all
the while in the same hard poverty as the people he served
Nonetheless, Father Al prayed to be unknown. The reason you don’t
know about him is that he didn’t want you to know. He was
a very humble priest and servant of the poor.
Kevin Wells tells the story of a different kind of American
hero, an ordinary priest who stared down corruption, slander, persecution, and death for the sake of God’s poor.
“What Father Al managed to do is beyond the pale”, said
his long-time collaborator Monsignor James Golasinski. “He
was the boldest man I ever knew. He feared nothing.”
Known for his joy and humor, even in the teeth of Lou
Gehrig’s Disease, Schwartz was declared a “Servant of
God” by Pope Francis in 2015, the first major step toward
canonization. By the time of his death in 1992, his work
with the order he started, Sisters of Mary, had spread into
the Philippines and Mexico, and since then, the order has
founded Boystowns and Girlstowns across Central and
South America, as well as in Tanzania. He died calling out
to his beloved “Mary, the Virgin of the Poor.” Includes 16 pages of photos.