Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz

Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz

By Kevin Wells
Product Code: 9781621645061

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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 and loved.

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.
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