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The American priest who asked to be sent to the worst place in the world


These World Villages for Children run by the Sisters of Charity can be found in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, The Philippines and Tanzania. 

It all started in 1957, when a 27-year-old priest from Washington, D.C. asked to be sent to the worst place in the world. At the time, it was Korea, where the Korean War had left countless children alone on the streets.

KEVIN WELLS
Author, “Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz”
“He started to build orphanages, Boystowns, Girlstowns. He was building and running hospitals, seven-story-high hospitals, tuberculariums, leprosariums, hospices. He was building elementary schools in the slums. He was changing the landscape of Korea and actually leading people who had been devastated by life to the Catholic faith. And then he did the same thing in the Philippines.”

But he didn't stop there. Not even amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, an incurable disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and causes loss of muscle control, could keep him from serving some of the world's most marginalized communities.

Toward the end of his life, he made his way to Mexico, where the Sisters of Mary, the order of nuns he founded, continue to carry out his mission today.

KEVIN WELLS
Author, “Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz”
“These sisters are fearless, just like Fr. Al, their founder, and they take these girls and boys, and they say, 'Come with us. Come with us to these Boystowns and Girlstowns.' So after five years of catechesis, education, food, everything, giving them all that a mother gives a struggling child, a suffering child, they leave as 18-year-olds and they become engineers, architects, priests, nuns.”

Inspired by the tireless work of this priest who prayed not to be known, Kevin Wells took it upon himself to write Fr. Al's biography. In “Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz,” he tells the story of the man who could become Washington, D.C.'s first saint.

KEVIN WELLS
Author, “Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz”
“In 2015, Pope Francis declared him Venerable, of heroic virtue, so right now really what he needs is a miracle or two, hopefully this biography spurs readers, especially those who are suffering from muscular diseases, ALS, those diseases that can't be cured. There's no patron saint of Lou Gehrig's disease. It should be Fr. Al.”

Fr. Al didn't let anything stop him from serving the poorest of the poor. With his selflessness, he blazed a trail of charity that is still followed by many today.

CT

https://www.worldvillages.org/ 

World Villages for Children / MG