Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass Commemorating Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Monsignor Schwartz, a native Washingtonian, is the first to receive the “Venerable” distinction, which is a step in the process for sainthood in the Catholic Church.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated a special Mass on Saturday at St. Andrew the Apostle parish in Silver Spring, commemorating Venerable Aloysius Schwartz, a native Washingtonian who is on the path to sainthood in the Catholic Church.

“The connection between the Gospel call to proclaim God’s mercy, our obligation to be witnesses to that mercy, and the extraordinary life of Monsignor Schwartz all come together when we recognize that to truly be witnesses to Jesus Christ we must bear testimony to his mercy and that has to take the form, not just of words but also of our deeds, our actions,” said Cardinal Wuerl as he began his homily. The Mass commemorating Monsignor Schwartz was the celebration of one such manifestation of God’s love, mercy, and presence in his disciples, the cardinal said.

In 2015, Pope Francis signed a decree that Monsignor Aloysius Schwartz had lived a life of “heroic virtue” and declared him as “Venerable,” making him the first Washingtonian to receive this distinction, which is a major step in the Catholic Church’s process for sainthood. The cardinal spoke of Monsignor Schwartz’s significance to the Archdiocese of Washington. Born in 1930, Monsignor Schwartz attended Holy Name Church in Washington, where he was baptized, received his First Holy Communion, was confirmed, and graduated from Holy Name School. From the time he was a boy, he dreamed of being a missionary priest and serving the poor. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1957 at St. Martin of Tours Church in Washington and became a missionary priest and dedicated his life to serving the poor.

Monsignor Schwartz founded an order of religious sisters, the Sisters of Mary, who served alongside him in South Korea and the Philippines, educating, housing and providing job training to thousands of orphans and children living in poverty. Today, there are now more than 300 sisters carrying on his mission in Korea, the Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil and Honduras. He also founded the Brothers of Christ, who serve the poor and people with disabilities in South Korea. Monsignor Schwartz’s ministry had even expanded to numerous South American countries.

Monsignor Schwartz was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1989 and continued his ministry, even supervising the planning of a school for girls in Mexico while paralyzed and in a wheelchair. He died in 1992 at the age of 61 and his cause for canonization is being promoted by the Archdiocese of Manila in the Philippines because that is where he served for the majority of his ministry, as well as where he died and is buried. Fr. Samson Silloriquez, OAR, Postulator for the Cause of Canonization was a concelebrant for the Mass.

“Venerable Aloysius’ legacy lives on today in Boystown and Girlstown programs that the Sisters of Mary operate in South Korea, the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras, where they are educating more than 20,000 poor children,” Cardinal Wuerl continued. “The sisters’ motto remains, ‘Let us serve the Lord with joy,’ and that joy permeates their work.” He recognized the Sisters of Mary, several who were in attendance, as well as the students from Girlstown in Chalco, Mexico were the choir, and graduates from the many institutions that trace their origins back to Monsignor Schwartz.

Just as Venerable Aloysius Schwartz, we can be missionary disciples of Jesus in today’s world, sharing his Good News by what we say and do, said Cardinal Wuerl as he concluded his homily. “Our prayer today is one of thanksgiving. We thank God for the Eucharist. We thank God for those among us who show us how we should live that great Eucharistic gift. We thank God for our hometown Servant of God, Monsignor Aloysius Schwartz.”