An American priest who loved Filipinos-A A +A
By Mimi Olorga
Points of View
Saturday, May 24, 2014
THE two-storey Monsignor Al Schwartz Memorial Center (MASMC) was built from the collective contributions of the alumni, beneficiaries and friends of the wonderful works of Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz from Korea, Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala and Brazil.
Inaugurated on June 29, 2013 the structure houses memorabilia of Msgr. Al.
Who is Msgr. Al? He is recognized as one of the adopted sons of Manila, and a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for International Understanding.
More importantly, he is known more as a servant of God.
Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz was born in Washington D. C. He finished his theological training in a missionary seminary in Louvain, Belgium.
Being away from home, the Fr. Al used his vacation to help in the rag pickers camps for the neglected of the French society. There, his love for the abandoned and the poor was strengthened.
After being ordained as a priest by Bishop McNamara in 1957, Fr. Al, as he was fondly called, was assigned to work in Korea. There, he encountered poverty and suffering caused by the Korean war.
In 1964, Msgr. Al established the Sisters of Mary to care for many children without families. For more than 30 years, Fr. Al worked unsparingly, driven by his faith in God to bring physical and spiritual nourishment for God’s people by building an orphanage, a full-service hospital and a Boystown Program for 300 vagrant boys.
In 1985, Msgr. Al opened a Boystown and Girlstown in the Philippines. But in 1989, Msgr. Al was diagnosed to have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Despite being immobile and even on wheelchair, Msgr.Al continued to spend hours before the Blessed Sacrament, praying the rosary, hearing confessions and preaching charity, humility, truth and justice.
On March 16, 1992, Msgr. Al died. His remains were laid to rest in the Virgin of the Poor Chapel, just next to the MASMC in Silang, Cavite.
So what’s in the MASMC? The ground floor contains exhibits of the works of the Brothers of Christ and the Sisters of Mary, the two congregations which Msgr. Al founded.
An interactive panel helps the visitor to know the activities of the congregations in different countries. There is also an area for changing exhibits. During my visit, the entries of the photo contests done by various nationalities all over the world were shown to the public.
There’s also “songdo (a place in Korea where Msgr. Al started his mission)” for seminars and lectures. The second floor contains the Msgr. Al’s materials for writings and preaching.
Also presented is a re-creation of his room where his wheelchair, camera, radio, notebooks and other personal things. Guests can also listen to the different reflections and teachings, either in Tagalog or English, of Msgr. Al.
An office and a research center of the Fr. Al’s Commission which promotes his beatification and canonization is also on the second floor.
At the MASMC, not only did I see the collections as proofs of a good man’s heart but a clear manifestation that indeed Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz had loved, shared, and served the poor.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 24, 2014.