Wednesday, April 30, 2003

today's servant of God: Bishop Walsh of Maryknoll

One of the great culture heroes of my Catholic childhood was Bishop James E. Walsh. Having helped to found the Maryknoll Missioners, he became a bishop in China, where he served faithfully for many years. He refused to evacuate when the Communist takeover happened, holding that the place of a priest and a bishop was with his people. He was arrested, and spent over a decade in prison in China, spending his time praying and working to improve his abilities in the Chinese language. In 1970, when I was a junior high schooler, he was released from prison and expelled from China, at the age of 79.

One of the sayings attributed to him in my childhood referred to the ability to say the Rosary in prison even though he was often not permitted any religious items. He said thr Rosary was particularly suited to our prayer because us humans have two rosaries attached to our bodies: our ten fingers and our ten toes.

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