Monday, January 9, 2017

"Oh, My Papa" Venerable Aloyius Schwartz

'Oh, My Papa' is a Korean documentary film on the life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz who began his work as a missionary priest in Pusan Korea in 1958. His Korean name was So Jae-gun. An article in the Kyeongyang Magazine by a movie critic and teacher gives us an understanding of the priest's work under the headings of mission, love, courage, practice, and hope.

The film was made from old photographs, materials uncovered from the past, memories of those who knew the priest and the places where he worked. There is no exaggeration, embellishment, monetary desire or dramatization, only the use of the microphone and camera to show us the life of the priest.

He was ordained in 1957.  He had a strong devotion to our Blessed Mother and while in Belgium for his studies often went to the shrine of Our Lady of Banneux also known as the Virgin of the Poor. He took the teaching of Mary to work for the poor as his mission in life. The destruction of the  Korean War left many widows, beggars, street children and great poverty.

His sister is quoted as saying that while in the States giving talks to raise money for his work he met some specialists in fundraising which made his raising of funds in the States successful.

His love for the poor and his work for the missions enabled him to build schools for the poor but he realized that the children needed a mother's love and founded the Sisters of Mary in1964. The homes for children have spread to 6 countries and in 10 different locations with over 20 thousand children. He was the recipient of the Magsaysay Award for International Understanding in 1983.

His life was lived in voluntary poverty. His house his clothes his manner of life was one of detachment and his community of sisters appreciated the sign that his life was for the community.

He wanted his children to someday live a life of hope and be able to join society as mature healthy citizens. Hope was given to many and many aspired to work for the good of society. Life is given to us to hope. Without hope, a person is already dead. Many did not see the children but that is why many sing with great joy: Oh, My Papa.

He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease which slowed him down but he continued working. He did wonder if he was working to accomplish his own will instead of God's. He began the work but he left it up to God to continue. It was his unfinished symphony: all was left to God.

For Fr. Aloysius the Gospel was the message of love. We are to put this love into practice. We don't want to package it up but to spread it to others, for this is the way we become one. God is full of blessings and the message that Venerable Schwartz left us.