Confessor to the Chinese, a Maryknoll Pioneer
born in Cumberland Maryland
The Holiness Factor:
Spent 12 years in a Chinese prison and accepted his fate with serenity. He was released and returned to the U.S. in 1970 at the age of 79. He is revered by Maryknollers for being a heroic and holy confessor.
“… suffering patiently borne is activity, so is prayer, so is any kind of mental work – things which can be done, one would think, in prison as well as anywhere … A priest and a father does as much for his flock by suffering for them – and maybe he does more.”
Why we like him:
He spent his 12 years in prison praying the Rosary and studying the Chinese dictionary convinced that by this quiet witness, he was serving the gospel faithfully.
Born in Cumberland Maryland, he became one of the original pioneers of Maryknoll, the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America. Fr. Walsh was one of the first to go to China. He was back in the states for a while, and then returned to China about the time of the Communist Revolution in Shanghai. He was arrested for conspiracy and espionage. Two of his 12 years in prison were spent in solitary confinement.
He believed that the vocation of the priest was not simply teaching, preaching, and performing pastoral duties. The vocation, he said, remained the same, even when these activities were stripped away.
“If we start to pick and choose for ourselves, it is very hard to tell if we are carrying out our vocation or running away from it.”