Father James Walsh, M.M.
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Cause for Beatification and Canonization for Maryknoll’s Bishop James A. Walsh

Bishop James A. Walsh The year commemorating the centennial of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers has again been blessed. The Maryknoll Society is rejoicing for the cause for beatification and canonization of Maryknoll Society co-founder Bishop James A. Walsh.

On Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at the Archdiocese of New York in New York City, the cause for beatification and canonization of Bishop Walsh was formally opened by the diocesan tribunal led by Monsignor Douglas Mathers. Receiving official approval from the Vatican to begin, the procedure now is formally in place to pursue the cause for beatification of Bishop Walsh in the Archdiocese of New York.

Attendees at the ceremony included Father Edward M. Dougherty, superior general of the Maryknoll Society who has served the mission of the Church in Africa. All official witnesses took their oaths on the Bible to discharge their respective obligations with integrity and honesty.

The next steps in the process include:

•   Obtaining formal witness testimony.

Since few people today actually met Bishop Walsh, who died during 1936, his cause is considered, technically, an “historical” cause. Most evidence will be textual. Witnesses to be called will be faithful Catholics willing to testify as to their belief in Bishop Walsh’s reputation for sanctity and heroic virtue.

A second class of witnesses will be divided into groups of historians and theologians. Historians are charged with gathering and guaranteeing the authenticity of any documentation on the life, works and faith of Bishop Walsh that includes all published and unpublished writings. They will submit reports about his writings along with a biographical sketch. The theologians will examine the papers and then issue reports verifying the integrity of the candidate and absence of any defect of faith and morals.

•   Documentation delivered to Rome.

Once the cause is complete at the diocesan level, all documentation will be delivered to Rome for the second phase of the process. Reports and documentation again will be examined. Further documentation, including any possible testimony of miraculous intervention, will be gathered.

•   Prayers and inquiries of others.

During the process, anyone interested in the cause of Bishop Walsh is welcome to inquire about him at Maryknoll, offer pertinent faith experience and offer prayers of support of the cause, and, especially, of the mission of the Church to which Bishop Walsh dedicated his life.

Monsignor Douglas Mathers, second from left, vice chancellor of the archdiocese and episcopal delegate for the cause, joins Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Sullivan, the archdiocese’s vicar general, right; Father Edward M. Dougherty, M.M, superior general of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, second from right; and Father Michael P. Walsh, M.M., member of the historical commission, left, at the swearing-in ceremony for the opening of the sainthood cause of Maryknoll co-founder Bishop James A. Walsh at the Catholic Center in Manhattan on November 9.

Monsignor Douglas Mathers, second from left, vice chancellor of the archdiocese and episcopal delegate for the cause, joins Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Sullivan, the archdiocese’s vicar general, right; Father Edward M. Dougherty, M.M, superior general of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, second from right; and Father Michael P. Walsh, M.M., member of the historical commission, left, at the swearing-in ceremony for the opening of the sainthood cause of Maryknoll co-founder Bishop James A. Walsh at the Catholic Center in Manhattan on November 9. Photo courtesy of Catholic New York.

Beatification and Canonization Witnesses

•   Postulator:  Dr. Andrea Ambrosi
•   Episcopal Delegate: Reverend Msgr. Douglas J. Mathers
•   Promoter of Justice: Reverend Richard Welch C.Ss.R.
•   Actual Notary: Maryknoll employee Marie Ray
•   Adjunct Notary: Maryknoll employee Maureen Foster
•   Copyist: Maryknoll employee Holly E. Brown
•   Members of the Historical Commission (3): Reverend Michael P. Walsh, M.M. (who has served the mission of the Church in South China), Alan B. Delozier and Paul F. Gibbons
•   Members of the Theological Commission (2): Patrick Hayes and Reverend Mark Francis O’Malley

About Bishop James A. Walsh

James Walsh was born to middle-class parents (James Walsh and Hanna Shea) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on February 24, 1867. After attending public elementary school, he graduated from Boston College High School with skills in debating and journalism. He attended Boston College but later transferred to Harvard College to study bookkeeping. Studies were completed at St. John’s Seminary in nearby Brighton.

At the seminary, Father Walsh was inspired by a rector, a Sulpician (a society of secular priests founded during 15th century France) whose classmate in Paris, Theophane Venard, had died as a famous martyr in Indochina. A decade after his 1892 ordination at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Father Walsh retraced Venard’s steps in France along with those of other French martyrs, and he became convinced that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.

Father Walsh served as curate at St. Patrick’s Church in Roxbury until he was appointed diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith during 1903. Among his responsibilities was to raise money to support overseas mission, and during this time, he began to develop his vision, a modernized version of mission, for a mature U.S. Church that was eager to fulfill exciting and joyful missionary responsibilities around the world.

Along with the Catholic Foreign Mission Bureau, Father Walsh founded The Field Afar magazine, a monthly publication about the foreign missions of the Catholic Church. Years later, this magazine would become the Maryknoll magazine that continues to be published today (along with its bilingual counterpart Revista Maryknoll) by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

During 1910, at the 21st Eucharistic Conference in Montreal, Father Walsh shared his vision of U.S. Catholic mission with Father Thomas Frederick Price of North Carolina. Realizing they shared a common call to mission, the urbane Father Walsh and the more rural Father Price collaborated on plans for a mission society within the U.S. Catholic Church. Soon after, the bishops of the United States formally sanctioned the pursuit of their vision to recruit, send and support U.S. missioners around the world.

With this approval, Father Walsh and Father Price traveled to Rome to present their vision of mission. They received the blessing of Pope Pius X on June 29, 1911 (the feast of Saints Peter and Paul), which is the founding day of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America that, over the years, has become more well-known as Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Father Walsh was a model priest and a natural leader. He was the first Superior General of the Society, the treasurer, the editor of its publication, rector of the seminary, spiritual director of the Maryknoll Sisters that was formed during 1912, along with master organizer, fundraiser, publicist and overseer of plans and building for the Society. It is difficult to find any aspect of the foundation of Maryknoll that did not benefit from the direction and oversight of Father Walsh.

Father Walsh’s contributions to the Catholic Church in the U.S. and to the growth of mission were celebrated when he was ordained as bishop on June 29, 1933 by Pope Pius XI in Rome. Only a few years later, on April 14, 1936, Bishop Walsh passed away.

Causes for Father Price and Father Capodonno

The cause for beatification and canonization of Bishop Walsh is the third for the Maryknoll Society.

Causes have been established for Maryknoll co-founder Father Thomas F. Price (pending) and for Maryknoll Father Vincent R. Capodanno.

Thomas Price was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, the eighth child of Alfred and Clarissa Bond Price, on August 19, 1860. Having converted to the Catholic faith, his parents raised their children to be devout Catholics in the midst of Southern apathy toward the religion.

During his formative years, Thomas Price was deeply influenced by priests from his Wilmington parish of St. Thomas. With a religious upbringing that included profound understanding of the deep devotion his mother held for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the young Price soon became attracted to the priesthood. Father Price became the first Catholic priest born in North Carolina.

Vincent R. Capodanno was born on February 13, 1929 in Staten Island, New York. During the 1960s, he asked to be reassigned from his Maryknoll mission in Formosa to serve as a U.S. Navy chaplain. He served with a unit of the U.S. Marines in Vietnam and, though mortally wounded during an ambush on September 4, 1967, he continued to administer to others who were injured.

Father Capodanno is the only chaplain to receive the Medal of Honor for service with the Marine Corps. During 2011 in Triangle, Virginia, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation dedicated the “Sacrifice Window” to Father Capodanno in the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Watch a video about Bishop Walsh click here.

Watch this same video on Youtube by clicking here.

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