EWTN Catholic Q&A
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Question from Greg Hessel on 02-24-2004:

See below for a priest who "died with his boots on":

Father Aedan McGrath

Fr McGrath was born in the year 1906 in Drumcondra, Ireland. He joined the Society of St Columban and was ordained a priest in 1929. He began missionary work in 1930. During the Sino-Japanese war he helped to save hundreds of Chinese women from brutal treatment at the hands of Japanese soldiers. During his missionary work, Fr McGrath asked for the help of another priest but was sent a Legion of Mary handbook instead. He started implementing the Legion with marvelous results starting over 2,000 praesidia in 2 short years. As a result of his missionary work, he was imprisoned for 3 years and was expelled from China in 1954. Chairman Mao at that time considered the Legion "Public Enemy #1". Fr McGrath returned to Ireland and began missionary work in Canada and England establishing the Legion of Mary wherever he could. In the late 60's/early 70's Father McGrath travelled throughout Southeastern Asia spreading the Legion and devotion to Our Lady. In 1979, at the age of 73, he was asked by his Superiors and Frank Duff to begin missionary work in the Phillipines with a home base in Manila. He trained countless laity to become missionaries and would travel anywhere someone would have him preach. In 1997 he was reunited briefly with Cardinal Kung in Stamford Conneticut before returning to the Phillipines to continue his missionary work. In December 2000, he returned briefly to Ireland to celebrate Christmas with his order and his family. After celebrating 3 Masses on Christmas he was taken ill while visiting his family and died on December 25, 2000 at the age of 94 after 71 years as a missionary. Father McGrath is thought of as a saint among Legion of Mary members and is considered by the Cardinal Kung foundation to be one of the pillars of the underground Catholic Church in China.

May Holy Mother Church one day canonize Father McGrath.

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 02-26-2004:

Dear Greg, Indeed I knew Fr. McGrath, not personally, but by his universal work and apostolate. What a man! What a priest! Yes, he should be canonized to give a worthy example of what a priest should be. God bless you. Fr. Bob Levis

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