One hundred years ago, Sept. 7, 1918, to be exact, the fledgling Catholic mission movement in the United States that would become known globally as Maryknoll, sent forth its first four missioners. The iconic photo of those four priests graces the cover of this issue of Maryknoll.
Travel overseas and mission life abroad were arduous undertakings then, and all four men would suffer greatly. Maryknoll co-founder Father Thomas F. Price died a year later from a burst appendix. Father Bernard F. Meyer was imprisoned by Japanese troops during World War II. Fathers Francis X. Ford and James E. Walsh were imprisoned by the communist government of China. Ford died in prison. Walsh was held for 12 years until his release in 1970.
Over the past century, the Catholic Church’s understanding of mission has charged. Then, missioners believed they were bringing God to pagans. Today, we understand that God, who is everywhere, is already present among the peoples of the world, and that we encounter Jesus in the face of those who suffer wherever they are. We accept that mission is not just for priests, or religious sisters and brothers, but is the commission of all of us by virtue of our baptism. And mission isn’t just overseas, but is also in our own backyards.
We mark this centennial with our cover story on page 12, and invite you to read “Called, Sent, Transformed” to see how mission and Maryknoll have evolved while remaining true to the spirit of the Gospel.
Lynn F. Monahan