Monsignor Schwartz, 61, Nobel nominee

March 18, 1992|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Staff Writer

Monsignor Aloysius Schwartz, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for his ministry to thousands of poor children around the world, died Monday at an orphanage he established in Manila. He was 61.

Philippine Cardinal Jaime Sin will celebrate a special Mass for Monsignor Schwartz next Wednesday at the orphanage in Silang, outside Manila, where the deceased will be buried.

A memorial Mass will be scheduled later at St. Bernard's Church in Riverdale, said William J. Vita, the priest's brother-in-law and executive director of Asian Relief Inc., of Hyattsville, the fund-raising arm of Monsignor Schwartz's missions.

A member of a Baltimore family, Monsignor Schwartz was diagnosed in October 1989 with Lou Gehrig's disease, a degenerative illness of the nervous system. Undeterred, he continued his work even as his short, slender and once-athletic body weakened. He delivered his final sermon last week, in a voice barely audible beyond the altar.

Monsignor Schwartz's legacy is the orphanages and hospitals he founded for more than 12,000 children in Korea, the Philippines and Mexico.

The children are cared for by the brothers of the Order of Christ and the nuns of the Sisters of Mary, religious orders he founded in Korea in the 1960s to work in his "Boystowns" and "Girlstowns."

Determined to expand his mission to the Western Hemisphere, Monsignor Schwartz battled his illness and last October oversaw dedication of his final orphanage, in Chalco, Mexico. It now cares for between 800 and 1,000 needy children from middle-school through high-school age.

In 1983, Monsignor Schwartz, who eschewed personal publicity, received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, called the Nobel Prize of the Pacific, for his foundation of orphanages in Pusan and Seoul, Korea. He was named a monsignor in 1990.

Rep. Robert K. Dornan, a California Republican, wrote the dying priest last month, calling him "a hero and a saint" for his lifelong commitment to the needy, and saying he had nominated Monsignor Schwartz for the Nobel Prize.

Monsignor Schwartz is survived by six brothers and sisters: Mary Flanagan of Princeton, N.J.; Louis Schwartz Jr. of Bethesda; Rose Herold of Atlanta; Dolores Vita of Lanham; Margaret Mercier of Vienna, Va.; and Joan Baur of Calverton, Maryland.

Mr. Vita said memorial contributions to further the work of Asian Relief Inc. may be sent to 4815 Edmonston Road, Hyattsville 20781.

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