VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz, a U.S.-born priest who ministered in South Korea, heroically lived the Christian virtues, according to a decree signed by Pope Francis; the decree is an initial Vatican step in the sainthood process for the priest, who founded the Sisters of Mary of Banneux and the Brothers of Christ.

Pope Francis signed the decree for Msgr. Schwartz’s cause and 10 other sainthood causes Jan. 22, the Vatican announced the next day.

Born in Washington, D.C., Sept. 18, 1930, he studied at the now closed St. Charles Minor Seminary in Catonsville, Maryland, before joining first the Maryknoll Missionaries and then a Belgian missionary society. In 1957, he was ordained to the priesthood and began his work in the Diocese of Busan, South Korea, dedicating himself to serving the poor. He died March 16, 1992, in Manila, Philippines.


Among the other decrees, the pope recognized the martyrdom of 21 religious men and women who died during the Spanish Civil War, the martyrdom of a South African layman and a miracle attributed to the intercession of Mother Maria Teresa Casini, the Italian founder of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The declarations of martyrdom and the recognition of a miracle clear the way for beatification ceremonies for the sainthood candidates.

The South African layman is Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa, known as the “apostle of life” in his home Diocese of Tzaneen. Daswa was born in 1946 into a family that practiced a traditional African religion, but became interested in Catholicism while in high school and was baptized. He and his wife had eight children, he was principal of a primary school, a catechist and leader of liturgies when priests were not available.

Most of the people in Nweli, his home village, believed in witches and in 1990, when lightning strikes caused several homes to burn down, a literal witch hunt began. Daswa refused to participate, saying his Catholic faith prevented taking part in anything having to do with witchcraft. Apparently angered that he was belittling their beliefs and practices, a mob attacked and killed him.