A Martyr’s Victory in a Spiritual SenseBishop Francis X. Ford was a well educated, enormously gentle man, thatwas kicked, beaten, insulted, and surrounded by hatred. All this because of onemans beliefs. He was born in Brooklyn in 1892. He was the founder of theMaryknoll Missionaries and was the first bishop of Kwantung, China. He waskilled in the late 1950’s in China, he was charged with anti-Communist,counterrevolutionary, and espionage activities, his real “crime” was for being aChristian and a foreigner.
During his life Bishop Ford illustrated the cardinal virtue of fortitude,which is the ability to overcome fear in order to pursue good; “it is an activesake to overcome evil for the sake of gods kingdom” said Huggard.
When he tookoffice in China, the country was already feeling the effects of the massiveJapanese advance across Asia. In a short time millions lost there lives andwere driven from there homes. Bishop ford refused to leave the war-torn country,even after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States intothe war.
During this time he distinguished himself by the way he cared for warrefugees. Chinese paid a terrible price during this war with Japan, but evenmore costly was a civil war that followed. Bishop Ford exemplified the virtueof fortitude, by not leaving the war-torn country and staying to try to pursuegood.
During this time of war, many would wonder what was the reason for himto stay in China, and what was his why to live? In the Novel A Mans Search ForMeaning, Nietzsche says “he who has a why to live can bear with almost anyhow”. If Ford had left the country during the time of war, there would haveprobably been no hope for the war refugees that didn’t have the option to stayor go. His why to live was not to save himself, but to save others. In theNovel Frankl describes the human person as a meaning maker, who has the lasthuman freedom namely to choose one attitude in a given set of circumstances. In1950, he moved from his Diocese in Kaying China, to a political prison in Canton200, miles away. At every stop along the way he was put on public display andhumiliated. His attitude during these stops was not to give and let thehumiliation make get to him, but to use it as a stepping stone to fight harder,he did the inevitable he used the humiliation to make him better.
In his life he examplified many of the things Frankl wrote about, but healso depicted many of the quotes in the hallway of Kellenberg Memorial HighSchool. There is one quote that stood out to me more than any of the quotes onthe wall it is.
COURAGEDon’t follow where the path may lead go instead where there is no pathand leave a trail”. When Bishop was young he developed his own idealism. Whilea student in Cathedral college in New York he took an interest in the ChristianForeign Mission Society, this society was new and had few members. At the ageof 20, he became the first seminarian of the Maryknoll Missionaries to go abroad.
In time, many followed and the missionaries began a movement to Christianizeforeign lands. Bishop Ford is consider the pioneer of this movement. Just likethe quote said, he led the path..and many followed. Bishop Ford died at themercy of those who despised him, with-out any comfort or support. His death wasmartyrdom it’s truest sense, despite the isolation and horror he held to hisbeliefs.
Works CitedFunk ; Wagnalls. Microsoft Encarta: Bishop Ford. New York: Houghton MifflinComp, 1994.
Welk, Donald. Asian Missionaries. Minnesota: Patch Publishing,1981.
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