From Navan to China: the Story of a 'Chinese Irishman'
Fr Aedan McGrath

From Navan to China: the Story of a 'Chinese Irishman' by Fr Aedan McGrath

From Navan to China: the Story of a 'Chinese Irishman'
by
Fr Aedan McGrath

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About the Author

Fr Aedan McGrath was born in Dublin in 1906. He was ordained into the Catholic priesthood in 1929 and was subsequently sent to China, to engage in missionary work on behalf of the Legion of Mary. He died in 2000.

This book is the story of Fr Aedan McGrath, whose ordination into the Catholic priesthood in 1929, was the first step in an adventure that would take him half way around the world and back again.

Through his involvement in The Legion of Mary, he was sent to China shortly after ordination to engage in missionary work. This would be his life for the next twenty years. He learned about the Chinese people, their proud culture and history, first hand. He also shared in their trials tribulations against the backdrop of civil war, Japanese invasion and World War.

Christianity was first introduced to China by the Nestorians in 635 AD. They were followed by the Franciscans. In 1368 as the Ming Dynasty set out to abolish Christianity but in 1582 the Jesuits managed to re-introduce it. Later centuries built on the efforts of the Jesuits. By the 20th century, numerous orders of priests and nuns were running schools, hospitals and orphanages throughout the country. It was in this context that many Columbans set off for China and Aedan McGrath was one such priest.

With the establishment of the People's Republic of China, in 1949, the Legion of Mary would ultimately become a proscribed organisation. Fr McGrath suffered because of his association and his activities on their behalf. He endured a period of imprisonment. Upon his release and return to Ireland, he was greeted upon arrival by President Sean T. O'Kelly, Taoiseach Eamon De Valera, John A. Costello among other dignataries.

He spent the remaining 50 years of his life promoting the work of the Legion of Mary.


From Navan to China: the Story of a 'Chinese Irishman' by Fr Aedan McGrath. Compiled and edited by Fr Eamonn McCarthy and Michael Walsh.
Non-fiction, biography/autobiography, historical. 325 pages with black and white photo illustrations.
First published in Ireland in 2008.
ISBN: 0-9547831-1-5

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Reviews, etc

Fascinating read and obviously very well researched. Lots of historical references interspersed with personal accounts of successes and failures -no ordinary man thats for sure. A great insight into the life of a missionary in China in the early 20th Century - Cormac

Sensatational reading - Fr McGrath was such a remarkable man and this book really brings justice to him. What a journey. Thumbs up. - Amy

Fr McGrath worked as a missionary with the Legion of Mary in China through almost three decades from the 1930s until he was expelled by the communist regime in 1954.After his ordination, he volunteered to join the Columban mission and travelled the then arduous journey with several other Irish priests and nuns and was put in charge of a remote outpost at Hangyang in Hupey province. The district had no Catholic Church and Fr McGrath walked, cycled and rode on horseback to outlying mission stations, sometimes sleeping on the way in straw huts. The mission strove to bring Catholicism to a China that was torn by civil war and the World War 2 invasion by the Japanese. In 1947, Fr McGrath was assigned to spread the Legion of Mary throughout the whole of China and, with the support of the local archbishop and many priests and religious, its influence spread rapidly. But the real difficulties for him, the Legion and the Columban mission generally arose after the victory of the Communist-led forces in 1949 and the Legion of Mary became a proscribed organisation. The authorities set up a government-controlled so-called Patriotic Church and Fr McGrath led a campaign to inform Catholics about its nature. This led to a counter-campaign led by state-controlled newspapers and Legion of Mary members were forced to register with the police. Two years later, Fr McGrath was arrested by the authorities and served almost three years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, before his eventual expulsion and return to Ireland. Upon his return, he was greeted at a reception in the National Stadium by Sean T. O'Kelly, then President of Ireland and other noted public dignitaries. - from ciNews, the webportal for Christians
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