Father Francis Ford, one of the first four Maryknoll missionaries in China, traveled there, eager to share his faith but also cognizant of the challenges ahead. His first prayer on arriving in China was, “Lord, make us the doorstep by which the multitudes may come to worship Thee.”
Ordained a bishop in 1935, he worked for years starting schools and churches, helping people in need and training the native clergy. George Weigel, telling Bishop Ford’s story for the Ethics and Public Policy Center, notes that the bishop was arrested by communist authorities and died a martyr in a Chinese prison in 1952. Time magazine described the bishop’s final days based on statements by his secretary, Sister Joan Marie Ryan, M.M. Though he was never tried for any crime, Ford was “publicly paraded, beaten, and degraded in some of the cities in which he had done mission work since 1918.”
Bishop Ford died a witness to his faith—and a shining example of courage to future generations.
Keep alert, stand firm in your faith…be strong.
(1 Corinthians 15:13)
Give us the courage to hold fast to our convictions, Lord.