Msgr. John Edward Morris, M.M.(1889~1987)
John was born in Fall River, Massachusetts on January 1, 1889, son of Edward and Johanna Morris. He attended public schools in Fall River and was graduated from St. Dunstan’s College, Prince Edward Island, in 1909. After five years at St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, he was ordained a priest on June 13, 1914, for the Diocese of Fall River. Father Morris served as an assistant pastor at St. Joseph’s Church, Fall River, for nearly seven years until he entered Maryknoll on January 25, 1921.
Early Work in Missions
He was appointed the first Prefect Apostolic of Pyongyang, Korea, on April 1, 1930 and actively performed his parish ministry at Young-Yu and its 31 mission stations. Among his notable works, he became aware of a group of young single women who had dedicated themselves under the patronage of the Korean martyrs with the hope of becoming religious sisters. In collaboration with four Maryknoll Sisters, Sr. Mary Genevieve Beez, MM(1896-1945), Sister Mary Sylvester Collins, MM(1896-1942), Sister Frances Teresa Hesse, MM(1897-1977), and Sr. Agneta Chang(1906-1950), MM , he founded the Korean Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in 1932, a religious congregation which has grown and successfully served the Korean Church since then.
Growth under His Leadership
He also launched the monthly magazine called Catholic Research and organized Catholic Action to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Korean Catholic Church in 1934. He was very interested in training young men for the priesthood and missionaries who would be partners in working with the Catholic laity in the evangelization of Korea. However, Monsignor Morris was forced to resign as Prefect Apostolic in 1936, due to intense controversy over “religious rites and obeisances” which affected Catholics in Korea and Japan. He then left Korea. He who had worked so diligently as a pastor with the spirit of the Korean martyrs now left his second homeland and did not return again at the age of 70, when he attended the 16th profession of vows of the community he had founded.
During his 73 years in the priesthood, Father Morris was truly one of the builders of Maryknoll’s reputation for dedication to the Church in overseas missions and at home in the U.S. To the present date, the Sisters of Our Lady of Help revere him as the beloved founder.
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