Byrne, Patrick James

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Maryknoll missioner, first apostolic delegate to Korea; b. Washington, D.C., Oct. 26, 1888; d. Ha Chang Ri, Korea, Nov. 25, 1950. He was the seventh of ten children of Patrick and Anna (Seales) Byrne, and was born on the site of the present Supreme Court Building, which he referred to with typical drollery as his "family homestead." He attended St. Charles College, Catonsville, Md., and St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, and was ordained on June 23, 1915, for the Baltimore Archdiocese. A week later, however, he entered the Catholic Foreign Mission Society (see maryknoll fathers and broth ers), the first priest to do so. After various administrative assignments, he founded a Maryknoll mission in northern Korea in 1923. Four years later he became the prefect apostolic of Pyongyang, with headquarters at Pengyang. He relinquished this post in 1929 when he was elected vicargeneral of the society.

In 1935 he opened Maryknoll's first Japanese mission, which was soon designated the prefecture apostolic of Kyoto. He resigned from this in 1940 in favor of Rev. Paul Furuya Yoshiyuki, later first bishop of Kyoto. Byrne remained in Japan during World War II, though his mission activity was curtailed. His postwar apostolate in Japan came to an end in 1947, when he was appointed apostolic visitor, and later first apostolic delegate to Korea.

He was consecrated in Seoul as titular bishop of Gazera on June 14, 1949. With the invasion of South Korea by Communists a year later, Byrne stayed at his post, was arrested on July 16, 1950, and taken to Pengyang, the communist capital, where he was held prisoner until October 21. On that day he began a "death march," with 700 other prisoners, to the Manchurian border, 100 miles north. On the way he died of exhaustion and pneumonia in the village of Ha Chang Ri and was buried in the land of his first mission.

Bibliography: r. a. lane, The Early Days of Maryknoll (New York 1951); Ambassador in Chains (New York 1955). g. d. kittler, The Maryknoll Fathers (New York 1961).

[w. j. coleman]

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Byrne, Patrick James

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