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Galvin, Edward J.


Bishop, founder of the columban fathers; b. Crookstown, County Cork, Ireland, Nov. 23, 1882; d. Navan, Ireland, Feb. 23, 1956. One of nine children of John and Mary (Lorden) Galvin, he entered St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, and was ordained in 1909. He went to Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was a curate in Holy Rosary parish for three years. When he learned of vast missionary opportunities in China, he volunteered his services there. After landing in Shanghai (April 1912) he worked with the French Vincentians. When French priests were ordered home to be drafted into the army upon the out-break of World War I (1914), Galvin wrote to Ireland for volunteers. In 1915 two Irish priests joined him. In the following year he returned to Ireland seeking further recruits. The result was the foundation of St. Columban's Foreign Mission Society in 1916, with the approval of the Irish hierarchy and the blessing of Pope Benedict XV. The first house was opened at Delgan Park, Galway (January 1918). Recruits from the U.S. soon joined, and the first American house was started in Omaha, Nebr. (1918). When the Holy See assigned the Columban Fathers mission territory in Hanyang, Hupeh Province, China, 600 miles from the mouth of the Yangtze River, Galvin went there with two colleagues (1920). During 1920 they were joined by 15 more priests. Some Sisters of Loretto from the U.S. soon arrived to help. In Hanyang Galvin became prefect apostolic (1924), vicar apostolic (1927), and first head of the see when it became a diocese (1946). Hanyang was the scene of much misery because of the frequent air raids and the capture of the city by the Japanese in 1938. By 1949 Communists gained control of the area, and the bishop was left with six priests to care for the 50,000 Catholics of the diocese. After a house arrest lasting three years and frequent interrogations, Bishop Galvin was tried and was expelled from China (Sept. 15, 1952). He spent the following year visiting Columban houses in the U.S., and then he returned to Ireland, where he died of leukemia.

Bibliography: r. t. reilly, Christ's Exile: Life of Bishop Edward J. Galvin (Dublin 1958). p. crosbie, March Till They Die (Westminster, Md. 1956). e. fischer, Journeys Not Regretted: The Columban Fathers' Sixty-Five Years in the Far East (New York 1986). j. mccaslin, The Spirituality of Our Founders: A Study of the Early Columban Fathers (1986).

[e. mcdermott]

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