A Martyrs Victory In A Spiritual Sense

A Martyr’s Victory in a Spiritual Sense
Bishop Francis X. Ford was a well educated, enormously gentle man, that
was kicked, beaten, insulted, and surrounded by hatred. All this because of one
mans beliefs. He was born in Brooklyn in 1892. He was the founder of the
Maryknoll Missionaries and was the first bishop of Kwantung, China. He was
killed in the late 1950’s in China, he was charged with anti-Communist,
counterrevolutionary, and espionage activities, his real “crime” was for being a
Christian and a foreigner.

During his life Bishop Ford illustrated the cardinal virtue of fortitude,
which is the ability to overcome fear in order to pursue good; “it is an active
sake to overcome evil for the sake of gods kingdom” said Huggard. When he took
office in China, the country was already feeling the effects of the massive
Japanese advance across Asia. In a short time millions lost there lives and
were driven from there homes. Bishop ford refused to leave the war-torn country,
even after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into
the war. During this time he distinguished himself by the way he cared for war
refugees. Chinese paid a terrible price during this war with Japan, but even
more costly was a civil war that followed. Bishop Ford exemplified the virtue
of fortitude, by not leaving the war-torn country and staying to try to pursue

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During this time of war, many would wonder what was the reason for him
to stay in China, and what was his why to live? In the Novel A Mans Search For
Meaning, Nietzsche says “he who has a why to live can bear with almost any
how”. If Ford had left the country during the time of war, there would have
probably been no hope for the war refugees that didn’t have the option to stay
or go. His why to live was not to save himself, but to save others. In the
Novel Frankl describes the human person as a meaning maker, who has the last
human freedom namely to choose one attitude in a given set of circumstances. In
1950, he moved from his Diocese in Kaying China, to a political prison in Canton
200, miles away. At every stop along the way he was put on public display and
humiliated. His attitude during these stops was not to give and let the
humiliation make get to him, but to use it as a stepping stone to fight harder,
he did the inevitable he used the humiliation to make him better.

In his life he examplified many of the things Frankl wrote about, but he
also depicted many of the quotes in the hallway of Kellenberg Memorial High
School. There is one quote that stood out to me more than any of the quotes on
the wall it is.

Don’t follow where the path may lead go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail”. When Bishop was young he developed his own idealism. While
a student in Cathedral college in New York he took an interest in the Christian
Foreign Mission Society, this society was new and had few members. At the age
of 20, he became the first seminarian of the Maryknoll Missionaries to go abroad.

In time, many followed and the missionaries began a movement to Christianize
foreign lands. Bishop Ford is consider the pioneer of this movement. Just like
the quote said, he led the path..and many followed. Bishop Ford died at the
mercy of those who despised him, with-out any comfort or support. His death was
martyrdom it’s truest sense, despite the isolation and horror he held to his

Works Cited
Funk ; Wagnalls. Microsoft Encarta: Bishop Ford. New York: Houghton Mifflin
Comp, 1994.

Welk, Donald. Asian Missionaries. Minnesota: Patch Publishing,