Contributions of local Maryknoll missionaries recognized
June 28, 2011
By Mike Virgintino
ARCHDIOCESE — Throughout 2011 the Maryknoll Society is celebrating its centennial as the overseas mission society of Catholic Church in the United States, along with recognizing the contributions of members from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who have dedicated their lives to missionary service.
With its theme of “The Gift of Mission — The Maryknoll Journey,” the society is commemorating its first 100 years in 26 foreign countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where its priests and brothers currently serve the local church. Maryknoll missionaries also work throughout the United States in fundraising, vocation awareness and mission animation activities.
Maryknoll was co-founded by Father James Anthony Walsh of Cambridge, Mass., and Father Thomas Frederick Price of Wilmington, N.C., as the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America. The society received the blessing of Pope Pius X on June 29, 1911 (the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul), and it assumed the name of Maryknoll from Father Price’s devotion to the Mother of Jesus and the small Ossining, N.Y, hilltop that became the society’s home north of New York City.
The Cincinnati archdiocese’s contributions to Maryknoll and the missionary witness of the U.S. church are reflected in the men from area parishes who have served as society members in mission lands from the early years through today. They have dedicated their adult lives to proclaiming the good news through Maryknoll.
Four members originally from the archdiocese — Fathers Charles H. Cappel, Robert F. Coyne, Paul A. O’Brien and Brother Frank J. Norris and Father Paul A. O’Brien — currently serve Maryknoll either in overseas mission or in mission education in the United States.
Father Cappel hails from Norwood, where he attended the former St. Matthew School and graduated from the former Purcell High School. He earned bachelor’s degrees in education and philosophy from St. Gregory’s Seminary and holds a master’s degree in biology from the University of St. Louis. He also earned a doctorate in physiology and a master’s degree in education. He served in Peru, teaching and performing pastoral work among the Aymara people. A Maryknoll priest for 67 years, he currently resides at Maryknoll’s New York Center.
Father Coyne became interested in a missionary career when he was in second grade and taught by the Sisters of Charity at St. Mary School in Cincinnati. A scientist and professor after graduating from Xavier University, he worked as a physicist for the U.S. Air Force and as a bio-physicist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He served as a lay missionary before joining Maryknoll in1976, and he has spent his mission life in Chile and Honduras, where he currently resides. Father Coyne has said his ambition always has been to live among the poor and to help them “in their struggle for a more humane life.”
Father O’Brien attended St. Francis de Sales and Guardian Angels schools. He graduated from St. Xavier High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Xavier University. He also holds two master’s degrees in theology and spirituality. A priest for 52 years, he has served in mission in Boliva, performing pastoral work and teaching English and religion. In La Paz, he helped found the Spiritual Life Center, Casa Nazareth, which offers retreats, spiritual guidance and marital counseling. He now resides at Maryknoll’s New York Center and conducts pastoral work at local parishes, hospitals and prisons.
Brother Frank J. Norris of Cincinnati attended the former St. Clare and St. Martin of Tours schools. After spending two years at Xavier University, he served in the U.S. Air Force. He entered Maryknoll in 1948 and received his first overseas assignment in 1961 to Tanzania in East Africa. He served in mission in Samoa from 1978 until 2001 and now resides at Maryknoll Center.
In addition to the current members of Maryknoll who hail from the Archdiocese of Cininnati, the society’s centennial celebration is also a time to remember deceased missioners from the area. They are: Father Elmer J. Meyer, Father William S. Nolan, Brother Carl Puls, Brother Bernard Puthoff, Brother Louis Reinhart, Father James J. Rottner, Father Leo J. Walter and Father Thomas R. Wellinghoff.
“During our centennial year and going forward, we will continue to burn the flame of mission,” said Maryknoll Father Edward M. Dougherty, superior general, as he opened the centennial year. “We are fanning the flame in the hearts of all society members who are keeping the flame alive throughout the world. We also ask all U.S. Catholics to support our work to help others.”
Events to celebrate the 100th anniversary are planned throughout the year. A centennial Mass and reception was held on June 29, the society’s foundation day, at Maryknoll Center. For more information, visit www.maryknollsociety.org.