Katie Donovan

A Missionary Of The Old School

By Katie Donovan

Father Aedan McGrath runs the Incola missionary program in Manila. Here he talks to Katie Donovan about his life of adventure: among other things he protected 1,500 women from rape and slaughter by Japanese soldiers in 1939, and spent three years in solitary confinement in a Chinese jail.


“Mao gave us a big compliment, he said the Church was public enemy number one.” Father Aedan McGrath, originally a Dubliner from Drumcondra, recalls being put in prison because of his missionary work as a Columban Father in China: “I was arrested on the 7th of September 1951. I was put in a tiny cell, like a dog box. It was solidarity confinement for three years. There was no table, chair or bed. I could lie on the floor. It wasn’t like Mountjoy, nor one of these prisons that like first-class hotels. I was never allowed to close my eyes, talk or sneeze. All around me people were going mad. They did not have their faith.”