Sean Hogan

The Platinum Blonde

Edited by Sean Hogan

Father Aedan McGrath, died on December 25th 2000, aged 94, had been a Columban priest for 71 years and was imprisoned by the Chinese for nearly three years in 1951. In his later life he did wonderful work in the Philippines going around all the islands even in his nineties and strengthening the Legion of Mary which was his first love. He also organized many lay missionaries called Incolae who went from the Philippines to Oceania. Up to his mid-nineties he was still playing a good game of golf. (Ed)

He joined the Columban Fathers and was ordained in 1929. Six months later he was sent to Hanyang in China. “I was there just in time for the flood. The Yangtze and the Han Rivers met and overflowed. Millions of people drowned. For six months, there was 16 feet of water in the house where I was staying. We had to live upstairs.”

A straw hut and 24 missions

Following a couple of years around Hanyang, he was sent to T’sein Kiang, where he lived with the Buddhist family. “There were three generations: a grandfather, three sons and twenty grandchildren. They had pickle factory. Life was simple.”

He had 24 missions spread out over a wide area. “I spent three days in each mission, staying in a straw hut. I brought my own blanket. There were no roads or buses. I walked.”