Parent Category: Maryknoll News
Category: Society Centennial
Created on 27 January 2011
Last Updated on 12 July 2012
Published on 27 January 2011
Hide-and-seek is a child’s game. When played in church, the fun would get most kids in trouble with the pastor. That did not happen to 11-year-old Joseph Horne. Instead, he sensed that God wanted him nearby. Eventually, he became a Maryknoll Brother.
One hot afternoon during 1938, the then 11-year-old Horne and his friends had taken their game inside to enjoy the cool refuge in the cavernous parish church of Immaculate Conception at Price and Ardleigh Streets in the in the Philadelphia neighborhood of East Germantown. Horne, who today is known as Brother Harold and serves the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Taipei, Taiwan, ran alongside the altar to find a place to hide.
“And there’s a large crucifix by the side of the main altar, and what attracted my attention,” said Brother Harold, “was a little plaque. It was like a picture frame and it had words in it, and so I bent over the railing to read what the words said and it was the Prayer before a Crucifix.”
While he didn’t understand the meaning of all the words, Brother Horne just wanted to remain where he was at that moment.
“Then I heard my brother and my friends calling me. ‘Come on, the pastor’s coming. We have to get out of here,’” he said. “And I said to myself, ‘I wish they would all leave. I just want to stay here.’”
With a bit more prodding from his friends, he fled the church. But, he didn’t stay away for long.
“That stayed with me for quite some time and once in a while I would go back to the church and it wasn’t a feeling; it was just an experience of wanting to stay,” he said.
Brother Harold also felt God’s presence every day, attending Immaculate Conception elementary school and then graduating from North East Catholic High School.
“As I got older,” continued Brother Harold, “I got involved with girls and high school proms and everything, and I joined the Navy, and every once in a while I would think back on that experience. I wanted to stay there, as if Christ was just saying to me, ‘You stick with me. If you don’t, you’re going to get into trouble.’”
Mission in Asia
After World War II, Brother Harold mentioned to his parish priest that he wanted to join Maryknoll, which he learned about by reading Maryknoll magazine at thelocal barbershop. He took his first oath as a Maryknoll Brother during 1956 and set sail, during 1961, on his first missionary journey to teach in Hong Kong.
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers is the overseas mission outreach of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, following Jesus in serving the poor and others in need in 26 countries. All Catholics are called to mission through baptism, and Maryknoll’s mission education outreach in parishes and schools throughout the country engages U.S. Catholics in mission through prayer, donations, as volunteers and through vocations.
During 2011, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers will commemorate its centennial with a theme of The Gift of Mission – The Maryknoll Journey. These missionaries will celebrate as they continue their journey into the next 100 years to share God’s love and the Gospel in combating poverty, providing healthcare, building communities and promoting human rights.
After 10 years in Hong Kong, Brother Harold returned to Maryknoll’s Ossining, New York, home and worked at the Society’s nursing facility that takes care of elderly priests and brothers. He did not want the position at first, but soon realized it was one of his best experiences.
Brother Harold learned about geriatrics and psychodynamics, leading to a career in healthcare. He realized, also, that he never should say “no” to anything and that he was going to just let things happen and let God lead him.
On his next mission assignment in Japan, Brother Harold worked with street people, many of whom were from the lowest rung of Japanese society. The burakumin traditionally came from outcast families involved in work once considered unclean, including butchers and undertakers. Many of these people were alcoholics and drug addicts.
Brother Harold organized Alcoholics Anonymous chapters and promoted AA’s 12-step recovery program. After 10 years, with the people able to run the recovery meetings and programs, he moved on one more time to another place in Asia.
Today, Brother Harold, now 83, conducts substance abuse programs in Taipei among Taiwan’s indigenous people. Social conditions similar to those that exist in every part of the world along with genetic factors that make these residents of Taiwan less tolerant of alcohol have hampered the success of his programs. But, Brother Harold said he finds encouragement as he builds trust among those who require his support.
More than 70 years after standing in wonder before that plaque, Brother Harold still has the feeling of wanting to stay close with God.
“There’s no other place I’d rather be in the world than where I am at the present time,” he said. “And I thank God every night for permitting me to be here.”
Brother Harold discussed his mission work on Maryknoll’s radio program, Voices of Our World. Visit http://www.voicesofourworld.org/archives.cfm to locate theDecember 6, 2009 program.
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Prayer before a Crucifix
Prayer before a Crucifix
Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus,
While before Your face I humbly kneel and,
with burning soul,
pray and beseech You
to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments
of faith, hope and charity;
true contrition for my sins,
and a firm purpose of amendment.
While I contemplate,
with great love and tender pity,
Your five most precious wounds,
pondering over them within me
and calling to mind the word which David,
your prophet, said of You, my Jesus:
“They have pierced My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones”