This article is the final part of a series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Vincentians’ mission to China from the Western and Eastern provinces. A ceremony will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville, MO, including a Mass at 10 a.m., followed by a graveside service in the Vincentian cemetery, where many of the missionaries are interred.
Many men generously gave of themselves to serve as missionaries in China and Taiwan. One such individual who was described as “joyful,” “imaginative,” and “saintly,” was Fr. Wilfrid DesLauriers, C.M., aka Fr. Des, a Canadian-born, motorcycle-riding missionary who served in China and Taiwan. Newly ordained, he was assigned to China in 1939, serving first as a pastor in country towns. Then in 1951, he was put in charge of Catholic Relief Services in Hong Kong. He moved to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 1957, where he served nearly 30 years until his death.
According to an article by Fr. Carl Callier, C.M., that appeared in The Association of the Miraculous Medal Bulletin, as head of Catholic Relief Services in Hong Kong, Fr. Des aided several thousand refugees from Communist China, helping them to escape to begin new lives in other countries.
Fr. Des was quite resourceful. Faced with the task of feeding the 400 infants in the foundling home in his care, he created a device that enabled staff to feed 80 infants at a time. Though American relief food was coming in large amounts, most of his parishioners didn’t know how to use the raw ingredients. Fr. Des developed a recipe that utilized these ingredients and had noodle-making machines installed so that the raw materials could be made into noodles that were distributed freely.
In order to make learning the catechism more enjoyable, Fr. Des developed a board game that used dice and plastic figures to move around the board. Instructions on the board and on cards took the players from “Birth,” through all the Sacraments, some prayers, and teachings of the Church. Penalties were assessed on anyone who drew a card that contained the Ten Commandments, the laws of the Church, or the Seven Deadly Sins. Heaven help anyone who had the misfortune of landing on a “Mortal Sin” space! The game ended with “Death,” followed by three gates: one led to Heaven, one led to Purgatory and eventually to Heaven, the third led to Hell, though detours like “last minute repentance” usually re-routed the unfortunate soul so that they would not end the game in Hell.
Fr. Des died on August 26, 1984, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. His name in Chinese was “Fr Loh,” but most of his people called him “Father Good.”