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Scranton to China: Life, Death and Memory

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(WBRE/WYOU-TV) Students on the road to becoming Passionists attended Saint Ann’s Monastery in Scranton, beginning in the 20th century.    

       For two of those seminarians, their careers would have a tragic end.

      Photojournalist Joseph Butash has their story from a new exhibit at the Weinberg Library on the Campus of the University of Scranton.

Photojournalist Joseph Butash spoke with Father Rob Carbonneau, Passionist Historian, Adjunct Professor Of History at the University

“This exhibit shows a leak between Scranton and China specifically two of the men here, Godfrey Holbein from Baltimore and Fr. Clem, Ent Seybold in 1921 assigned here at (St. Ann’s Monastery West Scranton) as students, before they went to China in 1924”.

“After a retreat in 1929 during Holy Week, they were going back to their normal assignments in the field and they ( 3 Passionists) met bandits, and the bandits killed them ( Fr. Seybold, Fr. Holbein, and Fr. Walter Coveyou) they were killed, and it was a big major event. It was a shock. This was a major event in American Foreign policy because they were American Citizens. To be a missionary you have to be a person of sacrifice. To be of service you have to be willing to take risks, but you have to be very much entrenched with the local people and understand their situation. And so it made them more committed to the everyday life of the people”.

Fr. Carbonneau noted “My job as a historian is to put this exhibit together and show you how there has been hope. And how there has been a tremendous gift of service. Thirty-three of religious American groups went to China in the 20th century. And this has been a dialogue that still is a wealth of understanding by the Chinese government and the local Catholics and the world society. So this is a world story of relationships, it happens to be a religious story, and a Catholic and a Passionists story”.

Father Rob has a special free event at the Weinberg Memorial Library on the 3 murdered Passionists on  Monday, April 8, at 6 pm.

       The Passionists continue to serve the people of China.

      The Passionists archives include over 10,000 photos and 60,000 documents.

       It’s housed at the University of Scranton.

       The exhibit is viewable to the public at the library through April 24.   Learn more about the exhibit click here.

The exhibit will be on display until April 24 during normal library business hours. There will be a reception and lecture, by Father Rob Carbonneau, C.P., Ph.D, and Passionist Historian, on Monday, April 8, at 6:00 p.m. in the Heritage Room. The lecture will focus on remembering the witness of faith of the martyred priests, and the larger story of the Chinese Catholic witness of faith. The reception is free and open to the public. For further information, contact Special Collections Librarian Michael Knies at 570-941-6341.


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