Julius Dillon, OFM
1897 – 1961
Fr. Julius Dillon, OFM, was born on Jan. 19, 1897, in Bristol, Conn., and grew up in Hartford. He entered the novitiate Oct. 3, 1925, and professed temporary vows on Oct. 4, 1926. Fr. Julius made his profession of solemn vows Oct. 4, 1929, and was ordained a priest Dec. 21, 1929.
Soon after ordination, Fr. Julius left for the mission of Shasi in China, where he labored for most of his Franciscan life. In 1933, he became the quasi-pastor of Sha-toa-kuang, near the south bank of the Yangtse River.
Fr. Julius worked hard for the poor and suffering, and his entire life was marked with warmth and kindness.
In 1936, he became the first prefect apostolic of Shasi, receiving the title of monsignor. The following year, the Japanese and Chinese were engaged in a fierce war, and Fr. Julius’ life was labeled as “heroic” throughout those years. Refugees poured into Shasi and he consoled, protected and fed them.
In 1944, he arrived in New York City in a daze and suffering malnutrition. After the war, Fr. Julius returned to China and again worked to build up the mission from 1945 through 1949.
In 1949, Fr. Julius was imprisoned by the communists, subjected to a public trial and expelled on April 1, 1951. From 1955 to 1957, he worked at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, but returned to Taipei, Formosa (now Taiwan), in 1957 to live and work with the Chinese people whom he loved.
Fr. Julius was a great Franciscan missionary. He died in the Camillian Fathers Hospital in Lotung on June 25, 1961. He was 64 years old, a professed friar for 34 years and a priest for 31 years.