Vianney McGrath, OFM
1907 – 1976
Fr. Vianney McGrath, OFM, was born in Buffalo, N.Y., on Nov. 20, 1907. After two years at St. Bonaventure College in Allegany, N.Y., he entered the Province’s novitiate in 1929 at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J.
In 1929, he professed simple vows and, in 1932, solemn vows. Fr. Vianney was ordained a priest in 1935.
Following ordination, Fr. Vianney traveled to China to serve as a missionary. He labored there until the Japanese invaded in 1942. On Dec. 31, 1942, Br. Vianney succeeded in evacuating over 200 orphans to safety in Changsha in the Hunan Province, where he remained to care for wounded soldiers of the Nationalist Army. He was cited for bravery by General Chiang Kai Chek.
In 1944, Fr. Vianney returned to the United States for a year before returning to Shasi to help rebuild the mission, which had been destroyed. Four years later, in 1949, the communists invaded Shasi, and Fr. Vianney was subjected to a public trial and humiliation.
Despite this, he refused to leave the country. Deprived of house and support and possessions, Fr. Vianney was condemned to live as an itinerant mendicant. Wandering the country for two years, he journeyed more than a thousand miles. He in Hong Kong in 1952 with only a small bag attached to a bamboo stick over his shoulder.
Fr. Vianney returned to the Province and served as an assistant at St. Anthony Church in Butler, N.J. From 1956 to 1970, he served as a confessor at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. In 1970, he was transferred the Province’s infirmary at St. Bonaventure University.
Fr. Vianney died there Sept. 18, 1976. He was 68 years old, a professed friar for 47 years and a priest for 41 years.