Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, sdb (1892 - 1987)

Our beloved Father Founder, Bishop Louis L.R. Morrow, was born on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1892 at Weatherford, Texas, U.S.A. Later, the family moved to Mexico. There, inspired by the happy fellowship of the Salesians of Saint John Bosco in Puebla, he joined them in 1911.

He completed his studies at the Catholic University of Palafox, Mexico, and was ordained priest in 1921. Soon afterwards he founded “La Buena Prensa” (The Good Press) to promote wholesome literature and cinema. From 1922 to 1939 Father Morrow served as secretary to the Apostolic Delegate in Manila, Philippines. In 1926 he founded the Catholic Truth Society of Manila to publish Catholic literature, mainly for youth. He became a popular retreat director, a prolific writer and publisher of a series of catechetical books, and also nine text books officially recognized for use in schools in the Philippines. His esteemed book Our Catholic Faith is an exuberant expression of his catechetical charism.

As Bishop of Krishnagar from 1939 to 1969, he was a zealous pastor and missionary – an angel of God’s love to all. He built up the diocese as well as rendered great services to the city of Krishnagar in an official capacity. For 12 years he was commissioner of Krishnagar Municipality. He served as official visitor to Nadia District Jail, member of the Advisory Board of the Government Hospital, and as consultant to the Indian Red Cross Society of West Bengal. He faced courageously and acted timely and tenaciously during the crisis of World War II, the Disastrous Famine of Bengal, the Partition of India and Pakistan and other calamities.

To realize his vision of reaching out to all people, especially women in their homes, he founded our congregation of the Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians on 12 December 1948. With the foresight of a sagacious father and the tender love of a mother, he formed us and built up our congregation. He was also an active and effective council Father at the Second Vatican Council.

After retirement from the diocese, our Father continued guiding us, his children, along with his ministries of the printed word, updating his books and distributing copies of the Holy Bible in different languages. He was a staunch believer and supporter of the Human Rights Programme of the United Nations; and also an ardent advocate of women’s rights convinced that justice and peace cannot prevail until and unless women have an equal voice in legislative assemblies throughout the world. With much zeal he promoted the use of inclusive language in liturgy and in publications.

Our Founder was called to his eternal reward on 31 August 1987. His mortal remains were laid to rest in the cathedral of Krishnagar, as he wished to be among his beloved people. The crypt is visited by his flock and many others.

On Friday, 24 December 1892, at 9:00 a.m. at Weatherford, Texas, USA.
Parents and siblings:
Joseph LaRavoire (French) and Isabel Morrow (Irish-American). Elder brother, Frank, and younger sister, Margarita.
When Louis was five, the family moved to Mexico. Vocation: At age 11, in 1903, he entered the Boarding School of the Salesians in Puebla, Mexico City, and became a novice in 1911.
Director of the festive oratory. Heroic Testimony of his adherence to Jesus Christ at the age of 24 at the risk of his very life, during the violent Mexican Revolution (1914 -1917).
In Charge of the Salesian Minor Seminary, Puebla. 1921: Founded “La Buena Prensa” (The Good Press) to promote wholesome literature and cinema.
Bishop Morrow at a Glance
21 May 1921 in the magnificent 16th century cathedral of Puebla, Mexico.
1922 - 1939:
Secretary to Archbishop William Piani, Apostolic Delegate to the Philippines.
Founded the Catholic Truth Society of Manila to publish Catholic literature mainly for youth. * Prolific writer of a series of Catechetical and educational text books. * Revitalization of religious life, especially by conducting retreats and promoting vocations.
1934 & 1936:
Charge de Affairs of the Apostolic Delegation, Manila, Philippines.
Published the 1st edition of his outstanding work, My Catholic Faith.
Competent organizer of the International Eucharistic Congress in Manila, Philippines.
25 May 1939:
Appointment as Bishop of Krishnagar, India, a place totally unknown to him.
13 September 1939:
First visit to Krishnagar en route to Vatican.
29 October 1939:
Episcopal Ordination by Pope Pius XII with the mandate “Be a Father to all”. Episcopal Motto: Ad Jesum per Mariam (To Jesus through Mary).
Elected as Municipal Commissioner for four consecutive terms, serving for 12 years, during which a long-needed extension of the city’s waterworks scheme was financed.
Erection of the large Cathedral theatre hall accommodating 2000 people.
1962 - 1965:
Participated actively in the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council. * Pioneer advocate of the “vernacular” in the liturgy. * Influential in modifying the law of abstinence and of the Eucharistic fast.
Instrumental for the Papal contribution towards the Town Stadium, Krishnagar.
15 November 1969:
Retired after 30 years of active service to his beloved flock. * Erected over 30 chapels in the villages with priests’ quarters, and residences for the Sisters and catechists engaged in pastoral ministry. * Secured land in view of a diocesan Minor Seminary.
1969 – 1976:
Convener of the Assessment Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference India. *Benevolent contributor towards Krishnagar T.B. Clinic, Shri Aurobindo Students’ Health Home, Sishu Udhyan, Krishnagar City Library, etc. *Engaged in updating his Catechetical Publications, distributing Bibles in various languages, promoting women’s rights to bring about justice and peace in the world. Languages Known: English, Spanish, Italian, Latin, and Bengali.
31 August 1987:
Returned to our Father’s Home in heaven on Monday, at 9:35 a.m. surrounded by his confreres and his beloved SMI.
3 September 1987:
Mortal remains were laid to rest in the crypt of the Cathedral – chapel annex of Mary Help of Christians as desired by him.
Motto given to the SMI: “To love God and help others to love God.” Fatherly promise to his beloved Children, the SMI: “I shall remember you in heaven as much as I am given permission.”
Founded the Junior Don Bosco Boarding School, Krishnagar for the formation of the poor little boys of his diocese - a great blessing indeed! His first and foremost endeavour was to have all the children attend school. For this he applied himself to the progress of the Don Bosco boarding and industrial schools for boys, and Holy Family School for girls managed by the Salesians of Don Bosco and the Sisters of Charity of Milan respectively. 1942:
Conducted closed retreat for women of his diocese for the first time. It was a great success.
His missionaries were exempted from being interned due to his four top-level interventions.
Fought hard to save thousands of victims of the disastrous Famine of Bengal. * Chairman of the Emergency Food Relief Committee of Krishnagar.
1944 -1959:
Representative of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for India.
During the Partition of India 65% of his diocese went into Pakistan. Due to his timely action Krishnagar remained within the Indian Union.
12 December 1948:
Founded the Congregation of the Catechist Sisters of Mary immaculate Help of Christians to carry on his vision of Evangelization and Catechesis.
Appointed as official visitor to Nadia District Jail, a non-political job given by the Government of India only to the most respected citizens of the area. He was most faithful to it until his retirement through his visits, spending an entire morning each month. * Member of the Advisory Board of the Government Hospital in the district, a confidential post entrusted only to the exceptionally responsible social workers.
Enlarged the Cathedral of the Most Holy Redeemer, Krishnagar to triple its former size. A beautiful chapel of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was annexed.
25 October 1940:
Official arrival in Krishnagar Diocese as its Bishop. Priority: Evangelization and Catechesis – * Addressing the crucial issues of poverty, illiteracy, health and hygiene through schools and boardings, dispensaries and health centres, and providing for education and catechetical formation, above all by his caring and fatherly presence among his people.
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