Father Arthur Benson, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1887-1957)

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Born James Benson on July 31, 1887 in Darlington, England, at five years of age his family came to the United States and settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the South Hills area. His parents died when he was young and he was adopted by the Farrell family. After high school he went to Christian Brothers College, Chicago, Illinois. Returning to Pittsburgh, he worked as a book-keeper and accountant. At twenty-six he decided to enter the Passionists. On May 5, 1941 he professed his vows. Studies were conducted at St. Gabriel’s Monastery, Brighton, Massachusetts. On February 4, 1923 he was ordained a priest in Pittsburgh. In October 1923 he sailed to China with Fathers Edmund Campbell, C.P. and Dunstan Thomas, C.P. Upon arrival he worked in Supu and later in Chenki, Hunan with Father Flavian Mullins, C.P. He studied the language. During his third year in China he was assigned as the procurator in Hankow and Shanghai. The location of the procuration depended on the political circumstance. In this position he learned well the business, civil and ecclesiastical circles and became personal friends with Chinese officials, diplomats, and officers of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and European military. For twenty-seven years Father Benson served in China. He was a prisoner of war in Hong Kong in 1941 together with Father Ronald Norris, C.P. and Bishop Cuthbert O’Gara, C.P. In all, twenty-eight missionaries were captured at Stanley House, Hong Kong. In later life he returned to the United States and was involved in other ministries.

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