Father Harold Travers, C.P., Holy Cross Province (1899-1984)

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Born Albert Travers in Boston, Massachusetts on July 16, 1899, he was the son of Earnest Travers and Marian DeMillo. He graduated from the Somerville, Massachusetts elementary school and quit high school to support his family. He then went on to North Eastern Preparatory School for evening studies. This arrangement allowed him to work for six years at the United Shoe Machine Corporation in the mail department. Later he was promoted to the legal and executive department which led him to pursue legal studies at Suffolk Law School in Boston for two years. At the same time he had met Jesuits at Boston College and the Passionists in Brighton, Massachusetts. As he contemplated entering the Passionists he had a Jesuit tutor to prepare him. Shortly before September 1923 Albert Travers visited the Brighton monastery and met with Father Eugene Creegan, C.P. of Holy Cross Province. This led to the decision to go to the Passionist novitiate in Louisville, Kentucky. There his novice master was Father Jerome Reuttermann, C.P. On September 30, 1924 he professed his vows and received the religious name Harold. Studies followed for college and philosophy took place in Des Moines, Iowa from 1924 until 1925; theological studies took place at St. Paul, Kansas from 1925 until 1928. He then studied at Immaculate Conception Monastery, Chicago from 1928 until 1930, then back to Des Moines from 1930 until 1931, and then Chicago from 1928 until 1930. On December 20, 1931 he was ordained at Quigley Preparatory Seminary Chapel, Chicago by Bishop Bernard J. Shields. At this point he volunteered for the China missions. To prepare for the mission he undertook First Aid and Medical Training under the direction of Dr. T.E. Conley, Park Ridge, Illinois who was also an important benefactor of the Passionists in Chicago. On August 12, 1933 he and his fellow missioners set sail for China on the SS Empress of Canada from Vancouver, British Columbia and arrived in China on September 12, 1933. First he was assigned to Yuanling, Hunan, China. He then was assistant missionary to Father William Westhoven, C.P. at Chihkiang, Hunan from 1934 until 1937. For three months he was assigned to Paotsing as an assistant to Father Nicholas Schneiders, C.P. Afterwards Father Travers was made director of Boys Town Hunan which consisted of an Industrial School for Boys and an Orphanage and elementary school – this was a total of four hundred students. On November 7, 1949 he was put under strict house arrest by the Communist troops that took over West Hunan. This was the situation, in the Boys Dormitory, until December 25, 1950. He was then evicted from the rectory and put in solitary confinement until September 5, 1951. Then he was taken to the security jail at Paotsing, Hunan until December 15, 1951. It was at that time that he had a physical breakdown and was transferred to Yuanling where he was detained until July 31, 1952. His prison experience was described in “My Cage in Paotsing” Sign Magazine (November 1952). Eventually he was released and returned to the Passionists at Sierra Madre, California until 1982 when he moved to Daneo Hall, Chicago until his death.

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