Special to The Message
On Oct. 30, St. Joseph Parish in Jasper rededicated and lit the Freedom Lamp, honoring the late Maryknoll Father Robert Greene, on the plaza of St. Joseph Church. Father Greene was born in Jasper in 1911 and is a son of Saint Joseph Parish.
The Freedom Lamp was originally dedicated Aug. 10, 1952. “Freedom God’s gift to all. May its flame burn eternally.” is cast on the side of the monument. A unique tribute to Father Greene, the Freedom Lamp originally was erected by the Jasper Jaycees on the grounds of the Jasper Public Library. With the construction of a new library, Saint Joseph Parish welcomed the opportunity to give the Freedom Lamp a new permanent home. Mason Schoenbachler prepared the site at St. Joseph Parish, and it represents his Eagle Scout Project.
After being ordained as a Maryknoll Missionary on June 16, 1937, Father Greene was assigned to serve in China. After the end of World War II, he became the pastor of the mission in the village of Tung-An.
During the rise of Communist China, Father Greene experienced house arrest, extreme persecution, isolation, torture and endless questioning. He was accused of being a spy and a false priest. Father Greene was put on trial, found guilty and sentenced to death by beheading. He was then told that Mao Tse-tung had commuted his sentence to expulsion from China. Father Greene was transported across China and put on display to be ridiculed and mocked.
Following his return to the United States, he continued to serve as a priest and missionary. He also became a bestselling author with his book, “Calvary in China.” Father Greene returned to Jasper and St. Joseph Parish numerous times. He will be remembered as a man of extreme courage and honor, a good and faithful servant.