Part 3: The Forgotten Legion of Christ Missionary


BIOGRAPHICAL info (Updated 5/27/15)

Fr.Raymond Kevin Comiskey Walsh, + 5/26/2015 was born on Jan 19, 1942 in Dublin, Ireland. He grew up in Whitehall and was an active member of the Legion of Mary. He joined the Legionaries of Christ in September 1961,  following in the footsteps of his friend Paul Lennon and influence of recruiter, Santiago/James Coindreau, at Bundrowes House, Bundoran, Co. Donegal, Republic of Ireland.

Some of the candidates from that same year who still are priests in the Legion are Brian Farrell, Fintan Lawless, Thomas Moylan, Donal Corry, John Walsh, John Devlin and Jude Furlong.

He was ordained to the priesthood at the Apostolic School in Tlalpan, January 29, 1970 (just 28) by then Apostolic Delegate (nuncio) Luigi Raimondi.

In 1971 he arrived in Chetumal, capital of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, and was soon assigned to the Parish of Santa Cruz, in the central town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto (Maya region). Fr Raymond studied Maya so he could understand the people and be understood by them when he administered the sacraments. He was ably assisted by two Maya bilingual “sacristans” /catechists and by the Madres de la Luz sisters.

Fr. Raymond spent decades there serving the Maya descendants in a very selfless and generous ministry.

Later he moved to Cancun and served the faithful there preaching fearlessly the Word of God and giving good example to his fellow Legionaries by his simple and austere life style.

When his illnesses caught up with him he elected to live (or was left to live) alone in Merida at the home of a friendly family. His health declined until he was confined to a wheelchair.

At this writing (5/27/15) the blogger does not have concrete information about the circumstances of his passing



Visit to Bishop Emeritus Jorge Bernal-Vargas, LC,
Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón, Chetumal, Q. Roo, México
January 30, 2015

By John Lloyd Stephens,
Author of Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan

My mission had been simplified: to find an outlet for Father Ray’s writings. So as soon as I returned to the comfort of Merida’s hotel zone I searched for a place where I could copy his writings. Not such an easy task. I could not count on your normal American efficiency; no Kinko’s available. A few stores offered copying and other services. Copies were relatively expensive by US standards but I was determined to do Ray right. Choosing one that looked most professional I immediately requested my copies. The store accepted my request for three bound copies but I had a feeling it would be a laborious process.  I asked for them to be ready next morning. The employee asked for my phone number so she could call me when the copies and the bill were complete.
Anyhow the next day, after some delay and complications, they were ready and I was able to pick them up. Called Ray but got no answer. I set off for his place now knowing his proper address. Got there. Nobody there. Stretching my arm I pitched his copy through the wrought iron gate in the direction of his front door and made my way back.
I wanted to show the second copy to Monsignor Bernal his LC superior in Chetumal if I could meet him. I would keep another copy for myself in case Mons. Bernal did nothing with the copy I would deliver to him.
We drove back to Chetumal in our rented Renault. Victoria B wanted to hand a little present to Srta. Lilí Conde who had been so kind to us on our arrival to Chetumal two weeks previously. We were unable to meet with her again but left them with the hotel concierge.
John Lloyd still had to finish his mission. At around 8:00 pm he sought out Mons. Bernal near the Church of the Sacred Heart, Parque de los Caimanes. He knew the priests’ residence was nearby. Friendly neighbors pointed the way: “The big patio around the corner.” Walked in. To his left a young Legionary was teaching about 30 people in one of the classrooms. Kept going toward the main two-story building. “I want to see Mons. Bernal!” he called out loudly. A face peeked out through an upstairs curtain.
After a while Mon. Bernal came down the stairs wearing his usual attire, pants and a white guayabera. He had aged and the gaps in his front teeth were more pronounced. “Did he have good dental care here on the missions?” Lloyd wondered to himself. Monsignor remarked that Fr. Patrick, Lloyd’s companion for two years in Bacalar, was not around; he would be delayed because “he was giving talks at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.”

[From the get go Monsignor seemed to be in a hurry. He did not invite Lloyd inside to visit with the other members of the Legion community. The conversation took place strolling around the patio. Was he some kind of persona non grata?, ran through Lloyd’s subconscious.]
The usual pleasantries. Decades had passed since Mons. Bernal had sent his last report to Fr. Maciel regarding Lloyd’s behavior on the missions, since the day Lloyd had confronted Monsignor about him retaining some of Lloyd’s personal and confidential correspondence from the Cardinal Archbishop of Mexico. But all this was behind them. Safer for both to reminisce about the good times. The man of the cloth recalled those companions who had “gone before us in the sign of peace.

“How are you, Monsignor?                                                                                                                                                -“Really nobody now. Just getting old. I’m emeritus now.”
“And what about Raymond, Monsignor? I visited him in Merida and he is very ill.”
-“I know. Bishop Elizondo has been to see him.”
“I understand he is receiving financial aid from the Legion. I was wondering where that was coming from. I mean…”
-“Where from do you think?” –a little testily. (Meaning from local funds and not from Legion of Christ central administration.)
“Monsignor, you know he was written some stuff, homilies, etc. and I have a copy with me in case someone would like to publish.”
-“Ah-a” –otherwise no reaction…
“He is in pretty bad shape and being taken care of by his former secretary.”
-“You know he never took good care of his health. And he is stubborn. He prefers it that way.”
“Even so; he was a close friend of mine.”
-“Bishop Elizondo goes to visit him. He is taking care of him and handling it.”

Monsignor Bernal seemed to be getting increasingly nervous and Lloyd perceived his desire to terminate the meeting.
“Well, Monsignor, thank you very much for your time. Please give my regards to Fr. Patrick and all the other members of the community. Let us stay in touch.”
-“Thank you for your visit, Lloyd, and may God Bless you.”

“John Lloyd Stephens, author of Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan, turned and walked slowly across the concrete patio through the wide gate with a heavy heart at the emotional distance he had sensed during his interview; he was also chilled by Monsignor’s coldness towards his childhood friend cum Legionary. He tried to conjure up ways that retired missionary Raymond Cumiskey, officially registered as a member of the Legion of Christ Cancun religious community but living with a friendly family, would be better taken care of physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually during the remainder of his days.

Part 2, The Forgotten Legion of Christ Missionary

Part 2, The Forgotten Legion of Christ Missionary

R-C, Apostle of today’s Maya in the Yucatan

by John Lloyd Stephens, author of Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan


Historical background:                     CASTE WAR 1848-1901, YUCATAN, MEXICO

Chan Santa Cruz Maya.
Mayan territory, circa 1870.
Date 1847-1901 (skirmishes continued until 1933)
Location Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
Result 1847–1883:
Maya victory, Mayas achieve an independent state.
Mexican victory, Mexico recaptures the Yucatan.
Belligerents: Maya Mexico, Flag of the Republic of Yucatan, Republic of Yucatan (1847-1848)

The war was declared over several times though hostile conflict between the Mexicans and Mayans continued until 1933

See article with map:


RC remembered very fondly his long stint in the town now called Felipe Carrillo Puerto, after the Mexican politician who favored Maya autonomy, once the Mayan Chan Santa Cruz, where he worked for about 15 years.. The author recalls how Fr. Raymond threw himself into that work with so much enthusiasm, “zeal for souls”, call it what you may. RC was always very passionate about what he did, whether that was playing the piano or the organ, organizing a singing group or a choir, strenuously exhorting his parishioners in the stark vaulted church or catechizing the Maya in the surrounding towns. Carrillo Puerto, a Maya stronghold during the Caste War which erupted in the Yucatan Peninsula, was in Ray’s time just another large unattractive town on the road from Chetumal to Cancun. But for him it was his portion and all the people his pastoral responsibility, “saving their souls from eternal damnation” in the face of ignorance, neglect and the Evangelical onslaught.

Ray took his work among the Maya so seriously that he learned Yucatan Maya to be able to celebrate the sacraments in their language. When he went to the pueblos he could baptize and perform marriages in the native language. For teaching and preaching his homilies during Mass he had the help of two great native-Maya-speaking “catechists”: Romulo Esquivel and Audomaro Xix, both of whom had been trained by the Maryknoll Missionaries who came before the Legionaries. Ray remembered them very fondly, together with “Las Madres de la Luz,” bilingual nuns founded by Fr. Góngora, a priest from the diocese of Merida whom early Legionaries had the privilege of knowing. He was the antithesis to Fr. Maciel, being a very quiet and self-effacing man. Ray also named some of the remote towns he had visited with his team, such as Dzulá and Chanca Veracruz where he would drive in his VW jeep.
Our conversation was loose. I gave him rein to reminisce and allow the time for our friendship bond to re-gel. Ray remembered joining the Legion in Ireland in November, 1961. He placed our recruiters and trainers in Bundoran: Frs. Coindreau, Yépez, Angel Saenz, Ramiro Fernandez and our first Legion confessor, Neftalí Sánchez-Tinoco who soon after his stint in Ireland disappeared from the Legion map as happened to many. His fragmented memory recalled my “angel” from that time, Bro. James Whiston, who became a kind of hero to me, being one of the very first Irish recruits. For Ray and me another fond memory that faded into oblivion by means of the Legion’s “selective memory.” Patrick and Willam Duffy came to his mind but not to mine. We both registered lively Noel Slater from that first group. He had lost track.

As I put on my reporter’s hat I found it very difficult to pin down Ray on his recent history. He could not piece together where he had been before coming to live in Merida at his friend’s house. I assumed he had been in Cancun. Perhaps his fire and brimstone homily’s had not been to the liking of his confreres and Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo. Ray was not the kind of person suitable for cozying up on Sundays to rich American Catholics at the Camino Real and other luxury hotels. And maybe I would have another opportunity to pick his tired brain.
Before leaving I was able to score another point. He disclosed he had written some materials that he was rather proud of and wanted to have published. It touched me knowing how isolated he was, how out of the Legion mainstream, how out of touch with the world outside, how dependent on his female friend and her daughter at whose house he was living. I showed interest in his writings. He showed them to me and I promised to do something about them.
We called our not too efficient taxi man and made our way back to the hotel zone and our comfortable Wyndham….