George J. Willmann, SJ
THE PHILIPPINES, 2006, the centenary of the Knights of Columbus in the Philippines, Scott 3052
THE PHILIPPINES, 2009, 50th anniversary of Willmann's Fraternal Association, featuring his statue
Fr. George J. Willmann, SJ, was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 29, 1897, entered Society of Jesus August 14, 1915, was ordained June 20, 1928 and after his Tertianship (last year of formal spiritual formation) worked in New York as director of the Jesuit Mission Bureau on behalf of the Philippines from 1930 to 1936. He went to the Philippines and in 1938 began teaching, was prefect of studies, and then worked in the social apostolate. In 1938 Willmann also became involved with the Knights of Columbus. The first Council of the Knights in the Philippines had been established on April 23, 1905 in Intramuros, the second in 1918 in San Pablo, Laguna. But Willmann was the Founder of the Knights of Columbus Fraternal Association of the Philippines, Inc. and is considered the Father of the Knights of Columbus in the Philippines and the "Father McGivney of the Philippines." He was appointed in 1948 as the first District Deputy in the Philippines, on March 1, 1954, the Territorial Deputy, and in 1962 Philippine Deputy, a position held until his death in the Bronx, NY on September 14, 1977. He is buried at Novaliches in the Philippines.
Willmann also served as chaplain for Catholic students at the University of the Philippines where he introduced the Catholic Youth Organization. He was imprisoned by the Japanese from 1944 to 1945, and was held in Los Banos along with many other American missionaries. When the Philippines were liberated on February 23, 1945 Willmann was among the 2,100 others including nuns, and clergy of various denominations, still at Los Banos internment camp. He emerged from the camp to lead the men of Manila Council 1000 in establishing a center modeled on the KC hut program for Allied soldiers who were coming out of concentration camps in poor health. To celebrate the centenary of the Knights of Columbus in the Philippines, this stamp was issued, featuring "Fr. George J. Willmann, S.J. First Philippine Deputy."