Church in Korea Calls for Pastoral Care for North Korean Defectors
One day in Spring, 2002, the media covered two unusual incidents which occurred in China. One was about the yellow dust storm from the inner Mongolian desert plain that invaded all of Korea and the other was the North Korean defectors' story.
The news that reached the Korean people was about twenty-five NK defectors who dared to attempt to get asylum in the Spanish Embassy in Beijing on March 14th and were deported to the Philippines by the Beijing government. They arrived to Seoul on March 18th.
This incident was successful enough to attract both domestic and international attention. However, it also brought about important problems and issues. The impact of this dramatic incident is obvious when considering the intensified control on NK defectors to China and their repatriation to NK by security agents of the Chinese government, following the flight of Kim Gil-su's family from NK to Seoul in 2000. Already, Beijing has announced a tight security guard for foreign embassies to prevent similar incidents. Hundreds and thousands of NK refugees in China have began hiding, and concern for the victims of NK defectors in China's sweeping search have been raised.
The general meaning of 'refugee' indicates the poor suffering from destitution or victims of war or natural disasters. However, nowadays we call refugees those of collective exile for political reasons due to racial or ideological grounds. According to the International Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees the status of refugee is stipulated by the proper right of the State concerned. The problem is that the Chinese government does not recognize the NK defectors as refugees. Therefore, these defectors under the Beijing government feel their life is in continual danger and threat.
Various relief activities for the North Korean people are being undertaken by the Episcopal Special Commission for the Reconciliation of Korean People, the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People of the CBCK and other relevant groups in the Church. However, coordinating these activities is not easy for the nature of such work requires discretion. Thus, an effective way of collaborating among Church bodies is vital. Also, social welfare organizations and programs of the Church should consider NK defectors. The Church in Korea is called to play a prophetic role for the unification era through concrete concern for NK defectors, and pastoral care for them.
Fr. John Kim Jong-su
Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
2002 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK...
2002 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK to Seek Pastoral Plan
for 5-Day Workweek
At the 2002 Spring General Assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea held from March 4-8th, the Bishops agreed to prepare a pastoral plan urgently as the 5-day workweek system is to be introduced from coming July.
Foreseeing that the 5-day workweek might decrease the number of participants in Sunday Mass, which also can cause drastic changes in Church's life and pastoral environment, the Bishops agreed to look for pastoral methods to effectively and adequately respond to this change and implement them in each diocese, so that further discussion can be made at the next Autumn General Assembly.
They also reached consensus on the necessity to computerize and standardize pastoral and administrative works of dioceses, and decided to animate meetings of relevant working level personnel of each diocese to pursue the project of integration of computerization.
At the assembly, the Bishops approved new Korean translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its publication. This translation was carried out following the Apostolic See's final publication of Latin Typical Edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1997.
Besides, the Committee on Education of the CBCK established the "Ordinances on Catholic Universities and other Institutes of Higher Studies in Korea", which was arranged in keeping with the Apostolic Constitution "Ex Corde Ecclesiae" on Catholic Universities of Pope John Paul II, and will request its recognition to the Apostolic See.
Archdiocese of Seoul Welcomes Two new Auxiliary Bishops
Archdiocese of Seoul Welcomes Two New Auxiliary Bishops
His Holiness Pope John Paul II appointed Rev. Joseph Lee Han-taek, S.J. and Rev. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung as Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of Seoul on December 12th, 2001. This appointments are of historic meaning for the Archdiocese as it celebrates its 170th anniversary, and significant in that the first Korean Religious was consecrated as a Bishop. Empowered with the two new Bishops, the Archdiocese is expected to conduct its Synod more effectively and to implement the Episcopal Vicar system, which aims at the renewal and development of the Archdiocese and the new evangelization for new millennium.
On January 25th, the episcopal ordination of the two took place at Changchung Gymnasium in Seoul. The Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul, presided over the ceremony, in which His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim, the Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, the Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, and additional 26 Bishops participated. About 8000 people who attended included priests, religious men and women, and lay people.
The Most Rev. Joseph Lee Han-taek was born in Anseong, Gyeonggi-do, on December 5th, 1934. He was ordained a priest in 1971 after graduating from Saint Louis University in U.S.A. in 1972 where he obtained a master's degree in mathematics and theology. He has served as Regional Superior of the Society of Jesus in Korea, as chairman of the board of directors and as President of Jesuit-run Sogang University until he was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop.
The Most Rev. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung was born in 1943 in Anseong, Gyeonggi-do, on December 5th, 1943 and ordained a priest in 1970. He completed studies at the E.A.P.I. in the Phillippines from 1979-1980, served as chancellor of the Archdiocese of Seoul from 1992 to 1998 and as pastor of Mok-dong parish until he was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop.
At the congratulatory reception after the ceremony, the Most Rev. Joseph Lee asked the faithful to help him through their prayer and said: "My service for the faithful should be apostolic. As a Bishop, I hope my humble service can help people to deeply understand and closely follow Jesus Christ." The Most Rev. Andrew Yeom said: "Through God's grace and your prayer, I will do my best to perform my episcopal ministry adequately, especially, to contribute to the development of the Church in Korea and of the Universal Church, assisting Archbishop Nicholas Cheong."
A Providential Coincidence of the Two New Bishops
The two new Bishops are 'twins' in many things: episcopal appointment on the same day, same birth place and birthday and similar family background with deep Christian roots. Both were born on December 5th in Anseong, Gyeonggi-do but with a difference of 9 years, the Most Rev. Lee in 1934 and the Most Rev. Yeom in 1943. However, here again, the reverse of '34' is '43'!
"What a wonderful coincidence! Surely, they are a special gift God has predestined for our Church in Korea," say the faithful.
As to their family background, the Most Rev. Lee Han-teak is from a devoted Catholic family. His younger sister, Sylvia Lee Han-ok, is a nun of St. Paul de Chartres working at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Godeung-dong, Suwon. The Most Rev. Yeom is also from a family with deep Christian roots. In his family, Joseph Yeom Deok-sun, his grandfather of five generations back, first embraced the Catholic faith when Catholicism was just introduced to Korea and his grandfather of four generations back, Peter Yeom Seok-tae, died during the persecution in Joseon Dynasty in 1850. His late grandmother, Magdalena Park, and his mother, Baek Geum-wol, went to daily Mass for 30 years to pray to God that their sons would become priests. God heard her prayer and three of her sons became priests: The Most Rev. Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Rev. Joseph Yeom Soo-ui and Rev. James Yeom Soo-wan.
Over 200 family members of the two bishops from Anseong attended the ceremony and praised God for this happy family event. Korean Catholics welcomed the two new Bishops in prayer and with heartfelt gratitude towards God and the Holy Father for this great blessing for the Church in Korea.
Message for the 2002 Caritas Sunday
Let's Think of the Afghan Refugees and Those Who are Starving
On the occasion of the 2002 Caritas Sunday, the Most Rev. Gabriel Chang, President of Caritas Coreana, appealed to Korean Catholics to think of the Afghan refugees and those who are suffering from starvation."Caritas Sunday is a day we are called to think of the poor in the world and share what we have with them in love.” wrote the Bishop. Following is the full text of the message.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. The last Sunday of January is Caritas Sunday for the Catholic Church in Korea. Caritas Sunday is a day we are called to think of the poor in the world and share what we have with them in love. Today, there are one billion people who suffer from starvation. In Afghanistan, millions of people are dying every day through war and internal conflict. Afghanistan has been impoverished due to the war with the Soviet Union that lasted for 10 years from 1979 and the internal confrontation between tribes since then. In addition to that, Afghanistan has become one of the poorest countries in the world because of continual drought which has lasted for three years. The U.S.A.-led war against terrorism has produced 8 million refugees. Two million Afghans in critical condition in refugee camps in Pakistan are calling for emergency aid.
2. God created the earth and all that it contains for the use of every human being. All created things belong to God and human beings are only administrators of these goods while they live in this world. If the administrators of created things who are not the Lord of the universe, by possessing earthly goods for their own interest and comfort, leave the poor to die in their misery, then, they are acting against God's plan for creation. Especially, ignoring the suffering of one's brothers and sisters dying from starvation is a serious offence against God. The earthly goods entrusted to humankind are to be shared and equally distributed according to justice.
3. By remembering the saying of the Fathers: "Feed the man dying of hunger, because if you have not fed him you have killed him.", the Vatican Council urges all, both individuals and governments, to undertake a genuine sharing of their goods according to their ability, and to use these goods especially to provide individuals and nations with the means for helping and developing our world (cf: Gaudium et spes, no.69). Last November, the Holy Father asked the pilgrims gathered at St. Peter' Square in Rome to pray and fast for the peace of the world, and to help those Afghans suffering from war and terrorism with the money collected by fasting. Also the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea made a special appeal to Korean Catholics for humanitarian aid, asking them to share their suffering and concern.
4. The Lord's commandment to "love each other"(Jn 13,34) has to be applied to all the poor in the world. We, the children of God, should not disregard the misery of our brothers and sisters though we are of different religion, race and ideology. For this reason, we gladly accepted the aid of Christian brothers and sisters while we experienced great misery during the Korean War. We should not forget it is thanks to them that we are here today. So, it is our turn to share what we have with those in need.
5. Sharing is practicing love and the first step toward the realization of justice. We know well that the first community of Christians became rich by sharing their goods. Today, this same spirit has to be realized throughout the world and we Christians have to take the lead in it. For this, all Christians are called to a dedicated life style of simplicity that rejects all forms of idolatry and materialism, by gladly sharing with the poor what we have received from God. We can glorify God in truth only when the poor Lazars can share with us the same table.
January 27th, 2002
+ Gabriel Chang Bishop of Cheongju President
Message on the First Week for Sanctification...
Let's Make the Family a Domestic Church
On the occasion of the first Week for Family Sanctification, the Most Rev. Peter Lee, President of the Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry, issued a message and appealed to Korean Catholics to walk together to rediscover deeper values in the family. Following is the full text of the message.
Dear Brothers and Sisters
1. The last Sunday of 2001 is the feast day of the Holy Family and the first day of week for the sanctification of family, as well. Since not a few families are in crisis and even broken, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea established the Week for Sanctification of Family at its 2001 Spring General Assembly and decided to celebrate it during the last week of the year. At this time, when the Son of God came to the wold through the Holy Family, we are invited to build our family by reaffirming the precious value of the family on which the future of humanity depends.
2. Today, Korean families are experiencing many crises and difficult situations. Since the 1960's, Korea has made remarkable economic progress thanks to the long-term "economy first" policy. However, many families in Korea are facing serious difficulties from moral decadence and prevailing materialism. Because of the nuclear family system and selfishness the beautiful Korean family tradition of the past has disappeared and more and more children tend to turn their face from their parents. Since the 1970's, the divorce rate has increased 10 times. According to the statistics, three couples are married everyday and one couple divorced. Korea has become the country with the highest record of divorce in Asia and one of the countries of low birth rate. For example, in 1999, the average births per woman was 1.42, while about 5,000 abortions were practiced everyday. In such a situation, the family, which ought to be a sacred domain, and the hospital, whose duty is to cure people and give birth to life, have become centers for the culture of death. The future of the society depends on the family. If we don't establish a solid and authentic foundation for the family how can we open the way of hope and prosperity in the future?
3. First of all, we have to establish within the family reverence for one's parents. Since long ago, we were taught that filial piety is the principal foundation of all human acts and virtues. The Bible teaches us that, "Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins, he who honors his mother is like someone amassing a fortune"(Si 3,3-4), "Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that Yahweh your God has given to you"(Ex 20,12), and recommends that "Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord"(Col 3,20-21). The commandment to "Honor your father and your mother"(Ex 20,12) is the fundamental teaching of the Bible, the condition of blessing, a natural principle and a supernatural and spiritual virtue based on God. Parents who gave us life are our benefactors after God, therefore, honoring parents is related to the "worship of God"(cf: Letter to Families, no.16). Thus Jesus Christ who came into this world was "obedient"(Lk 2,51) to "Mary and Joseph and at the same time "became obedient to God to death, even death on a cross"(Phil 2,8). In the example of Our Lord we too have to respect and honor our parents, and by doing so we have to rise up an authentic culture of filial piety for our time.
4. Honoring parents is not a one-way virtue but a mutual one. The commandment to obey one's parents implies the duty of parents to respect and love their children and to live in a way that deserves their children's respect and love. The children have to be respected from the moment of conception (cf: Letter to Families, no.15). Loving and serving life that is a gift from God is the fundamental duty of the family. Parents are called to participate in the creative work of God through the gift of life. This is the honor of parents. By educating their children the parents take part in the paternal and maternal pedagogy of God. The exclusive domain of the family which can't be replaced in any way is the domain of religious education. The parents make the family a domestic Church through the religious education of their children.
5. The family has to establish an authentic foundation of love. The family is based on "The covenant "(cf: Letter to Families, no.7). The family community is born by the "communion" of husband and wife. Therefore the spousal relationship has to reflect the mutual respect and love of husband and wife. The family is not able to form a community of harmony or to grow and survive without love (cf: Familiaris consortio, no.18). However, regretfully, today's family has lost the art of dialogue, and indifference among family members is increasing. According to a survey, only half of families share dialogue everyday. The problem is that our modern life pattern does not allow families enough time for dialogue or to be together. However, we have to rediscover the value of dialogue and love in the family that are the basis of communion and human relationship. For this we have to make an effort to be faithful in little things like coming back home early after work and turning off TV and computer when necessary.
6. In order to establish the principle of family, we have to go back to God who founded the human family. Family prayer that is offered in common, with husband and wife, parents and children together is very important (cf: Familiaris consortio, no.59). The Christian family's actual participation in the Church's life and mission is in direct proportion to the fidelity and intensity of the prayer with which it is united to the fruitful vine which is Christ the Lord (cf: Familiaris consortio, no.62). In spite of this, family prayer is very much neglected in many families. Only very few families regularly pray together and most of them pray only one or two times a year. I invite each family to light a candle and say the family prayer faithfully. In this prayer, we can think of each of our family members including those who have passed away and those who are not yet born.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
7. The Holy Father said that "The family crisis is a social crisis". Among many paths, the family is the first and the most important one. It is a path common to all, yet one which is particular, unique and unrepeatable, just as every individual is unrepeatable; it is a path from which men and women cannot withdraw(cf: Letter to Families, no.2). In order to establish authentic family principles, the Church is called upon to make the utmost pastoral effort, and the government is urged to make political efforts. Special pastoral care is required for jobless families, homeless families, broken families and lonely elderlies. When we realize the considerable influence the mass media has over the life of individuals, it is very important for those who work in the media world to strive to keep our families healthy by eliminating obscene films and violent programs on TV. However, it would never be enough to emphasize that the family itself is totally responsible for establishing a right family (cf: Familiaris consortio, no.72). Our wish for all Christian families is that 2002 be a year to strengthen their families and to promote a culture of love and life.
May God's abundant grace be granted to each and all who struggle to build up this culture of life and love.
December 30th, 2001
+ Peter Lee
Bishop of Military Ordinariate President
Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry
News from the Church in Korea
* Catholic Church in Korea Celebrates 40 Years of Establishment of Hierarchy
The Catholic Church in Korea, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the hierarchy, is called to undertake a structural transformation of the Church. This will be directed toward communion and evangelization of the Asian continent, including North Korea, with increased development reflecting the Church's quantitative growth.
The hierarchy of the Church in Korea was established on March 10th, 1962, with the promotion of its apostolic vicariates to dioceses. Since then, the Church in Korea has made significant growth in both its structural and financial aspects, including clerical autonomy that is the foundation of the hierarchy. According to the Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea, published by the CBCK, as of the end of 2000, the number of Korean priests increased from 294 to 2,892 about ten times the number in 1962; for dioceses, from 9 to 15 in South Korea alone (including Military Ordinariate); for Korean bishops, from 4 to 23; for the number of the faithful, from 530,217 to 4,701,560; for parishes, from 275 to 1,228. Despite this quantitative growth, however, the Catholic Church in Korea is now faced with difficult problems, such as decreased numbers of the baptized, decreased participation in the sacraments, an increase in the number of tepid believers, the bureaucratization of the clergy and the weak spirituality of the faithful.
"It is time to deepen the faith, for this, the Church in Korea should protect the truth of its faith life, and strive for holiness," said the Most Rev. Michael Pak, President of the CBCK. As a future task for the Church in Korea, he pointed out the evangelization of the Asian continent, including North Korea, as encouraged by the Holy Father.
* 115 Candidates Chosen as Servants of God
The Committee for the Selection of 'Servants of God' chose 115 candidates as ' Servants of God' at the meeting held in Wanju, Jeonbuk, January 15-16th. Among the 215 persons proposed as candidates by various dioceses, the Committee chose 115 candidates as Servants of God, including Jeong Yak-jong, Gwon Sang-yeon and Father Zhou Mun-mo as 'martyrs' and Father Thomas Choi Yang-eop and Kim Bum-u as 'witnesses'. The 29 persons, whose Christian names are incorrect and where evidence of martyrdom is uncertain, were reserved for reexamination, while 71 persons were excluded due to insufficient proof of their martyrdom. The Most Rev. Michael Pak, Chairman of the Episcopal Special Commission for Beatification and Canonization, who presided over the meeting, said, "For the effective process of beatification and canonization of the Korean martyrs, veneration and devotion to the martyrs should be promoted within the Church". He invited the clergy, religious and faithful "to pray and visit the sanctuary of the martyrs". The list of the 115 chosen candidates was presented to the Episcopal Special Commission for Beatification and Canonization for approval.
* Education for Missionaries
In January 2002 the Korean Catholic Foreign Missionary Educational Association (KCFMEA) conducted an education programme for missionaries going overseas. The workshop was held at Chongno Catholic Church in Seoul from January 7th to February 1st 2002. Thirty four persons participated including lay persons, sisters, brothers and priests from some seventeen congregations or organizations.
In recent years the numbers of Korean Church personnel going on cross-cultural mission has increased dramatically. This was the 4th programme sponsored by the KCFMEA and to date some over 120 missionaries have participated. This year the Korean missionaries were going on mission to some fourteen countries including Ethiopia, Cambodia, China, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Mongolia, Ecuador and Ireland. The programme ended with a retreat directed by Fr Son Kyong-Soo MM and the Missioning Mass was celebrated by the Most Rev. Boniface Choi Ki-san, Bishop of of Inchon.
* Collaboration Between Churches in Korea and Japan Enters New Phase
The Most Rev. Augustine Cheong, Bishop of Pusan, appointed two of his priests to the Diocese of Hiroshima, Rev. Joseph Chang Yong-jin and Rev. John Kim Hyeon-yong, as of January 2002. It is the first time that the Church in Korea has sent Korean priests to Japan for the pastoral ministry of the local Japanese people. In August 2001, at the preparatory meeting of the celebration of the first anniversary of the peace pact between the Diocese of Pusan and the Diocese of Hiroshima, the Most Rev. Misue Atzumi, Bishop of Hiroshima, asked the Most Rev. Cheong to send priests to his Diocese for the pastoral ministry of the local Catholics of his diocese. Also, he made a further request to send seminarians to study theology in Japan and be ordained as diocesan priests of the Diocese of Hiroshima.
Japan has 16 dioceses and around 400,000 Catholics. The Diocese of Hiroshima has 41 parishes and some 21,200 Catholics and 23 priests. "Sending Korean priests to the Diocese of Hiroshima may help the difficult pastoral situation of our Sister Church which is lacking in priests. Also we expect this will give witness to the unity in Christ of our two Churches and foster a positive relationship between the two countries," said the Most Rev. Cheong.
* Two Catholic Sisters Awarded the Order of National Service Merit
On December 27th, Sr. Cho Seong-ae from the Congregation of Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres and Sr. Choi Bun-I from Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were each awarded the Order of National Service Merit. "Capital punishment must be abolished," said Sr. Cho Seong-ae the awardee of the Dongbaek(Camellia flower) Order of National Service Merit for her life-long dedication to serve condemned criminals and prisoners.
"My conviction is that we have to start by abolishing the capital punishment system in Korea so as to build a social environment where human life is respected and appreciated. Thus, I hope this award serves to advance the abolition of the death penalty," she said.
Sr. Cho whom people call "the mother of condemned criminals", has dedicated herself to the social correction apostolate since 1977. From that time on she has led 760 prisoners to the Church and helped released prisoners and their families in various ways, such as finding jobs.
"I want to be with my friends until the last day of my life," said Sr. Choi Pun-I who was awarded the Mokryeon(Magnolia) Order of National Service Merit on December 27th for her 36 years of service to the poor, alcoholics and homeless people. Since 1966, Sr. Choi has served the most marginalized people in society, such as orphans, those who suffer from Hansen's disease and mental patients at the House of Hope in Daegu. In 1989, she opened the first free meal center for the poor in Daegu area. From that time on people have called her 'friend of the poor'. Now, she lives with 70 street people and alcoholics at the House of Joseph located in Seongju, Gyeongbuk.
* For World Peace, Peace Should Germinate from Korean Peninsula
"It is easy for a leader to be respected by people, but it is not easy to be loved by people. I was deeply impressed to see the Holy Father so loved by so many people including religious leaders of the world, and to see the unity, love, peace and harmony that surrounded the Pope," said the Confucian leader Choi Chang-gyu, who was invited to the World Day of Prayer for Peace held in Assisi on January 24th. "I hope humanity will realize the peaceful world we promised during the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in solidarity and collaboration with world religions," he said. In his address in Assisi, the Venerable Choi Chang-gyu reconfirmed that ?eace cannot be built by violence or war, such as humanity has witnessed in the September 11th terrorist attack and the U.S.-led military action against Afghanistan," and added "When humanity practices the spirit of 'In(仁)' that is love for oneself and others for our peaceful world, then peace should germinate from the Korean peninsula, which is the only divided country in the world." The Venerable Choi is the President of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace and Chairman of Seong-gyun-kwan, the Confucian scholars' Conference in Korea involving 234 Hyanggyos(Confucian schools) and the Confucian world.
* Bioethics Committee of the CBCK Reconfirms Urgency of Enacting Bioethics Basic Laws
The Bioethics Committee under the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith of the CBCK reconfirmed at its meeting held on Jan. 25th the urgency of enacting the bioethic basic laws to ban the cloning of the human embryo. This agreement came from the common awareness of the participants that the "Draft Bill on the Basic Law on Life Ethics" drawn up by the Korean Bioethics Advisory Commission of the Ministry of Science & Technology was against the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, since it allows experiments on human embryos. The participants agreed to lay the foundation for the enactment of laws to regulate bioethical experiments by introducing experts on biotechnology as research members and by publishing books presenting the documents of the Church on bioetics.
The Most Rev. Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, President of the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith, pointed out that "In Korea, there exist serious ethical problems of bioethics due to the absence of laws to regulate them," and strongly urged the enactment of related laws. On the other hand, the Bioethics Committee also had a joint meeting with the Bioethics Committee of the Archdiocese of Seoul and discussed a document titled "Prospect for Transplantation" issued by the Pontifical Academy for Life. The document reaffirms the teachings of the Church with regard to the recent controversy over 'knock-out' pigs, in which genes causing rejection in transplantation were removed. The two committees also analyzed the draft bill of the Government in the light of the Catholic teachings on bioethics.
News in Brief
The Korean Catholic Community in Washington D.C. will open St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon's House for local senior citizens over 65 of age with low income, regardless of their religion, nationality or background. 80 small-sized apartments will be ready in October.
Muslims in Korea sent an appreciative letter for the "Message for the End of Ramadan" from the Catholic Church. Imman Lee of Seoul Mosque said "Messages you have sent us every year became a catalyst which helped us sympathetically understand that all the believers have the same aspiration for peace".
The Lay Apostolate Council of the Diocese of Cheongju launched the "Bring-Back-Lost-Ship Movement aimed at finding some 40,000 faithful of the Diocese and helping them back to the Church.
As of January 25th, Waegwan Abbey Order of St. Benedict became associated with the Newton Abbey in New Jersey, U.S.A., making the latter one of its branch priories. It is the first time a Korean religious institute has become associate with a foreign religious institute. *
As a Lental program, the Biblical Committee of the CBCK launched the 'Movement to Transcribe Readings'. "By writing out the biblical text the lector can convey the content and meaning of the Word more faithfully to the congregation," said the Most Rev. John Chang Yik, Persident of the Committee.
The Ministry of Culture & Tourism of the Korean Government seleced Jeong Yak-jong Augustine, martyr of the Sinyu Persecution in 1801 and a great leader and scholar of the nascent Korean Catholic community, as "This Month's Cultural Figure" for January 2002.
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr
Saint Kim Ob-I Magdalene (1774-1839)
Saint Kim A-gi Agatha (1787-1839)
Saint Han A-gi Barbara (1792-1839)
The first executions of 1839 took place at the Small West Gate in Seoul. Nine persons were martyred, of whom three were men and six were women. Three of the women, Kim Ob-I Magdalene, Kim A-gi Agatha, Han A-gi Barbara, had been arrested three years earlier and spent the intervening time in prison.
Kim Ob-I Madgalene was a Catholic from her childhood, unlike many others. She came into adulthood with a deep faith. Uppermost in her mind was the question of how to live a holy life. She fervently meditated on how she, as a woman, could best serve the Lord and made every effort to follow the teachings of the Church both in mind and body. While still young she had made up her mind to remain a virgin because it was the only way to ensure she would follow the teaching of Jesus and keep her body pure. However, this dream was not to be fulfilled. Her parents were not Catholics and they could not understand her intention. Young Magdalene could not overcome her parents' opposition and consequently got married. Due to the Lord's grace her new family was Catholic, but unfortunately, she lost her husband early and her children as well. After her mother's death, Magdalene committed herself more actively to the Church and the practice of her faith. She taught Catholic doctrine to her neighbors. Her personality was so pleasant that many people were happy to learn from her. At this time the government began to persecute the Catholic religion. She was willing to offer her life for the Church if that was what was required.
Kim A-gi Agatha was born into, and brought up in, a family that had no connection with the Catholic Church. She also married into such a family. At that time Catholic teachings were regarded as heresy after the incident in 1791, when Yun Chi-ch'ung Paul burned his ancestral tablets. It was only a matter of time that persecution broke out. In fact it came in 1801. Agatha and her husband had no occasion to learn the Catholic doctrine and, knowing the dangers involved, they showed no inclination to do so either. They stuck to Confucianism. However, one day Agatha's older sister came for a visit. She was a devoted Catholic. In the front room of Agatha's house was a large rice chest and over it the ancestral tablets. There was also a strange picture on the wall. Agatha's sister regarded these as the height of wickedness. When the opportunity offered itself she said to her younger sister,
"What on earth do you keep those things in your house for? It is useless superstition. Throw them out and do not believe in them again."
"What can I do? I am married to someone who believes in them."
"There is only one who rules over the whole world. That is Christ. It is time you also woke from darkness to learn and practice the truth."
After listening to her sister Agatha experienced a great longing. While agreeing with her sister's reasoning, she could not ignore the reality of her own surroundings. She was a woman who, up until then, had lived in a house that had no connection with the Church. However, she made up her mind to suffer willingly whatever difficulties came her way because of her decision to behave rightly in following God's truth.
Agatha came late to the study of Catholic doctrine but once she started she grew quickly in fervor. It appears she was not very bright because no matter how hard she tried she was unable to learn the morning and evening prayers by heart. In the end she became known as the woman who knew nothing but "Jesus, Mary".
Han A-gi Barbara's mother was a Catholic so she leaned about Jesus from her childhood. Due to the teaching and example of her mother she received a deeply rooted faith, but when she married an unbeliever she gave up practicing it. One day her mother came to see her married daughter, who was a constant source of worry, and met Kim Ob-I Magdalene outside the house. Being Catholics they knew one another, so Barbara's mother greeted Magdalene and grasped her and said.
"Magdelene. How have you been?"
"I give thanks to God for his grace. But what have you come here for?"
"I am here to see my married daughter, who is a constant source of worry. It is the will of God that we have met. She is more likely to listen to you than to me. Let us go in together and talk to her."
"Certainly. In fact, to tell the truth, I have been waiting for just such an opportunity."
So her mother and Kim Ob-I Magdalene urged Barbara to repent. It was a moment of grace for Barbara. She deeply repented her past sins, and from then on she worked hard to learn and practice the Church doctrine and practiced Christian virtues admirably. Barbara was thirty when she tragically lost her husband and three children. Even in the midst of this misfortune her faith did not weaken. Returning to her parents' house she taught catechumens and gave baptism to neighboring children who were in danger of death. She advised sinners to convert and lived chastely, with self-denial. (To be continued on CBCK Newsletter No.39)