Fr. Robert M. Lilly sent a Newsletter of the Missionary Benedictines of St.Ottilien who have been in Korea since 1909. This year they are celebrating hundred years of work in Korea. The Newsletter gives us this brief history of the Missionary Benedictines:
An editorial in the Catholic Paper this week had an important point to make about vocations to the religious life. The Benedictines are one of many religious groups working in Korea and many have difficulties with vocations and finances. The Diocese and the Parishes have to work together to foster vocations to the Religious Life was the caption for the editorial. The leadership of the men and women religious and those of apostolic life have asked the bishops to have a course in all seminaries for an understanding of religious life. Without this understanding the Church will suffer. There is a hope that the bishops will do something to help the Korean Church appreciate another way of living the Christian life.
The Korean monks who had fled from the Communists in North Korea started Benedictine monastic life in Waegwan. It was a new start after the flourishing abbeys of Tokwon in North Korea and of Yenki in Manchuria had been suppressed and confiscated by the Communists. Both of these abbeys had a predominant number of German monks. These German monks were at first thrown into prison and later, those who had been able to survive, were sent back to their homeland. The priest-monks of Korean nationality were killed during the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. However, the brothers and clerics were able to seek refuge in South Korea, where they came together, first in Pusan and then later in Taegu. From 1952 the monks resided at Waegwan under the leadership of Father Timotheus Bitterli. This community developed into a priory in 1956 and was elevated to the rank of an independent abbey in 1964. A German monk, Father Odo Haas was elected as the first abbot. He was succeeded in 1971 by a Korean monk, Abbot Placidus Ri. The abbey has ninety-four professed members, twenty-three of whom are Europeans. The monks have been entrusted with an area comprising fourteen parishes in the Archdiocese of Taegu. These pastoral duties include two leprosaria, a tuberculosis sanatorium, a house for the aged, a high school for boys and girls with 3400 pupils. The monks direct three retreat houses and a Theological Institute for the training of religious sisters. Moreover, the abbey runs a publishing house with a printing press as well as a large carpentry shop and is involved in a variety of agricultural activities.