Saturday, August 22, 2009
Archbishop Working as a Hospice Worker
The hospice movement in Korea is going strong. It is the care of the sick and the dying by people who have been trained to do this service of love. The archbishop of Taegu in an interview with the Chosun Ilbo mentioned he entered a program to be a hospice worker. The Archbishop had his own encounter with death when he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus; for 40 days he could not even drink water.
The archbishop was studying political science when he decided that he could do more good by becoming a priest. His father was a devout layman and a well known politician. He did his studies in France and returned to Korea where he became a bishop in 1972 and the Ordinary of Taegu in 1986. Shortly after retiring as archbishop he was diagnosed with cancer. This experience of death made him see life differently. After leaving the hospital he contemplated starting some big project but changed his mind to work as a hospice worker. He decided to work among priests and religious facing death that would welcome his services at that time in their lives.
He had the opportunity to be with a close friend who was a few years older and was dying . He visited him almost daily in the hospital but was not able to be with him at death, although the graph that was by his bedside did register with a surge as he stroked his body. "Was he waiting for me ...? " he thought. My desire is to help those who will be returning to God and to help them do it with peace.
For the Archbishop "death is a natural part of life. We must know death to live well." The archbishop mentioned his time is also limited and to live well is to love. To love a definite person with definite love.