Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First African Priest Formed in Korea

The first African priest, to have finished the required course of studies for priesthood here in Korea, was ordained in his home country on Jan. 9th. He is a native of Zambia, Africa, his name, Ernest Mwila. Ernest finished the same formation program the Korean priests are required to finish before ordination here in Daejeon Catholic Seminary.

He was inspired by the Korean Sisters who were working in his country with orphans and those suffering from AIDS, and decided to come to Korea. He entered the seminary in Daejeon in 2002 and at the end of 8 years was ordained as a member of a religious order. The Korean bishop was thinking of being the ordaining prelate, but Ernest wanted to return to African and be ordained there.

The bishop of Daejeon gave Fr. Ernest a statue of Saint Kim Andrew and told him: "In the future when you are facing problems that seem too much to handle remember St. Andrew who studied to be a priest in a foreign county, and came back to his people to spread Jesus' message and died a martyr."

One of our Marknollers, while on his overseas training program in Korea, attended the seminary in Seoul. After seminary training he returned to the States to finish his course of studies. This is a good way to familiarize one with a different culture and acquaint one with the difficulties of living out side of one's own country, while at the same time continuing his education. The benefits to the students at the seminary is also a by product of this interaction; the cross fertilisation can't be anything but good for the Church.

The desire Fr. Ernest had to return to his own country, even though the bishop and the seminarians were prepared and even hoping he would be ordained in Korea, was something very laudable. He thanked all those who were kind to him over the years, and said that he will return to his impoverished country to plant love and hope among his people.

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