Saturday, January 9, 2010

Parternership in Korean Catholic Church

The importance of age in Confucian society is obvious; Korea is one such society. Seniority was the way the society kept order in relationships; it is easily determined, and it works-- there need not be any quibbling for your birth certificate settles it. This makes for a hierarchical understanding of the work place. Korea's success can in no small way be attributed to this order they have in society. It is very Confucian and familiar to the Koreans.

In recent years the Catholic Church of Korea has been experimenting with team ministry among the priests: priests working together as equals, collaborative ministry, partnership. It is at odds with the hierarchical, and seniority system that Korea knows well and surprisingly the Church off and on, in recent years has shown an interest in this new form of ministry. There has been a lot of talk, some attempts and now a diocese is going to implement it for all the parishes in the years to come.

It is often said in jest, one Korean versus one Japanese, the Korean wins, you put two against two and the Japanese win. There may be some truth to this. This is one reason, it would seem, the collaborative ministry idea will not be very successful, but Korea does surprise.

The Diocese of Pusan has been experimenting since 2007 on collaborative ministry in parishes. This year the bishop will have 7 parishes in the Ulsan area working with this and in the future he hopes all the parishes will have a team ministry approach to the work. The bishop feels that up to now we have not see the synergistic principle working in our parishes, with this change he feels we will. By synergy he means that with two working together they will accomplish more than if they work separately--the results will be multiplied.

The intention is to have two priest working together as a team. The pastor will have the responsibilities under law for the parish. He will represent the parish in the larger community and where it is required by Church law, but in all the other workings of the parish they will work together and plan together as associate pastors. The people have desired this and they have had success with the experiments in this area over the years.

In Korea, Maryknoll has had a number of these attempts at team ministry but they all have failed. The problem with the failures is they are used against future attempts. It would seem all would see the value of working together as equals. It was Jesus' approach to the work. Most of the failures could be from a lack of preparation in working together and the motivation of those involved. Hopefully the Pusan efforts at team work bear fruit and be a stimulus to the whole Korean Church.

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