Saturday, May 22, 2010

'Common Good' More Than A Word

Many years ago before coming to Incheon, I lived in a country parish, Yong Dong, with a mission station called Hak San, The Peace Weekly recently had an article about the mission's pharmacist, Lee Henry,who is also the parish council president and has been for most of the past 43 years.

There are many devoted Christians who have worked for the Church. Lee Henry and his wife Colomba are such a couple.

He was baptized many years ago in a parish where a Maryknoll Missioner, Fr. Mike Zunno, was pastor. Henry at that time was a student at Chungbuk College, studying pharmacy. He brought his fiance to meet Fr. Mike who told Henry that he was thinking of starting a mission station near the college and asked him if he would be willing, after his marriage, to become the catechist. He accepted the invitation and began his new life working for the Church.

Henry and Columba found accommodations in the area and began the new assignment without having even one Catholic. He was a busy man: catechist, student, husband and father.

It was a difficult time in Korea and the family struggled during those years. In 1967, he was asked again if he would go to a mission station of the Yong Dong Parish where Fr. Zunno had been newly assigned as pastor. He went to the mission station, took over the duties of head catechist, and opened a pharmacy, the only one in the area. Because there are also no hospitals or doctors in the area, the pharmacist is allowed to prescribe medicine.

During the 43 years in Hak San he lived a full life, raising a family of 5 children and sending them all to college; one daughter is now a sister of St. Paul of Chartres.

His concern now is to find a replacement. He has a heart condition that requires constant care, so he wants to move to a city where he can be near his children and a hospital. But he will not leave until he finds a suitable replacement. In the Pharmacy he added benches so that people waiting for their prescriptions could socialize, and in difficult times he would often destroy the books of credit. This is no longer necessary; many believe that buying medicine on credit affects the medicine. A certain sign that life has gotten better.

I lived in this parish for 6 years and know that everything in the article was not embellished. It was through efforts of the couple that the mission station was made a parish, fulfilling a desire the Christians had for many years. There are many working in service to others that are not only looking to do well for themselves but working for the common good. May their numbers increase.


  1. If Fr. Mike Zunno is 주 미카엘 신부님, then he must be the father who baptized me at the Catholic Church Sajik-dong in Cheongju diocese. I got first commonunion from Fr. James Na (나 야고버 신부님). I heard Mike Zunno went back to the US and Fr. Na is in Suwon or Incheon diocese. Maryknoll fathers were so dedicated and humble in the mission. I have very dear memory of Fr. Na. He taught me playing basketball. Could I get his email address?

  2. I am so sorry I missed "Fr." before "Mike Zunno". Fr. Na's Korean name is 나현철. When he left my parish, he gave altar boys foreign stamps he had collected from envelops of letters.

    Fr. Zunno's nickname was "Alleluia Father" because he sang "Alleluia" with very pleasant voice. Fr. Na is so humble father who wore black or white rubber shoes and straw hat in summer like a farmer. I enjoyed annual watermelon party on the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul, because there were a lot of Peters and Pauls in my parish. My father is also a pharmacist and he often told me that he misses the days when Fr. Na was in my parish.

    I really appreciate Maryknoll fathers for their selfless sacrifice and love for Koreans. You loved Koreans more than Koreans love themselves.

  3. Peter many thanks for the kind words.

    You are correct Fr. Mike Zunno is retired and working in the States for Maryknoll. He is stationed in New York at our Center.

    Fr. Na (James Najmowski) is working in Jilin China teaching English. He may be reached at the Maryknoll e-mail

  4. Thank you very much for the infomration! Last night, I talked with my parents and they said "Alleluia Father" was "Fr. Michael Kang"(강 미카엘 신부님, I do not know his American name), not Fr. Mike Zunno. Fr. Kang was also a Maryknoll father who offered Mass for a while at my parish when Fr. Zunno was out of town.
    I hope I could visit them someday.

  5. Fr. Michael Kang is Fr. Michael Duggan who is now the Regional Superior of the State-side Maryknoll Region. You should have little difficulty in meeting Fr. Zunno and Fr. Duggan if you get to New York.

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