Sunday, September 19, 2010

Missionary Growth of the Catholic Church Of Korea

A Priest missiologist working in the Seoul Chancery writes about his experience while studying in Rome many years ago. His column appears weekly in the Peace Weekly giving us interesting facts about missions. During vacation time, he wanted to spend some time in England to learn English and prepare his thesis. Staying at a house  for missioners while in London, he met an Irish missioner who was retiring from the missions and returning to  Ireland. He  invited the young missioner to go with him and he quickly accepted.

While in Ireland he met a young man and shared an evening meal with him.  When the young man heard that he was studying mission theology in Rome, he told him about his experience in Africa with about ten others who were interested in getting first hand  experience of mission.

The youth confided that in the beginning it was very difficult getting used to African life but, getting over the awkwardness and  stress of the experience, he learned a great deal about their way of life, especially their way of eating with the hands; he in turn explained his way of eating with fork and spoon. The young man also told the Korean  how he fell in love with the way the Africans offered  Mass with dance and the drums. He explained all this with a great deal of pride and joy, confessing that it  brought change into his life.

The priest goes on to mention an Italian assistant priest who had spent a month in Africa in a student camp years before. The Korean priest was dumbfounded to hear these stories knowing that although the West  has a lack  of priests they are not only sending missioners overseas but young people are also going for an on-the-spot experience of mission. With  this experience, they get to know the life of the missions  and  another people's culture.

The priest also mentioned that the leadership of the mission groups periodically go on mission trips to different areas of the world to encourage the missioners and help them to resolve some of their difficulties. These visits have helped to give the Church of the home-country a perspective on the meaning of Church that has a more  universal understanding of the meaning of Catholicism.

The Korean Church will gradually be sending more missioners overseas. There will  be studies made of the missions and information gathered that will give Korea a different vision of  Church. The information and interest will invigorate the missioners, and those on the home front will know about the difficulties of the missions and be able to help with their prayers and financial donations. The visits of the young people to the missions will also bring news of the missions back to Korea, helping not only the missions and the home country but the visiting young people as well.

The article mentions that the missioners themselves should keep in touch with the home country to inform them of the work in the  missions;  this will increase interest in the missions and give missioners some feedback that will help them to see their work as a great gift from God. This increased interest in the missions is becoming part of  normal Korean life.

Catholic media are carrying more stories of the missions, and more dioceses are getting involved. Today we can look back on  the Korean experience with missionary help from the West as a success story. It was not long ago when Korea needed missioners and financial help--a part of history;  the Catholic Church of Korea now  has the   privilege to return what they have received.

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