Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Spirituality of Smallness" in the Evangelization of Asia

At the recent Lay Leaders' meeting in Seoul, 400 delegates from 18 countries came together to discuss the role of the Catholic Church in Asia today, the nature of their work and prospects for the future. Since the Catholic population in Asia is small the theme for the six day meeting, "Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today," was an attempt to address the difficulties of evangelizing in this part of the world, including the need to deal with the lack of religious freedom in many  of the countries. 
The editorial in the Peace Weekly mentioned the worry  of the preparation committee for the program, but  the praise given by the Cardinal representative from Rome changed the worry into great joy.

At the beginning of the 6 day meeting a representative from  each of the countries gave an introduction of the work and prospects for the future.
One of those countries, Turkmenistan, unfamiliar to most delegates both in name and location, has one priest, Fr. Andrzej Madej, serving a community of 95 Catholics. Though the community is extremely small, it is nearly a 100 fold increase from the time, 13 years ago, when the country had two missioners and one Christian, an Iranian, as a congregation. The priest who worked with him has been changed, but he will be joined by another Spanish priest soon.  

Still with no building of their own, they have to use whatever building is available. But an encouraging development was recently registering with the government which gives the Church legitimacy. Not all parishioners are native born; besides the Iranian, there are five Koreans who attend English Mass. He has a special fondness for them and hopes the Korean Church will soon send missioners to the country.

The Catholic presence in this country of 5 million (89 percent Muslim and 10 percent Orthodox Christian) is a stark reminder of the difficult task ahead. Working with very small Catholic communities in most Asian countries, the Church must now be content, said the Cardinal of Seoul in the final address to the delegates, to work with a "spirituality of smallness."


  1. Shouldn't that be a 9500% increase, from one to 95 believers?

  2. Thanks for the correction. I looked at the article from the Peace Weekly again, and I translated his hundred fold into a percentage. Translators are often the betrayers of the writer's meaning. I will make it one hundred fold.

  3. Keep up the excellent work on your blog, Father. (And, if you have time, please say a prayer for my family.)

  4. Many thanks for the kind words. A master blogger giving such a complement gives joy. You and your family will be in my prayers.