Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Singular Vocation to the Poor of Korea

A young woman of 23 came to Korea back in 1959 after a 5-week boat trip from England. She came with 7 pianos that she was going to give to the Taegu Catholic University music department that she heard lacked pianos. She was invited to come to Korea by the archbishop of Taegu and although she was engaged to a doctor, after arriving in Korea she sent the engagement ring back with a note expressing sorrow, but she had decided to give up marriage to work for the poor in Korea.

The Peace Weekly has an article on her receiving an award from the Paradise Welfare Foundation: a secular foundation that is awarding Susannah for her many years of service to the poor. Susannah is now 74 years old and will be given the award even though she is a foreigner. She is an example of service to the poor and a foundation stone for the social work that developed in the Taegu area.

Susannah comes from a wealthy and illustrious English Family. She converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism when in high school and desired to work for the poor. After graduating from Oxford and learning of the persecution of the Christians in Korea, she decided to come to Taegu to be part of this history.

During her time in Korea she was a teacher of English at the University, prepared meals for the shoeshine boys, helped homeless girls, and founded a vocational school for girls.  She felt a singular vocation to help the Archbishop in his work to help the poor.

The article mentions that it was not always easy for her. One of the irksome problems was to understand that 'yes'  does not always mean what it seemed to mean. The Koreans will often say 'yes' for reasons of politeness, not wanting to hurt  feelings, but in other ways indicating that they mean 'no'.  She finally came to understand this saying something and meaning something else. The words we use to express our feelings may be different for each of us but the feeling of love which prompted the expression is often the same.  

She is now a permanent resident of Korea and is present at the baptisms and weddings of many converts to Catholicism, for whom she has a special fondness. It can be said that England is her maiden-home and, in place of a conventional marriage, she found her marriage-home here, in her beloved Korea. Now the work is in the hands of Koreans and she intends to encourage them. "If we are to understand God's unconditional love," she says, "then human love is necessary. By means of human love we know God's love."

No comments:

Post a Comment