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.