Thursday, April 21, 2011

Paris Foreign Missioners In Korea

An interview with Fr. Georges Colomb, Superior General of the Paris Foreign Mission  Society (MEP), was written up in the recent Catholic Times. Korean Catholics, he said, invited the missioners to come to their country, and not  an invitation from Rome.  This desire of the Korean Catholics moved the hearts of the early French missioners, even though knowing that death awaited them in coming to Korea.

The early years of missionary work in Korea were not always without problems, but the  early missioners were still able to send three seminarians to Macau, as support from MEP continued unabated. Ten of the missioners died a martyr's death and there is no regret. The faith and sincerity of the early Christians were repaid by the love and sacrifice of the missioners.

The growth in the  number of clergy in Korea is due in part to the influence of the Paris Foreign missioners. This was the initial intention of the missioners and the first goal of the society, in contrast to the situation in the Philippines and Indonesia where the religious orders where the  evangelizers.

In Asia, from the time of the beginning of the Paris Foreign Missionary Society in 1658, more than 120 dioceses have been established and 5000 seminarians formed. Except for Cambodia, all the different areas have a smaller number of Paris Foreign Missioners doing mission work, but in recent times we are seeing , he said, an increase in the numbers entering the society. Presently, there are 20 seminarians in formation. This year we had three deacons and three priests ordained. In June, we are looking forward to  having four more ordained to the priesthood.

Fr.Colomb mentioned that 10 years ago the society started a program for associate members, and a program for lay volunteers. The volunteers are trained and, under the auspices of the society, sent to experience the life of a missioner, many of them eventually entering the society.

The MEP are considered married to the country where they are sent, feeling a connection not only with its history but with its language, culture, and traditions. The society is  happy to see the  dynamism of the different churches in Asia, and the missioners continue to work for the formation of the local clergy. As long as there is even one missioner left, he will be united with the local clergy. Having left their own country for the mission country, missioners remain wedded to that country for eternity.

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