Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bishop William McNaughton's 50th Anniversary

The first two weeks of June were busy ones in the Inchon diocese with the 50th anniversary of the diocese on June 6th, and on June 11th, William McNaughton celebrated his 50th anniversary as a bishop. He was the second bishop in Korea to have reached this high point in life.

Both Catholic papers had an interview with the bishop. He returned to Korea to celebrate his 50th anniversary to the priesthood the year after retirement; this second visit came after 8 years away from Korea . He retired in 2002.

He mentioned that when he started back in 1961, the diocese had only 18 Maryknoll priests, and no Korean priests. Today the diocese has 277 priests. When  McNaughton became bishop, there were only 23,169 Catholics in the diocese; now  we have 405,000.

The bishop arrived in Korea in 1954 at the age of 28 and was made bishop at the  age of 35 after working in the Cheongju Diocese. When he was made bishop, he returned to the States because there was no money to have the ceremonies here. At his episcopal ordination, he received 10,000 dollars from the  Cardinal of his home diocese, 10,000 dollars from family and friends and 17,000 dollars from Rome. This money lasted, he said, for just one month. Though from the very beginning he was always in need of money, he said he never, even for a moment, worried about finances.

Before he retired he lived with Bishop Choi for a little over two years, which was a great help to him. Bishop Choi now has his own auxiliary  Jung Shin-chul to help share the burdens of the diocese.

The bishop felt that his yearly pastoral visits to the parishes were an important part of his work. He was outspoken on the  treatment that the laborers were getting  in the Dong IL Textile Company.  Oppression by the military government was the response,  but he was not intimidated. It was by  his efforts that we have Labor Day Sunday. The Church has to be on the side of the poor. It was, he says, the example  of the  Church from the beginning, and continues to be.

The bishop mentioned that the number of abortions not only in Korea but throughout the world bothers him greatly. This is an area where Christians should take the lead in the culture for life. He feels the Church should be a  leader in living a simple lifestyle to combat the materialism and consumerism of society. In his own life, he exemplified this style of living by doing without a car and riding the subway and buses. He also gained a reputation, as he says, of being a Scotsman.  His family is from Scotland, and they are known as being closefisted. "I was known," he said, "as being the stingy person from Inchon."

He was asked  by the interviewer what he thought to be the foremost virtue of those who are trying to give the message of Jesus to others. He thought it was holiness. Without that, he said, people will not be attracted by the message.

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