Saturday, October 29, 2011

Maryknoll Korea's 100th Anniversary Celebration

On  Oct. 25th the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of Maryknoll, the foreign Mission Society of the Catholic Church in the United States, in the diocese of Cheongju, thanks to the kind invitation of the bishop. The celebration took place in the cathedral parish with Cardinal Chong, the main celebrant, the Maryknoll Vicar General, the Asian Regional Superior, the apostolic delegate, 15 bishops, many priests and sisters, and over 800 lay people.  They were there to give thanks and offer congratulations to the Society.

The Cardinal, in his sermon, recounted the history of the Korean Maryknoll presence from its time in North Korea to the present--a total of 88 years, with 15 Maryknollers remaining in the country. Two priests of the Brothers of St. Luke Hwang Sok-tu Mission Society were present and  said they will be following the spirit of the Maryknoll Society and the zeal shown by the missioners. 

Bishop Chang Gabriel gave a plaque thanking the Society to the Maryknoll Vicar General and a candle to our local superior commemorating the 100th anniversary celebration.

The editorial in the Peace Weekly mentioned that in comparison to the Jesuits and the Paris Foreign Mission Society,  Maryknoll has a brief but unique history. It was established to work in Asia and went through the trying times of the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and the control of China by the Communists: a time of persecutions and martyrs.

Maryknoll founded the dioceses of Pyongyang, Cheongju, and Incheon, and also was present in other parts of the country. The editorial mentions that the society worked in Korea under the occupation  of the Japanese and the Communists, which made for a very difficult working environment.

In the Peace Weekly interview with Fr. Hammond, the Maryknoll local superior, he recalls an incident while he was a student in the seminary. " Maryknollers have a feeling of sorrow and regret," he said, "when we think of Pyongyang. Monsignor George Carroll, who had spent years there before being forced out, later during a talk to his seminary students  broke down crying. I remember it still very clearly," he said. "When we think of the division of the country and the war our hearts become heavy."

Maryknollers would like to see, as would all Koreans, a unified Korea again. The feelings of sorrow and anger continue to show in the different attitudes toward the North when it comes to dialoguing with the North and giving aid. What can we, who are not directly involved, do to bring about better relations with the North?  We can pray and make efforts to heal some of our own mental and emotional scars that remain since the partition of the country.  

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