Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Korean Parish for the Blind

A sure sign that the Korean Catholic Church is  on the side of the marginalized is the latest  effort of the Seoul Diocese to start a parish for the visually impaired. This is the second parish in Korea that will be exclusively for the handicapped, the first, a  parish for the deaf  in the Incheon diocese.

The Seoul Diocese did have  programs for the blind, and a place where they met on Sundays. 500 were registered at the mission, and on  Sundays about 100 attended. It was served by diocesan priests who would take turns saying Mass at their  auditorium.

An editorial in the Peace Weekly mentions how difficult it is for the blind  to live their faith life. The Church has given them the opportunity of offering Mass and studying the catechism, but there was always something missing, lilke not having their their own pastor, and priests would have little time to spend with them because of their other duties. The new parish will change all that and be a catalyst in the pastoral care of  the handicapped.

The registers of the  Catholics will be at the new parish, helping  to form this new  communty. A priest will always be with the community, giving it life, with plenty of time for the members to interact, and accessing  the sacramental life with less rushing. 

The ideal would be to have the handicapped associate with the  non-handicapped in the areas where they live,  but the parishes are not equipped for this role so it was decided to have the  handicapped together in the same parish. They will then  relate easily with other community members and feel less alienated than they would be in a territorial parish. The priest Director of Culture and Information feels that this will encourage the diocese to become more involved in other special pastoral endeavors in the diocese.