Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bishop Chang Bong-hun's Message

The congratulatory message delivered by Bishop Chang Bong-hun to mark the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Maryknoll Society

 1. I congratulate Maryknoll on the 100th anniversary of its foundation. I think it is a great joy and a great honor to offer this Mass of thanksgiving in the cathedral of the Cheongju Diocese.

The entrance of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers into the land of Korea in 1923 came at both a turbulent and painful time in the long history of Korea. This is greatly recorded in the secular history of Korea and in the history of the Korean Church. We give praise and thanks to God for the great blessings He has bestowed on the land of Korea through the Maryknoll Society over the last 88 years.

Especially in the Cheongju Diocese Maryknoll laid the foundation; and in providing a base for the present-day flourishing of the Cheongju Diocese, it made a great contribution.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us give a round of applause to show our gratitude to Maryknoll for setting the stage for evangelization in the Chungbuk area.

2.In 1953 the Maryknoll Society received the mandate to evangelize in the Chungbuk area and came here for the first time. Later in 1970 the responsibility for ministry was transferred to the Korean priests, and those 17 years were truly a period of great blessings.

In 1953 when the Maryknoll Society came here, the land of Korea had been devastated by the Korean War, and the Chungbuk area in particular was behind and in a very poor and desperate situation.

At that time for the people who were hungry and suffering from sickness, rather than just teach them the word of God, preaching the gospel was to give food and clothing to them and relieve their suffering from sickness. The Maryknoll Society started relief work, giving food to the starving people and providing clothes for those who suffered from the cold. Health services, especially the Maryknoll Sisters Clinic in Jeungpyung and the Free Medicine Service Centers in Okcheon and Boeun offered relief to many ailing people and brought dying people back to life.

The Maryknoll Society also planted the seeds of hope in the remote and desperate rural areas of Chungbuk. It established and managed credit unions in the churches and developed pig cooperatives in the country areas, filling poor people and farmers with hope.

Over the 16 years from 1953 to 1979 the Maryknoll Society secured 25 sites to build new churches, built 80 mission stations, and laid the foundation for evangelizing in the rural areas of Chungbuk Province. It also worked to develop vocations and actively cultivated Korean priests, especially by managing the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and running church libraries. Upon this foundation the Cheongju Diocese grew up and today we have evangelized 11 percent of the Chungbuk residents, making this diocese third in the rate of evangelization among the 16 dioceses of Korea. The Cheongju Diocese is bearing the fruit of the efforts of the Maryknoll Society. The Cheongju Diocese is a diocese established by zeal for evangelization and the devotion of the Maryknoll missionaries. Once again I give deep thanks to the Maryknoll Society on behalf of the people of the diocese.

3. The Maryknoll Society is a society of apostolic life established for evangelizing in Asia, Regrettably, however, vocations have decreased rapidly and now it cannot send missionaries to Asia. On this meaningful 100th anniversary of its foundation, the Cheongju Diocese has renamed the Saint Hwang Seok-du Luke Mission Society, which was established by a priest from the diocese, as the "Saint Hwang Luke Seok-du Foreign Mission Society." From now on the Saint Hwang Seok-du Like Foreign Mission Society will carry on the unfulfilled dream of the Maryknoll Society to evangelize in Asia. Also on this meaningful 100th anniversary of its foundation, two priests of our diocese have volunteered to evangelize in China and North Korea.

The Cheongju Diocese will not forget the contribution of the Maryknoll Society. We will make every effort to carry on its founding spirit and passion for evangelization. Again I congratulate Maryknoll on the 100th anniversary of its foundation, and I ask the mercy of God for the deceased Maryknoll missionaries, and I wish the Maryknoll Society the blessings and love of God.

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