Monday, January 30, 2012
Something to Shout About
Catholic parishes are usually well-filled on Sundays, but on weekdays it's rather quiet. The journalist writing the story arrived at the Seoul parish on a weekday afternoon around 3:00. Although there was a parish Mass going on, there were no other parish activities; yet there were many in the parish meeting room enjoying beverages, talking and reading. The office worker mentioned, to the surprise of the journalist, that since it was vacation time there were fewer than usual that afternoon.
Not only Catholics but others come to the parish meeting room to spend time, using the vending machines for beverages and socializing around the many tables that have been set up to encourage meeting and sharing with others. The beverages are just a little above cost which makes them attractive both to the congregation and to those not part of the community. In a period of 2 years, 12 different exhibitions were held in the meeting room, which also attracted many from outside the parish community.
The percentage of Catholics in the larger community is over 20 percent. Since the year 2007, and up until last year, they have had 2011 people baptized. And though the parish has been divided, they still maintain the 20 percent.
The article credits the success of these efforts to the educational programs in the parish, the reading of Scripture and popular books on spirituality. Every month since 2009, they have had lectures by qualified people, which have been attended by many from the larger community.
Since 2007, the reading of spiritually oriented books has been extraordinary, which has made for a great change in the spiritual development of the Christians. The parish bulletin has recommended 76 spiritual books, and parishioners have responded by contributing book reviews. And the religious goods store sold nearly 62 thousand books, about 40 books per household of those attending Mass on Sunday.
The money given in thanksgiving each month would be more than the Sunday collections and monthly offerings in the ordinary parish.In addition, the Seoul parish has helped other parishes and groups in the diocese with tens of thousands of dollars. And during the past year, they saw the start of 13 different presidia of the Legion of Mary. Certainly the Seoul parish has accomplished much in a very short time, and has much to shout about.
The pastor is quoted in the article and alludes to the educational programs and reading that have changed the attitude of the Christians. "They have begun sharing with others. This is the new evangelization that is needed for the new times in which we are in." he concludes.