Friday, April 27, 2012

50th Aniversay of the Guadalupe Missioners in Korea

This year marks the 50th year of diplomatic relations with Mexico and also 50 years during which the Guadalupe Missioners have been working in Korea.  Both Catholic Papers are profiling the society in a series of articles introducing us to  their work.

The first superior of the Guadalupe Society was the Maryknoll bishop Alonso Manuel Escalante. The first mission territory was Japan, Korea the second.  The missioners arrived in Korea in 1961. Two missioners were assigned to Pusan, at the invitation of the bishop. In 1963 two priests were assigned to the Kwangju diocese as a result of a meeting between the archbishop and the superior of the the Guadalupe Missioners during the II Vatican Council.

The Guadalupe Fathers worked  to acculturate Catholicism into the Korean culture. The article tells us about the efforts of one priest to inculturate the Mass into Korean, but it was not adopted by the bishops. The society also sent their seminarians to attend the seminaries in Korea, both in Kwangju and in Seoul. They were one of the first to build a Church distinct from the buildings  of that time and always willing to take on the difficult assignments and to go to any place where there was a  need.

The Mexican Church received help from the Spanish Church and, in gratitude, the  Guadalupe Fathers wanted to go to  other countries to do the same. Many worked on the missions  from Mexico but there was no umbrella group in Mexico to facilitate the work.  The  need was felt and some Mexicans studying in Rome, with the help of some  bishops, began discussing the issue, which resulted in two bishops starting a monthly magazine publicizing the idea.

Opposition to the idea was strong. The recent persecution of the Church (1926-1936) influenced the thinking at the time; Mexico was still trying to find its place in society. There was a lack of priests in the country, and the national financial situation  was not good.  However, despite this situation the bishops decided to have a national missionary assembly. It was at this meeting that they formed a committee to prepare plans for the foreign mission society, which was realized in 1948, received  approval from Rome, and they went on to build the first seminary.  Maryknoll Bishop Escalante, a Mexican,  was their first superior. In 1949 the Society celebrated the opening of the seminary and accepted the first students.

The first superior, the founding inspiration for the movement, worked in China for 10 years and though his primary interests were with the Orient, the Society today has missioners in Africa, Hong Kong, Angola, Peru, Brazil, and Cuba. They have 180 members and 90 working in mission countries of the world.

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