Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Vision for Pastoral Work in Korea

Looking over the recent statistical report for the year 2011, the editorial in the Catholic Times mentions areas of serious concern. The numbers of those not coming out to church and those not frequenting the Sacraments present serious problems, but just as serious is the ebb and flow of Christians: the continuing loss of the young, and in the opposite direction the increase of the elderly membership.

Comparing last years statistics with 2001, very conspicuously there is a decrease in attendance of 24.4 percent of those under the age of 19, but an increase of over 127.5 percent for those more than 70 years old.  Even compared with the whole of society this is a very serious gap between these two groups in the Korean Catholic community. The loss of the young and the aging of the Christians is a serious problem confronting the Church. The effort and money expended in these two areas is also seen, regrettably, as insignificant.

The editorial sees a need for an order of preference in the pastoral work of the future. There are mountains of concerns but the young and the old are two problem areas which will escalate, according to the editorial, to more serious problems if efforts are not made now to remedy the situation. 

The recent issue of the Kyeongyang magazine profiles a diocese that is doing something about the youth problem.  Bishop Chang of Cheongju has always considered the young in his pastoral message each year, and just recently built a youth center in the oldest parish of the diocese. The diocesan center, an expensive piece of property will also be used for youth activities. This in itself is a sign of where the bishop wants the  diocese to go. There is a room where the tabernacle and altar of the first bishop of Cheongju, Maryknoll Bishop James Pardy, is kept, showing the connection with the past, the present and future.

The Center is still not operating according to plans but this will soon change.  Before programs can be effective, however, the priest responsible for the youth work in the diocese feels there has to be a change of attitude among those working with the youth.  Our youth are not only the future but they are now making the future, he emphasized. The Center is not only for the young but will be run by them, he said. The young will make the Center the vibrant environment he hopes it will become.

Communication with the youth is the starting point, and from there everything else will develop naturally.  He hopes that it will be a stimulus for the young and a bridge to working with all the youth of the diocese.

No comments:

Post a Comment