During the general meeting of the Seoul diocesan priests, the topic receiving the most discussion was how to find ways of shortening the time assistant priests have to wait before becoming pastors. A priest who is pastor of the Bishops Committee for Missionary Work Overseas expresses his opinion on the topic in a recent issue of the Peace Weekly dealing with the encyclical of Pius XII, Fidei Donum, which called on bishops to face the challenges of the universal mission of the Church by making priests available to other continents.
Answering the call of the Pope to go to
mission countries, he says, may be the answer for those priests who feel
their talents are not being effectively used by the home church. He was
saddened, he said, to learn of the large number of priests who are
frustrated and not able to do what they feel capable of doing as
The pastor had himself spent six years as a missioner
in Chile, where there were over 4 million Catholics in his diocese. In
the year he returned to Korea, the diocese in Chile had only one
ordination to the priesthood. Today, two-thirds of the priests in
Central and South America can be called Fidei Donum priests, but most of
them are now elderly.
About 200 priests, religious and lay
people from Korea are now working as missioners in Central and South
America, where the work is often difficult. One priest has 60 mission
stations to take care of. Over 80 missioners are in Africa, where they
are exposed to malaria and a rugged life. Others work in South Asia,
Oceania, Europe, and in other parts of the world. Those who return have a
soft spot for mission work and do miss the time spent in these
countries, despite the difficulties.
priest uses his writing to recruit volunteers for these mission
countries, but is aware that the allure of materialism tends to corrupt
our way of thinking, making us content to live the easy life and to
justify it--reliving the faults of the Pharisees recorded in the
scriptures. So when a priest becomes a Fidei Donum priest, we should
all rejoice; the diocese will be blessed, and new life will be born.
In order to encourage the process, the diocese has to invest money in the education of these priests and
have programs to facilitate the study of languages. He tells those
interested that they will experience the help of God in language learning, and not to fear the study of languages. Financial help also needs to be given overseas
because these areas of the world are often very poor. He ends by
promising those who do become Fidei Donum priests that they will be
rewarded many times over for their labors on behalf of the poor in the
most needy countries of the world.