Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Last Foreign Bishop of Korea

Bishop McNaughton, the first bishop of the Inchon diocese, recently celebrated his 60th year of priesthood in a Korean Catholic parish of Boston. The Mass of Thanksgiving was written up in the Peace Weekly.

The bishop retired in 2002 and returned to the U.S., and his home state of Massachusetts. It gave the Korean community an opportunity to thank Bishop McNaughton for his many years of service to the Korean Church. During the sermon he recalled leaving for Korea on a boat from San Francisco, and 16 days later arriving at the harbor of Pusan. He was greeted by a delegation of Korean Catholics, which made him feel he was beginning life all over again.

His sermon, given in fluent Korean, said the journalist, was attentively listened to by the congregation. His forty one  years as the ordinary of the diocese and his zeal for the growth of the church was praised by many in the congregation, who admired what the 'old missioner' had accomplished. The bishop regretted learning that while the numbers of Korean Catholics have increased, those going to church have decreased. He asked the parishioners to have a love for the poor and to share their faith. After Mass, there was a celebration for the bishop in the church hall.

Bishop McNaughton began his missioner life in the Cheongju diocese. He was pastor of two parishes in the city, and in 1961 was made a bishop and the first ordinary of the Inchon diocese, which he led for 41 years. In the beginning of his tenure as bishop, there were 9 parishes, 19 clergy and 23,000 Catholics. Today, it is the fourth largest diocese in the country, with 20 parishes, 300 clergy and 460,000 Catholics. His retirement brought to an end a long line of foreign bishops in the Korean Church.

Maryknoll came to Korea in 1923, and this year will celebrate 90 years of pastoral work in Korea, which began in Pyeongyang, North Korea, at that time Korea was a  colony of Japan. In 1950, with the beginning of the Korean War, the Maryknollers moved South and were given the diocese of Cheongju, the diocese in which Bishop McNaughton began his missionary life.

One of the bishop's great achievements was building a seminary which has proven to be very successful, educating seminarians for  future work in North Korea and China besides the diocesan clergy. It is a fitting memorial to his long years of service to the Korean people and will continue to serve them well into the future. After the sermon, the pastor thanked Bishop McNaughton for his many years of service to the Korean Church, and said the Korean clergy will be paying back the debt by working zealously in the vineyard of the Lord.

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