Monday, March 11, 2013

Sant'Egidio in Korea

Korean Catholicism has always been a fertile field for new movements. They have done well here and continue to do well. The community of Sant'Egidio began in Rome right after the Second Vatican Council. It is a lay movement with over 50,000 members in 73 countries. This month, Korea will join the movement with its own small group of about 20, sharing the spirituality and principles of Sant'Egidio. The Catholic Times reports on their first meeting in Seoul with the Sant'Egidio representative from Asia.

Prayer, they were told, is at the center of their community life, as well as spreading the Gospel message to all who are seeking to live a meaningful life, in solidarity with the poor, in voluntary and gratuitous service. The movement started in 1968, when a young man, Andrea Riccardi, only 19 years old, along with a group of high-school students, decided to put the words of the Gospel into practice, very much like the beginnings of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles.

After hearing the brief history of the movement, and following a question and answer period, they went to the Martyr's  shrine in Seoul for Mass, where the priest, during the sermon, stressed that a distinguishing mark of the Sant'Egidio community was to take attention off themselves and direct their attention to God. The movement in Korea has started with few members, he said, but with God's grace we will see miracles.

The movement says that war is the mother of poverty. Working for the poor gradually developed into working for peace: protecting, rebuilding and helping to work toward dialogue. The members have been facilitators in working for peace in the world. Where this is impossible, they help to bring humanitarian aid where most needed. The news services have mentioned that Sant'Egidio members have brought aid to the hungry of North Korea at the request of their diplomats in Rome.

Ecumenism is another area in which they have taken great interest, wanting to facilitate dialogue, as well as striving to understand each other better in order to bring about a more peaceful world. It is with this dream that the Sant'Egidio members continue  to work in many of the most difficult areas of the world.