Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Missionary Thrust of Korean Catholicism

Korea is the only country in the world where their own citizens brought Catholicism to the people. Shortly after, they did receive the help of two Chinese priests whose period of work was short because of persecution and death. When the Chinese priest arrived in 1795, there were already 4,000 Catholics. The first Chinese  priest, Fr.Chu, died a martyr  after a short period of missionary work  and forty years later the  Paris Foreign Mission Society entered in 1836 to begin work facing death daily. With  the end of the persecution, other missionary groups entered Korea to help in the work of evangelization.

An article in the Peace Weekly mentions the desire of the Korean Church to repay the work of the foreign missionaries in Korea by sending out their own missionaries to other countries. They want the Church now to be a community  that shares in gratitude, helping other mission countries.

At the end of 2013 there were 979 missioners in six continents and in 78 different countries. Of that numbers 181 are priests. This does not include the number of priests who are working within the Korean Catholic Communities spread throughout the world. The first statistics of missioners working over seas was made in 1995 with 295 listed. This has gradually increased. Within a few years, Korea will have over 1000 working in mission countries.

Diocesan priests working in mission territory for the last 10 years continued to increase until the year 2012 to reach 94. In 2013, it decreased to 82. These diocesan priests who are working in mission countries are called Fidei Donum priests. Fidei Donum is the encyclical  of Pius XII promulgated on April 21 of 1957, which asked the world's bishops to share  their priests with countries that need help. Last year there was an increase of those priests who attended programs for those who will be working in mission countries. There is a total of 3,995 diocesan priest. The number of priests on the missions is only two percent, so there is a desire on the part of many to see this number increased. There are many parts of the world where we have a great lack of priests.

One priest is quoted in the article as saying that the reason for the small number of  diocesan priests on the missions is a lack of awareness of the need of missionary work and the satisfaction they receive in the work in the home country. If we want to see an increase, he says, the seminaries have to instill this in the formation of the seminarians. The bishops also have to become interested in the work of the Church in mission countries. 

The Church in Korea has been blessed with vocations compared to the countries of Africa and Central and South America. In 1984, there were over a 1000 priests. In 1995, over 2,000, in 2004 over  3,000,  and this year there are over 4,000. In the last 30 years, we have had almost a  4 fold increase. The number of parishes has increased 2.5 times. There are now 1,668 parishes in South Korea.  

No comments:

Post a Comment