July 5, was the Feast Day of St. Kim Taegon Andrew. In most parishes the feast day was transferred to Sunday. St. Kim Andrew is the first Korean priest to be ordained after the introduction of Catholicism to Korea at the end of the 18th Century. He was ordained in China in 1845 and was martyred the following year.
The Catholic history of
Korea is unique. Before the first priest entered the country there were
already 4000 who considered themselves Catholic. The first priest was
Fr. Chu Moon-mo, a Chinese priest who entered in 1785 worked for 6
years and was martyred on 1801. This community was again without bishops
or priests for close to another 30 years and was able to produce
Christians of great faith willing to die for what they believed.
Parish Foreign Mission Society was given the territory of Korea and
when they entered in 1836 they found dynamic Catholic communities led by
lay people.They selected a number of young boys from the strong
religious families and sent them to the seminary in Macau to study for
the priesthood. Kim Andrew was in this group. He was ordained in China
and trying to find ways to help the French missioners to enter Korea
was arrested and with repeated questioning and torture was beheaded in
has left us a number of letters that he wrote while in prison which
are a lesson to all of us on what a spirituality of martyrdom should
encompass. One of the readings for the office of the day is taken from
one of his letters from prison.
"Hold fast, then, to the will
of God and with all your heart fight the good fight under the
leadership of Jesus; conquer again the diabolical power of this world
that Christ has already vanquished. I beg you not to fail in your love for one another, but to support
one another and to stand fast until the Lord mercifully delivers us from
our trials.There are twenty of us in this place and by God’s grace we are so far
all well. If any of us is executed, I ask you not to forget our
families. I have many things to say, yet how can pen and paper capture
what I feel? I end this letter. As we are all near the final ordeal, I
urge you to remain steadfast in faith, so that at last we will all reach
heaven and there rejoice together. I embrace you all in love."
the feast day the second reading for the liturgy is a good reminder of
what a spirituality of martyrs is all about."We know that afflictions
makes for endurance, and endurance for tested virtue, and tested virtue for hope.
And this hope will not leave us disappointed, because the love of God
has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been give to us