Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Korean Catholic Missioners Giving Hope

Korea,  for many years has been a leader in sending  missioners to other countries, and most  of them would be Protestants, but Catholic numbers are beginning to grow. A Catholic Times article reports that  the Church began in earnest  sending their members overseas in the 1980s: the Korean Foreign Mission Society sent  three missioners to Papua New Guinea in 1981, Jeon Ju  diocese sent priests to South America, and religious orders sent men to missions.

Korean Benedictines sent two men to the Philippines, the Korean Foreign Mission society in 1990 sent three missioners to Taiwan-- not only religious and priests but also laypeople. The Columban Missionary Society  sent a team of laypeople to the Philippines in 1990. The  Columban Mission Society,  each year in their missionary formation programs, educate and  send missioners to different parts of the world. 

In Asia there are many Koreans who are working in difficult situations. According to the figures from the  Vatican in 2009 there were 316 Koreans in 20 different  countries, and in 2014  there were  385 missioners in 21 countries: 225 in 17 countries of the Americas, and  79 in 20 countries of Africa. In Asia the largest number of Asians working on the Catholic mission field would be from Korea.

The Asian missioners have learned a great deal from the missioners of the West and in their 40 years on the mission have  learned by trial and error, and the mistakes made by the missioners in history.

Missioners usually go to the poor and marginalized  peoples of the world. They work with the handicapped, women, children, young people in education programs. In these impoverished areas devastated by natural disasters, war and tribal disputes, they bring medical help, welfare, and aid  to better their lives with a new value system and hope for the future.

A Columban Sister has been in Myanmar for 11 years. She is helping them to discover God and giving them a way of life that comes from the teachings of Jesus. They are seeing results from their labors. They have seen those moved by the missioners and have decided to become priests.

Missioners need a good education to overcome the many difficulties they find in the  mission field. It is the same continent but many cultures, religions, and languages. One priest wants the missioners to ask themselves how much do they know about Asia. There is a need to know the culture, the histories and to begin dialogue between the religions and work to incluturate.

Mission in the future may be working with the atheists and unbelievers whose numbers continue to increase and believers decrease. Life has meaning-- may be the clarion call of the missioner to those who trusted in themselves and what they could see and touch, and found that it sapped their energies and left them without hope. Missioners will have the need to  evangelize themselves to bring hope to the many who have lost a reason for living, less in Asia, but numbers  continue to increase.

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