Sunday, July 5, 2015

Patron Saint of Korean Priests

Today is the feast day of the first Korean priest, St. Kim Taegon, Andrew. Born on August 21st 1821 of a noble family. His great-grandfather was an official of the regional government and at the age of 50 was  baptized, shortly after was  arrested and  spent over 10 years in jail where he died. His grandson Kim Chae-jun Ignatius and Ko Ursala  gave birth to Kim Taegon. His father Ignatius was martyred in 1839. 

Kim Taegon, Andrew died in 1846 just 13 months after ordination.  He was arrested  tortured and killed for helping priests come into Korea from China. He is now revered as the  patron saint of all Korean priests, the first priest of a 60 year Catholic history.

Two editorials and  articles in the Catholic papers show us the reasons he is an example of what is expected of a priest. His family was before conversion to the foreign religion, a wealthy and respected member of the Korean nobility. Conversion meant becoming fugitives and living in poverty.

One of the editorials mentioned the talk that Pope Francis gave to the  bishops and priests in which  he  asked them not to strive for success and power in the way of the world. The reason he brought it to their attention: " Your Church is flourishing, a wonderfully evangelizing Church, and big Church."  

Pope Francis, said the editorial, was concerned that the Church will be criticized for being too wealthy.  He doesn't want  the Church to ignore the poor, and be a Church for 'well being' a wealthy and indolent Church, and he is mainly addressing these words to the  bishops and priests.  

Poverty is not destitution. Doing less with what one needs is the beginning of a life of poverty. When we are not concerned with prestige and honors we are on the way to spiritual poverty. We need the material poverty but more so the spiritual poverty that we hear about in the  'Sermon on the Mount' in Matthew's Gospel.     

The editorial ends asking for prayers for priests to  follow the example of St. Andrew Kim. In his short life he was an example of poverty, and asks we pray that priests realize the joys that result from this type of life.     

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