Father Benedict Min-seo is the first unable to hear or speak Korean priest; ordained in 2007 after many years of discernment and study. Thirty years ago, the handicapped found attending college almost impossible. He writes this month in the Seoul Bulletin on the people he wants to thank for making the path to the priesthood possible.
He was on pilgrimage in Turkey when he received news of the sudden death of a priest who was the vocation director of the diocese. There was no possibility of receiving the necessary education for the priesthood in Korea but was told of the possibility in the United States. He spent 10 years studying in the States and communicated monthly with the vocation director about his studies and spiritual life.
He had heard that the vocation director for the diocese because of eyesight problems was asking for a change but when he returned he was still in his position for which he was thankful. He was the one who persuaded the cardinal, bishops, and priests to permit his ordination. He was ordained to the diaconate by the cardinal. The vocation director was changed, and he began to have doubts about the ordination to the priesthood, but all went well and the vocation director was there to receive his first blessing.
soon as he returned from the pilgrimage, he went to the grave site to
thank his mentor for the concern and love he showed him during the many
years of preparation.
Fr. Park doesn't express himself completely on all the difficulties that he had in his article, but has made known in his writings obstacles faced by those with disabilities.
He was born in1965, and lost his hearing at the age of two after receiving the wrong medicine. His desire for the priesthood began at a young age, but this was not possible in the Catholic Church. Protestant Congregations have had deaf pastors for years.
He wrote an article: Deaf Culture and Deaf Church, in New Theology Review, Nov. 2009. In the article, he shows us the way the deaf perceive the way Christians look upon the deaf and the difficulties they have in relating to fellow Christians. As we know it is difficult to understand problems others have, and the only way is to walk in their shoes for a good period of time, which is not really possible. The article written in English gives us an understanding of those with hearing problems and reminds us how little we know of those with disabilities.
Often we are told the deaf feel more alienated than the blind. Concern for those with disabilities has improved greatly. We have parishes in Korea for the deaf and pastoral care people devoted to their needs. We are more sensitive to the needs
of others: thanks to people like Fr. Park.