Friday, February 19, 2016

Challenges Come in Many Sizes

Vocations to the priesthood are no longer as plentiful as in the past, and in certain nations of the West the decline is serious. Reasons are many: the culture and the number of children families are willing to have are  factors in the results we see.

However, we hear stories of oases within the deserts, and individual stories of men who have made the step in unusual ways. Catholic Times writes about one such case in the recent issue.

A young man from the States, 25 years old, has a dream of becoming a priest for the Seoul Diocese. The only connection with Korea was learning taekwondo when a child. His main reason is to work with the North Koreans, who are no longer part of the South, and have suffered much. After the death of Kim Jong-il,  he became acquainted with the sufferings of the North, and wants to contribute in helping them; life as a priest came to mind.

Concretely expressed: he was teaching English in a middle school in the South of France and met some missioners from Brazil, which helped him make his decision. Communicating with the Christians and receiving spiritual help from the missioners strengthened his resolve to become a  priest, and help those in need. Before this, not once did he ever consider the priesthood.

His family were devout Catholics, but growing up whenever the thought of a priest came to mind: they were those who prayed in the rectory of the parish; this misunderstanding was all he had. His parents were welcoming of his decision but had some concern about the division within the country.

By the Internet, he got in touch with the Seoul Seminary; communication began by e-mail with the vocation director. After many exchanges, the diocese decided to accept him as a candidate. At the beginning of November of last year, he arrived in Korea, and is now resident in the preparatory school for seminarians. 

His big worry is learning Korean. He had his first meeting with the students preparing to enter the seminary, and in relating to the students he was frustrated in not being able to communicate as he would like. At Chicago University he majored in Romance Languages: languages that have developed from Latin-- French, Italian,  Spanish,  etc.. He speaks French like a native and has a gift for languages. In order to make his living expenses he teaches in a language academy and doesn't have the time to study as he would like.

With his experience at a well-known  university, he knows the problems one has in the years of study, and is looking forward to sharing what he has learned with others. During his one year of preparation he hopes to grow in humility and patience. He will be praying to St. Andrew Kim Taegon, and  Paul Chong Hasang and asks for the readers' prayers.

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