Monday, June 20, 2016

From Success to Service

Korean priests in active service now exceed 5,000, and although we see a drop from the recent past, Korea is doing well. Foreign priests according to Catholic Bishops' Conference still active in Korea stood at 138, which decreased by 20 from the previous year. From the time of the first Korean priest St. Andrew Kim, more than 6,000 were ordained; 536 have died, and 427  have left the priesthood to return to secular life.

How many Koreans in the Diaspora who have immigrated and have become priests in their new homelands is difficult to ascertain, but the two Catholic Weeklies  had articles  about Christopher Eung jin Bae, who was ordained for the priesthood in the Boston Archdiocese in May of this year. He will be the fourth Korean  priest for the archdiocese. He is assigned as the assistant priest at St. Mary's Church, Franklin. On his visit to Korea, he was interviewed by the two weeklies.

The article mentions he was born in Korea; after graduating from middle school the family emigrated to the States. He went on to realize his dream. He went to the University of California at Los Angeles, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduated and got a good-paying job working as an analyst at Accenture, Boston. However, he didn't find the joy he expected, and wanted to know why.

He mentioned he dreamed of marriage and of owning a Lamborghini but with the priesthood, he had to give up this dream. With a group of young people from  his Korean parish, he went to Haiti in 2010 to help the poor and sick for 10 days. He was looking for the meaning of life. The trip filled his head with thoughts he never had before. He considered money the requisite for happiness. Here he was with 9 out of ten of what he thought was necessary for happiness,  searching for the tenth, and unsatisfied. The people  he was working with had barely one and were thankful and happy. 

Returning to Boston and speaking to the pastor the topic of a vocation to the priesthood was mentioned. Three months later, he entered the seminary and took a leave of absence from his work for a year,  just in case....

He was filled with doubt and uneasiness, but all was reversed. He found great joy, the meaning of life and  went on to the priesthood. His favorite scriptural phrase--Psalm 86:12, which he took for his ordination maxim: "I will give thanks to you, O Lord my God with all  my heart, and I will glorify your name forever."

His road to the priesthood was not just adulation, for his mother continually would tell him to think over well what he was doing. Even at his ordination his mother cried uncontrollably from the sadness she felt.  It was this opposition on his mother's part that gave him confidence that his  choice was the right one, and believes his mother will one day agree.

In his own life, he felt like a chipmunk on an exercise wheel and wants to  help  others to find meaning in life, which will depend on his keeping the joy and happiness in life he has found.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Father. I have also read this article the other day. It was very impressive. His story let me have time to think about myself and my life. It is too hard to answer the question: What makes me happy? I am glad he found his answer to this question. I hope I can also find my answer in the near future :)
    Have a great day, Father!