Monday, September 12, 2016

Fidei Donum Priests

Fidei Donum is the name of the encyclical of Pius XII published in 1957 which called on the bishops to share their priests with the countries in need, give financial assistance and offer prayers for the missions. Many dioceses have sent priests to areas of the world where vocations were scarce, these priests and religious remain attached to their dioceses.

Both Catholic papers continue to mention the work of  these priests, religious and laypeople working overseas. In a recent editorial, the Church is proud they still are doing well with vocations to the priesthood. Korea has over 5,000 priests and they have over 100 being ordained yearly. This can change in the future but in 2016 the situation still looks bright.

This is not true in many parts of the Catholic World. Reflecting on itself the Church in Korea knows that it has  been blessed. In the editorial, they mentioned the Catholic country of Chile and the diocese of Santiago where the Catholic population would be similar to Korea but have only about 500 priests and Korea has 5,000. They have only about 50 seminarians and this year no one was ordained. This is the ordinary situation in many countries.

When someone is hurting it is our duty to help. For a Christian, this is all the more an obligation. Up until the end of 2015 Korea has sent 99 priests to  countries in need as Fidei Donum priests. 

The Seoul Diocese has added a course in the seminary schedule to prepare priests who are interested in overseas work as missioners. This is now spreading to other dioceses: a very encouraging response for the future.

To leave one's country where one was hoping to serve, and volunteer for a foreign country where they will have to learn a new language and customs is difficult to do. The hope is that we will have more priests who will be willing to do this in the years ahead.