Saturday, August 4, 2018

Magdalena House of Korea

One minute after he started his lecture one of the women shouted: "Good heavens, It's annoying." A college professor was giving a retreat to the women of Magdalena House and writes about his experience in the Catholic Times.

Since 1985, Magdalena House, near Yongsan Station in Seoul, was a resting place for those who were involved in prostitution. A laywoman, a Maryknoll Sister, and priest were there to help those living in situations of violence, oppression and helping those who wanted to escape, gain independence and begin a new life.

The women who shouted continued: "Hurry up and finish." He knew in preparing his talks about the difficulties he would have and spent a lot of time preparing what to say and prayed. He didn't realize all that he was to experience and in retrospect considers the experience a great grace—he was able to share some of the hurts, scars, and tears with the women. He will never forget the experience.

They received a lot of support from benefactors,  especially the late Cardinal Stephen Kim who visited frequently and never questioned them on their life but was a friend. He was always there to help and  often said the funeral Mass for the Catholics who died.

Mary Magdalena was the first to inform the apostles who were stupefied and fearful of the news of Jesus' resurrection. In the 'patriarchal' society where men have all the power, the important role and authority in society was the male. Knowledge and virtue are appropriated by the males and women are easily perceived only as auxiliary workers. But a patriarchal society, which recognizes women's place and role only as accessories, is incompatible with Jesus' declared "Kingdom of God".

What is needed for the healthy growth of a young child is a mother's breasts and warm love, and those suffering in the world need 'divine maternal love' which reveals 'God's mercy'! The church inspired by the Holy Spirit has testified to the world the "joy of the gospel" by the actions of the spiritually healthy laypeople, religious, and clergy.

This is the 'field hospital' that Pope Francis often mentions. Magdalena House is very important in the modern history of the Korean Catholic Church. In the midst of some of the most vulnerable, marginalized and abandoned women, the church was present supporting their human rights and helping the women to become self-reliant and proclaiming everybody is precious in the eyes of God.

Unfortunately, last year, Magdalena House was closed but has been working on a variety of ways to care for and support women in these desperate situations. Today, the Korean church looks bigger, but the church doors smaller and the walls are getting higher. When the church exists only for itself, its salt will lose its taste.

The professor concludes the article praying that the place of 'light and salt' in the work of the church increases as in 'Magdalena type communities', witnessing to the joy of the gospel among the poor and needy. "I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).

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