Columban Mission History In Korea

The first group of ten Columbans came to Korea in 1933. After language study they began parish work in the South Cholia province that would later become Kwangju Archdiocese. In 1938 a second mission was started in the Northern province of Kangwondo - today the diocese of Chunchon. The early years were dominated by the harassment of the Japanese and during the period of World War II all Columbans were either placed under house arrest, in jail or deported. In the ensuing Korean War seven Columbans were killed and two were jailed in North Korea for four years. The post war years were spent trying to cope with the devastating hunger and the huge refugee problem resulting from the war.

In the late sixties Columbans moved to the cities following the people who were flocking to work in the new urban industries. Poor living and working conditions led to widespread unrest. Consequent suppression resulted in Columbans participating in the human rights struggle during the 70s and 80s. In the past the major thrust has been the setting up of parishes and Columbans were the first pastors of 125 parishes while working in nine dioceses Some 266 Columban priests have worked in Korea.

Mission Today The growing number of Korean Church personnel has freed Columbans from the responsibility of the parish ministry. The original mission of setting up the Church has given way to a new mission of promoting life for the poor and challenging the Korean Church to be more missionary. Today Columbans work in ministries reaching out to the marginalized people, - urban poor, workers, farmers, alcoholics, gamblers and disabled people. People both lay and clerical are invited to join us as co-workers in this mission Thus in 1994 five Columban lay missionaries arrived from Ireland and work today with 68 priests and 32 sister Columban missionaries in Korea.

Promoting awareness of mission in Korea is a key dimension of this new thrust. Today, Columbans visit parishes preaching on mission. Retreats on mission themes are offered to young persons who are invited to become Columban missionaries. A mission magazine is published. The new thrust has come to fruition with the first Korean Columban missionaries going on mission overseas.

Korean Columban lay missionaries are in the Philippines and Taiwan.

There are five ordained Columban Korean missionaries ministering in Chile, Philippines and Peru.

The rapid economic development of recent years has been accompanied by an increased stress and strain on family life since many work lông hours and have to adjust to the pressures of urban life. There is a search going on within the Korean church to find a model of basic community to accompany the rapid growth of parish communities in the urban areas.

Columban Sisters The first sisters came to Korea in 1955. They provided pastoral and nursing care to the sick, homeless and hungry in a country devastated by the Korean War. Apart from the well-established Korean Formation Programme, ministries today are directed to: Urban Poor, Rural Farming, Women, Migrant Workers, Hospice, Aids, Handicapped, Environment, Alternative Medicine. The preference is to work on the margins, to focus on needs that are not being met locally. Korean Columban sisters now work in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Peru and Chile.