Beyond the noise…
September 29, 2017
A concept to live by: People are people and they aren’t all bad
September 29, 2017

Korean lesson on the role of the laity   

Viewing the news programme VATICANO on EWTN, I became fascinated with information on Korea and the museum display currently going on at the Vatican. The display features artefacts, and literature pertaining to the establishment and growth of Catholicism in Korea and I became even more intrigued when the narrator stated that the faith was first introduced and spread by lay people.

The narrator stated that by its very design, the Church is universal and that evangelisation includes adapting cultural traditions to the traditions and teachings of the Church.

The narrator went on to share that it all began when Ni-Seung-Houn went to Beijing in 1784 and read books and documents and so was exposed to and learnt about Catholicism. He embraced the religion, was baptised and returned to Korea where he converted many lay people and so the Church in Korea began.

Priests and other missionaries came after. Then the widespread persecution of the religion began, but despite this, they persevered. In 1844, the first native Korean was ordained priest and one year later in 1845, he along with over 200 followers were killed. He was tortured and beheaded. His name was Andrew Kim Taegon.

Despite the persecution, the faith continued to spread and endure, and today, Korea boasts of a very large Catholic population who are faithful to the traditions, teachings and values of the Church.

At the canonisation of Andrew Kim Taegon and the other Korean martyrs by St Pope John Paul II, the Pontiff stated, “The Korean Church is unique. It was founded by the lay people and they withstood all persecution, remaining strong in faith. The death of these martyrs became the leaven of the Church in Korea and has led to the splendid flowering of the Church in Korea today.”

The narrator continued,  that today, Korea’s statistics show that vocations to the priesthood and religious life, conversions to the faith and the commitment to the practice of the faith are strong.

While speaking to one of the priests from Korea the interviewer was told that while we as Catholics cannot accept the teachings of the other religions, we must respect their values since it is the only way to peaceful co-existence with other religious denominations. I was so interested in this account of how the Church started and spread in Korea, I googled it and was really intrigued by the role of the lay people in the growth and sustenance of the Church despite the many persecutions they endured.

I contemplated our own situation here in this archdiocese. Our lay ministers are being called on more and more to take up the mantle of leadership and evangelisation because of our shortage of clergy and religious. Sadly, they are faced with many adversities and obstacles in this ministry, and while it may not be physical torture, beheadings, etc, it is enough to feel discouraged at times.

Many are the stories of members of the congregation walking out from or not attending at all when it is a Eucharistic Service and not a Mass. One of the utterances from members of the congregation is “What he/she (lay ministers) could tell me?”

Yet, the laity is filling the gap in doing wakes, funerals, thanksgivings, etc., and should be encouraged and supported since all this is evangelisation. Once it is understood that we are all serving the Creator and not the creation, and by our works others will give the glory and honour to God the Almighty Father. We all have a role to play, let’s do it well.