MSC KOREA REGION HISTORY
by Raymundo T. Sabio, MSC
The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart carry out their mission all over the world, in more than 55 countries. There are about 2,200 MSC members. In these places, they continuously strive to proclaim the love of God, revealed and made visible in the Heart of Jesus Christ. This mission brings the MSC priests and brothers often beyond the boundaries of their own country and culture.
This saying carries much weight: "God's ways are not man's ways." The story behind the MSC Korea Mission is a composite of several mini-stories which are expressive of God's ways. The MSC Sisters came to Korea as early as March 25,1965. And they were steadily growing. In the early 80's they thought of initiating the process for the coming of their brother congregation, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
The MSC General Administration headed by Very Rev. Fr. Cornelius "Kees" Braun, MSC expressed its interest to explore the possibility of going to Korea in response to the initiative of the MSC Sisters, namely, Sr. Edilgith , Sr. Teresa Kim and Sr. Vocata.
To help enhance the process, the wonderful Sisters gathered a small group of young men closely associated with the sisters in their apostolaate; and seeing that they are potential vocations, they gave them some initial basic training. (One of these early group members is Balthasar AHN Chango-Ho). Through the recommendation of the MSC Sisters, Most Rev. Gabriel Lee, D.D. (Bishop of Pusan) extended the formal invitation to the MSC congregation to come to Korea.
So, the MSC General Administration in Rome, challenged the young Philippine Province to accept the Korean mission. The Provincial Superior, Fr. Manuel Hilario and his council hesitated at the beginning because of the lack of experience of the young Philippine Province in opening a new mission. But the Spirit of the Lord prevailed and He made it possible that a decision for the MSC to go to Korea be finalized during a MSC General Conference held in Maracaibo, Venezuela from 31st of January to the 9 of February 1983.
ARRIVAL IN KOREA AND EARLY BEGINNING
Part of the preparations were the visits to Korea by Fr. Kees Braun and Fr. Manuel Hilario. They had extensive exchange of information and made visitation both in Pusan and Seoul. With their positive evaluation, all things were set. So, Rev. Fr. Pedro C. Arguillas, MSC left Manila and with his arrival in Seoul on February 17, 1985 this officially started the MSC presence in Korea. Shortly after, on May 26, 1985 Fr. Danilo F. Ceniza arrived to assist him. Then a year later, Fr. Raymundo T. Sabio arrived on May 5, 1986; and finally in May, 1988, Fr. Michael Paradela came.
Initially Fr. Arguillas and Fr. Ceniza stayed with the Claretian Fathers until the MSC could purchase a house in Buam-dong, Chongno-gu area in Seoul in mid-August 1985 while doing their study of the Korean language. In early February, 1987 Fr. Arguillas moved to Pusan to assume the assistant priest ministry in Koejong parish, while Fr. Ceniza in the month of August of the same year became the assistant priest at Kwangali parish, Pusan. Fr. Sabio remained in Seoul to be in-charge of the seminarians and postulants. Then in early 1988 Fr. Arguillas was transferred to the Cathedral parish to assist there and at the same time to be a Chaplain of the Apostolatus Maris - Pusan. And in May, 1988, Fr. Michael Paradela arrived and stayed in Seoul while doing his Korean language study. In the following year of 1989 Fr. Sabio became an assistant priest at Pomildong parish, Pusan and served this parish for two years
Towards the last quarter of 1990, the MSC Fathers received an invitation from Bishop William J. McNaughton, MM, DD to work in the Diocese of Incheon. So on February 18, 1991 Fr. Dan Ceniza became the parish-priest of Yong-jong parish, and Fr. Ray Sabio became them first Chaplain of the Apostolatus Maris - Incheon. This was the very beginning of our presence in Incheon Diocese.
Our first seminarians were sent to Manila, Philippines for their novitiate and thelogical studies as early as December, 1985. After several years of formation, first to be ordained were Fr. Joseph KIM Jong-kee, MSC and Fr. John PARK Chang-il, MSC on Feb. 2, 1991 at the Cathedral of Pusan by His Excellency, Most Rev. Gabriel LEE Gap-su, D.D., Bishop of Pusan.
Since the community was slowly growing and a plan to start the novitiate program in Korea was starting to emerge, there was a need to enlarge the house in Seoul. So the constructon started in early 1994 under the supervision of Fr. John Park and this got completed in mid-October. So on Nov. 1, 1994 the Holy Mass and the Solemn House Blessing was officiated by His Eminence, Stephen Cardinal Kim, Ph.D., D.D. It was a very special day because among the many concelebrants were the MSC superiors of the 8 Asian countries.
In later part of December, 1994 Fr. Pedro Arguillas was re-assiged by the Provincial Superior to head the Communication Foundation for Asia in Manila. Three years later, Fr. Joseph Kim became the first Novice Master and the novitiate got started on Feb. 17, 1997, which date coincided with the 12th Anniversary of the MSC presence in Korea.
With the subsequent perpetual profession of Bro. John CHAI Sung-gyoo, MSC and the sacerdotal ordinations of the Korean members such as: Fr. Paul JI Hyun-bae, Fr. Johann HWANG Ji-youn, Fr. Augustine KIM Jong-oh, Fr. Balthasar Ahn Chang-Ho, Fr. Matthew PARK Jong-hwan and Fr. Juanito JANG You-sung, in the course of several years, the Korean MSC Section became a Region on April 29, 1999. By this time, the MSC's were present in Seoul, Incheon, and Pusan, doing various kinds of apostolates: formation work, hospital chaplaincy, spiritual direction and counselling, apostleship of the sea, giving of retreats and seminars, Korea unification, curate assistance to the parish and ministry to the foreign workers.
The following sacerdotal ordinations of Fr. Pablo KIM Sang-sik and Fr. Thomas KANG Bu-cheol in June, 2003 as well as of Fr. Benedict KO Moo-chan on January 12, 2004 took place after we became a Region. This coming December 8, 2004, God willing, two of our Deacons, Rev. Paul KIM Dae-seon and Rev. Damaso SHIN Hyun-cheol will be ordained to the priesthood as our 12th and 13th Korean priests respectively. These ordinations will be God's wonderful gift to our Korea Region. At the same time, it is our Region's special gift to the MSC congregation.
It is our wish and prayer that this Region, with the continued blessing of the Sacred Heart and assistance of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, will become a Vice-Province sometime in the distant future.
MSC VISION AND GOALS IN KOREA
--Following the example of
the venerable founder, Fr. Jules Chevalier, the MSC members in Korea
wish to proclaim always and everywhere the boundless LOVE of God in the
face of serious ills of the world as well as of Korea: egoism, selfishness and
--We see the need of presenting the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the source of the powerful "Spirituality of the Heart". This spirituality has power to generate a true conversion and renewal in the hearts of those who have grown cold in their faith.
Our presence in Korea has these twofold goals:
a) to be of service to the local Church in Korea in the ministry of evangelizaton especially to the poor and the less priviledged;
b) to establish the presence of the MSC congregation in this dymanic and fast-developing nation with a steadily growing Catholic population.
-- Fr. JOSEPH KIM Jong-kee, MSC (Ord. Feb. 2, 1991) Director of the MSC Associates
and Giving of Rereats
-- Fr. JOHN PARK Chang-il, MSC (Ord. Feb. 2, 1991) Justice & Peace; Apostolate for
-- Fr. PAUL JI Hyun-bae, MSC (Ord. Dec. 5, 1994) Counselling and Family Life
-- Fr. JOHN HWANG Ji-youn, MSC (Ord. Dec. 8, 1994) Director of the MSC
-- Fr. AUGUSTIN KIM Jong-oh, MSC (Ord. June 7, 1995) Further Studies in Manila
-- Fr. BALTHASAR AHN Chang-ho, MSC (Ord. May 25, 1996) MSC Korea Region
Superior; Apostolatus Maris - Pusan
-- Bro. JOHN CHAI Sung-gyoo, MSC (P.Prof. June 2, 1994) MSC Consultant for
-- Fr. MATTHEW PARK Jong-hwan, MSC (Ord. Jan. 30, 1999) In-charge of MSC
Building Maintenance & Kanghwa Lot Development
-- Fr. JUANITO JANG You-sung, MSC (Ord. Apr. 28, 1999) Director of Novices;
Finance Officer, Seoul
-- Fr. PABLO KIM Sang-sik, MSC (Ord. June 24, 2003) Hospital Chaplaincy
-- Fr. THOMAS KANG Bu-Cheol, MSC (Ord. June 24, 2003) Director of Benefactors
and Mission Promotion
-- Fr. BENEDICT KO Moo-Chan, MSC (Ord. Jan. 12, 2004) HospitalChaplaincy (Future
Director of Postulants and Aspirants)
-- Rev. PAUK KIM Dae-Seon, MSC (Deaconate: Jan, 12, 2004)
-- Rev. DAMASO
SHIN Hyun-Cheol, MSC (Deaconate: Jan. 12, 2004)
-- Fr. DANILO F. CENIZA, MSC (Ord. Dec. 29, 1981) Spiritual Director of MSC
-- Fr. RAYMOND T. SABIO, MSC (Ord. Dec. 20, 1971) Apostleship of Sea - Incheon;
Foreign Workers Chaplaincy; International Airport Apostolate
-- Bro. PAUL YANG Sung-uk,
MSC (1st Prof. Feb. 19, 2001)
-- Bro. GASPAR LEE Sung-woo, MSC (1st Prof. Feb. 19, 2001)
-- Bro. ABRAHAM YOU SU-young, MSC (1st Prof. Feb. 17, 2003)
-- Bro. LOUIS MARIA LEE Moo-hyun
-- Bro. JOHN MARY
VIANNEY KIM Seong-Keun
-- Bro. MARCELLINO CHANG Chae-Song
At present, our MSC members are on the fortifying stage of their foundation and are working in those various kinds apostolate indicated above. Through these, they strive to proclaim the unfathomable Love of God in and through the Sacred Heart, inviting everyone especially the under-priviledged and deprived to respond wholeheartedly to God's call in faith, hope and in love.
In 1995 we decided to put up our House of Formation in Kanghwa because the Incheon Diocese is building a Major Seminary there. And so in 1996, through the zealous efforts of Fr. Johann Hwang we found a suitable lot located in Kanghwa, Bureun-myon, Neopseong-ni (about 12 km from the Major Seminary) and consequently, purchased it. Several pre-fabricated buildings were constructed one by one to serve as our House of Formation. And thanks be to God, this was solemnly blessed by Bishop William J. McNaughton, MM, DD on the feast of the Sacred Heart, June 11, 1999. It was indeed a very memorable and meaningful day for our Region.
Parish work is indeed very limited in Korea. Very admirable is the fact that the various dioceses in Korea have a good number of ordinations yearly. And so, they have enough personnel to staff the parishes. Thus, as a Region we have come to a decision that the best way we could serve the Church in Korea in the near future, is to give greater emphasis on Retreat Giving and On-going Formation of the Laity.
decided to develop the property in Kanghwa (in the Diocese of
Incheon) for Retreats and Renewal Exercises with a great hope that in the
future, it will develop further into some kind of Spirituality of the
Heart Center. In this way, the MSC Region could share in a meaningful and
challenging way its rich Spirituality of the Heart and the Charism of the
Venerable Founder, Jules Chevalier.
In this light, as a practical step, all the present existing facilities of the seminarians for formation and of the formators were converted to provide facilities for retreats and seminars for various groups in the diocese and outlaying areas. Soon the construction of a new building to house the seminarians and formators commenced on May 1, 2003 and got finished in the first week of March, 2004..This building was blessed by his Excellency, Most Rev. Boniface CHOI Ki-San, D.D. (Bishop of Incheon Diocese) on March 15, 2004, the very day of birth of Fr. Jules Chevalier. This was a major part of our year-long Jubilee Celebration of the 150th Anniv. of the MSC Foundation. The total area of the New Building (two stories with a basement) is: 300 Korean pyong (1 pyong is 3.3 sq.m. Hence 300 pyong will give 990 sq.m.)
It is our prayer
that with the guidance and assistance of the Lord and our
Lady of the Sacred Heart, the retreat facilities that we provide, will
be of help to our mission of gradually sharing the
Spirituality of the Heart and at the same time to the partial
stabilization of our resource of region sustenance. In the near
future, after we have attained a certain level of development, Fr.
Joseph Kim plans to give special seminars on the Spirituality of the Heart
and renewal programs related to our Spirituality. This is our humble
attempt to make our MSC presence in Korea fruitful, relevant, effective and
We share our Spirituality of the Heart and Charism with the laity. Our Region started forming the MSC Associates in mid-90's. Fr. Joseph Kim was the first director, followed by Fr. John Park, and much later, by Fr. John Hwang. After a period of formation of about one year, the members could be accepted to a year of promise (renewable) to become our MSC Associate. After three years, they could be accepted to the perpetual promise.
We consider them our family members and partners in our apostolate. There are 25 members with Perpetual Promise; and 50 with First Promise. They hold a monthly meeting under the guidance of our MSC Father Director. We earnestly hope that our MSC Associates, forming a vital part of our MSC Family will continue to grow in number and in dedicated service to the local Church in Korea; and hopefully later on, to the Church in the North-east Asia area.
VERY NTERESTING FOOTNOTE
(by Fr. John Bovenmars, Archivist, Netherlands MSC Province)
Long before the German MSC Sisters (1965) and later, the Filipino MSC priests (1985) arrived in Korea, a Dutch MSC priest came to Korea for a special mission in 1950. His name is: Father Louis van de Vrande, MSC. He was born on April 5, 1910, in Oosterhout (Den Hout), Diocese of Breda; professed on Dec. 8, 1930; ordained priest August 10, 1936. Died in Terheijden on Febr. 7, 1971.
He joined the Dutch army as Chaplain in 1945, when the north of the Netherlands was still occupied. He also served, as army chaplain, two times (two years each) in Indonesia, from 1946 till early 1948, and in Java from late 1948 till July 1 1950. He was in Java during the capitulation of the Dutch army. He wrote a book (in Dutch) about his service in Indonesia.
In 1950 he was assigned as Chaplain of a Dutch group of soldiers that joined the army of the United Nations, that was sent to Korea to defend the country against the Communists. In his group, there were 300 dutch catholic soldiers. During his stay in Korea he published articles in dutch newspapers which have been preserved in the MSC Provincial Archives. He left Rotterdam by boat (the Zuiderkruis) on October 27, 1950. The newspaper of December 30, 1950, described his arrival in Pusan where a Korean band gave them a warm welcome. They took immediately the train that brought them in two hours to Taegu. (They celebrated Christmas together with some American soldiers.)
The newspaper of January 11, 1951, informs us that Father Louis and his soldiers travelled by train to Suwon, where they celebrated the Eucharist in the parish church. A photo shows Father Louis playing the accordion for some people there after the Holy Mass. He was always a jolly person. By train they went still further north, to the front line. Louis had to visit all his men in their foxholes. He talked to them, heard confessions, and on Sundays he celebrated the Holy Eucharist four times.
The most dramatic events took place at Hoengsong, on February 12, 1951. Their outpost was overrun by the Chinese army and they were in great danger. Nineteen Dutch soldiers were killed. Their group was surrounded, but Louis managed to walk through the surrounding Chinese troops and thus saved his life. The Dutch commander Den Ouden was killed too. Father Louis had to attend the Requiem Mass in Tokio (Togo?), and led the prayers in the cemetery at Pusan.
On June 11, 1951, the soldiers received the order to withdraw to the 38th degree of latitude (38th parallel). They had to step over many bodies of killed soldiers at the front lines and then arrived at a beautiful American camp. In one letter Louis speaks about the cold he suffered at Wonju: 30 degrees Celsius below zero! He mentions also many Chinese attacks. In this context he speaks also about the place Hoengsong where 80 South Korean soldiers were added to his group; they worked together very well. According to him "Oranda" (Hollanda) had a good name among the Koreans.
Father Louis spent one winter and one summer in Korea. With his group he arrived back in Rotterdam, Holland by the ship "Gen. MacRae" on October 1, 1951. (With fraternal greetings, Jan Bovenmars, MSC)
May our Lady of the Sacred Heart assist and guide our MSC Korea Region, just as She has helped our Venerable Founder Jules Chevalier in the foundation of our beloved M.S.C. congregation in Issoudun, France way back December 8, 1854. May the 150th Anniversary of our MSC Foundation be a source of renewed enthusiasm to proclaim the unfathomable Love of Jesus symbolized by His Sacred Heart. Next year, on Feb. 17, 2005 our Korea Region will be celebrating its 20th Foundation Anniversary in Korea. May this too be a new Pentecost for us, MSC's in Korea dedicated to the service of the loving Heart of Jesus, He who is our Compassionate Good Shepherd.