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More Than 700 Korean Catholics Attend Anniversary Event At Maryknoll

More Than 700 Korean Catholics Attend Anniversary Event At Maryknoll

ICC: Let the Korean-American Catholic community be an example to celebrating the Christian faithful.

by Candice Ferrette

10/02/07, OSSINING, (The Journal News) - About 700 faithful from the Korean-American community gathered yesterday at the Maryknoll Society Center to mark the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Pyongyang.

Cardinal Nicholas Cheong, the archbishop of Seoul, South Korea, celebrated Mass in the Queen of Apostles chapel before leading a procession outside to formally dedicate a monument featuring the names of some 90 missionaries who served on the Korean Peninsula during the past 80 years.

The event, conducted mostly in Korean, highlighted the kinship between the Korean-American Catholic community and Maryknoll, the foreign Catholic missionary community.

"Never have I seen so many people from Korea here at Maryknoll," Suzanne Moore, president of the Maryknoll Sisters, told the congregation. "You protected us when harm was near and embraced us with your beautiful culture. We can never repay you, but we will always love you."

A traditional Korean drum band led the procession of the faithful down a leafy path for the dedication ceremony. The smoke from burning frankincense filled the air. A choir of women wore brightly colored hanbok, or traditional Korean dresses.

The granite monument, a gift from the Catholic Church of Korea, is a replica of the gate to the city of Pyongyang.

Notable guests included Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, and Archbishop Hector Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujilio, Peru.

Korean parishes from New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., were represented. More than half of the people who attended yesterday's event were members of the St. Paul Cheong Ha San Parish in Flushing, Queens, the oldest and largest Korean church in the United States.

Before the communist government of North Korea began to persecute Christians in the late 1940s, a group of Maryknoll missionaries were among those who served a growing number of Catholics there.

Only two Maryknoll sisters from the original group of missionaries who served in Pyongyang are still alive. Elenita Barry, 100, and Sarah Fogarty, 92, attended yesterday's event.

The event specially honored Bishop Patrick Byrne, who was first assigned to Korea in 1922 and became bishop in Seoul in 1949. When North Korean troops invaded Seoul in June 1950, Byrne was taken prisoner and died of pneumonia during a forced march on Nov. 25, 1950.

Other missionaries continued their work in South Korea, which now has a thriving Catholic community with more than 5 million members.

In 1962, Pope John XXIII raised Pyongyang to the status of a diocese, temporarily placed under the auspices of the archbishop of Seoul.

North Korea continues to severely restrict the practice of religion, the U.S. State Department said.

Domina Park, 48, of Long Island said she came to the event "because no matter where you're from, if you are a Korean Catholic, you are supposed to celebrate together."

"For immigrants, the church is everything," Park said. "We are thankful for being able to build our faith together, relate to each other. ... It's a community center; it's more than church."

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