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Catholic volunteers offer patients hope

Helping the sick with a weekly dose of good cheer

  • Korea
  • March 12, 2012
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It is said people become soft-hearted and feel lonely when they get sick.

Some Catholics have been taking away some of the loneliness for hospital patients for 14 years now. The volunteer parishioners are always excited when they visit patients to spread the Good News.

Every Monday, around 20 members of the Hospital Mission in Gunsan gather in the lobby of the Gunsan Medical Center. They are armed with copies of the diocesan weekly bulletin, drinks, eggs and more. Then, they pray to God asking to serve as good messengers to patients.

The oldest volunteer, Theresa Ji Jang-soon, 76, always brings 120 baked eggs for patients.

Dividing into four groups, the volunteers visit around 100 patients, offering gifts, comfort and prayers.

They greet patients warmly by the hand and with a, “How have you been? You look better this week.”  Or “I missed you.”

Many a patient’s face brightens during their visits.

Lucia Jang Jeong-i, 56, has bone cancer. During the last visit she prayed with the volunteers and thanked them in silence with tears in her eyes.

For patients who want to become Catholic, the volunteers introduce them to catechists who will visit, teach catechism to and baptize them.

Currently, four people at the medical center are preparing for their baptism.

Woo Jeong-hwan, a 63-year-old caregiver, said he is transcribing the Gospel while he receives catechism. "It gives me peace of mind,” he added with a broad smile.

The volunteers attribute the growth of the hospital mission in Gunsan to their leader, Theresa Lee Jeong-hee, 67.

She was greatly impressed by “parishioners who visited her husband in the hospital years ago.

They brought a guitar, sang hymns and prayed for him,” she said.

That encouraged her to devote her time to the hospital mission.

“Sometimes I’ve felt like quitting because it is very time consuming but my colleagues keep talking me out of it,” Lee said.

However, the remarkable thing about the Gunsan hospital mission is that its inspiration and activities are the result of efforts put in by lay people.

Their efforts were officially recognized by Jeonju diocese last year when the first monthly Mass was celebrated on April 29, 2011 in the medical center’s lobby with around 80 people including patients and their families.

 

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