Low turnout for missionary course
Disappointment and hope as year-long training program begins
Bishop John Baptist Jung Shin-chul celebrates Mass at the launch of a new foreign missions program
Church officials expressed disappointment today at the tiny number of applicants enrolled on a new year-long training course to become missioners overseas. The Committee for the Pastoral Care of Koreans Living Abroad from the bishops' conference and the Korean Missionary Society (KMS) jointly launched the training course today in Seoul. “Korean Catholics have little interest in overseas missions and are reluctant to do missionary work,” said Father Thomas Yang Kum-ju, director of the KMS Missionary Center. Diocesan priests are well aware of the need for overseas mission work, but it seems they are not prepared as yet to do something about it, he added. The course only attracted four applicants -- two nuns, a priest and a layperson – who will study missiology, Church history, culture and theology every Wednesday at the KMS. Previous courses have not been as long or as comprehensive, according to the committee. The only priest on the course, Fr Matthew An Hyung-yeol, he had served in Russia for a year as a missioner and sometimes felt at a loss as to what to do. He said he signed up for the course "to gain more expertise in overseas missionary work," he said. Despite the disappointing number of applicants, committee president Auxiliary Bishop John Baptist Jung Shin-chul of Incheon said the new course is “just the beginning.” “I believe this school will be a tool to promote a missionary spirit among Catholics,” he said during a Mass marking the launch. The KMS, established in 1975, currently has 64 members.