ucanews.com reporter, SeoulUpdated: August 24, 2018 03:58 AM GMT
Archbishop Michael Blume, the Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, presides over the opening Mass at the Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan Center in Kiruhura District of western Uganda on Aug. 18. (Photo by The Catholic Times)
South Korea's largest social welfare institute launched the Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan Center in Kiruhura, Uganda on Aug. 18 to strengthen its program of caring activities for orphans whose parents died of AIDS related diseases.
The agency, Kkottongnae, opened a similar facility in Karama, another district in the Western Region of Uganda, in 2009 called the House of Love.
The opening Mass for the new center was presided over by Archbishop Michael Blume, the apostolic nuncio to Uganda.
Archbishop Paul K. Bakyenga of Mbarara and Father John Oh Woong-jin, the founder of Kkottongnae, also attended the opening ceremony along with 1,500 worshippers.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni showed his support for the project by dispatching one of his ministers, John Byabagambi of Karamoja, with a pledge of 5 million Ugandan shillings (US$1,300).
The 1,800-square-meter facility can house up to 150 children. Its namesake, who passed away in 2009, was a former Seoul archbishop who spent much of his life tending to the poor and alienated in society.
Cardinal Kim is widely respected in South Korea for challenging the leadership of strongman Park Chung-hee in the 1970s and 80s during the country's bloody transition to democracy.
At 46, he also became the youngest member of the College of Cardinals.
In remembering the pioneering efforts of this iconic figure, Archbishop Blume said, during his homily at the opening ceremony, the center would further cement his legacy by caring for the most vulnerable members of society, a fact highlighted by the rampant human trafficking in the region.
"In situations where children are sexually abused or exposed to human trafficking, Kkottongnae cares for those who are weak and vulnerable, guided by the love of God and with His mercy," he said.
Father Oh said the late cardinal wanted to put in motion a set of measures to turn around the lives of children whose future looks bleak.
"He showed great concern to AIDS patients and agreed with Kkottongnae shortly before he passed on the need to set up a scholarship foundation for orphans whose parents succumbed to the disease," Father Oh said.
Kkottongnae will set up the Paul Bakyenga Center as a school for the orphans next to the new center. It will teach kindergarten up to high-school level.