The Catholic Church in South Korea celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. A thanksgiving Mass was held at Seoul's Myeongdong Cathedral presided by Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul. Archbishop Alfred Xuereb
, apostolic nuncio to Korea; Auxiliary Bishop Tomothy Yu Gyoung-chon of Seoul; Auxiliary Bishop John Moon Hee-jong of Suwon, president of the bishops' committee for foreign mission work and pastoral care of overseas Koreans; and St. Columban missionary priests concelebrated the Mass. About 1,000 religious and faithful joined the Mass and packed the cathedral. During the Mass, St. Columban missionaries offered the society's constitutions and portraits of Bishop Edward Galvin
and Father John Blowick, the society's founders. Actress Sophia Kim Sang-hyun read a letter that Bishop Galvin wrote on April 20, 1927, which showed his deep faith, courage and determination as a church leader during a time of turmoil when Chinese communists were expanding their influence and Christian missionaries were at risk. In his letter, Bishop Galvin said: "No matter what happens, we cannot give up our people of God. We can stay with the people whom God entrusted to us and, if it is God's will, we can die here. Our sacrifice will give them courage." In his homily at the Mass, Cardinal Yeom said: "Their sweat and contribution to the Korean Church were the history of the Korean Church itself. The Columban missionaries actively responded to the call of God and bore fruits by choosing and spreading the spiritual works that were needed in Korea." In his congratulatory message, Archbishop Xuereb appealed for peace on the Korean Peninsula. "Columban missionaries have been entwined with Korea during its hard times such as war, social turmoil and various challenges. We wish for peace on the peninsula and we need to pray for it," he said. The Missionary Society of St. Columban
was founded in Ireland in 1916 and approved by the Vatican in 1918. It works in 16 countries including Korea. It arrived in Korea in 1933 and has sent some 270 missionaries to the country.