1994-11-15 00:00:00

Columban Bishop Thomas Stewart, 69, retired bishop of Chunchon, South Korea, died of a heart attack in Ireland Oct. 30.

Deep concern for Catholic families characterized Bishop Stewart´s 40 years in South Korea. He brought the Holy Family Movement to South Korea in 1975 and later Worldwide Marriage Encounter, which has many members in his former diocese.

He was the first president of the Family Pastoral Committee of the Catholic Bishop´s Conference of Korea and served in that capacity until he retired May 21 for health reasons. He was ordained bishop of Chunchon in May 1966.

"He deserves praise as a pioneer of the family apostolate and pro-life movement in our country," the Korean bishops´ conference said in a condolence message to Irish Columbans. Bishop Stewart was ordained a priest in 1950.

Father Song Yul Sup, executive secretary of the Family Pastoral Committee, expressed his personal regret at the death of Bishop Stewart, describing him as a godfather to the Korean Church and a protector of human life.

"At this juncture when the whole Catholic Church is striving for a pro-life drive and sanctification of the family, the death of our beloved Bishop Thomas is a real loss for us all," Father Song told UCA News.

On the day of his retirement, Bishop Stewart issued a strong pastoral statement calling on the Korean Catholic Church to protect the rights of the unborn and make families its pastoral priority.

"The Church feels keenly its task to announce God´s plan of marriage and family to all people, because she understands that the peace and order of the Church and society are closely related," said the May 21 pastoral.

"In (South) Korea, abortion has become a social and family problem not only for adults but also for teenagers. The future of evangelization, society and Church all depend on a healthy family," Bishop Stewart wrote.


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