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Updated: June 27, 1999 05:00 PM GMT
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The Maryknoll Sisters in Korea, marking 75 years of service and solidarity with the Korean people, have been lauded by prominent members of the Korean hierarchy for prioritizing an option for the poor.

The sisters celebrated their anniversary during the congregation´s Asia World Section meeting at the Conventual Franciscan Center in Seoul.

Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan noted in his anniversary Mass homily that the Maryknoll Sisters have steadily opted for the poor as their first priority.

The retired archbishop of Seoul said he was "especially impressed" with their contribution to religious formation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Korea´s first native congregation, founded in 1932.

He also praised the sisters for the launching of the first local credit union, in Pusan, which soon spread to other parts of the country, "giving much-needed economic help to the lower classes."

Archbishop Victorinus Youn Kong-hi of Kwangju likewise recalled that since their arrival in Uiju, now in North Korea, the Maryknoll sisters have shown the essence of evangelization in that they have always opted for the poor and the alienated.

"Some may feel that your missionary efforts in communist North Korea have not borne fruit, but I believe the fruit will be seen in the near future," he said in his congratulatory speech.

The anniversary Mass, attended by more than 150 guests including families of the Maryknoll sisters, was concelebrated by Cardinal Kim, Archbishop Giovanni Morandini, apostolic nuncio to Korea, Archbishop Youn and Maryknoll Bishop William McNaughton of Inchon.

Maryknoll Sister Rosemary Franklin said in her opening speech at the May 5 celebration that "people often say we suffered a lot, but we are happy because we shared both in the joys and sufferings of the Korean people."

Sister Helene O´Sullivan, president of the Maryknoll Sisters, recalled that she was deeply impressed by the Korean Church´s struggle for justice during her first visit to Korea immediately after the Kwangju massacre in 1980.

She thanked the Korean people for their love and friendship in enabling the sisters to carry out their work for the past 75 years.

The Maryknoll sisters´ Asia World Section meeting, with the theme "Mission in Asia in the Third Millennium in the Light of Globalization," was held May 2-8 at the same venue.

Sister Christine Ortis, preparation committee member for the meeting, told UCA News May 5 that although many people in the region are suffering from the economic crisis, the meeting saw a bright future for Asia.

Sister Jean Fallon from Japan said that the meeting was a time to renew relationships with each other and to see "how we can continue to walk together with the people of Asia into the unknown future as our members change in numbers, age and nationality."

Sister Helen Graham from the Philippines expressed her hope that the Maryknoll sisters would be able to respond effectively to the needs of Asia´s poor and suffering in the new century.

"This is so that the Kingdom of God might truly and finally come to all the people of the earth," she said.


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