Columban priest farewelled

Fr James’ funeral 21 June. Photo: Patrick Lee.

Mourners farewell Columban Fr James (Jim) Duggan.

More than 800 people filled the Korean Martyrs and St Stanislaus Catholic Church in Silverwater on June 21st to farewell beloved Columban priest Fr James Duggan SSC, after his death on 14 June at 95 years old. 

However, the name “Fr James Duggan” might not have been so recognisable to most at his funeral, known affectionately by the Korean community as Fr Hong. 

“The word ‘hong’ in Korean means ‘red,’ which for the Koreans became his title because of his reddish cheeks and facial tones. His name was too difficult to pronounce in Korea!” said parishioner and close friend Geopus Kim Kwong Ho. 

“We absolutely adored him because he brought so much faith into our community. So much love saturated his heart and he was a man dedicated to the people.” 

Born in Sydney to Irish Catholic parents and the eldest of two, Fr James aspired to be a priest from a young age. So young, that he was first rejected to the seminary at 16 for that very reason. 

He was eventually accepted and later ordained in 1955 before he was sent to Korea. 

There Fr James won his new name from a Korean bishop, served faithful Catholics and evangelised for more than 40 years—building a number of churches, and baptising generations of Korean families.  

Fr James returned to Sydney in the late 1990s. 

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