Embarking on the journey

Fr Ku Hwa Lucano (second from right) helps to coordinate the vocation activities. - Photo: St Columbans Mission SocietyFr Ku Hwa Lucano (second from right) helps to coordinate the vocation activities. - Photo: St Columbans Mission Society

On 30 April 2023, the Korean Church organised events to mark Vocation Sunday in many dioceses. It was the first time in four years, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Columbans participated in both the Gwangju and Seoul programs. The format of the events was similar in both places: Mass, lunch, and various programs and concerts - all taking place in the diocesan seminary grounds. While the focus was the diocesan priesthood, religious and missionary groups were also invited to participate. In Gwangju, we were among a group of 13 Congregations, while in Seoul, the Columban priests, sisters, and lay missionaries shared a tent! In fact, we were the only male congregation among the 11 congregations participating in Seoul.

Huge crowds, literally in the thousands, visited both places - young and old, and the young people were mostly parish Sunday school students. Columban benefactors came, also. In both places, the Columbans emphasised participative events. In Seoul, the students had an opportunity to experience Peruvian Culture; the tent was shared by the Columban Sisters and lay missionaries. The sisters and lay missionaries gave an experience of Filipino Culture and had an ecological event where students could plant a seedling in a jar and take it home with them.

In Gwangju, the people enjoyed the missionary voyage experience. Young students could imagine themselves sailing to Columban Missions as they pushed a kazu (a musical instrument that looks like a boat) around the big world map showing the Columban mission countries. To help them choose which country they wanted to visit, they could view the seven large posters showing mission life and work in seven of the countries where Columbans work. Each poster also highlighted one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

My mixed assessment of the events: “It was the first Vocation Sunday event since I took on the role of vocation promoter. I found it to be very much a diocesan event. In both Gwangju and Seoul, only a small number of religious and missionary groups participated. We must do better than this! The meeting of the different congregations with the students was fleeting. We need to do more, but the question is: what should we do? For many people, there is still the perception that the Columbans are “foreigners”! So, how do we establish contact with the people today? I have not received any feedback, queries, or calls from the people after the event. But it was good to see many young people present. It was a good Columban promotion and mission awareness.”

Columban Fr Ku Hwa Lucano is the vocations coordinator for St Columbans Mission Society, Seoul, Korea.

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