By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor
Immaculate Conception parishioner Rosa Lee is grateful for being able to worship and celebrate the Sacraments in her native language, Korean, because, she says, it helps bring the parish community together.
“We can share his love with others,” said Lee, whose Eatontown parish serves as a spiritual home to Korean Catholics from Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex Counties by offering the celebration of Mass in the East Asian nation’s language.
Photo Gallery: World Mission Sunday in Eatontown
Indeed, that feeling of oneness resonated within Immaculate Conception Church Oct. 21 as the parish hosted the diocesan observance of World Mission Sunday.
“Sharing God’s love with others and being a light for others is what being a missionary is all about,” said Father Young Joon Lee, parish pastor.
Father Lee, principal celebrant of the Mass that was celebrated in Korean, was joined by Father Peter James Alindogan, diocesan missions director, who concelebrated and served as homilist.
Sacrificing for Others
With assistance from a translator, Father Alindogan thanked parishioners for their continued generosity in support of missions and conveyed the greetings of Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.
“Bishop O’Connell has shared that participation in this annual Eucharistic celebration helps us to answer our mission call to ‘live out in the Church the adventure of [our] lives as children of God,’ through our joyful participation in the Church’s worldwide moment for prayerful and financial support for the Pope’s missions,” Father Alindogan said.
Quoting the Holy Father, who said, “Mission revitalizes faith,” Father Alindogan went on to share a lengthy list of how the parish’s contributions will help to assist more than 1,100 mission dioceses in territories covering more than half the globe.
“Your prayers and sacrifices will support priests, religious and lay pastoral leaders who are proclaiming the Gospel, building the Church and serving the poor and most vulnerable half a world away,” he said, noting that monetary assistance will provide health care for needy newborns and mothers in the Americas, support Catholic orphanages and nursing homes in European countries and support men preparing for the priesthood in Africa.
“I keep you in my prayers as we continually live the mission that Jesus Christ entrusted to each one of us,” he said.
The Church Universal
Father Alindogan reiterated how celebrating the World Mission Sunday Mass “with our brothers and sisters of Korean heritage is a significant sign of our universality as a Church.
“It is also a great tool for evangelization and mission education,” he said, considering that the Catholic Church in South Korea has seen significant growth in vocations and membership. Last year alone, the Church had 75,000 adult Baptisms, increasing its membership from 7.9 percent of the Catholic population to 11 percent in the past 20 years. He added that because of the significant number of Korean martyrs, South Korea has had the fourth-largest number of saints in the Catholic Church since 1984.
“Catholicism is unique in the sense that it has enculturated traditional customs from Confucianism,” he said, then noted that it is his hope and prayer that parishioners from Immaculate Conception “will continually appreciate and affirm their role as part of the local Church in our Diocese and in the Universal Church at large.”
“I hope they appreciate the fact that they are not just members of a small Church by area and size, but they are also mission partners in the larger Church of which we are all happy and proud to belong,” he said.
Having arrived to Immaculate Conception a year ago from the Diocese of Busan, South Korea, Father Lee said he was very appreciative to concelebrate the World Mission Sunday Mass with Father Alindogan.
At a reception that followed Mass, Father Lee and several parishioners spoke about the parish’s history, explaining that the church building is the original St. Dorothea Church that was built in 1906. It was sold to the Diocese in 1965 and eventually became a Hispanic Catholic parish community.
By the mid-80s, a nearby parish began serving the Hispanic Catholic community and Immaculate Conception Parish was created as the first to serve Korean Catholics in the Diocese. The parish currently has about 80 families and is known for its strong outreach to the wider Church community.
Jieun Angela Kim, a parishioner for 16 years and resident of Morganville, noted how much she appreciates the parish camaraderie, especially since the majority of her family resides in Korea.
“I feel they are my brothers and sisters,” she said.
Parish liturgy director Soo Jung Lim, a parishioner for eight years and resident of Marlboro, smiled as she reflected on how the parish “is a place where our country’s people can live and communicate.
“We pray here and love each other as a family,” she said.