The Vietnamese Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Seoul celebrated its 20th anniversary on April 23 with a Mass led by Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-Taick at the Archdiocese’s Employment Pastoral Center.
Archbishop Chung, who is also president of the Committee for Migrants of the Korean Catholic Church, expressed his gratitude to the priests and lay people who developed the community.
Started in April 2003 by Salesian priest Pham Thanh Bin who began celebrating Sunday Mass at the center for the pastoral care of work, the organization currently has six local communities.
“It started as a small group of factory workers and women who came to Korea by marriage,” said Father Yoo Sang Hyeok, director of the Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants of the archdiocese.
Today, the Vietnamese Catholic community boasts the largest number of faithful among ethnic communities in the archdiocese.
In the Vietnamese community of Seoul alone, there are up to 600 people attending Sunday Mass.
“The reality is we need space for them,” said Father Yoo.
He said the profile of those arriving from Vietnam has changed. “Now there are more students than migrant workers … There are many more non-believers,” said the priest.
Nguyen Chi Hung, a 27-year-old computer engineering major who attended Mass, said he joined the Vietnamese community “with the desire to go to the house of the Lord.”
He said he would like to continue living in Seoul after graduation. “I want to get closer to more Koreans in the future and I want to get to know them well,” said the student.
In his homily, Bishop Chung recalled a visit he made to Vietnam as a Carmelite priest. “Around five in the morning, I saw faithful from different quarters coming to the large church of the Carmelite convent to participate in Mass, singing hymns and praying with all their hearts,” he said.
:It’s a scene that deeply moved me and I still hold in my heart,” the prelate added.
“Living in an unknown foreign country far from one’s family and one’s home is a difficult task that requires great sacrifices,” he said.
The Archdiocese’s Employment Pastoral Center of the archdiocese also helps communities of migrants from the Philippines, South America, Mongolia, Thailand, China and Indonesia.