Thursday afternoon we visited a monastery for Buddhist nuns. A rare privilege. They were so hospitable. They served us tea and homemade treats and we shared about our lives. Was delightful to be with them and feel a sense of sisterhood.
Then on Friday, we were so excited to be in Korea to experience with the people here the historic meeting of the North and South Korean leaders. They are so hopeful that this time peace can really be achieved.
Later we visited several ministries of the Sisters – a school for mentally and physically challenged children and a huge bakery that provides a sheltered workshop for the students when they graduate.
In the bakery, for the sake of hygiene, we had to put covers on our shoes and caps over our hair as do those who work there.
The last couple of days of our time in South Korea have been filled with seeing a number of significant places in Korean history and holy places in the Korean Catholic Church and visiting the Sisters of Charity of
Seton Hill in Seoul.
We traveled into Seoul from Nonsan on Saturday and spent time in the National Museum where our guide led us through the various exhibits, pointing out the special moments in Korean history. That background helped us understand a little better when we went on Sunday to two different pilgrim sites where the Korean martyrs were killed in several horrific persecutions in which hundreds of people lost their lives.
Saturday evening we had a wonderful gathering with the Seton Hill Charities in their retreat center. They had invited the Daughters of Charity in the area along with the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul who, by the way, belong to the Sisters of Charity Federation of Strasbourg. The conversation was enriching as we shared about the challenges in religious life today. Many of the issues are the same as we try to discern what religious life needs to be in our time. We had liturgy and then supper together. Again, that sense of global sisterhood was felt by everyone.
Sunday, our last day in Korea, we attended liturgy at the Cathedral, the oldest church in Korea, and learned that the Catholic Faith came to Korea not through foreign missionaries but through the efforts of a layman whose study of Western culture led him to go to Beijing to be baptized. He then returned and spread the faith. When French priests finally arrived it stirred the King to several persecutions at different times.
Visiting the pilgrimage sites was a moving experience, especially being surrounded by so many people who had come to pray and be inspired by these early Korean saints.
We ended the day at two different Buddhist temples where they are in the midst of celebrating Buddha’s birthday. The temple areas were covered with hanging lanterns. At one we saw a statue of baby Buddha. His little hand was stretched out and someone had put a package of M&Ms in it!
That evening we went to a temple near the sisters home to see the lanterns lit up. The place was quiet and beautiful. It was a peaceful way to end this grace-filled time of experiencing the Charity charism lived so fully by the sisters here and realizing once again our unity as Sisters of Charity.