Korea: Beach Masses a boon to holiday makers

A parish near a popular beach in South Korea helped Catholic vacationers this summer fulfill their Sunday obligations, while giving parishioners a chance to evangelize at the same time.

Every Saturday evening from  18 July 18 to  22 August, Father Jeong Seong-yong, parish priest in Seocheon, on the country's southwest coast, celebrated Mass on Chunjangdae beach for about 150 people, on average.

Father Jeong said Catholic residents in the area do not receive adequate pastoral care, so his idea was to serve them too, not only vacationers.

"This beach area is 25 kilometres away from our church. We celebrated Mass here even as we dream of building a church in this area," he said.

According to the priest, the open-air Masses attracted more people than he expected, so he plans to hold them next year as well.

The last Mass, just like its predecessors, took place amid the sounds of music, singing and laughter from nearby beachgoers.

In his homily, Father Jeong urged: "We have had our spiritual yearning for God met during the Masses here. Let's go forward to bring forth ‘good fruit’ in this area."

Joseph Roh Hee-surb, a vacationer from Seoul, said he, his wife and two daughters were happy to be able to fulfill their Sunday obligation, thanks to the special Mass.

Wearing shorts and sandals, he said that his family did not dress in their usual Mass attire but “felt comfortable and happy."

Much work went into organizing the Masses. Before each one started, Father Jeong would send "mission teams" of 15-20 people each to the beach area to publicize the event.

Selina Hong Bok-sun, in her 60s, was one of 14 Legion of Mary members sent to a village near the beach two hours before Mass started.

Her task was to inform villagers and vacationers, both Catholics and non-Catholics, about the Mass and share about Catholicism with

Team members also distributed a pamphlet on the Catholic Church, a copy of the local Catholic weekly and an invitation to join the Seocheon parish.

"Since it was my first experience talking to people about the Catholic faith, I felt shy,” Hong admitted. “But the topic of the beach Mass was a good conversation starter, and then it became easier to talk about Catholicism."

She recalled that even though some people ignored her, while others rejected and even taunted her, she did not allow this to make her feel disheartened.

Michaela Chae-seon, 60, said: "The beach Mass has given us an opportunity to spread the Catholic faith with all our heart and knowledge. We need this kind of practical activity."

Seocheon parish, part of Daejeon diocese, has nine mission stations and more than 1,600 Catholics.

Source: UCAN

Share this story