Vietnamese Catholic community in Korea marks 20th anniversary

Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taek of Seoul poses for a photo with Vietnamese migrant Catholics during the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Vietnamese Catholic Community in South Korea. (Photo: Good News)

(UCA News): Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taek of Seoul attended the 20th-anniversary celebration of the Vietnamese Catholic Community in South Korea and urged the migrant workers and students to strive for their goals despite difficulties in the foreign land.

The community, established by the Migrant Pastoral Committee of Seoul Archdiocese, marked the celebrations at the Pastoral Hall in the national capital on April 23, Seoul Archdiocese-run Good News reported on April 24.

“Living in an unfamiliar foreign country away from your beloved family and hometown is a difficult task that requires great sacrifice,” Chung said.

“All of you here are also enduring various hardships in foreign countries because of work or study… I will pray that God blesses you so that you accomplish what you set out to do,” the prelate added.

About 550 Vietnamese Catholics joined the anniversary Mass and a Thanksgiving program sponsored by the archdiocese.

The Seoul Archdiocese established the Vietnamese Community in April 2003 with an inaugural Mass by Vietnamese Salesian missionary Father Pham Thanh Binh.

At present the community consists of six groups. The majority of the members are international students, migrant workers, and married immigrants.

The archdiocesan migrant committee also takes care of communities from the Philippines, South America, Mongolia, Thailand, China, and Indonesia.

Father Yoo Sang-hyeok who leads the migrant committee of the archdiocese pointed out that there are more students than migrant workers in the Seoul metropolitan area.

“With the change of the times, there are now more students studying abroad than migrant workers in Seoul,” Sang said adding that “there are more believers in the metropolitan area and other dioceses with factories, and the ratio of migrant workers is high. There are also many more non-believers.”

The priest pointed out that between 500 to 600 Vietnamese Catholics attend Sunday service at the local church and highlighted the need for more space to accommodate them.

He also highlighted the need for understanding the difference in cultures and assisting them in integrating into South Korean society.

“Because the way of life is different in diverse cultures, various conflicts are occurring and will arise. I think that if we listen to a new culture first and share our culture, we will naturally be integrated into society,” the priest said.

According to the 2021 International Migration Statistics published by Statistics Korea, Chinese migrants topped the list at 95,000 persons, Vietnamese at 17,000, and American nationals at 17,000 persons occupied approximately 58.6 percent of the 221,000 foreign migrants in South Korea.

Nguyen Chi Hung, 27, a computer engineering student pointed out that the Vietnamese community helped him settle down in South Korea.

“I want to get closer to more Korean people in the future, and I want to be friendly with them,” Nguyen said adding that he wished to continue living in South Korea after his graduation.

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