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New Councils in Korea

4/20/2015

In a historic ceremony that signaled the continued international expansion of the Knights of Columbus, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson presented charters for two new councils in Seoul, South Korea. Named for 19th-century Korean martyrs, the new councils are St. Andrew Kim Daegun Council No. 16000 and St. Paul Chong Hasang Council No. 16178.

These are the first councils instituted in Korea outside of a U.S. military base, with Korean citizens as members, and the first instituted on the mainland of Asia.

The charters were presented during Mass on April 18 at the Cathedral of the Korean Military Ordinariate. Presiding at the ceremony were Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and Bishop Francis Yu of the Korean Military Ordinariate.

Earlier in the week, Cardinal Andrew Yeom of Seoul had welcomed the Knights to his archdiocese in a meeting with the supreme knight and other K of C officials. The supreme knight expressed the Order’s solidarity with the cardinal and assured him “of our desire to be of service to his pastoral ministry to the Catholic community of this great city.”

In remarks at the charter presentation, Supreme Knight Anderson noted that the Knights made its first expansion into Asia in 1905, with the founding of a council in Manila, Philippines. Now that country has more than 340,000 Knights.

“It is with similar expectations that we begin activities in Korea,” he said.

The Church is growing rapidly in South Korea, with about 5.3 million Catholics making up a little more than 10% of the nation’s total population.

Recalling that Pope Francis visited South Korea last year, the supreme knight said, “Pope Francis has called upon Catholics throughout the world to take up a new ‘missionary spirit’ and to go out into the world with confidence. The Knights of Columbus welcomes his call and we continue our expansion which has taken us in the early days of our history to Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and Cuba; and in this century to Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania. And now to Korea.”

He added, “We hope to bring to Korea the benefits of our Catholic brotherhood and its principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. In return, we hope to receive the great gift of the faithful and courageous witness of the laity which is the proud legacy of the Catholic people of Korea.

“We can learn from each other, we can help each other, we can truly be missionaries together, and in this way we can help make our universal Church a truly global Church.”

In his homily at Mass, Bishop Spencer spoke of a “historic moment in the life of the Catholic Church in Korea as the Knights of Columbus expands its membership and passes the torch of the Catholic faith with the formal chartering of a new council of Korean members.”

At a celebratory dinner that evening, the supreme knight spoke of the mission of the Order. “The Knights of Columbus must be a special place for an exchange of gifts among all the nations in which we are active,” he said. “In this way, we can better strengthen the faith and life of every brother Knight and his family.”