PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Knights of Columbus members at Camp Humphreys military base led a huge community effort to bring basic necessities, donate a new van and fund the building of a new patio at a South Korean orphanage and hospice for the elderly, especially to help during the coronavirus pandemic.
The hospice facility — which is run by the Ursuline Sisters and can house up to 30 women — is a frequent recipient of the Knights’ help. But this time, Bishop John J. Kaising Council 14223 went above and beyond particularly to help the facility follow COVID-19 emergency protocols.
“Typically, when we arrive their supply room is near empty — maybe a large bag of rice and box of ramen behind it, along with few condiments,” Council Grand Knight Al Guzman said.
The Knights refilled the supply room, donating 200 pounds of rice, three cases of ramen, two cases of spam, 300 canned and boxed goods, two cases of noodles, many Korean condiments, and bags of fresh apples, tangerines and pears.
The Knights also gave essential medical and cleaning supplies, including disinfectants, bleach, soap, first aid bandages and stethoscopes and much more.
These essential items couldn’t have arrived at a better time — just one week after the items were delivered, COVID-19 restrictions were put in place throughout South Korea and within the military community. The movement and travels outside of the garrison were restricted, no gatherings larger than 20 allowed, and Catholic Masses were cancelled country-wide, with most services being live-streamed via Facebook.
“By the grace of God, we were able to deliver the supplies just in time,” said Boren.
In additional to delivering these essentials, the Knights also fundraised to cover a down payment on a new van for the sisters. A Korean Catholic Newspaper highlighted the funsraising efforts, inspiring the local community to help cover the remaining cost. Finally, the council took up an ad-hoc collection of 400,000 Korean Won (approximately $375) to help build a newly planned outdoor patio exercise area.
Before the Knights left, the elderly woman and their caretakers began singing in Korean. One Knight’s wife, serving as a translator, communicated that the ladies were singing Arirang — a traditional Korean Folk Song to express their gratitude for the Knights’ help.
“The warmth and love expressed by these women singing to us locked in our commitment to charity,” said Boren.
Bishop John J. Kaising Military Council 14223 was founded in 2007, the same year the Knights of Columbus was established in South Korea. There are currently seven councils — three for military members and four for civilians — with more than 175 members in the country.
The council is named after Bishop John J. Kaising — a former auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA — who was active in supporting the parishes in South Korea. The council members are made up of active duty military personnel, civilian government employees and military retirees who work closely with all the parishes throughout the country, providing ministry support, retreat funding, projects, and volunteer outreach to programs in local communities. In 2018, the council relocated to U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, where they actively support Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish.
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Originally published in a special bi-weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. Access Knightline’s monthly archives.