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rpannier's Journal
rpannier's Journal
December 5, 2016

How to Tell If You're in a Catholic Church in Korea

For those who have never been, just arrived or are visiting and want to attend a Catholic Church in Korea here are some tips to know; I've been in Korea for a decade and been to many different ones. Though these may not apply to Church's that cater to the western Community

1. Look at that Board. As that Korea's Most Wanted?
No, it's the Church Council Board. The Church Council covers a wide range of jobs that are filled by the religious and the laity. Aside from the priest and nuns who have specific duties, there is a Council President, vice President, leaders of special duties, like funerals, announcements, children's issues, the sick, the elderly, maintenance, planning for the present and future, collections, women's auxiliary, men's group and so on.
Parishes usually have a very active membership.
The Church I am at right now, is in fairly small community, but there are probably 60 lay positions (minimum) that are filled by the 1300+ families in the parish.

2. No wonder I can never find a Nun when I need them back home, they're all in Korea.
Many parishes have 3 sisters on assignment; an older, a middle and a younger nun. They handle Kindergarten, CCD, weekday church services, etc. The most common ones I've seen are the Society of Mary, a Korean religious order, they all wear a dark grey. In Seoul I have been to services where the nuns wear white (I don't know the order).
Two of the Sisters work each mass, rotating between the services. In addition to playing organ for the singing, the deliver communion and make sure everything is ready before mass and clean up after
They are also Korean. Except for maybe Seoul or Busan (I've never seen one), there aren't foreign nuns working in Korea.

3. Is this a Hillary Clinton Convention or a Church?
Dresses are seldom seen on women at church, even the very elderly women usually wear pantsuits. Girls often wear jeans, a skirt-jean (which is a skirt attached to a pair of jeans), sometimes shorts, sometimes cargoes, etc. It is odd for a woman or girl to show up in a dress or a regular skirt. Even the alter serving girls wear jeans.

4. White is in Fashion before, during and after Labor Day.
Everyone who has a job at mass wears a white robe; the alter servers wear white robes, the gift bearers wear white robes, the lecterns wear white robes, etc.

5. The Mass took less than an hour? Did someone die?
Mass on Sundays is usually over an hour. People often get to Mass twenty-to-thirty minutes early to prepare for the days readings, go to confession, practice the songs and pray. The Mass itself lasts between 60 and 70 minutes and then the Priest goes over the main announcements in the bulletin (Mass Schedule Changes, funerals, baptisms, canceled events, etc). It's not uncommon for people to spend almost 2 hours of their Sunday in Church.

6. The Priest didn't understand a word I said
80% of priests aged 35 and over speak only Korean. It is Korea, learn the language or just get over it.

7. Are those children orphans or something?
In Korean Churches, the children usually sit in a special section (usually to the Priest's left). They often come from CCD, and even when they aren't, they sit with their friends, not their families.

8. Is there a problem in the family or something?
In line with number 7, many middle aged and elderly couples don't sit together at Mass; people often sit with friends, co-workers, etc during service. This is true for men and women. Mass is as much a social event as a religious one, so people often sit with friends and go home with their loved ones.

9. How did they get that all the way up there?
It is not uncommon for the area where Mass is held to be on the 2nd floor. The 1st floor is administration and you walk up stairs to go to Mass and do confession. I don't know why they do it this way, my guess is to corral people after Mass for lunch. Many Churches in Korea have lunch once or twice a month after the main Mass has ended. On the other weekends they serve coffee, tea and cider. It's all free

10. There's no collection plate? It's a box.
They don't come to you, you go to the box for collection. While the choir sings, people get up and walk to a box and put money in, even children. This probably raises the amount of money the parish makes every week - though some people fake it and pretend to put in money

11. You won't find many Trump supporters here.
Though it's been around for over half a millennia, the Catholic Church's modern growth can be attributed to the pro-Democratization movement of the late 70's and early 80's. Cardinal Sin, then the Cardinal of Seoul and other Cardinals and Bishops supported the Democracy Movement against the military government. Cardinal Sin often housed people wanted by the military for participating in and/or supporting the democratic movement in the Cathedral at Myeong-dong in Seoul.
Most Catholics are members of the Democratic Party of Korea, the People's Party (A mostly centrist, slightly left technocratic party) and the Justice Party (a small, yet somewhat influential leftist party. Sometimes referred as the New Justice Party)

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Gender: Male
Current location: Boseong
Member since: Fri Jan 30, 2004, 04:44 AM
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