Two and a half hours by bus from Seoul, South-Korea, Kkottongnae is a home where the sick, destitute and handicapped are taken in and cared for. From June 1?9, Kkottongnae was also the location of the 2009 International ICCRS Event “Love in Action.” And what better place? Kkottongnae in Korean means “field of flowers”, and for the volunteers and full-time workers, the flowers are the ones being cared for. For the 1,000 participants, who flew in from 43 different countries to attend the conference, it was a sincere opportunity to experience love in action. For the first two days, early arrivals from outside of Korea had the opportunity to serve alongside the 200,00 Korean volunteers and 340 full-time workers, most of which are religious. On the third day, there was an official opening mass held in the evening which was presided over by one archbishop, three cardinals, ten bishops, and many priests. ICCRS President Michelle Moran lit a symbolic torch and welcomed the participants to the conference, and the evening ended with much praise and worship. Throughout the next few days, informative and inspirational talks were given by ICCRS Council Members as well as Fr. John Oh (founder of Kkottongnae), Fr. Thomas Oh, Fr. Robert Faricy, and Fr. John Mario Montoya, and Jim Murphy. During the last two days, event participants visited various holy places of martyrdom, where the ICCRS Council prayed for healing and peace throughout the world. The highlight of the Love in Action Event was an open air rally, where the participants of the conference were joined by over 50,000 Koreans who came to celebrate mass and worship together in harmony. The 2009 ICCRS Event “Love in Action” was a powerful demonstration of love. A transcript of talks and photos are soon to come on the ICCRS website.
Faith expressed through love
The 2009 ICCRS event was held in Kkottongnae community, South Korea from the 2nd to 9th of June. It was a moving experience for all participants from 43 countries. This was the first time that the ICCRS Council organised an international leaders’ conference outside of Europe, and it happened to be in Asia. There were a total of 1,046 participants including 735 Koreans. 2 Cardinals, 2 Archbishops and 10 Bishops were with them. After the main conference there was an Open Rally on 7th of June attended by 50,000 people. When the chairman of the Korean NSC and I had a preparatory meeting with the President and Director of ICCRS in Rome, Michelle Moran, as President, proposed that the theme of the event be ‘Love in Action’ and said Kkottongnae was selected especially for the international conference because it is a wonderful example of a place where the abandoned are taken care of and where the fruit of the Holy Spirit is revealed in abundance. The theme was exactly compatible with the original intention of the former President of ICCRS, Allan Panozza who wanted to reveal love, the first fruit of Holy Spirit through this event because ICCRS had shown the charisms of praising, preaching and healing, but not the practice of love until now. I suggested that they give participants the opportunity to engage in volunteer work for the 2,000 elderly, handicapped, homeless, sick people prior to the conference. It was a special moment of conversion. Through the experience of helping the poor and the abandoned, the participants were able to meet the Lord through their voluntary service, and this encounter made them more open to the Holy Spirit and led them closer to the Lord. There is an “unbreakable bond between the love of God and the love of a neighbour. The commandment of love should be interpreted to mean that love of a neighbour is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and that closing our eyes to our neighbour also blinds us to God.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est, ? 16) We celebrated a very special mass at Imjingak in the demilitarised zone with the intention of reconciliation and reunification between the South and North Korea. At the conference, Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, S.J. gave a talk about the theme of ‘Love in Action’. Other speakers, Michelle Moran, Bp. Joe Grech, Cyril John, Jim Murphy, Fr. Robert Faricy, and Fr. Mario Montoya among others, gave us wonderful talks about the Holy Spirit and evangelization. In the afternoon session we had workshops divided into 3 groups: healing, intercession and charism. After the conference, the participants joined in a pilgrimage to visit the many places that are sacred to Catholics in Korea. Korea has a very unique Church history in that Catholicism was first accepted and spread by lay people, and in less than 100 years, many of the Christians suffered terrible persecutions and martyrdom was common. The Renewal in Korea had organised an intercessory prayer team over 4,000 people who had been praying for this conference for one year. The intercessory prayer was very important and fruitful. People truly experienced being part of the wider universal church being immersed in a totally different culture and in Korean Catholicism and the spirituality of martyrs. There were four groups involved in the organization: ICCRS, the National Service Committee, the Kkottongnae community, and the Steering committee. Although we had some difficulties in working in harmony at the beginning, we have finally accomplished unity in diversity because of intercession and the leadership of ICCRS and the Korean NSC. When we had the evaluation meeting of the event immediately after the conference, many leaders agreed that this style of event had been a turning point in the life of ICCRS and it had moved us to a new place. Fr. John Oh, the founder of Kkottongnae, suggested that the CCR could help HIV/AIDS victims in the name of ICCRS as a result of the 2009 event ‘Love in Action.’ He promised to donate money for that purpose. Furthermore, if there are any institutions or communities helping HIV/AIDS patients in the poor countries, please contact the ICCRS office to inquire about obtaining financial support. My appreciation goes out to all the Councillors of ICCRS and all NSC members of Korea, that their efforts and prayers brought us a meaningful event for the first time outside Europe. Praise the Lord! Saranghamnida (We offer our love to you)! By Br James Shin Published on the ICCRS Newsletter January-February 2010 / Vol. XXXVI, Nro. 1