For 20 years, the Archdiocese of Seoul has been celebrating a Holy Mass every Tuesday to pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula. This Tuesday, January 6th, the 1,000th ‘Mass for peace and reconciliation on Korean Peninsula in division’ will be held in Myeongdong Cathedral, presided over by Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung.
The Mass for peace and reconciliation has been held ever since Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan (12th Archbishop of Seoul, 1922-2009) officiated the first Mass on March 7, 1995. The Mass has been celebrated by Cardinal Nicholas Cheong jin-suk (the 13th Archbishop of Seoul, 1931~), the auxiliary bishops of that time, and since the year 2000, by priests who were newly ordained in each year.
While the 1,000th Mass will be presided over by Cardinal Yeom, the homily will be preached by Gwangju Archbishop Andrew Choi Chang-moo, the first chairman of the Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People (March 1995-March 1999). Archbishop Choi opened up the channel of interaction between the Catholic churches of the South and the North; he also made the first official pastoral trip to Pyeongyang.
The Mass will also mark the beginning of the Spiritual Revival Movement, a movement to unite South Korean Catholics and the 54 Catholic churches in North Korea, which now remain mostly in memory only among South Koreans.
“The Spiritual Revival Movement,” explained Fr. Jung Se-duk, the present chairman of the Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, “is a prayer movement for the reconstruction of the North Korean Catholic Church, and the true reconciliation and unity of South and North. Through the Movement, each South Korean Catholic becomes a spiritual member of one of the 54 Catholic churches in North Korea.”
As the Apostolic Administrator of Pyeongyang, Cardinal Andrew Yeom has shown much concern and effort in improving North-South relation. Last May, he became the first Archbishop of Seoul who ever officially visited Kaeseong Industrial Complex.
“I would like to express my gratefulness to those who have prayed together for peace and reconciliation,” said Cardinal Yeom. “And I would also like to emphasized the importance to continue to pray for our suffering brothers and sisters in the North.”