This year, young Catholic people in Seoul celebrated a unique Palm Sunday with a procession through the streets of Honda — a vibrant area where many young people gather.
The Palm Sunday procession for young people was initiated by the Youth Department of the Archdiocese of Seoul to commemorate the 31st World Youth Day. It wasn’t the first time to gather young people and celebrate Palm Sunday Mass, but it was the first time to bring the procession out on the streets.
The procession departed at 13:00 from the Catholic Youth Center in Hongdae, passing by the old Gyeongui railway and Yeonnam police station before heading back to the Center. The whole journey lasted about 30 minutes, with curious tourists and passers-by watching and taking pictures.
Bishop Peter Chung Soon-taek, the auxiliary bishop of Seoul, participated in the 1-km procession and celebrated the Holy Mass with eight others priests.
During his homily, Bishop Chung emphasized that the Season of Lent is the “season of mercy.”
“When Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the temple was ‘torn down’ the middle. When Jesus was baptized, heaven was ‘opened.’ The verbs in the two sentences are translated into different words, but it is in fact the same word in the original Greek Scripture, meaning ‘to be opened.’ In ancient times, veils were to protect the parts of the temple where only clergy can approach. Through Jesus’ death, the veil was ‘opened,’ and the temple is now opened to every one of us—reminding us that the mercy of God, also, is for everyone.”
Fr. Chang Won-suk, the organizer of the event, said that the event was a great opportunity for “street evangelization.”
“We wanted to do something out of the ordinary,” said Fr. Chang. “Something that will raise the interest of young people, Catholic or non-Catholic, and help them feel the mercy of Christ.”
The Catholic population in Korea is 10.6% and 15% in the Archdiocese of Seoul. According to recent statistics, however, the participation rate of Sunday Mass by young people (age 20-30) has increased by 6%.