By: Michael Folmar, Seminarian
Although I have never been to Korea before, I experienced the closest thing to it this past weekend. I was privileged to attend Mass at St. Paul Chung Korean Catholic Church in Fairfax (www.stpaulchung.org). This parish is home to thousands of Korean Catholics that are in the Northern Virginia area. When I arrived at St. Paul Chung parish, I was greeted by confused stares mixed with friendly faces. I was the only non-Korean in sight, which made me feel out of place at first. As I continued to proceed inside, everything was written in Korean. Luckily for me, however, most things were also provided in English. I was soon welcomed by Moonja Kim, a Korean representative for the Multicultural Council of the Office of Multicultural Ministries. She introduced me to the pastor, Father In Joon Chung, who I would like to thank for having me. Father Chung recommended that I experience the student (youth) Mass, which took place at 11:40 am. Once it began, I no longer felt like a stranger and immediately felt like a part of their community, even though I was the minority. For, it is the Mass that unites us and no one else can unite the Body as well as Jesus Christ, the Head, can. At this Eucharistic Banquet, I was quite impressed by the number of youth that came. Some of them even played woodwind and string instruments for Mass. As I saw all the youth, it brought to mind that we need to pray for Korean vocations for our Diocese to the priesthood and religious life. This is especially needed at St. Paul Chung because the priests that serve this parish come from Korea. So, they tend to be at St. Paul Chung’s for a few years before returning back to Korea.
At the end of Mass, I was determined to get my photo taken by a picture of Our Lady of Korea. It is always comforting to know that each culture has a special place in their hearts for Our Blessed Mother. After this past weekend, I feel as though I had a taste of Korea and did not even have to leave our Diocese to experience it!
St. Paul Chung Catholic Church holds several Masses on Sunday, including an English Mass at 11:40 a.m. For those who have not yet experienced Mass with the Korean Catholic Community of our Diocese, I would strongly recommend it!