Rector Major visits the cradle of the Salesian in Korea,
By KOR SC team
Gwangju, Korea, 16 November 2018 -- The schedule for the fourth day of the Rector Major’s visit to the Korean province involved meeting with the Gwangju Salesian Family, students in particular. Gwangju is where the Salesian Society first arrived in Korea in 1954.
Unlike other SDB provinces the Korean province has only one middle and high school. For that reason, the Provincial, Fr Stefano Yang, had asked the Rector Major to visit this school and its Salesians and lay partners.
Leaving the novitiate on the western coast at dawn, it was a three and a half hour journey down to Gwangju, the main city at the southern end of Korea.
Fr Ángel looked around the chapel and the history museum which depicts the dedication of so many Salesians over 64 years. He was guided by the principal, Fr Michael Chang. In the chapel he prayed especially for the first Salesian missionary to Korea, Fr Archimede Martelli, who had established the school, and after whom the chapel is dedicated.
At the formal reception for Fr Ángel, the president of the alumni association, who represents 25,000 alumni, presented him with a bouquet of flowers, according to Korean custom. It was followed by a welcoming toast and singing. The choir sang the Spanish song ‘Eres tu’ for the Rector Major.
When they moved to the school auditorium, some 1,000 students and teachers welcomed him fervently. Among the students, there were two from the broadcasting class (1st year in high school, Park Jongmin, Han Hyeongseo) who had made videos of Fr Ángel's vocation story and a welcoming video for him.
What touched Don Angel most was the welcoming speech of the student delegate, who requested him, “Please give strength and courage to the teenagers in this Salesian school at this time. Let us know the way of life.”
Fr Ángel encouraged them as follows:
“I know that you face the challenging Korean examination system. Young people, I hope that you will be really happy. You must be happy. Don’t forget that you are truly valuable and priceless. You are what makes this nation beautiful.”
He bestowed ‘Salesio Prize’ scholarships on 15 students, and they sang the hymn “Here I am Lord” with gratitude.
In the afternoon the Rector Major went to the SCG Provincial house (Caritas Sisters of Jesus have three provinces in Korea: Seoul, Suwon, Gwangju). He has shown particular affection for the SCG throughout his visit, and repeatedly stressed their ‘consistency’. He also gave them a gift with these words: “The house where Fr Antonio Cavoli was born, which is located in Lombardy, now belongs entirely to the SCG. The complicated issue in the meantime has been solved.”
In the Salesian formation house in Gwangju, Shinan-dong community, a baptismal ceremony of 62 youth had been prepared. Fr Ángel created a sensation by reading the prayers in Korean.
The newly baptised dedicated spiritual gifts that they have been preparing beforehand, as a return for this exciting moment. These spiritual gifts included: Our Fathers 596; Hail Marys 519; Holy Masses 240; Personal sacrifices 266; Acts of charity 454; Brief prayers 261.
In concluding for these special spiritual gifts, Fr Ángel gave out small statues of Don Bosco to the new baptized as well godfathers, godmothers and all young friends who had joined the baptismal ceremony.
The Shinan-dong community arranged a barbecue, providing an abundant and satisfying meal which they had been preparing for days, in expectation of the Rector Major's visit.