Interview with Mr Celestino Yoon, ASC
Seoul, Korea, 10 December 2018 -- Mr Celestino Yoon Jeongol was recently congratulated for his long-term contribution to formation at the province level as former ASC Provincial Coordinator and current member of the social communication - formation team.
What makes you happy as a Salesian Cooperator?
I would say that just as the man in the Gospel parable, who finds a treasure, goes and sells everything he possesses, also as a Salesian Cooperator I left everything in exchange for a happy Salesian Cooperator vocation and life. As Salesian Family members, we receive many treasures, like our everyday spirituality of joy, family spirit, or the ‘bread, work and paradise’ promised by Don Bosco.
At the beginning of my vocation journey I was not a good husband, or a good father to my children, but I realize that I am being transformed little by little, and today I am a little better as a husband and a father than in the past. Also in my home parish I was slowly being transformed as a good Christian. In the Salesian Cooperators Association I feel the responsibility to share these treasures with my fellow Cooperators. I think that this slow transformation of heart reveals my Salesian Cooperator vocation.
What makes the vocation of Salesian Cooperators in Korea grow?
It’s not only about growth in numbers, although we are now almost 600 active members in Korea. In Korea there are many good lay Catholics dedicated to volunteer service for the benefit of others, especially those who consider it very important for there to be good family education of their children. This emphasis on a good educational background offers fertile ground for the Salesian Cooperator vocation. Through appropriate formation they become good parents and are enabled to raise their children with a good education. This effort extends to many who are deeply interested in the inner needs of poor and abandoned youth. Many fervent Catholics become involved in their local Cooperator centres; they encourage and accompany these vulnerable youth and contribute to their human dignity. In this way they realize a new vocation, to become witnesses of Christ’s spirit among the youth and are becoming a part of the Salesian Family.
How has the ASC in Korea grown in autonomy and communion during the past 20 years?
Almost twenty years ago thanks to many committed SDB and FMA Delegates and the growing identity awareness of the Salesian Cooperators, we accepted to host the 5th EAO Salesian Cooperators Congress 2004 in Korea. I think, that thanks to this occasion the autonomy and awareness of our Association grew a lot! The theme of that EAO Congress was ‘Autonomy in Communion’ and from the early stage of preparation, the Cooperators themselves took full responsibility for the Congress organization and finance. I would say that the whole Congress was successful as an instrument for our Association’s growth in autonomy. After the Congress we grew in deeper awareness about our identity, our sense of belonging, and we built up our capacity for autonomy. By this stage we have already achieved full autonomy in financial terms. Then based on joint involvement with SDBs and FMAs we were able to build up complete autonomy in operative terms for our organization. And I believe, that in the future together with the other groups of the Salesian Family we would like to offer our specific contribution to the local Church and society.
What are the main challenges in the growth of the Salesian Cooperators Association?
Yes, Salesian Cooperators of Korea face quite strong challenges regarding their presence in the Church and in civil society. There are many expectations: many expect that we would foster effective education-evangelization rooted in values of Don Bosco’s preventive system in the family or in the parish. And the Salesian Cooperators are looked upon as expert evangelizers rooted in reason, religion and loving kindness. In civil society we are expected to foster more effective educational assistdance to poor and abandoned youth as our core apostolate and mission in each centre!
What is your dream for the future of the Salesian Cooperators Association?
My dream is that in communion with many Salesians the Cooperators would live a happy life, help grow the Salesian charism and grow in Christ in helping the evangelization of the young. My dream is for a more concrete presence of Salesian Cooperators in family ministry, in the Church and within the society. I would expect, both in Korea and within our EAO region, that we would encourage each other and make good progress in the accompaniment of the Salesian Cooperators vocation journey