Korean nuns voice joy, gratitude for audience with Pope
by ELISE HARRIS
Seoul, South Korea, Aug 18, 2014 / 12:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - Two Korean nuns have expressed their excitement at having participated in an audience with Pope Francis, stating that his words on poverty and the witness of the martyrs were particularly impactful.
“I was very happy, thankful for his closeness. But for everyone, the whole people, they are very happy,” Sister Lee Hee Jung told CNA Aug. 17. “It’s a feeling that is difficult to express, because there are so many emotions that I felt – consolation, joy, gratitude, a feeling of surprise.”
It’s a “feeling that his words touch you,” she said, explaining that “he is a like a motor for us, he gives us energy, he moves us. He gives us strength. And this is hard to express in one word.”
Sister Lee, who is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her first profession this year, was one of the thousands of religious present for Pope Francis’ Aug. 16 audience with the religious communities of Korea, which was held at the Training Center “School of Love” in Kkottongnae. The meeting came during the Pope’s Aug. 13-18 visit to South Korea, with coincided with the Sixth Asian Youth Day. Earlier during the trip, he met with youth from across Asia and beatified 124 Korean martyrs at a Mass attended by an estimated 1 million people.
From what the Pope said, one of the most impactful things for her personally was how he “highlighted the faith our ancestors, the martyrs who died for their faith” and the need “to imitate their faith,” the sister observed.
“So for me in this moment we must recover the faith of our ancestors who truly gave their lives for the faith.”
Speaking of the testimony they give as religious, Pope Francis told the communities gathered that “Only if our witness is joyful will we attract men and women to Christ.”
“And this joy is a gift which is nourished by a life of prayer, meditation on the word of God, the celebration of the sacraments and life in community,” he explained. “When these are lacking, weaknesses and difficulties will emerge to dampen the joy we knew so well at the beginning of our journey.”
Revealing how she is preparing to begin a new mission in China, Sister Lee stated that she is excited to go because “historically we have received the faith from China because our ancestors saw Chinese books that spoke about God, so they went to China to get baptized.”
“So now they have faith, but probably, in my own personal opinion, they are lacking their own spirituality, so I hope that we can go there, be with them, live with them with our spirituality, (the) spirituality of the martyrs, to guard the faith.”
Also present in the Pope’s audience was Sister Renata Pa, who returned just two months ago from a mission in Virginia, USA. Belonging to the Sister of St. Paul of Chartres, the oldest order in Korea, Sister Pa has been a part of her community for over 20 years.
“I was so impressed” by the audience with the Pope, she said, “and we are blessed by the Pope. We are so happy.”
Recalling how she helped the Bishops conference prepare for the encounter, the religious sister observed that it was exciting to meet the Pope afterward, stating that “I will never forget that time, I was so happy and it was a wonderful time with him.”
Particularly impactful for her were the Pope’s words on poverty, she stated, explaining that “For us poverty” is what “the Pope said; the Church is going out to poor people.”
Sister Pa explained that she was also very moved by the pontiff’s words and actions surrounding the Sewol ferry disaster earlier this spring that killed over 300 people, mostly high school students.
“We have had a big accident in Sewol, so he gave us a lot of comfort. He met the Sewol parents, and he so impressed us. He gave us so much comfort. I can’t explain my heart, but he gave us much peace and consolation.”