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home : more top stories : news

7/9/2009
LOUDONVILLE
Korean Catholics build community
ADAM ROSSI
STAFF WRITER

In 2007, St. Francis de Sales parish in Loudonville turned over its older Exchange Street church building to the Korean Catholic community, while the parish began using its Maria Drive building as its main church.

But, when the decision was made during the Called to be Church pastoral planning process to close the Exchange Street church, the Holy Family Korean Catholic Community wanted to keep their Korean Mass alive.

"It is great gift from God for us to have our own Mass in [the] Korean language, since it is difficult for the immigrants and foreigners to follow the Mass in a second language," explained Wonjin Park, vice president of the Korean Apostolate's board.

The Korean Catholics decided to purchase the Exchange Street church.

"It was a big challenge for us to make the decision due to the lack of finance for the repair and maintenance costs," said Mr. Park; "but we thought it was of great mercy of God for our community to have an opportunity to get our own church building."

However, the church needs renovations. The roof of the building was fixed last year, but Mr. Park said the furnace system and the exterior wall also need repairs, as do the restrooms, kitchen and doors.

The Korean Apostolate has set up fundraisers such as community dinners, a car wash and bake sales. In the end, the Holy Family Korean Catholics hope to have a newly-refurbished home for their parish community.

"Our community is not big, but very close," said Mr. Park. "It [matches] with our church as a 'holy family.'"

Past and future
About 90 parishioners attend the Korean Mass each week - usually, the same familiar faces.

"If someone misses a week, you know they're missing," remarked Imanuel Kim, who has been attending the Mass for seven years.

The community is also focusing on the future of their traditions. With many second- and third-generation Koreans growing up in the U.S., not many of them are as fluent in the Korean language as older peers. So the apostolate has set up lessons after Mass on Sunday to teach younger Korean Catholics about the language through the Bible.

For University at Albany student Amy Schoonmaker, it's a great opportunity.

"I was adopted from Korea, so I really don't have much of a connection with all the tradidions," the 21-year-old explained. "Coming here, not only is it a religious experience, but I'm getting an important history lesson as well."

The apostolate urges all younger Koreans to continue attending the Sunday celebrations.

"We love having the young people show up," said Mr. Kim. "It gives us energy."

Members of the apostolate hope that the next generation will not only continue Korean traditions, but also have the same experiences.

"I am really thankful to have this community," said Mr. Kim. "We can speak our modern languages and share our experience and life together. It's really joyful to have everyone together in God."









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