Our Parish Patron Saint
ST. ANDREW KIM TAEGON, ST. PAUL CHONG HASANG, & COMPANIONS
The artist is a former parishioner.
(Photo courtesy of parishioner Frank Cooney, R.I.P.)
"During the 17th Century the Christian faith was brought to Korea through the zeal of lay persons. From the very beginning these Christians suffered terrible persecutions and many suffered martyrdom during the 19th Century. Notable of these were Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean priest, and the lay apostle, Paul Chong Hasang. Also among the Korean martyrs were three bishops and seven priests, but for the most part, they were heroic laity, men and women, married and single, of all ages. They were canonized by Pope John Paul II on May 6, 1984." ~ (Fact Sheet - Author Unknown)
Saint Paul Chong Hasang was born in Mahyon, Kyonggi Province, Korea, in 1795. He came from a family of noble scholars that were dedicated to the Catholic faith and to its growth in Korea. His father, Augustine Chong Yak-jong, was a Catholic intellectual who had written the first Catholic catechism in the Korean language. He was martyred in 1801. His family was thereafter persecuted and stripped of all property. In spite of this hardship and tragedy, the devoutness of Paul's mother was strong, and the family never denied the faith.
When Paul was twenty-one, he went to China, where he asked the Bishop of Peking to send missionaries to Korea. While in China, Paul was confirmed. Throughout his life, he continued to seek missionary support for the Church in Korea. In 1831, largely through the efforts of Paul and his followers, the Vicarate of Korea was established and the Paris (France) Foreign Mission Society was placed in charge of the Church in Korea.
Paul traveled many times to China to escort foreign missionaries to Korea. He escorted Bishop Laurent Imbert on his mission and served him faithfully during his ministry. Bishop Imbert was impressed by Paul's devotion to the faith and decided to prepare him for the priesthood. Before this could happen, however, a new persecution of Christians broke out in Korea. Bishop Imbert was forced to flee; Paul and his mother and sister were arrested.
While awaiting execution in prison, Paul wrote "A Letter to the Minister," defending the Catholic faith to the Korean government. This work impressed everyone; even enemies of the Church praised its eloquence. However, the government was not moved to alter its stance. After much suffering and torture, Paul and his family were beheaded outside Seoul on September 22, 1839.
Saint Paul Chong Hasang is considered a leading figure in the revitalization and growth of the Church in Korea. Despite severe hardship and persecution, he kept his faith and served as a sterling example of piety for others.
Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions' Feast Day is observed on September 20th.
This mosaic of St. Paul Chong Hasang is located in the vestibule of the Church.
PRAYER TO OUR PATRON SAINT
"O God, Who has been pleased to increase Your adopted children in all the world, and Who made the blood of the Martyrs Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon, St. Paul Chong Hasang and Companions, a most fruitful seed of Christians, grant that we may be defended by their help and profit always from their example. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen." ~ (Author Unknown)
SAINT ANDREW KIM TAEGON (21 August 1821 - 16 September 1846)
St. Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is the patron saint of Korea. In the late 18th century, Roman Catholicism began to take root slowly in Korea and was introduced by scholars who visited China and brought back Western books translated into Chinese. In 1836 Korea saw its first consecrated missionaries (members of the Paris Foreign Missions Society) arrive, only to find out that the people there were already practicing Korean Catholics.
Born of the nobility, Kim's parents were converts and his father was subsequently martyred for practicing Christianity, a prohibited activity in heavily Confucian Korea. After being baptized at age 15, Kim studied at a seminary in the Portuguese colony of Macau. He was ordained a priest in Shanghi after nine years (1844) by the French bishop, Jean-Joseph Jean-Baptiste Ferreol. He then returned to Korea to preach and evangelize. During the Joseon Dynasty, Christianity was suppressed and many Christians were persecuted and executed. Catholics had to covertly practice their faith. Kim was one of several thousand Christians who were executed during this time. In 1846, at the age of 25, he was tortured and beheaded near Seoul on the Han River. His last words were:
"This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively: If I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him."
Before Ferreol, the first bishop of Korea, died from exhaustion on 3 February 1853, he wanted to be buried beside Kim, stating, "You will never know how sad I was to lose this young native priest. I have loved him as a father loved his son; it is a consolation for me to think of his eternal happiness."
On 6 May 1984, Pope John Paul II canonized Kim along with 102 other Korean Martyrs, including Paul Chong Hasang, during his trip to Korea.
(Pamphlet, "St. Andrew Kim Taegon," St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church, P.O. Box 2414, Harker Heights, TX 76548 / 1000 E. FM 2410 Rd., Harker Heights, TX 76548, Phone (254) 698-4338 / Author Unknown.)