While there are many areas of the world in which the Church is aching for priestly vocations, the South Korean Archdiocese of Seoul has just bolstered their ranks with the ordination of 41 new priests and deacons.
According to a press release from the Archdiocese, the newly minted deacons numbered 25, while 16 new priests began their ministerial journeys. It took two days of ordination Masses at the beautiful Myeongdong Cathedral to see them all ordained. The Masses were held on February 1 and 2, 2024.
On February 1, 25 seminarians were ordained to the diaconate and on the following day, February 2, 16 deacons were ordained to the priesthood. None of the deacons who were ordained were reported as permanent deacons; if this is the case, then each of the 25 men ordained will continue their vocational journey to the priesthood. A seminarian must first be ordained to the diaconate, for usually about a year, before being ordained a priest.
The Archdiocese wrote that the addition of 41 new priests and deacons brings the number of clergy under their purview to 985.
There are about 1.5 million Catholics in the archdiocese, around 15% of the total population of the region. This means there are about 1,400 Catholics per priest. By comparison, the Archdiocese of New York has about 2,300 Catholics per priest. The Archdiocese of Mexico City has about 3,400 Catholics per priest. The Archdiocese of Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of Congo has a whopping 10,600 faithful per priest.
Vibrant clerical fraternity
The archdiocese explained that the traditional and solemn ordination ceremonies “underscored the enduring commitment of the Archdiocese to nurturing a vibrant clerical fraternity dedicated to spiritual service.”
Furthermore, it noted that these devoted servants of the Church will enrich Catholic life in Seoul.
The February 2 ordination Mass was held under the theme: “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,” drawn from Psalm 25:21. The theme was selected by the newly ordained priests themselves, after discussions and reflective deliberations on the topic. They determined that this theme best encapsulated “the profound ethos of their vocational journey,” which emphasizes the “pursuit of moral rectitude and unwavering devotion in the face of life’s challenges.”
Of the theme, Fr. Jaseon-Thomas Hwang – one of the newly ordained priests – commented:
“There may be times when I wander and waver from internal and external temptations and trials while living as a priest, an instrument of God, but I chose this verse with a request to overcome these difficulties with ‘integrity and uprightness’ and to be able to stand before God on the last day as a righteous priest who resembles Jesus.”