Korean Missionary Society of Alaska hosts priest retreat

The Korean Missionary Society of Alaska hosted a priest retreat in Juneau in early October for four Korean priests working for the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau.

The retreat, which took place at the National Shrine of St. Thérèse in Juneau from Oct. 3 to Oct. 7, was an opportunity for silent reflection, prayer, and conversation amongst the priests.

“We are usually participating in the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau’s annual priests retreat, but this year we decided to have our own retreat for the first time since we started the ministry in Alaska in 2012,” said Fr. Michael Kim, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Cordova. “This retreat gave us an opportunity to reflect on our ministry in Alaska and helped us to be strong in our missionary vocation.”

Three of the four priests — Fr. Kim; Fr. Augustine Minn, pastor of St. John by the Sea Parish in Klawock; and Fr. Michael Ko, pastor of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in Skagway and Sacred Heart Parish in Haines — are members of the Korean Missionary Society. The fourth, Fr. Joseph Park, was invited since he serves as pastor of St. Andrew Kim Parish in Anchorage, the only Korean Catholic Church in the archdiocese.

“I’m grateful for spending most blessed time in beautiful nature, gracious chapel, and comfortable retreat house,” Fr. Park said.

Fr. Kim, who organized the retreat, designed it to focus on priestly spirituality, as well as making it an opportunity to cultivate fellowship amongst the Korean priests.

“During the retreat, we can have time to talk to God more deeply and to take a rest within his peace, away from our duty and responsibility as parish priests,” Fr. Kim said. “We talk to one another, both informally and formally, during the retreat, explaining to each other the way we answer a few questions about our own way of priestly life.”

Fr. Minn noted the group read and discussed “The Spirituality of the Diocesan Priest” by Donald Cozzens, a collection of essays from twelve priests that reflect on the spirituality of the diocesan priest from their personal and pastoral experience. The prayer mentioned in one essay, “Servant of the Servants of God” by Robert Schwartz, reminded him of his purpose to serve the people of God.

“When we give the homily and celebrate the Eucharist, the purpose is the people of God,” he said when reflecting on why the prayer impacted him. “We do not just deliver something to them, we invite them to the liturgy in their lives.”

In addition to the readings, Fr. Minn said having this time away from their respective parishes allowed each priest to discuss and compare the struggles and triumphs they each faced.

“We usually focus on how to deal with things and how to manage a parish,” Fr. Minn said, comparing the annual archdiocesan priest retreat with the KMS priest retreat. “With this retreat, we could refocus on the power of prayer for spirituality as parish priests.”

Fr. Kim said the discussions, daily morning and evening prayers together, celebrating Masses at the Shrine’s chapel, and the retreat as a whole provided an opportunity to “recharge their souls within God’s love and peace.”

“This retreat reminded us that, as missionary priests, we are called to proclaim the “Good News” in Alaska, and as a servant of God, we are called to love our people in ministry,” Fr. Kim said. “Even though we face some challenges in parish ministry, we realized we have good parishioners and good brother priests who help us both in daily life and parish ministry. We learned a lot of things from them for our missionary life and pastoral work.”

Fr. Kim said this retreat’s success led members to want regularly scheduled retreats for the Society. He noted that the next retreat will be held at the Shrine again.

“We can have a great retreat within the bounty of God’s creation at the Shrine of St. Therese,” Fr. Kim said. “All members love this place. … So, we are looking forward to coming back next time.”


'Korean Missionary Society of Alaska hosts priest retreat'
has no comments

Be the first to comment on this post!

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright © 2021 Catholic Anchor Online - All Rights Reserved