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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Founders of Marianist Sisters Korea

The June 1st 1976 issue of PAC reports on the visit of Provincial Fr. Joseph Stefanelli to Japan. During this visit he Approached the Marianist Sisters about sending one or two Japanese to Korea to initiate a native Korean Province of the Daughters of Mary. The Japanese Provincial was in Rome but the Sisters were definitely interested. Fr. Mifsud had already spoken to the Sisters and he continued to explore possibilities. Bro Vianney and Fr. Jim Mifsud had discussed this possibility before.

Providential circumstances to come to Korea arose in early February 1979. At that time I was teaching at Sogang University. The University had a small apartment at the back gate of the school. I found out that the Good Shepherd Sisters were moving out of that house. I wrote a letter to Sister Gabriel and to the Japanese Provincial Sr. Yamada. There were many advantages for a team to move into that house at a low price, access to the Jesuit Priests for Mass, and access to my office for planning purposes. The house had four bedrooms that could be rented out to college girls. The previous cook was Donata Kim who spoke Japanese would do housework.

The Japanese Sisters answered immediately. Two Japanese sisters would be coming in March 1979 to meet with Cardinal Stephen Kim to make final preparations for the foundation in Korea. On May 17 1979 Sisters Emmanuel Ohori and Assumpta Takao (photo - Ohori left, Takao right) arrived as foundresses of the FMI (Marianist Daughters of Mary). The Sisters moved into the small apartment at Sogang University. Later in the day the sisters visited the Seoul Formation Community for a welcome.

Two months later I wrote a letter dated June 24, 1979 to Fr. Mifsud who was in the States for the summer. I gave him news about the Sisters. Srs. Takao and Ohori were both taking Korean lessons at Yonsei University. The Sisters had three girls boarding with them; two high school students taking night classes and a graduate student of Sogang University.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

1975 Provincial Visit


Fr. Joe Stefanelli arrived in Seoul on January 22nd 1975, Chaminade Day. Bro Peter Shin (left) professed his first vows. Many religious and priests headed by Cardinal Kim of Seoul attended the celebration.

During his stay in Seoul Joe met with the Sodality groups. Vianney Ahn's group and another group with moderator Bro. Peter Shin. Joe pointed out that these lay groups are developing along with the development of Society in Korea.


The Sixth General Meeting of the Marianists in Korea was held on January 29th in Mokpo. Fr. Stefanelli was present.

In PAC Father Stefanelli writes that Our school has an excellent reputation, and rapport with public officials is good -- a real tribute to the effectiveness and hard work expecially of Brother John O'Donnell (left). (School Principal)

To replace Bro. John O'Donnell. Bro. Joe Gossenreiter becomes both Director of the Mokpo community and Principal of the high school.

Friday, May 25, 2012

HyoSong Hagwan

This building is a realization of Bro. Vianney Ahn's concept of a Lay Group having a free school for the poor as mission. The dedication of the school took place on April 6, 1975

The school was a short walk from a nearby shanty town which house prospective students.

Marianist Lay Communities

Aspirant John Vianney Ahn joined the Seoul Formation Community on March 6 1971. Even before he moved in, he was in charge of the CCD program at the Martyr's Shrine Parish within walking distance from our Seoul Community. He took his Novitiate Vows on January 2nd 1972.

The minutes of the Third Annual General Meeting of the Marianists in Mokpo indicate that Vianney was interested in the Family of Mary and desired to form a "Sodality" (a type of Marianist Lay Community) from his CCD teachers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Early Beginnings In Seoul

Seoul Formation House

In 1969 the Pacific Province sent another team to Korea. Bro. John O'Donnell arrived in Korea in August 1969 assigned to Mokpo as principal of the Middle School. Fr. James Mifsud and Bro. Paul Nomi arrived September 10th 1969 slated to establish a formation house in Seoul.

On November 2 1969 Bro. Joe Gossenreiter was put in charge of getting land for the new training center (Seoul Residence). A contract for this land was signed on January 14 1970. Construction of the Seoul Residence (photos on top) was completed. The Marianists moved into their home on October 10, 1970. In Mokpo, the Religious Community was also finished and the Mokpo Marianist moved into the new residence on the same day.

My Arrival in Seoul

On August 17, 1975, after a long plane trip and a wait as a transient at Haneda Airport in Japan, I arrived in Korea. Our Korean young Marianists in Seoul and Bro. Paul Nomi met me at the airport. We went by taxi to our Seoul House with the address: The Marianists, Mang Won Dong 403-2, Mapo Gu, Seoul Korea. Father Mifsud, the District Superior, was still in the United States Soliciting for funds.

The color photo above is dated c1975 so that photo shows the Formation House as I found it on my arrival. My room was on the second floor at the first window.

District of Korea

Fr. James Mifsud (1935-2010) was born in San Francisco, California, on February 6, 1935. He was the oldest of seven boys. Jim first met the Marianists as a student at St. James Grammar School. He professed first vows on August 15, 1953, in Santa Cruz and perpetual vows on August 23, 1958, in San Francisco.

Fr. Jim was ordained in Switzerland on April 3, 1965. He returned to the United States after the seminary and served for three years as a teacher and chaplain at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California

In 1968, Fr. Jim volunteered to go to Korea. He was given the title of "District Superior" in 1976 (Pacific Province Personnel).

PAC and Korea

A new stage in the development of the Korean Mission began when Fr. Joseph Stefanelli became Provincial Superior of the pacific province. (August 15, 1973). One of the first things he did was initiate a Province bi-monthly news letter, "PAC" (Provincial Administration Communications). This periodical is a gold mine as a source for information about the Korean endeavor over the years 1973-2002.

General Chapter of 1976

The 1976 General Chapter was held at Pollanza, in Northern Italy from July 1 - August 15, 1976. The plan prepared for Korea by the Austrian and Pacific Provinces for the Chapter was approved. The chief points are these:

(1) All Marianist personnel in Korea, the communities and the works will be under the direction of the Province of the Pacific.

(2) All present and future Korean Marianists will profess their vows as members of the Pacific Province.

(3) The Korean Mission is designated a "district" of the Province and a local "district superior" will be named by the (Pacific) Provincial Council...(PAC No 7).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mokpo Marianist Community

The top photos are dated 1970. The Middle School shows the Marianist Community building far to the right. The second photo is of the Marianist Community House of 1970. The photo on the left shows the updated Marianist Community (2010)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mokpo Marianist School

Present status (2010) of the Mokpo Boy's High School is shown directly above. Photos of the Middle School are on top. Construction view and completed Middle School view are dated 1970. Note that the High School expansion begins at the Marianist "M".

Friday, May 4, 2012

First Marianist Community

Mokpo Community House

Occupants during 1965 were Bros. Tom Bediamol, Clarence Chew, Charles Goedde(director), John O'Donnell, Melvin Silva and Fr. Leonard Thome.

Still in Community in 1966 were Bros. Clarence Chew, Charles Goedde(director), Melvin Silva and Fr. Leonard Thome.

This house is 20' x 30' made of cement blocks. John Young, brother of Bro. Tony Young was supervisor of the building. Inside the house was a plywood separation dividing the space into two halves. One side was the sleeping area for as many as 6 people. There were three sets of double cots. The other half of the building served as a kitchen, living room, and all other activities. It was only in 1970 that a proper community house was built also supervised by Tony Young.

Our Windmill

The background of the little house shows the land to be devoted to the school. Note the windmill. Fr. Don Bracht (In charge of the Pacific Province Marianist Missions) sent the windmill to Korea for pumping water. Bro. Gossenreiter (Austrian Province) was also a member of the first Mokpo Community. He assembled the windmill which served to draw water from a well. The water was piped to fill barrels near the house. Eventually the city supplied the water.

(From phone interview with Charles Goedde, May 5th 2012)