Joint Annual Retreat of Korean and Japanese Redemptorists


It was a cool evening when we began our joint Korean and Japanese annual retreat, from 1st to 5th May. We had “Gaudeamus” to know one another and began the retreat in a joyful mood. Sixteen Redemptorists were participating, aged from 41 to 85 years old. This joint retreat was planned three years ago, but the Covid 19 pandemic and anxiety about dangerous infection made us postpone it. But now we have it and are grateful to be together at last!

May is a spring month; it was quite cool during the day and cold at night in Seoul, South Korea. The Notre Dame Retreat Center, where we stayed, is an interesting structure; composed of several houses that are practically one on top of one another. We were using a winding iron staircase to reach our rooms and places for dining and lectures. In a way, it was a symbol of our mixture of participants: Korean, Japanese, including French-Canadian and Filipino missionaries.

Our Retreat Director, Fr. Gerard McCabe, 64 years old, a Scottish Redemptorist missionary in South Africa, had his ear full of strange-sounding names:  Kim, Quibol, Kwon, Lee, Hiraku, Kang, Takeshi, Shimose, Hagihara and others. We had western food and drinks, but local food and beverages were also served. How about these foods etc., pibimpop, ttupogi, bundai, omakung, odingkuk, meyukkuk; and drinks to go with them: soju, maculi, and chongjong …not inviting to you, I’m afraid.

Our retreat theme was ” Missionaries of Hope in the Footstep of the Redeemer”, and the lectures were based on the document of the 26th General Chapter. Problems in our Redemptorist life were honestly looked at: confreres who live like diocesan priests, difficulties in perseverance, self-centred individualism, the spirit of competition in the community, clericalism, the practices of autocracy and “dictatorial” style in leadership. There were also addressed some challenges: “vita apostolica” as our whole life and ministry, closeness to the people we serve, our collective responsibility with our leaders, fidelity in community prayer, etc. 

We, the participants, also contributed our experiences during the group discussions.

Those days of reflection, prayer, dialogue and fraternal sharing helped us to clearly see our identity and mission in the Church and the contemporary world:

Who is the Redemptorist? He is a religious missionary of Hope in the footsteps of the Redeemer, joyfully engaged in the Mission of God, a person close to the people and is in solidarity with them in their life struggles. 

Fr. Willy Jesena, CSsR

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