· The faces and lives of the young girls who will listen to Pope Francis ·
“I was in
Yu-jin Shin, who will be in Daejon to take part in the Asian Youth Day, sings and is the leader of her parish choir. She also leads a group of young Catholics who study the Bible. “The Catechism speaks to us about real life issues. It’s a way of relating the Bible to the lives of young people, and a way of sharing experiences with the other members of the group”.Yu-jin Shin converted 14 years ago. “I was baptized through the influence of my mother Lucia. And it’s also to her that I owe my passion for singing which I’ve had since my years in elementary school”. The young lady denies being talented, but Rena, who is just next to her, corrects her: she’s truly the best, otherwise she wouldn’t be the group’s soloist and leader.
mother was a major influence on the religious choice of Yu-jin Shin, her
grandmother was so for her mother. “My grandmother secretly became a Catholic. Her husband
was totally against it”. The history of
grandmother fell ill at the age of
A highly pressured work-world exists, then, in which the need to submit to elder colleagues and superiors is keenly felt. This often results in real abuse. According to a recent study, nearly half of all nurses have experienced sexual harassment by doctors in the workplace.
Rena - she emphasizes that her name comes from reincarnation; her Korean name is
You-jung Song - is 22 years old and was baptized four years ago, on Easter
Sunday. After Catholic school, she entered the
time, I fell ill because of too much study,”Rena recounts. “My grandmother also
fell ill, and my aunt had financial problems, a series of quite unfortunate
problems began for the girl when her mother put her under too much pressure.
mothers” are a
phenomenon as Chinese as they are Korean. An English teacher in
Parents place extremely high expectations on their children. They not only expect to be proud of them, something to brag about with their friends; they also expect them to support them financially in their old age. Even today it is an established custom that a son or daughter’s first paycheck be given directly to the parents as a symbolic gesture of gratitude. The practice is also present among Koreans residing abroad. An American young man of Korean origin who works for a company that builds oil refineries recently said that his mother demanded not only the first paycheckfromhis first job, but every first paycheck from each new job. The matter became quite a burden for him,sincein the past ten years he had changed jobs every 12 months on average.
“The KSAT,”Rena continues, “is the most important test of our lives and I am not
exaggerating”. And she’s right: just consider
that on the day of the exam in
“All of this seems exaggerated to the Western ear,”Rena says. “But in Korea, if you don’t do well on this test, you won’t be able to gain entrance to the universities that count, it won’t be possible to get a good job, and it’s possible that no one will want to marry you because of your low social status,”she concludes almost in jest. Her expression, however, betrays no smile.
It was precisely during this intensely
stress time that Rena drew near to Catholicism. “My mother was already Catholic; she received
baptized five years ago. My father, who is a scientist and works at the
university, is an atheist. Personally, I always had a good impression of
Catholics, including through the stories I heard about John Paul II, who came
Do you ever speak about faith with your father? “No. Not that he was ever opposed to my mother and I becoming Catholic, but for now I do not dare broach the subject with him. My mother tried to draw him closer to the faith, but for now her attempts have failed. Fortunately, not in every respect: my parents, for example, take part in monthly meetings in the parish that are called Me, Marriage encounter: several couples discuss the Bible and their personal lives, their relationship, how to improve their married life,they share their problems. Now my father is also convinced about the benefits of going; perhaps it is a first step towards conversion”.
According to a recent survey in
“Surely,”Rena responds, “one of the explanations lies in the way they evangelize. The Protestants can be very aggressive. For example, at the universities there are people who approach you boisterously (to say the least) in an attempt to lead you to their church. If you don’t respond decisively, they don’t go away. They insist, they continue in their bullying proselytizing. However, this isn’t the only factor: my grandparents were Protestants, and I realize now that their way of living the faith is different than our own. They pray a lot for their own well being; in prayer, their thoughts turn to the lone individual. But we Catholics live and experience the faith in a more participatory way; we pray for the good of the whole community and for society in general. Perhaps this reason also carries its own weight, maybe this is why Catholicism arouses greater sympathy”. (Christian Martini Grimaldi).
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