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Asia Pacific Augistinian Conference

Korea: Great steps at Yeoncheon

    Great steps! Since 2012 the Augustinian Delegation of Korea has built on a donated property a complex that eventually will contain a priory, novitiate, church / columbarium and a retreat house which when fully completed will be able to cater for up to forty “live in” retreatants. The columbarium is a Korean tradition for reverently preserving the cremated ashes of the deceased.

    Except for Stage Two of the Retreat House, the complex is now built and operating. The chapel has seating for 130 persons. A number of commissioned art works, including a figure of the risen Christ made of highly polished bronze and statues of Saints Augustine and Monica (his mother). There is a large church bell in its adjacent tower. The first Mass was celebrated in the chapel (see photo below) during April 2012. 

    The left wing of the church is the columbarium, where the ashes of the deceased are placed. There are 500 niches, distributed throughout three rooms.

[Clockwise from top left: the Priory, Church and Stage One of the Retreat House. Photographed at Yeoncheon in March 2014.]

    The Augustinian Priory of the Mother of Good Counsel has ten rooms to accommodate friars, novices, and private retreatants. On Saturday, 8th September 2012 Cardinal Prosper Grech O.S.A. from Rome presided at the blessing of the chapel and the adjacent Augustinian Priory of the Mother of Good Counsel at Yeoncheon, north of Seoul and a mere five kilometers from the DMZ (demilitarized zone facing North Korea).

    The Retreat House has separate construction stages, comprising two separate buildings. Its first stage is now completed, a single storey building featuring a conference room, smaller lecture room, office, foyer, reception room, prayer room, storage room, men's and women's toilets, dining hall, kitchen, cook's quarters and laundry room. Stage Two will be a two-storey building with sleeping accommodation in the form of twenty twin bedrooms.

     On the feast day of St Monica, 27th August 2013, the local Bishop of Uijeongbu, Most Rev. Lee Pedro, blessed the columbarium and a statue of Saint Monica in the church. Soon after that date, Stage One of the Retreat House has been in full operation, and planning is under way so that Stage Two can be constructed in the near future.

    The previous small Augustinian site at Yeoncheon higher up in the mountains has been sold, and its Augustinian community moved to the larger site. As well as a place for retreats and a church containing a columbarium, the complex will be a place of novitiate for those formally joining the order.  

    At present three Augustinians live in the Priory, which in 2013 also served as the place for three candidates who moved in January 2014 to the other Augustinian priories once they received their first Augustinian vows.







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