Korean Culture Travels to Catholic Congress

Article excerpt

The universal scenes of Catholic churches _ dim candles, low voices reciting Latin chants and priests' black attire _ demonstrate that the Catholic faith grew in the background of European culture, without receiving outside influences.

But a Korean priest is likely to shake the basis of such an age-old belief next month when he visits the Vatican and displays Korean elements planted in Catholic practices, chiefly rituals.

Heading the church at Kayang near Kimpo International Airport, Father Kim Thomas Aquinas has endeavored to help people in his parish better understand Korean cultural heritage as well as to transplant indigenous Korean aspects to Catholic practices.

He introduced hymns composed in the traditional Korean music style at his church's special Korean Mass every Saturday and opened a school to allow children to become familiar with nature.

However, what he is most proud of and cherishes most among his achievements is the establishment of a traditional Korean orchestra at the church. Named ``Catholic Uri Sori (Our Sound) Orchestra,'' it is the nation's first church orchestra consisting of traditional Korean music instruments.

To Father Kim's delight, the orchestra has been invited by the Vatican to present a concert at the 47th Eucharistic Congress and the Grand Jubilee Festival in Rome slated for next month. The concert will feature hymns in the traditional Korean music style, composed by himself and other Koreans.

``The invitation to the two grand Catholic festivals is a landmark event in the 216-year history of Korean Catholicism. It's a fruit of the the pains and sorrow of 1,500 Christians and 93 saints who were martyred for the sake of their religious faith,'' Father Kim said.

The Eucharistic Congress is one of the largest Catholic festivals celebrated by 1.2 billion faithful around the world. The first congress of the new millennium is particularly meaningful as Pope John Paul II declared the year 2000 as the Grand Jubilee. …