The year 1993 was full of Columban historical milestones. The U.S. Society was celebrating its 75th anniversary and the Columban Fathers were marking 60 years of their mission in Korea.
Fittingly, on November 23, 1993, the first Korean, Columban Father Dominic Kim Jong-Keun, was ordained in Seoul.
Father Kim, a native of the island of Geoje Korea, had originally begun his studies for the priesthood as a seminarian for the Diocese of Pusan, Korea. But the Columban emphasis on developing vocations from the populations of their mission countries attracted Father Kim to the Columbans, and he transferred to the Columban formation program.
His ordination at the Guui-dong Parish in Seoul was attended by more than 1,200 Columban friends and supporters, and the presiding bishop was Stephen Cardinal Kim of Seoul.
Father Kim went on to serve in Chile, and other Columban vocations from Korea have followed since 1993.
In the next few years after Father Kim’s ordination, the Columbans were blessed with first ordinations from several more of their mission countries, including Fiji in 1994, Peru in 1995 and Chile in 1997.
The 1982 decision of the Columban General Council to encourage vocations from the mission nations was paying great dividends. Fr. Kim became the director of the Columban missionaries in Korea in 2015 and plans to lead the centennial celebrations there in 2018.