AUBURNDALE — Centuries of mission and decades of pilgrimage form the backdrop of St. Antoine Daveluy Parish, where Boston’s Korean Catholic Community has made its spiritual home.
The Korean Catholic Community in the archdiocese was first formed in 1976, but did not have a permanent home for almost 40 years. They relocated a total of seven times, hosted by various parishes that allowed them to use their churches. Finally, in 2013, Corpus Christi-St. Bernard Parish gifted their current church to them, and the community established itself as St. Antoine Daveluy Parish, with Father Dominic Jung as the pastor.
The Pilot visited St. Antoine Daveluy Parish on May 7 and spoke with several staff members and volunteers. Many expressed gratitude to the Archdiocese of Boston for their support of the parish.
Deacon Charles Kim and his wife raised their three sons in the community. Their sons are now in their 40s and still keep in touch with their friends from CCD.
Deacon Kim said they will never forget the kindness and generosity of the parishes that hosted them before they settled in their current location.
“All of us will be grateful, never forget, and we hope we do the same thing for others,” he said.
Dominic Choo helped with the move from their previous worship site.
“When we moved to this, our permanent place, where we are right now, I think that I can certainly see the joy of a lot of people. Finally, this is the place that we all get together,” Choo said.
He believes the previous decades were a pilgrimage for the community.
“We appreciate the recognition of Korean culture and community so that we can get together and worship in this place,” he said.
Most of the parishioners commute long distances — some as far away as New Hampshire or Rhode Island — to worship with those who share their language and culture. Some families have now been part of the community for multiple generations. The parish has a large number of ministries and group activities, including Bible studies, a Cursillo group, the Legion of Mary, and a Korean language school.
The parish is also active in promoting and supporting vocations. So far, the community has produced three priests, two deacons, and a religious sister. A prayer group meets once a month to have lunch and pray for vocations, and its members use an app to keep track of how many rosaries they have prayed for this intention.
Michael Ahn and his wife came to the parish 14 years ago as a newly married couple. He manages the community’s Facebook page and is involved with their education and outreach. His son was one of four children who made their first Holy Communion on May 7.
He described the parish as “kind of a gateway to Korea, back and forth.” They have hosted priests and religious visiting from Korea, and most of the parishioners visit the country every year or two. They also provide a community for students from Korea who come to Boston to study.
Korea has a strong Catholic presence with a unique history. Unlike in many Asian countries, the Korean people became Christian prior to the arrival of any missionaries. They learned about the Bible on their own and “self-converted” before seeking instruction from missionaries in China.
The parish’s namesake, St. Antoine Daveluy, was a French missionary and linguist who chronicled the Church’s history in Korean, including the deaths of many martyrs. He himself was martyred on Good Friday in 1866 and is commemorated with other Korean martyrs on Sept. 20.
Father Jung explained that they chose the name St. Antoine Daveluy for the parish because he was an immigrant, just as they are, and had to learn the customs of a new country, just as they have. St. Antoine was a faithful missionary in Korea, and the Korean Catholic community strives to be faithful missionaries in the U.S.
“Because of him, we’re living out freely, having this kind of faith,” Father Jung said.
Ahn spoke similarly about St. Antoine Daveluy, saying that they are grateful for what he did for Korea.
“He bore all these fruits, and we want to do the same as a church here, locally and all throughout the Korean community,” Ahn said.
He described Korea as a “beacon of the Catholic Church in Asia.”
“We want to do that again, continue to do that now, in Asia and here in the Boston area, to do good work wherever possible,” Ahn said.
This article was originally published on The Boston Pilot.