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The Bright Field I have seen the light break through to illuminate a small field for a while and gone my way and forgotten it. But it was the pearl of great price, the one field that had the treasure in it. I realize now that I must give all that I have to possess it. Life is not hurrying on to a receding future nor hankering after an imagined past. It is the turning aside like Moses to the miracle of the lit bush. To a brightness that seems as transitory as your youth once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Now, 53 years later, Jim was looking at his handiwork, reliving his experience. Everything looked so good. The heritage people had put a new roof on the church, refurbished the inside, put in a new floor and installed new stained glass windows. The church looked better than the day Bishop Quinlan blessed it in 1956. Jim recalled the ROK army general who had given him two bulldozers to level the site. The general had been consistently losing money to U.S. army officers in their weekly poker games. Jim taught him how to play, and in no time the general was making money and was eternally grateful. Jim recalled the Chinese builder, the hiring of local labor, the buying of materials both in Seoul and locally, and the lighting system which came courtesy of the officers of Camp Page. Jim writes: “As I walked around the church in the company of the Korean pastor and some of the Catholics I had baptized, scenes came crashing in from my memory. In the first ten years or so, approximately 300 adults were baptized each year. A rectory and a parish hall were built. We made monthly visits to eleven outlying villages to baptize and/or offer Mass. We started the Legion of Mary around the diocese, and we held CCD and English classes every Saturday for the students, one of whom is the wife of the current Korean Prime Minister. Two of the ladies asked, ‘Do you remember us?’ and I was proud to say that I recognized their smiles.” CM Fr. Kevin O’Rourke lives and works in Seoul, South Korea.

—R.S. Thomas

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December 2011

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Columban Mission Magazine December 2011  

Columban Mission Magazine December 2011