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Farewell Address of His Excellency Bishop Paul T.R. Kim of the Jeju Diocese, Korea
October 8, 2002

 
+ Praise Jesus! 

All my brothers and sisters in the Cheju Diocese whom I love in the Lord!  As I begin my farewell address as the Ordinary of the Diocese, I am moved to recall the following prayer which I offered almost 19 years ago, during the Mass for installing me as the Ordinary of this Diocese:

"Lord, help me not avoid Thee.  (The reason why I said this at the beginning of my prayer was that I did not want to become a bishop or the Ordinary of a diocese and was avoiding the person who was trying to find me.)  As Thou, however, hast shown Thy power and mercy through this unworthy servant, I pray that Thou wilt lavish Thy graces upon all the residents of the Cheju Province and especially upon all the clergy, religious and laypersons in this diocese through this lowly one.

Lord, let my brothers and sisters not look for wisdom in me by any chance.  Thou knowest that I do not have such a thing.  Let them not expect any statesmanship from me by any chance.  Thou knowest that I do not possess it.  Let them not demand leadership from me by any chance.  Thou knowest that I was not born with it.  Also, let them not expect talents from me by any chance.  Thou knowest that I am far from them.

Lord, let me entrust everything to Thee, as Thou hast gotten hold of me.  Thou knowest that I do not have any other talent or capability than trusting Thee.  Thou alone art the source of all wisdom; Thou alone art the most capable statesman; Thou alone hast the greatest capabilities; and Thou alone art the ablest leader.  I am only a donkey whom Thou canst ride.  It is Thou who hast connected me with the Cheju Diocese and the Cheju Province and hast chosen to ride on my back despite its weakness and haggardness.  Lord, please have mercy on me and bear with all the inconveniences in riding on my back.  Also, give me the sense of direction and energy that I need."

I do not know if there were some at the Mass who had doubts about my sincerity in offering this prayer.  They might have thought: "It cannot be true.  He came from the Seoul Archdiocese and was chosen from many.  How can he be so lacking in abilities?  He is not a fast horse but a donkey, even a haggard one?  What he says cannot be true.  He must be telling a lie or exaggerating."   

However, those who have been with me or observed me for the past 19 years will say, "He was not telling a lie!  He was not exaggerating!  His prayer was sincere!"

That is right.  My prayer was sincere.  Often I have said to myself and sometimes even in the presence of others, "My vocation has been inaction!" 

As I mentioned during a Mass about a month ago, many people actually know that this bishop has been so lacking in many things — physical abilities, health, knowledge, senses, and everything else.  It has been the same in my spiritual condition as well.  As a result, I have not adequately offered up prayers or properly accomplished any work.  It seems that God willed to let me do any work not perfectly or splendidly but imperfectly and poorly.  Then, He seems to have liked to repair what I did poorly and fill up what I did imperfectly.  Finally, I have come to believe that God has been drawing much pleasure from the works that He has had to do because of my shortcomings and inabilities. 

Nine years ago, I submitted my resignation letter to the Holy Father because of my health condition.  I was suddenly having problems in my vision and was not able to read.  I could not even read the large-print missal.  I barely managed to offer Mass reading the large-print prayers handwritten by a Sister.  I even attached a doctor's statement to my resignation letter, but the Holy Father did not accept it.  The Lord probably ordered him to keep me a while longer who was good-for-nothing and full of shortcomings.  Looking back, I seem to realize that the Lord wanted to draw more pleasure from helping this unworthy son's work for a longer while. So, I have decided not to push myself too hard to do a better work regardless of whatever work I have been given.  I have only wished to walk the way of an immature child, looking to God's loving hands which will repair and fill up my insufficient and imperfect works in a decisive way on the last day of my life.

My heart is heavy, knowing that there are so many people to whom I must apologize and from whom I must ask for forgiveness, as I end my work in the diocese.  I deeply apologize to the clergy, religious and laypersons for leaving behind so many works unfinished as a result of my lack of abilities and negligence and also for the many spiritual and other helps that I have failed to give them.

Considering such a miserable situation of mine, the Lord is sending His Excellency Bishop Peter Woo-Il Kang, who is so well prepared with virtues and scholarship as well as many pastoral experiences as my successor.  My heart is filled with joy, as I clearly see the Lord's profound and merciful providence in this matter.  I sincerely thank God for sending such a good shepherd to the Cheju Diocese and also thank the Blessed Mother who has helped in this matter.  I have no doubt whatsoever that Bishop Kang will quench your thirst so fully as I have not been able to do. 

I would like to give my deepest gratitude, first of all, to God Who has used this unworthy servant so full of shortcomings and faults and to the Blessed Mother who has helped.  Also, I express gratitude and love to His Holiness Pope John Paul II, who appointed me as the Ordinary of the Cheju Diocese and personally consecrated me as bishop.  In May 1984, when the Holy Father came to Korea to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the Catholic Faith in Korea, which was also four months after my consecration as bishop, he came closer to me at the airport and said, "Tu es filius meus, nonne?" ("You are my son, aren't you?")  In December of the same year, the Holy Father allowed a private audience by several Korean priests and myself, who had been classmates at the seminary and were on a pilgrimage trip to the Holy Land and the Eternal City in commemoration of our 33rd anniversary of ordination.  I later learned that such private audiences were only rarely granted.

I made four ad limina visits to the Holy See during my 19-year term as a bishop.  In every one of these visits, the Holy Father mentioned His special closeness to me.  During every visit, the conversation lasted longer than the scheduled time.  During the visit in 1996, he asked me about the events in Naju with a deep and intense interest and expectation, as if the word: NAJU were written on my forehead in big letters.  During my last ad limina visit in March 2001, my audience with the Holy Father was extended much longer than the allocated time because of the conversation about Naju.  The audience with the next group had to be re-scheduled.  Anyhow, I give my profound gratitude to the Holy Father for his deep interest in and love for me and my diocese.

I also give thanks to His Eminence Stephen Su-Hwan Cardinal Kim, and all other bishops (in Korea) who have given me much love and help despite my occasional failures to give them proper respect and brotherly love.  And I thank His Excellency Archbishop Giovanni Morandini, the Apostolic Nuncio in Korea, for his deep interest in and consideration for my diocese.

Next, I thank all the clergy, religious, and laypersons in the Cheju Diocese who have been so generous, understanding, patient, and helpful to me, who has been so unworthy.   

I will remember every day all the above-mentioned persons in my prayers at "Sam-moi-so Garden of Graces".  I deeply realized that "Sam-moi-so Garden of Graces" was a good place for praying, when I spent a few days there before.  I realized that it was a place where prayers could be offered not just every day but at every moment.  It is a land of my dream and of blessing, which I have always yearned for.  So, I hope that I can pray, even though I will not be able to do any other things.  It is my ardent desire to go to God with the nickname: "a bishop who cannot do anything but pray."

I have been notorious for giving long speeches.  Thanking God for enabling me to keep this notoriety for the past 19 years, I now retire.

+ Praise Jesus.

+ Paul Tchang Ryeol Kim
Bishop of Jeju Diocese
South Korea

(Translated from Korean at Mary's Touch By Mail, Gresham, Oregon, U.S.A.)


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