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