NEW YORK, N.Y. — Before departing on January 30 for China and his ongoing ministry among North Korean refugees, Francis Kim received a rousing farewell from the Korean community at St. Francis of Assisi Church on 31stStreet during the 9:15 a.m. Korean Mass on Jan. 28 here.
Since 1996, Francis has ministered to the Korean community which has grown dramatically in recent years. What began as a small group worshiping in the lower church has mushroomed into a standing-room-only congregation in the upper church.
Jerome Massimino commented on Francis’ ministry at 31st Street: “When I announced at a house chapter that Francis Kim was moving to All Saints Church uptown and continuing his missionary ministry to the North Koreans, John Felice, former Provincial and former pastor of St. Francis, said that ‘no friar in the history of 31st Street has made a more significant contribution to the ministry here than Francis Kim,’ and I could not agree more.”
During Sunday’s farewell Mass, which was celebrated by Jerome along with Provincial Minister John O’Connor and a dozen friars from both 31st Street and the Upper East Side community, a new milestone was reached for the Korean community, as they welcomed Bernardine Kim, OFM, a member of the Korean Province, as their new pastoral leader.
After Communion, both Jerome and John spoke to the community to offer their thanks to Francis and to welcome Bernadine.
Jerome said: “As I welcome Bernardine Kim to our friar community and to the pastoral staff at St. Francis, I am reminded that really this is what we do each and every day here…greet and welcome people from all over the Metropolitan area, people from all over the world and people from every nation, culture and walk of life.”
“Please do not miss, my friends, what is really happening here,” he added. “We are celebrating the deep commitment of the Province of Korea to you and the deep commitment of Holy Name Province to the wonderful partnership we all share together.”
Later in the day, the Korean community sponsored a welcoming dinner and reception at a Korean restaurant in Flushing, N.Y.
— Fr. Tim Shreenan is director of liturgy and communications for the Church of St. Francis