New York-based Friars Visit Korea

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

NEW YORK — Jerome Massimino, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street here, represented Holy Name Province last month at the episcopal ordination of the Bishop Xavier Yu, OFM, in Seoul, South Korea. The new bishop had spent time at the Midtown Manhattan friary.

Jerome traveled with Vincent Laviano, OFM, vicar at the church, for the Sept. 15 celebration with the Province of the Holy Korean Martyrs. 

Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, unable to attend because of a scheduling conflict, said in a letter to Bishop Yu: “Please be assured of our thoughts and prayers and know that you are always welcome in Holy Name Province and especially at 31st Street. Many of the friars at St. Francis Friary speak of your delightful fraternal presence while you were in New York City.”

Jerome presented Bishop Yu with a mitre from Holy Name Province as a token “of our fraternal affection as you begin this new and significant ministry in your life and in the life of the Church.” Jerome also gave him a St. Francis statue to represent Bishop Yu’s love for St. Francis of Assisi Church and St. Bonaventure University, where the bishop had studied. Both ministries also have this statue.

Holy Name Province friar Francis Kim, OFM, and Fr. Pio Kim, OFM, who is stationed at St. Francis Friary, were at the ordination.

Seoul Visit
Jerome and Vincent stayed at the Korean provincial house during their Sept. 9 to 16 visit. They participated in both formal and informal activities. They toured the area, an experience that Jerome and Vincent said they both enjoyed. The visit was comfortable and interesting, Jerome said.

“We visited the Blue House, like our White House,” Jerome said. “We also went to the Shrine of the Korean Martyrs and the Myeongdong Cathedral and the palace of the king.” In addition, they visited the friars’ post-novitiate and postulant house in Seoul.

“I was delighted to accept the offer from John O’Connor, because we have so many Korean friars in our community here,” Jerome said. “There has been a strong collaboration through the years.”

The trip gave him “an opportunity to better understand the Korean culture,” Jerome said. It also was an opportunity to meet Korean friars and thank them for sending friars to the St. Francis community, he added. 

Roughly five years ago, when Francis Kim left New York to devote himself to missions and the Korean Secular Franciscan communities, Holy Name Province asked the Korean Province if they could send a friar priest to continue the Korean ministry Francis had begun at 31st Street. Since then, Fathers Bernardine Kim, OFM, Joseph Kim, OFM, and Pio Kim, OFM, have lived and ministered at the West 31st Street community.

“We have a loyal, young and vibrant Korean community which makes St. Francis of Assisi in New York City its spiritual home and place of workshop,” Jerome said to Bishop Yu, in a letter. “My visit to Korea surely will affirm my love for them, especially as I experience your country, culture and traditions.”

Jerome said that Bishop Yu is grateful to both the Province and to St. Bonaventure University for his fraternal experiences.

“He considers one of his greatest mentors to have been the late Joseph Doino, OFM,” Jerome added.

koreaNew York’s Korean Community 
Also last month, the friars and parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Church, a block from Manhattan’s Koreatown, welcomed two new members to the parish’s Korean community. At a Mass on Sept. 26, the parish welcomed Fr. Andrew Hwang, OFM, and Sr. Emma Kim, OSB.

Fr. Andrew, ordained in 2003, is the fourth Korean friar to serve as director of Korean ministry, according to the Oct. 17 parish bulletin. Fr. Andrew said he “is grateful for the hospitality shown by the friars of St. Francis and the Korean community, and is looking forward to the opportunity to experience American culture.” Fr. Andrew will live at St. Francis Friary for two years.

Sr. Emma is the fifth missionary Benedictine sister to come from Seoul to be the pastoral associate for the St. Francis Korean Community. While living at the Benedictine Sisters’ convent in Demarest, N.J., she will teach in the Korean Sunday school program, coordinate prayer groups, and help adults who are preparing for baptism.

A video about the Korean ministry of St. Francis of Assisi Church can be found on the Korean Ministry page of the parish’s website.

Bishop Yu plans to visit New York City in mid-January, Jerome said.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.