1. Sharing one meal for 30 years
1. Sharing one meal for 30 years
Most of the people in the long line waiting for a meal were elderly people in their 60s or older.
There was almost nothing to say.
There wasn't even a murmur.
I waited in line for lunch before 2 pm when the distribution started, waiting for the lunch box to arrive, and I went to receive the lunch box expressionlessly.
The front yard of Seongnam Cathedral, where the homeless meals were served at Anna's House in Seongnam on the 7th, was not the site of a festival no matter how you look at it.
It was full of good intentions, but it was not a place where bright energy reigned.
There was no excitement, no vibrancy, no exhilaration.
In the yard of the cathedral dominated by a strange silence, it felt like only this man's voice was floating in the air, shouting 'Hello', 'Welcome', and 'Please enjoy.'
It is an era in which it is a virtue to disperse rather than gather.
Beyond virtue, it becomes a moral duty, sometimes a legal mandate.
It is common sense to believe that gathering together is dangerous and dispersing is safe.
Public facilities, including restaurants and cafes, have been restricted, and schools, gyms, and even religious facilities have been closed.
Food service centers that were operated to help the needy also stopped operating one after another.
Unfortunately, many people saw it as an inevitable choice, but this person had a different opinion.
Seongnam Anna's House challenges and resists these common sense and virtues.
The anguish was deep in front of public officials' insistence and pressure to suspend the operation of the cafeteria, and protests from nearby residents that 'you are now transferring and spreading an infectious disease'. Even the people with whom we shared a wish felt distant and suffered from nightmares at night. "Am I not being arrogant? Aren't I presumptuous?" I asked the Absolute one again and again, but there was not a single word in this person's mind to stop the meal for a moment. This is because the homeless and the elderly living alone who receive meals are their own family, not others. In times like these, I believe that eating more will strengthen immunity and help our community. It was impossible to distribute rice online. Instead of serving meals at restaurants, they switched to packed lunches and strengthened quarantine measures such as wearing masks and measuring body temperature.
- You are having a lot of trouble because of Corona. Looking at the data, last year's donations also decreased.
"I was able to keep it. Although the donations decreased a little, it was not difficult because in-kind donations, including rice, increased. They also sent us items that were purchased by closed cafeterias, including school cafeterias."
Still, the free meal service was risky. If at least one of the volunteers or those receiving meals had a confirmed case of Corona, it would have been difficult to continue operating the cafeteria, but there have been no confirmed cases for the past two years.
- You said that every day is a miracle.
"Yes. Due to the corona virus, group volunteer work has decreased and we are dependent on individual volunteers. We cannot predict who or how many individual volunteers will come. However, in the past two years, there has never been a shortage of volunteers. It's hard to describe in human terms to feed 750 people at half an hour. There are so many unexpected, unplanned and beautiful things."
The scenery that takes place every day in the yard of the cathedral next to Seongnam Moran Market is a moving scene not only for those who believe it is a miracle created by God, but also for those who believe it is a collaboration between people with good hearts.
There are still people who question whether this person's judgment was the best, and the voices of nearby residents complaining of anxiety have not completely disappeared, but it is confirmed that recognition is exchanged between people through rice and that the line does not dry out under any difficult circumstances. It is a place where you can
At the same time, it is also the site of the lowest level of life in our society that awakens the seriousness of eating.
I met Father Kim Ha-jong, who has been guarding the site for 30 years.
2. Send me to the lowest man in the world
2. Send me to the lowest man in the world
Born in 1957 in Piansano, Italy, the eldest of two sons and one daughter. His father was a diligent farmer and his mother was a religious man. The mother prayed that if she had a child, she would make him a priest, and this man became a priest as if on a prepared path. He entered the Oblati Monastery with the goal of devotion and service with the idea of living with the difficult and difficult people. I have been volunteering since I was in school, and I lived with the poor in Senegal for a year before becoming a priest. He was ordained a priest in 1987 and came to Seoul in 1990 as the first missionary sent to Korea by Oblati Monastery. I got to know Korea through Tagore's poetry and studied Eastern philosophy, but I had no relationship with Korea until then. At that time, to this man, Korea was just a distant country in Asia with difficult people who needed their strength.
Adapting to Korea was difficult. He studied French, English, and Greek, but Korean was an alien language to this man. Moreover, because of dyslexia, it was difficult for him to read and write Italian, his native language. It reminded me of my parents who said that I could always come back if it was difficult, and the life of service and service would be possible not only in Korea, but also in Italy, Europe, or other countries. The Korean language hardly improved, and whenever I felt the cold gaze of seeing myself as a foreigner, I wanted to return to my home country. It would have been difficult for me to endure if it hadn't been for the promise before God that I would bury my bones in this land when I came to Korea. I worked hard to adapt to Korea. In Korea, when a young man heard that it is against etiquette to grow a beard, he shaved his beard without saying a word. The beard suited this quick-witted man, but he did not have any regrets. A few days after coming to Seoul, he visited a hospital and promised to donate organs. He has donated blood more than 20 times with the idea of sharing the bread of life with people suffering from ailments. He also pledged to donate his body after death. It was an expression of his will to remain in Korea even after he died. I even avoided Italian food because it would make me think of my hometown more if I often eat Italian food from my home country.
In 2015, he became a naturalized Korean as a special contributor. Instead of the Italian name Vincenzo Bordo, the Seongnam Kim family was founded and named Hajong, meaning servant of God. Koreans with nice names, but not all Koreans speak perfect Korean. Although there was no problem in communication, the sloppy Korean pronunciation peculiar to Westerners was still there, and it seemed particularly difficult to process the ending. To pay a small interview fee, I asked him to write his signature and address. It took me a while to write a few words. Hangul felt more like drawing than writing.
Since 1992, he has worked as an assistant priest at Sinheung-dong Catholic Church in Seongnam, and established a relationship with Seongnam. It was the most difficult thing to prepare for a sermon in Korean. It must have been difficult for this person preparing, but it must have been difficult for the believers who listened to this man's sermon. I couldn't express my sincerity in words, so I had no choice but to show my sincerity through my actions. Without waiting for those in need, he went looking for them. In 1993, he took over the management of <Peace House> and started a catering business for the elderly living alone.
He started his work with enthusiasm, but it was a hard battle. It wasn't that the people around me put their hands up and stared blankly, but it wasn't enough to cook and feed people every day. There had to be rice to cook the rice, and there had to be someone to cook the rice and prepare the side dishes. It was not something that could be solved with one or two good deeds of one or two people. It was this man's responsibility to raise money, gather volunteers, and cook meals. It was something no one could do for me. There were not many people who saw and supported this person who had no special relationship in Korea.
“When I started Anna’s House, it was very difficult financially at the beginning. I had no money, no one I knew, no friends… I had a pamphlet asking for sponsorship and went around the factory area in Seongnam’s Ginkgo-dong, where I didn’t know anyone. ‘Who am I? Please help me. ' and came to Anna's house at twelve o'clock, and there was one employee at that time. The two of us cooked and cooked and served. It was very difficult. Physically and financially…"
One day in the prayer room of the Order, while pointing fingers at Jesus on the cross, sprinkled with
"'If you don't help me, the door will close tomorrow. You're the problem, you're the problem.' Since then, Jesus has helped me a lot. He's very busy, so I have to speak out loud. I have to threaten him. Or don't listen. ."
In 1994, he opened a study room for teenagers in Seongnam and Bundang.
Meetings with teenagers led to the Hideout (Truck to Protect Children) movement to protect children by riding a truck.
It was a forced march to collect donations in the morning, cook and distribute food from lunch to dinner, and take care of the youth study room at night.
In the meantime, whenever I had a moment, I filled my bag full of bread and drinks and gave it to the homeless.
What this person wrote in his book, 'The pain as if the bones are broken and the muscles torn, the feeling of being beaten with a club and broken all over', must have been referring to those days.
In 1998, when the number of homeless people surged due to the IMF crisis, Anna's house was opened and the target of meals was expanded from the elderly living alone to the homeless.
Every day was a crisis and a turning point until Anna's House was converted into a social welfare corporation in 2006 and on a stable track.
3. People who 'smell'
3. People who 'smell'
Although he is the representative of <Anna's House>, a social welfare corporation with 52 employees and 5 social welfare facilities, this person is neither an administrator nor a manager. In the morning, I wash rice in the kitchen, cut radishes, and trim bean sprouts. A man who works with his hands and feet, not a man who works with his mouth. One scene of a knife rather than a hundred words shows how this person lived.
- When I saw the TV program in which the priest appeared, he was really good at cutting swords.
“It has been 30 years since I volunteered in an apron. I am a person who works in the kitchen. When I enter the kitchen, I am not a representative nor a priest, but just a volunteer. It's my main job to cook and cook until 7 o'clock."
Although he is a missionary sent to Korea, he does not speak his faith. The kitchen, not the cathedral, is the place where this person proclaims his faith. So, the smell never goes away from this person's body. Boiling in Korea was a process of getting used to the smell, and at the same time, it was a fight against smell. In 1992, I heard the voice of God while hugging an old man who lived alone with a foul smell, but even after such an experience, a homeless man's wounds rotted and I could not stand the stench and vomited. I wondered how much he had become accustomed to poverty, which is expressed in the stinky smell.
- The priest's life in Korea must have been a battle against smell.
“When I go home, my clothes smell so bad. From my hair… I have a strong smell of cooking in the kitchen from 1 pm to 7 pm. I have to wash and shower. This is my life and living with the homeless is my life. Smell I'm not weird."
-Are you used to that smell?
"More than I'm used to, these people aren't homeless, they're my family. I don't think the smell is bad because I see them as family. It's not uncomfortable. If I don't shower in winter and wear two or three jackets and sweat a lot, it smells a lot. It's okay. I can feel it for a moment, but I think so. If anyone gets sick of their parents and smells a little, of course, as a son, they have to take care of them, wash them and help them…the same goes for them. It's family."
Besides sharing food, this person does a lot of things.
One of them is to hold a funeral for an unrelated homeless person who has died.
I have asked the relevant authorities in Seongnam City to contact me when a homeless person without any connection dies.
This person takes care of the last path of a person who no one cares for.
I usually wear old jeans and a T-shirt, but when I go to the funeral of an unrelated homeless person, I wear the best bridal attire.
He said it was to see off the last person who died, but most solemnly and honorably.
As he said these words, this man's eyes suddenly widened.
This man's saying that he intuitively felt the pain of others was not a lie.
4. What kind of force made this person hold out?
4. What kind of force made this person hold out?
His slightly high-toned voice was clear and his steps were always as fast as a person walking half a step ahead of others. At the food service site, he wore hiking boots and moved as swiftly as a person living in a fight over the minute. I'm 66 this year, and I still look energetic and healthy, but now I'm at the age to fight my health. In 2016, I lost consciousness during mass and fell down, and I liked mountain climbing, but now my knees are bad, so I live far from the mountains. He has a problem with his stomach, so he doesn't even drink the coffee he likes. He said he grew older in 3-4 years. His wavy hair is his trademark, but if you look closely, you can see that his hair was sparse and he couldn't hide his gray color. In the process of building Anna's house, which was completed in 2018, I suffered mentally and physically, and immediately after that, Corona struck, so I thought it was worth getting old.
He described himself as a stranger. Few people say anything about his appearance now, but in the early 1990s, this man was a poor westerner who caught attention wherever he went. There were not many people who welcomed it, but they felt discriminated and marginalized more often.
"I'm Korean, but I'm not just Korean. It's been 30 years since I left Italy, and I'm not Italian. I'm from another country. I'm not Italian, I want to be Korean, but I'm not Korean. I try, but I can't live my life like a Korean. That's true. I have to admit it. It's neither this nor that, it's in the middle."
I've looked through quite a few records of this person, but I can't find any mention of a friend. Thousands of people use their best expressions, praise and show respect, but few call this person 'my friend's servant'.
- There are many stories about sponsors and volunteers in the book that the priest wrote, but there are not many stories about friends.
“It’s not that I don’t have many friends… There are so many people who love and help me. My life is busy from morning to night, so I don’t have time to make friends.”
I have very little time to spend on myself. Except for the time to wake up in the morning to pray and meditate, and the time to ride a bicycle and run along the Han River on Sunday, all of the time is for others. To this person, dyslexia is a lifelong unwelcome friend. As well as memorizing, concentration and comprehension fell, and he suffered from a severe sense of inferiority until high school. It took him two and three hours to complete a task that his friends could do in an hour.
"When I was a student, I thought a lot, 'I'm stupid. I'm not good enough. I'm different from other kids.'
- You still have a disability called dyslexia.
First, after correcting the question, saying that dyslexia is not a disorder, he continued.
"Dyslexia is when the brain itself works differently from birth. It's like having a different program in your head. It doesn't work if you teach people like me to other people. It's difficult. It's still hard to read, write, and memorize. "
Because he suffered a lot from dyslexia, he said that he felt the heart of the suffering person easily and close.
Because of dyslexia, he understands the emotions of minorities well.
"This person has the ability to read other people's feelings quickly and accurately. If someone you live with is uncomfortable, you quickly notice it and take action quickly."
Hee-gu Ryu/ Priest of the Oblati Order
There were times when I was happy, but more times when I was lonely, I often wanted to give up, and unconditional love often turned into violence. There are still many people who take the good deeds of others as their right. Just because you do beautiful things doesn't mean only beautiful things happen. I asked what force has sustained you until now and got you here.
Hyunsuk Oh, the secretary general of Anna's House, who has been with this person since the days of the Peace House in 1993, and the staff, colleagues, and supporters who have been with him for more than 10 years are the first great strengths. Every time he received numerous awards and decorations, including the Ho-Am Award, this year's Manhae Grand Prize, and the 2019 National Order of Merit, camellia, he attributed the credit to the staff and supporters.
"There are many things I lack. There are many people who are better than me and there are people who did better than me, so when I receive an award, I feel burdened and feel that I do not deserve it. I have only one reason to receive an award. It is because our employees are good. We do, but we have to give the prizes to our employees, our supporters.”
The beautiful things that happen every day next to the peony market in Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do are described with this person as the subject, but this person did not do everything. So far, over 130,000 volunteers have worked hard at Anna's house, and more people have sent donations to this organization. Because of those people, 2.5 million people have had a meal here so far. Here, not only one or two people were treated to a meal filled with warmth and gained strength to live, but there are also many people who gave back to others ten and a hundred times what they received. It is because of these people that we have endured difficult and difficult times.
Early in his life in Korea, his parents and younger brother and sister were his biggest supporters. The younger brother, who says, "Your brother's life is crazy without Jesus," doesn't go to church often, but is a constant supporter and friend to whom he can confide at any time. His love for his family was special. I am an Italian who values family. I call my mother every day, and I often communicate with my brother and sister. I wonder if a priest would stay away from worldly ties, but he doesn't forget his roots. They gain strength from their roots and sometimes lean on them. During the interview, I had a phone call with my grandmother in Italy. When I was on the phone the day before, my mother had a high fever and was worried that she might be infected with Corona, but fortunately, she said that the test came back negative, and tears welled up.
I try to live by simply focusing on the core. This, too, seemed to be an instinctive effort to protect himself. Don't hide your feelings from others. speak frankly Say 'I'm tired' when you're tired, and say "I'm offended" when you're uncomfortable. I don't feel the need to show a different face from my heart, and I don't try to create a different image. 'I am Father Kim Ha-jong' is all this person shows to others. 'If you don't like it, don't do it. If you like it, do it' attitude. it won't hang To those who say they can't do the promised volunteer work because of Corona, they say, 'I'm also afraid'. But he said he wouldn't say this out loud.
"In a way, he is a very strong-willed person. He has the attitude of a priest in his body. He tries to see everything from the priest's point of view, is always thinking about how to keep the priest's heart completely, and always helps him not to lose that part even during prayer. He's the one asking."
Ryu Hee-gu, priest of the Oblati Order
Most of all, it is the existence of the absolute that this person believes in that holds him back.
Sometimes this person is also suspicious, and if there is a God, he asks why the corona virus is causing suffering to the weakest and why the good Lord does not solve the present difficulties at once.
This part was difficult to fully explain in words, so I showed him what he wrote on his Facebook page.
-Why doesn't the Lord come down from heaven and save us from the chaos of Corona?
"I cried a lot too. I'm not magically getting rid of pain and problems as you can imagine, because using magic isn't my way. But I'm walking with you and always by your side."< Father Kim Ha-jong on facebook>
5. I want to lay down my responsibilities and remain as a pure volunteer
5. I want to lay down my responsibilities and remain as a pure volunteer
It is a 'righteous neighbor' that delivers warm warmth from the bottom, but it is also a 'blue-eyed stranger' that puts us to shame every time we see it. The existence of an Italian missionary named Vincenzo Bordeaux can be uncomfortable and uncomfortable. Because he is the person who knows the weak, painful and shameful parts of Korean society best. This person has been guarding a dark corner that Koreans are reluctant to see and tend to ignore for 30 years. This person's method is not the basic treatment, but the most urgent emergency treatment is entrusted to this person. Hearing that 70% of people who receive a packed lunch here live on one meal a day, I think it is too early to celebrate entering a developed country.
Now, even if he goes to Italy, he is eager to return to Korea. I love Korea so much that I cheered for Korea when Korea and Italy faced each other in the 2002 World Cup Round of 16. However, he is not bound by the shackles of borders, ethnicities, and races. Even if he had gone to a foreign country other than Korea, even if he had been active in his home country, Italy, he would have lived the same life now. He lived and volunteered with the poor for a year in Senegal, and he deliberately learned Tagalog for the Filipinos who came to Korea and held Mass with the Filipinos. When asked about the most positive changes in Korean society over the past 30 years, the first thing I heard was that the 'between us' culture unique to Korean society had weakened. It means that the hearts of Koreans have been opened to the world. This is the most welcome change for those who believe that all mankind is one family. It was also said that he suffered a lot in the process of adjusting to Korean society.
- Was there ever a time when you wanted to give up?
"I had a lot of thoughts like that. I feel tired, angry, and dissatisfied… In that case, I pray, shower, sleep, and wake up in the morning and do it again. Still, I do it with a sense of responsibility. I do it with love and because I love it."
- How long do you want to do it?
"I want to quit as the CEO of Anna's House, but I want to continue working as a volunteer. I want to serve purely without responsibility. I want to put another person in my position and I want to go down and continue to serve as a volunteer until I allow it."
What did this person gain and realize through this life?
"I was able to meet and feel God every day, not the Almighty God who is holy in the distant heavens, but who is in the daily life of the poor. I learned that through the people I met."
- Ordinary people like me can't live like a priest.
“As a priest, I have to do well while serving, and as an athlete, I have to be good at sports. Everyone has their own talent, so I have to live according to that talent. If everyone lives like me, society is not fun. Each person has their own path. If you live by it, you can be happy and make society beautiful."
-Are you happy with this life?
"Yes. I'm happy."
-Are you really happy?
"Yes. I am satisfied with my life, I feel peace in my heart and I am happy."
- Don't be lonely.
"Of course, sometimes I feel lonely. There are times when I feel lonely as a matter of course…I am happy…I mean. I don't always live like that, but my life goes back and forth in that direction."
- Are there times when you are ashamed of yourself?
“Oh, of course… I make a lot of mistakes… I go to the head priest once a month and go to the sacrament of confession. I confess my shortcomings and mistakes, and I confess to Jesus for forgiveness and help.”
- Do the priests often ask for forgiveness? .
"Of course. I'm human. There are many things I lack and sometimes I get nervous while working, so I'm unkind and talk badly.
6. A Servant of Difficult People, Where Words Can't Keep Up with Actions
6. A Servant of Difficult People, Where Words Can't Keep Up with Actions
Although donations decreased and the number of volunteers decreased, the number of people receiving meals increased by 30,000 last year. As the other cafeterias are closed, they are flocking to Anna's house. As the number of people to be fed has increased, but donations have decreased and the number of people to volunteer has decreased, it is natural that the burden increases. I thought that this person as well as the people in Anna's house would make a sound of death (?) with a consistent voice, but I couldn't hear such a sound. It takes 160 kilograms of rice a day to feed 750 people, but no matter how difficult it is, the rice will not fall out, and if the young hands are running, other employees will have to come forward. In that sense, like this person, the rest of Anna's household were reckless and naive optimists. It is believing that feeding the difficult people is the work of the Lord, not the work of humans.
A few books, including a Bible, a statue of the Virgin Mary received as a gift from Senegal, a watch and necklace given to him by his parents when he became a priest, and a few clothes are all he has. All external prize money is sent to Anna's house, including the use of 300 million won in the 2015 Ho-Am Prize to finance Anna's house construction. She receives 600,000 won a month for transportation at Anna's house. I wondered if I would like to send some pocket money to my 88-year-old Italian grandmother who has turned 88 this year, but on the contrary, she is still receiving support from her mother and siblings.
Even in a passage where ten lines of words and ten lines of words were required, this person often only answered a couple of lines. It was not easy for this person to have in-depth conversations such as politics, religion, and spirituality in Korean, but he did not want to talk about bad things and wanted to hide his pride. I thought that the interview would be three hours, but I went in less than two hours, and the questions ran out. The answer was shorter than the lack of questions. For most people, actions do not match words. However, this person's words cannot keep up with the weight of his actions, and his writing cannot keep up with the depth of his thoughts.
At the end of 2020, he published a book titled <Fear of Momentary, Everyday Miracle>, which summarized the fight against Corona in the form of a diary. The memos, materials, and dictations that this person wrote in Italian or English were dictated, translated, and refined by Korean colleagues in Korean, and the book was published. The fact that he did not bother his co-workers and did difficult things for himself could at least explain why he had to continue the <Anna's House> catering activities in the Corona era, and he also wanted to inform others about the life he had lived accurately. will be.
Write poetry in English or Italian.
The desire to write in Korean will be like a chimney.
Sometimes he has a talent to freeze the audience by throwing sloppy humor.
People look completely different when they speak Italian, their native language.
It is lively, cheerful, and above all, it seems free.
I thought that I was locked up in a prison of dyslexia, a prison of language, so I couldn't properly share my philosophy and worries with us.
The road to meeting this person was not as exciting as it was.
Looking at his life history and data, he is almost like a living saint, but I was afraid that I would be disappointed when I saw him face to face.
It is presumptuous to evaluate a person who has lived like this in just a few lines.
When I looked at the data before I met him, when I met and chatted with this person, and even as I grunted for days as I was writing this, I constantly wondered if this person had a different face.
Still, according to what I saw and felt, this man is a faithful servant of God and a servant of the poor.
**Full video of the interview with Father Kim Ha-jong will be released for the first time on SBS News YouTube channel at 8:25 pm.Keywords: