Korean Catholic Church was founded in 1779 by teenagers of 14 ~ 22 years old in Korea!. Holy Father, Pope Francise visit Korea to meet young people. This visitation must be, we hope, a historical turning point for young people's faith rehabilitation, and that the 5 laic martyr founders of the Catholic Church in Korea will be declared new models today for all the young peoples in all over the world, specially in non-Christian area !
The 5 laic martyr founders of the catholic Church in Korea :
John Baptist Yi Byok, principal founder,
(1754+1785).martyred by suffocating & poisoning, after starvation for 10 days in family.
Peter Yi Seoung Hoon, co-founder,
(1756+1801),martyred by decapitation.on scaffold.
Ambrouse Kwon Cheol Shin, co-founder,
(1736+1801), martyred by beating in prison.
Francise-Xavier Kwon Yil Shin, co-founder,
(1742+1791), martyred by beating on the way to exile.
Augustine Cheong Yak Jong, co-founder,
(1760+1801), martyred by decapitation on scaffold.
The Pope Francise visit Korea this August to see our young students of Asia, and I would like to let Him know who are the young koreans, before coming to visit here to see them ! .
The Catholic Church of Korea was initiated and founded by laic young students (teenagers of 15~23 years old), 240 years ago(1770~1779), with their spontaneous conferences on the christianism directed by Yi Byok, Servant of God, the principal founder of Korean Catholic Church in high mountain hermitage, Chon Jin Am, the birthplace of the Catholic Church in Korea.
John-Baptist Yi Byok(1754 +1785), Servant of God, the principal founder of the Catholic Church in Korea entered into the hermitage of buddhism in Chon Jin Am in order to begin to research the catholic religion in 1770, when he was only 15 years old. He devoted himself to research and practice the catholic faith for the first time for 7 years upto 1777, from when the other young teenager friends with some famous savants began to come into the hermitage Chon Jin Am one by one and they followed him, accepting the Catholic faith very heartedfully by fervent and simple attitude.(St. Mauvant, M.E.P.,the first French missionary reported it in 1838, & St. Rev. Antoine Daveluy wrote it in 1850).
When Yi Byok was leading the young genious students' group, he was 22 years old in 1777. And, his followers, for the first, less than 10 young genious students, like disciples, were Cheong Yak Jong(1760 +1801) of 17 years old, whose younger brother, Cheong Yak Yong(1762 +1838) was of 15 years old. Yi Soung Hoon (1756+1801) was of 19 years old, who was sent as a delegate by Yi Byok to China in 1783, and he was the first baptised in Peking 1784. Some one of the young students at that time was only 14 years old too etc.,,,. When they were united all together with the great Master Yi Byok, they organized the first Catholic community(neo-catecumens) in Korea.
Thus the Catholic Church of Korea was founded and grown up by the young genious savants students, who were all martyred immediately within few years after their religious foundation, half century before that missionaries' coming into Korea.
St. Paul Cheong Ha Sang(1795 +1839), son of Cheong Yak Jong, one of the founding co-founders began to be a leader of korean catholics without priests during sevral very cruel persecution times, when he was 16 years old, visiting the faithful refugees's villages of the persecuted catholics, and he prepared the erection of Korean diocese(1831) for the first time. He also chose 3 candidates (2 of them were 15 years old and the another 1 of them was of 14 years old) for priesthood. And the young 3 boys, they walked about 5,000 km from Seoul to Macau of China for 6 months in 1836. After 10 years, 2 of them became the first korean priests, Rev. St. Andrea Kim in 1845 and Servant of God Rev. Thomas Choi(1849).
Not only the laic founders of the Korean Catholic Church, but also the other religions' founders in Korea were all teengers; For examples, Yi Cia Don(異次頓 A.D. 506 + 527), the first founder of Korean buddhism(新羅 佛敎) was 17 years old when he began to initiate his buddhistic faith, and, 5 years after, he was martyred of 22 years old. Choi Je Woo(崔濟愚, 1824 +1864), the founder of the Chondoism(天道敎, 東學) began to research the indiginous religion, Chondoism when he was of 16 years old and he was martyred when he was 40 years old. etc.,,,.
This year August, Holy Father, the pope Francise will visit to Korea to meet the young boys and students. And, I hope, not only our Holy Father, but also all the Church bishops and priests must know, talking about the young founding fathers of the Church in Korea here, who initiated the Korean Catholic Church by themselves spontenously. And, we have to show them a models to the young people of all the christian and of non-christan world! . Therefore, we have established newly a large camping area today for young people's training in the left side valley of Chon Jin Am with a cooperation of the provincial government 1997, where 2,000 boys & girls can do camping for self-help spirit in the same time, in sleeping, coocking, gymnastic exercise, etc.,,,by themselves so that they can be the another founders of our Church today!
Now, even some writers and reporters do not distinguish the word, "founder" & "followers". Those who initiated for the first time to evangelize, to make a community for the first time must be called, "fondatore" , but, those who listen it from their teacher or evangelizer, and follow it do not be called same, just as any grand son can not be called grand father together with his real grand father. ! -Written by Msgr. Peter Byon