Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ellicott City - Los Angeles - Seoul

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

I am actually writing this greeting before many of you have even celebrated the New Year. Given the time zone where I am now, we are several hours earlier than Rome, and even though we are several hours after the States, there is the international date line between us so that we are actually a day later than you are. (As I said when I passed the date line in the other direction, this confuses the heck out of me, but since they tell me it is January 1st, I believe it.)

I spent Christmas Day with our friars in Ellicott City. Many of the friars were with their families, so it was a small but very enjoyable gathering. The next day I flew out to Los Angeles to visit a group of Korean friars who live in Torrence.

This is an area at the south of Los Angeles, right by the ocean. The friars serve in a Korean ethnic parish, one of many in the area. The Church had originally belonged to another Catholic community, but when they built a new building, they passed the old complex on to the Koreans. The facility is beautiful, much better situated than I would have thought from an "old" building.

The friars introduced me to Korean cooking the first day. It tends to be quite spicy. If you have ever eaten Kim Chi, the fermented and spiced cabbage, that is a good measure of what much of the diet tastes like. I actually enjoy the food.

After a day visiting the friars and their apostolate, I also visited a group of California friar at our parish in Hermosa Beach. The friars have just finished an extensive remodeling project on the Church and the friary, and the results have been very gratifying.

The next day I took off for Seoul. The check in at Los Angeles for the United flight was the most chaotic I have ever seen. I don't know whether it was the holiday or just misorganization, but I was shuffled from long line to long line. It took well over two hours to check in.

The flight was then delayed due to mechanical difficulties. This part of the trip was handled very well. We were kept informed. We left quite late, and I missed my connection to Seoul from Tokyo. At the Tokyo airport, there was an incredibly good organization of the efforts to help the travelers. My new ticket was already prepared, the hotel arrangements were set, etc. Everyone was so helpful in arranging everything.

I arrrived in Inchon airport. This is Seoul's international airport, about 40 minutes outside of the city. This is the city at which General MacArthur made a surprise landing of troops during the Korean War and changed the courwse of the war.

I have been meeting the friars here in Seoul. There are ten friars in this friary, which has an international parish, a retreat house, the provincial's offices, etc. I am using both Italian and English to communicate with the friars, sometimes depending upon the services of an interpreter (one of the Italian friars who have served in Korea for many, many years.)

Tomorrow I head down to Pusan, a city along the southern coast. There are two friaries in that area, then up to Daegu which is a bit to the north of Pusan, and then back to the Seoul area for there are five friars in this immediate area.

I have finished a few books. The first is by Tom Clancy (actually sponsored by him and written by another author, much as James Patterson writes his series of novels.) It is called Op Center: War of Eagles. It deals with the reprecusions of a plot in China between two rival groups within the government which has become violent and threatens to destroy the peace within China and outside as well. It was OK, but not my favorite book.

The second was A Girl Like You by John Locke. This is part of his Donavan Creed series. It is a detective story told in the style of the detective stories of the 40's and 50's. It was entertaining for a light read.

Finally, there was a book called 1688 by John E Wills. This was an unusual book. It charts the occurances in various countries in the year 1688. It is like reading a global yearbook which has pictures as various as India, Japan, China, Africa, England, France, etc. For a history book, it is quite good to give one a picture of a particular era.

Hope you have a good week and a good New Year.

fr. Jude


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