I was moved by Steve's reflections - the "confession" of his past. I can imagine how people must first respond when they hear: "I was a monk for seven years". Well, I've been at this for over 35 years now - and the journey begun so many years ago find me on the same path - albeit in a different country using a different language, living with different people in a very different culture. I must confess that I don't muse on the past all that much - but for those who are interested I will give a (brief) summary of the years since 1970.
Being professed as a cleric - I decided to ask to continue Passionist life as a Brother during the summer of 1969. It is a decision that I have never regretted, and thank God everyday that the option was open. I could have continued as a cleric, been ordained, and done priestly ministry - but I had to face the fact that I really had no interest in priesthood or in priestly ministry. I was very interested in the community life of the Congregation - and that is where I have centered my efforts and ministry.
Saying this, I also realize that much of my time seems to be spent outside of the community context. I continued studies to become a Registered Nurse (1972) and finished a degree in theology and philosophy at Bellarmine (1975) - which I understand is now a University - but then was just a simple College. I worked as a nurse/religious at St. Anthony's hospital for a time, and then volunteered to serve in Korea as a missionary. I have been here since 1975, with the exception of six years spent in Rome at the General House of the Congregation - Sts. John and Paul. I finished my studies in Korean in 1982 - having taken a five year break before returning for the Diploma–needing one more semester for that.
Most of my life in Korea has been spent in Retreat Centres - either as a Director and/or as a Local Superior of the community. I had two or three precious years in the countryside - where I raised chickens, ducks, dogs and rabbits! Currently I am in our student house in Seoul - a local superior again - but with much more freedom. I have finally realized a long-time dream and am involved with ministry for those afflicted with AIDS - being the director of the Catholic AIDS Association of Korea. There are four hospices in the country - directly administered by various religious communities - and we meet regularly to coordinate movement of patients - assure continued care and to find people who are hesitant to come forward with this problem. It has been an honor to be involved with such dedicated people these past four or five years.
The Passionists are currently in eight countries in east Asia and the south Pacific. For the past four years I have served as the executive secretary for the Major Superior's Conference of this Region - which we call PASPAC - "Passionist Asia/Pacific Conference". While I haven't done a great deal for the organization - it has been interesting to deal with the various people in the countries involved in the Conference. It certainly has made me more aware of the diversity Passionist life enjoys in this corner of the good Earth.
I'm almost finished - so don't despair! Life has been very good to me - I've met thousands of wonderful people - lived in various countries–been able to stumble along in a variety of languages. The early years in Louisville were very happy ones for me - living with all of you and all of the good men who were involved in one way or another in our formation. The young, the old, the native born, the foreign born. The one's who drooled on the benches when they fell asleep during prayer, the ones who made the coffee in the morning, the ones who challenged us to be more than we thought possible. We were all led to that elegant building on Newburg Road by a faith and a dream that guided us.
I don't know if I can make it to the celebrations next July - I do know that my only hope is that each of us never stops believing and, more importantly, never stops dreaming.
Larry Finn C.P. (Posted: Jul 23 2003)
Seoul - Donam