July 31 was a day of special joy for Korean Jesuit Fr Tae-jin Kim and the Jesuits and friends in Cambodia. Fr Kim made his Final Vows that day in a Mass celebrated by Fr In-don Oh SJ, Delegate of the Korean Jesuit Provincial to the Cambodia Mission. The joyful ceremony held on the feast day of St Ignatius Loyola reminded all those gathered of the passion and vision of the founder of the Society of Jesus.
The chapel of the Metta Karuna Reflection Centre in Siem Reap was filled with Jesuits and collaborators who have worked in the Cambodia mission alongside Fr Kim. His personal friends, one of whom is a Protestant minister, also came for the special occasion. He had helped to translate children’s books into Khmer and helped Jesuit Service Cambodia to publish some of the translated books. Many staff and parishioners from Kampong Koh, where Fr Kim had lived, as well as a volunteer and her guest from Italy, and Bishop Enrique Figaredo SJ, Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang, also came to witness him make his final vows.
During his homily, Fr Oh recalled personal memories and experiences of Fr Kim. “I met Fr Tae-jin when I went back to Korea after my regency in Cambodia,” he said. “At that time, he devoted himself to the poor, especially to the homeless, who had been living near Seoul Station. He visited them every weekend. He talked with them, drank with them and stayed with them overnight.”
Fr Oh said that Fr Kim’s love for the homeless, for the marginalised is a vocation that has remained deeply in him and is what brought him to Cambodia as a missionary. He thanked Fr Kim for all his efforts as a professor teaching philosophy at the Royal Phnom Penh University and Major Seminary in Cambodia.
Fr Kim thanked everyone for coming. In particular, he thanked his fellow Jesuits working with him, collaborators of the Jesuits, and the Protestant minister he had studied with and who had inspired him.
Sharing his reflection from a 10-day retreat in Korea, he said, “I found out that I could not face and endure my psychological darkness in my mind. That is why community life is not easy for me. Through Jesuit life and community, I, gradually, began to accept myself and realised God wanted to accept me despite my weakness. After this, I was given relaxation from God and I started to accept others. From now on, I would like to do the same to others as God and my community did to me.” He concluded by asking for prayers for his future ministry.