Published September 20, 2007
Thirty years ago, a group of some 20 Korean Catholics in Atlanta started to worship together.
The community, which now includes over 2,000 parishioners, celebrated the work done by those pioneers on Sunday, Sept. 16, with Mass, confirmation of teens and adults and an overflowing feast of food.
“It was very joyous for all of us,” said Brian Choi, the secretary of the parish council and son of one of the founders of the community.
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory attended the celebration to confer the sacrament of confirmation on nearly 30 teens and 20 adults.
The Korean Martyrs Pastoral Center, in Doraville, attracts Koreans from across the metro Atlanta area, some driving more than an hour to attend Mass. Within the building, the Korean culture is featured in a canvas mural, 100 feet by 198 feet in size, which portrays the 103 Catholics killed for their faith in 1839, 1846 and 1867. An estimated 8,000 Catholics were killed during the persecutions. Pope John Paul II canonized the Korean martyrs in 1984. The feast day is Sept. 20.
“Every time I see that I am reminded where we are and where we come from,” said Choi.
Korean worshippers first gathered as a community at the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Atlanta and then moved to St. Thomas More Church in Decatur. In the early 1990s, the community moved into a former Baptist church on Buford Highway in Doraville. And as the community has grown, additions have been built on the original building.
Choi said having the archbishop at the celebration made the people proud. He said at times the community feels forgotten in the archdiocese.
The Korean community is attracting more people and is thinking of the future as part of the archdiocese-wide planning process, Choi said. “We have a growing problem. We are running out of spaces,” he said.
Following the Mass, the congregation moved into the parish hall to watch drummers and traditional Korean folk dancing, followed by a community buffet lunch.