Seoul launches foundation for lay missionaries in honor of late cardinal

The Nicholas Cheong Missionary Scholarship Foundation aims to help lay people respond to the call of evangelization

The Archdiocese of Seoul has established a foundation to support the work of Korean lay missionaries and vocations in Southeast Asia.

The foundation was established to honor the memory of Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk who led the archdiocese from 1998 to 2012. The prelate died on April 27 at the age of 89.

During his lifetime the cardinal always insisted on the duty of every faithful to live the mission, which he described as a treasure for the whole Church.

The Nicholas Cheong Missionary Scholarship Foundation aims to help lay people respond to the call of evangelization to bring the Gospel to the whole world.

A report on AsiaNews said the foundation will grant ten-year scholarships until 2031, the year of the centenary of the birth of Cardinal Cheong, for Korean Catholic lay missionaries already engaged in evangelization activities in communities in Southeast Asia.

Applications will be examined by a commission that will award the scholarships every year on December 6, feast of St. Nicholas.

The Foundation will also open a Support Center for Catholic Arts, which will offer Catholic artists financial support and other forms of aid for their art projects.

Born in 1931 to a Catholic family in Seoul, Cardinal Cheong entered the Catholic University of Korea in 1954 where he earned a bachelor’s degree in theology.

After his 1961 ordination, he served for seven years in Seoul and taught students at a Catholic high school.

In 1968, he went to Italy to study at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome where he got his master’s degree in canon law.

Upon his return to South Korea, he was appointed the youngest Catholic bishop in Korea at age 39.

From 1996, he led the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea for three years.

He was named archbishop of Seoul in 1998 after Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan stepped down. He served in the post for 14 years and retired in 2012.

In 2006, Cardinal Cheong was appointed cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, becoming the second Catholic cardinal in Korea after Cardinal Kim.

Known as an expert in canon law, he led the project to translate the 1983 Code of Canon Law into the Korean language. The Korean edition was approved by the Roman Curia in 1989.

He also published 15 volumes of commentary on the Code of Canon Law.

Catholics comprise 11.2 percent of South Korea’s population of 52.9 million.

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