Two Maryknoll seminarians prepare for ordination
[googlefont font=“Cormorant Infant” fontsize=”20″]By Maria-Pia Negro Chin:[/googlefont]
The Holy Spirit guides people to lead fruitful lives and to help others do the same, says Daniel Siwoo Kim. On the threshold of ordination as a Maryknoll priest this May, along with Peter Latouf, Deacon Kim says he now sees how the Holy Spirit was leading him to Maryknoll, even before he realized it.
After changing his major three times at California State University in Long Beach, Kim was seeking concrete direction for his life. So, in 2005, he took a semester off and went on a pilgrimage to Europe. Then, he says, a violent tragedy changed his world view.
At a prayer service at an ecumenical monastery in France, Kim and hundreds of other pilgrims witnessed the stabbing murder of Brother Roger Schutz, founder of the Taizé ecumenical monastic community. “The whole incident happened about maybe 30 feet from where I was sitting,” Deacon Kim says. “That watershed moment really kind of shocked me into action, into discovering, or trying to explore, my vocation in a deeper way.”
He stayed in Europe for a semester to study Scripture at a university in Nemi, Italy. Soon after, he met Maryknoll Father Alfonso Kim, who told him about the missionary society.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Kim joined Maryknoll as a seminarian in 2009. “I felt like it was the right thing to do,” he says.
Deacon Kim says his faith was first nourished by his parents and strengthened at his home parish, St. Thomas Korean Catholic Center in the Diocese of Orange, Calif. He inherited his devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron saint of missioners, from his late mother, Eunmi Kim, who died in a car accident when he and his brother were still in college.
“St. Thérèse’s small ways of glorifying God were basically how my mom lived her life,” Deacon Kim says. He now wants to bring this outlook of life to mission and glorify God as a Maryknoller.
“Every one of us has a special calling and we need each other to discover that,” he says, adding that his calling is to be a missionary priest with Maryknoll.
“A missionary priest is someone who reflects the love of God through service and (by) striving to be the best version of himself, and inspiring others to be the best version of themselves regardless of race, gender, religion or creed,” he says.
As a seminarian, Deacon Kim, 34, was inspired by the example of other missioners when he visited East Africa and during his two years of overseas training in Taiwan and mainland China.
“I was very touched and moved by the genuine passion and love the Maryknollers have for their work and how profoundly they disseminate the healing power of God’s love to the people whom they serve, especially to the people of God that society labels as misfits and outcasts,” he says.
Doing pastoral work and helping Maryknoll Father Cuong Nguyen minister to Vietnamese migrant workers in Taiwan made Deacon Kim realize that the human need to be loved and to love transcends languages.
While finishing his studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago this year, Deacon Kim has shared God’s love at a Chinese Catholic parish, where he performs baptisms, brings Communion to the homebound, and works with young adults.
His passion to connect with people surprises some friends back in California, who recall that he was voted “most shy” in high school. “I’m very introverted,” he says, but adds that his experiences in ministry have ignited his desire to go out to others in service.
He sees the Holy Spirit in these opportunities “to go beyond our comfort zones and our preconceived barriers” and grow in order to do God’s will.
Contemplative prayer, he says, keeps him in tune with the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
Although he does not know where the Spirit will send him after ordination, Deacon Kim looks forward to being a representative of God’s love in the fields afar.
Featured Image: As a seminarian, Daniel Kim visits a daycare for children of brick factory workers that is supported by Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Courtesy of D. Kim/Nepal)