The Missionary Society of St. Columban in Britain is pleased to welcome Jung-Hae Kim Roberta, who has recently arrived in Britain from Korea. Roberta has been assigned to the country for at least three years, and will support many of the Region’s key projects and outreach programmes by crossing boundaries of culture, gender, creed and race whilst proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.
Before becoming a Columban lay missionary in 2004, Roberta studied Chinese Language and Literature at Sung-Shin Women’s University in Seoul, Korea. A chance encounter with a lay missionary whilst on her way to visit a friend in Uzbekistan inspired Roberta to research more about the life of a missionary and ways she could put her faith into action and grow closer to God. She studied more about the catechism and missionary life at the Catholic Catechetical Institute in Seoul before graduating in 1999. After this she began working as a lay missionary and supported those living in remote parishes in the South and West of her home country, Korea.
Responding to her call from God, she joined the Columbans in 2003 and after some time for orientation, was sent to Japan on her first mission in March 2004. Ordained Columban, Fr. Bede Cleary, invited Roberta to his parish in Wakayama, a Japanese prefecture in the Kansai region. For the next 11 years, Roberta served her parish community by joining bible study sessions and visiting nursing homes and facilities specialising in the care for people with disabilities. Having a passion for ecology, Roberta became involved with organic farming and the application of EM technology in agriculture which aimed to solve problems of environmental pollution by means of large-scale recycling operations. It is here her interest in horticultural therapy blossomed and she began offering rehabilitation to local adults with complex physical and mental health difficulties. During this time she also dedicated much of her time campaigning for peace and maintaining Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. In 2015, Roberta accepted a position to work back in Korea as a Lay Missionary Coordinator and worked for a total of 3 years until she took a sabbatical in 2019.
When asked what she is most looking forward to, Roberta explains, “The Columbans are involved with some fantastic projects that work in solidarity with poor and marginalised communities across Britain. I am looking forward to getting involved with outreach programmes in and around Birmingham that, in particular, support asylum seekers and refugees.” She adds, “I’m passionate about the environment and ecology and I hope to be able to live out the Gospel in a way that reveals more about the beauty and wonders of God’s creation and supports the integrity of creation.”
Lay missionaries devote much of their time to the Church and to God. They will often be involved in the pastoral work of communities, support education groups and commit themselves to health and human rights advocacy and promotion. In some instances they will engage in environmental work as well as promoting interfaith dialogue between people of different cultures, faiths and backgrounds.
“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.’”
For more information about Roberta and the projects she will be involved with here in Britain, or to learn more about what it means to be a Columban lay missionary with the society, please contact the office on 01564 772 096.