Korean State honours 40 years service of Columban Fr. Donal O’Keeffe

Columban missionary, Fr. Donal O’Keeffe, has been honoured as ‘Immigrant of the Year’ by the Korean State in recognition of his 40 years of dedication to supporting the marginalised in Korean society.

Fr. O’Keeffe, arrived in Korea in 1976. He dedicated himself to the workers who move from the slums to the industrial districts of Korean cities. With the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Fr. O’Keeffe has created an “open house” in Seoul, a place where workers, sometimes even very young people aged 15 or 16, could meet and share problems, dreams, aspirations.

The 70-year-old Columban, who is formation programme director in the Korean region, was awarded a presidential citation at a ceremony hosted by the Ministry of Justice in Gyeonggi Province on 20 May 2021.

“I was very surprised to hear that I was selected as the awardee, out of many other immigrants that have shown greater deeds than me. I appreciate the Missionary Society of Saint Columban for having sent me here, giving me an opportunity to carry out my ministry with the Korean people,” Fr. O’Keeffe said in an interview with The Korea Times.

The full AsiaNews article detailing the missionary work of Fr. Donal O’Keeffe with workers on the outskirts of the capital, Seoul can be found here.

'Meet a Columban' - Fr. Donal O’Keeffe