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AUBURNDALE -- A community receives a permanent home after 40 years of wandering.
It's an ancient and familiar story, and it's also one whose final moments played out during a late morning Mass at Corpus Christi Church in Auburndale, Dec. 11.
During the Mass, the Archdiocese of Boston's Korean Catholic Community, after having moved from church to church for the last 40 years, was gifted Corpus Christi Church by Corpus Christi-St. Bernard Church.
"We've been wandering around 40 years; this year is the 40th anniversary. So, in 40 years, God gave us home," said Henry Cho, a founding member of the community.
"It's no coincidence, as far as I'm concerned," he added.
Since its formation in 1976, the Korean Catholic Community has relocated a total of seven times before establishing St. Antoine Daveluy Parish at Corpus Christi Church in 2013.
The parish agreed to a rent-to-own agreement with Corpus Christi-St. Bernard Parish for the church, with the plan that after 10 years of monthly installments, St. Antoine Daveluy Parish would make a final payment and own the church.
During the Dec. 11 Mass, however, Corpus Christi-St. Bernard Parish gifted the church to St. Antoine Daveluy Parish following the public signing of an agreement by Father Dan O'Connell, pastor of Corpus Christi-St. Bernard Parish, and Father Dominic Jung, pastor of St. Antoine Daveluy Parish.
"We will sign an agreement, in which a people will let go so that a people can have a home. So that the word can be preached, so that sacraments can be received, so that Jesus Christ can be made real in the midst of a community who in turn will go out and share the promise that is that word," said Father O'Connell in his homily.
"As we move beyond this moment of prayer, as parish communities, both Corpus Christi-St. Bernard and St. Antoine's, we will be invited by him, by him, to be touched in such a way that we will bring this covenant with us, sharing it in some way with all that we meet, because that's what being Christian is all about," he said.
Parishioners from both parishes joined together to celebrate the Mass, held at Corpus Christi Church, completely filling the pews.
The pastors, too, came together, with Father Jung acting as principle celebrant and Father O'Connell as the homilist. Bishop Robert Reed, who as a priest regularly assisted at Corpus Christi-St. Bernard Parish, was also present at the Mass.
During the Mass, Bishop Reed read a letter from Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley. In it, the cardinal expressed "my appreciation, my gratitude, and admiration for this most beautiful expression of our being united in the love of the Lord."
"Your coming together today to provide the Korean Catholic Community a sustainable home for prayer and celebration of the sacraments at St. Antoine Parish is an extraordinary and grace-filled response to Pope Francis' prayer," he wrote.
At a reception held following the Mass, parishioners from both parishes mingled and talked.
Dana Vecchione, a parishioner of Corpus Christi-St. Bernard Parish, had been baptized and raised in Corpus Christi Church.
With tears in her eyes, she told The Pilot that her had "a lot of good memories here," and noted that her father is buried on the grounds of the church.
While "it's emotional coming back," she said she's happy the church will find new life with the Korean Catholic Community.
"It's an honor to celebrate with these people, and I'm just happy that we're able to do this and keep it a church," she said.
"It was a beautiful, beautiful celebration of two communities coming together," Vecchione added.
SangChul Shin, a long-time member of the Korean Catholic Community, echoed Vecchione's sentiments about the beauty of the two communities coming together, and said the gift of the church was both unexpected and wonderful.
"I think God's gift and love just sometimes actually shows up in a pretty unexpected fashion, and this is one of those events," he said.
"We are extremely grateful for the gift from God, first of all, and the members of the Catholic community. This is just wonderful."