20 January 2010

Fr Loughlin Campion SSC

1930 - 2010

Fr Loughlin Campion died suddenly while visiting his sister in Kilkenny on 14 January 2010.

He was born on 20 March, 1930 in Bayswell, Johnstown, Co. Kilkenny. He was educated in Crosspatrick NS, and St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny.

He came to Dalgan Park (the former Columban seminary in Ireland) in 1948 and was ordained on 21 December 1954. Lot, as he was better know among Columbans, was appointed to a war-torn Korea.

Following language studies in Seoul he was assigned to the southern diocese of Kwangju where he was to spend nearly all of the next fifty years.

Kwangju, Republic of Korea

The devastation of war meant that relief work and rebuilding were the order of the day. One of his earliest appointments was to the island of Cheju in 1958 but for the rest of his life he worked in developing parishes in many parts of the province of Chollanamdo.

From the beginning of the 80s the rebuilding effort was followed by mass urbanization of the population. In ten years the percentage of people living in towns jumped from 20 to 80 percent. The city of Kwangju, the provincial capital, grew rapidly to over four million inhabitants. This led to a change of focus from rural parishes to new areas on the edge of the cities and it turned out to one of the most significant contributions the Columban Society could have made to Korea. Poor, displaced, and disorientated families were gathered again into Christian communities and Columbans put in touch with the good and the bad of a tiger economy.

Lot spent the last twenty years of his ministry in Korea developing these communities around the city of Kwangju. Areas like Kwangchondong, Ochidong, Unamdong owe much to his care and commitment. A newsletter of the time describes his Hwanggap, his 60th birthday in Unamdong like this: “Decked out in his colourful ‘hanbok’ (traditional dress) and armed with a two-foot long Korean pipe he looked so at ease one would assume that this was his costume when he went to primary school in Ireland”.

Lot had the gift of being comfortable in difficult situations. His calmness and patience stood him good stead in his final years when his deafness brought its own isolation yet never managed to dampen his spirit. His sudden death will be mourned both here and among the people he served so well in Korea.

May he rest in peace.

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