A disappointing thing about the early Church is that they made little of the lives and careers of the twelve Apostles. All that mattered was that there were twelve of them. They wanted Christianity to appear as solidly established as the religion of the Hebrews which was founded on the twelve sons of Jacob.
Since I cannot tell you any great stories about the Apostles Phiilip and James, let me say something about a pair of Korean twins, born on the feast of Phillip and James, may 3, in 1948. Actually. I have more to say about their father, Kim Peduroo.
With his wife and their three-year-old twins, Peduroo lived in Chumunjin on the east coast of Korea, twelve miles south of the 38th parallel. Peduroo was a clerk in the town office on June 25th, 1950, when they got word that the North Koreans, with guns blazing, were coming down the road at them. Peduroo ran to his house, getting his wife and the twins onto the road. Then, his wife remembered something. “Go back as fast as you can! I buried all our money in a jar behind the kitchen.
Peduroo went back, but he was nabbed by the Reds. For three years he was part of a team of human mules who carried back loads of military supplies from the north to the fighting lines in the south. At night they trotted along with their burdens, but by day they tried sleeping under scrub pines, out of sight from bullets from Nato planes.
At war’s end South Korean troops were questioning Peduroo’s fellow pack animals, then shooting them. Peduroo spotted some American troops; so he started making the sign of the cross, shouting, “Me Peduroo.” And a GI said, “Hey, that little Gook is a Catholic. Let him out of there.”
When I took over a Korean parish in 1954 I could speak very little Korean, so I hired Peduroo as my front man. He and the wife and the six-year-old Phillip and James moved into a little parish house. The Koreans called Phillip and James Pillibo and Yacobo.
I had my own private out house behind the rectory. It consisted of a buried oil drum with two planks over it. Its walls were plywood sheets, and its door was a long hemp sack.
Pillibo and Jaobo never had anything to say to me. But, coming to my outhouse one day I found Yacobo standing nearby. He said, “Nuga wasso.” Thinking he had said, “Nugoo wasso?” I told him I didn’t know.
There was confusion there. “Nugoo wasso?” would have meant “Who has come?” But “Nuga wasso” meant “Someboy is already here.” Missing that subtle distinction, I pulled aside the hemp sack, and I stepped in on a squatting Pillibo. He never suspected that one day he would turn up in a homily.