Monday, 6/ 29, 15
On this feast of Peter and Paul please pardon me for reminiscing about two young Korean men named Peter and Paul. They celebrated their feast day together sixty-one years ago by giving a party. They were inviting guests to the new house they had built for themselves.; and I, as a 26 year old priest, was there because I had helped them in hauling stones up from the river and in slapping the mud walls together.
Of the thirty of us priests ordained together in 1952, the only other one still alive is Father Frank Mannion; and Frank happened to be visiting me that 29th of June in 1954. We joined twenty other Catholic guests, squatting against the walls in that eight by eight room; and we played a game in which each called out the next Korean number in succession while clapping his or her hands. The tricky thing was that if it was your turn when we came to seven, instead of their word for seven, you had to call out “bope!” And, instead of seventeen and twenty-sevn, you called out, “Bope, bope!”
Frank got it wrong three times, and everyone gleefully told him the penalty was that he had to sing a song. That got me worried, because Frank, a studious man, never would sing with us priests when we were partying. But I needn’t have worried.
Frank was in seventh heaven squatting in that corner. It was the kind of missionary life he had dreamed of. He sang, “There are some folks who say that I’m a dreamer; and I’ve no doubt there’s truth in what they say; but sure a body’s bound to be a dreamer, when all the things he loves are far away.”