2005-06-24 / Community

Maryknoll Father Celebrates Anniversary At St. Thomas More

Father James Mark Gilligan, M.M., a Brooklyn resident who serves mass at Rockaway Point., will celebrate his 50 th anniversary of ordination as a Maryknoll missioner on Sunday, June 26.

Father Gilligan is one of 54 Maryknollers who will be commemorating their ordination to the priesthood or oath as Brothers in ceremonies to be held at the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America headquarters in Ossining, N.Y

Father Gilligan, 76, who has served in Korea for his entire mission career, officially retired there in 1999. Residing in Seoul, he remains an active missioner doing pastoral work in neighboring parishes, giving retreats to novices and deacons of the Korean Foreign Mission Society (KFMS), as well as doing cannon law consulting work for KFMS and for the Pusan Diocese. Following his ordination to the priesthood on June 11, 1955, Gilligan was sent to study the Korean language at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., in preparation for his assignment to the Cheong-ju vicariate in the Archdiocese of Seoul, South Korea (1956).

In 1962, Gilligan was sent to Rome to study canon law. He then returned to the Cheong-ju Diocese, serving as Chancellor and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish (1965-73). It was at Sacred Heart that he once again met Paul Tschang. The little boy he remembered from his first parish, had grown into a young man considering a life in the priesthood. Gilligan sent him to seminary.

“Years later Paul was called to serve the Church in Bangladesh as Apostolic Nuncio. Now Archbishop Paul Tschang, by his faith, zeal and spirituality reflects a vibrant Korean Church,” said Gilligan. “I feel graced to have participated in his still unfinished story.”

In 1974 Gilligan became the founding pastor of So-Dong Parish in Pusan, a poor refugee area housing nearly 150,000 people. There he built a church, rectory and convent, and established a parish credit union and kindergarten. Over the next 10 years, the parish community grew from 500 to 2,000 members. During this time he was elected to serve the first of two terms on Maryknoll’s Korea Regional Council (1978-81 and 1995-98). Father Gilligan was born on Jan. 15, 1928 in Brooklyn where he attended P.S. 193 (1934-42) and graduated from St John’s Preparatory High School (1945). He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy (1950) and a master’s degree in religious education from Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining (1955). He earned a licentiate in canon law from St. Thomas University in Rome, Italy (1964) and is a member of the Canon Law Society of America (1964-present).

Father Gilligan celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving locally on Sunday, June 12 at St. Thomas More Church in Rockaway Point.

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