Woori Theology Institute (WTI)

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Official name Woori Theology Institute (WTI).
Country / Continent Korea / Asia
Director of the institute Dr. Augustine Kim Hang Seob.
Legal holder of the institute Non-profit corporation (which gets a chart from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea).
Sponsor of the institute No major sponsor like an institute but individual supporters (about 520 persons including some priests and religious).
Year of foundation 1994.
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) Staff: 4 full times and one part time.

Researchers: 26 researchers working part time according to projects they are involved.

Staff members of your institute Staff: One has a doctorate, two are in doctoral course and the other two have master and bachelor respectively.

Researchers: Most researchers have doctorate on theology or religious studies. Some are in doctoral course and have master.

Contact 3 F 32-2 Dangsa –dong

2 (i)-ga

Yeongeungpo-gu

Seoul

Korea


Tel: 822267283424

Fax: 82226728346


woorith@chol.com


Contents

Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

Woori Theology Institute (WTI).

Director of the institute

Dr. Augustine Kim Hang Seob.

Legal holder of the institute

Non-profit corporation (which gets a chart from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea).

No major sponsor like an institute but individual supporters (about 520 persons including some priests and religious).

Vision / mission statement

“We live out joyfully the spirit of “Communities of communion” according to Jesus’ teachings, theologizing Koreans’ experience of God in easy Korean language in this era.”

Main areas of work

Research on Pastoral Models at Parish, Diocese and National levels to suit the Local Church. Concretization of Church’s Social Teachings to Promote lay People’s Social Dimension of their Faith, Responding to the Need of 21st Century. Promotion and Activation of Lay Theologian’s doing Theology in the local context.

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

Its staff and researchers are invited by parish priests or diocesan officials to give series of lectures on SCTs for their parishioners on special occasions such as Advent, Easter and etc… . Religious sisters always join our international conferences on mission, Asian realities and others. Supporters attend our lectures and seminars.

Year of foundation

WTI was established in 1994 by young theologians and activists who had been participated in Catholic social movements. WTI was inspired by the Mondragon Cooperative movement in Spain, introduced at that time to South Korea as an Alternative social movement, and established by setting up the basic funds from shareholders (22 groups and around 120 individuals including 30 priests joined the foundation who put 1 million Won (some US$ 900) each as seed money), aiming to become a knowledge producing corporation.

Organisational structure of the institute

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

Staff: 4 full times and one part time.

Researchers: 26 researchers working part time according to projects they are involved.

Staff members of your institute[2]

Staff: One has a doctorate, two are in doctoral course and the other two have master and bachelor respectively.

Researchers: Most researchers have doctorate on theology or religious studies. Some are in doctoral course and have master.

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

Training and facilitating Lay leaders to be actively involved in “Church renewal” and social transformation. Giving series of lectures for laypeople in general on the Catholic Social Teachings (CST) in close cooperation with parish priests and diocesan officials. Publishing hand books and booklets to help laypeople understand the Bible and Catechism better from lay perspective.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

As explained above no. 1.

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

Research or survey on parishes, religious congregation and dioceses.

Training service: various lecturers, seminars programs and symposium on social issues as well as Church’s such as church & globalization, migrant workers, rights of women, youth education and many others.

On/off-line magazine service (weekly).

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

Training workshop for young lay leaders in Asia called “Asian Youth Academy” on yearly basis since 2009 (the workshops venue: Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2009), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2010), Seoul, Korea (2011/2012).

Research projects: A comparative study on Korean small Community movement with BEC, BCC, SCC etc. in order to help small Christian Community (SCC) in Korea deeply rooted in its soil.

Publication: Lay Spiritual in modern world, reading materials for contemplation based on CST.

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

What notion of God inspires your work?

Living God experienced in daily life of ordinary Catholics.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

Very important. We focus more on the spirit of Vatican II. Especially, we put great emphasis on the Christian spirituality such as “solidarity” or “option for the poor” especially in 1970-80s when Korean Catholics protested against military dictatorship.

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

We analyse reality through literature research, statistical research and the round table with experts. The methodology of projects flows mainly the business consulting methodology and proceeded lie establishing and sharing the vision, analysing the outer environment and inner condition, SWOT analysis and introducing a strategic task, preparing an implementing scheme, improving organizations, rules and computer system stage.

Our methodology is partly following the business consulting methodology, it’s generally same with the 3-stage methodology suggested by Cardinal Joseph Gardin of Belgium as a method to organize and educate the JOC movement. The institute also uses the method ‘see, judge and act as a basic evaluation method. It applies to the inner evaluation system as well.

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

Together with the conversation of its Catholic church, South Korean society has recently been going backwards to the age of military regimes as the political and social environment is deteriorated. The country is returning to the society, putting efficiency and growth on the first place, while giving importance to the result than the process. Now, different opinions can’t co-exist peacefully and people are forced to obey to the authority. Under this circumstance, it is our understanding that the WTI aiming church renewal and social gospel are becoming more and more important tasks. Some publications and symposiums of WTI are encouraging and contributing Korean church to discuss the real meaning of religion as the religion is becoming conservatives and blessing individual good fortune in prevailing because of the economic growth I the society.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

We explained it above already.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

A weekly magazine ‘Good News at the Time of Divided Age’; ‘WOORI Theology’, yearly periodical, containing study results of the institute; A Collection of ‘Interreligious Dialogues’ to promote peace in the multi-religious society in Korea; ‘Muldongi’ (Water Jar) which is a Q & A type handbook published at the time of Advent and Lent for penance, and a brochure on Catholic Church ‘I Invite You’, etc. to introduce the Church to the faithful.

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

Developing “Lay Theology” in Korean context and making it into pastoral publications and lecture programs for ordinary laypeople as well as lay leaders.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

Our Institute and its work are “unique” in terms of two things as follows: 1. Laity founded the institute as a movement for laypeople as a whole seeking Church renewal and social transformation at the same time for which the institute has dedicated so far. 2. Therefore, its work is not just for Catholic Church and its believers. It works together with other groups as well as any civic groups for the society as well.

3. Its work goes beyond the country by holding Asian Youth Academy and Asian Theology Forum on yearly basis since 2004 with special focus on formation of lay young leaders as well as lay theologians in Asia which is very rare unlike the Western Europe or North America.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

Theological Forum & Asian Youth Academy: “Beyond Vatican II” (Nov. 2012.).

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

Financial support.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

Since the middle of 1980s, as democracy has taken its root. Catholic church in South Korea has been inclined to conservatism and the role of church has ben declined as well. As the civil social-movement is rapidly growing after the year 1987, the environment for Catholic social movement has been changed for the worse, too. Practically, however, Catholic social movement in South Korea failed to establish its identity, vision and to alternatives, according to the social change across the nation. It causes difficulties in training and recruiting activist. Therefore more and more church groups, sharing similar visions, are working together to implement their programs, due to the weak financial status.

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

From the beginning, our institute is proud of lay-centred and self-reliant organization. Great challenges are such a unbalance of many bright ideas and programs, and lack of fund as usual. But we have maintained for nearly 20 years and will be more strengthened in the future by active raising fund and developing new method to get “two birds”, that is, pursuing vision and making money at the same time.

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

Explained above closely: through all of our works.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

Though the institute is not an official church organization, we believe our institute is a Church by teaching of documents of second Vatican Council, Compendium and other CST, considering church as God’s people, and have been doing everything. Practically, most projects of WTI are done with Korean Catholic Bishop’s Conference, each dioceses and local churches.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

We are participating in various social agenda, as well as promoting church reformation, with other groups through the Korean Catholic National Union for Justice, KCNUJ.

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

As a member organization of the international Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (Pax Romana ICMICA), WTI has been participating international exchanges and solidarity activities from the early stage of its establishment.

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions?

The institute played a key role in organizing ‘Religious People Network for Renovation’ in 2004, and is exchanging information for self-monitoring and reformation of each religious organization, including Catholic, Protestant and Buddhism, i.e. by hosting seminars regarding the financial transparency of the established religions like those three institutions.

What kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

See above.

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

See above.

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

Networking among similar groups to enhance their idea by supporting exchange programs.

Support for good programs and share the results.


  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.