Oblatin Chang Agneta
* 1910 in Hwanghae-do (North Korea); Ewige Profeß am 26. Februar 1927; sie wurde inhaftiert am 24. Juni 1950; † 14. Oktober 1950 in Hamhŭng, Hamgyŏng-namdo (Nordkorea)
Oblatin Chang Agneta
Oblatin des Priorates von Wonsan.
Sie wurde im Jahr 1910 in Hwanghae-do geboren und wuchs in Hyehwadong, Seoul, auf. Laut Zeugnis von Schwester Chrysostoma Schmid, Chang Jacobus, seine Tochter und die zukünftige Oblatin waren gut bekannt unter den Missionsschwestern. Nach der Gründung des Konventes von Wonsan, zog die Familie von Jang Agatha in seine Nähe um. Die junge Agatha besuchte sehr oft die Klosterschwestern, um Ihnen zu helfen.
Sie war eine von vier Postulantinnen, die am 1. April 1927 ins Kloster von Wonsan eintraten. Am 1. Mai 1928 bekam die erste Gruppe von Postulantinnen den Schleier aber Agatha, zu ihrer großen Enttäuschung, war nicht unter Ihnen. Die Priorin, Schwester Mathilde Hirsch, hatte nämlich erfahren, dass Agatha verheiratet gewesen war und ihren Mann verloren hatte. Der war der Bruder von Schwester Paek Benedicta und wurde, nach der damaligen koreanischen Tradition, von Ihrem Vater als geeigneten Ehemann ausgewählt. Als Agatha heiratete, litt ihr Mann bereits an Pneumonie und starb kurz danach. Agatha war sehr enttäuscht, dass sie kein ordentliches Mitglied der Gemeinschaft, die sie sehr liebte, werden konnte. Dennoch folgte sie dem Rat der Priorin und beschloss als Oblatin im Kloster zu bleiben.
Sie wurde lange Zeit als Pförtnerin im Priorat von Wonsan eingesetzt, gleichzeitig war sie missionarisch in der Pfarrei Christus König in Wonsan tätig. Sie hatte immer ein offenes Herz für die Armen und unterrichtete ständig die Priorin Ambrosia über deren Bedürfnisse, die sie stets zu erfüllen versuchte. Aber ihr selbst und ihren eigenen Bedürfnissen gegenüber, war sie sehr, manchmal extrem, bescheiden.
Agneta liebte das Gebet, nicht nur das gemeinschaftliche sonder auch das persönliche und den Rosenkranz.
Im Jahr 1949, als Agneta zusammen mit den anderen Schwestern festgenommen wurde, waren die koreanische Schwester getrennt von den deutschen. Nach einer Woche wurde sie mit den anderen koreanischen Schwestern freigelassen. Da sie keine Familie hatte und folglich auch keine Unterkunft, wohnte bei einem Christen namens Yu Anselmo. Sie lebte in einem kleinen Zimmer und musste in einer Ziegelfabrik arbeiten, um sich zu versorgen.
Sie wurde andauernd beobachtet und konnte nichts im Verborgenen tun. Dennoch, an einem Tag in Sommer 1950 besuchte sie andere Schwestern, die bei Ihren Verwandten in Pyeongyang wohnten und dort traf sie auch einen anglikanischen Priester vom dem sie das Sakrament der Versöhnung und die Kommunion empfing. Als sie nach Hamheung zurückkehrte, brach der koreanische Krieg aus und sie wurde am 25. Juni festgenommen. Für die Zeit danach haben wir keine Information über sie, weil kein Gläubiger sie besuchen durfte.
Als am 7. Oktober 1950 die südkoreanische Armee und die amerikanischen Soldaten die Stadt Hamheung besetzten wurden, nach dem Abzug der Kommunisten aus der Stadt, im Gefängnis viele Leiche, die man versucht hatte zu verstecken, gefunden. Unter diesen war auch die Leiche von Oblatin Chang Agneta mit Wunden auf der Wange, auf der Stirn und, von einem Beil hinterlassen, am Hinterkopf.
Die Gläubigen von Hamheung brachten den Leichnam von Oblatin Chang heim ins Kloster und begruben ihn auf dem Hügel hinter der Kirche. Neben Ihrem Leib wurde auch eine Flasche, in der auf einem Papier Ihr Namen geschrieben stand, in das Grab gelegt.
OBLATE AGNETA CHANG, OSB (1910-1950)
Priory of Wonsan, North Korea
Sister Mary John Mazanan, OSB
Who is this Oblate Agneta, for whom martyrdom was reserved? One of the 10,000 Koreans who, during the 200 years of Christianity in Korea, gave their lives for the faith. She was murdered brutally on the 14th of October 1950, in the prison of Hamheung, while other sisters survived 4½ years of forced labor in the concentration camp at Oksadok.
It was during the night of May 10th to 11th, 1949, when the sisters were rudely awakened and arrested by the Communist Secret Police; they were taken from the Priory House at Wonsan and brought by truck and animal car to the distant town of Pyongyang. Hurriedly dressed and with only the Holy Eucharist, which they managed to consume secretly, they had to leave their convent. That was the prelude to a long time of suffering.
Sr. Agneta actually belonged to the community at Hamheung. But during the raid of May 10th to 11th, 1949, she had been at Wonsan for retreat, and therefore, arrested with the sisters there.
Several reports tell about the life of our Oblate Agneta Chang. From Sr. Chrysostoma Schmid, the chronicler, who had also been one of the four foundresses of the Immaculata Priory at Wonsan, North Korea, we have the following information:
”After our arrival on the 18th of November 1925 in Seoul, Mother Mathilide Hirsch and her three companions were soon visited by some young girls who wanted to become sisters. With them was Jacobo Chang, cathechist and parish-elder, who was highly esteemed by all the Christians. Both he and his daughter Agatha (later Oblate Agneta) were well known by the German Benedictines of Seoul. Agatha would have liked to follow us at once to Wonsan, We were hardly established there, when Mr. Chang with wife and daughter Agatha moved to Wonsan, close to our convent.
“Agatha took care of her very sick mother. But during the day, she often came over to us and helped with baking hosts, in the sacristy, or wherever she could be of service. Soon afterwards her mother died.” So far the account from Sr. Chrysostoma.
Agatha was fourth among the candidates who entered on the 1st of April 1927 in Wonsan. A year later, on the 1st of May 1928, the first group of postulants received the black veil. To her great disappointment, Agatha was not among them. Mother Prioress Mathilde had come to know only then, that 18-year old Candidate Agatha had been married and was already widowed. (She was born in 1910 in Hwang Hae-Do, North Korea). According to the general thought of the time, it was impossible for a young woman who had been married, to become a professed religious. Agatha had often assured her fellow-sisters that she had never lived with the man to whom she had been given in marriage. With tears she claimed to be a virgin. Yet, she had legally been married. In those days it was the custom that parents would promise their children already at a very early age in marriage. The children did not know their partner, and saw him for the first time only on their wedding day.
In the same way, Agatha had been betrothed as a child. When old enough, she and her fiancé received the Sacrament of Matrimony. The wedding banquet was duly held, to seal the marriage according to Korean custom. The bridegroom—then already suffering from severe tuberculosis—died shortly after the wedding. Also, this young man had been a brother to our Sister Benedicta Paek.
For Agatha, it was a great disappointment not to become a full member of the religious community which she loved so much. It was a sorrow she felt throughout her life. Upon Mother Prioress’ advice, she decided to remain as an oblate. But, every feastday, every new reception into the novitiate, as well as celebrations on the occasion of religious profession were painful for Sr. Agneta, as she was now called as an Oblate. It also meant to be excluded from attending Chapter, for the rest of her life. But Sr. Agneta said “yes” to all these deprivations and submitted to them.
Her longest employment was at the parlor in the priory house at Wonsan. She also did missionary work in the parish of Christ the King, in Wonsan. Whatever task had been entrusted to her, she carried it out faithfully and with dedication. Well-loved by the people of the town, she was approached for advice and help. She prepared catechumens for baptism and visited people in their homes. Her special charism was to teach men, trying to get the catechism and the most necessary prayers across to the old grandpas.
When one of the sisters became sick and in need of a night nurse, Sr. Agneta would offer her assistance. Whenever there were occasions that drew many visitors to the convent, e.g., at the death of a sister when, according to Korean tradition, relatives and friends would come at any time during the day and night to pray the Yondo for the
deceased, she had a kind word and consoling smile.
Mrs. Christina Yu, catechist in Seoul, recalls this about Sr. Agneta:
I lived in Wonsan. As a Protestant student I attended the religious instructions of Sr. Agneta several times with a friend; but then I stayed away. One day, during the noon hour, I felt very strongly that I should become a Catholic. I should return to Sr. Agneta for further instructions. Why? No one had even mentioned the subject, but I felt a movement within me, as though God had given me a command. I just knew, I had to do it. When I rejoined the class some days later, Sr. Agneta said to me, ‘You have come back, because we prayed for you. God has heard us.’ Later, she admitted that she had asked all 14 sisters to give up their noon rest in order to pray for a particular student. Then she invited me to come to Holy Mass the next Sunday.
Sr. Agneta’s heart always went out to poor people. She kept Mother Prioress Ambrosia informed about their needs and would be anxious to procure articles of food for them. However, she could be serious towards loafers and did not mince words. She also reminded them of their responsibility towards God
But, as to her own needs, she was thrifty, almost too thrifty. She darned and mended her clothing so much, that at times the original material could hardly be seen. Even though her sisters teased her about it during recreation, she took it good-naturedly and laughed along when she was made the object of funny scenes.
Sr. Agneta was diligent at prayer. She loved the Common Office and tried also to learn praying and singing the Latin well. Often she prayed the rosary. During Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on First Fridays, she used every spare minute for adoration, even though this meant running up and down the stairs repeatedly, to answer the doorbell.
When Sr. Agneta was arrested, together with the other sisters of the Wonsan community in 1949, the Korean sisters were separated from the Europeans before they were brought to different prisons at Kam-yang. The booklet Schicksal in Korea describes somewhat the conditions in the prison cells there:
The sisters were deprived of their veils, but they refused to take off the habit. Always five of them were stuck into one room. On the floor, glossy with filth, were pieces of what at some time had been straw mattresses. The bucket in the corner emitted an unmistakable stench. That was all the furnishings.
Sister Agneta and the other Korean sisters were released after one week. Since there were no relatives with whom she could have stayed, Sr. Agneta was put up by Anselmo Yu, a Christian in Hamheung. There, she had a small room and worked in a brickyard, earning her livelihood. She cooked and took care of herself. Day after day she had to mend the gloves which were torn from the heavy work.
Constantly watched by the secret police, she could make no unnoticed move. Despite this fact, in summer 1950, she undertook to visit some Korean sisters who were living with relatives in Pyongyang, after their release from prison. She also hoped to find a priest there, for she wanted to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. She succeeded in meeting an Anglican priest to whom she went to confession and received Communion.
Had she been watched? After her return to Hamheung, Sr. Agneta was arrested on the 25th of June in the house of Anselmo Yu. It was the day when the Korean War began. Besides Sr. Agneta, many other people in town were taken to jail on suspicion of being subversive against the Red Regime.
Since that day, Sr. Agneta’s whereabouts could no longer be followed. It seems, everyone in town was preoccupied with his own affairs, so much so, that none of the Christians visited Sr. Agneta in prison. One can only surmise what she suffered there.
On the 7th of October 1950, South Korean soldiers, together with the US Army, occupied Hamheung. Some days previously, the Red Army had fled the city; and when the South Korean soldiers took over the prison, they found many bodies which the Communists had tried to hide. Even the well was filled with corpses.
The town people were alerted to come to the prison to search for missing relatives and to help identify the dead. Some who returned from there informed Mrs. Pia Choo, a Christian, that they had found a woman who resembled Sr. Agneta. Together with the catechist, Mrs. Christina Yu, they went to find out. This catechist reports:
On reaching the prison gate we saw many South Korean and American soldiers. The Koreans told us, ‘Don’t cry; behave in a quiet way, because of the Americans. Move on quickly, as there are many in search of their relatives.’ The women’s bodies were on one side, those of the men on the other. Identification was difficult. Therefore, we waited until most people had gone. Then we searched again and found the Sister, wearing prison number 4 on her chest. It was now 6 p.m. and we had to leave the jail in order to be off the streets before the curfew. But, we reported that the dead woman with the number 4 belonged to us and that we would return the following day.
Next day, we came back with some men and also the mother of Anselmo Yu, at whose house Sr. Agneta had been living. When she saw Sr. Agneta, she cried out, “Oh, this is our Mother Agneta!’ and broke into loud weeping. Just at that moment, bright, fresh blood exuded from Sr. Agneta’s mouth without anyone having touched the body. On her forehead there was a wound; likewise at the chin. And at the back of her head was a gash like from an axe.
We placed Sr. Agneta on a stretcher and took her to the convent. Although the parish house and the living quarters of the sisters had been burned down, there remained a room in the former clinic which, for some time, had been used as an office by the police. There, we brought the dead Sister. When the Christians saw Sr. Agneta they exclaimed. ‘Sister Agneta, now you are again in the convent!” At that moment, a discharge of fresh blood again oozed from her mouth, as though she wanted to give us confirmation. Then we dressed her in a shroud of poor material, since hardly anything could be bought in those times. When changing her clothes we noticed that the body must have been lying in water for some days, as it was bloated. We marveled all the more at the fact that fresh blood had come from her mouth.
Then we buried Sr. Agneta about 200 m behind the church, upon a hill. Next to her, we stuck a bottle upside-down into the ground. It contained a piece of paper with the name AGNETA CHANG. Some Christians showed her their final respects by praying the prayers for the dead there.
Oblate Sr. Agneta is resting now in North Korea, waiting for the resurrection. It is with pride that she can be numbered among the sisters.1
1 Sr. Mary John Mazanan, “ ‘In the Service of Love:’ Lives of Some Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing–Sr. Agneta Chang, OSB (1910–1950),”: www.osb-tutzing.pcn.net/en/html/biographies_i.html#OblateAgneta; accessed 03.15.08.
OBLATE CHANG (NÉE: AGATHA)
Date of Birth: 1910 (month and day are not known)
Birth Place: Born in HwangHaeDo, North Korea; Grew up HeHwaDong, Seoul
Date of Oblate Profession: February 26, 1927
Date of Death: October 14, 1950 at Hamheung Prison, North Korea
As a resident oblate, Agnetta lived a life of sacrifice in the spirit of martyrs. In death, she was killed or martyred by the communist prison camp guards.
While living as an oblate for 23 years, she taught and baptized many people. She willingly fulfilled the lowly jobs of the convent. She could not wear the monastic habit which she longed to wear.
She was murdered by the communists at the age of 40.
Her tomb site is at the Catholic cemetery in Hamheung, North Korea.1
1 See “MBS Martyr Sisters in North Korea (between 1950–1952),” http://www.osb-tutzing.pcn.net/en/html/our_martyrs.html, accessed 02/24/2008.
Oblata Chang Agneta
L’oblata del priorato di Wonsan.
Nata nel 1910 in Hwanghae-do e cresciuta a Hyehwadong di Seoul.
Secondo la testimonianza di Sr. Chrysostoma Schmid, Chang Jacobus e sua figlia Agatha (futura oblatin Agneta) erano ben noti tra le suore missionarie benedettine. Quando il convento di Wonsan è stata fondata, la famiglia di Jang Agatha si trasferì al suo vicino. Da quando era ancora giovane, lei veniva spesso nel convento a dare una mano alle suore.
Lei era la quarta tra le candidate che entrarono nel convento di Wonsan il 1 Aprile 1927. Il 1 Maggio 1928 il primo gruppo dei postulanti ricevette il velo nero. Alla sua grande delusione, Agatha non era tra loro. La prioressa Sr. Mathilde Hirsch si era accorta che Agatha, la candidata di 18anni, si era stata sposata e aveva già perso il marito. Infatti, lei ha sposato un uomo, che era fratello di Sr. Paek Benedicta, scelto da suo padre secondo il costume coreano del tempo. Lo sposo soffriva già polmonite seriamente e morì poco dopo del matrimonio. Agatha si era molto delusa di non poter diventare un membro ordinario della cominità che amava così tanto. Secondo il consiglio della Madre Prioressa, lei ha deciso di rimanere come oblatin.
Il luogo di lavoro che lei si impegnò più a lungo era la portineria del priorato di Wonsan. Allo stesso tempo, lei svolgeva l’attività missionaria nella parrocchia di Cristo il Re di Wonsan. Lei faceva del suo meglio in qualsiasi lavoro che le era affidato. Il cuore di Agneta era sempre aperto ai poveri e informava continuamente alla Madre prioressa Ambrosia i bisogni dei poveri, che lei cercava procurare più possibile. Per sé, però, si accontenò sempre nella povertà, qualche volta anche estrema.
Agneta amava tanto la preghiera, non solo l’ufficio comune, ma anche la preghiera personale e il rosario.
Nel 1949, quando Agneta è stata arrestata con le altre suore, le suore coreane erano separate dalle tedesche. Dopo una settimana, lei è stata rilasciata con le altre suore coreane. Perché non aveva nessun famigliare che poteva ospitarla, lei stava da un cristiano chiamato Yu Anselmo. Stando in una camera piccola, doveva lavorare in una fabbrica di mattone per guadagnare i viveri.
Costantemente sorvegliata, lei non poteva fare nessuna mossa segreta. Nondimeno, in un giorno dell’estate nel 1950 lei ha visitato altre suore che vivevano con i famigliari a Pyeongyang e ha trovato anche un sacerdote anglicano, dal quale ricevette il sacramento della riconciliazione e la comunione. Al ritorno a Hamheung, lei è stata arrestata il 25 Giugno, quando è scoppiata la guerra coreana. D’ora in poi non abbiamo la sua notizia, perché nessun fedele poteva visitarla.
Il 7 Ottobre 1950 l’esercito della Corea del Sud con i soldati americani occupò la città di Hamheung. Dopo che i comunisti si ritirarono dalla città, hanno trovato nella prigione molti corpi che cercavano nascondere. Tra di loro c’era anche quello di Oblatin Chang Agneta, che aveva ferite sulla guancia e sulla fronte e un’altra sulla parte posteriore del capo lasciata da ascia.
I fedeli di Hamheung hanno portato il corpo dell’Oblatin Chang alla casa del convento e l’hanno sepolto sulla collina dietro della parrochia. Accanto al corpo hanno sepolto anche una bottiglia, nella qualla c’era una cartina, sulla qualle è scritto il suo nome.