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There is no greater love than to give one’s life for a friend
INTERNATIONAL | WHO WE ARE | TESTIMONIES
Father Steven Kwon, LC (British Columbia, Canada)

P. Steven Kwon , L.C.
Fr. Steven Kwon , LC

There are times when fact is stranger than fiction, and when real life stories sound like something out of a novel. My story began when I was just a boy. I had never ever thought of becoming a priest and I would never have known the Catholic faith if God had not surprised me through a childhood friend who gave his life in order for me to know, love, and serve Christ. It was his example that converted me to the faith.

The phrase that Jason, my best friend, said to me when he was dying in my arms was “You know what, Steve?” I said, “What?” Jason said, after breathing deep, “The greatest thing to do in life is to give one’s life for a friend”. After that Jason died in my arms at the age of nine…

Here is where the story begins…

Even though my family was not Catholic, I grew up in a good environment with Catholic friends who practiced their faith with great enthusiasm because they were part of a charismatic group. Because of them, I was able to gain some knowledge of the Catholic faith.

So, where should I begin? I was not Catholic when I was born because my parents were married civilly. My father was not Catholic and he was not willing to educate us children to the faith. My mother, on the other hand, was Catholic but respected my dad’s decision. As a result, we were baptized when I was 11 years old and my younger brother James was 8.

I was in 4th grade and I was having a great time with my friends. We went to summer camp every summer, in the winter we would go skiing at Banff and Jasper, in Alberta. I had many friends but the best friend I ever had was Jason Hanson. He was born in Los Angeles, California on July 22, 1975. We went to the same school and we were on the same soccer team. He came from a huge family with 4 brothers and 3 sisters, and was the youngest of the boys in the family. His whole family was charismatic. His father was a welder and his mother was a housewife. They were a very kind-hearted family, and they treated me like their own son whenever I came over.

Something surprising happened after a soccer game in which Jason and I were playing for the state championship. We were winning with a two goal lead with one goal made by Jason and the second goal made by me with an assist by Jason. We won the game, and afterwards, Jason invited me for lunch near our school.

While we were walking to a 7/11 grocery store, Jason asked me a question, “What are you going to be when you grow-up?”

I told him, “I’ll probably become a medical doctor and become a great dad of 6 or 7 kids”.

Jason with a smile, said to me “But are you happy?”

I told him, “Yeah, I’m happy!”
P. Steven Kwon , L.C.
Fr Steven on the day of his ordination to the diaconate. He is currently working apostolically in South Korea.

Then Jason asked me again, “I mean are you really happy?”

I told him, “Well, not really”.

Jason then said, “I think I can help you find the cure for your unhappiness but I will show you that afterwards”.

When we arrived to the 7/11 grocery store, we got separated. All of a sudden, a 19-year-old young man ran in with a gun and started to threaten the girl behind the cash register. It was the young girl’s first day at her job. The young man threatened to kill her if she did not give him all the money. The young girl was so nervous that she kept pressing the wrong buttons to open the cash register. The young man with the gun became very nervous and impatient, and when he saw me, he pointed the gun directly at me. I was frozen stiff like an ice cube. I felt so useless that I felt faint. If he pressed the trigger, I would be a goner.

Then, I saw my best friend running towards the young man from behind and I thought, “What are you doing? You’ll get killed!”

Before I could do anything, I saw Jason leap into the air and hit the young man from behind. Since Jason was of small stature, he fell to the floor, merely startling the gunman, who turned around and shot him with two bullets in his chest and ran out without the money.

I could not believe what I saw. In a matter of seconds, my best friend was dying there on the floor. All the things that we did together from the day I met him until now flew through my mind in a flash. Jason called out for me, “Steve, Steve, where are you?”

“I am here”, I said and I ran towards him and held him in my arms saying, “It’s going to be OK, you’ll be fine, just hold on”. I shouted, “Get me an ambulance!”

The young girl at the cash register said with tears in her eyes, “I called the police and an ambulance. They are on their way!”

I held Jason and he looked at me with a smile and said, gasping for air, “You know what, Steve?”

I said, “What?”

Jason said, after breathing deep, “The greatest thing to do in life is to give one’s life for a friend”. After that Jason died in my arms at the age of nine…

It was here, after this harsh experience, that I felt my faith and priestly vocation strongly; it was here that I felt God close to me, calling me to follow his footsteps. I continued growing and when I was 14 years old, I got to know the Legionaries of Christ. It was the mother of my friend Jason who put me in touch with one of them, Father Brian Wilson, in 1988.

In the summer of that year, I was planning to go to a summer camp, and Father Brian suggested I go to the summer program at the apostolic school in Center Harbor, New Hampshire. I changed my plans and accepted the invitation. At the end of the summer of 1989, I decided to stay and study at the seminary, where the atmosphere of prayer, community life, and study helped me to mature and make a definitive decision to follow the path of the priesthood.

Jason showed me the true path through his example as a friend and as a brother. He really taught me how to love with real love, with self-giving for the good of others. As Christ says in the Gospel, “I have come to this world not to be served but to serve”. This is what a priest is called to do and that is exactly what God wants me to do after this tragic incident that has marked my soul and enabled me to accept God’s call without any conditions or fear. It is like jumping off a high mountain without knowing what to expect at the bottom. But God knows and I want to be his follower.

Father Steven Kwon was born in 100 Mile House, British Columbia (Canada) on October 26th, 1975. He went to Catholic elementary school at Our Lady of Fatima in Edmonton, Alberta, a school that no longer exists. His 7th grade year was spent at Elenor J. Toll Junior High School in Glendale, California. From 8th grade through high school, he attended Immaculate Conception Apostolic School in New Hampshire and Cheshire. On September 15, 1993, he entered the novitiate in Monterrey, Mexico. He did his humanities studies at Cheshire for two years and then worked with youth for four years in the United States and Canada. He studied his Master’s degree in philosophy and a bachelor’s degree in theology at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome, Italy. He is currently working with youth in Seoul, South Korea.

This vocation story was originally published in the book "Vivir para Cristo"


PUBLICATION DATE: 2008-12-20


 
 


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