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The Catholic Defender: Sierra Vista’s St. Andrew Catholic Church honors Saint Andrew Kim Taegon

While I was close to the Mexican Boarder visiting family and investigating the problem associated with illegal aliens coming into America, I went to Sunday Mass at St. Andrews Catholic Church at Sierra Vista.

Sierra Vista is right outside of Fort Huachuca Arizona and because we are about 15 miles from the Mexican Boarder here, St. Andrews has done much to help those children suffering that journey from Central America.

The Church is very beautiful, it has that Southwestern look that is very prominent especially in Southern Arizona.

This particular day I arrived about an hour before Mass so I was able to pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy before looking around the Church. It is very beautiful inside and out.

I love this Baptismal font, this is built much like what we see in the early Catholic Churches such as the ruins of St. John the Apostle’s Church in Ephesus.

You can literally walk down into the water for immersion, or you can use the pouring form of Baptism, both being valid.

When you walk in this Church, you definitely feel that Catholicity from beginning to end. St. Paul writes to the Colossians in the Spring of 57 A.D. “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from from the dead.”

This becomes very important as St. Paul continues, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.”

Jesus was crucified on April 3rd, 33 A.D. and by the time St. Paul wrote Colossians, many of the people who St. Paul was addressing were by this time in their early twenties and were baptized as children. Paul says “you were raised with Christ” and in the same breath he says “For you have died” in Christ which indicates baptism.

St. Paul is making the case for infant baptism as if it was common place, as if that was the normal custom.

This Church is literally breath taking as you see the Altar, the Tabernacle, and everything placed in accordance to tradition.

Many times today, we see the Tabernacle placed off center and even in some cases not even found in the main sanctuary at all. I love the history we see in this sanctuary.

In the Old Testament, the Israelite had a table that held what was called the “showbread”, Exodus 25:30 states, “On the table you shall always keep showbread set before me.”

This showbread would also be known as the “bread of the presence”. This bread was dedicated as an offering to God.

The Altar of the Lord was placed specific to the Ark of the Covenant and the showbread, or the bread of the presence was placed in the tabernacle. The tabernacle was an inner shrine of the “Holy of Holies” which housed the Ark of the Covenant, to include the table for the bread of the presence, the golden lampstand, and altar of incense. This was all majestically placed in the sanctuary.

It is very interesting to see the bread of the presence as a type of the Eucharist. Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, He is present in the New Testament Tabernacle.

Hebrews 13:10 states, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.” St. Paul (1 Corinthians 10:21) writes, “You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.”

If you look to the right of this picture (actually left of the tabernacle) you can see a statue of St. Andrew identified with a cross in the form of an X.

St. Andrew was crucified for denying the Pagan gods of Rome, he embraced the cross saying, “O Cross most welcome and long anticipated! I come to you with a willing mind, with joy and desire. Since I am a follower and a student of the One who died on you, I have always loved you and sought to embrace you.”

Within every Catholic Church, there is a chair designated for the Bishop (priest) which is not a throne. It simply shows that he presides over the Liturgy.

That is an important distinction because the clergy are not rulers, they are priests of Jesus Kingdom (Revelation 5:10).

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 310, regarding “The Chair for the Priest Celebrant and Other Seats,” states:

“The chair of the priest celebrant must signify his office of presiding over the gathering and of directing the prayer. Thus the best place for the chair is in a position facing the people at the head of the sanctuary, unless the design of the building or other circumstances impede this: for example, if the great distance would interfere with communication between the priest and the gathered assembly, or if the tabernacle is in the center behind the altar. Any appearance of a throne, however, is to be avoided. It is appropriate that, before being put into liturgical use, the chair be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.”

The U.S. bishops also touch on this subject in their official guidelines, “Built of Living Stones,” Nos. 63-65. Apart from repeating the norms contained in the Missal, it adds some further considerations:

“The chair of the priest celebrant stands ‘as a symbol of his office of presiding over the assembly and of directing prayer.’ An appropriate placement of the chair allows the priest celebrant to be visible to all in the congregation. The chair reflects the dignity of the one who leads the community in the person of Christ, but is never intended to be remote or grandiose. The priest celebrant’s chair is distinguished from the seating for other ministers by its design and placement. ‘The seat for the deacon should be placed near that of the celebrant.’ In the cathedral, in addition to the bishop’s chair or ‘cathedra,’ which is permanent, an additional chair will be needed for use by the rector or priest celebrant.”

When you walk around the Church of St. Andrew in Sierra Vista, it is beautiful, the stations of the cross are Majestic. You will also see other images of Saints.

This statue is a depiction of St. Luiz Lorenzo, originally from the Philippines, a Martyr of Japan. In Japan, a group known as the “Tokugawa shogunate” began persecuting Christians and were arresting missionaries. St. Lorenzo and his company were imprisoned for one year and then taken to Nagasaki for torture.

On 27 September 1637, St. Lorenzo and his Companions were taken to the Nishizaka Hill and tortured through what was called “tsurushi” ((釣殺し) in Japanese). The Spanish called this torture “horca y hoya”. This was a terrible torture that caused extreme pain. The victim was bound, one hand is always left free so that victims may be able to signal that they recanted, and they would be freed. St. Lorenzo refused to renounce Christianity and died from blood loss and suffocation.

According to Latin missionary accounts sent back to Manila, St. Lorenzo last words before his death: “I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for the Lord; If I had a thousand lives, all these I shall offer to Him.”

I spent time in Korea and so I have a passion for the Korean Martyrs and what they suffered. As I looked upon this Shrine, I recalled the story as follows:

The Catholic Missionaries had made inroads into China and Ni-seung-houn, a native Korean, traveled to Beijingin 1784 to study the Catholic Faith. He fell totally in love with the God of Heaven, He gave his life to Jesus and Mary and was baptized by Catholic Peter Ri who had brought many Koreans to the Catholic Faith. Ni-seung-houn returned to Korea with a new heart and mind with an evangelistic mindset. However, the Korean Government viewed these Catholic converts as traitors to Korea.

In 1791, a terrible persecution developed but the faith continued to grow because of the testimony of these Korean converts. Father James Tsiou, a Chinese National, went to Korea and found a strong Catholic presence in the underground movement.

Ultimately, Father Tsiou died a Martyr for the Korean people. Because of the European priests who were going to Korea, by 1839, more terrible persecutions began. The first native Korean priest, Father Andrew Kim Taegon, was martyred in 1845. In 1864, two bishops, six French Missionaries, a Korean priest and another 8 thousand Korean Catholics were martyred for their Catholic Faith.

St. Pope John Paul II canonized the martyrs of the 1839, 1846, and 1869 persecutions.

St. Pope John Paul II went to Korea October 6-10, 1989 and the Korean Church came out by the hundreds of thousands.

FR. DON JONG-SU JOHN KIM Rector, Pontifical Korean College (Rome) “It was the laity who introduced the Catholic Church in Korea. This is a unique situation for the rest of the world. After its introduction, the faith grew through the blood of the martyrs. Catholics in Korea were persecuted for almost a century following the establishment of the Church in the country.”

Today there are more than 5 million Catholics in Korea.

There is so much information going through St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The people there are very much alive in faith. Father Greg, the Pastor of the Parish, in his homily, spoke of the Trinity with this illustration. God the Father is the purpose, Jesus is the passion, and the Holy Spirit is the Power of God. I now add this praise to the Eucharistic table. God is the purpose, passion, and power of all that is in His name.

Please pray for the persecuted Church in the Middle East, what is taking place in Iraq, Syria, and other Islamic Countries is a terrible outcry to the Lord.

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