Sister Chiyoung Pak
Current Location – Zimbabwe
Chiyoung Pak was born May 12, 1965 in Seoul, Korea to Ok-Sun (Choi) and Chan-Bae Pak. She had 3 brothers: Jong Heung, Jong Song and Jong Sup. Chiyoung graduated in 1984 in Seoul. Chiyoung, a member of a Buddhist family, became a Roman Catholic at 12 years of age. She studied at the Catholic Catechetical Institute for two years. She became acquainted with the Maryknoll Sisters in Seoul and worked with them for four years, teaching Filipino migrants on the weekends.
Chiyoung entered the Maryknoll Sisters August 4, 1995 at their Center in NY. She pronounced First Vows September 6, 1997 at the Center and Final Vows October 17, 2004 in Seoul, Korea.
After her formation period and profession of vows, Sister Chiyoung was assigned to Zimbabwe in 1999, where she worked with street boys. Sister Chiyoung also volunteered at St. Charles Lwanga Learning Center, founded by the Jesuits in Zimbabwe, where she helped students with their studies so they could continue their education. Having earned a black belt in Tae Kwan Do in Korea, Sister Chiyoung taught this martial art to Zimbabwe’s street children as an aid to their self-esteem and self-discipline.
For more than eight years, Sister Chiyoung ran a much-needed project for youth in a poor suburb outside of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city. Sister Chiyoung was interviewed on Korea radio about her ministry, and her work at Norton Youth Center in Zimbabwe has been profiled in the news media.
“Definitely, sharing my life with the Norton children helped me experience God who lives within them,” says Sister Chiyoung. “Through my life with them, my faith grew stronger and deeper.”
For years, Sister Chiyoung rented part of an elementary school as a place to welcome more than 1,000 kids, many orphans living in extreme poverty who went without regular schooling. Her center was the focal point for the children’s dreams of an education and a place they could go both to get love and give it. In December 2012, Sister Chiyoung got the bad news that the space was no longer available to her kids. She had to find another place to offer her free classes in art, dance, mathematics, and grammar.
“Without the center, the children had no place to get any kind of education,” said Sister Chiyoung. “I can’t forget the disappointed look on their faces when we closed our center. I want to see them look happy again.” Sister Chiyoung was determined to make that wish a reality, seeking help for the eviction at Norton City Hall. After months of contacting city officials, she looked to rehabilitate an unused patch of land on which a new youth center could rise.
“I have a dream to build a vocational school for the Norton children who are wandering on the streets,” Sister Chiyoung says. “I really want to help them to be able to fulfill their dreams, too.”