Monday, November 22, 2010

Fr. Jack Trisolini, SDB

Fr. Jack Trisolini, SDB (1937-2010)
Missionary to Korea

Bro. Hilario Seo, SDB, a Korean who is the Congregation’s Webmaster, composed a notice in Rome of Fr. Jack’s death in Seoul today, to which your blogger has added material from his own communications with Fr. Jack in the last three years.
The Salesian Constitutions include this statement: “When it happens that a Salesian dies working for souls, the Congregation has won a great triumph” (art. 54). We have, then, a story of triumph, coming today from the Korean Province. On November 22 at about 5:00 p.m., Fr. John F. Trisolini was called by the Lord to Don Bosco’s garden in Paradise, while at work in his office at the Workers Center of the Seoul Archdiocese, where he had spent more than 20 years.

Fr. Jack Trisolini, seated, at the provincial house in New Rochelle in July 2007, with Fr. Ed Cappelletti, who was by then retired after serving as director of Salesian Missions in New Rochelle for almost 50 years. Fr. Jack was already suffering from cancer.
Fr. John F. (Jack) Trisolini was born in Hoboken, N.J., March 2, 1937, and raised in Jersey City (St. Anne’s Parish). Professed as a Salesian on Sept. 8, 1958, he graduated from Don Bosco College in Newton, N.J., in June 1959 and was sent to Korea in December 1959 to continue his training as a teacher at Salesian High School in Kwangju. Fr. Trisolini studied theology in Rome and Turin (1962-1964) and Lyons (1964-1967); he was ordained in Lyons on April 15, 1967. He took an additional course in pastoral theology in Lyons in 1967-1968 with an emphasis on Catholic Action and youth groups (especially the Young Christian Workers).

Prior to his 50th anniversary of profession, he wrote of his time in France: “Fr. Francis Desramaut is quite a character. Whenever I visited Lyons, he would open the door for me and give me a big welcome—three clunks forehead-to-forehead, French style. I loved my three-plus years at Fontainières. After two years at the Pontificio Ateneo Salesiano, Fontainières was open, cosmopolitan, bright, erudite, and willing to accept that the New World wasn’t just an intellectual desert.

“The staff was top notch: Fr. Andre Barucq, a translator of the Jerusalem Bible and part of the team that wrote L’Introduction a la Bible; Fr. Joseph Aubry, who later did great work under the Rector Major—his courses were given with a Bishop Sheen-like enthusiasm and plenty of subject matter; Fr. André Guebey in canon law—he had joke for every canon so that you wouldn’t forget them. We took some courses at the Institut Catholique de Lyon and had people like de Lubac, Abbé Pierre, the Economie et Humanisme team of Père Lebret, OP (ghost writer of Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris) come in for special lectures. The Economie et Humanisme team and another team from the Sorbonne each stayed for month-long seminars.”

Returning to Korea in 1968, he did parish work in Seoul for two years and became very active in youth ministry among young workers in the Archdiocese of Seoul. In 1970 he became treasurer at Don Bosco Youth Center in Seoul. He was especially involved in assisting the Young Catholic Workers-Korea during the period of military dictatorship, in which he had to suffer so much to protect young workers’ rights from the brutal military government.

In 1976 he was transferred to the provincial house in Seoul as community treasurer; he had become province treasurer the year before, a position he filled for six years. Also in 1976 he was named head of the province’s formation program and national delegate of the Salesian Cooperators. From 1984 to 1990 he served as director of the Dae Rim Dong (Seoul) community.

In 1971 Cardinal Stephen Kim appointed Fr. Trisolini chairman of the newly formed Labor Pastoral Commission of the archdiocese of Seoul—a post he held until 1999. From 1990 he worked full time with the Seoul Archdiocesan Labor Pastoral Commission—as director of the Labor Pastoral Center since 2001. In 2002 pastoral care of migrant workers in the archdiocese was added to his responsibilities. The influence of Fr. Trisolini’s ministry extended beyond Korea to other parts of East Asia. We should say that really his life is the authentic testimony and history of the youth-worker ministry in the Korean Church. He was mourned as the “godfather of the Korean labor movement.”

Recently Fr. Jack suffered from lung and kidney cancer, which forced him to undergo dialysis twice a week, including this morning (Nov. 22). After he came back to his office, he was looking very tired and was anxious to prepare for the 40th anniversary of his office, the Workers Center of Seoul Archdiocese. At 5:00 p.m. he was found dead, seated on his chair in front of the computer monitor on which appeared a part of the draft of his new book on worker ministry history, which will be published for the 40th anniversary.

The funeral Mass will celebrated on November 25 in the cathedral of Seoul, and his body, according to his own wish, will be donated for medical study, destined for the Catholic Medical University in Seoul, without interment. According to Fr. Henry Bonetti, another American missionary to Korea, this is the general practice of the Salesians there. After about a month they’ll cremate the body and send the ashes to the provincial house, where they’ll be put into a niche prepared for the confreres in a room reserved for that purpose.

Please remember him in your prayers.


Bernard said...

J'avais revu Jack le 26 octobre 2010 à Séoul, comme chaque année. L'histoire de mes enfants (tous nés Coréens) l'intéressait beaucoup. Notamment le prochain mariage de mon aîné Benoît-Jeong-Hoon à Busan ; autant que moi, l'adhésion de Yuna à une église évangélique à Londres le souciait.
Il était encore capable d'humour : à table il nous avait dit : 'I'm tired, but not retired!"
Je perds un ami ; la Corée, surtout les laisés-pour-compte, les maltraités, les victimes, perdent un soutien.
Puissent son action et sa mémoire ouvrir chacun à la vérité du message évangélique !

barbasmann said...

Jack was a high school classmate of mine. I had emailed him after seeing his address in a 50th reunion directory. We kept in touch for a few years reminiscing about Jersey City and those early days.
He spoke of completing his. Four volume work on spirituality in Korean!
He was a special person who will be missed.
Barbara A.