The ceremony was led by the Bishop of Ui-Jeong-Bu, Bishop Peter Lee Ki-Heon, on Thursday 20th July 2017 at 11.00 am.
The new facilities incorporate two new two-storey wings connected directly to the existing retreat house and forming a quadrangle or courtyard with an elevated bridge. The plan is for the Augustinian community to move from the former priory building to the upper floor of one wing and to use the older priory building as retreat house accommodation.
The community there, as well as assisting with work in the diocese, which is itself only 10 years old, have now the capacity to cater for groups of up to 30 persons overnight and up to 60 or more for a day retreat event or other function. This facility, dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel, is expected to attract considerable interest and participants in the years ahead, there being no such retreat house in the diocese that provides for that middle-sized group of retreatants.
Fund raising for the completion of the extensions has been largely conducted in Korea, with some generous assistance from Augustinians on other countries. An Augustinian community of five to six Korean friars is currently assigned to Yeon-cheon enabling them to minister in a more flexible way within the diocese, to other religious, as well as their own programs.
Stage One of the construction in 2012 saw the building of a church to seat 300 persons, a residence (called a Priory) for the Augustinians and Stage One (only) of the Mother of Good Counsel Retreat Centre.
The Priory can accommodate up to ten friars, novices, and private retreatants. On Saturday, 8th September 2012 Cardinal Prosper Grech O.S.A. from Rome presided at the blessing of the church and the adjacent Augustinian Priory of the Mother of Good Counsel at Yeoncheon, north of Seoul and a mere five kilometres from the DMZ (demilitarized zone).
The church has seating for 130 persons; it also contains a columbarium in the Korean tradition for reverently preserving the cremated ashes of those deceased. There is a large church bell in its adjacent tower. The first Mass was celebrated in the church during April 2012. The Retreat House has been planned in two separate construction stages, comprising two buildings with together form a monastery-like grassed cloister area. The Centre’s first stage (completed in 2013) featured a single-storey building containing a conference room, smaller lecture room, office, foyer, reception room, prayer room, storage room, men's and women's toilets, dining hall, kitchen, cook's quarters and laundry room.
The Retreat Centre has been in operation since 2103 but without overnight accommodation facilities. The impending Stage Two will greatly assist the Centre to provide retreats of longer than a one-day duration. This is because Stage Two of the Retreat Centre will be a two-storey building with sleeping accommodation in the form of twenty twin-person bedrooms. These extensions will cater for groups of 50 to 60 persons to stay overnight (shared accommodation) for longer retreat and reflective activities. It is planned to have Stage Two completed by mid-2017.
The purpose of extending the Retreat Centre is to meet the needs in the local Diocese of Ui-Jeong-bu (& also of the Archdiocese of Seoul) for a medium-sized facility to offer retreats and conferences for parish groups in particular. No such premises exist in the Diocese currently; those that do exist are either larger again or else smaller facilities).
Three Korean Augustinians staff the Retreat Centre, and other Augustinians assist when required.