BANTRY native Fr Donal O’Keeffe has been named as Immigrant of the Year in South Korea.
Fr O’Keeffe, a Columban Father and native of Seskin, is a programme director of the Missionary Society of Saint Columban in Korea, and is currently in charge of the preparation of students for the priesthood, but the award was presented in recognition of the 40 years he has spent helping the marginalised in society.
The 70-year-old priest spent his first four years adapting to local Church culture, learning the Korean language and interacting with local residents, while serving as an assistant priest.
In 1980, he began working with factory laborers, most of whom were teenagers from rural areas.
Along with religious sisters, he established an open house where young workers were invited for educational programs and gatherings.
Fr O’Keeffe subsequently worked with tenants who had nowhere to go amid vast redevelopment projects.
After he was appointed as the director of the Missionary Society of Saint Columban in Korea in 1998, he engaged in various environmental activities, as he believed that the religious sector should be more active on the issue.