2015 Jubilarian, Celebrating 50 Years as a Religious of the Sacred Heart
The middle of three children, Kum Soon Eum, RSCJ, spent her early childhood in North Korea playing with her two brothers. After WWII, her family relocated to South Korea, where she met a friend who had just entered the Society of the Sacred Heart. Sister Kum Soon had long considered the option of religious life, and was inspired by her friend’s vocation. In 1959, she responded to her lifelong call, and decided to enter the Society.
Although she began her journey in Korea, she lived in Japan during the noviceship. Following that adventure, the Mother Superior sent her to New Zealand for three years, where she made her first vows in 1965. During her time there, she taught third and fourth grade students sewing. Having gained experience in education while in New Zealand, she began work at a primary school upon returning to Korea. Unfortunately, the school shut down, and the ministry that she had come to love suddenly disappeared.
At a life crossroad, her spiritual advisors surprisingly suggested that she move to the United States to explore and find an area of study that suited her interests. In 1980, she arrived in California and immediately enrolled in courses to study Theology and English, as she was fairly new to the language. She also began working at Oakwood, the RSCJ’s retirement center. There, she developed a strong interest in nursing, and determined that she wanted to further pursue working in that field. In addition to her English and Theology classes, she enrolled in pre-requisite courses for nursing school.
Upon completing the necessary requirements, she began the next chapter of her United States journey in St. Louis as a Maryville University nursing student. After graduating in 1990, she received a job at the Sisters of St. Joseph nursing home, where she spent the next 22 years providing compassionate care for patients.
After retiring from the nursing home in 2012 she moved back to San Francisco, where she has continued to provide patients with excellent care as a nurse at Crossroad Home Care and Hospice Care center. She performs home visits to check in on sick patients, and ensures that they are following proper care regimens. If any of her patients is experiencing abnormal trouble, she immediately calls the doctor. One of her favorite parts about her current role is the collaborative approach that she and her medical partners take to monitor the patient’s health.
Interestingly, much of Sister Kum soon’s success in her current role can be attributed back to her early days as an RSCJ. Many of her patients hail from Japan, China or Korea, so her understanding of their culture proves valuable in discussing care with them. Additionally, she draws on the teaching experience that she gained while in Korea and New Zealand. A substantial portion of her job is devoted to educating patients about their medications and teaching them care regimens.
After all her years in healthcare, though, Sister Kum Soon still maintains that the most important aspect of her job is to reveal God’s love to patients through demonstrating compassion and empathy. A smile most often is the best medicine, she says.