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Ven. Cheonun of Jogye Order’s Council of Elders passed away on July 14 at Hyangrimsa Temple in Gwangju at 79. He had been a monk for 64 years. He was born in 1932 and became a monk in 1947 with Ven. Jiam as his vocational master (eunsa). In this year, he received his novice ordination at Woljeongsa Temple and in 1958, received full Bhikkhu ordination at Seonunsa Temple. Thereafter, he meditated in numerous temples such as Songgwangsa, Yongamsa, and Dogapsa. He also served as the abbot of Jogye Order’s 19th head distict temple Hwaeomsa and 22nd head district temple Daeheungsa. He also served on Jogye Order’s Central Council and as the president of the Gwangju Sa-am Solidarity. In 2001, he was selected to be a member of the Council of Elders and in 2004 received the prestigious title of Great Patriarch (Daejongsa).
Beginning 1983 with the opening of the Hyangrim Preschool, he established the Hyangrim Children’s Center, Hyangrimsa Credit Union, Hyangrim Publishing, Gwangju Buddhist College, and Hyangrimwon, a social welfare organization. He oversaw facilities for the youth, elderly, and the mentally disabled. For such work, he was awarded the Jogye Order President’s Certificate of Merit, the Dharma Propagation Grand Award, the Citizen’s Medal of Honor, among more than 50 awards from the Jogye Order and the general society. He was the Spiritual Director (Joshil) of Daeheungsa Temple and Hyangrimsa Temple. He was also the Board Chairperson for Hyangrimwon and Jogye Order’s Jeonggwang Junior and High Schools.
Ven. Cheonun dedicated his life to social welfare and education. He raised orphans at temples and he was instrumental in making Jeonggwang Academy into a renowned school. He would support generously any monk or nun that wanted to receive an education. So great was his generosity, he would even offer scholarship money to the children of the temple office workers.