SEOUL, South Korea — Korean Catholics expressed their gratitude to Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, retired archbishop of Seoul, during a Mass on his feast day.

Yeom, 77, who led the archdiocese since 2012, celebrated a thanksgiving Mass with Korean bishops at Myongdong Cathedral Nov. 30, the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, said the Archdiocese of Seoul.

The cardinal expressed his thanks to God and the faithful for their continued support that made his service as archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, North Korea, “a joyful journey guided by the Holy Spirit.”

“It seems like only yesterday that I was installed as the archbishop of Seoul to succeed the late Cardinal Nicholas Cheong, who had asked me to become an honest and sincere pastor,” Yeom said in his homily.

He also prayed for Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taek, whom Pope Francis appointed to succeed him Oct. 28. The archbishop will be installed Dec. 8, reported

“As the Archdiocese of Seoul now plays a leading role not only in Asia but also in the Catholic Church around the world, I believe that the new archbishop will become a spiritual leader for the nation as a whole,” said Yeom. “I will always be grateful for every single moment and pray for peace on the Korean Peninsula and our church. Please continue to keep me in your prayers.”

Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, apostolic nuncio to South Korea, conveyed papal greetings in his farewell message.

“I am pleased to convey this blessing of Pope Francis to Cardinal Yeom and to the new Archbishop Chung as well as the entire Catholic community: that we are all grateful to God for giving us Cardinal Yeom, the good shepherd, and wish Your Eminence good health and serenity,” said Xuereb.

Born Dec. 5, 1943, in Ansong, into a Catholic family of five generations, Andrew Yeom graduated from the University of Seoul in 1970 and was ordained a priest Dec. 8 of the same year.

He taught at Songsin High School in Seoul, then became a chancellor of the Catholic University of Korea Songsin Theological Campus, 1987-92, and chancellor of the archdiocesan curia, 1992-98.

On Dec. 1, 2001, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Seoul. He succeeded the late Cardinal Cheong May 10, 2012, and served as the archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, which covers all of North Korea.

Pope Francis elevated him to cardinal Feb. 22, 2014.

Yeom has been hailed for ministries and charities for the poor and homeless, supporting mission territories as far away as Africa and constant efforts for peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.