NEWS TIDBITS FROM JAPAN MISSION

indexSocial distrancing in the classroom   Three months have passed since the government declared a “State of Emergency” because of COVID19. The famous slogan adapted was “STAY HOME!” This applied to all sectors of society, including churches, climaxing with the suspension of all masses and church activities. How has this affected our apostolic activities in Japan?

 Akenohoshi Bus

1.Pre-School Teachers

 

Akenohoshi Pre-School, Hayama

         In Japan,the new schoolyear usually begins early April. This time, it opened in late May. The orientation of teachers was brief, with masks and social distancing observed. The new Principal, Mrs. Motoko Takeishi, the first Catholic lay to assume the position and who has received formation across years from our Sisters, delivered a heartfelt speech injecting the faith dimension and the spirit of Mother Candida as the schoolyear started with many uncertainties. There was no Opening Ceremony, a much awaited milestone in the life of the children and their families. And to welcome the very young ones who usually have a difficult time the first day, a You Tube video was prepared by the teachers and could be accessed by the parents ahead of time (See http://www.akenohoshi-hayama.ed.jp/ ).    

In ordinary circumstances, one gets used to the voices and laughter of almost two-hundred Pre-Schoolers daily. This time, classes were divided into three levels, with one level coming one day at a time. The children come in masks, with temperature checked by their parents beforehand and their school bus immediately sanitized before picking up the next batch. Class hours were shortened, many regular activities were cancelled and social distancing was observed in the classroom. Newsletter and the webpage were the major means to communicate with parents and continue their formation.

St. Ignatius Parish, Tokyo

1.mass in St. Ignatius

Mass in St. Ignatius

2.Paper Cranes representing those who could not attend Mass

 

 Paper Cranes representing those who could not attend Mass

1.Zooming with Youth Group of St. Ignatius

            “The first step towards the re-opening of the church” was done only last June 21, with pre-registration required for all Sunday masses. The English mass, usually with one-thousand persons in attendance was limited to one hundred! To reach out to the faithful, livestreaming of masses by different language groups were organized. Meeting were mostly done using Zoom application. Sr. Flor Florece worked all the time “at home” but was at her busiest, helping coordinate using telework, the fourteen Ministries/groups of the John de Britto English Center, The monthly English Bulletin, which they produce for information, evangelization and formation was made on-line too. Worth mentioning was the fact that the International Youth Ministry remained very active during these times. During the Feast of the Pentecost, the group made a video on religious vocation and missionary life of missionaries in Japan. Together with some Jesuits and other missionaries, she was invited to appear in a Zoom video. Surprisingly, there were 462 viewers! A great opportunity for pastoral and vocation ministry which here, we do not have much chance to engage in, in recent years! See  http://www.stignatius.jp/en/ for the full article and our pastoral involvement in the parish.

Catholic Tokyo International Center (CTIC)

 Sr. Rosina with Brazilians before the Covid

            Sister, could you please come and visit me? I have so many things to share with you!” said a Peruvian on the phone. After two months of not being able to visit, Sr. Rosina, has resumed her twice a month visit of migrants in Detention Centers. Likewise, not able to meet her Brazilian and Latin American groups in the five churches she goes on Sundays, she would follow- up thru the internet individuals and families so they will not feel abandoned in these pandemic times. She would send them catechetical materials, write them words of encouragement. Once, they organized a livestreamed mass in Tokyo Cathedral so they not to lose contact with the church.

Archdiocese of Tokyo and Yokohama Diocese

1.Column1 of Sr. Ono in the Catholic Newspaper

     In these times when going out is not encouraged, Sr. Gertrudes Ono, continues to be busy doing counselling via telephone. She continues to write at home her monthly column in the Japan Catholic Weekly. Recently, a series 24 lectures of talks given by her on You Tube has been produced into a DVD by the Kokoro Tomoshibi (Light of the Heart), an educational apostolic activity on television. Part of the proceeds is donated for refugees’ support which in these pandemic times are likewise very much affected. She also continues to be involved as a counselor for NPOs exploring the path for psychological support for incarcerated refugees and the provision of livelihood for those temporarily released.

Community

     Animated by the “Fichas” on Evangelical Poverty, the “Call to Apostolic Action” by the CGXVII and the Circular Letters of Mother General and the Provincial, this year, our “Plan of Life” is “Solidarity with those more vulnerable and as such, be a testimony and proclamation of Jesus in our world.” (2 Cor 8,9; Fil. 2,6-9). Daily, we are challenged to examine ourselves how we are living this in concrete, both within the community and the reality that surrounds us.

How to be more proactive in discovering novel ways of evangelization and expressing our charism here in Japan… the Holy Spirit continues to weave its way and is teaching us how!