“In These Difficult Times…” News from Japan

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 “Sister, just let me vent for now. I lost two more family members last week, both due to Covid. I thought my mental health would probably collapse, but surprisingly I‘m OK. I’m thankful that we had the Seminar on how to cope with loss…”

 

May 27, 2021.  Sr. Emelinda Falsis, our Provincial, invited Sisters and Lay Collaborators to attend the Webinar on MAINTAINING AND ENHANCING OUR MENTAL HEALTH (in this difficult time) to be given by Fr. Roberto Buenconsejo, SJ.  I did not hesitate to attend. In Japan, cases were piling up. Every week I receive e-mails or calls asking for prayers or accompaniment.

Why not invite Fr. Bob to give the same webinar to the St. Ignatius Parish English-speaking community? “…so many walk without strength, without hope…”  In our mission, the Congregation reminds us that “consecrated life is called to be balm, warmth, kind presence, an impulse of hope, comfort along the way, encouragement… that reveals Jesus of Nazareth.” (GCXVIII Det. no. 4)

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August 21, 2021. Fr. Bob ZOOMed in from San Jose Seminary. For two hours, he gave a revised version of what he gave last May. Fifty-eight participants attended. More wanted to join, if not for their work. Leaders and regular volunteers of John de Britto English Center where we work, some members of the Japanese community, the Youth Group signed up. But then, religious sisters, lay missionaries, church leaders from other places in and outside Japan wanted to be invited too! 

How was the Webinar received? Since participants were composed of varied nationalities, ages and professions, I thought it might be interesting to share with you their feedback.

“Thank you very much, Fr.  Bob for your time and all the resources you put into the preparation of this very informative and thought-provoking seminar. Not only did you teach us what mental health is; why it is important to have positive mental health; how to interpret the signs and symptoms related to mental health and assess whether we are depressed, languishing, or flourishing; but you also gave us a very tall list of how to cope with our situations and work in order to become well again. We are grateful to learn that seeking help is a sign of strength. We are going to do our best to cling to hope and faith so we will be able to live our lives to the full, as God wants us to.” (from Ghana)

I was also touched by the sharing we had (in the Break-out Groups). I realized we usually do not have the chance to talk or share about our “languishing” experiences. I was moved by the sharing of others. It made us feel closer to one another. (Japanese)

Another grace, that is, to share it with people I work with. Many become depressed because of changes in schedule and fewer jobs. They open up to us. Father’s message was a healing process for everyone. (from Samoa)

The Seminar was very viable, timely and time well spent. Fr. Bob’s presentation was extremely useful, not only for us ourselves. The information, techniques he shared could help us take care of each other…be more CHRIST-CENTERED!  I personally felt a great calm afterward. “Be still and know that I am your God!” echoed in my heart. It helped me realize God’s way-time-plan for all of us… We are blessed!  (Canadian)

It was our first time attending an all-English Seminar. We were a little nervous. However, the Father explained in easy English and we were able to share our feelings comfortably. We understood our feelings and we know now how to spend a better and happier life! (Japanese)

What is going on in me? This is a question I asked God before I listened to the talk of Fr. Bob. As he was talking, I identified myself as swinging from “flourishing to languishing”. I was so productive before, but less productive now, happy before, but not so happy now. I felt life was less exciting, I had difficulty concentrating and was indifferent at times. After the talk, God answered my question: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Fr. Bob’s talk was not just HIS TALK but GOD’S TALK in my deepest core. I am GRATEFUL!  (Filipina)

Very informative, enriching.  A time to introspect and see myself where I really am now. It was like attending a retreat.  (After the seminar) I felt normal, after all…(Filipina)

Until now, the words of Fr. Bob’s continue to reverberate among us: “Hold on to your faith …Christian hope is certain even if we cannot control the future”. Meanwhile, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Gather the resources you have (inner strength, relationships) and realize that God is present within you and around you.”

“Sister, a big clan (of second-generation Filipino-Japanese) was infected in Joso (a parish where we used to be)”, informed one leader.  A few minutes after, a frantic call came. “Sister, the doctors called. Papa is in a very critical condition and they told us to already come.  They said, only one can be allowed to enter the room. Could you pray over him, even just on the cellphone?”