Updates from Japan

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In John de Britto English Center, St. Ignatius Church, Tokyo where I work as Coordinator, we have had so far two sessions on Synod 2022-2023. It was held online because we were at that time still in the Quasi State Emergency because of the pandemic. After the two meetings, I asked two leaders of the International Community, one from India and another, from Ghana, to write about it in our English Bulletin. I share them with you so you would also have a glimpse of how is the process going on on this side of the world. 


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 Synod on “Synodality”    (by Peter JoyHudson. India)

Synod 2021-23 was explained during the February 19 English Group Meeting of the John de Britto English Center. Led by the Team of Coordinators, the content of the Synod and its process was explained to the attendees, many of whom did not know anything about it. The intention of the presentation was to raise awareness and to promote and develop the experience of being “synodal” in our way of being and doing our mission.

Two videos were shown: Synod on Synodality - All You Need to Know (through sketches and images)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5lAktuejwo (6:23 minutes), and A Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission, An Overview of Synodality  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90mRl7lY-vA (27:39 minutes; the part shown was only from 20:00-24:50).

The topic generated much interest and lively discussion. As one commented, “In Japan, the process has been initiated only recently, after overcoming hurdles in translation. It is not clear how we are supposed to send our responses.” One questioned, “Apart from the English Center Meetings, are there any other ways to get involved in the process?” One who is updated on the Diocesan Proceedings pointed out that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan (CBCJ) has set June 2, 2022, as the deadline to submit responses, considering that the extended deadline internationally is August 15, 2022. Another asked, “Can we expect further information? Apart from the international communities in various parishes, are the Japanese parishioners involved?”

The Coordinators gave two points for reflection until the next session. 1. How is this “journeying together” proceeding in the John de Britto English Center? In St. Ignatius Church? 2. What steps does the Holy Spirit invite us to take so as to grow in our journeying together? Thus, the end of Part 1

Lived Experience at the Local Level (by Raymond Gasu, Ghana)

Part 2 of the Synodal theme was held on March 12. Attendees were given time to share their reflections. Of the twenty-three who attended the meeting, fourteen had the chance to share their synodal journey, covering experiences on Communion, Participation, and Mission.

Many pointed out the value of listening. By listening more, they were learning new things from other members, while at the same time feeling listened to. It gave them a sense that they were part of a community, journeying together.

Members affirmed the presence, guidance, and support of the Holy Spirit working to supply for “the shortage of time, materials and lack of members.”

They prefer working in small groups, as St. Ignatius is a very large parish. Under the umbrella of the John de Britto English Center with its 17 Ministries and Groups, working with different kinds of people and nationalities has led them to great personal growth like flexibility and openness to the ideas of others. One was grateful for the trust given her and guidance when necessary. There is more interaction, and involvement now with parents of Sunday school children. Others found joy in volunteering In spite of challenges. They realize that in carrying out the mission in the Church, they cannot do it alone, the ministries and groups need the help and support of one another. Somebody also pointed out that, while appreciative of being part of the St. Ignatius community, he asked for more inclusiveness of the foreign community in the activities of the parish.

There was a strongly felt sense of mission, of being sent out to proclaim the Good News to all people. Living in a country where the population of Christians is less than 1% of the total population, members felt that they need to do more, by directly taking the Good News to non-Christians and reaching out to others outside the Church. Some have been volunteering in the prison apostolate, others working with the homeless, etc. . One pointed to the importance of Christian witness, to pray for peace in the world, and to continue praying for all Christian Churches to unite. We continue, she said, “the Acts of the Apostles”.

A member of our Youth Group looks forward to more cooperation among the various groups, as this nourishes our faith and leads to stronger bonds. She reported that the SYIIM (St. Ignatius International Youth Ministry) is also planning a number of Synodal activities, with two other Youth Groups of the parish and Sophia University.

There was so much to share and many members have not yet shared. There was an atmosphere of wanting more. At the end of the meeting, Sr. Flor announced that for us to deepen the spirit of solidarity, the English Center will continue organizing various activities in the future. One upcoming activity is the Lenten Retreat 2022 (see poster below). Unlike previous years, this year’s retreat will have lay speakers in place of ordained ministers.

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