60th Tomobe Summer Camp : “Together with Mary”

News From Japan

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In all local churches in Japan, August is simultaneously associated with Children Summer Camps. In this article, Sr. Marianita shares her first experience of accompanying children from Joso Church. It is part of the Hijas de Jesus’ commitment to attend to the faith education especially of migrant children.

 Born in Japan or uprooted in their early childhood from the Philippines, all study in public schools and do not know even the basics of the Catholic faith. They are growing up very fast in the midst of a very secular, highly technological Japanese world. Summer Camps, therefore, are organized to introduce more and deepen their faith in a “fun” way. Above all, it is meant to build relationships among their peers, so they would not feel they are “alone” as Catholics in a country that is predominantly Buddhist, Shintoist or one that does not believe at all in the existence of God. (Sr. Flor Florece, F.I.)

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 Once again, the long corridors of the big, old Tomobe Convent of the Fathers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (SS.CC.) burst with joyful shouts and laughter, as 56 elementary and high school students gathered there from August 5 to 8 for this year’s Summer Camp. The oldest church-organized Summer Camp in Ibaraki Prefecture, it reached 80 participants, including 5 religious sisters and 19 parent-volunteers, not a mean feat considering it is Japan!

     The weather was extremely hot this year so to protect the children from getting sick, all activities were done inside the sprawling gardens of the famous Tomobe convent. The young participants had daily morning masses, workshops, catechesis on the Blessed Virgin Mary (the theme this year) and lots of indoor and outdoor games.

On the first day of the camp, the participants were treated to a “Science Show” (Soap Bubbles), “Magic Show”, and “Hanabi” (fireworks). The next day, after the Marian catechesis in small groups, the campers had rosary-making, ate “Nagashi Somen” (Japanese noddles pushed by water in bamboo tubes), “watermelon-cracking” game and barbeque. For the first time, six Filipino children from Joso Catholic Church joined this year’s camp. There were also children from  Indonesia, Africa and the rest Japanese.-

A volunteer Filipina mother had this to say: “This is my third year as a volunteer parent. This time, I like it very much because five Sisters (women religious) joined and gave lots of catechism workshops for the children. I am also impressed with the spirit of service of the Japanese

volunteers – parents and youth groups. They were very happy to cook, dish wash, clean, light fireworks, make bamboo tubes, etc.”

As it was my first time to attend the camp and befriend the volunteers, I found out that most of them were products of previous camps. Indeed, the pioneering efforts of the Americans and Irish “Mikokoro Kai” Fathers, 60 years ago, are now bearing “good fruits”! And this is my HOPE, that in God’s time, the children we accompanied this year, will one day be the same!

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