Japan

An Easter Experience: Parable of the loving father and his two sons revisited

By Fr Barry Cairns


The Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. The Easter season, which ends this year on 4 June, Pentecost Sunday, reminds us that from death comes life. An encounter with the Risen Christ can bring peace, forgiveness and reconciliation out of situations of animosity, division and the inability to forgive. Columban Fr Barry Cairns from New Zealand shares an Easter story of his parish pastoral council reaching out to forgive. He has been a Columban missionary priest in Japan since 1956.

Fifty years ago I was pastor of an 'old Christian' community in Sakita, Shimoshima, the largest of the Amakusa Islands in the far south of Japan. By 'old Christian' I mean that a Jesuit missionary, Fr Luis Almeida, founded the parish 451 years ago in 1566. Then the Tokugawa daimyo government expelled or executed all missionaries. The Amakusa community went into hiding, remaining faithful for 240 years.

A Christmas Gift to Japan

  By Fr Philip Ilio Bonifacio


Christmas International Mass 2013, Matsudo Parish, Fr Philip in center

As December starts, people put their Christmas trees up, illumine their houses with Christmas lights and other decorations to create the ambiance of the Christmas season. In the Philippines, people gather in small groups for the evening caroling or daigon, going from house to house using improvised musical instruments. People are excited by the Misa de Gallo. We delight with fireworks greeting the night as we do the count down. It is the favorite time of the year for children as they await their gifts from ninongs and ninangs. Our Christmas comes alive with all the sharing and giving.

I used to think that the spirit of Christmas was the same in every part of the world.

A Present-day Good Samaritan

by Fr Barry Cairns


The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix), Van Gogh
May 1890, Saint-Rémy.

Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands [Web Gallery of Art]

One of my recent side jobs was to teach for a term as a substitute lecturer at a junior college in Yokohama. There were 30 students in the class. Many were destined to be social workers in Christian-run homes for children with disabilities, retirement homes and hospices. Not one of the students was a Christian. For this reason, the dean of the College asked me to give a ten-week course entitled simply, ‘Christianity.’ At my request each student was to have a copy of the New Testament and a copy of Shūsaku Endō‘s Life of Jesus. (Both in Japanese as were the lectures.)

Misyon and My Vocation

By Fr Christopher F. Amoroso MSP

MSP missionary to the Diocese of Okinawa, Japan.

The author ordained priest on 4 October 2007 and appointed Assistant Vocation Director for the Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP) in Luzon. Later he was sent to the Diocese of Naha, Okinawa, Japan to work with Filipino Migrants and will be two years there on 20 June.’ I go to the different islands of Okinawa to look for the migrants and see what the Diocese can do for them, especially with regard to their spiritual life’.

DRIFTING AWAY FROM THE FAITH

I was baptized into the Catholic faith by Columban Fr David Clay on 6 May 1972 at St Sebastian Catholic Church in San Narciso, Zambales. My family were nominal Catholics. Even so, I got my first catechism lessons from my parents who simply taught us, six siblings, to love each other and help other people. My father would tell me that God is everywhere, so we can pray anywhere we go.

A Taste Of A Missionary Journey

By Nelson A. Barbarona SVD

Frater Nelson A. Barbarona is a Divine Word seminarian on his Overseas Training Program in Japan. He is from Bohol and has his own blog, Nelson’s Missionary Journey. ‘Frater’ is the Latin for ‘Brother’ and is the title used by SVD seminarians in vows.

Japan is a country of few Christians, particularly Catholics. As far as my little knowledge is concerned, Japan in its refusal to be conquered by the different religious orders, persecuted quite a number of religious missionaries and lay persons including the first Filipino Martyr, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. On 24 November last year 187 martyrs were beatified in Nagasaki City. Despite the persevering efforts of the religious missionaries to spread Christianity, most Japanese remained firm in their traditional belief, Shinto, which eventually became the national religion until Buddhism was introduced in the pre-war period. Today, although the system has changed, Shinto and Buddhism remain the dominant religions in the country. Temples and shrines are the hottest tourist attractions in the country especially in places rich in Japanese history and tradition. One famous religious tradition is the ‘matsuri’ or festival. There seems to be one somewhere or other in Japan throughout the year.

About That Sermon

By Fr Paddy Clarke


Preaching in Japan

I worked as a Columban missionary in Japan for thirty years. My first parish was a small one in a place called Shingu. Each Sunday when I looked down at my small congregation and began to preach I could see one lady up front who looked up with great expectations in her eyes, waiting for my words...Then as I went on and on...and on, I noticed a body change. She began to list to one side, like a sinking ship and I noticed both her eyes were closed. Then there was Mrs Okada whom I had baptised as an adult. She had a note book and was busy writing down every word I uttered. Then there was this big man in the very last seat who when the Gospel was read, promptly sat down, put his two hands on the seat in front of him and went to sleep even before the sermon began!


A Japanese Gentleman

By Fr Leo Baker

Phone calls for me from Japan are rare, so I was surprised recently to receive a call from Mrs Murakami, the wife of a man who was my catechist from 1951 to 1954. She told me that he had died, aged 88. That phone call marked the end of a 55-year friendship with a man of remarkable personality and one of the finest gentlemen I came to know during my 35 years in Japan.

In 1951, after 18 months in Japan, I was living in Kamogawa, a coastal fishing port, where fishermen, farmers and shopkeepers made up most of the population. I had been appointed there after just a year of language study, only 27-years-old, to try to establish a new mission where none was there before.

The Power Of Adoration

By: Fr Harry O' Carroll

A conversation leads to a decade-long adoration of the Holy Eucharist in five Japanese parishes. 

It was autumn of 1983 when I had a chat outside our little church with one of the prominent ladies in the parish of Koshi in Kumamoto City. She was worried about her teenage daughter, who suffered from some mild physical handicaps. I asked her if she ever went before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and shared her worries with Him. ‘What?’ she said in a shocked voice. ‘Surely you don’t believe that!’

That was the end of our chat! I was stunned. Here was one of the leading members of the parish community, and she did not believe in the real presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. How many more were like her?

A Spring Flower

By: Fr James D. Norris

There is a high school in our parish for nearly 2,000 girls conducted by the Sisters of the Infant of Jesus. Very few of these girls are baptized Christians. As a means of contact, I teach English to the junior high school pupils three times a week. My classes are very informal and I am afraid the young ladies don’t take me very seriously, possibly because I give them no homework or exams. My specialty is supposed to be pronunciation and intonation.

Pages