Jun 7, 2009

Nagaoka distirct rally held in Tokamachi today

Nagaoka district rally (a general assembly of all the faithful in the district) was held today, the Trinity Sunday in Matsunoyama area of Tokamachi city. More than 160 members from 8 parishes in the district, Omotemchi, Fukuzumi, Tokamachi, Kashiwazaki, Takada, Myoko, Naoetsu and Itoigawa, gathered together in a Buddhist Temple for the beginning of the assembly at 10 am this morning despite of bad weather. Yes, we started our rally in Buddhist temple, Shoin-ji.

As a matter of fact, this is the second time for Nagaoka district to organize this gathering in this particular temple. The very first rally was held in 35 years ago in Shoin-ji. Why in this Buddhist temple? Because the temple has been preserving and taking care of "Maria Kannon" statue from persecution time in Japanese Christian history. The temple itself was established in 1653. According to the tradition of the area, it seems that several Christians had fled from persecution and arrived in the area to hide themselves in deep forest. Fortunately the Temple and people in the village gave refuge to these Christians. In order to maintain their faith in secrecy, Christians made this small statue of Kannon, which is Goddess of Mercy in Buddhism tradition and resembles Holy Mother in our faith.

The statue was recognised as real one from the period of Christian persecution in Japan by late Dr.Shigeru Takada, the historian and a professor of Rikkyo University in 1966.

We had our Sunday Mass in the temple. We could feel the power of the Filipino community in the area who also gathered in number to attend the function today, thanks to the effort of the diocesan migrant director, Fr. Faminialagao, SVD of Nagaoka. Immediately after the Mass, in spite of drizzling weather, we went out to take group photo to imitate the group photo of 35 years ago.

After lunch, Fr.Shigemi Matsui, OFM gave a talk of the history of Christian under persecution in Japan. He himself is from the family of traditional Japanese Christians in Goto island in Nagasaki who managed to hand down the faith in secrecy over generations.

Thank you for everyone who made effort to travel all the way to Matsunoyama to celebrate together today and special thanks to the parishioners of Naoetsu who were in charge of this year's event. See you next year!

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