Sep 24, 2009

Touring Akita - 2

St.Augustine Parish in Akita celebrated the 125 anniversary of its foundation on Monday, 21 September. According to the parish record, the very first baptism was recorded on 6 January 1884 by a Paris Foreign Mission's (MEP) missionary who was assigned to Akita that year. Around the time of the re-opening of the country in 1868, MEP was asked to be in charge of mission in Japan by the Propaganda Fide. Therefore, majority of parishes in our area which have more than 100 years of history had been established by MEP missionaries including our Cathedral parish in Niigata. In 1907, SVD missionaries have arrived in Japan and assigned to take over the mission in Akita. Since then, Akita has been the SVD mission district. Present parish priest, Fr.Makoto Nagayama, SVD is the 34th parish priest of Akita.

Among the con-celebrants were SVD Provincial Superior, MEP Vice-Provincial, those SVDs formerly worked in Akita, present members of SVDs in the district, other priests from Yamagata and Niigata. More than 20 priests and nearly 400 people joined the Mass presided over by myself. Liturgy was well prepared by the Parish priest though he read wrong passage of gospel during the Mass which made me a bit uneasy to deliver a homily. Well, for such an august occasion, any one would suffer from stage fright.

After the Mass, we moved to the Castle Hotel, just adjacent the Church, to celebrate. It was a well organised party with modest box lunch style food, which was excellently prepared though, and a lot of Sake, original local drinks. Different age groups offered songs and also priests were asked to sing a song. Since we did not remember a lot of common songs among priests, we decided to sing Salve Regina in Latin which the catholic priest should be able to sing by heart.

We sincerely give thanks to those missionaries who dedicated their lives for mission in Akita. We are also grateful to people who supported Church activities for past 125 years. We can easily imagine that foreign missionaries had really hard time just to live in rural Japan more than 100 years ago. They started everything from scratch, from complete zero. But today, though we are facing many difficulties to spread the good news in Japan, we are not starting from zero. We have a good foundation laid by these missionaries. So we should not be afraid to go forward to proclaim good news of Jesus in our diocese.

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