Mar 15, 2010

Recollection day in Naoetsu Parish

Yesterday, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, I visited Naoetsu Parish in Joetsu city which is 130 km south of Niigata city for a day of recollection for 2 groups of parishioners, one for a Japanese group and the other for an English speaking group. All together more than 60 people attended these 2 recollections. In fact, more than half were for the English one.

Last week I was in Akita for graduation activities of 2 Catholic junior colleges in Akita and spent whole week in the convent of Seitai Hoshikai. On Saturday when I drove back from Akita to Niigata, weather on the road was quite wild so that my black car was soaked not only by rain but also by sea spray since the main highway between Niigata and Akita passes through the coastal area. On Sunday morning by the time to leave for Naoetsu at 6:30 am, I just found my black car no longer black. It was just like a whitewashed car, dirty like something. Keeping your own car clean is one of the best hobby in Japan, I think, and I had to drive this dirty car under beautiful morning sunshine telling others I am a lazy man who does not care about this popular hobby of all in Japan.

Well, the first Japanese Mass began at 9 am in Naoetsu which was attended by around 20 people. The pastor of Naoestsu, Fr. Hubert, OFM, concelebrated the Mass. Since Naoetsu parish has a wonderful organ prayer, Mr. Machiya, with good knowledge of the Gregorian Chant, I had to sing most parts of the Mass, which I love to do any way. After the Mass I gave a 45-minute talk followed by the individual confession, the stations of the Cross, the Benediction and a lunch together.

Around 1:30 pm, English speaking community started to arrive for the day. Majority of them are Filipino ladies married with Japanese. I spoke for 45 minutes again in English about their vocation in Japan as lay missionaries to be witnesses of Gospel in Japanese rural society where traditional Church had not be able to reach out. I know the stories of difficulties which number of them have been experiencing in their international marriages. Sometimes they are not accepted as full members of the family by in-laws. Despite all these difficulties, and for these Church has been trying to be of their help, I still think and believe that God has his own plan for each one of us. Traditional Catholic Church in Japan has put much effort to establish parishes and other institutions in rather big cites in Japan. Because of the strategy, not much has been done to spread the good news to rural villages. In fact, I do not know how we could go into these villages at this moment. Majority of Filipino Catholics who have been married with Japanese are living in rural area. I do believe they have been sent by God to be a witness of the message of God. In fact, they are missionaries in Japan.

Stations of the Cross and individual confession followed and the day was completed with the Holy Eucharist. Photo above: those who joined the English recollection with 2 youngsters who did good job as alter girls.

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