Sep 8, 2010

Khabarovsk visit

A 10-member delegation team from Niigata diocese has completed this years exchange visit to Khabarovsk on 30 August.  The visit was a part of our exchange programme between Niigata diocese and Khabarovsk Catholic Church in Irkutsk diocese, Russia.  The team was consisted of 2 priests, Fr.Machida and Fr. Sakamoto, 3 university students, 4 supporting members and myself.   We left Niigata on 25 August from Niigata airport and returned to Narita on 30 morning since there is only one flight a week between Niigata and Khabarovsk at this moment.  Main purpose of the visit was to organise exchange programme with the Youth in Khabarovsk Catholic Community.  We could manage to bring only 3 youths from Japan, mostly because of the quite high cost of the travel, but around 10 youths joined the programme from Russia side.

Under the loving guidance of 3 Rev. Sisters of SSVM, the female branch of the Argentina-based Institute of the Incarnate Word, of which the Parish priest, Fr. Marcelo belongs to, both Japanese and Russian youths enjoyed several activities together in spite of deep language barrier.  Thanks to the wonderful translation efforts made by Ms. Takahashi who used to work in Khabarovsk as a lay missionary to stand in between 2 language groups to make them able to understand each other.  After a few days of spending together, they started to try to communicate through English, signs and drawings.  They also tried to use their own tourist conversation books by pointing at the appropriate sentences in the book. 

We are also grateful to the rector of the seminary of the Orthodox Church in Khabarovsk who invited us to visit their Cathedral and seminary.  We were even allowed to climb the bell tower of the Cathedral.  Also the rector invited us to join him to visit the Orthodox Sister's convent where we were treated by wonderful dinner prepared by sisters.

I sincerely thank the Catholic community in Khabarovsk and hope that this exchange experience would continue for many more years.  I also hope that many more people from Japan would have chance to visit the Catholic community in Siberia and also have experience encounter with the Orthodox Church in Russia.  


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