Oct 14, 2010

100th anniversary of Iwamizawa Catholic Church

A parish in Iwamizawa, an hour drive from Sapporo toward the north in Hokkaido, celebrated its 100th anniversary on 11 October with thanksgiving Mass and a party.  The thanksgiving Mass, which was presided over by myself, was attended by more than 100 people and several priests working around the area.

Iwamizawa used to be a key town for the rail way transportation for coal mining business in nearby Yubari coal complex.  However, all these mines have been closed down by 1990 and city of Yubari itself went  bankrupt in 2007.  Iwamizawa city was also hit by this recession in the mining business severely and still suffering.  Iwamizawa's population is around 90,000 and the Catholic community has around 100 members in the register book.  Fr. Miyabe, a diocesan priest of Sapporo, has been a parish priest since 2005 as its 18th pastor. 

The Catholic mission was established in 1909 by a French missionary and a chapel was built in 1910.  Then the mission of Iwamizawa was entrusted to Franciscans (OFM) from Germany in 1911 until 1954 when a Maryknoll missionary was appointed as its 10th pastor.  In 1973, a diocesan priest was appointed and, since then, the pastoral care of the parish has been under the diocesan priests.  The present chapel and a rectory was built in 2002.

After the Mass, we all moved to a building of the agricultural cooperative across the street for a party.  Though the parish community is small in number, they did quite well to prepare for the celebration.  Especially, I was so happy to see so many kids praying music for us.  Also a traditional street performance by a lady and a famous folk song performance by yet another lady were quite professional and wonderful.  Thank you for inviting us for such a wonderful and warm celebration.

No comments:

Post a Comment