Mar 1, 2011

Shinjo under heavy snow

On 28 February, I made a pastoral visit of Shinjo Catholic Church, Our Lady of Snow in northern Yamagata prefecture.  In fact, even though I made a last-minute decision to visit Shinjo, more than 30 members made good effort to gather for Sunday Mass at 10 am which was 4 hours ahead of their usual Sunday Mass time of 2 pm.  2 pm Sunday Mass.  Yes, it is because the Shinjo community does not have their own priest and Fr. Honma of Yamagata is in charge.  Yamagata is more than an hour drive from Shinjo.

As you may see from the photo above, and also you may refer to my story of dedication of the Church last October, majority of the community members are from Philippines and their children are also valuable members of the community.  It is not so easy to find many kids anymore in our parishes but, here in Shinjo, I could meet so many kids.  Filipino members are trying hard to establish good family life in this rural area as a wives of Japanese farmers.  And you may see from the photo below, Shinjo is under heavy snow at this time of the year.  The community had to spend more than thirty thousand yen (USD 3,500) to hire people to remove snow from the chapel roof.  The community owes quite an amount to the diocese to complete their building last year.  Now they had to spend more to remove snow.  Such a difficulty.  But the members are in good smile as usual.  

After the Mass they organised a small party to welcome me.  Wonderful time to be with them.  After so many years in Japan without Church facilities in this rural area, finally they got a place to come together on Sundays.  Here they are able to pray together, eat together and share stories together.  Thank God for this wonderful gift of people to our diocese.

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