May 6, 2013

Pastoral Visit of Sakata Church in Yamagata

On 14 April, Sunday, I made a pastoral visit of the Catholic community in city of Sakata in northern part of Yamagata prefecture.  It is around 4 hours drive from my house in Niigata.  Pastoral care of entire Yamagata prefecture has been entrusted to Picpus Fathers (SS.CC.) and there are 6 Catholic communities in the area with 3 Fathers of SS.CC. There is one priest residing in Yamagata parish and taking care of Yonezawa parish, and Shinjo station. Then there are 2 priests residing in Tsuruoka parish and taking care of Nagai station and Sakata station.  I am calling them as "station" because they do not have resident priest, however, following Japanese standard some of these stations, such as Shinjo and Sakata, could be Parishes in its own right.

Sakata used be a port city for a rich merchant of this area, Honma family, who used be called the biggest landlord of Japan for 200 years till the end of the WWII. Strong traditional culture and religion make Catholics quite difficult to bring Gospel message in this area so that the Catholic community in Sakata is quite small compare with parishes in other Christian countries. 

For my pastoral visit, around 20 Catholics attended Sunday Mass at 10am. The number was much more than ordinary Sunday.  After the Mass, I gave a talk on the Year of Faith and New Evangelisation.  Then we shared lunch, sung songs together.    

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