May 26, 2009

What makes Catholic Schools Catholic?

What makes Catholic Schools Catholic? As part of answering this question, I visited Seishin Girls High School, one and only Catholic School in Niigata prefecture, to celebrate Eucharist with some of the staff members this evening in their Chapel.

Besides Seishin Girls High, there is only one Catholic High School in my diocese. In fact, there are only 4 Catholic Schools in the diocese, 2 junior colleges and one girls high school in Akita and the Seishin in Niigata. All of them are struggling to keep their Catholic identities in their schools. Why? Because there are not enough Catholics either in teaching staff, in administration nor among students.

What is worse for Seishin Girls High in Niigata is that the Sister's Congregation which established the school in 1964 decided to hand over the administration of the school to the newly established local school corporation headed by the chairman of the local Toyota dealer who was not a Catholic. Why? Because Sisters do not have any young members to continue the apostolate. No vocation for many years.

Even though the new administration had promised to maintain Catholic identity of the school and they had asked me to join the new administrative board, it was obvious that maintaining Catholic identity of the school without a Catholic head teacher and, more over, without Sisters who used to teach religion and who used to be a head teacher was quite a challenge for everyone involved from the very beginning.

At least, the new administration hired former SVD brother as a full time religion teacher and there are 5 other Catholic members in the staff. It seems there is no Catholic student this year. With these people cooperating with me, we have decided to try to find our own way to maintain Catholic identity in the school. As the beginning of this effort, we celebrated Mass in the school chapel this afternoon which was attended not only by these Catholic staff but also the head teacher, administrator and several other staff members who are not Catholics.

I do not want to loose Catholic schools from my diocese since schools are one of effective means for evangelization. ( Photo above is not from Seishin but from other Catholic High.)


  1. You are right Bishop. To lose a catholic school is to lose one way of evangelization. Although BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) starts at home (but they are non-catholics), students spend more time in school and some teenagers open-up their thoughts and feelings to their teachers more than their own parents.

    We really have a lot of things to pray for and one of them is this.

  2. Thank you for your prayer. Also kindly pray for vocation in Japan, both for priests and religious.