Jul 8, 2010

Mass at Hokusanbara in Yonezawa

Blessed Peter Kibe and his companions, all together 188 blessed martyrs of Japan, was once again commemorated this year on and around 1st July, their feast day, in various locations in Japan including  Yonezawa where 53 of them had been executed during the persecution period.  More than 100 faithful, mainly from parishes in Yamagata district, gathered together in Hokusanbara where Blessed Luis Amakasu and 52 companions were executed on 12 January, 1629 to join the Holy Eucharist celebrated by 4 priests and myself.  Last year May, we had the first celebration after their beatification in November 2008 in Nagasaki.  More than 900 people came to join the celebration in May and we had to ask permission from city government of Yonezawa and police department to close the surrounding streets to let people stand and join the Mass.  We have decided not to invite so many people this year so that neighbours would allow us to continue this celebration for many more years.  After so many years since the Samurai era in Japan, though the Church had managed to purchase part of the former execution ground of Hokusanbara, the place has been developed and now have been surrounded by private houses where no Catholics are living at all.  So we have to negotiate with the local community before we proceed to plan our own celebration in Hokusanbara.  Most probably, we might plan much more grand celebration every 5 years or so to invite pilgrims from all over the diocese.

July is rainy season in Japan and we were worried about the weather on Sunday, 4th July.  It was raining on Saturday.  However, as we started the Mass at 11 am on 4th July, Sunday, we were blessed be under beautiful sunshine.  Thank God for this blessing.  In fact, it started to rain by the time we all finished Mass and lunch.

After the Mass, people were divided into 6 or so groups to have lunch together and continue with sharing session on several themes related to evangelisation in Japan.  There are 5 communities in Yamagata district, Yonezawa, Yamagata, Nagai, Tsuruoka and Sakata.  Then one community is now emerging from Shinjo.  Shinjo community is mainly by Filipino Catholics and their children.  In fact, through generous assistance from many and through their own efforts, the Shinjo community are now building their own Church.  Thank God for this blessing.  Though Yamagata district is not so big, people are scattered around and are able to meet only once a while.  So that the sharing session after the lunch was really inspiring for many.  I would like to thank especially for the members of Yonezawa for their effort to prepare for the celebration.  Lunch box which they chose and bought was wonderful.  Thank you.  Though the community of Yonezawa is not so big, they are trying very well to keep the tradition inherited from Martyrs of Yonezawsa and maintaining good spirits.

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