ENGLISH PASTORAL MINISTRY
Preparing for Advent
The celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ is fast approaching and it could not be held without first celebrating Advent. Hence, the time to prepare for the coming of the Savior`s birth is referred to as Advent Season.
What is there to prepare for Jesus Christ`s coming? Yearly, the Church`s preparation for the coming of the Savior is in fact the beginning of her liturgical calendar. This is the most meaningful understanding how Advent relates exactly to the coming of the Savior`s birth. Most of the time, when the month of December arrives, people would equate if with Christmas and never think of Advent. Yet, the preparation is equally important as to the special event of Jesus` Nativity. It is just like preparing for one`s birthday. While one`s birthday is essentially recognized as the reason to celebrate, such could not however be held that meaningful without considering the planning stage or what and how to prepare for the birthday party itself. Questions such as what food and drinks to feast on, who are the guests to invite, clothes to wear or where to hold the birthday party are just as elementary concerns to think about. The planning stage is necessary to achieve a real joy in celebrating the event itself. This applies as well for the Season of Advent. Catholics must be aware first and foremost what is the real meaning of Advent and why there is a need to prepare.
While Advent is celebrated annually, not all Catholics however are well informed about the season. As already explained, the word "Advent" originally comes from the Latin word `adventus` which is a translation from the Greek word `parousia.` The Advent Season invites every Catholics to prepare for God`s coming. His coming does not merely refer to its literal date such as December 25th. It is also the time of his return after He has gone to the Father in heaven after His resurrection. Most importantly, it is also the time of judgment. Unfortunately, this is when His arrival makes anyone dreadful. They dread of His return because they are not sure if they are saved or will be doomed. Hence, the four weeks of Advent provides ample time to reflect on one`s preparation. The liturgical readings are the main source of reflection for the celebration and the most visible symbol is the Advent wreath.
Word for the Month:
Pope`s Intention for the Month
A Missionary "Spring" in the Church
That the breath of the Holy Spirit engender a new missionary "spring" in the church.
Pope Francis` Apostolic Exhortation
"Gaudete et Exsultate" (Rejoice and be glad)
CTIC`s Sunday Consultation Service Schedule 2019:
February 3, 17
March 3, 17
May 5, 19
June 2, 16
July 7, 21
August 4, 18
September 1, 15
October 6, 20
November 3, 17
December 1, 15
Meguro Parish celebrated World Day of Migrants and Refugees
On the occasion of the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the international community of the parish of St. Anselm`s Catholic Church at Meguro last September 29 had celebrated the Eucharist in different languages that represented the various nationalities attending the parish at Meguro. Fr. Edwin D. Corros, CS of the Catholic Tokyo International Center (CTIC) presided the Mass, which was participated by parishioners dressed in their national costumes. It was the community`s little way of expressing their solidarity to the migrants` varied realities.
At the mass, the children attending the Sunday school had spearheaded the entrance procession carrying little flags of different countries of the world. The catechists accompanied the children in placing the flags at the altar, symbolizing the intention of the Church to remind all those present to be concerned with the plight of the migrants and refugees whose number is increasing every day. Their sad situation represents the widening gat between the rich and the poor as seen in the Gospel reading that Sunday about the story of Lazarus and the rich man. The theme of this year`s celebration is "It is not just about migrants." The Mass that Sunday at St. Anselm`s was especially different as the liturgical readings; songs; and intercessory prayers were delivered in various languages. Besides the regular choir that serves the 12:00 noon English mass, the African and the Indonesian communities had also rendered help in the liturgical music. Fr. Miyashita, the parish priest, had also assisted in the distribution of communion. Fr. Edwin had expressed his gratitude to the African and Indonesian communities on behalf of the parish priest and the members of the international community core group for their valuable support in making the liturgical event successful.
The universal Church every year celebrates the World Day of Migrants and Refugees to raise awareness among Catholics of their obligation and responsibility towards the poor as seen among the international migrants, whose number is estimated to 272 million, not counting the refugees and internally displaced people as seen constantly in refugee camps in different parts of the world. They are the unwilling victims of natural calamities; political war or economic instability; and racial or religious persecutions. This year, the Holy Father, Pope Francis uses the verbs "to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate," as he calls upon everyone to respond to their plight. More and more countries in the world are keeping their borders tightly closed from people who wish to enter without proper documents. People from Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan are just some of the 25.9 million refugees seeking resettlement. Aboard makeshift boats they dare the violent waves in crossing the ocean to travel to Europe in their desire to escape from their war-torn countries. As Christians, every Catholics cannot turn their back nor close their eyes to the grave sufferings of these people. Hence, at least once a year, the Church commemorates the World Sunday of Migrants and Refugees in solidarity to their horrendous plight.
Migrant Lay Leaders Renewed Oaths to Serve Mass Weekly
At least thirty-five lay volunteers to the weekly novena Mass to Our Mother of Perpetual Help had renewed their commitment to serve the weekly Eucharist celebrated at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish located at the boundary of Tokyo and Saitama dioceses. It is a parish several migrants had chosen as their second home. In the usual Mass held last Wednesday, 11 September 2019, the members of the various liturgical ministries in front of the parishioners has taken turns to profess their willingness to serve the community Mass that was presided by Fr. Edwin D. Corros, CS. Those serving the Filipino Mass in Akabane are required to take this rite of commitment before they are allowed to serve to make them aware of the significance of their voluntary service. This rite was introduced to the community in 2016 as an opportunity for the volunteers to really appreciate better their commitment to serve. They are guided by the rules of their respective ministries that they themselves had agreed upon.
A simple reception prepared by those who had renewed their commitment to the weekly liturgical celebration followed the oath taking. On the same gathering, the lay liturgical volunteers were reminded of their commitment, particularly on their obligation to attend themonthly catechism and ministry meetings as part of the conditions and that they are to comply before they had applied to volunteer in the liturgy. The catechism, which is open to all participants, is a minimum requirements to all lay volunteers to attend as part of their ongoing religious and spiritual formation. Fr. Edwin D. Corros normally conducts the monthly cathechism. Sr. Gertrudes Candelaria, FMA, a religious nun from the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco also helps in the weekly Mass.
Philippine Missionary Encounter held at Fujisawa
In the parish of Fujisawa last 28 September, about twelve Filipino missionaries from Kanto area had gathered to hold its annual missionary awareness among the foreign communities in Kanagawa prefecture. The annual event attempts not only to raise awareness of the foreigners` presence in Japan, which is to work or make a living but also to spread the good news as part of their responsibility when they received the sacrament of baptism. By virtue of one`s baptism, one is instructed to live the gift of prophecy, which is to bring the message of God to all people. They must engage in the evangelization of people as part of their mission. And this year`s theme is "Companion on a Journey".
For many Catholics, the work of the mission had always been understood as the responsibility of the priests, nuns and religious missionaries. This notion needs to be corrected, because with migration, the task to spread the good news of Jesus Christ is a great opportunity for lay people to indeed witness to the gift of faith that Catholics have received in their country of origin. Filipino migrants are especially reminded of this missionary responsibility. During Jesus` time, when he moved around Judah and Samaria, he was crossing borders and his messages were well received by different communities of people but a times, he had also experienced rejection. Hence, migrants during this contemporary period are challenged to witness to their host country of Japan the mission of evangelization.
Simbang Gabi at Akabane, Chibadera, and Meguro
As early as now, the Filipino communities in the vast area of Tokyo archdiocese are invited to the nine-day novena Masses to be held from Sunday, 15 December, to Monday, 23 December, as part of their usual preparation for the Filipino traditional religious activity which is popularly observed by the Catholics in the Philippines. The three parishes in the archdiocese that will host the Simbang Gabi are: 1) Our Lady of the Assumption Parish at Akabane, where the celebration will be held in Filipino; 2) St. Columban at Chibadera in Chiba area; and 3) St. Anselm`s Parish at Meguro in Shinagawa-ku. Except for Chibadera, all masses will be held at 7:00 in the evening.
For the first time, His Excellency, Most Reverend Tarcisius Kikuchi Isao, DD, SVD, the archbishop of Tokyo will celebrate the Simbang Gabi first Mass at St. Anselm`s Parish on Sunday, 15 December at 7:00 PM. Invited moreover to preside in the Mass are mostly religious from various religious institutes. Franciscan Minor (OFM), Society of the Divine Word (SVD) and the Congregation of the Scalabrinians (CS) will take turn in presiding the Eucharist at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish at Akabane. Besides the archbishop of Tokyo and the religious missionaries of various religious institutes, Fr. Kenji Takagi, the director of Catholic Tokyo International Center will likewise preside one of the Masses at Meguro.
Seminar on Depression to be held at Meguro Parish
The English Pastoral Ministry of CTIC wishes to invite people interested in knowing more about one of the most misunderstood health realities that afflict people worldwide. Considered a very complex disorder, involving many systems of the body, including the immune system, the illness is now even acknowledged as a leading cause of disability in the world. The lack of interest in normal activities such as work, social relationships or bouts of sadness and hopelessness maybe just be some of the usual symptoms of depression that hint a need for intervention.
This seminar may not necessarily solve all the problems related to depression, but will certainly attempts to raise awareness of the seriousness of the issue. The seminar will take place at the Church Hall of St. Anselm`s Parish at Meguro on Saturday, November 9, from 10:00 am. It will conclude with a Mass to be presided by Fr. Edwin D. Corros, CS at 3 pm. For those interested please pre-register at the Catholic Tokyo International Center at 03-5759-1061 and look for Ms. Erlyn Regondon or use the QR code for online application.
St. Augustine Kasai Parish Celebrated 50th Year
By Mr. Gary Cooper
On Sunday, September 22, 2019, St. Augustine Kasai Catholic Church celebrated its 5oth Anniversary with a special Mass and gathering of the church community. Presiding the Mass was the Most Reverend Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi, Archbishop of Tokyo, and his concelebrants were Father Jesus M. Daño, OSA, the pastor, Father Hiroyuki Shibata, OSA, the Regional Superior of the Japanese Vicariate of the Augustinian Province of Villanova, and other religious friars. Nearly 400 parishioners of Kasai Catholic Church and members of the extended international community had attended the celebration.
Kasai Catholic Church is one of the four parishes in Japan operated by the Augustinian Province of St. Thomas of Villanova. It began as Matsue Catholic Church in 1969 and was relocated to Kasai, its present location, in 1984, where it continues to function as the spiritual home of Japanese and non-Japanese Catholics alike. Kasai Catholic Church has always prided itself on being a close-knit, self-sufficient community, which is able to operate on a daily basis to serve the spiritual and sacramental needs of its members. Strong bonds of faith and friendship reach beyond nationality within the church community. This has enabled the church to more fully embrace the global mission of the Catholic Church, while also maintaining a strong sense of local identity.
Earlier, as Kasai Catholic Church approached its 50-year anniversary, serious discussion began regarding the future of the church. In 2014, the church building itself was 30 year old, and began to show its age. At this time, community made the decision to embark upon a major campaign for renovation of the church building and grounds. Thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to countless individuals who offered their time, energy and professional abilities, the church community had moved forward with the enormous project with great determination. Finally, after five years of fundraising, planning and prayer, the community had reached its goal in time for the 50th anniversary.
Through months of construction, parishioners saw the changes that were taking place in the church. The final results were remarkable. The church was like new, and yet it had lost none of the immediacy and warmth that has always been its strength. On August 15, the church community gathered for the Feast of the Assumption at which a new statue of the Blessed Virgin (Our Lady of Consolation) was unveiled and blessed. Then, on August 25, the community celebrated the Feast of St. Augustine, at which a new statue of their patron was also unveiled and blessed.
The crowning event for Kasai Catholic Church`s 50th Anniversary celebration was the Anniversary Mass on September 22. At his homily, the Archbishop praised the parish community as being a warm and welcoming home in which they can share their faith in a diverse and vibrant community. However, he also had emphasized the directive of Pope Francis who instructs the faithful to leave the comforts of home and to spread the Gospel throughout the world. In word and deed, Catholics must profess themselves to be followers of Christ and not followers of material wealth.
In his final remarks, given in both English and Japanese, our pastor, Father Jess, gave thanks to God and to everyone who has "served the vineyard" during the Church`s 50-year journey. In closing, Father Jess offered his parishioners these words of hope and encouragement: "Let us continue to pray for and cheer on Kasai Catholic Church and its co-workers so that with God`s divine protection it may continue to fulfill the saving mission of Christ and serve the people faithfully, and that it may continue to make an exciting and happy journey to the next 25 years, to the next 50 years, and even to the next 100 years, and beyond."