Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 2013 Newsletter

March 2013 Newsletter

For Our Reflection

March will always a day we would remember that changed our lives. It is the month were we were caught unprepared for a big disaster that almost made us feel hopeless and powerless.

We are on the second year of commemorating the March 11 disaster. Let`s have a moment of silence and pray for people who lost a family, a friend, a husband, a wife, a grandmother and father, a child, a relative. People who lost a property, a house. We pray for those who still carry the scare of the disaster.

While we see on the television a good report on recovery  and reconstruction, about rebuilt factories, about BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) services starts to operate, I feel there is something missing.

Let us listen to the voices of people who are affected by disaster.

A child who lost his family who is going to continue his high school studies worried but keep his head high because he knows he has go on living and survive despite the odds.

People who keep blaming themselves for unrescued life.

Children who still trembles when a strong earthquake happens because of the trauma they had two years ago.

People who keep hoping to find a loved one who was lost.

People in the area wear a smile in their faces, but we have to understand that these are the same people who faced death and had seen death in front of them two years ago. Still worried and still anxious.

We pray for them.
We pray for their future.
We pray that they will never lost HOPE.


March 11 Commemoration Activities

As we enter the second year of the March 11 disaster, we plan to have our commemoration activities in each  areas in the Diocese.

Sendai Area

Last March 9, we gather for a recollection and a commemorative prayer activity for March 11. There were around 30 participants from the different communities who came all the way from Fukushima, Iwaki, Kessenuma, Kakuta and of course Sendai. With the help of Erlyn, Marilou and Edcel from CTIC, we lead the group to reflect on the meaning of lent, of recollection and reinterpreting their experience of March 11. We spend the day together in a prayerful moment with sharings and making a symbols of our concrete actions from now on. 
We end our recollection with a mass and memorial service for those who had died during the March 11 disaster.

Hachinohe Area - Aomori Ken

An unexpected number of people gathered for the mass and commemorative prayer for March 11. During  the mass, we also celebrated the first communion of Mika Takahashi, daughter of Monica Takahashi. We were happy to have a new guitarist who will help us in our choir. Fr. Sato had ask the group to sing during the Easter Mass this coming March 31.

Ofunato Church

Bishop Hiraga lead the commemoration mass in Ofunato Church. Praying especially for those who died and for the recovery of Tohoku region. Volunteers from Ofunato base,  Christians from Ofunato and Kessenuma, Kamaishi and Miyako Church joined in the mass and prayer. Bishop Hiraga gave the present statistics of the people who died in the disaster and those still missing. He also gave the statistics on the number of people who are still living in the temporary houses in Iwate ken. The picture is not bright. And we could not find a good development on the recovery report in the area. He then encourage us to never loss hope in these times. Like the call of Jesus to be always ready, we have to be ready carrying a hopeful heart and face all the challenges. 
After the mass, we had the exposition of the blessed sacrament and waited for 2:46 pm, the time the earthquake struck the region and offered a silent prayer together with all the people around Japan.

Praying for those who died especially those from Ofunato Church
Fellowship together with Bishop Hiraga
PAG ASA in Fukuoka 

This was feedback we received from the pastoral team of Kumamoto
Rosemaricel Del Rosario Saeki

Happy Monday Friends!

Yesterday 5 members of this group attended the seminar at Daimyo Church in Fukuoka to meet our Friends from Iwate. There we met Fr.Antonio Harunoko and Ms. Marife Sugawara who shared about their experiences and sufferings from the monster quake and tsunami happened exactly 2 years ago today ( march 11, 2011). 

Yes 2 years na po ang nakalipas, nakikita na po ang ngiti at ang saya sa kanila kaya siguro po ang akala natin OK or stable na sila. Hindi po! hanggang ngayon po ay naghihirap pa rin sila not only in FINANCIAL problem, but they are still suffering in TRAUMA and MENTAL STRESS lalo na po ang mga bata......ang mga tatay na nasanay sa puspos na trabaho para mabigyan ng magandang buhay ang kanilang pamilya na hanggang ngayon ay walang sapat o maayos na trabaho, napakahirap po para sa kanila yon at marami ang nag iisip na mag suicide, dahil hindi nila alam kung hanggang kailan sila tutulungan ng gobyerno.
Mahirap maranasan na minsan nabuhay ka ng masagana, nakatira ka sa maganda at maayos na tahanan, nakakapasyal ka, nakakapag drive ka, lahat nagagawa mo dahil nasa iyo ang kung ano meron ka. Nang dahil sa hindi mo inaasahang disaster lahat nawala sa yo, pero kailangan mong bumangon at mag umpisa sa "O". Napakahirap tanggapin na nakatira ka sa masikip na tirahan na ang pagitan mo sa kapit bahay o kapit kwarto ay isang manipis na wall, walang privacy dahil kahit bulong ay naririnig at ang kumakain ka na nanggagaling sa tulong ng iba.
Pero maswerte pa rin daw sila dahil may tatlong Pari para sa kanila, kasama na si Fr.Harunoko na ibinibigay lahat ng support mental and spiritual, plus bonus na pagpapasaya sa ating mga kababayan. Naramdaman namin yon dahil sa sandaling oras na nakasama namin sya pati kami ay napasaya nya. He is from Indonesia but he is very fluent in speaking tagalog, we used to talk w/ him in tagalog pati na jokes nya.

Their talk really touched our hearts, lalo na sa mga sinabi ni Ms.Marife, i salute you dahil sa pagiging TSUYOI at sa magandang leadership mo. It gave a new inspiration and more strength to me.

12 days ago after i posted the info. about this seminar, sinabi ko sa sarili ko na iyon na ang magiging huli kong post dito sa PTK, dahil ayaw ko na, pagod na ko! But thanks GOD pinag bigyan mo ako na makarating kahapon sa seminar at doon what i`ve learned is......" DON`T or NEVER GIIVE UP!". 
Ang liit ng nagiging problema ko kumpara sa mga kapatid natin sa Iwate, pero they are fighting for the sake of their family and friends. They are keep moving on, ginagawa nila ang lahat para makatulong hindi lang sa sarili nila kundi para sa lahat ng kababayan natin doon, naiyak ako sa awa sa kanila......hindi!......awa sa sarili ko dahil sa maliit na problema na gawa lang minsan ng hindi magandang naririnig ay gusto ko ng sumuko! Hindi pala dapat! kailangan nating lumaban hindi lang para sa sarili, sa pamilya, at sa mga mahal natin...kundi para sa lahat! Huwag na natin hintayin na may mangyari pa para malaman natin ang kahalagahan ng bawat isa!

We have DIFFERENCES..... sore ga ii..... we don`t have to be in UNIFORM...... but we have to break the UNWANTED WALL and let us become ONE!

May GOD bless us all! ♥

with the leaders from different communities in Fukuoka Diocese

Randy David shares about his visit to Ofunato Church

When I was in Japan early this year, I expressed a wish to visit the community on the eastern coast of Japan that my daughter Kara had featured in one of her “I-Witness” documentaries.  This was the town of Ofunato in the Iwate Prefecture, which was washed away by the tsunami that followed The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011.  My wish came true last Sunday.
Invited to give the keynote lecture at a symposium on global studies held last Saturday at the Jesuit-run Sophia University in Tokyo, I mentioned my wish to my hosts, who instantly warmed up to the idea, seeing it as a gesture of solidarity. My friend, Prof. Takefumi Terada, a doctoral student at the University of the Philippines in the late 1970s and now the dean of Sophia’s Faculty of Foreign Studies, offered to accompany me.  We left on the evening fast train going north almost immediately after the formal closing of the conference.
We passed the night in Ichinoseki, a small city that serves as the gateway to the Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures in the Tohoku region. Professor Terada told me that the coastal train running north from Sendai had been washed away by the tsunami, which was why we had to proceed by car the rest of the way.  In a rented car, we headed east the following morning, crossing mountains, until we hit the coastal city of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture.  An entire ship, beached like a lifeless whale, still blocks traffic in this city. From there we went up north toward Rikuzentakata and Ofunato in Iwate.
These names are now familiar to almost everyone in Japan because it was in these places, located near the epicenter of the earthquake, where the devastation was most dramatic. The coastal route gave us an astounding view of the ocean, now calm, but which, on that fateful afternoon of 3/11, swallowed entire cities in only seven minutes.  Signs posted along the highway indicated the points where a “Post Tsunami Inundation Section” starts and ends, making it possible for the visitor to visualize how high the water level rose in several places along the coast.
Soon we reached Ofunato, where, on top of a hill overlooking the coast, a small Catholic church stood.  This is where many people sought refuge during that crucial 30-minute gap between the occurrence of the 9.0 earthquake and the coming of the deadly tide that raised the ocean to anywhere between 10 and 30 meters.
We arrived in the middle of the Sunday Mass.  The bishop of Sendai himself, Bishop Hiraga, had come to say the special Mass to mark the second anniversary of the disaster.  Assisting him was the young Japanese parish priest, Father Morita. I was told that two other priests, an Indonesian and a Filipino, have come to help the parish since the tragedy, but they were saying Mass elsewhere on this particular Sunday.
The community had been expecting us; the kindly bishop acknowledged our entrance with a simple nod.  The Mass proceeded entirely in Japanese, until it came to the Lord’s Prayer.  Then the whole congregation of about 60 people stood up, linked hands, and sang “Ama Namin” (Our Father). Filipino mothers and their young children led the singing.  I learned later that this is now the standard practice in this church.
What is special about Ofunato is that it has today one of the most active organizations of Filipinos living in Japan. The group’s name is “Pagasa” (Hope), and it was formed in the wake of the great tragedy that struck the Tohoku region exactly two years ago.  Its members are Filipino women who married into Japanese rural families. Their story is one of exceptional courage, determination, and strength in a time of overpowering grief, hardship, and weariness.  A report in the Japan Times (03/12/2013) notes:  “Of the 75,000 foreign nationals in the disaster zone at the time, 28,000 were Chinese.  Unlike the large Korean and Filipino communities that gather at churches on Sundays, Tohoku’s Chinese hadn’t established ties yet.”
The Mass was followed by a simple lunch of instant noodles served in paper cups, sticky rice wrapped in nori, and oranges.  Bishop Hiraga sat at the head of the table surrounded by the fascinating mix of Japanese and Filipino Catholics, adults and little children, and young Japanese volunteers from Caritas Japan. Father Morita was busy going around serving his parishioners, particularly the children, pouring hot water into their cups of noodles. It was an amazing meal. I found myself seated beside the physician of the community, Dr. Harutsugu Yamaura, a tall, distinguished-looking gentleman with long silver hair neatly tied into a pigtail, like a samurai.  He spoke to me in perfect English.
“We are glad you could come,” he told me.  A polyglot and a scholar who translated the gospels into the dialect of their region from the original Greek, the doctor is one of the key leaders of the community who worked hard to ensure the full integration into the parish of the “Filipino brides who have married our sons” and have given the community its children.
I glanced at the young Filipino mothers around me, and felt a surge of pride at the way they carry their sturdy presence in this traditional Japanese community. The earthquake and tsunami had brought out all the inner personal strength they possessed, which they used to pull their adopted families together in a time of great stress.  They took odd jobs here and there to augment the family income when their husbands lost their pre-tsunami jobs.
When it was time to say our goodbye, a young Japanese woman shook my hand, and said, “Ingat po” (Take care).
* * *

sharing a simple meal with Mr. Randy David and Bishop Hiraga


Ishinomaki Area Commemorates March 11

On March 17, we had a recollection and commemoration activities in Ishinomaki church. There were around 80 Filipinos coming from Ishinomaki, Minami San Riku, Kessenuma, Tome cho who gathered for the activity.

We started the gathering with a short prayer and orientation. After which  a talk on the reinterpretation of the March 11 experience based on the story of Emmaus. While we have our talk there was a sudden earthquake and it somehow rattled all of us, but we know we are safe.

The sharing of Sally and Marilou from Minami San Riku and Kessenunma brought memories of the March 11 experience of fear and difficulties but it also open doors to encounter other people and opportunities for many of us. We never lose hope and we know we were never alone even after the March 11 disaster. During the mass the choir from Mizusawa church came all the way to support us in our singing. The atmosphere of the celebration was lively but also very prayerful especially when we offered incense during the mass for those who died last March 11.

the children with sisters from Yonekawa Church
offering of incense for the victims of March 11

School Bags for Grade Schoolers

Last January, our contacts from Nagoya, Tokyo and Osaka had informed us about the availability of school bags for children who will be in grade school this year. We were indeed very happy with the news and contacted the leaders in the communities  to make a list of children who will be in grade school by April. As the school bags are limited we only distributed it to three areas.

I could not forget the happy faces of children and their mothers who received their bags. We thank our sponsors for these gifts and we hope for the best to our new grade schoolers this year.

Home Helper Study in Kakuta Shi, Miyagi Ken

After four months of studies and preparation, the group from Kakuta Shi finally finished their studies as home helper and care giver and are now preparing to receive their licenses to be a full time home helper/caregiver. With the help of volunteers from Haramachi base CTVC (Catholic Tokyo Volunteer Center) we join hands to help the 15 member group of Filipinas in Kakuta Shi  in their studies. We look forward that you will be of service to the communities where you belong and  give joy to the elderly in your areas.

Shirakawa Community

 Starts Block Rosary

Starting February 2, the Shirakawa community started their block rosary. There were 20 who join and pray together. They also had the Bible sharing which was joined by Fr. Harnoko and ENCOM  community member Sister Margarete and Lennie. From now on they will have the block rosary every first Saturday of the month. If you happen to be in the area during the first Saturday of the month, contact our leaders in the area and join in their prayer, bible sharing and fellowship.


Eina and Yu kun`s Baptism in Ofunato

Fr. Morita asking questions to our new church member

Last February 24, we welcome to our Christian community Eina Nakanome, daughter of Rosalinda Nakanome and Yu Hatakeyama, son of Maricel Hatakeyama. Both children were welcomed by Ofunato Catholic Church in a very simple yet prayerful celebration of baptism. We pray for these children as they received the gifts of baptism. And we pray too for their parents so that they will truly guide their children to Jesus who is the source of our faith.
Dr. Yamaura the church council president gave gifts to our newly baptised

our newly baptised surrounded by their family, ninong and ninang

Ofunato Church First General Assembly

 PAG ASA had their first general general assembly last February 17 in Ofunato Church. A year after the formation of PAG ASA group, we made clear to the members about the purpose of PAG ASA. We did the reporting of the activities for 2012 and the financial report of the group.
Fr. Morita, Ofunato Parish priest, welcome all the members and ask for more participation for them especially in joining the church activities. We look forward for a united Ofunato church community in the future.