Friday, October 25, 2013

November 2013


Faithful Mother
by Fr. Antonius Harnoko, cicm

Month of October is traditionally known as month dedicated to our Blessed Mother Mary. Some if not most of our communities are doing their various prayer activities dedicated to our Blessed Mother, such as rosary, vigil and pilgrimage. Let us ask ourselves why Mary’s role is important to our life as Christians.

I would like to share with you just 2 points why I believe that Mary plays an important role in our faith. One is being a mother and the second is being faithful.

To keep the world alive, all women are born to be mother, but not all are always saying YES to be one. Mary, when invited to be the mother of Jesus, said YES! To be mother is not an easy job, but Mary gave her whole life without condition for her son. Being a mother is both happy and risky vocation. It is because that a mother is holding both hope in a new life and responsibility for the future of her baby. Like many other women, Mary was in dilemma but she decided to accept the new life, Jesus’ life, in her womb.

Being faithful is an unspeakable virtue even today. Mary has shown to us how to be faithful in simple way which is through her unending presence beside her son, Jesus. It sounds simple but being present to someone, for better or for worse, is a difficult task. It requires oneself energy, time, courage, sacrifice and love. Mary, just like other mothers, loved so much her only son, even she had to walk along via dolorosa, the way of the Cross.

Let us ask ourselves how about me, about us? Surely, we are beyond compare to Mary but we are invited to be like her, to be a faithful mother every day.

Faith in ACTION

JCaRM National Seminar in Sendai
Theme : わたしたち、これから...3.11

mass with Bishop Hiraga Sendai Diocese

Marife shared about PAG ASA IWATE

group 3 participants welcomed at Ofunato Church


Fil Com Sendai in their dance number



Ofunato Church

Baptism in Ofunato

We are again blessed to have another  baptism in Ofunato. Ren kun the grandson of Marivic was baptised in the Ofunato Church in a simple celebration.  

Although it was rainy, many attended the mass and baptism.  Indeed the community are one to welcome Ren to the Christian community.

After the baptism, there is a simple fellowship that was done in the hall of the church. 

Ichinoseki Mass

From Tokyo I pass by Ichinoseki to celebrate our monthly Tagalog mass there. I am surprised to meet new faces during the mass.  Indeed Ichinoseki is so big and there are alot of Filipinos in the area, i look forward for more participants in our mass. 
during the Our Father

After the mass, we were allowed to use the parish hall for our fellowship. It was a simple meal but we shared it happily and we were able to have a longer time to talk and share about our situation in the area. 

with our altar servers
There was an invitation for the International Gathering in Ichinoseki. They ask me to attend it so that i could meet too the other Filipinos in the area and invite them for our monthly mass.

Indonesian Trainee (Kenshusei) in Iwate Ken

Fr. Harnoko met the Indonesian trainees who are assigned in Kita Kami area this month. Actually he got a call from one of them asking for help if he could go home for the funeral, it was a chance the Fr. Harnoko had met all of them. They are working in metal industry for vehicles in the area. 


Maria Miura, from Minami San Riku was featured in Manila Bulletin, one of the leading newspaper in the Philippines. She recalled her experience during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and how she and her family is surviving after two year.  Here is the full story from Manila Bulletin.

Pinay Recalls 2011 Japan Quake

Miyagi Prefecture, Japan — It was a tranquil, humid mid-afternoon on that tragic day of March 11,2011, described by Marie Miura, a Fil-Japanese living in the fishing village of Minamisanriku in Miyagi prefecture as a perfect day for oyster and seaweed harvesting.

Marie, 39, hails from Pioduran, Albay, but now calls Japan her home for 17 years now due to her marriage to a Japanese. “My husband and father-in-law were preparing to harvest oyster and seaweed on that day. It was harvest season. My parents-in-law, husband, and I were at home in Hadenya Village, while my three children were in school when we felt a strong earthquake,” she recalled.

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake, the most powerful earthquake to ever hit Japan, triggered tsunami waves that reached as high as 40.5 meters (133 feet).

“Right after the earthquake, my husband told me to seek shelter in a relative’s house just a few minutes away from our house because we were advised that a tsunami is coming. Our house is close to the sea, while the house of our relative was built on a higher ground,” Marie shared, saying that “me and my mother-in-law left for our relatives’ house, while my husband and father-in-law were left at home because they still have to bring the sack of rice to the upper floor of our house. When we were able to reach the house of our relative, we were informed that the tsunami was already about six meters.”

At that time, she said she was a bit confident that her children, aged four and six (twins) will be “saved” by their teachers.

As she recounted her harrowing experience, Marie broke down in tears. “I saw our house was washed out, nothing was left. I thought I already lost my husband and father-in-law.” She said their relative’s house was also reached by tsunami waters. They decided to evacuate to the Shrine of Jinja, which was about 500 meters away from their home.

She was able to receive news about her “missing” family members the next day. “My father-in-law was saved before nighttime of the following day, just like my husband and children. We didn’t have communication for almost a day. We decided to go down from the Shrine the next day to the evacuation center. The parents of my children’s classmates took our children to the evacuation site,” Marie said.

Disaster Day

“My father-in-law and husband have just finished securing some of our things. My husband was inside our rooms. We live near the sea and he saw the tsunami water moving towards him. He was not able to evacuate. Water in our room was rushing in, rising and he could no longer breathe. Before he knew, my husband was being swept towards the sea. The roof opened up and he realized he was in the middle of the sea. He said he felt he was surfing except that there was no surfing board,” Marie reminisced in between sobs.

“He and my father-in-law got separated. My father-in-law went up to our roof but my husband saw him being swept away. He felt helpless,” she added.

As Marie thought that her husband and father had perished, she said her husband also thought that she and her mother-in-law did not survive the tsunami because “he saw our relatives’ house being washed away.” “He did not know that we have left for the Jinja Shrine,” she said.

Marie recalled that her husband decided to fight for his life because he thought of their children who would be left behind. “It was nighttime when he was able to take shelter in a boat floating in the middle of the sea but the engine is running low on gasoline. He decided to turn off the engine. It was cold and pitch black. A few hours later, he saw another boat moving close to where he was. Luckily, it was a friend. He was brought to his friend’s house so he can change into dry clothes. We were reunited through our relatives who where contacted by his friend.”

She never thought that she would still see her family members alive after their harrowing experience. “We cried when we saw each other again,” she said. “We were lucky enough to have survived the tsunami because thousands of people here have died,” she added.

Two Years Later

Since the tsunami hit the fishing village, Minamisanriku has been known as “the town that disappeared.”

Maria Miura san with the Minami San Riku Community Mass
At present, Marie works as a part-time employee in one of the support centers for resettlement areas around Minamisanriku. Marie’s family is still into seaweed and oyster farming. “Our income was not the same as before. My salary at the government support center is mostly for household and school expenses but very little is left for savings,” Marie said. “We have already completed the building of a bigger boat for our business. We are slowly adjusting,” she enthused.

But two years after the earthquake and tsunami, she and her family remain in the Sonomya Temporary Housing Settlement with 20 other families. She said they are still awaiting the completion of construction of the permanent houses provided by the Japanese government. “The construction of our house has not yet started. We might be staying in the temporary housing for the next two to three years,” she said.

Despite the trauma and fear, Marie was firm in staying in Minamisanriku. “Our livelihood is here; my family is here so I will never leave this place.”

(Manila Bulletin Ellalyn De Vera met an excited and cheerful Marie Miura during a tour of the tsunami-devastated area in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture in Japan with 11 other international journalists as part of the three-nation fellowship on Disaster Management and Resiliency in the Asia-Pacific Region, sponsored by Honolulu-based East-West Center.)

click link to see the story.


Onnahama Mass

Fr. Harnoko celebrated the mass in Onnahama church in Iwaki last Oct. 5. During the mass we celebrated the first communion of Kenji. Kenji had been preparing for his first communion in the Philippines, but he was not able to do it in the Philippines because they transfered  to Japan this year. I met the family last month during the mass in Onnahama and Kenji`s mother ask me if he could recieved his first communion. I readily said yes, since Kenji is already prepared and had known the meaning of communion very well. It was a blessing for Kenji and his family
Kenji kun with Fr. Haru, his mom and sister


Akita Prayer Vigil

The Hirosaki community joined the Pilgrimage and Prayer Vigil in Akita in Seitai Hoshikai Convent. It was an overnight prayer vigil which started from 10 in the evening and end with the mass of Bishop Kikuchi of Niigata Diocese. Fr. Tou joined them in the vigil. The group from Hirosaki joined in the prayer vigil in Tagalog at around 12 midnight. The prayer vigils were divided in different languages and after the prayers, there was a live satelite feed from Rome that the pilgrims watch til the the next morning. At 5 in the morning, the mass was celebrated.

Religious Holidays

All Saints Day and All Souls Day

In Western Christianity, All Souls' Day, also known as the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed, is observed principally in the Catholic Church, although some churches of Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches also celebrate it;[1] the observance is the third day of Hallowmas and annually occurs on November 2. The Eastern Orthodox Church observes several All Souls' Days during the year. The Roman Catholic celebration is associated with the doctrine that the souls of the faithful who at death have not been cleansed from the temporal punishment due to venial sins and from attachment to mortal sins cannot immediately attain the beatific vision in heaven, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass. In other words, when they died, they had not yet attained full sanctification and moral perfection, a requirement for entrance into Heaven.  In the Anglican Communion, the intermediate state is known as Hades (Bosom of Abraham), and as a result "the Church has always held that it is right and proper for us to pray the souls of the departed, that they may go from grace to grace until they are finally received in Heaven," which will occur after the Resurrection of the Dead and theGeneral Judgment.

The official name of the celebration in the Roman Rite liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church is "The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed". Another popular name in English is Feast of All Souls. In some other languages the celebration, not necessarily on the same date, is known as Day of the Dead.

The Western celebration of All Souls' Day is on 2 November and follows All Saints' Day. In the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, if 2 November falls on a Sunday, the Mass is of All Souls, but the Liturgy of the Hours is that of the Sunday, though Lauds and Vespers for the Dead in which the people participate may be said. In the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and in the Anglican Communion, All Souls Day is instead transferred, whenever 2 November falls on a Sunday, to the next day, 3 November.

The Eastern Orthodox Church dedicates several days throughout the year to the dead, mostly on Saturdays, because of Jesus' resting in the Holy Sepulchre on that day. In the Methodist Church, saints refer to all Christians and therefore, on All Saint's Day, the Church Universal, as well as the deceased members of a local congregation are honoured and remembered.'_Day


Shichi-Go-San Festival

Shichi-Go-San is said to have originated in the Heian Period amongst court nobles who would celebrate the passage of their children into middle childhood. The ages 3, 5 and 7 are consistent with East Asian numerology, which claims that odd numbers are lucky. The practice was set to the fifteenth of the month during the Kamakura Period.[1]

Over time, this tradition passed to the samurai class who added a number of rituals. Children—who up until the age of three were required by custom to have shaven heads—were allowed to grow out their hair. Boys of age five could wear hakama for the first time, while girls of age seven replaced the simple cords they used to tie their kimono with the traditional obi.[2] By the Meiji Period, the practice was adopted amongst commoners as well, and included the modern ritual of visiting a shrine to drive out evil spirits and wish for a long healthy life.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 2013

For our Reflection

"Nothing is Impossible with God"

We often hear this words utter to us by a friend when we are in difficult situations. Indeed as believers we put out trust on God, whom we believe can make a difference in our life. 

As I am reading through some of blogs  that I  follow, I happen to  read this, it speaks of Catholics as people of Hope.

"As Catholics, we are a people of hope, and nothing says hope for me more than being open to possibility. Whether we are turning to God to help us through difficulties such as searching for a new job, fighting an illness or addiction, or even something as simple as starting a new day.  With each endeavor in our lives, big and small, there is the potential for great things.  When it comes to faith, I would even use the word extraordinary.  God can turn bad days into good ones, sad moments into times of blessings, and all we have to do is turn to Him and ask for his help and be open to the possibility."

Hope is the very heart of our faith. We are an Easter people. The Resurrection of Christ confirms that the goodness of God overcomes evil, love overcomes death. This where we are called to a grounded hope. A hope that God will be with us in difficult time. 

Faith in Action

Miyagi Ken

Minami San Riku Mass and Sunday School

 Every third sunday of the month we are celebrating in Minami San Riku. We do not have have the church in the area. The nearest place to celebrate the mass is in Yonekawa or in Kessenuma.

Since we started our mass in the area, we have been using the temporary building owned by Miss Amelia Sasaki, our leader of the Filipino group. We alreade have baptisms,  once a month mass and  the catechism of the children.

With the sisters the children have their sunday school once a month. Although its not enough at least the children have their follow up to deepen their faith after their baptism. 

Watari Church Welcomes Students from Tokyo

The Watari Community welcomes the group of student who came from Tokyo to take part in the volunteer work in Miyagi and Fukushima areas. Every summer as part of their reach out program to the victims of March 11, 2011 victims of tsunami and the nuclear crisis, they are visiting the Haramachi base and visits the people who are staying in the temporary housing.

Last September 11, the Filipino group welcomes the students in Watari Church by having a short program. The Filipino group taught the students how to dance tinikling (bamboo dance) while the students offered a song number of their host. It was indeed a meaningful encounter.

Monthly Mass in Watari Church

Our monthly mass in Watari Church is every fourth Saturday of the month. Fr. Garry and Fr. Jose celebrated the mass with us. After which a simple fellowship was held. There were around 20 people including the children and some Japanese who attended the Mass. We are indeed very happy for the support of our parish priest Fr. Jose who is always with us in our gathering.

We were planning to have the catechism of the children especially for their first communion. We hope we could plan this well in the future.


Bishop Otsuka Visits Ofunato

after the rosary in Ofunato Church
Bishop Otsuka of Kyoto visited the Ofunato base last September and met with the PAG ASA group, joining in their block rosary in Ofunato and Rikuzen Takata. It was the second time  bishop  came to visit us. During our rosary the Bp. Otsuka gave the chance for everyone to introduce themselves and share about their situation now.  The Bishop left a good impression among the members of the PAG ASA community because of his attentiveness to each member and his interest to listen to them.

block rosary in Rikuzen Takata
The Bishop also offered the mass in Ofunato church in which he appreciated the Christian and the PAG ASA community for a good welcome. He really appreciate the hospitality and the Filipino food.

Oyako Jyouji (Parent and Student Activities)

Some of our mothers join the oyako jyouji in the respected schools where their children are studying. Those studying in Otomo Sho Gakko (Otomo Elementary School) join in the activities by teaching parents how to cook leche flan (purin ).

Rose and Lea 
From Rosalinda's post she said, "Kyo no oyako jouji ni otomo shogakko de Purin wo chukutte masu....piripin no okaasan tachi ga sensei ni nattemasu."

Reunion in Ofunato

Two years ago the Fr. Shota brought the group of Christians in Shinjo Catholic Church in Yamagata ken to visit the the church and to create a bond with the group of the Filipinos their.

Last Sept 22-23, the Shinjo Community with Fr. Honma  Kenji, parish priest of Shinjo Catholic Church, came to visit the Ofunato Church.
Fr. Shota and Marife guided the group to the Miracle Pine tree in Rikuzen Takata and gave a tour to the tsunami devastated  areas in Ofunato and Rikuzen Takata. At 4 in the afternoon, we celebrate the mass together. The Mizusawa group of Filipinos came to help us in the singing during the mass.  Fr. Harnoko, with Fr. Honma. Fr. Shota and Fr. Garry celebrate the mass. Frs Honma and Shota gave the sharing during the mass in which they highlighted the special bonds that happened in from the start and thank people especially the Couples of Christ Kuya Boyet and Kuya Dennis, who helped in creating this bonding of both communities. After the mass the, we headed to the Furiai Land for  barbecue party.

On the second day, we again gathered in Ofunato Catholic Church for the Tagalog Mass. Fr. Garry, Fr. Honma, and Fr. Harnoko celebrated the mass. Indeed this is not the end, but a beginning and the strengthening of the bond we had started two years ago.

Thank you to our Brother's from Couple For Christ, Kuya Boyet and Kuya Dennis. Thank you for coming  in Ofunato.  We were blessed with assistance provided by Couples For Christ.


information and pictures from Haydee Kaiyama and Aiko san

Aomori Ken

Mr. Tsugutoshi Padilla Aragaki meets with Hachinohe Filipino group

Mr. Tsugutoshi Padilla Aragaki, is a known as a Gospel song writer in Japan. He is too a Filipino by heart.

Last Sept 29, in Hachinohe, he met with the Filipino group especially those who are singing for the mass. Fr. Yokojima wanted the Filipino to meet with Mr. Aragaki and to sing for him.  It was indeed a meaningful encounter with the group.

Mr. Aragaki with the Filipino group in Hachinohe Church

Congratulation Mr. And Mrs. Koshino

We were able to attend the wedding of two Vietnamese couples last september 13 , 2013 ,here in Hirosaki Catholic Church the bride Diep chan is an active attendee of our monthly novena and rosary every 2nd wednesday of the month .The wedding party reception was also attended by some sisters, Filipinas and Japanese friends . The bride is not a Catholic before he met her husband but because of her love to him she studied our religion for one year ....they got married also in Vietnam last August 17, 2013.

the newly wed with Pat and Rose

Monthly Mass in Hirosaki Church

Fr. Antonius Haru thank you again for coming to Hirosaki , We were so delighted with your Mass in three languages english , japanese and tagalog ,we will never forget your Homily about the meaning of " Satogaeri " going back home .

information from Pat Kikuchi

Bishop Hiraga's Pastoral Visit in Hirosaki

Bishop Martino Hiraga, the bishop of Sendai Diocese visited Hirosaki Church last Sept 29 for his yearly pastoral visit and confirmation. We were indeed blessed since there were a number of confirmations among our members.

Bishop Hiraga with those who receive the Confirmation
We pray for the strengthening of the faith and be able bring the light of Christ as they receive the gifts of the Sacrament of Confirmation.

pictures from Pat Kikuchi

Fukushima Ken

Masses in Fukushima Area

We have our monthly mass in Noda Machi every first sunday of the month.  We are growing in number and we hope for more participation in the coming months. 

In Koriyama church, I normally do the English mass at fourth Saturday of the month.  Regularly it's a Japanese mass, but on the fourth Saturday, the church celebrates the English mass. 

In Shirakawa, we have the regular Tagalog Mass on the First Saturday of the month. After the mass, we have our block rosary in the area. 

In Onnahama, we have the regular Tagalog mass on the Second Saturday of the month. The mass was intended for the seafarers in the area because of the presence of the port near the church. 

Our Masses for the fourth Sunday of the month in Iwaki, Shirakawa and Sukagawa Churches is being done every other month. Some of our members are asking me why we have no masses in Iwaki Churches now. This is due to the fact that I am alone now. Before we have Fr. Harnoko and me who divide both masses for Shirakawa - Sukagawa and Iwaki Church masses. I hope we understand why sometimes we dont have masses in our area.

Introduction to Japanese Culture and Events

Health and Sports Day - 体育の日

Most communities and school across Japan celebrate Sports Day with a sports festival which is similar to a mini Olympics. These festivals include many of the traditional track and field events, such as 4 x 100m relay, 100m sprinting, and long jump, as well as many other events. Some of the events include: ball toss, tug-o-war, rugby-ball dribbling races, sack races, and so on. Another common event is often simply called the “exciting relay”, which is an obstacle course relay including any number of different challenges: Three-legged races, making a stretcher with a blanket and bamboo poles and then carrying an “injured” teammate, laundry hanging, crawling on hands and knees under a net, and doing cartwheels across a mat.

The festival usually begins around 8:30 am with a parade featuring all the different teams that will be participating: it could be divided by neighbourhood, class, geographic area, or school. There is sometimes a local marching band providing music. Once the parade has gone around the field and lined up in the middle, the band will play Kimigayo and the Japanese flag will be raised. Local officials will make speeches welcoming everyone. Often everyone will spread out across the grounds for group stretching(this stretching routine was developed by the government and is done daily by many Japanese people; the stretching routine music is broadcast daily on the radio and TV). Then it is time to start the events.

source  :


For almost a month,  I feel I spend most of time inside my car. Traveling from one Church to another, leaving early to catch on time for the mass.  I almost lost that regularity in my prayer. I also feel that I don't have the energy I need for the activity of the day. 

One day, instead of falling into the trap of doing things on my own to get out of the stress by myself, I try to open up to God, meditate for a moment and just listen to my favorite Gospel song.  This short moment of silence had filled me with peace that helped me throughout the day. 

From this day I offer my activities to God. Because I believe in His promise that He will be with me always. 


幸福の星 the Album we recorded last August with Fr. Harnoko, with the children and mother of PAG ASA member, volunteers and Fr. Garry is out.  

For inquiries and information about the CD you can call Aiko Hayashi san, the Sendai Support Center for Foreigners staff .

Tel : 090-5666-1747
fax: 0192-26-3291

For Orders and Inquiries  please call 

Suemori Hideki San in Tokyo