Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hello Holy Family from Japan!

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[Note: This post is written by Brandon Jean, former Coordinator of Youth Ministry, currently teaching English in Japan.]

I have arrived safely and I am starting to get settled in. I have been working at my schools already but I don't start teaching classes until September. I have already found a parish here and have been joining the locals for Sunday Mass. I purchased a book with the text of the Mass in 6 languages, including Japanese, romanized Japanese, and English, so I can participate too!

My new church is called Miura Catholic Church and it is very beautiful and is located on a hill in Sasebo. It is a bit traditional. Most of the women wear veils on their heads and they ring bells during the Consecration. There are many types of people here including a few nuns, many elderly, but also many young families with children. I even saw a young man about my age who was altar serving. Last Sunday, a few young children ran to the front of the church to sit with a nun who was sitting alone. They all looked excited to see each other and the nun ensured that the children behaved during Mass. Overall, the parish seems vibrant, at least on Sunday morning.

Miura Catholic Church

I am living in Nagasaki prefecture on the island of Kyushu which is the part of Japan were Catholicism first started when St. Francis Xavier and other Jesuits arrived. There are many beautiful historical churches here. About an hour from where I live is a church called St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church. It is well known because it sits above some Buddhist temples and many pictures are taken of the two faiths existing beside each other peacefully

Earlier this week I visited the site of the martyrdom of the 26 Martyrs of Japan. On February 5, 1597 in Nagasaki City, 26 Catholics were executed by crucifixion on a hill. The martyrs included 6 European Jesuits, 3 Japanese Jesuits, and 17 Japanese laypeople. When Catholics first arrived in Japan and started evangelizing, the shogunate and imperial government supported them because they wanted to establish trade relations and reduce the power of the Buddhist monks. However, they started to see Catholicism as a threat when it started to take root and so they started persecuting Christians. Christianity was banned and many Christians were killed.

At the site of the martyrdom there is a large monument of the 26 martyrs, now canonized Saints. There is also a museum there with many artifacts relating to the martyrs. A few of the martyrs were only children 11 or 12 years old. It is said that they sang as they were executed. How remarkable!

martyr monument

There are many more things to see and pilgrimages to make here so I will try to write again a few times throughout the year. If you are very interested in my new lifestyle you are welcome to view my personal blog and my photos. Blessings to all of you!

In Christ,

Brandon Jean

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