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    Celebrating 75 Years of CICM Presence in Japan

    Celebrating 75 Years of CICM Presence in Japan

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     223 ab CH5 2023Armando Romero, cicm and
    Patrick Castroverde, cicm
    Missionaries in Japan


    A year ago, on November 28, 2022, CICM-Japan celebrated its 160th Foundation Day and the opening of the 75th Anniversary of missionary presence in Japan. The celebration began with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Most Rev. Matsuura Goro, the Bishop of Nagoya. The Bishop was accompanied at the altar by JP District Superior, Antonius Harnoko, and CICM General Superior, Charles Phukuta, who came from Rome to grace the event.

    During his homily, the Bishop emphasized the importance of being a missionary by reminding the congregation of the Gospel of Mathew, which talks about the commissioning of the Apostles. The Gospel reads, “Go therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.”(Mt. 28:19-20). The Bishop explained that this commissioning is not just a mere reminder but a command that every disciple must comply with. The Bishop also praised the CICM missionaries for their unceasing proclamation of the Gospel and their enthusiastic work towards realizing God’s Kingdom here in Japan.

    The celebration's main theme was "From Scheut to Japan: The Ongoing Mission of God and Celebrating 75 Years of CICM Presence in Japan". This theme strongly reminds us of the CICM pioneers, commonly known as the Scheut Fathers, who first arrived in Japan in 1948 to spread the seeds of the Gospel of Christ. The first group of missionaries was led by Frs. Josef Jennes and Josef Spae, who arrived in Yokohama and, a few days later, set off to Himeji for the challenging mission. After many years, the younger generations of CICM missionaries are now continuing and benefiting from the fruits of their hard work and sacrifices.

    As part of the planning, souvenirs like eco-bags, clear files, booklets, and a calendar for 2024 were made, and a LOGO competition was launched. We are grateful for their efforts to make this celebration more meaningful and worthwhile for all visitors. We opened up the logo contest to all seminarians and interns in Asia Province, in addition to confreres living in Japan. The committee decided to award a prize of $250 to the best logo as a way to promote CICM-Japan and encourage confreres. Galuh Arjanta (JP) won first prize with a logo featuring a sailing boat with a fishing net, a cross, and the sun above it. The boat symbolizes the seven nationalities of confreres in Japan, the fishing net represents our identity as fishers of men, the cross is Christ who sent us to do God’s mission, the sun is a tribute to Japan as the Land of the Rising Sun, the sail signifies the presence of our collaborators who play a vital role in our mission, and the flying bird resembles the Holy Spirit who guides us and leads us in a new direction.

    During our preparation, we achieved a great feat - the completion of a music video featuring all CICM seminarians from various Formation Houses across the world. The song, entitled "Watashi o Otsukae Kudasai" (Make use of me, Oh Lord) is in Japanese. The planning credit goes to Galuh Arjanta, while Louis Vuadi from the RP Province helped with the professional editing and mixing of voices. The music experts from Matsubara Parish also played a significant role in bringing this plan to fruition. The video will be uploaded soon after some minor revisions. If you're interested in watching this music video, please visit the CICM website.

    On November 28, 2023, we celebrated the 75th Founding Anniversary of Missionary Presence in Japan and the 161st CICM Foundation Day. The year-long celebration culminated in a thanksgiving mass held at the Himeji Catholic Church. The Eucharistic Celebration, which was the highlight of the event, was presided over by Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Maeda Manyo, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Osaka-Takamatsu. Most Rev. Edgar Gacutan, CICM, Bishop of Sendai, delivered the homily. They were joined at the altar by some confreres: Antonius Harnoko, ASI Provincial Superior, Dieudonne Ntumba, parish priest of Himeji, and Andre De Bleeker, our General Archivist. Andre De Bleeker came from Rome to extend the greetings of our CICM General Superior, Charles Phukuta, who could not attend the occasion.

    Confreres and representatives from different missionary communities in Sendai, Tokyo, Osaka, and Hiroshima joined together to celebrate a momentous event in the CICM mission in Japan. This event was also attended by members of the ASI Provincial Government and Administration, including Ronald Magbanua (MG), Dominique Mukonda (HK), and Peter Koh (SG). Additionally, two confreres from China Mission, James Li and Joseph Jin, were present during the celebration. The celebration was also graced by the presence of collaborators, close friends, and acquaintances from the diocesan clergy and other religious organizations. All gathered together to share the joys and blessings of this special occasion.

    At the Eucharistic Celebration, Cardinal Maeda expressed his sincere gratitude to the CICM for their significant contributions and various missionary works in the past and present that have laid the foundations for some important aspects of the local church of Japan, especially in the greater Osaka Area. He greatly appreciated the ongoing collaboration in the mission with the local clergy and the local church and offered his continuous prayers to CICM for its future missionary endeavors in Japan.

    During his homily, Bishop Edgar recalled the pioneering efforts of some of the first missionaries that paved the way for the present missionary works of CICM in Japan. In particular, he reflected on the works and missionary life of Fr. Paul Schrurs, who passed away some days before the celebration. Bishop Edgar highlighted Fr. Paul's motto, "私は福音を恥としない" (which translates to "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel" in English) as the key to appreciating his life and missionary works. He described and remembered the many contributions of CICM confreres in Japan using the same motto and challenged us, CICM

    missionaries in Japan, to continue to be inspired by it as we face the demands of present and future works of evangelization.

    During the meal, various individuals offered congratulations, initiated by our Provincial Superior, Antonius Harkono. He expressed his immense gratitude to everyone who took the time to join and celebrate with us in this significant

    milestone of CICM Japan. He thanked all who helped us in our mission and those who inspired us to continue it. He recognized the efforts, support, and collaborations we received from the people, parishioners, and local church. The festive atmosphere was further enhanced by select students of the Junshin School Brass Band, who performed some of their winning pieces and encores.

    After exchanging greetings and speeches, Andre De Bleeker, our General Archivist, read a message from our General Superior, Charles Phukuta, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the missionary presence in Japan. The message was read in English and a Japanese translation was also provided alternately. In his message, titled "Message for the CICM Japan Diamond Jubilee: Seventy-five Years of Evangelization and Perspectives for the Future," Father General invited everyone to reflect on the remarkable journey that CICM has undertaken, the lives they have touched, and the profound impact they have made in the Land of the Rising Sun. He remembered the specific situations, events, and needs of the Local Church of Japan that led to the initial contacts and the important steps taken towards

    accepting the invitation to start the CICM mission in Japan. As a result, on May 8, 1948, the Founding Fathers, Jozef Jennes and Jozef Spae arrived in Yokohama and set foot on Japanese soil.  Gradually, from the first arrival and missionary contact, the foundation was laid for the spread of CICM's works to various local churches and communities in Japan.

    The General's message emphasized the significant contributions of CICM in Japan. Specifically, he highlighted the organization's efforts in pastoral work, such as managing parishes, and their continuous outreach through various religious publications. The Oriens Institute for Religious Research serves as a vital resource in achieving these goals, providing religious research studies, missionary bulletins, correspondence courses, and other publications. In bringing the message of Jesus Christ to the Japanese people, he posed an important question to confreres in Japan. He asked why more Japanese people haven't embraced Christianity and what factors are hindering them from doing so. On the challenge of inculturation of Christianity in Japan, he proposed that perhaps a confrere to work alongside Japanese individuals could examine this complex issue and take some initial actions to give Christianity a more Japanese face.

    It is important to consider that celebrations and commemorations of anniversaries, foundations, achievements, and milestones in life are more than just recognizing individual efforts, hard work, and sacrifices. These moments are also about recognizing and encountering God in our journey. We should acknowledge how God has walked with us, strengthened us, inspired us, and guided us along the way, giving us the grace to achieve those milestones. It is equally important to thank God and ask for His continued guidance in fulfilling our mission and realizing His Kingdom, not just for this milestone but for the many years to come.

    In his message, the Father General acknowledged that the mission in Japan has undergone significant changes over the past 75 years. He also emphasized that, despite these changes, God has not yet finished His mission with us, and that mission will continue to evolve and grow in the years to come. As a result, it is essential for us to remain open to God's plan for the future. 

    Source : Chronica No 5 2023

    224 CH5 2023