During the visit of Sr. Lynn Falsis to Japan, November 7-20, 2019, we took advantage of her presence to introduce for the first time to our Lay Collaborators the part of the GC XVIII which involves them – the six universal calls of the Congregation for the next six years. How do we do the transmission to non-Christians, i.e. in a a country where only 0.3 % of the total population are Catholics? How do we communicate with them using a language that they are not familiar, even in Japanese, because they are “Church expressions or terminologies?” Will they understand the context of Mother General’s Letter No. 1, addressed to them? These were some of our concerns.
We had two Transmissions – November 11, in Akenohoshi Pre-School, Hayama and November 14, in Shotoku Gakuin Girls’ Dormitory, Matsue City, Shimane –ken. Srs. Yoli Brandolin and Sr. Angeles Kaneko conducted the first group and Srs. Lynn and Flor the second group.
Akenohoshi Pre-School. It was attended by our full-time teachers and staff all in all 14 participants. Of these, only two are Catholics, the rest are Buddhists and Shintoists. Two have attended the 3rd IEL in the Philippines, and one, a previous F.I. Congress. Sr. Yoli explained to them in simple language the background of the GC XIII and the purpose of the meeting. Sr. Kaneko further elaborated it by handing them printouts already translated to Japanese. The teachers showed interest and seriousness as they read the six universal calls. Then, she pointed out that of the six calls, “Laudato Si” could be the focus of the Pre-School next year. Its deepening will be done not only with the young children but includes that of the parents and alumni. She assured them the theme is not something they are unfamiliar with. In practice, they are already “living it” in many simple ways. The challenge is knowing the spirit behind what they are doing, that is, the spirituality behind it. At the end, the Principal, who himself is not Catholic but greatly collaborates in our mission, thanked the Sisters “for the important message and the desire to be close to them” (i.e. by their coming and by sharing important things about the Congregation).
Family of Mother Candida in Shimane. They consist of eight participants- 7 Japanese, all Catholics. They have experienced in various degrees and across time the formation given by our sisters the past 60 years in this area. Some of the participants are now retired and our working in the parish apostolate, others continue to be administrators and teaching staff of Shotoku Gakuin. Carmela Rey, the only foreigner in the group is now on her 4th year as faculty of the school.
Sr. Lynn and I were welcomed with great hospitality and enthusiasm. It felt like “coming home” to a family who have not seen each other for some time. The highlight of the transmission was the sharing portion, where each one sincerely shared their reactions, questions, points for clarification after reading the text. Someone asked, “What is communal discernment?”, one shared about his experience with migrants and the challenges they are facing, likewise, his concern for the formation of the next generation, one felt that God’s will for her now is to work with non-Christian children and families and introduce God to them, another felt excited to pursue a project very much in line with Laudato Si, another was concerned how to continue formation of non-Christian teachers and students. Sr. Lynn who has a lot of experience accompanying the lay responded in a very clear, simple way, points they raised. Sr. Flor on the other hand, contextualized the six calls in the Japanese setting. All these of course, thanks to our very able translators – Kawakami-sensei and Megumi Kajita-sensei!
The transmission experience was truly the work of the Holy Spirit! We did not know what to do at first, but He opened the participants’ eyes, ears and heart to His message beyond the language barriers and our sensed limits. In the Japan mission He continues to “weave His ways” to carry out his Divine plan in concrete, tangible ways. As Sr. Lynn said, she could feel there is an “emerging” Family of Mother Candida in Japan. We continue to “walk with them”, support them as they continue to discover the beauty of their lay calling, find their own way and “bloom where they are planted.”