I first professed my vows in 1997 and worked as a teacher and administrator in the Congrégation de Notre-Dame’s schools in Fukushima and Fukuoka, Japan. Later, I went to the American Province of the Congregation for two years to learn English. There, I witnessed how the sisters and locals live with and support immigrants. I became very interested in pursuing this type of ministry in the Church.
In April 2020, I was sent to the Tsukuba community of the Congregation in Japan. This is a relatively new community, where three sisters were sent in April 2017 to work in the Tsukuba Catholic Church. Since 2020, the community has been made up of two people, Sister Kikuko Takahashi and myself.
Tsukuba Catholic Church is an international church, with two-thirds of its members being foreigners. People from various countries such as the Philippines, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Kenya, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, the United States and Brazil attend the English Mass.
We also serve as a bridge between Japanese and non-Japanese people in our Church community. While serving Japanese parishioners, I also teach Japanese to young Filipino parishioners via Zoom and help foreigners living in Japan prepare documents for baptisms, confirmations, weddings, etc. I speak English in these meetings, although not very well. As a Japanese person, I learn new things about different cultures every day, some of which surprises me. For example, Filipino couples traditionally wrap a rope around each other as a sign of their eternal love during wedding ceremonies. Vietnamese weddings, meanwhile, involve lighting red candles, a colour that they consider lucky.
I am a member of the Social Justice Committee of the Congregation in the Japanese Province. I occasionally post on social media about the issues that foreigners face in the Church in Japan, sometimes in Japanese, sometimes in poor English.
The Committee also participates in charity walks organized by Father Michael Coleman of Toride Church to raise money for the daily necessities of foreign nationals detained at the “East Japan Immigration Center” in Ushiku. It is very difficult to apply for refugee status in Japan. There are many foreign residents in the country, especially in the Diocese of Saitama where we are located. Bishop Michiaki Yamauchi of the Saitama Diocese asked us to raise awareness about AMIGOS (North Kanto Medical Consultation Association), a non-profit organization (NPO) that supports foreign residents in Japan. The certified NPO “Ibaraki NPO Center COMMONS” also provides extensive support to foreign nationals in the country.
In our work, community life and prayers, we strive to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. In this way, as we listen the call of the Holy Spirit and move toward the future, with all its technological advancements, we will continue to give thanks to God and serve Him with joy and prayer.