Several of our sisters made a pilgrimage to Nagasaki from the 16th-19th March to attend the commemorative mass for the 150th anniversary of the “Hidden Christians of Japan.”
Around 150 worshippers attended the mass at the Oura Cathedral, a national treasure that was built in 1864, shortly after the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled during the Edo Period (1603-1867), ended its seclusion policy.
The church was built mainly under the leadership of French missionary Bernard Petitjean and held its consecration ceremony in February 1865.
A month later, a group of Kakure Kirishitan (hidden Christians) appeared at the cathedral and announced their faith to the priest.
After the shogunate banned Christianity in Japan in 1612, Catholics practiced in secrecy for about 250 years. They were believed to have been wiped out under heavy persecution before they appeared at the Oura Cathedral.
The theme of the retreat was based on John 7:37~ [On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!].
During the two days of silence, the participants while watching an introductory DVD on the charisma of the congregation, talks and interviews, were made aware through the aid of the Holy Spirit as to their basic life’s calling.
We thank Fr. Hagiwara for his spiritual guidance and the sisters of the Koganei Holy Spirit retreat house for their help during the two days.