A Missionary Journey
As I browsed through the pages of Ecos one day after school, I was fascinated by a black and white painting on one of its pages. There was an airplane that seemed to be flying in the air, a train in motion down below, a big ship at sea and in the inset two “Hijas de Jesus” (Daughters of Jesus or イエズス孝女) Sisters, each with a suitcase in her hands looking into the far distance on their way to their destination, the missions. Ecos (a Spanish word meaning “echoes”), was a monthly news bulletin of the Hijas de Jesus Congregation founded in Salamanca, Spain—the Congregation which I eventually joined.
My mother’s older sister, Sr. Loreto, a member of the Congregation, would send the family some of the issues of Ecos. I simply kept them for no particular reason, but I would go back to them whenever I had a chance. It was only later that I realized that it was the beginning of a deep unconscious desire within me, the stirring of God’s call to go to a distant land someday to be a missionary myself.
Thirty-five years ago, I found myself landing at Narita International Airport, gazing into the far distance, feeling a mixture of wonder at all the possibilities that might occur in my new world as a missionary, and at the same time some anxieties. The cold weather in winter, the language, the lifestyle, Japanese society and my new religious community… The Lord’s assurance “I will be with you…” (Matthew 28:20) was my sole strength all the way from then on.
Learning the Japanese language was a struggle and a challenge. How could I go through life in this country if I did not know the language? I thought. How would I know the people’s heart and mind? In what manner could I transmit my thoughts and even God’s Word to people without learning Japanese? I made it through the last course somehow! I finished a two-year Japanese program and headed right on to my first assignment, teaching in Shotoku Jogakuen, our mission school in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture. I was a full-time English teacher for junior and senior high school students.
These were the first ten enjoyable years of my missionary experience with youth. Later, I spent some years collaborating in the various apostolates of our Congregation in Japan: retreat house, pre-school, residence hall for university students, pastoral programs in some parishes in various dioceses among the Japanese and among Filipino migrants.
In April last year, I found myself somersaulting into a new venture of collaboration teamwork in the John de Britto English Center of St. Ignatius Church. For me, my fourteen months in the parish, especially with the international community, was a recap of my missionary journey in Japan. I realized that I did not have to travel around the world to share God’s love and goodness. At St. Ignatius Church I found the world in a capsule where I could share what I have with the multi-cultural groups and they shared theirs with me. Indeed, we are all on a journey to share and spread God’s gift to one another. We are all pilgrims called to be “echoes of God’s love” to one another and to the world.
“The world is too small for my desires,” said Candida Maria de Jesus, foundress of the Daughters of Jesus
by Sr. Rose Remigio, F.I.