November 2019

From 2019-11-30 to 2019-12-24

Time to Know Your Deepest Longings

It was Advent and I was longing, even though I was barely aware of my discontent. Like everyone else I had been caught up in the busyness of Christmas preparations. Though we had lit the Advent candles at home and I had tried to pray, I needed more. I needed time to really allow my sense of longing to swirl up and become clear to me as it did on that winter's walk in the woods. I knew then that I needed a closer relationship to God and that I had to stop just going through the motions of my prayer life. My longing, once acknowledged, turned out to be an invitation to live with a deeper awareness of God's presence and care all around me.

What are you longing for? What is your heart trying to tell you? The gift God offers this first week of Advent is the invitation to explore your inner longings. The Church, through our Advent customs, and even the weather of the season itself support such inner work. During the first week of Advent, give yourself time and space to contemplate what you are truly longing for in life. Know that this is the season when your longings will lead you to the Christ Child, in whom the hopes and fears of all the years are known and responded to with generous love.

From 2019-11-13 to 2019-12-13

A precious help in Tokyo

Sr. Keiko: A Precious Help in Tokyo

In 2006 I began working at the Catholic Tokyo International Centre (CTIC). This is a Centre founded by the Archdiocese of Tokyo to help immigrants. Those who come here are from Peru, Brazil, Philippines and Colombia. They seek consultation for various problems they are confronted with in daily life, including the school system, non-paid salaries, divorce, immigration papers, etc.

With the help of the director of the Centre, I am acquiring greater knowledge of the laws and the way of analysing problems so as to respond adequately to the needs. My many years of experience working at the Embassy of the Philippines serves me well, as I am often called to be the intermediary between the Regional Immigration Bureau and the Embassy of the Philippines, requesting the necessary documents for certain immigrants.

Here in Japan, immigrants experience multiple problems. Being in a foreign country, the difficulties are often complex and lived with much anxiety. Children are frequently victims of the system: those who adapt more or less to the culture drift into misbehaviour; youngsters whose parents have expired visas, have no hope of receiving a Japanese compulsory education. The complexity is even greater when children are from international marriages. Being in charge of Sampaguita, a care group specifically dedicated to the Filipinos/Filipinas in Japan, I come across many family problems. Recently, a family from this group asked a special permission from the Government requesting that their two children study in a Japanese school. To support this request, I wrote a report to the Ministry of Justice and I personally delivered the document to the General Director of the Immigration Bureau in Tokyo. What is left for me to do now is pray that this request, so deeply desired, be granted. For all these families who live with so many fears, may prayers be said for them and also for those who work on their behalf.

An Enriching Experience for Sr. Ana

As Peruvian, I help the new comers at the legal and pastoral level. Every day I visit Latin-Americans who are at the police detention centres. They are arrested because their permit has expired and will soon be deported to their country of origin. I contact their families here in Japan or in their homeland. I accompany them spiritually and morally until all judicial procedures have ended. It’s sad for them… and for me, as I know their situation, particularly when they come from Peru.

The immigrants often ask me to be their interpreter in court especially in case of divorce and also in hospitals. I therefore had to improve my Japanese language and even my Spanish; medical and judicial terminology is very specific. Many situations deeply touch my emotions. One day I accompanied a Peruvian lady to the hospital; the Japanese doctor gave me the results of all her medical exams and I translated. She was victim of a cancer that left her little time to live… how to communicate such sad news without shedding tears?

Since most immigrant parents do not understand Japanese, I am also an interpreter at school reunions. I translate the information concerning the children. A major problem is developing in Japan; parents no longer understand their youngsters who now speak Japanese and they ask themselves: How can we pass-on our values, our culture, our faith? Parents rely on the Church to accomplish this task. They ask me to speak to their children about God, about Peru and all this in the Japanese language.

On week-ends I work in different parishes where Masses are celebrated in Spanish. I prepare the people to the sacraments and I train future leaders. The plight of foreigners in Japan is dreadful; nevertheless, many immigrant families decide to stay. Parents take that decision after scrutinizing the Japanese way of life, the culture and values; gradually they begin to feel at home. As Catholics they are not considered as new-comers, they participate fully in all the pastoral activities; in a parish setting, an immigrant can well be the president of the Pastoral Council.

I am very content with my work here in Japan. To accomplish this mission, I carry in my heart the Word of God taken from Scripture (Rm 12:15) Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep.




From 2019-11-02 to 2019-11-25

A Prayer for November

November ends with Christ as King.

That final Sunday of the church year when we proclaim the greatness of Christ.

When we reflect on where we’ve been this year and where we’re going.

When we remember that Christ is the alpha and omega, the beginning and end.

And so we go throughout our days remembering.

We give thanks.

We light candles.

We feed our friends and neighbors.

We pray.

We sing.

We worship.


We look to you, Lord, to guide our ways.

To walk with us.

To know us.

To teach us.

To inspire us.


Just as the leaves fall and the trees are laid bare,

so are we stripped of our defenses this November.

Strip us from our doubts and insecurities.

Strip us from self-loathing.

Strip us from feeling defeated.

Strip us from being lost.


Guide our ways and point us to the light that never fades.

So that a dark, November night can be our healing and our balm.