Friday, November 14, 2008

Four Jesuits of Japan to be Beatified

Logo by Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan

The Catholic Church in Japan eagerly awaits the beatification ceremony of 188 martyrs, to be held on November 24, 2008, in Nagasaki. Already many catholic delegations from different parts of Japan have arranged organized tours. Several students and professors from Sophia University and many parishoners of St. Ignatius Church, next door, will also be going for the ceremony.

Among the 188 illustrious martyrs, there are also four Jesuits, Peter Kibe being the most well-known. In fact, the official announcement of the ceremony refers to "Peter Kibe and 187 Martyrs," giving him prominence. The other three Jesuits are the adventurous Julian Nakaura, who went to Europe in the 16th century and met Pope Gregory XIII and several royals; Diego Yuki Ryosetsu, who was ordained in Manila and excelled in erudition and education; and Nicholas Keian Fukunaga, who, as an 'ordinary' un-ordained Jesuit, managed to bear witness to the Gospel by his remarkable courage.

The stories of each one is quite moving, and you can read a brief account of their life at "All About Francis Xavier." The account is written by Fr. Fuyuki Hirabayashi, a Japanese Jesuit who was deeply involved in preparing documents related to the beatification.

A printed edition of Peter Kibe and 187 Companions, a book of 76 pages, compiled by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan and translated into English by Fr. Francis Mathy, S.J., a professional translator of several Shusaku Endo works, can be obtained from St. Ignatius Catholic Church (6-5-1 Kojimachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0083; Tel: 03-3263-4584 Fax: 03 3263-4585), for a token donation.

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A book on the 188 Martyrs

The Tokyo Archdiocese has prepared small booklets related to the beatification in different languages. Here is the English booklet. For versions in Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Japanese, visit:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sakthi Dancers and Sr. Chandra at Sophia

Based near Dindigul, in Tamil Nadu, India, Sakthi Dancers are a group of women whose goal is to conscientize the Tamil masses on matters related to social justice and social equality, with their music, songs, and dances. The group owes its origin to Sr. Chandra, a Catholic nun of the ICM [Immaculati Cordis Mariae ‘Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’] congregation. Invited by several Japanese volunteer organizations, Sr. Chandra is currently in Japan together with a colleague, Sr. Felicy; four male musicians, a folk-art researcher and photographer, and nine dancers—young and energetic like the freshmen of Sophia.

Sr.Chandra and Staff

The group has a series of engagements until November 21, as they are expected to perform almost every day in a different place. Sr. Chandra is also scheduled to receive an award for her humanitarian services on November 17th at Tokyo ANA Hotel (社会貢献支援財団「社会貢献賞」授賞式は11月17日ANAホテル10時).

The group’s visit to Sophia on November 7 was hastily arranged, and its primary goal was to give the dancers a glimpse of the Japanese academic world. As it was the first overseas trip to many of them, they were all excited to see students of their own age and observe the classrooms, offices, and the academic atmosphere of Sophia. Thanks to Sophia University’s PR office, each of them also received some simple memorabilia to take home.

Watch the trailer of Sakthi Dancers & Sr. Chandra

Although most Catholics in Japan may not have heard of Sr. Chandra, she has been known to several Christian and non-Christian volunteer groups in Japan, and some of them have been regular visitors to her Sakthi Dancing Center in India. One such visitor was Ms. Taeko Kurokawa, who has been to the Center annually for more than ten years and has introduced many other friends to Sr. Chandra and her dancers. She is also the chief host of the dancers during their visit to Japan. Another significant visitor to the Center was Mr. Kazu Matsui, who, being a cameraman, director, and movie producer, made a documentary on the work of Sr. Chandra (see his Japanese blog at: http:// 2008/10/post_6.html). Entitled Sakthi Dancers and Sister Chandra, this movie has won international acclaim, having already been awarded several prestigious prizes in such film festivals as 2008 Worldfest Houston (see downloads/winnerslist2008.pdf), and Heart of England International Film Festival (see

The November 7th evening edition of the Asahi Shimbun (Japanese Newspaper) carried a photo and a brief report about the group. The report contained the schedule of major events, a history of the group, and Sr. Chandra’s philosophy.

The Sakthi Dancers

An NHK presentation of Sr. Chandra and her dancing troupe is expected sometime this month. Those who cannot see their performance live may look forward to watching this presentation.

Here is the schedule of major events:

11 November (Tu) Two Performances (15:00 & 18:30) at Tokyo Women's Plaza
12 November (W) Two Performances (15:00 & 18:30) at Tokyo Women's Plaza

For further information regarding the Sakthi engagements:
Tel: 043-293-2828 FAX: 043-293-2869
E-Ticket PIA: (PCode:390-208)
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