Over the weekend of November 26th to 27th. 46 women from three different parishes in the Diocese of Fukuoka, Japan, came together in Omuta for a retreat to prepare for the birth of Jesus, preached by a Filipino Augustinian Priest, missioned to Nagasaki. The two youngest y Sisters in our Province (from Indonesia) left their Japanese language studies for a while, to join the group at the retreat held at a small hotel near our convent.
The planning for this began in early May but the roots of the desire to have a retreat go back much further to before the Covid pandemic. Sr. Aida Cabalag of our community here in Omuta had for many years gone to nearby cities for regular formation sessions for the Filipino women, in this area. Most of them are long-term residents; many married to Japanese men and forming good families, totally integrated into the local Church and society. However, they still feel the need to pray and deepen their faith together using their own language or English.
Faced with the realities of the pandemic Sister Aida turned to mass media and became a “zooming Sister”. Over the last two and a half years she has organized and run formation courses on scripture and the encyclicals of Pope Francis as well as Prayer Meetings and the Rosary online. For this, she needed some technical help and so gradually she found and formed good group leaders, whose contribution has gone far beyond the mere technicalities of the web. In fact, once the covid restrictions were lifted it was these leaders who were able to support Sister with planning the event and leading it right through to the end.
After two days of prayer and fellowship, the chance to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the Opening and Concluding Eucharists, the participants went home with great joy and hope in their hearts as they, and all of us, wait for the coming of our Savior Jesus.
We, Sr. Aida, and the community, who followed them with our prayers rejoice with them as they look forward to more such gatherings in the future.