Newsletter of the District of Asia

 November - December 2000

A Letter from Japan

December 3rd, 2000, first Sunday of Advent
St Francis Xavier
Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam
et salutare tuum da nobis.

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

Rorate caeli desuper!  This is indeed the cry of Japan.  

This nation, as a nation, is still sitting in the darkness without knowing Our Lord. Our good Lord, the Sun of Justice, does not want to abandon this people. Beginning from Saint Francis Xavier, so many holy missionaries have been sent to the “Origin of Rising Sun” in order “to give testimony of the Light, that all men might believe” (John 1). As a Japanese, the first Japanese priest of the SSPX, I would like to thank God, for all the generous missionaries who labored so hard to lead our souls to Heaven, to sanctify our daily lives as well as our nation and to establish His Kingdom, the Holy Catholic Church, on my motherland.

Fr. Thomas de Marie Onoda, first SSPX Japanese priest

History of the SSPX mission

When mysteriously, but with His reasons, which we cannot comprehend now, Our Lord allowed the actual crisis of Faith in our Holy Mother the Church, some priests in Japan did not want to give up the traditional Catholic Mass. They were followed by a group of faithful who turned to the Society Saint Pius X for help. It was with great joy that they welcomed Fr. (at that time) Richard Williamson in Japan in 1978. His visit encouraged us to keep the Catholic Faith in the Blessed Sacrament. The second Society priest who visited us was Fr. Frank Peek in 1985. It was my first contact with a Society priest in Japan. I admired and was edified by this pious holy priest.

Upon the persistent and ardent demand for help from the Japanese faithful the Society was moved by compassion – “I have pity on this crowd!” - and started to send priests more often, although irregularly, from 1987 onwards. Thus, Fr. Eric Simonot, the third SSPX priest who visited us, was sent to Japan from Australia in 1987. Some years later, the priests in Australia had the great charity to organize visits more regularly, about every two months.

By the grace of God, I entered the French seminary of the Society of St Pius X in October 1987 and received the sacred Priesthood in June, 1993.

I was first assigned in Manila, which became the base for the faithful in Japan and Korea.  I now visit my own country every month for a few short days, coming from the Philippines.

At present, we have two mass centers in Japan, one in Tokyo the other in Osaka.

Our faithful in Osaka have offered us a small apartment, which we are using as our permanent chapel. Unfortunately, we can only provide them with two masses a month on a weekend (Friday evening and Saturday morning). In spite of this, about  twenty faithful attend the Holy Sacrifice.

In Tokyo, although the mission is oldest among all SSPX Asian missions, our faithful are relatively young: young couples with small children, students, young men and ladies. They cannot afford a permanent chapel, like in Osaka, even though they are generous, helpful and eager to do so, because the life there is quite expensive. We have just one Mass a month in Tokyo on the second last Sunday of the month. It is always a Missa cantata well prepared with the proper of Gregorian chant and it is served by a group of Altar boys. More or less twenty faithful attend the Mass ordinarily. Each time, we have to rent a public hall for a whole Sunday. In the afternoon, we have a catechism class or a spiritual conference about Faith.

The Japanese Martyrs' Mass Center, in Tokyo

Practically for the last 7 years, in Tokyo, I have been staying at an old friend’s house. But this situation has unfortunately limited very much our activities. Tokyo is an international City, with many University students, it has a great importance and potentiality among the Asian countries. The District Superior of Asia wishes to develop this very important mission. He has allowed me to rent an apartment as our “priest’s house” in Tokyo from next year, 2001, to facilitate our mission. We hope this house will lead to opening one day a permanent church in Tokyo.

Tokyo Mass Center visited by Fr. Paul Egli, SSPX,
former missionary in Africa

One of our faithful has made the following comment on the Japan mission: “Japanese people are known to follow the wave.  If the lord of the land and all its key lieutenants believed in Catholicism as in the 16th century, people willingly followed.  If the Japanese government determined that it was really the Western technologies that mattered and the religion was of no practical use, as in the 19th century, then people also concluded that this western religion was just waste of time… There was a big counter-swing just after the end of the world war, when the American democracy was seemed to be the only answer.  It was then followed by the 50s-70s of hectic industrialism, when copying the western technology was the national passion, which culminated in the burst of the economic bubble in the early 90s. From the burst of the bubble, now, the Japanese people seemed to have lost a cause, and are still looking for one.  Whatever Japan as a nation determines the next wave should be, they will certainly work very hard to achieve it, whether it be the American-style free capitalism, environmentalism, New Age, or whatever other cause.  Japanese people love to follow the national trend… If (and this is a very big IF) one day, the Japanese people decide that Catholicism is the new banner everyone should run under, then that wave would be as strong as was seen by the first Catholic missionaries some three and a half centuries ago…”

Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, in Osaka.
This is the little appartment used for our mission in this large city

Indeed, the faith is a gratuitous gift from God, without His mercy nobody can have it.

Why is Japan still pagan? Will it have any more chance to become Catholic? Everything depends on God’s mercy. However, we cannot remain inactive. We want to walk in the steps of our great missionaries to re-evangelize this nation. With the grace and help of God, as well as with your prayers and support, my dear friends and benefactors, we would like to work hard to show to Japan that the new banner all of us should run under is the Holy Catholic Faith which is expressed admirably by the Holy Catholic Traditional Mass.

I am thankful for all your generous help (prayers and financial aids) for our mission in Japan.

Oh Lord, show us your mercy and grant us your salvation!
Oh, Jesus, have mercy!
Oh, Our Lady, have mercy upon us!
Saint Joseph, pray for us!
Saint Michael, pray for us!
Saint Francis Xavier pray for us!

God bless you.
Sincerely yours in the service of Our Lord,

Fr Thomas de Marie Onoda

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