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Franciscan Chapel Center Marks Earthquake and Tsunami Anniversary

TOKYO, Japan — Last month, 50 evacuees who called the Franciscan Chapel Center basement “home” following the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck the northeastern coast of Japan returned to the center to remember the loved ones who were lost.

Some 300 others from the Catholic Tokyo International Center and Philippine community joined with the Fukushima evacuees for Mass, lunch, and other festivities on March 10. The event was full of “reminiscing and sharing of the hope they now have in their lives,” said Melissa Gay, information coordinator for the center.

In an article from The Japan Times, Myrna Ishikawa said, “The disaster taught us to value more the bonding among my compatriots, unlike before when we were focused on our work.”

This was the first of two celebrations marking the March 11 anniversary.

Some 150 people, a combination of Chapel Center parishioners and members of other English-speaking churches in Tokyo, attended the second, held on March 11. Gathered as one community, attendees worshipped together for the ecumenical service led by pastor Russell Becker, OFM.

Fr. Paul Koroluk, of St. Jude Ukrainian Orthodox Mission, said of the service: “Thank you so much for allowing us to share with you. Fr. Russell’s homily was moving, as was the display of Christian charity by everyone in your community.”

For more than 40 years, the friars of Holy Name Province have been ministering to the English-speaking people of the Archdiocese of Tokyo through the center. Opened in 1967, Bede Fitzpatrick, OFM, was the first rector. Today, he continues to serve the community.

According to its website, the Franciscan Chapel Center creates “a community where Catholics from around the world gather in the power of the Holy Spirit to worship God and serve Jesus Christ, each other and our neighbors in the Spirit of St. Francis.”

— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

Editor’s note: News about the Franciscan Chapel Center can be found in the parish’s bulletins and on its Facebook page