Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Former boat people help quake victims
Vietnamese happy to pitch in to help those hit by tsunamiVietnamese Catholics prepare food from their homeland for those in disaster areas
- ucanews.com special correspondent, Fukushima
- May 16, 2011
âWe âboat peopleâ also had a terrifying experience with the sea. People suffering (now) are the same as we were back then,â said Sister Lang. âAll of us agreed we had to do whatever we can. So we collected money after Mass and made arrangements to come.â
Many of those on hand on May 4 were Vietnamese Catholics from Kawaguchi Church in Saitama or from Tokyo and Kanagawa, while others were non-Catholic Vietnamese who also wanted to help. Some present had only come to Japan from Vietnam in the past few years.
Even Vietnamese back in their homeland pitched in. Young people there worked together to make a banner on a large piece of cloth, with numerous messages of support written across the banner with markers. The sign was hung outside the booth where the volunteers prepared food for the evacuees.
About 110 people are now living at Ena Elementary School in the wake of the tsunami and other disasters of the past two months. The Vietnamese prepared enough Vietnam-style meals to feed about 250 people and delivered them to Ena Elementary and two other evacuation centers in Iwaki City.
Takashi Takayama, a Vietnamese man who took a Japanese name after starting a new life here long ago, said: âWe have wanted to show our thanks to Japan for a long time now. As trivial as this is, weâre just glad to finally have a chance to do something. Actually, more people wanted to come, but we kept the group to just the number of people actually needed to do the work. We tried to make food that the Japanese would be happy to eat.â
The Vietnamese community proposed this event to the Saitama Diocese Support Center, which arranged for its local base of volunteer operations in that area, Yumoto Station in Iwaki City, to facilitate it.
According to Deacon Nguyen Quoc Toan, a Yumoto Station staff member, âitâs hard to go into an evacuation centerâ because the people there are sometimes reluctant to open up to visitors.
However, little by little, the Station has build up a rapport with the disaster victims, sending five people to the centers each week to act as âvolunteer listenersâ who simply lend a friendly ear.
Because many people staying at another evacuation center, Ena Junior High School, went out during the day to try to clean up their own storm-battered homes, the Vietnamese group went there later on, during the evening, and treated them to a fresh, hot meal.
At the end of the day, when the volunteers were introduced to those in the Junior High as âthe Vietnamese people who have come from Kawaguchi for us,â a spontaneous cry went up: âArigato! Thank you!â Some evacuees clapped or waved both hands in broad expressions of thanks. The Vietnamese, whose gestures of greeting had initially been understated, gladly joined in, waving and bowing.
âThereâs really nothing like that,â said Deacon Toan.
translated by Dominic Pease