ucanews.com correspondent, TokyoUpdated: September 24, 2013 09:19 PM GMT
The blessing ceremony for the new Holy Trinity Convent
The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster which resulted from the Great East Japan Earthquake in March, 2011, continues to affect the lives of many people living nearby. Now, two orders of religious sisters wish to form a more permanent presence among those they have served in the area and have formed a new convent to support their work there and each other.The Mission Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit and the Society of the Sacred Heart have chosen Haramachi district of Minamisoma City for their new convent.
The location, some 245km northeast of Tokyo, is less than 25km from the reactor—within the area where residents who did not flee were advised to stay indoors as much as possible in the days following the accident to lessen the health risks posed by radiation.Holy Trinity Convent, as the new institution is to be called, will be home to three nuns: Holy Spirit Sisters Kazue Hisamatsu, 75, and Setsuko Hayakawa, 74, as well as Sacred Heart Sister Chiaki Hatanaka, 62. They plan to begin their new communal life in October.All three are currently working at a volunteer’s center called Caritas Haramachi Base, which the Catholic Church operates in Minamisoma City. The convent is located a mere five minutes from the base by car.
“I was beginning to sense the spiritual danger of this kind of solitary life. But just at that moment, the talk of forming this joint convent with the Servants of the Holy Spirit came up.”Sr Hatanaka believes that while each religious order has its own “particular specialization,” at its core it has the same goal as all others. Each order, furthermore, is facing the same pattern of decline in membership numbers. Reaching outside the boundaries of one’s own community in cooperation is therefore important, she says.