ASIA/JAPAN - Formation programmes to encourage vocations to the religious life among women

Wednesday, 9 June 2004

Tokyo (Fides Service) - Women religious are a great gift for the Church: all over the world thousands of Sisters dedicate their life to teaching children, caring for the sick, assisting the poor, and helping in parishes with catechesis and pastoral work. Recently the Church in Japan, aware of the determinant contribution and specific charisma of women religious, started offering formation programmes and seminars on the religious life for young girls at Catholic schools and women in parishes interested in learning more about the faith in general and particularly the consecrated life.
The monthly seminars consist of courses in Scripture, theology, Church history. This year as a result of the courses, 25 women decided to become novices. The new candidates to the religious life are of all ages, some over 40: “the Lord calls people of all ages” said one woman already involved in assisting physically disabled persons.
Many women say they were drawn to learn more about the religious life after seeing dedicated Sisters happily serving the poor and the sick in an atmosphere of sharing and communion. Some of the girls attending the courses are from non Catholic families but they say their parents appreciate and encourage their striving towards something they see as a noble choice dictated by love instead of egoism. “We want to fulfil God’s will for us”, they say.
The initiative of the seminars is a reaction to a general of vocations in Japan where society is ever more secularised and tends to sever bonds with God and focus life on materialism and worldly success. According to the Church’s Book of Statistics (2002), there are a total of 6,373 women religious in the 16 Catholic dioceses in Japan.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 9/6/2004 lines 32 words 356)