ASIA/JAPAN- Welcome and sharing by Franciscan missionaries for victims of the tsunami

Tokyo (Agenzia Fides) – The “Franciscan Chapel Centre”, beating heart of the Franciscan spirit in Tokyo, has become after the tsunami and the earthquake an oasis of welcome and solidarity. During the emergency, the centre – like other Catholic churches and convents – has opened its doors to the displaced people in Fukushima and Sendai. In recent weeks more than 50 Filipinos living in Japan have been guests there and the Catholic volunteers have put all their energies and goodwill into responding to their need. Now the immigrants are slowly returning to their homes, or to friends and relatives, while others are returning to the Philippines.
“Our doors will remain open to all who are in extreme need,” says Fr Russell Becker OFM, American Franciscan missionary and director of the centre to Fides. Normally, just as prior to the earthquake, the Franciscan Chapel Centre is a place for the poor and homeless, providing over 120 meals a day to those in need. Currently their welcome work is extraordinary: “This disaster has given us a way of being instruments of Christian charity, in the evangelical spirit of Francis of Assisi. Our Franciscan witness in this city is expressed primarily through service to the needy, through dialogue and welcoming our neighbour,” says the Franciscan. “Suffering is also a place where human beings may sow the seeds of evangelisation,” he says.
“This is the time for compassion, it is for us Christians to live this kairos,” says Fr Keith Humphries MSC, Australian priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, in the community of Nagoya. “We were not directly affected,” he explains, “but we are worried about the people, and we are involved in contributing to the emergency and then longer-term. In our diocese refugees arrived from areas affected by the disaster. As missionaries we are raising awareness about solidarity and for housing. This tragic event helps everyone to understand what is important and what is not.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 31/3/2011)

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