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THE ORDER OF THE PIOUS SCHOOLS THE PIARIST FATHERS IN ASIA

II. Consolidation

Japan
History
Tobe Parish Church
Yokkaichi Parish Church
Komaba Chapel & Convent
Schools in Japan
Missionaries
Contacts

1.      The reinforcements arrive

 

Two years had passed since the first missionaries arrived to Japan. Fr. Feliciano had become alone after few months, but during this time he had gotten important things: learning the language, knowing the necessary things to be in the country and leading others, and the most important thing, a house and a work where at least in a provisional way, a group of Piarists could start a community normal life.

 

On September 29, 1952 arrived from Spain to the Haneda airport in Tokyo, Fr. Javier Iraola and Bro. Gabriel Iriarte. Fr. Miguel Lezaun had to travel with them, but a strong indisposition at the last moment, kept him in land; he never went back to Japan. Fr. Feliciano felt an “indescribable pain” impression when he saw coming down from the airplane only two. The following day ran away the helper he had at home taking by the way the money he could find. As Fr. Rivero says, “therefore the mission was born under the sign of a strict poverty”.

 

On October 26, arrive new reinforcements: Frs. Ignacio de Nicolas, Enrique Rivero and Imanol Lasquibar. They come by ship from USA, where they have been studying English for a year. This kind of trip was a real adventure. Let us see how Fr. Imanol remembers it:

 

"Our trip from Los Angeles to Japan was made on a Sweden ship of 9000 m, a part for passengers and the main part for merchandise. It was supposed to stop at Hong-Kong, Manila, Cebu and arriving to Kobe (Japan) on October 25.

 

When we arrived to Manila and seeing the rough sea because of a typhoon originated at the south of Cebu City (Philippines), the stay was delayed for two days in order to discharge some merchandise for Cebu City. The captain immediately gave orders of going directly to Kobe (Japan). The velocity of the typhoon was 12 knots and the velocity of the ship 16 knots. Although this part of the trip was a little rough, we were coming away from the tempest while the days were going on and we arrived at our destination.

 

We arrived to Kobe (Japan) on October 25, rather at a late hour, and we stayed overnight in the ship until 7 o'clock AM of the following day. The baggage we had was rather big and therefore, to go from the dock to customs where we had to present our documentation and baggage, we took a taxi and we gave to the driver one dollar, as I remember, telling him that we did not have Japanese money. At that time, the exchange rate was 360 yen for a dollar and in the black market was 400 yen. He was very happy, thinking that it was much and I was happy too because I thought it was too little.

 

I remember that I liked to hear people speak in Japanese, since it seemed to me to be speaking in the Basque language; the only thing was that when I tried to be close to them, I did not understand anything at all. After we heard in English the explanations of the Japanese lady who was at the information office and passing the customs, we took the train bound for Yokohama, spending the night at Nagoya City where we sent a telegram to Fr. Feliciano, telling him that we would arrive at 7:40 P.M. Sunday, the feast of Christ the King.

 

I think that Fr. Feliciano was waiting for us at the station half an hour before. When we arrived, there was he, impatiently waiting, with Fr. Javier Iraola and Bro. Gabriel Iriarte on the platform. I remember it as if I were watching it right now. His way of dressing himself reminded me the people from the Andes in Ecuador country, from the magazine "De los Rios" that used to arrive to my home in Tolosa City (Spain): high hat, cape of cloak, a rather short cassock that showed the tubes of the pants and the boots, his preferred shoes. When he embraced me, he told me: "What were you doing for a long time in the Pacific Ocean?" "According to Fr. Gerancer, we were taking our vacations…" I answered him. It seemed that he wanted to see us soon around the house to start our Japanese studies."

 

The same day Fr. Feliciano  reads in community the decree of the Fr. General erecting that Piarist house, and later on the jobs of Fr. Provincial: Fr. Feliciano as Rector and Fr. Ignacio de Nicolas as Vice-Rector. "In this way, the first house of the Pious Schools in a Mission country is erected", Fr. Feliciano writes.

 

At the beginning of November the four Fathers start the Japanese studies, but not the Brother. Instead of sending them to Taura City (The Jesuit school), he has hired some teachers that go to Tobe to give classes in the afternoon. Fr. Imanol remembers his Japanese classes in this way:

 

"The oldest teacher and the most fervent and communicative of the four was called Chiba Sensei (teacher). I remember his first class. With his rough hair and his communicative smile, he used to tell us in English that in Japanese there were not 'la-le-li-lo-lu' - only that he pronounced 'RA-RE-RI-RO-RU' - but (with much emphasis and with a rhythm of two by four) that there were RRA-RRE-RRI-RRO and RRU!! We used to smile trying to avoid a strong laugh and he repeated still with a bigger smile and with pride, and with bigger emphasis, if it is was possible, the same song; "In Japanese there is not ra-re-ri-ro-ru(and this rapidly), but (the following in solemnity and with a compass) RRA-RRE-RRI-RRO-and RRU!! Was not demonstrating us Fr. Feliz Ciordia (a Vasconian Piarist Father of happy memory) on the backboard and to all, when we were little children, that two (PON, PON) and two (PON, PON), is four (PON, PON, PON, PON)?

 

Our classes started at 8:30 A.M. : we had four classes in a row of three quarters of an hour each, with half an hour of break at the middle of the morning, ending at noon, time for lunch. The afternoon was the time to do the many tasks the teachers gave to us. From 5 to 6, it was an obligatory walk around our house. Our house was near a park and a commercial district near the port where all kinds of souvenirs were sold, with great gains, to the America service people, since Japan was still an occupation zone of the Americans and the wars with Korea and later on with Vietnam, it was necessary to keep  many soldiers in the Japanese territory. At 6 o'clock, we tried to be together for the news that the American radio used to give about the world. We had a Zenit radio, a gift from an Army chaplain. At the end of the first year, Fr. Iraola (who had not studied English before), thanks to his tenacity he had in the explanations in class, given in English, the reading of the newspaper and the news at six, used to understand them as well as any one else.

 

After the last prayers at night, still we used to study Japanese before going to bed, especially when Fr. Feliciano informed us after a year of starting our studies that in the future were going to cede us a Japanese school that was already functioning. The problem was to be prepared. After six months, more or less, we were able to hear confessions and to preach, by turns, to the people who came to our Parish, Tobe. Fr. Feliciano helped us with his example and wonderful tenacity."

 

Therefore, they dedicate to study Japanese intensively during the week. On Sundays, they can go to some Parishes to celebrate and to preach in English (all the Masses were celebrated in Latin). They decide that in the Mass at 11, in Tobe, where many Filipino people attend, to preach also in English. At that time, the occupation of the American Army and the Marine, used to ask for some Masses with confessions and sermons in English. Our Fathers used to go gladly to some invitations, which besides allowing the exercise of the priestly ministry gave good earnings for the economy, "since they gave 10 dollars in each place". One another good economic news was that the Vasconian Provincial had ordered since January that each priest of the Province would celebrate a monthly Mass for the Mission, since Fr. Rafael had obtained for this purpose an important lot of Masses.

 

Fr. Feliciano, at this time, had already a numerous "clientele": he was ordinary confessor of 5communities of Religious Sisters and an extraordinary one of another. While the work in the Parish increases, he has to abandon some external commitments.

 

The Brother starts giving some scares. At the end of December he is careless with the gas oven and an explosion occurs becoming he a little hurt. On the first of January, they find him lying down fainted on the stairs. It seems that he took a shower with cold water and he suffered a strong convulsion that made him faint. It is a question of adapting to the life in Japan

 

At the end of February arrives the first offer of selling the house and the church from the Bishop of Yokohama: he proposes to Fr. Feliciano that he might buy them by the price it cost, that is to say: land and construction, 8 millions of yen. Fr. Feliciano communicates the offer to the Superiors and he supports it.

 

The year is going on with the ordinary activities: the students, studying; Fr. Feliciano equipping the Parish in a material and spiritual way. He buys a second hand organ and a Way of the Cross, a stature of Saint Joseph, offered by a gratitude American. Mr. McGovern, who frequently will pass by to see it… He organizes the celebration of the First Fridays, the Palm Sunday, the Holy Week exercises. He counts the numbers of those who attend Mass and receive Holy Communion, in order to leave a record of the increasing of his sheep. On Holy Thursday, 34 persons received Holy Communion; on Holy Saturday 33, and on Eastern Sunday, 59.  During the month of May, he organizes the Flower Devotion; since he has no statue of Mary, he borrows one and builds for her a provisional altar (later on, the Filipino people gave as a present a statue of the Antipolo Virgin in the Philippines, near Manila City). During the whole month take Holy Communion 619 persons… Even during the Corpus Christi day, he prepares some small altars in the garden and on the first floor to organize a more solemn procession, with the delight of the faithful.

 

Summer arrives. A rest for the students, time for spiritual exercises in community.  The Piarist Sisters leave Nagoya and move to Yokohama, near Tobe, where they plan to establish the community and a kindergarten. The 27th of August is celebrated with solemnity “for the first time, we suppose", the feast of Saint Joseph Calasanz. The Mass was presided by the Bishop, surrounded by several priests, Piarist and friends, plus nine altar boys that used new cassocks on that day.

 

On the 1st of September, the students start again the classes at home. On the 8th of September, a new reinforcement arrives from Spain: Fr. Lorenzo Errandonea. Since he cannot join the others, Fr. Feliciano decides to send him to study to the school the Franciscan Fathers have at Roppongi, Tokyo. Every day is waiting for him a long road of going and coming back, but the study conditions are better for him.

 

In the meantime are going on the negotiations of selling-buying of the house. Fr. Feliciano argues that since they work for the Diocese, the normal thing would be only the price of the construction of the house, not of the church, since the land is a gift. The Bishop takes his time to give the answer at the end of September; if you want the house and the church, they have to pay 8 millions. He is going to give him the two promised years and even more time if it would be necessary; but at the end, if they want the house, they will have to pay it. In Rome and in Pamplona (Spain), see that they cannot pay that amount. Fr. Provincial envisages in a letter of October 3 the possibility of abandoning the idea of founding a school and asks the Holy See a missionary territory. Fr. Feliciano goes on November 5 to Shikoku, at the southern part of Japan, with the pretext of visiting the Burgos Missionaries (Spain Foreign Mission), but with the secret intention of talking with the Bishop of Osaka and ask him a missionary territory in his Diocese. The Bishop is absent; therefore, the project is frustrated.

 

On November 21 of the same year 1953, the Internuncios arrives to Tobe with a proposition: to found a school for boys in Kuyshu (at the southern part, too), next to another one for girls that is already functioning. He offers to pay for the price of the land, 20000 dollars, equivalent to 8 millions of yen, from money from Propaganda Fide. Fr. Feciliano goes to see the place and he understands that the project belongs to the interest of the Religious Sisters that look for a way out of their old boys students. He cannot get in contact with the owner of the land to find out the price.  At the end of the year comes the answer of the Religious Sisters; the land is 24 million yen, the triple the Internuncios can offer; therefore, the project becomes null.

 

The economy is a major problem during this year 1953. The community has 4 millions of yen, the half they need to buy the house and church of Tobe. In order to get more interest from the capital, they buy in succession three small houses in Yokohama, for around 600000 yen that lend to a high price to Military Americans. They propose to the Bishop to pay 6 millions, 3 at the beginning and later on one during three succeeding years. This was possible, according to their calculations. The renting of the house made better the economy of the mission, but the plan failed; the Bishop wanted 8 millions and all together. He tells the Piarist Fathers that if they do not have the money, they have to leave the house and another opportunity will appear outside the city. He needs the money to construct another Parish and Tobe is an strategic place to which he cannot renounce. Fr. Feliciano summarizes in this way the situation at the end of the year:

 

"At the end of the year 1953, we had in the Mission 4.057.976, 50 yen. If for the house we have to pay the next September 8 millions, and we must think about building a School, it is clear, humanly speaking, that there is no way out and the only thing is to rely completely on the Almighty. Facing these numbers many written things will be understood and many others that will never be written."  

 

2. 1954, a year of searching

 

With this uncertainty, starts the year 1954. On the first days takes place a solemn happening: Fr. Feliciano celebrates his silver jubilee as a priest. The Spanish Ambassador attends the Mass and the Bishop. The Bishop, together with other priests, stay for lunch.

 

On the following day he goes to inform the Internuncios the price of the land in Tobata, Kyushu. He calms him down: another better occasion will appear. Fr. Feliciano understands that the 20000 dollars (precisely the price of Tobe) are kept for the Piarists when they decide to found a school.

 

The four Fathers that arrived in 1952, they start to preach in Japanese. It is a help for Fr. Feliciano that during many months he has upon him the preoccupation of finding out money, house and school.  Seeing that the human means fail, he tries a divine trick: he puts under Saint Joseph statue, in secret, the letter with the negative of the Bishop. And he promises to the Saint the spreading of the devotion of the 7 Sundays among the people, if in the next year they have house and school.

 

While Saint Joseph is taking care of the commission, Fr. Feliciano does not remain idle. He goes to visit a big house that had been offered years before in Kamakura, rather cheap because there had been assassinated the owner. It is not bad, but the problem is that it is far away and it is difficult to build a church or a school in the nearby. He visits a land in Hodogaya (Yokohama), cheap and interesting, but there was a commitment before of building there a Buddhist School for girls; the owners prefer to wait until the monks might have the money. In reality, four years later, the Buddhist School was built. Another door closed.

 

Fr. Feliciano goes on arguing with the Bishop of Yokohama. He does not get a lower price, but he obtains a new year to pay the house. In the meantime, it is an urgent necessity to find a school; the four Fathers are finishing their second year Japanese studies and soon they will be able to work as educators. It is evident that there is not enough work for all in Tobe Parish, and it was not the purpose in coming to Japan. Fr Feliciano proposes to Fr. Provincial a bank credit upon one of our schools in the Province and in that way to obtain the necessary capital to solve his problems in Japan. The Provincial Congregation rejects such proposition. Fr. Feliciano proposes to the Provincial Congregation the following two solutions:

 

1. For the moment to abandon the idea of founding a school and buying the house of Tobe or to ask for a missionary territory, or at least, to leave the house of Tobe and to buy a cheaper one;

 

2. To try, by all means, with extraordinary help, to build a school in short.  The answer arrives at the middle of June: not to lose from our sight the objective of the school; that if it not possible to buy the land and build a school, only the land might be bought. No debts should be taken. Only one month and a half remain to take the decision about Tobe.

 

Fr Feliciano goes again to talk with the Bishop, showing us his good condition of a good negotiator. He offers him to pay the half of the price of the house and church of Tobe at the end of August and the remaining in two terms during the following year. The Bishops agrees. Then Fr. Feliciano asks: "After the payment is finished, will the church become a Parish?" The Bishop becomes perplexed and says that he had to consult it. At the beginning of July the Bishops arrives to the house telling jokingly that they can remain a more year in the house without paying anything. Fr. Feliciano realizes that the Bishop does not want to face the theme of the Parish, giving in this way time for the future. But for Fr. Feliciano, a very heavy weight is taken off from his shoulders: during a year, he can concentrate himself in the theme of the school.

 

Summer time arrives and with it the summer vacation of the students that use to climb Mt. Fuji. After coming back, Fr. Iraola becomes sick. The doctor says that it is tuberculosis, although thanks God, it is not as grave as Fr. Perea was. The sick person has to take care of himself during years, but can live practically a normal activity. At the beginning of September is decided that the Fathers might continue improving their Japanese. Anyway, they could not do another thing.

 

3. Yokkaichi   

 

Suddenly, in September, appears a good opportunity. Fr. Feliciano comments:

 

"Saint Joseph, to whom we commanded the two matters, seems to intercede in a powerful way before the Lord in order to take us afloat; after the House, he wants to give us a School."

 

The Internuncios calls Fr. Feliciano at the middle of the month and asks him to be in contact with the Bishop of Kyoto. In his Diocese, in a city named Yokkaichi, there is a school the City Hall wants to give to a religious community. On September 29, Fr. Feliciano went there and in the Bishop place he met the City Major and the responsible of the education in Yokkaichi. After talking with them, he wants to visit the place and they accompany him. Coming back to Tobe, he informs to Fr. Provincial by a letter on October 14. It is worthy to reproduce his description of the school:

 

"I think that the main things are the following:

 

1.      The said school is a High School, or Kotogakko, as it is called here, and only for boys.                

2.      The ground, perfectly plane, has an extension of 10000 tsubos, or about 33000 m.

3.      There are two similar buildings, wooden buildings, and of one story. They told me that they were a factory during the war and after the end of the war, they made simple walls of wood, without even painting them, and the classes are like that. It is true that they would not serve to give classes and if we would go there, we must think in building new buildings.

4.      The land and the building are a property of the City Hall of Yokkaichi that wants to give free in ownership to some society that would dedicate to teaching.

5.      Of course, among so much beauty, could not be lacking a black point, and certainly, the one is not small. That is to say: the students are 148 and the tuition together give during a year 2.108.500 yen, while the wages of the teachers  and another expenses reach the sum of 4.908.500 yen, with a yearly deficit of 2.800.000 yen (about 280.000 pesetas. Spanish money). About that, they talked to me plainly and simply in Kyoto, but three days ago I have received of the said Education Director the detailed balance of the year - April 1953 to April 1954 -, from where I copy the data.

 

The Society of the Divine Word that has in Nagoya (it takes an hour from Yokkaichi, by train) a University, a Middle and High School, made a contract to direct the school for three years, and this contract ends the next March, and they do not want to renew it, since they say that they cannot do it properly. In fact, the direction is reduced to a Father that goes twice a week to Yokkaichi and I think he is teaching.

    

 Yokkaichi City has 170.000 people; it is an important sea port and has textile factories.

         

Of course, there still remain many questions to study the whole thing and for this reason, I have not given the news in haste.

           

In my opinion, it is true that it is not still clear, but there are pro and contra rather big; therefore it is necessary to think deeply. To receive this land free could be to save about 20 million yen (2 millions of pesetas). The Internuncios wants us to accept it. We can receive it 'ad experimentum', for one or two years and to go one without building anything, or to make the least from our part and to leave it if we see that it does not go well."

 

At the end of October, Fr. Feliciano goes again to Yokkaichi to see everything in detail. He talks with the Divine Fathers, visits the school, and negotiates with the Major a contract where he proposes five clauses:

 

"1. During a period of three years, the City Hall will take the responsibility of the deficit

2. The direction will be, from the beginning, in the hands of the Piarists.

3. If the Piarists wish, they will be able to teach.

4. If they accept the school now or after three years, the land as well as the buildings will go to the hands of the Piarists.

5. In the meantime, the Piarist will try to annul the deficit."   

 

The City Hall answers on November 16, accepting the clauses but changing the first one: they propose to pay "around two millions yen a year". Fr. Feliciano says that still there are 800000 yen as a deficit and that he cannot accept the offering of the City Hall. At the beginning of December goes to Tobe the Director of Education of Yokkaichi to negotiate with Fr. Feliciano. He explains to him that it is necessary to fix some amount as a deficit and he proposes to say "around two millions", explaining to him that in Japanese, the used form allows to understand that if the deficit would be bigger, it would be paid more.

 

The City Hall accepts the new form on December 13 and asks Fr. Feliciano to go to sign the contract. Fr. Feliciano informs to the Internuncios about the gotten accord. He becomes very happy and he tells him to take as a witness the Bishop of Kyoto when he might sign the contract. 

 

In the meantime, the Catholic community of Tobe goes increasing. The Piarist print in Japanese the Crown of the Twelve Stars, as homage to Mary; it is a printing of 10000. And of course a provisional edition, until in January 1956 is printed the definite of 10000 copies of the Seven Sundays of St. Joseph.  On the Christmas Day 1954, the Communions reach 115.

 

On January 24, 1955, Fr. Feliciano and Fr. Enrique Rivero went to Yokkaichi to sign the contract with the City Hall. The Bishop of Kyoto accepts to be present as a witness. The civil and religious authorities go to the school and there explain to the students and teachers what is going to be carried out. Immediately, during a fraternal lunch, are singed the samples of the contract. The same day Fr. Feliciano goes back to Yokohama, getting from the Divine Fathers that the whole school materials that belong to them, with remain at school. Fr. Rivero remains in Yokkaichi as a permanent person.  

 

4. A new Community 

 

Fr. Rivero has a little more than two months to prepare everything for the new community in Yokkaichi. He needs to prepare the rooms for his companions, to buy furniture, to hire a cook… and at the same time to be in contact with the things at school that he will direct when the new school year would start.    

 

Fr. Enrique Rivero is another relevant person in this history; therefore it would be good to make his presentation. He was born in Bilbao (Spain) in 1927. After he finished his theological studies, he was ordained as a priest in 1951 and in that same year he went to USA to study English or a year. We know already that he arrived to Japan in 1952. After he studied Japanese during two years, he was sent to Yokkaichi. There he was the principal person in the re-starting of the school that would be called Kaisei.  He was the Principal during 22 years and besides that, the effective one during the first four years, while the official was Fr. Feliciano. He was also Rector of the community during 14 years. When Fr. Feliciano was elected Provincial of Vasconia and went back to Spain,  Fr.Rivero was nominated  Provincial Delegate of Japan from 1967 to 1973. He was also a Parish Priest in Yokkaichi, from 1989 to 1995. His pedagogical competence was recognized by numerous schools and Directive Groups that nominated him as one of their members. In 1995 he went back to Spain because of his health.    

 

After he went back to Yokohama, Fr. Feliciano communicates to the Internuncios the things relating to the School in Yokkaichi. Some days later, the Internuncios sends them, as he had promised, a check of 20000 dollars. It was more than seven millions yen. It was a providential help to start helping the school… and to buy the house in Yokohama. The Internuncios urges Fr. Feliciano to insist for new missionaries from Spain. "Between Tokyo and Yokohama, we should aspire to open another five schools", he tells him.  Fr. Feliciano is nominated Defensor ad Vinculum of the Diocese of Yokohama.

 

On February 10, Fr. Feliciano goes back to Yokkaichi with Fr. Iraola who will remain there. On the 11th is put, in a solemn way, the Blessed Sacrament in a small chapel of the community. The Fathers,

 

"Pray a station asking Jesus three graces: that in that school would not be committed any mortal sin; that He would keep that school for ever and that many of our students baptized there, would enter our Order."

 

About the first thing, we do not know; the second, it takes the road of becoming a reality; the third one… we will have to wait still some time to see it. On February 15 is established the Gakkohojin or moral person responsible of the School before the Education authorities, and the new directory is approved.

 

The Fathers go around making propaganda among the Middle schools regarding the enrolment for the new school year. As it is the custom in Japan, many students come for the examination entrance, 410. We have to say that each student takes different examinations to approve what he can and later on to select the school better for him. They were approved 212, being this number a great hope. For the opening day, only 33 come. The Fathers understand that they have to work hard to gain a good reputation… and students. For the moment, to better the ciphers and following the indications of the Major, the best of those who have not passed, are accepted until the number increases to 70 students. This is also a usual practice in Japan. To increase the number of students is an essential thing in order to meet the account ciphers.

 

On March 26, the first Local Chapter of the Mission is celebrated, in the Yokohama house. Only two sessions are held, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.     

 

5. Kaisei

 

On April 3 arrives in a definitive way Fr. Imanol, who becomes a member of that community. He had already spent a couple of months observing, but he had come back to Yokohama to help during the acts of the Holy Week. The 4th starts the new school year. In May, after the new organisms were put in effect, it is decided to give a new name to the school. But before that, let us say something about its history.

 

On October 1945, just after finishing the war, in Kuwana City locality, next to Yokkaichi, was created a school to study English, in a Buddhist temple. In the following year, the place became small, because besides English was started to be taught economy, therefore they moved to the two wooden buildings in Yokkaichi. Fr. Edmond Ryan, an American MaryKnoll Priest, founding-priest of Yokkaichi Church, was nominated as a Director. Fr. Ryan had put the Church under the protection of Mary "Umi no Hoshi” Stella Maris. He gave to school the same name of "Kaisei", meaning the same in Japanese, "Star of the Sea'. In 1047, the Divine Fathers took the responsibility of the school, associating it to the University Nanzan of Nagoya City. They call it "Nanzan High School" with the three courses before the University. But we have seen that they did not care about it in a close way; it has few students and much deficit, therefore in 1954 they decide to take it back to the City Hall that had lent the land and the buildings.

 

The Piarist decide that the school would recuperate the old name "Kaisei". Fr. Rivero needs much dexterity to handle it because the teachers were accustomed to do their will and now they are with an authentic Principal. Let us see some pedagogical notes of one of the first Piarists of the first team, Fr. Imanol:

 

"The students were respectful and they behaved very well in class. We used to teach wearing cassocks and during the recess time, we tried to talk with them, on one hand to practice what we had learned during the two years and two months of the intense study of the language; we could see, nevertheless, that even the young Japanese teachers did not have the custom of talking with them during the recess time, but only when they called their students to admonish or reprimand them - most of the time - in the teachers' room.

 

After classes, we used to have catechism classes for the different groups according to what we had fixed among us. There were rather many those who attended, especially at the beginning. There were about 15 for each group. After they had lost the war, and everything they had as untouchable had been down, that anxiety of looking for permanent values made many be close to Catholicism. Those first years were really years when we had influence in them and we got plenty of fruits. Still many of those young boys remain faithful to Jesus; today, grown up men who have influence in the Christian communities, who learned in our school the holy fear of the Lord. Others who now have great responsibilities in the direction of public schools told me in one of my recent visits I have made to Japan, that they feel close to the Christian morality and to the teaching of the Bible, thanks to what they learned from our Fathers during their stay at school. May this be said for the praise of God."

 

The summer vacation arrives. During those times, to take vacation, the Fathers from Yokkaichi go some days to Yokohama and those from Yokohama go to Yokkaichi. In this way, they went back as new. The time is used to paint internally everything. Fr. Lorenzo, after two years of studying Japanese, goes to USA; to the House the Piarists have in Buffalo, to study English. The voyage by ship takes a month. It is just to thank from these lines the North American Piarists for receiving during those first years in Japan those from Japan who went to study English.

 

Fr. Feliciano has to meet another bull: the corruption that is loose all around the world. It happened that after he was elected Director of the school, he had to show that he had one million yen in the bank to cover risks. Some local civil servants arrive in September asking to give the million yen. He answers that about it, nothing. Later on, another provincial civil servant comes with the same petition and the threat of denying the permit for the functioning of Kaisei. He does not give up. When in October he makes the procedures to get a permit to open the Chuugakkoo or Middle School, they repeat the same. They remind him that to give that money is a requirement of the Japanese laws and, you don't want to break the Japanese laws, do you? Of course not, answers Fr. Feliciano, that is not my intention, and to keep the law, he is ready to leave the school, but the one million, no. At last, they give up and give the permit for the Middle School. 

 

In the meantime, the Bishop of Yokohama has been out on a tour through Europe, in April, being a guest of the Piarists in San Pantaleo and in other Spanish Houses, and he does not come back until the end of the years. Therefore, the time for the buying of the house has been prolonged. This is the summarizing of 1995 in the words of Fr. Feliciano:

 

”It is very difficult to summarize in a few words what this year meant for the Piarist Mission in Japan. The Lord has been really great with us and many things have changed. Through the intercession of St. Joseph we have a house and a School, what a year and a half ago was impossible to dream. There are many great worries, but we can face the future with much tranquility.

 

God has made everything possible without any miracle, since everything has been led by Him smoothly through ordinary roads. But those who do not want to close their eyes will be able to see clearly the Hand of the Providence. Is there still anybody who would not say that the Will of God is manifested in this Mission?"

 

 

6. Years of moving on

 

At the beginning of 1956 is started again with the Bishop of Yokohama the theme of the selling of the house. The Bishop continues thinking about it. Having the money and the option clear, they give to the Bishop a first payment of three millions. Tobe is already ours. The Bishops announces that in brief he will establish Tobe as an independent Parish, and when they finish the payment, as a Religious Parish.

 

From this date is the first contact, isolated, with Cebu City in the Philippines. It happens that two seminarians from Mabolo (Cebu City, Philippines) had written to Fr. Magyar, in Buffalo (USA) and to Fr. General, asking to be admitted in our Order. Both send them to Fr. Feliciano. He contacts the director of the seminary and after receiving the information, he dissuades the Filipinos from his intention.

 

In Yokkaichi they prepare for a new School Year. This time take the examination 538 students, approving 350 and 100 remain as substitutes. The School Year starts with 267 students. Two more years ago, let us remember, it had 148. Fr. Feliciano has to face the teachers that as always, ask for an increase in wages. And at the same time, they try to balance the deficit. At the beginning of the year arrives a young boy of 15, Peter Luis Kitsuya Takahiro, who wants to become a Piarist. He is the first of a list that during many years represents a hope for the Japanese Pious Schools that does not become a reality. Fr. Iraola becomes his formator.

 

The Fathers found that in the school there was an association of the parents of the students that was inactive. Instead of suppressing it that would have encountered the opposition of all teachers, they decide to create another new one, with the name of "Seien-kai", an Association of Help. With some rules well thought and with a monthly fee of 100 yen by each member, it will become an efficacious organ and of great transcendence in the future. Little by little are seen the changes in the school: the students greet with kindness the teachers from other centers; they do not stain the walls. Different things are bought for the auditorium, and new things become a reality. The levels of Kaisei are going up.

 

On July 19, 1956, is given to the Bishop of Yokohama a check of 5 millions yes, the rest of the payment and he rites a Decree erecting the new Parish of Tobe and nominating Fr. Feliciano as Parish Priest. There start the measures to change the denomination for a Religious Parish. In reality, the whole matter will be finished in April 1957. Fr. Feliciano is completely happy and thankful:

 

"From those first prayers of a solitary missionary at the foot of the Monstrance, always in state of exposition in the Chapel of the Handmaids of Yokosuka, where Jesus was asked for a House for the Missionaries that were still coming, until today, when Jesus has given us in property this House, many vicissitudes have happened. Many times, the thing has appeared and has been thought as impossible (…). But Jesus prepared for us the house on time, just when it was finished its construction, and when the missionaries were embarked for Japan. He gave it to us as a lending thing, without any rent; He prolonged the periods while they were necessary and He has given us the money to pay it on time.

 

Those who come in the following years should understand that they live in what the Lord gave us freely, and therefore, that is our obligation to correspond to him in the persons of the missionaries. May nobody come to our House asking for lodging and be refused! No one should be asked anything coming here! Until now, it has been done in this way, and they are not ashamed of saying that, that they come with confidence because we receive them gladly."

 

7.      First General Assemble of the Japanese Piarists

 

At this time, there are in Japan 6 Piarists, five of them Priests and one Brother. Fr. Lorenzo is studying in USA. Three are in Tobe and three in Yokkaichi. They form a unique community, being the Rector Fr. Feliciano, and besides that he is also the official Principal of Kaisei and Parish Priest of Tobe Church. On August 29 they meet all in Tobe to hold what thy call the First Assemble of the Piarist Missionaries in Japan. In March 1955 they had held the first Local Chapter. It was necessary to have another meeting to study together the present and the future of the Mission. The meeting has, in reality, a character of informal demarcation Chapter. This is the program prepared by Fr. Feliciano:

 

Part I.  Fr. Rector

 

a)      A history of the House of Tobe until its acquisition and participation of St. Joseph Spouse in such a matter. (At last Fr. Feliciano reveals the name of his celestial partner!)

b)      Juridical status of the Mission: "Shuukyoohoojin" (We have juridical identity before the Japanese state)

c)      Economic situation at present; immovable and Capital (after paying the house of Tobe they have in the bank a capital of 13 and half millions, plus three houses valued together in two and a half millions, and they produce an interest of 30% yearly)

d)     Economic balance in the last year: July 1955 until the present

e)      Mass intentions and stipends received from the Central Economy of the Missions. Thanks to St. Anthony of Padua (They have received in 13 months 2878 intentions and the amount  of more than one millions of yen, without counting those received directly from the Houses. Of those, 1800 intentions are remitted to the Mission Procurator, Fr. Rafael Perez, who makes them celebrate as alms: the money remains in Japan).

f)       Income of the House in Rent and of the Capital that is in deposit (The banks used to give at this time the interest of 6-7%). Thanks to St. Rafael Archangel.

 

 

 

Part II.  Suggestions

 

a)      Suggestion for preparing "propaganda" in Spain. Fr. Ignacio de Nicolas (The budget is approved; 300000 yen)

b)      Building a church in Yokkaichi. Fr. Enrique Rievero (To celebrate Mass properly at Kaisei, he proposes to take money from the school to build it. They reject the proposition)

c)       Commemoration of the centenary of St. Joseph Calasanz. Fr. Imanol Lasquibar (Celebrations, competitions…)

d)      The KYOOKAI magazine. Collaborators. Fr. Javier Iraola (Edited by Fr. Rafael instead of "Yokosuka". In reality this magazine is also suppressed to give way, according to the Spanish Bishops' suggestion, to an infantile common missionary magazine).

e)       Other matters and suggestions (The send some alms to Peralta de la Sal for the centenary; to write the Chronicle of the Mission; to give Fraternity Letters to Benefactors, collaboration with some Piarist publications and of the Church). 

 

8.      Ordinary life in the Mission

 

For the first time the Sacrament of Confirmation is administered in Tobe Parish, with a total of 27 persons among young people and adults. The following month comes a special visit: the Archbishop of Manila who comes to Japan to give thanks for the 60000 sacks of cement given for the construction of his Cathedral destroyed during the war. In Tobe many Filipinos attended Mass and the Archbishop wanted to celebrate the Mass there, especially for them.

 

In Yokkaichi continues the process of regularization The Piarists have already decided to remain at Kaisei. Therefore, it is necessary to regulate the theme of the owner of the land. The teachers continue presenting their complaints, but they are quieted down wisely by the Principal. The Postulant Peter Luis is told to remain at home after the vacation of Christmas. They cannot see in him qualities for the religious life. Fr. Iraola, from time to time, has some health problems.

 

Fr. Lorenzo comes back form USA. He remains in Yokohama and Fr. Ignacio is sent to Yokkaichi, substituting Fr. Iraola, who is also sent to Yokohama so that he may recuperate completely. Fr. Provincial; nominates Fr. Rivero President of the Yokkaichi community.

 

In Tobe a solemn funeral is held for President Ramon Magsaysay of the Philippines who died in an airplane accident.  The Church becomes small during the Holy Week ceremonies during this year of 1957. On Eastern Day are given 155 communions.

 

It is time to think seriously about the school of Yokkaici, because at the end of this school year 1957-1958, the contract with the City Hall is finished. The Piarists make their calculations. Every year they receive two millions and a half of help, but in the last year they have reduced the deficit of 2800000 to 1300000. The number of students is increasing. Increasing a little the tuition, the deficit can disappear easily. Some prefer to take the school already, although some prefer to continue with the contract and to continue receiving help from the City Hall, although it might be smaller. But there is still another problem. Fr. Feliciano established clearly that the Piarists would take care of the School only in the case that they would give the land in ownership. Fr. Provincial leaves in the hands of Fr. Feliciano to take the stand he would consider better. In August he has a meeting with the authorities of Yokkaichi. The authorities want that the Piarists would take already the School and they promise to arrange the problem of the land. They discuss the theme of giving help or not, but this is a secondary theme. Even they go to the Bishop of Kyoto so that he may "command" the Piarists to take over the School. They always repeat that it is their intention, but they only will take the responsibility when the documents of the ownership of the land would be ready. The negotiations long for months; at last, the authorities give signs of good will wanting to move the matter, buying land, making easy the papers. At the end of March of 1958, they almost had all the documents, therefore the school year started without any problem; the last title ownership was received in June of that year. At that time, the Piarists, owners of the land, had already the intention of being in charge of the new school in the same place.

 

On August 28, 1957, there was held in Tobe the Second General Assemble of the Piarists in Japan. It had an information character by Fr. Feliciano; it only lasted about two hours. In it Fr. Feliciano enumerates the steps given until getting the Parish of Tobe for the Piarists as a Religious Parish. Following that, he informs about the situation, still complicated, of the School in Yokkaichi where in three school years they have come from 148 students to 337. .He presents the economic state of the Mission: the reserve is increasing to 5 millions in one year. And he asks for the confidence vote in a matter that then started to become a problem: the arriving of reinforcements to the Mission.

 

"I see, he says, the impatience and sometimes discouragement manifested in words, because for so a long time we have not received reinforcements of new Missionaries. I ask all to believe when I say that I have done before Fr. General and Fr. Provincial as much as I was able to do, and of course, more than I had the obligation to do."

 

During this history, this song will be repeated many times!

 

On November 4, arrives a reinforcement: Fr. Urruchi. Although he was one of the volunteers that had offered himself to come to Japan at the end of 1949, now he arrives and he remains a short time. In 1960 he received the Obedience to go Chili. When Fr. Feliciano went to present the new Missionary to the Internuncios, he asked how the school was going on. Fr. Feliciano spoke about realities and projects. He commented that he had 20 million yen to make Kaisei new. "I suppose, Father, the Internuncios said, that you will not be deceived and you will see well that with that you only have for starting."

 

Fr. Feliciano knew that very well, who summarizes his chronicle of 1957 in this way:

 

"In Yokkaichi, there is still a long road to walk on, but the reputation of the School has become better in a visible way; today, the School is the second among the Schools of the city. We have gotten to legalize the register of the land. We can see the future with the moral security that we can take that school without any deficit. It is necessary to build there a new building; for that, the actual deposit of money is ridicule. Only the Lord, who, when he wanted, made for his Mission other things, will do also this one, without any doubt, but it is our obligation to continue without ceasing to remove any stone. May He help us and give his grace to persevere."   

 

The Tobe Church becomes small in the great festivities, as at Christmas night, when 102 communions are distributed. Many faithful had to be standing. For the comfort of the faithful, Fr Feliciano decides from the beginning of 1958, to celebrate one more Mass on Sundays, at 6:30 P.M., that together with the 7, 9 and 11 A.M., plus one for the Piarist Sisters and another chaplaincy, give enough work to the two Fathers that attend the Church.

 

On January 28, 1958, Fr. Felix Leorza, Provincial of Vasconia, gives a decree creating the Provincial Delegation of Japan, and nominating Provincial Delegate Fr. Feliciano Perez. A new step starts for the Mission. At the present time, there are 8 Religious in two communities, with a school and one Parish in their care. A little more than 7 years have passed since the first two arrived.

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