2021 Church Festival Celebrates with the Theme: Hope
St. Ignatius Parish celebrated its Church Festival on October 10 with the theme HOPE. What made it special was the fact that it was celebrated in the context of the Ignatian Year.
Fr. Ryūichirō Hanafusa, our Pastor, said, “Usually, when we think of “festival” in our church, we gather together, eat, dance, and sing. But because of the pandemic we cannot do that. This year our celebration is on-line. We HOPE everybody can enjoy themselves and share with one another.”
In the morning, an International Mass was celebrated and live-streamed in four major languages – Japanese, English, Vietnamese and Spanish. The homily was presented by four Jesuits, each in his native language, sharing his perspective on HOPE, and linking it with our Patron, St. Ignatius of Loyola.
In his homily, Fr. Hanafusa started with a thought-provoking question: Where or how do we encounter HOPE? For St. Ignatius, HOPE was “born” not from a challenge but from his wounds. He was a man with many plans for himself (Plan A), but because of his injury these came to naught! Wondering what he should do, he pursued alternatives but again met with difficulties. However, he did not give up. From these sprang Plan B, where God was leading him. This eventually paved the way to the founding of the Society of Jesus. As Fr. Hanafusa said, “St. Ignatius was a Plan B Saint!”
Fr. Bony James, said, “The Christian idea of HOPE rests on the faith that all things are possible with God. As we look at our parish, I am glad to observe that we have a lot of things to hope for. It gives us hope that we are able to come together in a virtual platform like this in spite of the differences in language, culture, and customs. It gives us hope that in spite of limitations and restrictions due to the present crisis caused by the pandemic, we are able to be in touch with our parishioners through the media. It gives us hope, as we witness today, that we have many young and old who are generously volunteering at the church to keep it moving with its daily activities.”
He added, “Along with hope, is THANKSGIVING. It is a time to thank the Lord. In times of plenty we tend to forget; in times of famine, we accuse God of forgetting. This Mass is a symbolic celebration. Here we resolve never to take our blessings for granted. At times God leads us through abundant blessings, as he did before the corona times when we were so blessed to celebrate Mass freely. At other times, God allowed us to go through difficult times such as not being able to attend Mass or receive him. However, this morning we thank him for everything. For many of us, it is a hard time in many ways: mentally, economically, and spiritually. However, let us not give up hope. In God`s wisdom everything has a meaning, and nothing happens without his knowledge.” Fr. Bony then shared the famous poem, “Footprints in the Sand.”
Fr. Nguyễn Thanh Nhã started by thanking God for the occasion of being able to celebrate as one multi-cultural community. He reminded the Vietnamese group, “Like St. Ignatius, we are invited not to trust and HOPE in God only when everything is okay, but most importantly when things are not okay, like in this time of the corona.”
Fr. Javier Garralda, speaking in Spanish, said HOPE is necessary in this time of the pandemic. However, it is not just to believe in the words of Jesus, “Do not fear. I will be with you until the end of time.” This too is HOPE, but HOPE is more than this! God wants us to work with him and strengthen our HOPE by putting into practice what we learn from the pandemic. A basic lesson is SOLIDARITY! We are all suffering. We need to help and share because this is where HOPE lies. The sad reality is the rich is becoming richer, the poor, poorer. He ended by saying, “Let us ask the intercession of St. Ignatius, that from now on, we may have Solidarity and share with one another!”
by Sr. Flor Florece, F.I