It’s just over a week since a massive earthquake and tsunami ravaged north-eastern Japan (March 11, 2011) causing immense loss of life and destruction to infrastructure, but the enormity of the tragedy continues to unfold, especially with the threat of a nuclear crisis.
The Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict, Australia’s first ‘home-grown’ congregation of religious women, offer their deep sympathy, solidarity and prayerful support to the people of Japan with whom they have had close connections since the late 1940s.
In 1948, the Good Samaritan Sisters responded to an appeal from the Bishop of Nagasaki, Paul Yamaguchi, for an Australian order of sisters to help in the reconstruction of his diocese which had been devastated by the 1945 atomic bomb.
In 1952, the sisters left Nagasaki to establish communities in Sasebo and Nara. There they started kindergartens, worked in the Nara parish and built Seiwa High School in Sasebo.
Today, a group of Japanese Good Samaritan sisters continues to minister in Nara, about 380 kilometres south-west of Tokyo.
“As a congregation, we are united in solidarity with our sisters in Japan, their families and all the people of Japan as they come to understand the grief and enormity of this tragedy that has struck them,” said Sister Clare Condon, Congregational Leader of the Good Samaritan Sisters.
Recalling the observations of the first five sisters who arrived in Nagasaki shortly after the end of World War II, Sister Clare said they were moved by the people’s strong will to rebuild and to improve on their lives despite the desolation that surrounded them.
“As a congregation we will pray that this strong will continues for the people of north-eastern Japan as they begin to rebuild their lives.
“I believe March 20, the day of the equinox, is the beginning of spring in Japan. Shortly after this the cherry tree starts to bloom in some parts of Japan and the people begin to experience the spring,” she said.
“We pray that this spring and the flowering of the cherry blossoms will inspire the people of Japan to look to the future.”