Hirosaki Ryuichi (Hosoe Catholic Church, Shimonoseki)

Anyway, people come together at the Center from everywhere and we have a great time. A priest, about to collapse, shouts in a loud voice that he is the "Director" of the Center. A moderate medical doctor that leads a peace march shows a "10 feet" film. A group of activists against nuclear energy invite people actively working in many places, on the occasion of publishing their bulletin. A Buddhist monk and several company employees that organize a series of lectures gather also there to discuss how to preserve and make alive the Japanese Constitution. Foreign students boast of their skills to cook ethnic dishes and share them with the ones gathered there. Persons that come to deliver home-grown eggs and vegetables produced with much effort and time without using agricultural chemicals. Many others visit the Center, like people who have recorded documentary films on peace events, people editing and publishing activities and speeches of Shimonoseki town, Protestant ministers, Constitution scholars and a University president that dance at the unison of music. Recently, a new group on Cambodian issues has also been formed and a young lady, librarian of a public library, is its representative.
The Labor education Center - for us the "Hiyoriyama Work Center" - stands in a pleasant place facing the sea breeze that blows from the Straights and the view of the whole landscape of Shimonoseki. This center, operated by the Jesuits to implement social and pastoral apostolate, enjoys a peculiar existence among many other Jesuit institutions. It has deep links with citizen groups since its establishment and most probably there are not so many Catholic institutions, like this center, where non-Catholics gather so freely.
The social issues discussed here by ordinary people are also quite colorful: the rights of workers and foreigners living in Japan, the human rights of ethnic minorities and children, Japan's Constitution, nuclear energy and ecological problems; self-reliance of the disabled.
Events are organized to think about the culture and self-determination rights of Ainu minorities, about postwar compensation of the Japanese military comfort women; activities for the support of East Timor's independence, a number of events to reflect on peace and war. In short, countless other activities like a Forum to reflect on the daily life issues of the people.
The Center is a place to gather and discuss issues together, a place to issue bulletins. It is, at the same time, a place to relax and share pleasantly meals. Thanks to the lodging facilities people can stay for a few days to plan social events.
Although there are other public facilities in town, people prefer this center, not only because they are totally free using it, but most important for them is that many feel encouraged and proud to have been using it at very important times, to confront regularly many different problem and anxieties and to promote action.
Christmas feasts have been held at the center. Christians as well as non-Christians gather together at the small chapel to share the issues each one is involved with and to reflect together on them. Some shed tears there under a heavy suffering. Christmas is a wonderful Holy Night that brings together all hearts.
How to promote evangelization? I think that people give testimony of the Gospel as a result of their commitment together to the solution of social problems, transcending the issue of belief or disbelief.
People in our times feel much difficulty in knowing each other, but those that come together with different purposes create new human links. The Center is a place for a "festival encounter".

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