Welcome to Among The People, a Maryknoll podcast about the transformational experience of a life of mission overseas, answering God’s call to serve the least among us.
Each episode we bring you the voices of our missioners, authors and the people we serve, who share their impactful stories of life long mission, serving the poor, sick and marginalized in the most needed parts of the world.
We are so happy to have you with us, and know you’ll enjoy every unique reflection of mission.
Unifying Different Cultures Through Faith in Japan
An interview with Maryknoll Missioner, Fr. Roberto Rodriguez
When I got there, this reality was already present. I just happened to be assigned there, because the Bishop learned that given my Central American background, being born in El Salvador, I speak Spanish, come into the United States, becoming an American, I learned English … Eventually I was sent to the Philippines by Maryknoll before this assignment, and I learned the language of the south of the Philippines, and also Japanese, which I studied as soon as I got there. I studied it for three years, full time. And so with that in mind, he said that he needed to move me to this particular new assignment, so that I will pay attention to the new reality of the Catholics in Japan, because that’s what is happening.
The Japanese Catholic population is declining, due to the aging population, and the low birth rate, but the Catholic population of migrants is making it to go up. So we have now a different reality than let’s say right after the war, where everyone was Japanese Catholic. Now we have 56% of the Catholic population is foreign-born migrants, who came to Japan, and 44% born Japanese. So that’s the new reality of the Catholic church. It’s not everywhere, but primarily in the metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Saitama, Nagoya, Osaka. And so the people that are responding to the needs of the migrants are basically the missionaries from diverse communities, because they come not only with the need to be tending to, let’s say their spirituality, the celebration of the Eucharist, the sacrament, but also with other necessities such as in occasion legal assistance, because they broke the law, or they lost their job, or they were injured and they are not being compensated, or sometimes they just get into trouble.