Marists leave Nara

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Mar 17, 2012 -- an historical and moving moment in the life of the Prefecture of Nara, Japan, and of Australian Marist Fathers. In a farewell Mass and formal ceremonies at Nara Catholic church the five remaining Marist missionaries are honoured by bishop and people alike.

Above: The five are seated in the front at either side of the altar.
From left: Frs Oscar Ichiba (Japan), Paddy O'Hare (Ireland), Keith Tulloch (England, superior, and member of the Marist province of Europe), John Hill (Australia) and Syd Nugent (Australia).
Bishop Paul Otsuka of Kyoto dicoese presides at the farewell Mass, concelebrated by Marist missionaries, local clergy and visiting Australian Marists.
Above left: Part of the choir of Nara Catholic community.  Right: Frs Paddy O'Hare, Oscar Ichiba and Keith Tulloch.
A packed Nara parish church hears speeches from Australian provincial, Fr Paul Cooney (translated into Japanese by Fr Oscar Ichiba) as well as Bishop Otsuka and individual lay tributes to - and responses from - each of the five missionaries. Fr Cooney comments: 'After 63 years of commitment and service by our confreres in Nara prefecture we can give thanks for what has been achieved.'
Above, from left::Frs Syd Nugent, Paddy O'Hare, Oscar Ichiba, John Hill and Keith Tulloch.
The children of Nara present floral tributes to each of the missionaries. Provincial, Fr Paul Cooney, reports: 'The five confreres who have been our community in Nara in recent years were honoured with speeches and gifts, and each spoke in gratitude to the people.
'The warmth and love at the occasion were palpable and many tears were shed as our beloved confreres walked down the aisle at the end of the ceremony.'
Below: Frs Paddy O'Hare and Oscar Ichiba mix with the grateful Catholics of Nara. Both these Marists will spend a further year in the Kyoto diocese to assist the bishop in local ministries. Fr Paddy has a special ministry to South American migrant workers in Japan.
Below: Much-loved Nara missionaries, Frs John Hill and Syd Nugent, surrounded by their admiring flock. They will move to the Marist retirement facility, 'Montbel', Hunters Hill, NSW.
Above: English Marist, Fr Keith Tulloch, is the last local superior of the Nara mission and will return to the Marist Province of Europe.
Below: Portraits of the ex-patriate missionaries are displayed at the ceremony.
Above: Informal moments with local and visiting Marists and Bishop Otsuka before and after the farewell ceremonies.
 Below: Back row: Frs Oscar Ichiba, Paul Cooney, Paddy O'Hare, Garry Reynolds and David Wilson (who took the photos above -- thanks Fr David!); Front: Frs Syd Nugent, Keith Tulloch, John Hill, Fr Takino (pastor, Nara parish) and Bishop Paul Otsuka.

Some background to the Marist mission, Japan

(from May 2011 News)

Fr Lionel Marsden's anniversaries

One hundred years ago (Jul 12, 1911) Lionel Marsden was born in Bundarra, NSW; seventy years ago he was ordained a Marist priest (Nov 30, 1940); forty years ago (May 05, 1971), he died.

Fr Marsden (he was 'Sam' to his friends) is known as the founder of the Marist mission in Nara Prefecture, Japan. Months after ordination he was appointed as AIF chaplain in Malaya then underwent gruelling wartime experiences. After the fall of Singapore and work on the notorious Thai-Burma railway he witnessed sickness, starvation, torture and summary execution on the railway and at the Changi POW camp.

'If I ever get out of here alive,' he told himself, 'I will go to Japan as a missionary.' And he did.

Hellfire Pass, on the Thai-Burma border;   
Nara, Japan

Nara today boasts eight Marist-founded churches, five kindergartens, a day nursery, two aged care homes, plus a toy library for handicapped children and a club for the parents of disabled children.

Six Marist Fathers continue Fr Marsden's work in Japan.

Fr Marsden with post-war admirers and a Japanese samurai sword

Memories of Fr Lionel Marsden: River Kwai bridge / War cemetery, Kanchanaburi, Thailand;       Lists if prisoners / chaplains at Changi prison, Singapore;      Changi memorial today / reconstruction of the Changi chapel.