Day 1 - Digest

Our first full day was spent getting acclimated to the time change, the weather, the frenetic energy of the city, and the nuances of the Japanese train system. We also enjoyed the exquisite Japanese cuisine comprised of many small, beautifully displayed dishes.

After lunch, Archbishop Wester and Archbishop Etienne met with a reporter for The Asahi Shimbun paper to discuss the vision and purpose of this Pilgrimage of Peace.

“Pope Francis has changed the moral needle with a seismic shift in the thinking on nuclear. He is saying even having nuclear weapons is amoral,” said Archbishop Wester. “He is laying the challenge before us…We want to start and sustain a thriving conversation on nuclear.”

They shared the vision for verifiable multilateral nuclear disarmament as a pathway to peace and explained that many might think they are naive. “But we believe it’s far more naive to continue with what we’re doing now,” added Archbishop Wester.

“We are here to see what we can do to advocate for peace and share the gospel,” said Archbishop Etienne. We are here “to invite people to realize that we can have peace by growing relationships with our neighbors and communities. We need to do that as people before we can do so as nations.”

Later in the afternoon, the team visited Sophia, a Catholic University in Tokyo attended by our leader, Hiro, where we toured the campus and met some of his teachers. The Archbishops then celebrated Mass in the small Ignatius Chapel. The campus connects to one of the largest Catholic parishes in Tokyo, which has the most beautiful architecture.

For dinner, we enjoyed a traditional multi-course meal at a local restaurant with Sister Filo and Fr. Robert Chiesa, SJ. Sister Filo helped organize a portion of our pilgrimage and was a delight to connect with. Like Archbishop Etienne, she will be participating in the Synod on Synodality in Rome this October as a member of the planning committee.

Our Lady of Peace, pray for us; St. Francis, pray for us.