Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Representing Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners
  • Golden calf on Wall Street
  • Sri Lanka children - Jim Stipe
  • Seedbag
  • corn bags
  • Altar in Palestine - R Rodrick Beiler

Solemnity of Mary

Jan 1, 2018
Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6-8; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21
Prepared by:
Sister Kathleen Reiley, MM

The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

(Numbers 6:24-26)

Is this not the blessing that every parent wants for their child?

January 1 in Japan is the most important holiday of the whole year – The Japanese people celebrate the New Year for three days – spending quality time with family and close friends and visiting Buddhist temples. Literally millions of people visit Buddhist temples on New Year's Eve to ring the temple bells 108 times to welcome the New Year and then visit the Shinto Shrine to ask God’s blessing and protection for them and their families.

However, my ministry for the past 30 years has been accompanying children with cancer and their families and also, since the chain of calamity known as Japan's Triple Disaster of earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown on March 11, 2011, which left 19,000 dead and displaced some 342,000 from their homes, I also travel to Fukushima to volunteer there when possible.

There is projected to be enough radioactive waste collected and bagged in Fukushima to fill over 11,000 Olympic swimming pools, but there is no safe place dispose of it.

The people of Fukushima, of all people in Japan, long the most for well-being and peace despite the tremendous odds against them.  Since the nuclear accident I have sometimes heard some people say glibly, "Oh, the cancer rate will only increase a few percentage points!" Do they know the number of children presenting with rare types of cancer in increasing?

I do not want even one more child to have to battle cancer.

When I travel to Fukushima and see the huge amount of contaminated earth sitting wrapped up in blue vinyl sheets and piled in empty fields which once were beautiful farmland and pastures, it is beyond HEARTBREAKING.

Just yesterday a young woman asked to speak with me in confidence, her eyes brimming with tears. She said her hometown is now a ‘ghost town.’ Even though the Japanese government has declared it ‘safe’ to return, only 10 percent of the people have returned – mostly the old people who have nowhere else to go. Most young families have left find new homes, where there is work and where they feel it is safe enough to raise young children.

Nuclear energy is not cheap. It costs our health and safety. It is not safe to produce. It leaves waste which is not safe to dispose. Yet it is connected to the technology for developing nuclear weapons so countries want to have it.

I pray that with a New Year dawning the Mother of God – the Mother of all of us – helps us to reflect on our present reality and do all we can to be PEACEMAKERS  in whatever way we can – helping to protect our common HOME for our children and their children’s children to the seventh generation. The Seventh Generation Principle is based on an ancient Iroquois philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.

Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart. 

Photo: Disaster volunteers at Namie Town in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan by Flickr/Hajime Nakano, December 16, 2017.