After World War Ⅱ, in order to offer training to youth in a devastated Japan, the Clercs of Saint Viator established
Rakusei Secondary School.
It was in 1948 that the Clercs of St. Viator arrived in Japan and established their house in Kitashirakawa. The first Mass was celebrated on December 8, 1948 on the feast of the Assumption . And so our church was established with the intention of developing and deepening the faith of the Kitashirakawa community.
The 60th anniversary was celebrated last year, a rarity for a religious parish in this country.
Please drop in at our church any time. The Viatorians and all the community will welcome your visit.
Lyon is an old city in France, dating from 50 A.D. at the time of the Roman Empire. It was in this city that Bishop Just ( born in 306) and Viator (born in 360) worked together. Around 350 A.D., the persecution of Christians and their martyrdom finally ended. There followed a period of peace and the flowering of Christianity. But some people, wanting to be more like Christ, decided to go to the deserts and live their life as hermits. Their strict abstinence would emulate Christ's martyrdom more closely.
Just was born from a noble family and became the Bishop of the Maccabees Cathedral in Lyon. His teaching and exceptional virtues earned him the respect and love of all the people. Since Viator was born from a family which could afford his education、the bishop chose him to become a lector. A lector was someone who officially read the Holy Scriptures during masses but who also distributed the Holy Communion, blessed some offerings, taught the rudiments of faith and explained the sacraments. Viator was the private secretary of the Bishop and had his full confidence.
Bishop Just was caught up in a tragic event. A mad man grabbed a sword and began to attack all those around him before taking refuge in the Cathedral. Upon the repeated demands of the people and under the express condition that no harm would be done to him and that he would be cast into prison, the bishop consented to deliver the unfortunate refugee. But the mob didn’t respect its promise and killed the man. To take responsibility for this, the bishop decided to resign his seat and to go and bury himself in distant solitude in Egypt where he would spend his last years in the austerities of penance. It was in 381 at the age of 75 that Bishop Just took this decision. Two days later Viator went after him and met him at Narebone Port. Viator was asked to return to Lyon but he kneeled down and begged Bishop Just to let him accompany him.
Wanting a holier life, both of them decided to go to Egypt, to the desert of Scete, near the north-west mouth of the Nile. They decided to go to the Macarius Monastery in the Nitrian region. It is said that the first hermits to choose the desert and built a monastery at that place were Saint Anthony (251-356) and his disciple Macarius (300-390). Saint Anthony is the one who established the first monastery in Egypt and became a great leading guide. They had only one meal a day, and they lived mostly on bread and water. Sometimes they could eat some raw vegetables, some olives, and some small salted fish. The religious life under his rules was very severe. They only slept for 3 or 4 hours and the rest of the time was divided between prayers and work.
Once in a while, some Gallo-Roman visitor, attracted by the widespread fame of the monastery, came to visit. When they recognized Bishop Just, they cast themselves to his feet in profound veneration. The news spread in Lyon and the people there had a great admiration for both Bishop Just and his faithful Viator for their severe monastic life. Antiocus, the bishop who replaced Bishop Just, went to meet them to urge them to come back to Lyon, but he admired their strong will to spend the rest of their days at the monastery and did not insist on their return. Both of them died there in 390.
It is believed that in his last days Bishop Just was lying on a straw mat with people praying around him. To Viator, who was in pain at losing his master, he said: "Don’t be distressed because before long you will follow me." Bishop Just died on October 14th and a week later on October 21st Viator rejoined his beloved master.
Because of their sanctity and the reputation of their virtue, the people of Lyon had a great veneration for them. In 391 on August the 4th the people of Lyon welcomed the remains of these two and buried them under the Maccabees Cathedral. This church was then renamed Saint Just Cathedral. The church was again destroyed in war, but some people succeeded in saving some of the remains of those two saints. After that, because of the obedience and modesty of Saint Viator, his veneration grew to be greater than that of Saint Just. Father Querbes took Saint Viator as the model and protector for his community. Thanks to this the Viatorian Community developed and extended to the point of making the name of Saint Viator well known throughout the world.
The French Revolution started in 1789. In May 1793, the revolutionary army destroyed the cotton manufactures and the printing companies in Lyon. Christians were persecuted as criminals and executed. It was during these fearful times that Louis Marie Querbes was born on 21 August 1793.
In 1801, a treaty between Church and State allowed freedom of religion. Seminaries were reopened that same year. In 1808, when he was only 15 years old, Louis Marie Querbes made a private vow of chastity, and in 1812 he entered the seminary to study and become a priest. He had a very good memory, was quick to learn anything, had good judgment, and was thought to be a wise young man.
Although very young, Querbes kindly took care of the education of his juniors. At the age of 23, in June l816, he became a deacon and was put in charge of the seminarians. In December of the same year he was ordained in Saint-Nizier Church and appointed to the school attached to that church. It was in that same church of Saint-Nizier that Saint Just and Saint Viator (the patron of the Viatorians) had worked together many years earlier. When he was 25 years old, during the revolution, one of his classmates renounced his faith and priesthood, but Father Querbes continued to meet with him, and before that classmate died he received absolution for his apostasy and was administered the sacrament of anointing of the sick. This is to illustrate how unwavering was the faith of Father Querbes. In 1822 he was appointed pastor of the Vourles Church. Thanks to Father Querbes many people came back to the church, and in 1825 he could rebuild it, since it had been almost completely destroyed during the revolution.
The founding of the Viatorians
For the education of the poor children in the country, Father Querbes used his talents and printed a collection of hymns for his parish, published a book to teach how to read, another one to teach mathematics, and a few others for other subjects. During his time in Vourles, he chose and trained some devoted Catholics to help him teach the children. It is probably from this experience that his original intention to found a new community took shape. The Council of Trent also spoke about the idea of having non-married and married people forming a new community or religious order. But that council proposition eventually became an unavoidable obstacle for the establishment of new communities. In August 1829, the statutes of the Catechists of Saint-Viator were approved by the Minister of Education, but the bishop was reluctant to give his approval. In January 1830, the king of France approved the institution of the Viatorian Community, but the approval of the bishop came only four years later. To receive pontifical approbation, Father Querbes made a trip to Rome in 1838, and 3 months later the statutes of the Clerics of Saint-Viator were approved by Pope Gregory XVI. Father Querbes became the first General of his community. Even if he had to face financial difficulties, a shortage of personnel and many other problems, he never got discouraged. He not only sent some brothers and fathers to many places in France but he also sent some of his members to America, India and Canada. He died on 1 September 1859, due to complications from diabetes, at the age of 66.
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