St. Francis Xavier Church in Los Angeles, where I do ministry, welcomed Bishop Elshoff on January 21 for Mass and a New Year’s party. It was a great joy for the parishioners to have more than a dozen Carondelet Sisters attending.
This parish is a little different from most parishes. Many of the parishioners are graduates of the Maryknoll School, and their grandparents and parents spent time together at Manzanar and Tule Lake (an internment camp/relocation center) during World War II or served in the U.S. Army as soldiers in the 442nd and fought together on the European front. Therefore, the parishioners have known each other for generations and are like a big family.
The third and later generations of Japanese immigrants do not speak Japanese at all, but they still carry on many of the Japanese customs.
On the 21st, following the Japanese and English Masses, a New Year’s party was held in the hall.
Parishioners played the Koto and Shamisen (traditional Japanese instruments), pastor Fr. Doan led the singing of Japanese songs, and the traditional Japanese New Year soup “Ozoni”, Japanese bento boxes, and sake were served. Bishop Elshoff also truly enjoyed the fellowship with his parishioners. The parishioners were also very happy to see that our sisters were so friendly and cheerful. After the party, many of them said to me, “We hope the sisters of your community will continue to come to our parish. It was a real delight to have you all here.” I would like to thank all the sisters who participated in this event.
The hall where this party took place is a historic building. The parishioners brought their belongings from their homes into this hall just before they were forced to go to the internment camps. They did not believe the announcement that “this relocation is for your safety, and you will soon be able to return home.” During the four years of war, the residents living nearby protected this place and their belongings. So, this hall is a symbol of “reconciliation.”
Today, in addition to Japanese and Japanese Americans, the parishioners have become more diverse, including Filipinos, Latinos, African Americans, Caucasians and Korean Americans. The pastor is a Vietnamese man who joined the Jesuits in Japan. In this sense, the parish is becoming a symbol of the cosmopolitan city of Los Angeles.
I am truly happy and grateful to be doing ministry here.