►After the Beatification of Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama (1552-1615) in Osaka on Feb. 7, 2017 – the Jesuit community at the Ateneo de Manila celebrated a Thanksgiving Mass at the chapel of the Loyola School of Theology on Saturday, March 18, 2017.
Very Rev. Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, then the Jesuit Father Provincial, officiated at the concelebrated Mass, along with Fr. James McTavish, provincial superior of Verbum Dei Missionaries, and Fr. Iwao “Wow” Daniel Ikegami, FMVD.
In the congregation were priests, scholastics, seminarians, lay and religious students, and Japanese nuns from various Metro-Manila congregations — and the former Jesuit Superior General in Rome, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, who lived in retirement at the Ateneo.
Homily by Japanese Priest Born in Brazil
The homily was delivered by Fr. Iwao “Wow” Ikegami, a Brazilian-born Japanese who was ordained August 2015, sharing his journey to the priesthood and the relevance of Blessed Takayama Ukon to relations between the churches of Japan and the Philippines.
Blessed Takayama — A Jesuit “Cause”
►Among 86 Daimyo who converted to Christianity, Lord Takayama, as patron of Jesuit missions, used his resources to support the growth and expansion of the early church of Japan — building churches, chapels and seminaries for the Jesuit missionaries, who were the only Catholic religious congregation in Japan beginning 1549 till 1602 when Manila-based Spanish missionaries started arriving.
It was a Jesuit, Padre Pedro Morejon, who conducted a 30-day “Spiritual Exercises” for Lord Takayama — in preparation for martyrdom — before the exile ship left Nagasaki for Manila with 350 Japanese Christian deportees on Nov. 8, 1614.
It was this same Jesuit, Fr. Morejon — (Takayama’s father-confessor) — who wrote the petition of the Manila Archdiocese dated Oct. 5, 1630 — proposing to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints a Japanese Catholic — who died in Manila; under church rubric “where one dies, is where one is born to Heaven” — as the FIRST saint of the Philippine Church.
It was also a committee of Jesuit historians in Japan, headed by Sophia University’s Fr. Hubert Cieslik, SJ, who prepared in 1963 all the supporting documents for Takayama’s “Positio.”
First as Confessor — Then as Martyr
It was the Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Paolo Molinari, SJ, who presented the original “Postio” enumerating the heroic virtues of a Confessor — “Servus Dei, Justus Takayama Ukon: Materia Praeparata Pro Propositione Super Virtutibus Servi Dei Justi Takayama Ukon” (Manila: Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation, 1994) – which resulted in Takayama’s being recognized as a “Servant of God.”
It was another Jesuit General Postulator, Fr. Anton Witwer, SJ, who submitted the revised version for a Martyr – “Positio Super Martirio: Beatificationis Seu Declarationis Martyrii Servi Dei Iusti Takayama Ukon Viri Laici in Odium Fidei, Uti Fertur, Interfecti” (Rome: 2015).
Pope Francis Issues ‘Decree of Martyrdom’
It was another Jesuit, Pope Francis, who allowed the “switching” of the “Cause of Takayama” from Confessor (when Takayama earned the title “Servant of God” on June 8, 1994) to Martyr – by issuing a Decree of Martyrdom on Jan. 21, 2016, recognizing Takayama as a martyr — a “layperson … from Japan [who] died from the hatred of the Faith on Feb. 3, 1615 in Manila, Philippines.”
In an unusual development, the “Servant of God” Justo Ukon Takayama skipped the “Venerable” stage — and went directly to “Blessed.”
Takayama Conference Room
Rev. Fr. Jose V. C. Quilongquilong, SJ, President, Loyola House of Studies, shares that the Loyola School of Theology has honored Blessed Takayama by naming a conference room after him. The “Takayama Conference Room” is located in the Lucas-LST Wing.
Loyola School of Theology (LST) is one of the seven (7) English-speaking faculties of theology in the world administered by the Society of Jesus and is the only one in the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. For School Year 2018-2019, the LST has 470 seminarians, priests, lay and religious students (283 Filipino and 187 international students) representing 63 religious congregations, 72 dioceses and 38 countries around the world.
Wanted: One Miracle from God Interceded by Blessed Takayama
Today, Takayama’s “Cause” is awaiting one validating miracle through the intercession of Blessed Takayama — a requirement to show that indeed Blessed Takayama dwells in the presence of God.
The final step is canonization – or inclusion in the Roman Catholic Church’s Canon of Saints, now numbering over 10,000 Saints.#
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro