By Lissy Maruthanakuzhy
Rome, March 13, 2019: A Japanese woman, who was born into Shinto religion, chose to become a Christian at the age of 24. Later she opted to become a Catholic nun in the Daughters of St Paul congregation.
Piermaria Kondo Rumiko, daughter of a carpenter in Japanese province of Ehime, shares with Lissy Maruthanakuzhy of Matters India her faith journey and her views on current situation in the Church.
MATTERS INDIA: What attracted you to Jesus?
PIERMARIA KONDO RUMIKO: I am a Christian and a religious because of the grace from the Lord my creator and his calling. I was working in a supermarket when I faced some difficulties with my boss. I also suffered ill health.
Since I loved to read books I used to frequent a bookshop. So I went there to find something to read that would give me some peace of mind and some encouragement in my life. I found a book by Carl Hilty titled “For Sleepless Nights.” The book had a lot of Bible quotations. The Gospel verses were very consoling. So I began to read the Bible.
I realized that Jesus never abandons me no matter what happens in my life. I felt this when I read the Gospel of John, “Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me; I will certainly not reject anyone who comes to me” (Jn 6, 37). And I also liked a Protestant song: “Master, No Offering Costly and Sweet (Love’s Offering).” It seemed to me that I heard the call from Jesus through this song.
Meanwhile I began to visit a Protestant Church. During that time I got an inspiration to dedicate myself to the Lord for all of my life. I shared my desire with the pastor. He suggested that I go to a Catholic church as the Protestant Church has no provision for people who want to follow a life of consecration.
And I went to a Catholic church. There I met a woman working at the reception. She later became my godmother at baptism. I shared with her my desire to be a religious and she guided and encouraged me. After two years of instruction in the faith I received baptism. My godmother had two friends in the Daughters of St Paul. Thus she directed me to the congregation.
When I decided to enter the congregation, my parents did not agree. But they let me go.
They were not Christians. They followed Shintoism. My father is no more. I did not feel the need to convert them, because faith is a grace, and I think they believed in God, even if they worshiped in different ways.
My mother and only brother still do not understand my choice, but she has told me that she is happy that I am content in my vocation as a religious.
Were you practicing Shintoism before the conversion? What is the difference between Shintoism and Christianity?
In Christianity is to believe in one God (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit), and that Jesus Christ has two natures, but one person of God. Shintoism is based on pantheism or animism. For this reason it does not distinguish between gods and nature or all the phenomena in the world. Everything is united and does not separate. According to the Japanese religion, people believed in the divine existence in nature or the special object: sun, moon, sea, river, tree, mountain, fire, sword, mirror.
When I was born, my parents dedicated me in the temple. Like most Japanese, on the first day of New Year I used to go to the Shinto temple. When I was nine years old, I danced for the Shinto party as an adult initiation.
In my house there was a snake. My grandmother told us the children that it was god who protected the house. No one should touch it or kill it or it will bring curse on the family. Thus, Japanese life was linked with Shintoism, but people are losing this sense now.
Perhaps, my first religious experience was strongly influenced by my grandmother. She was very devoted Shinto and a Buddhist. She prayed to the Buddha wherever she found one of his statues. It formed in me a deep sense of love toward God.
You are a religious for 20 years. What have you done in the congregation?
I was doing the apostolate in the field of diffusion: library, on-line bookstore, collective, because I have a good rapport with people; only during the last three years, I was responsible for diffusion (online library, collective for church and for Catholic schools), as a coordinator.
How many Daughters of St Paul are there in Japan?
We are 119.
What are your thoughts on the recent scandals in the Church?
The Japanese newspapers especially broadcast the scandal of child abuse by the religious. Perhaps, the influence is tremendous, because the Japanese considers that all religious (Shinto priest, Buddhist bonzo, Christian priest, religious) are sacred. So, if they do something scandalous, they accuse them carefully
What do you think of the current scandals in the Church?
In my opinion, in today’s world, it is difficult to live everyday life by integrating all the personality or identity, because there is not enough time to reflect on thoughts and feelings, on the events and on the information received, i.e. life is getting fragmented in this busy world –mind, will and heart. Under this condition, it is not easy for man to control his instincts because he cannot understand what is happening within him.
Do the scandals in the Church affect your faith?
I think so, because this problem is deeply linked to our essential nature: sex and love, even the vow of chastity. So if we do not have sexual and problematic inclination as pedophilia, it will be possible that we face the problem of love between the other sex. Perhaps, we need to take up the meaning of the vows before the Lord. According to me, the method of Jesus taught by our founder Blessed James Alberione will be very useful for living the integral human and the religious vocation.
What is the Jesus method?
Today’s world needs a true master. However, it is difficult for people, especially the youth, to find an authentic model to follow. Modernization has led to the collapse of traditional and small communities that in turn has shattered the basic human relationship. As a consequence, people’s lifestyle has become relativistic, and the image of God, ambiguous.
In this context, the Jesus as the Way, Truth and Life is a great assurance. Jesus has shown through personal examples the values we need to lead a healthy and happy life.
Jesus Truth heals the false image of the Father, that in turns heals our mind. It makes us understand deeply the love of God our creator and at the same time to know who we are.
Jesus Way encourages us to follow his humble and poor life. It heals our will and brings the right disposition of mind so that we can make proper discernment.
Jesus Life unites everything, and transforms us into a new creation.