HISTORY

The mission of the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary in Japan began in 1602, when the Provincial Chapter decided to send friars to help the thriving Christian communities in the archipelago. The first years were very difficult, but at the same time also a time of grace as preaching the Gospel with great success and apostolic fruits (many conversions and as well as vocations to the Order, many of whom would be give witness of their faith in martyrdom.

The mission flourished until 1637, at the height of the cruelest religious persecutions. It was also during this grave period of persecutions that a great number of the members of the Dominican family---friars, lay brothers, men and women lay Dominicans, members of the various Confraternities--- gave their lives as a testimony of their faith.

It was only in the last quarter of the XIX century that Japan opened its doors to foreigners and abrogated the laws against Christianity. In 1904 the friars returned to preach in Japan and was assigned to the territory of Shikoku island. On 27, January, 1904, it was organized into an the Apostolic Prefecture.

The restoration of the Dominican missions in Japan was led by Fr. Jose Maria Alvarez, appointed superior of the mission who settled in Kochin on 16 August, 1904. On 2 October, four more brothers were assigned: Tomás de la Hoz, Faustino Rodríguez, Millán Domínguez and Celestino Arbás. From the Church and Rectory of the Kochi Parish, they began their apostolate.

During the canonical visit of Fr. Provincial, B. Bonaventura García de Paredes, ordered the construction of new houses exempt from the Ordinary. This decision brought about a reorganization of the Vicariate giving independence to the friars for their religious observances and their missionary activity.

In 1949 the Holy See divided the Apostolic Prefecture of Shikoku into four ecclesiastical districts, adapting to the territory of the four civil provinces of the island. The Dominicans were entrusted with the territory of the civil province of Ehime, focusing their work in this territory. By 1963, the Apostolic Prefecture of Shikoku was raised into a diocese under the name of "Diocese of Takamatsu".

Since the restoration of the mission, the friars made the ministry in the parishes, forming Christian communities  and education of the youth as their priorities. These are manifested in the various institutions and ministries they had established through the years:

  1. Parishes:

1). Parish churches already existing and in which our friars worked and developed further: Kochi (1904 -1949), Tokushima (1905-1949), Uwajima (1906-), Takamatsu (1918-1949), Yawatahama (1937-).

2). Parish Churches founded and developed by the friars: Akaoka (1933-1950), Awa-Ikeda (1933-1938), Shinhonmachi (Enoguchi-Kochi) (1937-1949), Matsuyama (1905-), Imabari (1926-), Niihama (1937-1996), Saijo (1949-), Iyo (1953-), Dogo (Matsuyama) (1957-), Hojo (1968-2002).

  1. Schools:

College of Saint Thomas “Aiko” in Matsuyama (1952-)

  1. Student residences:

Student Residence “Saint Thomas” in Matsuyama (1956-) and Student Residence “Saint Dominic” in Tokyo (1959-2010).

  1. Nursery schools:

Aiwa in Uwajima, Seibo in Yawatahama, Tenshi in Iyo, Umi no Hoshi in Matsuyama, Seibo in Dogo, Wakaba in Imabari, Maria in Saijo and Aiko in Niihama.

CONVENT AND HOUSES

The Convent of Saint Joseph of Matsuyama was founded in 1956 as a religious house for the brethren assigned to the College of Saint Thomas “Aiko”. Later in 1968 it was erected in a convent. By the decision of the Provincial Chapter of 2005 (n.214), the House of the Sacred Heart was incorporated into the convent of San José, thus becoming the only community in Matsuyama, so since 2006 it houses not only the brothers who work in the teaching apostolate at the Aiko school, but also those who work in the parishes and nursery schools of the Ehime region.

Being the central house of the mission, it is the official residence of the Regional Prior and the offices of the Vicariate. It is also the Home for the elderly and sick missionaries and a formation house for the recruitment of vocations.

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The College of Saint Thomas, popularly known as College “Aiko” was founded by the Vicariate on 1 April, 1953 in Matsuyama. It was a Catholic college of Secondary Education for young boys imparting academic formation and Christian values, thus preparing the young to be leaders of society. The ideals of the College is best manifested in its motto and Japanese name “Aiko” which means “love and light”.

Due to the needs of the College, it was decided that the College would move outside the city center on the foot of the Kinuyama Mountain. On 18 October,1972 the property was blessed and the new buildings began to be built together with Dormitories for interns and convent for the friars.

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Since the beginning of the Dominican Mission in Japan, our friars founded kindergartens linked to the parishes as effective platforms for evangelization and education.

On March 27, 1985, the kindergartens owned and operated by the Vicariate were reorganized into an association and legally recognized by the government as an Educational Institution known as "Rosario Gakuen".

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The Catholic mission of Matsuyama under the patronage of the Sacred Heart of Jesus began by the end of the XIX century when the French MEP missionaries would sporadically visited Matsuyama from Hiroshima.

After several years, the Parish Church of Matsuyama was entrusted to Fr. Fukahori of the diocese of Osaka. In 1904, when the Apostolic Prefecture of Shikoku was created, Matsuyama was entrusted to the Dominicans of the Province of the Holy Rosary and by May 1905, Fr. Faustino Rodríguez, OP, the first Dominican parish priest arrived in Matsuyama.

By the end of the Pacific War, Matsuyama was bombed and the Church was destroyed. On 23 November, 1949, the Bishop of Osaka, Msgr. Paul Taguchi inaugurated the new Gothic church which was more beautiful and spacious than the previous one. The Church was renovated and blessed in 1975.

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In 1953 the vicariate of the Province of Canada bought the property at the locality of Hakozaki; and in 1955 built a convent and Student Center. However, two years later, the buildings were transformed to create the present parish, which was consecrated on November 23, 1957 under the invocation of "Saint Mary, Queen of the World ", by the then Bishop of Fukuoka Msgr. Fukahori Seneimon.

On 4 December, 2015, the Regional Priors of the Order in Japan (Province of Canada and Our Lady of the Rosary) signed a pastoral collaboration agreement with the Bishop of Fukuoka, Msgr. Dominic Miyahara Rioji, whereby the Order renews its ministry in the parish of Hakozaki and to create a Dominican community of our Province. In 2016, the House of “Queen of the Martyrs”, was founded in Fukuoka as a filial House of Saint Joseph of Matsuyama.

The presence shall not only serve the parish but would enable the brethren to begin other ministries in the Diocese and the southwest of the country (Kyushu).

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The friars were invited by the Archdiocese of Osaka to establish a community in order to foster an intellectual and university ministry. For this purpose, the Archdiocese donated an land in the city of Nishinomiya and a house was built for the brethren with the specific mission of being community-residence of those teaching in the region.

The House of Saint Dominic of Nishinomiya was inaugurated on 24 May, 1989.

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