Sophia University completes 100 years

Pope Francis’ message stressed St Francis Xavier's commitment to Japan's evangelisation and the great missionary saint's closeness to the university's founders who "followed in his footsteps."

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Japan
Dec 02 2013, 3:19 PM
Sophia University completes 100 years

More than 4,200 people, including Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and Pope’s representative Cardinal Francesco Farina attended the centenary celebration of Sophia University in Tokyo on November 1.

Pope Francis’ message stressed St Francis Xavier's commitment to Japan's evangelisation and the great missionary saint's closeness to the university's founders who "followed in his footsteps."

“Sophia University could be called the heart of the Church in Japan, perhaps from a historical point of view as well," said Father Mario Bianchin, regional superior of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

In his view, the educational facility embodies the efforts by Catholics, especially by the Society of Jesus, to proclaim the Gospel in the land of the Rising Sun.

Father Adolfo Nicolás, current Jesuits Superior General, taught theology at Sophia for three decades. He sent a message saying he joined the celebration in spirit and prayed that “our Jochi University fulfils its mission for the sake of Japan and the world.” ‘Jochi’ is Sophia’s Japanese name.  It means ‘Wisdom’ in English.)

In his speech, Chancellor Toshiaki Koso SJ spoke of "a Catholic university in a country which has less than 1% of its population Catholic", and how a school grounded in the spirit of Catholicism has been able to grow to its present stature.

In 1906, 350 years after the outlawing of Christianity in Japan, after dialogue with Emperor Meiji, Pope Pius X asked the Society of Jesus to establish an institute of higher learning in Japan. In 1908, three Jesuits – the German Josef Dahlmann, the Frenchman Henri Boucher and the Englishman James Rockliff – were sent to Japan to begin work on the school, which opened in its present location in April 1913.

Today, Sophia Universtiy has more than 12,000 students, eight faculties, 28 departments, and a teaching staff of 1,200 who come from all over the world.

Source: AsiaNews, sjapc.net

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