Students at the Sacred Heart School in Sapporo, Japan spend this feast day helping others, to communicate Jesus Christ’s message of social justice and contribute to the sustainable development goals.
We are reminded of the messages of the Sacred Heart of Jesus daily in our school, through learning about the life of Jesus. In his life, Jesus experienced homelessness, refugee experiences, social, psychological and physical pain, and death on the cross. He became one with those who suffered and the wounded, calling out to them, "Come to me," and “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
We are invited to receive these messages and contemplate their meaning, then deliver them to others. The Feast of the Sacred Heart is a perfect day for us to deliver these messages to others. Each year after the prayer meeting, students devote a day to volunteering at hospitals, nursery schools, junior schools (teaching English), and senior citizens' homes; cleaning and weeding parks, cemeteries, and a museum, etc.; or spending a day at a school for the blind. At the end of the day, they write a reflection of their experience to share with the other students.
This year, because of Covid-19, most activities will involve cleaning and weeding, as well as the exchange at the school for the blind.
There is also something else about the Sacred Heart message. The SDG pledge that “no one will be left behind” resonates strongly with Jesus Christ’s message. The SDGs provide a common language for us to communicate Christ’s message to the secular world in Japan where only 1% of the population is Christian. Since 2015, we have taken the Sustainable Development Goals education seriously, from 7th graders’ original English plays about different goals every year, to action plans formulated and implemented by 12th graders. They can indeed be called “Artisans of Hope.
Our students are greatly impressed by our sisters in Poland and Hungary who continue to work for Ukrainian refugees. Hearing their news strengthens our prayers and developing action plans for Ukraine here in Japan.