The Founding of Nagasaki Seido School
A study of the foundation in 1978 of Nagasaki Seido School, a primary and secondary girl’s school representing the first school in Japan inspired by the teachings of St. Josemaría, has just been published in the Volume 9 (2015) of the journal Studia et Documenta, by the Isituto Storico San Josemaría Escrivá. The article also explores the beginnings of Opus Dei in Japan and in Nagasaki. This is a continuation of an article on this topic published in Volume 1 (2007) of Studia et Documenta.
It was in April of 1978, three years after the death of the Founder of Opus Dei, that the first school in Japan inspired by his teachings was opened. Now there are six schools in Nagasaki: Nagasaki Seido Elementary School for Girls, Nagasaki Seido Junior High School for Girls, Seido Mikawadai Elementary School for Boys and Seido Mikawadai Junior High School for Boys, followed in April 2009 by Seido Mikawadai High School for Boys. In April 1983, Mikawa Cooking School, a professional school, was also established.
This article describes the path taken for founding Nagasaki Seido Elementary School and the first decade of its operation. After narrating briefly the beginnings of the apostolic work of Opus Dei in Japan, the first part discusses the birth of the idea of opening a school and the initial projects that followed. Choosing Nagasaki, the place where more Catholics live, as the site for starting a school, encouraged some Opus Dei members to move to this city. The second part deals with the different stages of putting up the school: acquisition of land, preparation of the faculty, definition of the mission statement of the academic institution and legal approval of the proprietor. The article concludes with a summary of the first decade of operations of this academic initiative which started with Nagasaki Seido Elementary School. The epilogue talks about the importance and impact of Christian formation imparted from this academic setting.
The first promotion of students of the Nagasaki Seido School
Despite Japan being a country with a small minority of Catholics, it is easy to understand Saint Josemaría’s insistence on the importance of human virtues; for example, sincerity, cheerfulness, generosity, courage, the spirit of hard work, to name only a few of the qualities necessary to live a good life anywhere. He emphasised the daily struggle needed to value the little things in life, using them not only as a way of making things easier and more pleasant for others and for society in general, but as a fundamental way of turning ordinary life and work into something that can be offered to God.
This approach to education was very innovative for the Christians of Nagasaki, who had a long history of keeping themselves apart from nonCatholic society. After three or four years passed by, the mother of one Seido
pupil said with emotion, “I am so happy to know that we can live our ordinary life in open coherence with our faith… My father worked up to a high position in the Nagasaki Police Department, but to do so he felt he had to hide his Christianity; we had all grown used to hiding our Christian life for so long!”.
The teachers, almost all non-Catholic, who study what Saint Josemaría did and taught, can be seen making efforts to apply those teachings themselves to their daily work. They put into practice the important emphasis of
Escrivá on the dignity of each student. This allows them to develop as persons in all areas of their lives.
The students are stimulated by the example of their teachers and seek to imitate them. The school foments an atmosphere of friendship and confidence among all who participate in its activities—the teachers, the parents
and the students. From the very beginning an effort was made to attend first of all to the parents, next to the teachers, and then to the students, who benefit greatly from this wise hierarchy promoted by Saint Josemaría.
Because of the professional prestige of the teachers and the high standard in imparting intellectual and moral formation to the students, the school gained the confidence of parents, which was the main aim of the educational program and the key to the official recognition of the school in this society.
It has been 37 years since Nagasaki Seido Elementary School opened. During that period of time we have met many and varied people who have been influenced by Saint Josemaría’s spirit including more than 1,000 former
students of the girls’ school, teachers, families, prefectural and city officials, people connected with the construction and material care of the school, and many, many others… in total more than 6,000 people.
Read the complete article.