For the past four years I have been assigned as campus minister of St. Mary’s International School, an all-boys Catholic international school in Tokyo under the Brothers of Christian Instruction (Mennaisian Brothers). I used to have some doubts in engaging with this pastoral work because it is outside our Piarist schools. In addition, I have also encountered fellow Piarist religious who were less supportive of me working in a school for kids from rich families. To help me have peace, on several occasions, I have invited my vice-provincial superior, members of my community, and visiting Piarists to visit the school, talk with people I work with, observe our school culture and be part of some school community gatherings, such as faculty dinner. Fr. Pedro Aguado, Fr. Jozsef Urban and Fr. Andres Valencia also came to visit. They have positive experiences and observations. They gave me the support, encouragement and assurance I need to continue this ministry. These days our religious community and the school community enjoy a good relationship. From time to time, the Mennasian Brothers, staff, students and their families come to visit us, celebrate with us the Eucharist and know more about our Order and our founder, St. Joseph Calasanz.
St. Mary’s exposes me to different cultures as I work with students and parents from more than 50 countries. My experience working with teachers and staff from more than 10 countries is also equally enriching. Furthermore, the school provides me with opportunities for professional development, such as annual attendance to the National Catholic Education Association convention in the United States.
I am at peace now and thankful to God for the abundant blessings He has bestowed upon me through this pastoral experience. I pray that this will help me safeguard my Piarist vocation and become a better informed Catholic educator with a healthier understanding of the diverse cultures around me.
Danilo Vallejos Mutia, Sch.P.