Fr. Jowel Gatus
May 20, 2024
Christianity was introduced to Japan for the first time by St. Francis Xavier, SJ, in 1549. Following Xavier, many missionaries from the Society of Jesus and other religious orders came to the Nagasaki region and converted many people to Christianity. Revisit the arduous journey of Christianity in Japan. Witness how Japan’s Hidden Christians secretly kept their faith over a period of 250 years amid severe oppression. Be comforted by the testimony of hundreds of Martyrs who stood firm in their faith during those times when Christianity was suppressed. Join a 9-day Praycation to the Catholic Shrines of Kyushu, Japan, with Fr. Jowel Gatus on May 20 – 28, 2024.
Begin your pilgrimage in Hirado. Visit the St. Francis Memorial Church, built to commemorate the first introduction of Christianity to the Japan by St. Francis Xavier. The church is known as one of Hirado’s main sights, admired together with a nearby temple in a unique combination of both temple and church when seen from afar. Drive to Ikitsuki Island to visit the Yamada Church, which contains the monuments of St. Thomas Nishi and St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint.
Head for Tabira Church, a Romanesque-style brick church built in 1918 with the dedicated hard labor of the Catholic community. Next stop is Sasebo, once a humble fishing village now known for its picturesque harbors and stunning views of the Kujukushima Island.
Continue your pilgrimage in Nagasaki, well known as a target of the atomic bomb in World War II. Visit the Kurosaki Church, the setting of the Martin Scorsese movie “Silence,” standing beautifully on a hill in Sotome. Drive to the Oura area to visit the Oura Catholic Church, Japan’s oldest church and national treasure. Enjoy a full day visit of the Christian sites in Nagasaki. Begin your memorable visit to Nagasaki with a visit to Nishizaka Hill.
Nishizaka in Nagasaki is a major national place of pilgrimage where the first 26 martyrs of Japan were crucified on the hill: Jesuits, Franciscans, and lay Christians mingled in one execution. Visit the Nishizaka Church – the church overlooks the spot where the 26 Martyrs of Japan were crucified. Then on to visit the 26 Martyrs Museum, which aims to present the history of Christianity in Japan from St. Francis Xavier’s arrival in Japan until the Meiji Era.
Stop by Urakami Cathedral, originally built to serve the many kakure kirishitan (Hidden Christians). Not to be missed is a visit to the Nagasaki Peace Park and the nearby Atomic Bomb Museum, where you will find moving memorials from the Nagasaki bombing on August 9, 1945.
Onwards to Unzen, one of Japan’s most famous hot springs resorts. Set along the path is a monument dedicated to the Christian martyrs who were tortured to death in the boiling waters of the hot springs. Celebrate Mass in the Unzen Catholic Church, uniquely situated in the Unzen National Park. Drive to Shimabara for a photo stop at the Shimabara Castle before taking a walk through the Carp Swimming Street.
Enjoy a full-day tour of Kumamoto. Visit the Tetori Catholic Church; the Tabaruzaka Memorial Park, where the battle of the last samurai took place; and the Kumamoto Castle, one of the most impressive castles in Japan. Constructed in 1607, the Kumamoto Castle has the longest castle walls of any of the Japanese castles. Marvel at the awesome Suizenji Jojuen Garden, a spacious, Japanese-style landscape garden in Kumamoto.
Cap off your pilgrimage in Fukuoka, Kyushu’s largest and one of Japan’s ten most populated cities. En route to Fukuoka, stop by Dazaifu, a small and quiet city dotted with a number of temples and shrines, the most famous of which is the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. In Fukuoka, visit the Imamura Catholic Church. Although it was built in 1913, it was discovered that there have been hidden Christians in the Imamura area since the 16th century.
Join a 9-day Praycation to the Catholic Shrines of Kyushu, Japan, with Fr. Jowel Gatus on May 20 – 28, 2024 and be inspired by the indefatigable faith of early Christians who were resolute and stood firm for Jesus.
The city of Hirado is located on Hirado Island in the northwestern part of Nagasaki Prefecture. It prospered as a castle town ruled by the feudal lord Matsu’ura. In 1609,...Hirado
The city of Hirado is located on Hirado Island in the northwestern part of Nagasaki Prefecture. It prospered as a castle town ruled by the feudal lord Matsu’ura. In 1609, the Hirado Dutch Trading House was established there, and as the area had an excellent natural port, Hirado became the central stage for trade with other countries, such as China, Holland and Portugal.
Early Western traders were accompanied by Christian missionaries, and the religion gained a bit of a foothold in Hirado and across Nagasaki Prefecture. However, as the religion’s influence grew, the Tokugawa Shogunate responded by expelling missionaries and banning Christianity for more than two centuries. Some Christian in Hirado continued to practice their religion secretly until the ban on Christianity was lifted in the Meiji Period.
Sasebo is the second-largest city in Nagasaki prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan. With beautiful ocean scenery, the port town has a bright and hospitable atmosphere. Since a...Sasebo
Sasebo is the second-largest city in Nagasaki prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan.
With beautiful ocean scenery, the port town has a bright and hospitable atmosphere. Since a U.S. military base is located in Sasebo, there is a lot of Americanized shops to be found there.
Sasebo is home to the U.S. Navy base, Fleet Activities Sasebo or FAS, as well as a base for the Japan Self Defense Force. Sasebo is very English ready for travels and a great place to slow down and enjoy Japan. While most Japanese cities are very busy Sasebo is calm and Japanese at the same time.
About 15 minutes out of town, by train, is the area’s largest tourist attraction, Huis ten Bosch (Hausu ten Bosu), a Dutch-themed amusement park.
It was in honor of the 26 martyrs that the Oura church was built in 1864, at a time when Japan put an end to sakoku (the country being completely closed to...Oura
It was in honor of the 26 martyrs that the Oura church was built in 1864, at a time when Japan put an end to sakoku (the country being completely closed to foreigners) and when Christianity became permitted once more.
French Jesuits, members of the Paris Foreign Mission, were at the initiative of its construction: Ferret Louis and Bernard Petitjean, arrived from Paris with the ambition to relighting the torch of Christianity in Japan.
Oura was originally a small wooden church, more modest than the one that replaced it in 1879 and which now stands at the foot of Yamate Hill: a Gothic chapel with stucco and wood, sporting an octagonal steeple, which was probably built on the model of a Belgian church, of which the two missionaries brought a plan with them during their Japanese visit. This is the first western style building to have received the title of National Treasury (1933).
The city of Nagasaki, which for years prospered as a port of trade with Portugal, was also the window through which Christianity first arrived in Japan. However, in 1587, Toyotomi...Nagasaki
The city of Nagasaki, which for years prospered as a port of trade with Portugal, was also the window through which Christianity first arrived in Japan.
However, in 1587, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (the daimyo who unified Japan) decreed a ban on Christianity. This resulted in an incident known as “the execution of the 26 saints”. 26 Christians were rounded up in the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Sakai, brought to Nagasaki via an overland route in large two-wheeled wagons, and executed at Nishizaka.
This marked the first significant incident of martyrdom in Japan and triggered the period of pervasive persecution and martyrdom that followed. In more recent history, Nagasaki became the second city after Hiroshima to be destroyed by an atomic bomb towards the end of World War II.
Unzen-Onsen is a hot spring town located in the treasure of nature, Japan’s oldest national park. The town is divided into three areas: “Furu-yu,” “Shin-yu,” and “Shojigoku.” Each displays a...Unzen
Unzen-Onsen is a hot spring town located in the treasure of nature, Japan’s oldest national park.
The town is divided into three areas: “Furu-yu,” “Shin-yu,” and “Shojigoku.” Each displays a unique atmosphere with white vapour emanating from the blowholes called “Unzen Jigoku,” the Hell of Unzen. It is a strong acid containing sulfur, which is said to have excellent antiseptic qualities and work, particularly well for making the skin beautiful.
The hells were once used to execute Christian rebels after the failed Shimabara Rebellion. Set along the paths is a monument dedicated to the said Christian martyrs who died in the hells. But today, its spring water has, the more pleasant task of warming up holiday makers in the Ryokan baths around town.
The Shimabara Peninsula is a popular hot spring and hiking destination that lies to the east of Nagasaki City. Formed by the volcanic eruptions of Mount Unzen at its center,...Shimabara
The Shimabara Peninsula is a popular hot spring and hiking destination that lies to the east of Nagasaki City. Formed by the volcanic eruptions of Mount Unzen at its center, the peninsula was the site of several deadly volcanic eruptions, including recent eruptions in the 1990s in which several people were killed and some outskirts of Shimbara City were destroyed.
The Shimabara Peninsula is also known for the Shimbara Rebellion, a significant peasant uprising during the Edo Period that involved many local Christians.
Kumamoto is the capital city of Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan. The city’s most famous landmark is Kumamoto Castle, a large and in its day, extremely well...Kumamoto
Kumamoto is the capital city of Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan.
The city’s most famous landmark is Kumamoto Castle, a large and in its day, extremely well fortified Japanese castle. With its large castle grounds and a variety of buildings, Kumamoto Castle offers its visitors one of the most complete castle experiences in Japan. With about 800 cherry trees, the castle becomes a popular cherry blossom spot usually in late March and early April.
Dazaifu was established in the late 7th century and served as the administrative center of the entire island of Kyushu for over 500 years. The city was built slightly inland...Dazaifu
Dazaifu was established in the late 7th century and served as the administrative center of the entire island of Kyushu for over 500 years.
The city was built slightly inland from Hakata, whose port was one of the main points of interaction between Japan and mainland Asia. Although the imperial court ruled the country from the Kansai Region, Dazaifu was pivotal for Japan’s diplomatic relations and organizing the country’s defenses.
Nowadays, Dazaifu is a small, quiet city on the outskirts of the large city of Fukuoka, from which it is perfect for a day trip. There are a number of temples and shrines, the most famous of which is the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine as well as sites related to Dazaifu’s role as the region’s administrative center, such as the Government Office Ruins. In 2005 the massive Kyushu National Museum was opened to the public, making a great new addition to the city’s attractions.
Located in southern Japan, Fukuoka is unhurried. It is Kyushu’s largest and one of Japan’s ten most populated cities. Because of its closeness to the Asian mainland (closer to Seoul...Fukuoka
Located in southern Japan, Fukuoka is unhurried. It is Kyushu’s largest and one of Japan’s ten most populated cities.
Because of its closeness to the Asian mainland (closer to Seoul than to Tokyo), Fukuoka has been an important harbor city for many centuries and was chosen by the Mongol invasion forces as their landing point in the 13th century.
Today’s Fukuoka is the product of the fusion of two cities in the year 1889, when the port city of Hakata and the former castle town of Fukuoka were united into one city called Fukuoka. The city is a great place to experience modern Japan. The locals are proud of the city’s bike paths, local baseball team – the Softbank Hawks, annual sumo tournament, festivals, and zen gardens. No wonder Fukuoka was listed as the 12th Most Liveable City in the World in 2013.
There is a charm about Fukuoka that one just has to experience.
The whole pilgrimage is a new and fulfilling moment in my life. It’s a nice feeling being with the Lord in His important day. And also, gaining new friends and becoming my new extended family is something I will treasure. I hope that this is just the beginning and we’ll continue to get in touch with one another despite the distance.Brenda
It was indeed a wonderful Pilgrimage: very rich in history, a thanksgiving of blessings, a spiritual renewal and nourishment, and finally ending in a test of Faith.
Thank you so much Pilgrim Leader, Ging Igual, for standing beside us up to the last stretch of our 13-day journey - more particularly in the handling of an unexpected situation (cancelled flight in Mexico and re-direction of flights to make sure the 38 Pilgrims reach LA for their respective flight bookings). Ging, you were an angel to us so blessed with energy, passion, love and Milagrosa. We really felt the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe fielding angels every step of the way.
The Pilgrimage to California Mission Churches and Our Lady of Guadalupe gives me personal inspiration for the work and activities of the next chapter of my lifetime: farming with promotion of agriculture for millennials (inspired by the scenic view of farms in California), tourism (which is a major industry in all places we visited), and support for a favourite major seminary in Tagaytay and a scholarship fund for deserving individuals (thru a non stock non profit institution).
Thank you to my Co-Pilgrims and prayer partners for the prayer support, sharing of life experiences and friendships; Fr. Tony, thank you for your spiritual reflections and service; Fr. Jerry Orbos for an overflowing spiritual reflections and enabling us to have the needed personal encounter with Jesus and Mama Mary (it was like a 12-day Holy Retreat); and the Executive Resources for making a very nice pilgrimage package a part of our lifetime.Ms. Emma
Lord, we cannot find words enough to say how grateful we are to You. Our pilgrimage made us realize that Your love for us is more than what we deserve.
To all our co-pilgrims, thank you for making us feel we belong to this new family. To Fr. Dante, thanks for your prayers and pieces of advice for our spiritual nourishment. To Sis Lea, for taking care of each one of us. To Sis Joy, thanks for the contagious joys and laughters.
To our prayer partners, Sis Maribel, Melvy and Didick and Bro Mon and Sis Jot, thank you for your prayers. We will pray for you, too!
To The Pilgrim’s Center - Executive Resources, thank you for accommodating us in this Eastern Europe Pilgrimage.
God bless us all always!Albert and Adee
Dear Pilgrims' Center:
My husband Aldo & I would like to praise & commend our Pilgrim Chaplain Fr. Dante Venus & our Tour Leader Bro. Monty for the very successful & memorable pilgrimage to Italy & the Holy Land we were very fortunate to join on March 26-April 8, 2018.
It was very hectic to be sure, but still they managed our time very well that we were able to visit more places than was promised in the itinerary, and we are very appreciative of that. Likewise, the solemnity of the whole pilgrimage experience was still observed despite many of us in the group, myself included, often forgetting that we were pilgrims & not tourists 😉😉, taking photos, selfies, etc. instead of, or before focusing on what the local guide was explaining or on the scripture readings. I cannot fault us pilgrims on this because for many of us seniors, and I speak for my husband & I, that trip might be our first & last time to visit those places, so we made sure they were properly documented. Nonetheless, it was a truly spiritually uplifting & life-changing experience for us. We continue to thank our Lord for making that experience of a lifetime possible. Indeed, nothing is impossible for God! Thank you very much to Fr. Dante, Bro. Monty & to each of us pilgrims in the group for the prayers, love, care & concern shown to each other. Let us continue to pray for and with each other. It is my hope that we meet each other again soon, to strengthen our bonds of friendships.
Most sincerely, Leclec CabusoraLeclec Cabusora
My husband and I just came back from a wonderful trip to Israel - with Franciscan Fr Reu Galoy. Thank you Pilgrim Center for the arrangements. We are so happy and satisfied with all that you have done for us. Kudos to Yanyan and Monty from Pilgrim Center, and Fr Reu and Ronin for your caring services. It was a spiritual journey and we felt the abiding presence of the Lord all throughout.Ann Arguelles Cortes
Our pilgrimage was worth all the hardships (I was having leg pains). We had an excellent leader in the person of Adrian, two priests Fathers Val and Ron, who gave us very nice pieces of advice and homilies, and of course the members of the group who were all very nice. Looking forward to join another pilgrimage.Emily Bautista
It was the most profound experience I had in my whole life....Walking with the Footsteps where Jesus walked made my life more grateful and humble....My faith become stronger as I express it...A growing faith is a sharing faith....TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!! SHALOM!Carmen Nierra
Vir & I would like to express our gratitude for a wonderful pilgrimage we had from Sept 5-18. From checking-in last Sept 5 & all during the tour, we felt the care from a family. No words can ever describe how thankful we are.
I almost cried last Sept 8, (my birthday) when we (2 of us have the same birthday) were given a surprise mini celebration when after our dinner, we were given a cake. I really felt the love of a family then.
All these things made possible because of your capable coordinator Ms. Ging Igual. She's such a wonderful leader. Kudos to her.
Rest assured that i will refer your company to all my friends who are planning to go on pilgrimage .
Good day & may God always guide & protect all of you in the Pilgrims' Center/ Executive Resources, Inc.Cora and Vir Franca
I am honored to be included in this pilgrimage. The Pilgrims' Center has very good itineraries worth remembering. No hours wasted. They took very good care of us in spite of our big number of 47 people. The daily mass and homilies of Fr. Manny Cruz held in different shrines and churches were very inspirational and transforming. Accommodations were nice most especially the one on top of the Mountain with an awesome view built in 1909. It's like travelling back in time. I definitely would want to do it again with Pilgrim Center.Peter Joseph Mapua
The Pilgrims' Center always gives you the best. They let you feel like an Executive in terms of personal service & attention especially during pilgrimage. Their choices of pilgrimages and pilgrim chaplains are outstanding. You go back home very fulfilled and immersed...Marlene Silvestre
with Fr. Dante Venus, S.V.D.READ MORE +
with Fr. Mario Quejadas, Fr. Sunny Castillo, and Fr. Dindo BilloteREAD MORE +
with a Pilgrimage ChaplainREAD MORE +
1) A US$ 500.00 deposit is required upon reservations together with a photocopy of a passport (valid for 6 months from date of departure) and Pilgrim’s Profile plus the visa fee.
2) Full payment in U.S. dollars is required before ticketing but in no case shall it be later than thirty (30) days before departure date.
3) The following cancellation charges will apply:
> 60 days before departure date – US$ 500.00
> 45 days before departure date – 50% of the Tour Cost
> 30 days prior to departure date – Full tour cost will be forfeited.
> US$ 300.00 Admin Fee for any visa denial.
BASIC TOUR COST DOES NOT INCLUDE: Philippine Travel Tax PHP 1,620.00, airport taxes, visa fees and documentation expenses, insurance, hospitalization and other medical expenses, tours and transportation during free periods, porterage of extra pieces of luggage in excess of maximum allocation, drinks, and beverages taken during meals, items of personal nature such as laundry, telephone, fax, room service, and other expenses not mentioned in the itinerary terms and conditions.
EXECUTIVE RESOURCES, INC. has arranged for the various tour services to be performed under the responsibility of various contractors. Executive Resources, Inc., its employees or its subagents therefore only act as agents for the contractors providing the various services described in the tour and accept no responsibility or liability in connection with losses or accidental expenses due to delays of schedule, overbooking, defaults or “force majeure.” All tours and arrangements are subject to the general conditions specified by each contractor. Tour itineraries and prices are subject to change without prior notice. When making a tour booking, the passenger acknowledges and accepts the foregoing conditions.
*** SCHEDULE AND RATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE! ***