Family History― My name is “Shunsuke Hyodo.” My Christian name is “Joseph・Gabriel.” When I was a child, my friends called me “Hyochin”, and my family called me “Shun”.
I was born on December 13, 1979, in Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan. My family is my father, my mother, my younger brother, and me. My father is a police officer and my mother is a housewife. My brother is self-employed, and he is already married and has one son.
My family doesn’t have a specific religion. So I am the only Christian in my family. I hope that they will be baptized Catholic too.
My hometown is located in the west of Japan, near Hiroshima. It is situated between the Sikoku Mountains and the Inland Sea of Japan. We can get a lot of food from the land and sea. My hometown has a hot spring that is named “ Dogo Hot Springs”. It is a very famous place so many local and foreign tourists visit there, too.
My father was a police officer, so my family had to move to another city several times. He sometimes worked in a police substation where the office was also our home so I could see my father’s work sometimes. I want to work for many people because I was brought up in this environment.
My family doesn’t have a specific religion but I could see my father’s job up close. Police officers who are public servants work for many people. His job greatly influenced me on my vocation that I want to work for and help many people too.
Childhood — When I was a child, I liked to read books, biographies, and narrative literature. I was a curious child while I was growing up. I wanted to know how to do something, then I liked to read an encyclopedia. Its information filled my curiosity.
When I was a child, I had infantile asthma. I often suffered from an asthma attack. Once I had pneumonia and rashes appeared on my skin after I had an asthma attack. Then I received treatment for two weeks in a hospital. Since then I didn’t have an asthma attack.
My grandparents often came to my house and I often went to their house too. I visited our ancestor’s grave with my grandmother, and she took me to some Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Then I became increasingly interested in religion. My grandfather liked history. He and my great-grandmother often told me about old times. Then I also became increasingly interested in history.
My great-grandmother and grandparents have a good effect on my curiosity and my vocation.
School Days — When I was a child between six to fifteen years old, I received compulsory education then I went to “Nitta High School”, which is a private school. After I graduated from high school, I went to “Tokushima Bunri University”, which is a private school, too. And then I graduated from university and advanced to the master’s course. When I was a university student, I specialized in Japanese history. I learned in university about cultural treasures, education subjects, and museology. I got a teaching license and a curator license. I wished to become a historian.
One of my classmates who was a Japan Self-Defense Force official was my favorite classmate. His name is Noguchi.
We often went somewhere. Once we rode motorcycles to Noguchi’s hometown. My motorcycle slipped on the road and we got cold in the snow. It was a thoughtless plan. I was sorry about this trip, but I can’t forget this memory.
When I was a graduate student, I went to a Buddhist temple for the investigation of treasures. I could examine much Buddhist scripture and many historical materials. It was a good experience for me, and I learned some Buddhist wordings.
Interests and Hobbies－ I have an interest in history, especially in ancient Japan.
I collected many toys, especially robot toys. Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, Grendizer, and Voltes V. I like Japanese Robot Animation.
I participated in a puppet show that was to promote volunteer activities. We visited some nursing homes, and sometimes we played puppet shows in Matsuyama Church for elderly parishioners. Matsuyama Church is in my hometown. It is where I saved and attended mass. Aside from doing charity shows for volunteers. I also worked for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In the place, I often made an appeal for contributions and I also visited Fukushima.
Matsuyama Church has a Filipino community. When the Philippines had a terrible flood, we collected many clothes and sent them to the victims. I appealed to parishioners to bring many clothes and a lot of money. I thanked them for their help.
I was in a church office when I was in Matsuyama Church. I worked for my church and the parishioners. This experience made a significant impact on my vocation.
Young adult experiences－ It was my first time leaving my home when I entered Tokushima Bunri University. The university is in another prefecture far away from my hometown. After I graduated from graduate school, I went to Nagano, Japan, and I got a job at a computer spring factory. After I worked there for a short time, I got a job as a postman. I worked as a postman for about eight years.
I got an award for outstanding post office branch manager. The post office launched a project to get postal service contracts with local companies. My branch was the most successful in the whole of Japan. I wasn’t afraid to try new ways to get business for the post office and this made me and the branch a success.
I decided to become a Christian. I was baptized on 23 April 2011. This time, I thought that I want to change my life. At that time, I had doubts about my life. For example, I was a postman and earned enough money. I bought my car, motorcycle, etc. However, I wasn’t satisfied there. Actually, I want to buy new things more and more. I was afraid of my earthly desires. At the same time, my grandmother died, I broke up with my girlfriend, and I was busy with my job. I wasn’t able to get a holiday. Then I was running on nervous energy.
I went to Matsuyama church Ehime, Japan in October 2010. Then I started to prepare for baptism. I already thought that I wat to enter a monastery. I was baptized and received the Sacrament of Confirmation on April 23, 2011. I became a leader of parishioners one year after I was baptized. It was a difficult duty for me because I had just become a Christian and I didn’t know anything, but the parish priest and parishioners helped me do everything. I was able to serve a four-year term. Then I was baptized after one year I joined the parish council in Matsuyama church. I perform my duties until the end of my term. While this term I had a meeting with the Salesians students about God’s mercy. They were able to talk about it but I wasn’t able to it. I was impressed them. Then I want to know about God, truth, and justice. One of The Orders of Preacher’s purposes is the pursuit of truth through study. This purpose fitted my purpose about ‘I want to know about God well.’ So I chose The Order of preachers. So God already called me when I visited Matsuyama church.
God called me when I visited Matsuyama church and he gave me some jobs in the church. For example, I played a puppet show for elder people with the church youth. We went around some care houses on Saturday or Sunday. Elsewhere I worked for victims of the Northeast Japan great earthquake. I appealed to parishioners after mass and I collected much money for them. Then I realized when I worked for many people, I felt satisfied. And when I talked with other Christians about God, my heart was satisfied. And my resolution which I want to join the Dominican was still going strong. I discovered it while I work in the church. Then I announced to the parish priest that I want to join the Dominican. So he called me, he gave me many jobs and through charity.
At first, I didn’t know why I chose the Catholic Church but now I know that God called me and caught me. And I recognized these things:
God called me through charity.
God called me when I visited Matsuyama church in the beginning.
God called me to Matsuyama church.
Friends and family― When I decided to become a priest and to join the Dominicans, my parents agreed with my decision. My family and my siblings are looking forward to my profession and my ordination because when I invite them to my profession, they can travel to another country. Of course, this is a joke. They worry about me but they trust me, I guess they said that because they miss me. I am happy about their consideration. If they revealed their true feelings, I would have suffered inside. Now I know they didn’t say they’re true feelings so I could leave my home without regrets.
I learned many things from my family and my relatives. I learned from my father to work for many people is a valuable thing. I learned from my grandmother to venerate our ancestors is important.
The present－ Why did I choose to be a Dominican? I chose to be a Dominican because my church is a Dominican church. I can relate to the Dominicans easily.
The Dominican fathers are kind to me and I often help them. I can have a good relationship with them.
Once I had a meeting with some Salesian students. Our topic was mercy. I tried to talk to them but I couldn’t explain mercy. Since then I wanted to know more about God. Then I chose the Dominicans because to be a Dominican is to study the truth so it conforms to my purpose in life.
I was baptized by Fr. Luis Gutierrez. O.P. was the parish priest of Matsuyama church. He taught me Catechism, how to pray, etc. I owe him my Christian life.
I told him that I want to join the Dominican to Fr. Luis Gutiérrez, OP, who later wrote to his superiors so that I could enter the Dominican Order. I was also encouraged by some Catholics from the parish, who sent letters of recommendation to the Dominicans, generously praising my good qualities.
On the day, I submitted my application to the Dominican Vicar of the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary, residing in Matsuyama. Once approved by the admissions committee, through a previous examination, I was accepted as an Aspirant. In October 2016, I was sent to Manila to improve my English; and to Hong Kong on August 15, 2017, to begin my novitiate. After the novitiate, in 2018, I was assigned to the Dominican student house in Macau to pursue my studies in philosophy and theology. And here I am, happy in this international community, burning my eyebrows with metaphysics, Latins, and Greeks. My native logic is not the Greco-Roman logic of the University curriculum where I study, but I sense this is the logic of God who has brought me here. And the latter is the one I am learning for now. I have already started theology.
I like to teach something to somebody. I want to talk about the knowledge that I got through studying. I can contribute to my ministry about teaching or preaching. And I want to acquire the talent to speak in English. Now I am studying English because it is important to me. I need to use English when I talk to other people. And when I become a priest, I need to speak in English. Because we now live in a global world so I have many chances to talk with foreigners. If I go back to Japan and I work in a Japanese Church, I need to say mass to foreigners so I need to study English.
I want to become a parish priest because we need priests in Japan. I also want to study the history of the Church and Catholic dogma because I am a historian and I’m interested in Catholic dogma.
If I have a chance as a Dominican, I will try to promote vocations in Japan. Now there are very few. For example, I am the only Japanese Dominican seminarian in our house. We need Japanese priests but the applicants are very few vocation candidates there. We need to try to increase vocations in my country. This is my challenge.
It is said that the postman always rings twice. I, in the performance of my office, rung many more to the church-parish of the Dominicans. Until one day, I went in and nothing was the same anymore. This time I was the one called. God in his mercy did it and assigned me many tasks, all related to love.
Now my goal is to fulfill His mandate.
I have great desires to learn, to teach, and to preach; and a dream: to promote Dominican vocations in Japan.
Joseph・Gabriel Shunsuke Hyodo
Macao, 1 November 2020