November 27 marked the tenth anniversary of the death of Father Thomas Purcell, O.S.A., one of the founders of the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova missions in Japan. In November 1952, Father Purcell, along with fellow friars Fathers George Krupa and Edward Robinson, arrived by ship in Japan and soon began preparations to establish the Augustinian parish of Our Mother of Consolation in the Shiroyama section of Nagasaki. The site was about a half mile from the epicenter of where the atomic bomb had been dropped in 1945; the area was still devastated and desolate. Today the property is home to one of the largest Catholic parishes in Japan, with a beautiful church, community center, kindergarten, and elementary and middle schools.
In his fifty-two years as a missionary in Japan, Father Purcell also founded St. Monica Parish in Nagoya and served as prior and pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Tokyo. He was a true missionary, who lived the gospel and brought the love and compassion of Christ to the poor, the sick, and those who were struggling. When first asked by the Provincial to serve in Japan, Father Tom responded by writing: “Ever since I was a small lad I have had the desire to go to the missions, ... to spread the Faith....If you wish me to go, I shall be more than willing and happy to comply with your wishes and go to Japan.” Father Thomas Purcell was greatly loved by the Japanese people whom he served. He is still fondly remembered in our parishes in Japan. A memorial Mass was offered at the Shiroyama Church on his anniversary.