My Years in Japan: Bro. Joseph T. Wasy
My Years in Japan, 1959-1963; 1964-1996
by Bro. Joseph T. Wasy, S.M.
It was in the month of May, 1959, that I was teaching at St. Anthony’s, Wailuku, Maui, when a letter from Father Leonard Fee, Provincial of the Pacific Province, was awaiting me in my mail box. The letter read in part “Congratulations upon being the first missionary to Japan from the Pacific Province. The Missionary Cross ceremony will be held at St. Louis Chapel to be conducted by the Most Rev. Bishop Sweeny of Honolulu on May 27, 1959.”
Little did I dream that this commitment to Japan would last 37 years. I was happy and at the same time uncertain of what was in store for me in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Really, I was not prepared for missionary life. I did not have time to study the Japanese language, the customs and the culture of this country. I took the risk and God was with me.
I heard St. Joseph College, the name of the school at that time, was a great school but as the years went on, it became greater with the renovation of the chemistry and physic lab, the remodeling of the Grade School, the building of the new two story library, building of Chaminade Hall for boarders for the older students; the building of the visual aids rooms to show films, TV programs and speech improvement; a new science room for biology and physics; renovation of the gym, karate room, wrestling room. I saw the renovation of the auditorium curtains, lighting system of the stage, seats of the auditorium, the expansion of the new shelter on the playground and finally the new equipment for play for the primary classes.
I saw the school win soccer and basketball championships, excel in drama, speech, art and music contests. I saw the school reach its highest enrollment of over 640 students, and I felt proud when Charles Pederson, a former student of St. Joseph College, won the Nobel prize for Chemistry, I think back in 1987. After graduating from SJC Charles went on to the University of Dayton and finally Du Pont Chemical Company accepted him as one of its researchers.
I was thrilled when I celebrated my Silver, Gold, and Diamond Jubilee of religious profession as a Marianist in Yokohama.
I was honored by the Japanese Board of Education of Yokohama for teaching the youth of Japan for 25 years with a certificate and a party in recognition of my years of service in Japan.
In all those years, I found the students to be polite, friendly and energetic to learn in school. I enjoyed teaching here and that is the bottom line why I stayed 37 years despite a difference of culture, language barrier and sometimes loneliness and discouragement.
Besides teaching the 8th Grade for 21 years, what other assignments did I have in Japan?
Well, I was Principal of the Elementary Department about 8 years, Assistant Principal of the High School for 5 years, Moderator of the Mothersﾕ Club for 22 years, Athletic Moderator, for 4 years, coached softball, and basketball, Moderator of the soccer team and finally my last years at SJIS, Assistant Librarian.
Before coming to Japan, what other assignments were you involved with?
I was teacher and prefect at St. Johnﾕs Home in Brooklyn, taught at Our Lady of the Rosary in Grade 6, in Dayton, Ohio, in charge of the Altar Society at the same school, in Honolulu, Hawaii, I taught Grade 6, 7, and 8 and coached basketball, football and soft ball. Another proud moment in my life was when the Cathedral eagles won the football, and basketball championships for 4 years in succession.
At St. Louis College, I was teacher of the Sophomore class and was in charge of the gym.
In San Francisco, CA I had grades 4 and 6 and was in charge of the Altar Boys at St.James High School.
In Wailuku, Maui at St. Anthonyﾕs High School I had Grade 9 and was the Moderator of baseball.
Despite the fact that all Marianists had to leave St. Joseph International School in June, 1997, because of low enrollment and the lack of sending Marianists to SJIS,
I thank the Japanese Administration for allowing me to fulfill my religious commitment to St.Joseph International School for 37 years.