Great Conversion Stories: Takashi Nagai 

Reprinted from Magnificat (

Great Conversion Stories: Takashi Nagai 

By John Janaro (’85)

The whole life of Takashi Nagai was one of continual conversion and growth in wisdom and knowledge. Here I can only sketch the story of his coming to faith and baptism. This Japanese scientist and professor of radiology at the University of Nagasaki faced his greatest challenges after the atomic bomb turned his city into a nuclear wasteland. While bedridden and slowly dying from the consequences of overexposure to radiation, he prayed, offered his suffering, and wrote extensively as a witness for peace to his own people and the world.

Takashi Nagai was born in 1908 in the rural Shimane Province, to a Shinto family. His father was a Western educated doctor. When Takashi himself entered Nagasaki’s medical college in 1928, he considered himself an atheist and scientific materialist. Though he had high aspirations, something seemed to be missing. He tried to numb his dissatisfaction with intensive study and occasional drinking and carousing. But at his mother’s deathbed, he was struck by the sense that she had not been simply annihilated; her spirit somehow lived on. And on hospital rounds, he saw that medical techniques were not in themselves enough to care for the whole suffering human person.

Then there was one Western scientist he greatly admired – Blaise Pascal – who was also an intense Christian believer. He wrestled with the challenges of Pascal’s Pensées, and decided to see what actual living, praying faith was like.

Nagasaki presented him with a unique opportunity: it contained the only significant Catholic population in all of Japan. Here martyrs had shed their blood and ordinary Christians had handed down the Faith secretly for three centuries without priests. When Japan opened to the West, Nagasaki’s Christianity flourished anew.

Takashi took lodgings with the Catholic Moriyama family, where he had a decisive encounter. Their adult daughter Midori befriended him, and in her he saw a conviction and a purity of soul unlike anything he had ever known. When Japan invaded Manchuria, Takashi was drafted, and Midori promised to pray for him every day.

In Manchuria, he endured the horrors of scientific warfare for the first time, treating wounded from both sides under appalling conditions. Meanwhile Midori prayed for his safety and for his conversion. She wrote to him and sent him a Catechism, which he read. He began to realize that this devoted, beautiful woman and her faith held the answer to the meaning of life, and the brutal military grind of the invasion – with its battles, prostitutes, and drunkenness – only served to make it clearer.

He survived the tour of duty and returned safely. Midori’s prayers were answered. In June of 1934, he was baptized, and soon after they were married. Takashi’s faith grew stronger through the companionship he and Midori shared from 1934 until that awful day of August 9, 1945. Later he found – in the wreckage that had once been their home – only her bones, ashes, and an object fused together into a metal lump in the skeletal remains of her hand. At the moment of the fiery atomic explosion, she had been praying the rosary.

He dedicated the rest of his own short suffering life to witnessing what he had learned from her: that the love of God is greater than the violence of this world, and is our hope for peace.


John Janaro (class of 1985) is associate professor emeritus of theology at Christendom College, and author of Never Give Up: My Life and God’s Mercy (Servant Books). He blogs at

Classmates Updates Due May 24

Please submit your CLASSMATES updates for the Summer Instaurare magazine.

All updates are due by Friday May 24!

Please send your updates and photos to:

Please send in dates and photos of your recent engagement, wedding, temporary and final religious professions, deaconate or priestly ordinations.  

Photos of new babies, updated family photos, photos from some great vacation, photos of you in front of your new home/car, photos of some great outdoor adventure, etc.

We also welcome career updates, new jobs or promotions, additional licenses, certificates or degrees earned.



Homecoming 2019

(Tentative schedule as of May 23, 2019)

(final schedule to be released mid-summer and sent to all alumni via snail mail)


Homecoming 2019

Please direct all questions or comments to Vince Criste in the

Alumni Relations Office at 540-551-9180 or


Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 – First Friday & Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

Golf Tournament – all day


Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (offered for all alumni, living and deceased)

Time: 11:30am

Location:  Chapel of Christ the King


Community Holy Hour/Alumni Remembrance followed by all night adoration

Time: 6pm to 7pm pending final approval from chaplaincy

Location:  Chapel of Christ the King


Class of 1989 – use Chester-Belloc Room for gathering

Class of 1999 – use of St. Kilian’s café for gathering

Class of 2009 – use outdoor pavilion for gathering


Alumni vs Student Basketball Game

Time: 7:15pm

Location: Crusader Gymnasium


Quod Libet and Alumni/Faculty/Staff/Seniors Social

Time: 7:15pm to 1am

Location: Kilian’s Café and Downstairs Student Center


All alumni, faculty, staff and members of the senior class are invited to a special quod libet

and a relaxing social networking event where snacks, sodas and a cash bar (beer and wine) are available.

Please bring ID.  Those attending the sporting events are welcome to join the social at the

conclusion of the volleyball and/or basketball games.


Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 – First Saturday & Feast of Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos

Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (EF) – (offered for all alumni, living and deceased)

Time: 8:30am pending final approval from chaplaincy

Location:  Chapel of Christ the King


Tour of Campus with Dr. Rice (tentative)

Time:  9:15 AM

Location: Sacred Heart Statue outside Chapel


Alumni Family Fun Day

Time:  10:00am to 3pm


Time:  11am to 2pm

Location:  St. Anne’s Field


Experience the family friendly atmosphere at St. Anne’s field!  Enjoy the rugby and soccer games

while you reconnect with other alumni, faculty, and staff.  ADMISSION IS FREE!

Great prices on concessions!  Moon bounce, pony rides and face-painting for the kids!


Rugby Match

Crusaders vs TBD

Time:  10:00am

Location:  Crusader field


Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (offered for all alumni, living and deceased)

Time: 11:30am

Location:  Chapel of Christ the King


Women’s Soccer

Lady Crusaders vs Trinity University (DC)

Time:  12:00pm

Location:  Crusader field


Rugby Workshop for Alumni Children and Teens

Time:  1pm

Location:  Chapel Lawn


Men’s Soccer

Crusaders vs Southern State Community College

Time:  2:00pm

Location:  Crusader field


Divine Mercy Chaplet

Time:  3:00pm

Location:  Founder’s Cemetery (behind Regina Coeli)

(Rain location is Chester Belloc Room, Regina Coeli)


Class Reunions

Time:  5:00pm to 8:00pm

Location:  Crusader Gymnasium


The 10, 20 and 30 year Class Reunions will enjoy catered hors d’oeuvres with alcoholic beverages.

Those celebrating a reunion may attend the Warren H. Carroll Reception at no additional cost.


10 Year Class Reunion Reception (Class of 2009)

For alumni who graduated in 2009, started in the Fall of 2005 or who affiliate with this class


20 Year Class Reunion Reception (Class of 1999)

For alumni who graduated in 1999, started in the Fall of 1995 or who affiliate with this class


30 Year Class Reunion Reception (Class of 1989)

For alumni who graduated in 1989, started in the Fall of 1985 or who affiliate with this class


Warren H. Carroll Alumni Reception

Time:  8pm to 1am

Location:  Crusader Gymnasium

All alumni, faculty, and staff are invited to enjoy hors d’oeuvres with alcoholic beverages.

Please bring valid ID.



Time:  5pm-12am

Location:  Gymnasium


Student Homecoming Dance (alumni welcome)

Time:  8pm-1am

Location:  St. Lawrence Commons


Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time & Respect Life Sunday

Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (offered for all alumni, living and deceased)

Time:  8:30am and 10:00am

Location:  Chapel of Christ the King


Optional Brunch

Time:  11:15am

Location:  St. Lawrence Commons


Tour of Campus

Time:  1pm

Location:  meet at Sacred Heart Statue (chapel)


East/West Football Game–bring your own picnic/chair

Time:  2pm to 4pm

Location:  Crusader Fields

Alumni Map is Up and Running!

Happy New Year, fellow Crusaders!

I hope the celebration of Christmas continues to shine in each of your hearts and homes.  It is still, after all, the season of Christmas.  We still have another day in which to celebrate the joy of the Lord’s Nativity.

Unless you belong to an Extraordinary Form parish in which case you may disregard this sentiment and party on until February.

I, your very humble alumni blogger, am delighted to share with you an exciting new tool available to our alumni.

Introducing: the Alumni Map!

It’s slightly more festive than that sweater your Aunt Bernice wore to midnight mass that had a crocheted baby Jesus beneath the words: “It’s my birthday!”

So just what is this Alumni Map of which I speak?

Thanks to the efforts of some very talented individuals, Christendom alumni now have the ability to stalk one another!  I mean, wait…  Let me repackage that last sentiment.

When the Alumni Advisory Council first met one of many suggestions that emerged was the idea that alumni should be able to look at a map and see if there were fellow alums in their neck of the woods.  Karla and I found that this would have been particularly helpful as we plotted which cities to visit during the Grill’n & Chill’n Summer Tour.  So now it’s up and running… sort of.

The alumni map is not as functional as we’d like it to be for the moment.  That is because the alumni portal is not yet behind a security wall.  One thing at a time.  Don’t worry, though, because we’ve already had contractors make us several prototypes.  I’m leaning toward the steel and reinforced concrete sample that not only prevents overland border crossings but has a foundation deep enough to stop the drug mules and their tunneling.  But we’re talking about the alumni portal, not the southern border so let me come back to that.  For the moment, the map will reveal to you where alumni live based on the information we have.  What it will not tell you is which alumni live there nor will it give you exact addresses.  Even the pinpoints are deliberately only approximate.  Look at the samples below for proof.

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Here is a worldview of the Alumni Map…
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Here is a view showing Irving, TX.  One of these dots is my house, one is my brother-in-law Kirk’s, one belongs to the Willards, and one is the Leggio’s.  None of these are accurate within a mile but you get the idea.  We can see that there is a small alumni community here.
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Finally we have a map of the Northern Virginia area.  As you can see, the zoom feature would come in hand in such a view.


About 40 Things…

I’ll cut right to the chase.

This is a call for a little bit of assistance on the part of you, the great Christendom alumni family.

If you took part in any of the Grill’n & Chill’n events last summer (2016), have an iPhone, and a few spare moments of time send me an email at  Your help is greatly appreciated.

Everyone else will just have to wait to see…

Welcome to “the Portal”!

I write this post from my kitchen counter in Irving, Texas.  My wife, the lovely Karla, and I are enjoying a quiet lunch at home.  I have just returned from noon mass, ironically at the chapel of another small Catholic liberal arts college nearby.  Our children are out for the day finishing a week of arts and crafts at a day camp.  After a very busy year filled with plenty of insanity, unexpected cross-country travel, entertaining friends, activities for the kids, changing jobs, and so on and so forth; my wife and I have a rare afternoon to ourselves.  Alone.

And we choose to spend it like this…

Looks ominous, right?

I am looking at some pictures in another tab on my laptop.  It’s a flashback of sorts.  Google reminds me frequently of what I did “on this day” last year.  The pictures are filled with Christendom alumni.  I cannot believe it’s been a year.

Those of you who followed the progress of last summer’s Grill’n & Chill’n Tour were part of something incredibly special.  Whether you hosted an event, attended an event, or simply read about the road trip, you took part in the beginnings of Christendom’s alumni outreach endeavor.  Throughout the eight weeks of driving (not to mention the few months of planning and the decompression afterward) I was keenly aware not only of the unique place in the life of the college this moment in time would be but also of my own privilege in being able to take part and, for better or worse, to be its scribe.  Keep in mind I am an alumnus almost by default having attended Christendom for one solitary semester.  For me, this was a big deal and an opportunity I did not want to squander.

But summer faded all too soon.  Autumn saw a series of Alumni Advisory Council meetings wherein the future of this outreach was discussed.  All the data pointed to the fact that you, our wonderful alumni, wanted this to continue in one form or another.  And so now, we launch in earnest the Alumni Portal!  Take a look around.  Get a feel for the site.  Lots of new features beyond just the musings of yours truly (though my blog posts will continue).

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Weren’t you just looking at this page?  In fact, we love this portal so much we’re plastering it everywhere!

As we launch this operation together I want to ask each of you who are reading to offer a prayer.  First, pray for the Church.  It’s always a good idea.  Second, pray for one another.  Pray for those among us who may be ill or in need; for those who are lost; for those who have forgotten their faith or who struggle.  Pray for those loved ones who have journeyed home to God and may still need our prayers to embark upon the final stretch.  Pray for each other.  And finally, pray for Christendom College.  Pray for the current students and faculty.  Pray for the young men and women currently considering whether Christendom is right for them (hint: it IS).  Pray for the admissions team, the advancement folks, the kitchen staff, the grounds crew.  Those for whom you pray in this moment will be those who pray for you when you need it most.

So there’s the “prayer” part of the title.  Here’s the “plea”.  I ask you all to make use of this portal.  Bookmark us.  Better yet, make it a homepage.  Mike Hichborn won’t mind if you swap us out with Lepanto, trust me…  We ask that you visit us daily and give us your feedback.  From job postings to keeping your information current, we hope we’ve made this page what you told us you wanted.  Sure it’s a work in progress but we know you’ll continue to direct us in making it ever more stellar.  If nothing else, stop in for the prayer requests.  If you have suggestions for weekly topics to be covered by me in the blog posts, let me know.  I am not the only blogger within this portal though I will have a recurring feature; but I do seek your input for the content of my portion.  Help us out and help keep this effort going strong.  An alumni council can only ever be as strong as the alumni base empowering it.  Remember, this “portal” is a work in progress insofar as it is our first iteration.  We hope to be able to include ALL of the things you’ve asked for like career development opportunities and a full alumni directory.  That will come as we ultimately migrate to a password-protected site.  But for now; let us hear from you!  If you’re a lawyer, a stay-at-home mom, a doctor, a teacher (there are quite a few of us), an actuary, a broadcaster…  Have you blogged before?  Can you write?  We are interested in running features and we know that many of you have much you could offer.  Email Karla, Vince, or me and let us get you started.  Also, don’t forget to tag us in your Instagram posts and to visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Now that I’ve given you a few things to chew on, I shall return to my coffee which appears to have gone cold.  Oh, the sacrifices I make for you wonderful people.  Anyway, I kind of like iced coffee.

Alumni Office Seeks Classmates Updates for Next Instaurare

Who is THIS little cutie?

This is Zoey Grace Therese Inman, the first child born to Zac ’08 and Sadie (Bratt ’13) Inman.

Zoey was born on January 19th and weighed in at 5 lb, 2 oz and 19 1/2 inches long.​

Zac and Sadie sent their update to the alumni office.


Please send in your Classmates information for the next Instaurare magazine.

What types of info should you submit?

Dates and photos of your recent engagement or wedding.

Maybe you took temporary or final religious vows.  Maybe you have (or soon will) be ordained a deacon or a priest.

Maybe you want to share photos of new babies, updated family photos, photos from some great vacation, or photos of you in front of your new home/car.

Career updates, new jobs or promotions, additional licenses, certificates or degrees earned. (You get the idea!)