Peter Cardinal Seiichi Shirayanagi, Archbishop emeritus of Tokyo, passed away yesterday morning in Tokyo at the age of 81. He had suffered from heart problem and other complications in August and hospitalised since then. We all remember him for his very powerful and moving homily in Nagasaki during the Beatification Mass of 188 Japanese martyrs in November last year. Funeral Mass will take place in St.Mary's Cathedral of Tokyo at 11 am on 5 January. May he rest in perfect Peace.
Today is the last day of the year 2009. Quite a number of people, despite cold and wild winter weather, make effort to visit Shrines to thank god for past year and ask for blessing and good fortune for new year. Visiting shrine during the end and beginning of the year has been a tradition of Japanese society. Catholic Church, too, has special Mass for this period of the year. There will be a midnight Mass this evening in many Churches in Japan. In Niigata Cathedral, I will preside over the Mass for the World Day of Peace. The Mass will begin at 12 midnight. Then there will be another Mass at 11 am in Niigata Cathedral for the feast day of Mary Mother of God. You are welcome to join the Mass to thank God for the past year and ask for blessing.