Jan 8, 2010

Two funerals

The past few days, I attended two funerals, one for Cardinal Shirayanagi in Tokyo Cathedral on 5th and the other for a 91-year-old Mother of Fr. Kenji Honma in Tsuruoka Catholic Church on 7th.

According to the estimation I heard, more than 2000 people attended the Cardinal's funeral including 200 or more priests. Japanese bishops who managed to travel to Tokyo in spite of the heavy traffic of people returning home from the New Year holiday concerebrated the Mass which was presided by Archbishop Okada of Tokyo together with Bishop Tong of Hong Kong and an auxiliary bishop from Cologne diocese. Rev. Nichiko Niwano, the president of the Rissho Koseikai and the president of the WCRP (World Conference of Religions for Peace) delivered a moving eulogy after the Mass. Late cardinal was known as a man of action for world peace and had been a president of the WCRP for quite sometime. At the end of the funeral, all the bishops stood around the late cardinal's coffin to sing "Salve Regina" to bid farewell to this great man.

A funeral for the late mother of Fr.Honma, a parish priest of Yamagata, was smaller in attendance to compare with the one of the cardinal but very moving. Since Fr. Honma is a member of the Picpus Fathers, most of their confereres in Japan joined the Mass together with Fr.Iino and Nagayama from Akita and Fr.Sakamoto from Niigata. The Church building of Tsuruoka which has been designated as an important cultural property by the government is small and narrow. Church was filled and packed by more than 150 people. Fr.Honma himself was baptised while he was working as a police officer in Yamagata in his 20's. Later, his mother was also baptised in Tsuruoka when she was 60 years old. According to the eulogy by one of her friends, soon after the baptism, she became very active and important member of the Church Choir of Tsuruoka. Also she gave a good influence over her husband's spiritual life so that late Father of Fr.Honma was also baptized just before his death a few years ago.

When I left Niigata for Tsruoka, it was raining miserably and cold. However, when I arrived at Tsuruoka, weather completely betrayed the forecast. It was warm and fine day. Quite a blessing for those who attended the funeral. (Photo above. Tsuruoka Church on the day of the funeral)

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