Jun 11, 2011

Confirmation in ITOIGAWA

Since my return from Rome on 29 May, I had to attend so many meetings and functions in various places outside my own diocese.  Thus, this delay of posting news from my diocese.  Most noteworthy of all these engagements in past few weeks is a meeting held in Fukushima on 2 and 3 June.  Fukushima is a capital city of Fukushima prefecture where the nuclear power plant in crisis is located.  The meeting was called by the All Japan Support Team (AJST) of which I am in charge.  Bishop Hiraga, Fr. Komatsu and several other senior priests from Sendai diocese are among the invitees together with Caritas members and AJST staff, Fr. Hiroshi Kanda and Mr. Kazunori Hamaguchi from Osaka Diocese.  We still do not know how long it may take to bring the power plant under control and people in the area will be allowed to return to their home town.  Victims are suffering from Earth Quake, Tsunami, Nuclear accident and rumors.  Whatever originated from Fukushima might be the target of discrimination because of rumor against to the effect of radiation.  No one actually knows the real picture of what has been happening in Fukushima No.1 power plant and we are left in uncertainty because of limited supply or delayed supply of facts by both government and the Tokyo Electric power Company. So we just wanted to make sure of possibilities we have to support victims.

During this first meeting we could not come to any concrete conclusion but so many ideas were expressed.  So we will bring these ideas again to the next Sendai Support meeting on 22 June to deepen them to find our own response to the Fukushima crisis.  Meantime, Caritas Japan has issued a new EA (Emergency Appeal) through Caritas Internationalis to clarify our activities till September.

Then, on 5 June, Nagaoka district held its assembly in ITOIGAWA church which is the south end of my diocese and 2 hours drive from my house in Niigata.  Nagaoka district used be solely for Franciscan missionaries but since last year, Fr. Takahashi, a diocesan, Fr.Ferdi and Fr.Lorenzo, both SVDs, have been assigned to take care of 3 parishes in the district upon the request from the Japan province of the OFM to hand over a part of the district to the diocese.  Still, at present, remaining 5 other parishes are under the pastoral care of Franciscans.  Among those laity attended the assembly were members originally from Philippines and their kids.   Good to see many young faces among the congregation.  Fr. Fumio Goto, SVD of Kichijoji parish in Tokyo was a key note speaker.  He talked about his own NGO which has been supporting education activities in Cambodia for many years.   Fr.Goto's activities began in late 70's when he decided to accommodate refugee kids from Cambodia in his own parish.   Also Itoigawa's 5 youths received the sacrament of Confirmation during the Mass.        

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