Jul 30, 2011

Pilgrimage to Mexico

On the occasion of the silver jubilee of priestly ordination of both Bishop Tani of Saitama and myself, we thought it fitting to organise a pilgrimage to give thanks in prayer.  Both of us were ordained priest in 1986.  So we decided to visit Mexico and Cuba.  Of course our main purpose was to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico city.  The pilgrimage which was joined by 16 other people lasted for 10 days from 13 July.

As we were planning the pilgrimage, a massive earthquake and tsunami hit a part of Japan and both of us have been involved with rescue and rehabilitation operation since then.  So we were wondering whether we should cancel the trip or we should go ahead.  I thought it better to go there to visit the shrine and pray for the eternal rest for all the victims and also for quick recovery of people in the disaster hit area.  So we did.

The shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was huge area with 3 wonderful church buildings.  The smallest one is located on  top of a hill where the Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego in 9 December, 1531.  St. Diego was canonized by Blessed John Paul II in 2002 in this shrine while Holy Father was in his 5th visit to Mexico.  At the foot of the hill, a massive basilica was built with stones but had been inclined to one side because of  poor land quality.  Then a new modern basilica was built next to the old basilica.  In this new Basilica, one could see a cope of St. Juan Diego over the main alter in which a beautiful image of Our Lady is still clearly seen.  We were allowed to say Mass in a small chapel on the second floor where we could see the image just in front of us.  Thank God that we were given this wonderful time to pray in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Jul 12, 2011

"All Japan" Catholics to support Sendai diocese

Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan (CBCJ) had decided to mobilize entire dioceses in Japan to support disaster stricken Sendai and Saitama diocese for their rehabilitation efforts by sending volunteers and donations.  Bishops also decided to respond to the request by Bishop Hiraga of Sendai to assign 6 priests to assist pastoral care of the Sendai diocese which had been suffering from shortage of priests for sometime.

CBCJ had establish a team to coordinate this effort to support Sendai and Saitama and appointed me to be in charge of the operation since I am also a president of Caritas Japan.  Bishops had assigned Fr. Kanda of Osaka as my assistant and Mr. Hamaguchi of Osaka as the secretary.  Since the end of March, the team has been coordinating rescue efforts of all the diocese through e-mail's mailing list system.

On 11 July, exactly 4 months after the earthquake, a very first meeting of the "All Japan" team of Catholic Dioceses was held in Sendai Cathedral beginning with memorial Mass said by Bishop Hiraga.  40 people from all the 16 dioceses in Japan gathered together for a meeting in the afternoon.  Since this was the first time and we were in short of time, we just managed to share our own experience of past 4 months and also to listen to the story and plea of Sendai diocese.  Now we know each other well and decided to continue to put our effort together to support Sendai and Saitama dioceses.

After the meeting, participants were divided to 3 groups to visit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima respectively for a over night trip to know the reality of the disaster area.

The photo above is our meeting on Monday which was held in a small chapel of the Cathedral.  There was no other space to accommodate 40 people for a meeting.  You may wonder why there were no such spaces in Diocesan center.  It is because most of such big spaces of the center have been dedicated to use for the Sendai Diocese Support Center to facilitate and coordinate rehabilitation and reconstruction activities of the diocese.

As I am joining Bishop Tani's group to visit Mexico from tomorrow, next posting of this blog will be on or after 23 July.

By the way, Holy Father has just appointed Fr.Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, as an archbishop of LUXEMBOURG.  Why am I writing about the appointment of bishop in Europe?  Because Fr. Hollerich is currently working in Japan.  He is a German professor in Sophia University in Tokyo.  Congratulations, Bishop-elect Hollerich!

Jul 5, 2011

Bishop Hamaguchi ordained for OITA diocese

Entire faithful, priests and religious of OITA diocese in Kyushu have been waiting for the appointment of their new pastor for more than 3 years since their last pastor, Bishop Miyahara had been transfered to Fukuoka diocese in March, 2008.  Finally, their new pastor, Bishop Paul Sueo HAMAGUCHI has been ordained and installed on 26 June, the feast of Corpus Christi in Japan.

Ordination Mass was held in a convention center in Beppu, a famous Spa resort city near Oita where the cathedral is located. Since the Cathedral of Oita is too small to accommodate more than 1,500 people gathered together to join the celebration, organising committee had decided to hire the huge convention hall for the ceremony.  Almost all the active Bishops in Japan, including outgoing Nuncio and several retired bishops, including former Bishop of Oita and presently a rector of the International Seminary of Neo Catechumanate for Japan which is located in Rome, Bishop Hirayama join the Mass which was presided over by Archbishop TAKAMI of Nagasaki.  Bishop MIyahara of Fukuoka and Bishop Koriyama of Kagoshima, all of them from Nagasaki province, were the co-consecrating Bishops with Archbishop Takami.

Bishop Hamaguchi, 62, is originally from Nagasaki and was a rector of minor seminary in Nagasaki diocese before.  He  was seconded to Takamatsu diocese for sometime to support Bishop Mizobe, SDB, upon his request to send experienced priests to support pastoral care of Takamatsu diocese after the difficulties faced by Bishop of Takamatsu connected to the incident of Neo Catechumanate seminary.  His motto is "Proclaim Good News to all creatures."  Though the OPita diocese is small with around 5,000 Catholics, newly appointed bishop is determined to work together with people to proclaim Gospel message with confidence which is based on his strong faith background from Nagasaki.

 Congratulations for Bishop Hamaguchi.