Jan 18, 2012

JINOMORI volunteer base opened @ OFUNATO

OSAKA Ecclesiastical Province, which is comprised of dioceses of Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Takamatsu and Nagoya, has opened their own center for volunteer activities in Tsunami stricken area of southern Iwate prefecture in a city called OFUNATO.  The center is called "JINOMORI IKOI-no IE" which means a "home to take a break in JINOMORI".  JINOMORI is name of the area.

Opening ceremony was held on 14 January, Saturday at 11 am with thanksgiving Mass celebrated in nearby Catholic Parish of OFUNATO presided over by Bishop Otsuka of Kyoto.  Bishop Hiraga of Sendai and myself joined Bishop Otsuka and more than 15 priests also con-celebrated the Mass.  After the Mass, a parish council president, Dr. YAMAURA greeted people packed in their relatively small chapel saying that they will never again see such a many bishops and priests celebrating Mass in their chapel while they are still alive.  So this was the historical day in Ofunato parish, according to the doctor.  Dr. YAMAURA is quite famous with his original colloquial translation of Bible in KESEN dialect.  He read the gospel of the day in that translation during the Mass.  Dr. YAMAURA, a medical Doctor, has been one of the main person to organise relief efforts in the area after the Tsunami disaster on March 11.

After the Mass and lunch in their Catholic KG, we all moved to the center, JINOMORI IKOI-no IE, to attend yet another ceremony to officially open the center with representatives from local community and local governments.  Both city mayor of Ofunato and prefecture Governor of Iwate sent their delegates to attend the ceremony.  At the beginning of the ceremony, Iwate prefecture government gave Caritas Japan a certificate of appreciation which I received on behalf of Caritas Japan.  It was given because of our recent contribution to purchase heaters for MINASHI KASETSU housings for disaster victims.  MINASHI KASESTU is houses or apartments hired by a local government to cover shortages of temporal housings which supposed to be built by them.  Since MINASHI KASETSU are considered well built to resist cold weather, national government is not providing enough budget to purchase heaters for them.  That is why, though I still have difficulty to understand why the national government is not willing to help, several NGOs decided to assist local governments in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima to purchase these heaters needed.

In 1960 after the Tsunami disaster caused by earthquake in Chile, Swiss missionaries built a house to provide a shelter for local people in this area.  Yes, an earthquake in Chile caused massive tsunami in this area and so many people were killed at that time. Then the local people called the house "IKOI-no IE" and that is why the house is now named "JINOMORI IKOI-no IE" after the good memory of Swiss missionaries at that time.  Osaka Ecclesiastical Province is now organising volunteers to visit the area regularly and also provide a free space for local people to gather together in the house to chat over tea and spend time or meet friends. 

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