Jul 22, 2012

Confirmation in Niitsu, Niigata city

Confirmation Mass in Niitsu Catholic Church in Niigata city today. A young medical student was confirmed during the Mass.  Photo is with his mother and the parish priest, Fr. Kamata who is already over 84 but very strong and sharp.  The student also plays organ and was an organist during the Mass today.

Catholic Church in Niitsu used to be a SVD parish and was the last SVD run parish in Niigata  and Shibata district in Niigata prefecture of my diocese.  The round shape chapel was built by Fr. Oswald Muller, SVD, who is now on retirement in Odate, Akita.  The present parish hall and a rectory together with KG building was completed by Fr. Kamata who has talent for buildings.

The community is not so big.  Today we had around 30 people for Mass and also members are aging.  Niitsu used be a prosperous city with rail way related industry as crossing point of 2 major rail lines.  JR East still has their own factory to produce trains in Niitsu and majority of commuter trains in Tokyo have been made in Niitsu.  The city was also famous for its production of oil.

Now the city of Niitsu has been amalgamated with Nigata city a few years ago, it is expected to be a housing area for greater Niigata area.  At least the Catholic KG in Niitsu which is annexed to the Church is doing alright so that there are still enough hope for the future of evengelisation in the area.

I have been to Sapporo yesterday, Saturday morning, to give a talk to more than 90 participants for the formation seminar for "Catechists" organised by the Sapporo district.  The participants attended 16 seminars since January 2011 and mine was the last one to conclude the year and half long course.  As the number of active priests in Sapporo district are decreasing, selected faithfuls have been trained to assist those people seeking for baptism.  Good idea.  I shared mostly my own experience in Osonson, Ghana as a parish priest with more than 20 outstations for 7 years.  I was alone there for at least 5 years and more than 40 volunteer catechists helped me a lot.

 Well according to the original idea of priests of the district, they are not trained to be real Catechist as such who teaches Catechism.  Rather they are to be people to accompany those who are seeking for baptism and encourage them through sharing of their own faith experiences.

I hope they will be continue to be formed to become true lay leaders of the parish communities in Sapporo so that in near future, these lay leaders could work together with priests and religious as a team.  Also I hope from among these trained, some one could be trained to be ordained as permanent deacons..

These days of traveling up and down have been giving my body quite tough time and I had to endure through severe back pain yesterday and today.  Today during the Confirmation Mass, I wanted to keep my pastoral staff (crosier) from the beginning to end of Mass.

Jul 4, 2012

New Superior General for SVD

Society of the Divine Word or Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) has been holding its general assembly in Nemi, outskirts of Rome, since the end of June.  SVD's general assembly are held every 6 years.  Present Superior General, Fr. Tony Pernia, was elected to the post during the 2000 General Assembly which I took part as a provincial superior of Japan.  Term of office for the Superior General is usually 12 years and, therefore, the general assembly had to elect new superior general to succeed Fr. Pernia.

After days of reporting and also spiritual reflections, the assembly hold the election for the post on 3 July and Fr. Heinz Kulueke has been elected with absolute majority to the post of Superior General.  Fr. Heinz was born in Germany in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1986.  He has been working in the Southern Province of Philippines since he was ordained.  He has a doctorate in Philosophy and, thus, has been a professor of Philosophy in University of San Carlos in Cebu.  He has been a provincial superior of Philippine South for exceptional 3 term.

At the same time, he has been quite well known as a real active missionary to be with poor and oppressed in the area.

Congratulations for Fr. Heinz and may God bless you and guide you.  Photo above is taken by Fr. Daisuke Narui from Japan.  Fr. Tony Pernia congratulating his successor.  Thank you Tony for your good and dedicated service for 12 years.