Aug 14, 2013

Mass with Catholic community in Miyako @ Iwate pref.

On Sunday, 11 August, I made a visit to Miyako city in Iwate prefecture which had been heavily damaged by 2011 March 11 Tsunami. Fortunately, the parish buildings including the Catholic KG were not hit by Tsunami though number of members of the parish community lost quite a lot of their properties. 

I celebrated Sunday Mass with the congregation of Miyako Catholic Church where I had been baptised in 1958 and attended the KG. Volunteers from Sapporo diocese also joined the Mass.  The presence of these young volunteers from Hokkaido has been giving lively spirit to members of the parish.  Majority of the members are now quite aged.

Sapporo diocese has been operating a volunteer base in Miyako city (photo above) from very first month after the disaster and has been sending number of volunteers.  Cooperating with the local government's social welfare council, volunteers of the Catholic Church who has been operating under the title of Caritas Japan have contributed a lot to relief activities.  At present, volunteers are making regular visit to temporary housings for victims to listen to the stories of people over a cup of tea. 

After the Mass, one of my old friends took me to the town of Taro where tsunami had just destroyed everything including 10m high seawall. The local government is planning to relocate the entire township to higher land. But the process of relocation is moving very slow and people are still in anxiety with uncertain future.  Some residents already decided to leave the town and relocate themselves in other town.  Tsunami is a natural disaster but this delay of relocation plan is yet another man made disaster to destroy local communities in the area. This area in the photo used to be the center of the town with houses and shops. Behind my camera is the sea.

Aug 7, 2013

Cardinal Turkson in Hiroshima

Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is in Japan to join the "Ten Days for Peace" organised by Japanese Bishops' Conference.  This ten days of several activities and prayers for peace was organised by Japanese Bishops in response to the call for world peace made by Blessed John Paul II in 1981 during his visit to Hiroshima. It begins on 6 August, the memorial day of Hiroshima bombing and will end on 15 August, the day of Japanese surrender in 1945.  Also 9 August is memorial day of Nagasaki bombing.  For all these three days, government also organises its own memorial services.

Cardinal Turkson arrived in Hiroshima in the afternoon on 5 August.  First of all, he met with members of the Episcopal Commission for Social Issues to discuss about several social justice issues in Japan.  Then he proceeded to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with Archbishop Chennoth, apostolic nuncio to Japan, Bishop Maeda, bishop of Hiroshima and other Japanese bishops to join the Catholic and Anglican Prayer meeting for Peace.  Though it was raining heavy at that time, quite a number of members from both Anglican and Catholic gathered together to pray.  Of course, a shelter was provided to all.  After the prayer meeting, participants marched through the town of Hiroshima till the Catholic Cathedral and Cardinal Turkson also joined the march of almost 2 Km.

From 7pm on 5 August, memorial Mass was celebrated in the Catholic Cathedral of Hiroshima and Cardinal Turkson gave a homily.  The text of this homily in English is found in this link.

Cardinal and Nuncio also joined the government organised ceremony on 6 August morning while we gathered again in the Cathedral to attend Mass said by Bishop Maeda.

Cardinal will travel to Nagasaki to attend several inter-faith meetings and also government organised ceremony on 9 August.