May 27, 2014

Blessing of new chancery office and bishop's house in Niigata

A year ago on 10 May, 2013, a groundbreaking ceremony to start construction project of a new building for chancery office and bishop's residence of Niigata diocese was held under beautiful blue sky. After a year long construction work, which was disrupted for a month or so by snow in winter, the new building and surrounding facilities became reality. On 10 May, 2014, again under beautiful blue sky and warm weather, the thanksgiving Mass and blessing of the new house was held in Niigata.

In fact the work itself started in March, 2013 with demolishing of the former nursery building which had been closed in March, 2011.  Demolishing a building is quite costly in Japan because of the charge for waste disposal.

In 2009 New Year's Pastoral Letter, in view of the centenary celebration of the diocese in 2012, I put three items as projects I would like to accomplish to commemorate the centenary.  In connection to the celebration, a “Centennial Committee” had been created, and a discussion on the celebration started. Following three are what I wanted to accomplish.

First, the erection of Shinjo Church in Yamagata Prefecture for migrant Catholics in the area. Majority of them are from Philippines. A suitable land and buildings which could be used as a church had been found. With generous support from both within the diocese and other supporters in all over Japan, we could manage to purchase the land and building and were able to consecrate the new Church in October, 2010.
Second, the use of the land at the back of Niigata Cathedral and at the Bishop’s Residence. For this, a committee was also set up to find some strategies in order to utilize effectively the said land. And the result was the construction of the new building and demolishing of the former nursery and old bishop's house.
Third, the Niigata - Khabarovsk Catholic Friendship. In 2008 June, I visited Bishop Cyril Klimowicz in the Irkutsk Diocese, and I discussed and explained my intention to establish a spiritual partnership to bishop. Then on October 2008, with Fr. Machida leading a group of 5 persons visited Khabarovsk, and deepened the friendly relationship. Several members visited Khabarovsk since then and we also received our friends in Niigata several times. Khabarovsk community was represented during the centenary of Niigata diocese and one of our two crucifixes which went around the entire parish communities in the diocese prior to the centenary celebration also reached Khabarovsk.

What I can say is all these are accomplished more rapidly than I originally expected thanks to generosity of our brothers and sisters in this diocese and in other dioceses. Especially for establishing the Shinjo Church for our migrant brothers and sisters and also for building the new chancery and bishop's house, I was overwhelmed by great volume of donation from all over Japan. Thank you for your generous contributions. As for the new Chancery office and bishop's house, we received  big sum of donations from Tokyo and Yokohama dioceses. Thank you so much. We easily forget that our lives are always supported by generosity and concern by others. We easily think that we are able to manage everything by ourselves. But that is not so. Beginning from God who provided us with this precious life to every people we relate in our life, we have to be grateful to what we receive.

The cost of entire project of the Chancery office and bishop's house including demolishing the former nursery and old bishop's house and also including renovation of the old minor seminary building as residence for retired priests is around Euro 1.4 million. 
All Bishops of Tokyo province, Archbishop Okada, Bishop Koda, Bishop Umemura, Bishop Hiraga and Bishop Katsuya joined the belsessing of the new house. Around 300 people came to join the celebration. There was a banquet in the new house after the Mass and blessing.

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