Dec 24, 2014

Major events in October to December in Niigata Diocese: part 2

3: Laity formation program on the Evangelii Gaudium

I had several chances during this autumn season to share my thoughts on the Evangelii Gaudium in which Pope Francis clearly shows his vision on the Church's direction. Especially in Niigata district, study sessions for laity were organised on 18 and 25 October in the parish hall of the Cathedral. More than 60 people joined the session.

It would be quite a challenge to Catholics living in Japan to follow the directives of Pope Francis that Church should go forth to peripheries, to the poor and marginalised. Also how we should understand his call that Church should be poor for the Poor as we live in relatively rich country and majority are, in fact, not poor as such. We should not limit this call of Holy Father just to take care of physically poor people but should look around the reality of this society to find marginalised or forgotten people. There are, for example, forgotten people in Tohoku area especially in Fukushima. Already almost 4 years have passed since the 11 March disaster. We know that people there are still struggling to re-establish their normal lives but unable to do so. While we know that we are also busy with other concerns and began to forget about "their" concern. People are marginalised and forgotten. Because of financial strain of the government, the social welfare system has been going through bumpy reform and budget cuts. Yes, elderly people are marginalised and forgotten. Because of increase of population in middle and low income group and the gap between rich and poor are widening, traditional family system are falling apart. Both parents are busy for their works and kids are left behind and forgotten, though it is not the intention of parents as such. There are so many forgotten and marginalised in Japanese society for which Church alone can not find proper solution. Therefore, it is important for all our laity to know the direction given by Holy Father so that each one of us could be source of action in different parts of the society.

We might have similar program next autumn in Niigata district. For next one, I may talk about the "Ad Gentes"

4: Golden Jubilee of foudation of SEISHIN Girls High School in Niigata

On 31 October, SEISHIN (pure heart) Girls High School celebrated its golden jubilee of foundation in Niigata. It was established by Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur 50 years ago on the request of late Bishop Ito, the first Bishop of Niigata as a sole Catholic High School in Niigata prefecture. Still today, it is only one Catholic High School in this part of my diocese and, more over, a sole school exclusively for girls in private school sector in Niigata.

Unfortunately the Sisters decided to pull out from the administration of the school a few years ago and transferred it to a local business people who are not Catholics. Fortunately the new administration body decided to maintain the school as a catholic one and invited me and other Catholic laity to join the board so I decided to designate it as Catholic School. 

We need Catholic educational institution in Japan where Catholic population is absolute minority. In Niigata diocese, we have only seven thousand Catholics among more than four million people. How can we reach non-Catholic population without these educational institutions including kindergartens? So it is one of the priority of my diocese to consider how to maintain Catholic identity of this school which is under administration of almost non-Catholic board members.

At least, the Golden Jubilee celebration began with Holy Eucharist presided over by myself.   

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