Sep 22, 2014

Hiroshima landslides

Hiroshima, well known city as symbol of nuclear bombing tragedy, was hit by heavy rainfall on 20 August this year. Massive rainfall was record breaking for meteorology in Hiroshima and it caused several landslides in hill side of the city, especially in the Asa-kita district and Asa-minami district. 74 people lost their lives and more than 300 houses were lost.

Hiroshima diocese immediately responded through newly established diocesan disaster support center. Fr. Harada is in charge of it. Fr. Harada opened a volunteer center in Gion Parish in Asa-minami district which has been under pastoral care by Jesuits. The volunteer center has been named the Caritas Hiroshima Volunteer Base and Caritas Japan is supporting its activities same as Tohoku area.

Almost a month has passed and I finally found time to travel to Hiroshima to visit the area on 17 September with Mr. Tadokoro, the director of Caritas Japan.

We were welcomed by Bishop Maeda of Hiroshima, who has been transferred to Osaka as its archbishop recently. As you may see from photos, small stream of the hills behind these housings turned to be giant river and swept away everything standing on their way including massive rocks and trees which, in turn, destroyed number of houses.

Volunteers and Fire Fighters are working hard to clear the area. One of victims of the area, who is a Catholic and their house was intact, told us that they are afraid to return to their home for more than 50 years since such heavy rain might occur again and again.

Diocese of Hiroshima will continue to be with affected people and will contribute to rebuild communities.

Sep 12, 2014

Summary of activities during August. Part 5

And a little more activities of August. After the Singapore conference, I flew to Sri Lanka to attend the capacity building workshop for South Asia sub region organised by Caritas Sri Lanka and Caritas Asia from 26 to 28 August in Colombo. More stories at the site of Caritas Sri Lanka.

More than 20 participants from South Asia Member Organisation of Caritas plus 30 or more participants from Sri Lanka. Human trafficking has been serious issue to tackle for Caritas Asri Lanka for years as quite a number of domestic workers from Sri Lanka face number of difficulties in Middle East countries.

Hon. G. J. L. Neomal Perera, Deputy Minister of External Affairs, Sri Lanka, delivering his address. The Chairman of the Catholic National Commission on Migrants, Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera (center) and Fr George Sigamoney, the National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka (right) watching.

My welcome address.

Sep 9, 2014

Summary of activities during August. Part 4

The Social Mission Conference 2014 organised by Caritas Singapore on 23 August in Singapore. Main theme of this annual event was "I want a church which is poor and for the poor", the word of Pope Francis. I gave a 45 minutes of the theological reflection on the theme. For this one day event, more than 700 people came to join.

Archbishop Goh of Singapore giving his opening remarks.

More than 700 people gathered to attend the event at Catholic Junior College.

My presentation.

Associate Professor Irene Yh Ng of National University of Singapore (left) answering questions after her talk on the "Social Realities of the Poor"

Lunch was "BENTO", or lunch box. In fact, "BENTO" is a Japanese word for lunch box.

Ms. Wendy Louis, executive secretary of the Office of Laity and Family of the FABC, giving her response to my presentation. On the stage are candles used by Taize group for prayer.

Summary of activities during August. Part 3

On 17 August at the martyrs shrine of Hemi, 90 km south of Seoul, Holy Father met with Asian Bishop led by Cardinal Gracias, the president of FABC. According to the press, there were 68 bishops from 35 countries and territories. It was raining heavy during the meeting.

Then after lunch with Bishops, Holy Father celebrated open air closing Mass of Asian Youth Day. Fortunately, rain stopped just before the Mass.

Asian Bishops entering the Martyrs Shrine of Hemi.

Cardinal Grancias, the president of FABC, greeting Holy Father.

Lunch with Bishops.

 Closing Mass for the Asian Youth Day.

Youths from all over Asia.

Summary of activities during August. Part 2

Then immediately after the celebration of Assumption in the Cathedral, I took off to Seoul, Korea from Tokyo to join other Japanese Bishops and other Bishops from all over Asia. Why? Because Holy Father, Pope Francis was there visiting Korea from 14 to 18 August, mainly to be with youths from all over Asia attending Asian Youth Day. Also Pope Francis beatified 124 martyrs of Korea on 16 August in Seoul city.

Holy Father celebrated open air Mass "in front of Gwanghwamun Gate in the main square in Seoul before a crowd that numbered about 800,000, according to estimates by organizers of the event. This was the site of the torture and execution of many Korean martyrs in the 18th and 19th century." (Wall Street Journal website) It was quite Hot but cloudy summer day in Seoul!

Waiting for arrival of Holy Father on the stage beside the alter. So these are more than 800,000 people in front of us.

After the Mass, trying to find way out from the site as people were rushing to the alter to take photos.

The alter prepared for the beatification Mass. Behind the stage is the Gwanghwamun Gate. There used to be a huge building which was demolished s few years ago. That was the memory of sad past history of Japanese colonization, the building of Japanese Governor during Japanese colonial rule. The painting behind the alter is not a real painting but LCD screen.

Summary of activities during August. Part 1

Summer has almost gone. Before every memories would be swept away into oblivion, let me share some of major events of this summer with photos.

On 12 August in Takada Church, celebration of St.Clare with Sisters of the Poor Clare in Takada. You may see, after some 10 years, there is a novice in the community. Thank God.

On 15 August, the Grotto of Niigata Cathedral was blessed before Mass for its 60th anniversary of creation.

During Assumption Mass in Niigata Cathedral, a young man received sacrament of Confirmation.

Also two little boys received their First Communion during the Mass on 15 August.