Mar 29, 2010

Ms.Knight visited SAN-YA area in Tokyo

Ms. Lesley-Anne Knight, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, visited SAN-YA area in Tokyo on Saturday, 27 March, in the afternoon. She was accompanied by Fr. Narui, SVD, the executive director of Caritas Japan, Mr. Tadokoro, the secretary general of CJ and myself. Geographically, the address of "SAN-YA" is not officially existing on a map but is well known area in Tokyo as a town for day laborers. There used to be a number of low-cost inns in the area. Because of prolonged recession, many of these workers lost their daily wages and forced to be homeless. Adding to the poor economic climate in Japan, many of them are now aging and in real need of assistance to survive. Therefore, instead of these low-cost inns, today's SAN-YA has quite a number of newly built old folks homes all over the area. They can not continue to live on a street to receive government subsidy since it requires one to have a real address. Many of these newly established houses by local private inn owners provide aged workers an address to receive the government subsidy and deduct a monthly rent which includes meal service from the money to sustain the business.

We visited the NPO called "SAN-YU-KAI" which means friendship society of San-ya, established in 1984. The NPO runs clinic which provides free medical care and a shelter house. They also conducts counseling service and free lunch. (Photo above: In front of the clinic)

Ms. Knight concluded her 10-day visit of Japan, organised by the foreign ministry of Japan, with visiting the Cathedral of Tokyo archdiocese and left for Rome on Sunday.

This is the Holy Week. There will be the Chrism Mass on Tuesday at 10 am in Niigata Cathedral and on Wednesday at 10:30 am in Sapporo Cathedral. Then Mass on Holy Thursday, the liturgy on Good Friday and the Vigil Mass on Easter (Saturday night) in Niigata Cathedral are all at 7 pm. Then the Easter morning Mass at 9:30 am in Niigata Cathedral. Join us for the celebration.

Mar 24, 2010

Bishop Jinushi celebrated his Golden jubilee

On 22 March in Sapporo, Bishop Peter Jinushi, bishop-emeritus of Sapporo, has celebrated his Golden jubilee of priestly ordination. He was ordained a priest by late bishop Tomizawa on 20 March, 1960 together with Fr. Koyama of the Trappist monastery who celebrated the Golden jubilee with Bishop Jinushi. More than 200 people gathered in the Cathedral, Kita Ichijo and around 30 priests con celebrated the Mass presided by Bishop Jinushi with Fr.Koyama. The Papal Nuncio and I also joined the celebration. (Photo above) Bishop Jinushi requested us not to use the central chair of the Cathedral, which is the bishop's see of Sapporo, so that people feel the see is really vacant.

Also for the Sapporo, Mr. Jin-no, a diocesan seminarian of Sapporo, has been erected as an acolyte on Sunday afternoon in the Cathedral. If God so wishes, he may be ordained a deacon next year. Kindly remember him in your prayer.

Mar 21, 2010

Youth leaders' gathering in Akita

Though the entire number of youth itself in the diocese has been decreasing, there are still several energetic young Catholics who want to organise themselves as one of lay action groups in the diocese. The Seitai Hoshikai Retreat House has been the venue for a 3-day gathering of 12 youth leaders from all over the diocese started yesterday afternoon under supervision of Fr.Kotaro Sakamoto, the associate pastor of Niigata Cathedral. Fortunately for the diocese, at this moment we have around 10 Catholic students in Niigata University, a state-run school, and others in several different tertiary institutions in Niigata. I hope and pray that the group, though a tiny minority they are, would produce good youth leaders for the diocesan activities and also promote good number of vocations for religious life. (Photo above: Some of the youth leaders with Fr. Sakamoto praying for safe drive before leaving Niigata Cathedral around 7 am on Saturday fro Akita)

Mar 19, 2010

Welcome to Japan, Ms. Knight.

The Foreign ministry of Japan has invited Ms. Lesley-Anne Knight, the secretary general of Caritas Internationalis based in Vatican within the framework of the promotion of partnership cooperation in 21st century. She is arriving Japan today and will stay till 29. Ms. Knight has been the secretary general of this Catholic international aid agency recognised by the Holy See since 2007. (Photo above. Ms. Knight with Asian delegations on the extreme right)

In the field of actual development and rescue operation in developing countries, Caritas organisations have been a good partner and co-worker of Japanese government. Through her visit of Japan, Caritas and Japanese government will confirm these cooperation and deepen the understanding of ideas for human development. Caritas Japan will also welcome her in our midst and will have an chance to discuss some internal matters with her during the visit.

Mar 15, 2010

Recollection day in Naoetsu Parish

Yesterday, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, I visited Naoetsu Parish in Joetsu city which is 130 km south of Niigata city for a day of recollection for 2 groups of parishioners, one for a Japanese group and the other for an English speaking group. All together more than 60 people attended these 2 recollections. In fact, more than half were for the English one.

Last week I was in Akita for graduation activities of 2 Catholic junior colleges in Akita and spent whole week in the convent of Seitai Hoshikai. On Saturday when I drove back from Akita to Niigata, weather on the road was quite wild so that my black car was soaked not only by rain but also by sea spray since the main highway between Niigata and Akita passes through the coastal area. On Sunday morning by the time to leave for Naoetsu at 6:30 am, I just found my black car no longer black. It was just like a whitewashed car, dirty like something. Keeping your own car clean is one of the best hobby in Japan, I think, and I had to drive this dirty car under beautiful morning sunshine telling others I am a lazy man who does not care about this popular hobby of all in Japan.

Well, the first Japanese Mass began at 9 am in Naoetsu which was attended by around 20 people. The pastor of Naoestsu, Fr. Hubert, OFM, concelebrated the Mass. Since Naoetsu parish has a wonderful organ prayer, Mr. Machiya, with good knowledge of the Gregorian Chant, I had to sing most parts of the Mass, which I love to do any way. After the Mass I gave a 45-minute talk followed by the individual confession, the stations of the Cross, the Benediction and a lunch together.

Around 1:30 pm, English speaking community started to arrive for the day. Majority of them are Filipino ladies married with Japanese. I spoke for 45 minutes again in English about their vocation in Japan as lay missionaries to be witnesses of Gospel in Japanese rural society where traditional Church had not be able to reach out. I know the stories of difficulties which number of them have been experiencing in their international marriages. Sometimes they are not accepted as full members of the family by in-laws. Despite all these difficulties, and for these Church has been trying to be of their help, I still think and believe that God has his own plan for each one of us. Traditional Catholic Church in Japan has put much effort to establish parishes and other institutions in rather big cites in Japan. Because of the strategy, not much has been done to spread the good news to rural villages. In fact, I do not know how we could go into these villages at this moment. Majority of Filipino Catholics who have been married with Japanese are living in rural area. I do believe they have been sent by God to be a witness of the message of God. In fact, they are missionaries in Japan.

Stations of the Cross and individual confession followed and the day was completed with the Holy Eucharist. Photo above: those who joined the English recollection with 2 youngsters who did good job as alter girls.

Mar 6, 2010

Easter poster from the CBCJ

The communication department of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan has been providing a poster for Christmas, Easter and for other special occasions so that parish communities and other Catholic institutions could inform and invite general public to visit Catholic Church for the occasion. As for this year's Easter, the department decided not to distribute printed posters but to upload the data file of these posters on their web site. You may choose from 9 different posters and insert your own names of the parish and other messages in it though you are not allowed to save the file with your own original insertion. Try to print your own poster for this year's Easter. Click here for the web site of the CBCJ.

A few days ago, I got a phone call from Ghana, my beloved country. (By the way, the Crown Prince of Japan is visiting Ghana at this moment. He will visit Kenya after Ghana.) Through the conversation, I got both good news and bad news.

The bad news. Fr.Justinus Toda, SVD died on 20 February in Ghana while he was leading a station of the Cross with youth attending a retreat. They organised the station of the Cross out side, on a nearby mountain. When they finished the 11th station, Father Toda did not get up and that was the end of him. Father was only 54 years old. Father Toda was one of the first group of Indonesian confreres assigned to Ghana province. He arrived in Ghana when my term in Ghana was approaching to the end. He was sent to our district to learn the local language and, there, I met him. He was a wonderful and cheerful missionary priest. After so many years, in the end of January this year, I could communicate with him through phone. One evening I got a phone call from a seminarian who was visiting Asutsuare parish in southern Ghana. He told me that the parish priest is Fr. Toda. As soon as we completed our phone conversation, I got yet another call from Ghana. This time it was from Fr.Toda. He found out that the seminarian was speaking with me and he wanted to just greet me. No change of his character. He was cheerful as ever not knowing only a few days later heavenly Father would call him home. R.I.P.

Then the good news. This seminarian, the one who gave me a phone call from Asustuare, will be ordained a priest on 8 August this year as a Divine Word Missionary appointed to Japan. He was a member of the alter boys of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Osonson more than 20 years ago when I was a parish priest of them. I hope to be there in Ghana to ordain Frt. Martin Akwetey Dumas, SVD. Kindly pray for this young missionary to Japan.

Mar 1, 2010

Seminar on migrants in Sapporo

A two-day seminar on migrants organised by the Welcome House, the Sapporo diocesan organisation to support migrants, was held in Sapporo on last Friday and Saturday in cooperation with the Catholic Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Itinerant People headed by Bishop Tani of Saitama. Main theme of the seminar was " The formation of children connected to other countries". Those who have been working for the youth education of children of foreign origin gave reports on their activities in Hokkaido to more than 60 participants from the Tokyo Ecclesiastical Province which comprises Catholic dioceses of Tokyo, Yokohama, Saitama, Niigata, Sendai and Hokkaido. Niigata diocese was represented by 3 delegates led by Fr. Hubert, OFM of Naoetsu who is the chairman of the diocesan committee. On Saturday morning, participants gathered together in the Sapporo Cathedral for Mass presided by myself. After the Mass, Bishop Tani gave a talk on migrant issue and Catholic Church referring to the instruction of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, "Erga migrantes caritas Christi (The love of Christ towards migrants)" which had been prepared by the then chairman of the Council, late Cardinal Hamao . Thanks for those who prepared the seminar, especially the staff member of the Welcome House. Photo above is Bishop Tani giving his talk.