Jun 10, 2010

Priests' rally in Akita

From 7 June to 9, Niigata diocesan priests' rally was held in Akita which was attended by 29 priests working in the diocese, including both diocesan and religious priests.  At this moment, all together 38 priests are working in the diocese including 2 elder Fathers who have been on their retirement.  Out of this 38, 17 are diocesan priests of Niigata, 2 are of Takamatsu, one from Tokyo diocese, 3 belongs to the Picpus Fathers, 5 belongs to the Franciscans and 10 are SVDs.  This year, the diocese received 2 new priests from SVD, Fr.Hayon, a newly ordained, from Indonesia to Akita and Fr. Odilon from Korea to Tsuchizaki.  We gathered together at Foresta Chokai Hotel in southern Akita.  Hotel is located at the foot of Mount Chokai and surrounded by deep forest.

As we are approaching to the end of the Year of Priests, we chose the theme which is closely related to the daily pastoral realities of priests.  Since Japanese bishops have been talking about the Human Life which is a gift of God, we decided to learn more about the life threatening issue in the area, the suicide issue.  Since 1998, immediately after the current economic recession has started in Japan, more than 30,000 people began to commit suicide every year up till now in all over Japan.  Number is increasing each year and Akita is well known in Japan as the area to record the highest rate of suicide almost every year.  People commit suicide because of financial difficulties, family problem, personal relationship and many other causes but most of the cases have been connected to the depression.  We invited professor Sasaki Hisanaga of Akita University who has been involving himself with the prevention effort of the local government.  Professor Sasaki is a Catholic.  We also invited Bishop Koda Kazuo of Tokyo who has been working on the topic as a bishop in charge of Caritas Japan.  Church has to learn more about the issue to be ready to respond to the need of people who are in danger of committing suicide and also to learn more about how to console the grief of families and relatives of those who committed the suicide.

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