Sep 22, 2010

The 36th Justice and Peace National Assembly in Sapporo

Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace has organised their 36th national assembly from 18 to 20 September in Sapporo.  More than 300 people participated in the event which was hosted by Sapporo Diocese.  Main theme of the assembly was "realising the true co-existing society" and particular focus was given to the local issue of human rights in Hokkaido, the history with AINU, the indigenous people in Japan. 

On the first day, we had the first study session in the chapel of Anglican Church in Sapporo near Hokkaido University.  Bishop Uematsu of Hokkaido and the Anglican primate of Japan was also in attendance.  We invited several people from the AINU association of Hokkaido to give us talks on their history and culture.  Mr. Abe, the vice president of the association talked on the history and reality of discrimination against to them in Japanese society and how they had been fighting for their own rights.  Ms.Ogawa and her son gave us wonderful cultural performance.  (Photo above: Ms. Ogawa explaining about their traditional dress)

On the second day after morning Mass in Kita-Jyuichijo parish presided by Bishop Tani, the chairman of the Council, participants were divided into 10 groups, 5 for excursions and 5 for study sessions.

Then on the third day in Kita-Jyuichijo parish, 3 bishops, Bishop Matsuura of Osaka, Bishop Koda of Tokyo and myself gave half an hour presentation respectively on the issue of human rights.  I spoke on the tribal segregation and human life referring to the history of Rwanda and the political manipulation of people which should be considered as one of causes of genocide in 1994.  After the talks, closing Mass was celebrated with more than 500 people.  There were not only those who came for the Justice and Peace assembly but also many more diocesan members who joined the session with 3 bishops and Mass.  Many thanks to the local commission for Justice and Peace who had spent so much time and energy to prepare for the event together with Fr. Shinkai.

Sep 21, 2010

Confirmation in Hakodate

30 members of Catholic parishes in Hakodate area in Sapporo diocese have received sacrament of confirmation on 12 September in Miyamae-cho Catholic Church in Hakodate.  They were from parishes in Tobetsu, Motomachi, Yunokawa and Miyamae-cho together with their respective parish priests, Fr.Koyama of Tobetsu, Fr. Raud of Motomachi, Fr Haure of Yunokawa and Fr. Goto of Miyamae-cho who is also the dean of Hakodate district.  The chapel of Miyamae-cho, a circular and tabernacle look-alike building is a quite modern and unique construction with a lot of open space. However, when these 30 people stood in front of the alter with their patrons, no more space was left form me to walk around.   More than 300 people attended the Mass which was filled by joy and enthusiasm.

Since this was my first visit to Hakodate as the apostolic administrator of Sapporo, Fr. Goto arranged a talk by me on Saturday afternoon with parishioners.  I wanted people to know who I am so that I gave a power point presentation on my missionary days in Ghana.  After the talk, we went out to a local restaurant with more more than 20 members for a good diner of fresh fish and wonderful Sake drinks.

Sep 8, 2010

Khabarovsk visit

A 10-member delegation team from Niigata diocese has completed this years exchange visit to Khabarovsk on 30 August.  The visit was a part of our exchange programme between Niigata diocese and Khabarovsk Catholic Church in Irkutsk diocese, Russia.  The team was consisted of 2 priests, Fr.Machida and Fr. Sakamoto, 3 university students, 4 supporting members and myself.   We left Niigata on 25 August from Niigata airport and returned to Narita on 30 morning since there is only one flight a week between Niigata and Khabarovsk at this moment.  Main purpose of the visit was to organise exchange programme with the Youth in Khabarovsk Catholic Community.  We could manage to bring only 3 youths from Japan, mostly because of the quite high cost of the travel, but around 10 youths joined the programme from Russia side.

Under the loving guidance of 3 Rev. Sisters of SSVM, the female branch of the Argentina-based Institute of the Incarnate Word, of which the Parish priest, Fr. Marcelo belongs to, both Japanese and Russian youths enjoyed several activities together in spite of deep language barrier.  Thanks to the wonderful translation efforts made by Ms. Takahashi who used to work in Khabarovsk as a lay missionary to stand in between 2 language groups to make them able to understand each other.  After a few days of spending together, they started to try to communicate through English, signs and drawings.  They also tried to use their own tourist conversation books by pointing at the appropriate sentences in the book. 

We are also grateful to the rector of the seminary of the Orthodox Church in Khabarovsk who invited us to visit their Cathedral and seminary.  We were even allowed to climb the bell tower of the Cathedral.  Also the rector invited us to join him to visit the Orthodox Sister's convent where we were treated by wonderful dinner prepared by sisters.

I sincerely thank the Catholic community in Khabarovsk and hope that this exchange experience would continue for many more years.  I also hope that many more people from Japan would have chance to visit the Catholic community in Siberia and also have experience encounter with the Orthodox Church in Russia.