Jun 21, 2011

Bishop Suwa ordained in Takamatsu

Newly appointed Bishop of Takamatsu diocese, Bishop John Eijiro Suwa, who is succeeding Bishop Osamu Mizobe, has been ordained a bishop and enthroned on 19 June.  The celebration was attended by more than one thousand people from 4 prefectures in Shikoku which are under Takamatsu diocese where Bishop Suwa had been working as a parish priest for past 6 years and many from Osaka archdiocese where the bishop originally belonged to.  Archbishop Jun Ikenaga of Osaka was the main celebrant and co-consecrating bishops were the out-going Nuncio and bishop Mizobe.  All other bishops of Japan including 2 bishop-elects and Archbishop Kim of Kwangju joined the consecration Mass.  Archbishop Kim has been sending one of his seminarians to Takamatsu diocese. 

As we all know well, name of the diocese of Takamatsu has been on the news on the issue of the international seminary established as a diocesan seminary by Neo Catechumenate Way.  I do not want to go into the entire story of the issue, however, I may point out the fact that the diocese which has only five thousand Catholics out of four million people might easily face several practical problems which poor bishop had to face in practical sense to run such an institution while rest of 15 dioceses in Japan themselves facing several difficulties to run a national seminary such as securing "Japanese speaking" qualified professors and shouldering quite high living cost in Japan.  The international seminary has been transferred to Rome since then.  Newly appointed bishop has to face the task to secure the unity among laity, religious and priests in the diocese.  Bishop Matsuura of Osaka preached on the issue of unity in the Catholic community in the diocese during the consecration Mass.       

Jun 18, 2011

3 New bishops for Japan

As I have already posted, Holy Father on 25 March appointed 2 new bishops for Japan.  Bishop John Eijiro Suwa for Takamatsu diocese and Fr.Paul Sueo Hamaguchi for Oita diocese.  Bishop Suwa will be ordained in Takamatsu tomorrow, 19 June at 2 pm and Bishop Hamaguchi will be ordained in Beppu near Oita on 26 June at 2 pm.

Then during the general assembly of Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan (CBCJ) this week on 13 June, Holy Father appointed yet another new bishop for Japan.  Bishop Thomas Man-yo Maeda has been appointed as a bishop of Hiroshima and, at the same time, Holy Father accepted the resignation of Bishop Misue as he had reached the age limit of 75 this year.  Bishop-elect Maeda is originally from Nagasaki and has been serving as the secretary general of Bishops' conference for 6 years.  Photo above was taken during the general assembly of CBCJ.  All the bishops were invited for dinner with nuncio in his residence in Tokyo.  From left; Bishop Maeda, Bishop Suwa, Bishop Hamaguchi and the Nuncio, Archbishop Bottari de Castello.  The Nuncio himself is on transfer to Hungary.  He served as the nuncio to Japan for 6 years.

The general assembly of CBCJ was held in Tokyo from 13 to 17 June.  We, the bishops, spent quite a long time to discuss about our response to the disaster which struck dioceses of Sendai and Saitama on 11 March.  We made several agreements among ourselves to respond to the urgent requests from Bishop Hiraga of Sendai.  We agreed to send 6 priests to Sendai diocese to assist its pastoral activities.  Nagasaki ecclesiastical province will send a priest to Kuji in Iwate while the Major Superior Conference may try to take care of Ominato in Aomori prefecture.  Then Osaka province will send 2 to Ofunato and Tsukidate, and Tokyo province may send 2 to the Sendai city pastoral team.  We also agreed that the Nagasaki province may try to support people in northern coastal part of Iwate, Osaka province may support  southern coastal part of Iwate and northern coastal part of Miyagi, and Tokyo province to southern Miyagi and Fukushima.  These support will not be only for Catholics but will cover general public in the area in cooperation with local Catholic communities.  Also it aims to establish long term relationship between the are and each ecclesiastical province.

Bishops also decided to issue a short statement to express our desire to collectively support victims of the disaster and also show our solidarity.  Japanese version of the message has been already published in the HP of the CBCJ and it may be translated into several languages within few days.

We also agreed to the final version of new translation of Hail Mary in modern Japanese.  The final text has been also published in the HP of the CBCJ.

Jun 11, 2011

Confirmation in ITOIGAWA

Since my return from Rome on 29 May, I had to attend so many meetings and functions in various places outside my own diocese.  Thus, this delay of posting news from my diocese.  Most noteworthy of all these engagements in past few weeks is a meeting held in Fukushima on 2 and 3 June.  Fukushima is a capital city of Fukushima prefecture where the nuclear power plant in crisis is located.  The meeting was called by the All Japan Support Team (AJST) of which I am in charge.  Bishop Hiraga, Fr. Komatsu and several other senior priests from Sendai diocese are among the invitees together with Caritas members and AJST staff, Fr. Hiroshi Kanda and Mr. Kazunori Hamaguchi from Osaka Diocese.  We still do not know how long it may take to bring the power plant under control and people in the area will be allowed to return to their home town.  Victims are suffering from Earth Quake, Tsunami, Nuclear accident and rumors.  Whatever originated from Fukushima might be the target of discrimination because of rumor against to the effect of radiation.  No one actually knows the real picture of what has been happening in Fukushima No.1 power plant and we are left in uncertainty because of limited supply or delayed supply of facts by both government and the Tokyo Electric power Company. So we just wanted to make sure of possibilities we have to support victims.

During this first meeting we could not come to any concrete conclusion but so many ideas were expressed.  So we will bring these ideas again to the next Sendai Support meeting on 22 June to deepen them to find our own response to the Fukushima crisis.  Meantime, Caritas Japan has issued a new EA (Emergency Appeal) through Caritas Internationalis to clarify our activities till September.

Then, on 5 June, Nagaoka district held its assembly in ITOIGAWA church which is the south end of my diocese and 2 hours drive from my house in Niigata.  Nagaoka district used be solely for Franciscan missionaries but since last year, Fr. Takahashi, a diocesan, Fr.Ferdi and Fr.Lorenzo, both SVDs, have been assigned to take care of 3 parishes in the district upon the request from the Japan province of the OFM to hand over a part of the district to the diocese.  Still, at present, remaining 5 other parishes are under the pastoral care of Franciscans.  Among those laity attended the assembly were members originally from Philippines and their kids.   Good to see many young faces among the congregation.  Fr. Fumio Goto, SVD of Kichijoji parish in Tokyo was a key note speaker.  He talked about his own NGO which has been supporting education activities in Cambodia for many years.   Fr.Goto's activities began in late 70's when he decided to accommodate refugee kids from Cambodia in his own parish.   Also Itoigawa's 5 youths received the sacrament of Confirmation during the Mass.