Sep 25, 2011

Bishop MAEDA ordained for Hiroshima

Hiroshima has a new bishop!  World well known city as city of Peace, Hiroshima diocese received its new chief pastor on 23 September in person of Bishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo MAEDA.  His consecration Mass was presided over by Bishop MISUE, a retiring bishop of Hiroshima, and assisted by archbishop Ikenaga of Osaka and archbishop Takami of Nagasaki.  It was attended by more than 2,000 people.  Majority of congregation in the Cathedral of Hiroshima were from other dioceses, mainly from Nagasaki diocese since Bishop Maeda is originally from there.  In fact, 3 consecutive bishops, Noguchi, Misue and present Maeda are all from Nagasaki diocese.  More over, both Bishops Misue and Maeda were a secretary general of Japanese Bishops' Conference.  Majority of congregation from Hiroshima witnessed the august event in a hall of the nearby Elisabeth University of Music run by Jesuit.

Bishop Maeda's motto is "non ministrari sed ministrare" which means " not to be served but to serve".  Bishop Maeda, 62, was born in town of Chuchi in Goto island where several priests including late archbishop Shimamoto of Nagasaki came from.  He is well known of his gentle smile and also his deep interest in Japanese traditional culture and fishing.  You may find from his coat of arms fishing net which he intentionally put there to express his feelings which is same as disciples; because of your word, I will cast my net. (Explanation in Japanese in the photo above)

Congratulations for Bishop Maeda.  Also we would like to show our deepest gratitude to retiring Bishop Misue.

Sep 17, 2011

Six months have passed

Six months have passed since 11 March when massive earthquake and unimaginable tsunami hit northeastern Japan and took around 20,000 precious human lives away.  Ecumenical prayer services were organised in several cities in Japan including one organised in our Cathedral in Niigata.

Still so many people are unable to return to normal life and staying in temporary housings.  Those from Fukushima nuclear power plant area are even unable to clear their own houses after they were hit by tsunami because quite a lot of towns are within the evacuation zone.  Catholic Church has been actively working for those affected people especially in Sendai Diocese.  Caritas Japan has been cooperating with Sendai Diocese since 16 March and running the Sendai Diocese Support Center which coordinates volunteers who have been sent to coastal parishes in Iwate, Miyagi.  Entire Catholic Church in Japan has also started its effort to support victims.  Each of 3 ecclesiastical provinces, Tokyo, Osaka and Nagasaki are opening their respective bases in the area to send volunteers to support local efforts to rehabilitate.  Bishop Hiraga of Sendai has issued a pastoral letter on 11 September to announce that the diocese will continue its effort to support people through the Sendai Diocese Support Center till March, 2012.  But he also believe that it may take many more years for people to return to normal life so that he will reflect and reorganise the activities of the SDSC every 6 month.

In Niigata on 11 September at 3 pm, more than 70 people joined the prayer service presided over by me.  Rev. Pastor Obuchi of Niigata Shinanomachi Church delivered his homily.  Similar kind of ecumenical prayer service were held all over Japan.

Since the time of the disaster, I received quite a number of request for interview from abroad, especially from Catholic medias.  One same question has been asked by many which I do not have exact answer.  Many have asked me why Japanese were so calm after the disaster, even queueing patiently to buy food stuff in remaining stores.  Why there were no riots?  I do not know.  Some say it is because of Japanese culture.  Some say it is because Japanese high standard of public moral.  Some say it is because Japanese do not want to act differently from others.  I really do not know the real reason but one thing I can say is that we, Japanese, should learn something out of this experience.  Our society in general had been loosing sense of public morality or sense of helping each other.  We have to get these moral sense back into our society out of this experience.

Sep 3, 2011

Fr. Dumas has finally arrived.

Fr. Martin Akwetey Dumas, SVD, has finally arrived in Niigata on 26 August to stay with me for a few days.  I intentionally used a word "arrived" though his present appointment as a missionary of the Society of the Divine Word is learning Japanese language in Nagoya, since he was one of my faithful Mass servants (alter boy) in parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Osonson, Ghana, 30 years ago when I was a priest in charge of them.

I was appointed as a priest in charge of Osonson in June, 1987 whose duty was to take pastoral responsibilities of Osonson parish and its 22 out-stations.  I was alone to live in Osonson for 5 years since there were no missionaries to be allowed to enter Ghana for several years at that time.  Therefore, Catechists, Christian Mothers and Alter boys were strong hands to help me in my pastoral duties.  Father of Fr. Dumas is a cathecist and was one of my strongest partners.  Fr. Dumas himself was also member of the Alter boys group and accompanied me to visit out-stations quite often.

Quite a number of boys went to seminary to try to pursue their vocations to be priests and Martin was the one to be a priest.  I went to ordain him in Ghana last year in August.  While he was in the SVD seminary in Ghana, he contacted me to express his desire to work in Ghana.  He wanted to come to the country where his former parish priest came from.  So he made it and he made to "arrive" at my house in Niigata.

I took him to Tokamachi parish on 28 August for the Confirmation Mass.  Photo above is taken after the Mass with members of the parish.  As you can see from the photo, majority of the members of Tokamachi are from Philippines.  They have married with Japanese for sometime already and have been good mothers and wives.  We have their husbands and children to fill our chapel.  Several husbands have been baptised already.  We really have to thank God for sending these "missionaries" from other countries to Japan.