Jun 30, 2013

The 3rd meeting of diocesan teams supporting Sendai diocese

The third meeting of diocesan teams to support Sendai diocese has been held in Fukishima area from 19 June, Wednesday till 21 June, Friday. More than 60 participants, including three bishops, one bishop elect, priests, religious and laity from all over Japan's 16 dioceses had bee
n divided into three groups and dispatched to three different courses for site visits. I joined a group to visit Iwaki and the area near to Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant which had been damaged by Tsunami in 2011.

On Wednesday morning, we made a visit to Iwaki parish and met with a volunteer team of the parish who shared their experiences with evacuees from town close to the nuclear power plant. Also we made a visit to the Mominoki volunteer station run by Saitama diocese. In the afternoon, we were taken by bus to the area quite closed to the nuclear power plant. It is possible to enter the area but residents are not allowed to live there since entry during night time is prohibited. We could see piles of debris of decontamination of the area in black plastic back. It may be quite impossible to find any place to keep these backs for long time without fear of the residents.

Even after two years of the disaster, earthquake and tsunami, because of radiation, people are not able to clear debris of the disaster.  We were in front of Tomioka rail way station, which has not been in function because of tsunami, and saw several damaged buildings left behind as they were on 11 March, 2011.

On Thursday, the 3rd meeting of diocesan teams supporting Sendai diocese was held in Koriyama parish chapel in Fukushima.  During the meeting, Mr.Sugawara of Ofunato parish in Iwate shared his experience of establishing a "Sister Relationship" with Sakai parish in Osaka. Mr. Sato of Sakai parish also shared his view from the other side of this relationship.

They did not know each other until the day of earthquake and tsunami hit Tohoku area on March 11, 2011. Ofunato and Sakai is 1,000 Km apart. Sakai parishioners led by Fr.Murata of Osaka diocese offered help to Ofunato people and also proposed to establish special relationship between two parishes. Since then parishioners from Sakai visited Ofunato several times and, for this spring, number of parishioners from Ofunato visited Sakai for first time to pray and play together.

This is the act of charity, Caritas, of Catholic Church. We do offer professional relief service from Caritas agencies to disaster victims. And it may be a short term services for the disaster hit area. But our commitment does not stop there. We, as parts of one body of Jesus, also offer long lasting partnership to walk along with people in the disaster hit area. Through these activities, not only professional relief workers, everyone in Catholic Church could join Caritas activities of Church.