Oct 6, 2013

Two laity assemblies in Kushiro and Sanjo in a row

My duty as an Apostolic Administrator of Sapporo Diocese in northern end of Japan is finally coming to the end on 14 October when Bishop-elect Katsuya will be ordained a bishop. I was appointed as the Administrator of the diocese in November 2009 so that I spent almost 4 years in both Sapporo and, my own, Niigata.  My final duty for Sapporo was to attend the laity assembly in Kushiro on 29 September.

Kushiro district is under pastoral care of Franciscan Fathers (OFM) with 9 parish communities.  More than 100 people gathered together in Kushiro Church on 29 Sunday and I gave a talk on "the Year of Faith and Great earthquake in Tohoku area."

As volunteers from all over Japan, half of them are non-Christians, continue to join the activities organised by Caritas Japan and Sendai diocese, we Catholics are deepening our own faith in the field and also through our activities, through words and deeds, I am sure, we are proclaiming Gospel message.  Of course, we do not force anyone to accept the faith nor even join our prayer in the volunteer bases. However, many of these non-Christian volunteers return to the base again and again because they feel at home with the prayerful atmosphere of our activities. Isn't it evangelization through witness?

Then today on 6 October, I joined the 25th Catholic Shibata district laity assembly in Sanjo Parish in Niigata Diocese. Around 90 people from 8 communities in the district joined the event. The district used to be a SVD pastoral district till early 70's. At present 4
diocesan priests of Niigata take care of 8 communities including Murakami, Shibata, Niitsu, Kamo, Tochio, Sanjo, Mitsuke and Muramatsu.

Most of these communities suffer from aging membership and lack of young membership. One of their parish priests, Fr. Kamata is already over 85 and is still in charge of 2 communities and 2 KGs.

Those who gathered today shared their faith experiences in small group discussion after the Mass and lunch. Of course, the theme of the event was the Year of Faith.