May 31, 2009

Pentecost in Shibata Parish.

On this day of Pentecost, I made a pastoral visit to the Sacred Heart Parish in Shibata city in Niigata prefecture. It is an hour drive from Niigata to Shibata. The Catholic church in Shibata is famous among architects and builders in Japan for its unique chapel. The chapel, the photo above, was designed by late Mr.Antonin Raymond who was a disciple of late Mr.Frank Lloyd Wright, the great architect of the 20th century.

The chapel was built in 1965 by the Shibata Construction Company, a local company headed by a catholic, under the strict supervision of Mr.Raymond himself. At that time, the parish priest of Shibata, late Fr. Nocon, an German SVD missionary, had completed his 3-year term as the regional superior of SVD in Japan and returned to Shibata from Nagoya in 1963. While he was in Nagoya, he got acquainted with Mr.Raymond who was working on the buildings of Nanzan University's new campus in Nagoya. Of course, Nanzan is run by SVD and superior of SVD is quite involved in the administration of the school. So Fr. Nocon invited Mr.Raymond to build a chapel for his parish in Shibata which turned to be a master piece of Mr.Raymond's buildings in Japan. Still today, Shibata church enjoys receiving many visitors from all over Japan.

When I entered the sacristy this morning, I was surprised but happy to see many kids ready to serve as alter boys and girls. Also faces from other countries among today's congregation was a positive sign that the community has been trying to build a multinational and multi- cultural community.

After the Mass, we had a celebration to inaugurate a new parish hall which had been completed already in last December but waited till today since winter time is not a good season for celebration in this snow affected area. Neighbours of the parish have been invited. According to some of them, it is their first time to attend Mass and take a close look at the chapel. Since the city road in front of the parish had been widened this year, many citizens of Shibata are now "discovering" this magnificent chapel for the first time.

May 30, 2009

Pilgrimage to Akita

All together, 19 people joined the pilgrimage to Akita on Thursday and Friday from Niigata. Fr.Kotaro Sakamoto, our newly ordained also joined the group and celebrated his first Mass in Seitai-hoshi-kai on Friday morning.

Though the weather forecast was pessimistic all over Japan, we were lucky to be under beautiful clear sky in Akita. We thank God for this gift of weather since the way of cross is prepared outside in the garden. As you can see from the photo above, the chapel of the Seitai-hoshi-kai is purely Japanese style which resembles Buddhist temple. The chapel houses the statue of Holy Mother Mary which shed tears 101 times in 1970's. This miraculous event which was recognised by my predecessor, Bp.Ito in 1984 still attracts many pilgrims from all over the world. We still holds the same stand as Bp.Ito's pastoral letter in 1984. The house provides wonderful atmosphere for prayer and reflection. Also the vast garden provides beautiful way of cross and a space to wonder around in prayer. I also encourage you to visit the house for your private meditation and prayer. The Seitai-hoshi-kai provides lodging for groups only for week-ends.

May 27, 2009

Going to Akita for 2 days

For 2 days from tomorrow, I will be in Akita. I am going for annual pilgrimage with "Getsuyo-kai" members to visit Seitai-hoshi-kai house in Akita. "Getsuyo-kai" means literally "Monday group" which meets once a month, mostly on Mondays, in our Cathedral for Mass celebrated by bishop and the Rosary prayer. The group was established by late Bishop Ito, the first ordinary of the diocese, to pray Rosary, listen to the lecture of the bishop and attend the Eucharist by Bishop. The second ordinary of the diocese, late Bishop Sato inherited the practice and so did I, the third ordinary of the diocese. (The photo above is the Japanese style chpel of the Seitai-hoshi-kai in Akita.)

May 26, 2009

What makes Catholic Schools Catholic?

What makes Catholic Schools Catholic? As part of answering this question, I visited Seishin Girls High School, one and only Catholic School in Niigata prefecture, to celebrate Eucharist with some of the staff members this evening in their Chapel.

Besides Seishin Girls High, there is only one Catholic High School in my diocese. In fact, there are only 4 Catholic Schools in the diocese, 2 junior colleges and one girls high school in Akita and the Seishin in Niigata. All of them are struggling to keep their Catholic identities in their schools. Why? Because there are not enough Catholics either in teaching staff, in administration nor among students.

What is worse for Seishin Girls High in Niigata is that the Sister's Congregation which established the school in 1964 decided to hand over the administration of the school to the newly established local school corporation headed by the chairman of the local Toyota dealer who was not a Catholic. Why? Because Sisters do not have any young members to continue the apostolate. No vocation for many years.

Even though the new administration had promised to maintain Catholic identity of the school and they had asked me to join the new administrative board, it was obvious that maintaining Catholic identity of the school without a Catholic head teacher and, more over, without Sisters who used to teach religion and who used to be a head teacher was quite a challenge for everyone involved from the very beginning.

At least, the new administration hired former SVD brother as a full time religion teacher and there are 5 other Catholic members in the staff. It seems there is no Catholic student this year. With these people cooperating with me, we have decided to try to find our own way to maintain Catholic identity in the school. As the beginning of this effort, we celebrated Mass in the school chapel this afternoon which was attended not only by these Catholic staff but also the head teacher, administrator and several other staff members who are not Catholics.

I do not want to loose Catholic schools from my diocese since schools are one of effective means for evangelization. ( Photo above is not from Seishin but from other Catholic High.)

May 25, 2009

Tragedy in Kathmandu on Saturday morning

On my way back to Niigata from Wakayama yesterday afternoon, I took a bus from Shin-Osaka train station to the Osaka airport. Nothing to do in the bus, so I picked up my cell phone to check my e-mails. Hiding among piles of junk mails, there was one important, though sad and frightening, information from one of my Caritas friends in Nepal.

As it has been on the news, a bomb exploded in a Catholic Church in Kathmandu, Nepal on Saturday morning killing 2 people and injured number of members who were attending morning Mass. The e-mail was from the one who were among the congregation on that morning as a member of church choir with his wife.

Just to understand the situation better, let me quote from another e-mail which I received this afternoon from Fr.Silas Bogati with his permission, the director of Caritas Nepal, who was presiding over the very Eucharist which was attacked. Let us remember in our prayer our brothers and sisters who are going through this difficult situation. Also kindly remember 2 people who lost their lives while attending the Eucharist. (Fr.Bogati is at extreme right in the photo above.)

Dear Friends, I am writing to you regarding a sad incident that occurred in our Church.I was celebrating Mass on 23rd of May at the Assumption Church at 9:00 am 15 minutes after the Mass there was a loud explosion. A lady had planted a bomb, which exploded and killed two people and injured dozen of people some are still in critical condition. We could never imagine that some one could carry out such a cowardly act and kill and injure so many people.

We have received so far good cooperation and help from the government. The new Prime Minister, Mr. Madhav Kumar Nepal who was not even sworn -in came on Sunday morning to see the damaged Church and visited the injured at the hospitals. Some political party and their leaders have expressed solidarity and support. Human Rights people have also condemned this attack on minority worship place and they ill continue to take up our case wherever needed.

Other Church communities are also supporting us actively we are also planning annual religious group rally on coming Sunday. We had a prayer meeting yesterday on Sunday all different Churches and Religions were represented. In Nepal we been having good religious harmony and some extremist group is trying to disturb this existing harmony. This incident is owned up by a Hindu group. The same group killed a Salesian Priest last year. Their goal is to change Nepal back to a Hindu State as in past.

May 24, 2009

Been to Wakayama

Summer has already arrived in Wakayama, it seems. I've just been to Wakayama over the weekend to give a talk on the activities of Caritas Japan. At 2 pm on quite a hot Saturday, more than 40 people made effort to attended the study session in Yagatamachi Parish in Wakayama city. Since I 've been helping Caritas Japan for more than 14 years, beginning with 1995 experience as a coordinator in Rwanda refugee camp in Zaire, I have quite a lot of accumulation of ideas and information which I want to share with others on the Caritas activities. So it was a difficult task for me to put all these ideas together into 90 minutes talk. As it is said now a days that without PowerPoint, there would be no power nor point in the talk, so I did prepare the PowerPoint presentation for the talk. I hope it helped people to understand my talk a bit.

Then today, the Ascension Sunday in Japan, I celebrated Mass in Yamagatamachi Parish with Fr.Ohta, a member of the Blessed Charles de Foucauld's community, the Little brothers. They also asked me to bless the statue of Holy Mother which was brought from other station recently.

Fr.Ohta and other brothers of the community of the Little brothers are living in a typical Japanese style apartment which is quite old and without bath facility. They are hiring 3 rooms, one of them are converted into a quiet and beautiful chapel. After the lunch with them together with Mr.Tadokoro, the director of Caritas Japan, Fr.Ohta took us around to see their activities to help homeless people in the city. Caritas Japan is also assisting their programme. Fr.Ohta's group hire several rooms in different apartments to encourage these homeless people to have, at least, their place to survive and also, more important to receive government support, their own address. The photo above is empty aluminium cans which these people go around the city to collect to make money out of them. 1 kg of empty aluminium cans could be worth 50 yen. Depressing but this is one of the realities of present Japan.

Fortunately, the parishioners of Yagatamachi are very eager to help these activities.

May 20, 2009

From Russia with love

We have guests from Far East Russia for past few days for whom our youth members organised dinner party this evening in Niigata Cathedral parish hall.

Last year, I organised 2 groups from Niigata to visit Khabarovsk. We visited the Catholic community there and celebrated Mass together, though I could say Mass only in English with a Japanese translator for my homily. As you know well, Russian Orthodox Church is very strong and having good relationship with the present government. If you enter the city of Khabarovsk, you may immediately notice several new Orthodox Churches built in vantage points of the city. Catholic community is very tiny minority in Russia and especially in Far East. In spite of the difficult situation,still number of people gather for Sunday Mass and there exists a Catholic Parish in Khabarovsk. The Parish Priest is a young Argentinian, Fr.Marcelo who speaks in addition to his native Spanish, Russian, Italian, English and Latin. Yes, he used to be a Latin teacher. So he communicates with me in English, Fr.Otaki in Italian, Fr.Raul in Spanish and Fr.Machida in Latin, especially when Fr.Machida got enough beer.

Thanks to the effort made by the former parish priest, an American Maryknoll Father Fr.McCabe, the Catholic community has quite a good relationship with Orthodox hierarchy in Khabarovsk. Because of that, late Cardinal Hamao was a special guest of the Orthodox Archbishop of Khabarovsk when the cardinal brought a relics of St.Chrysostom from Rome to the Orthodox seminary in Khabarovsk and I also was able to meet with the Archbishop last year. In addition to this relationship, 10 years of tireless activities of Japanese sisters, the Presentation Sisters from Kamakura, Japan, really made good impression among many citizens in the city. Unfortunately, Sisters decided to return to Japan at the end of last year.

As it takes only 2 hours to fly from Khabarovsk to Niigata, and as it takes more than 4 hours to fly from Khabarovsk to Irkutsk where the Catholic bishop has his see, I decided to visit the Catholic community to show solidarity as their brothers and sisters in the same faith and as a bishop of neighbouring community. I hope to encourage more people from Niigata to make regular visit to Khabarovsk so that we may establish good relationship between 2 Catholic communities over the Japanese Sea.

So this evening, 20th May, our youth in Niigata welcomed Mr.Valentine, 17 years old, with typical Japanese food, curry with rice. He spoke in Russian which was translated into Spanish by Fr.Marcelo and again translated into Japanese by Fr. Raul.

Since there are 2 flights a week between Niigata and Khabarovsk, on Mondays and Fridays, they will return home on coming Friday.

May 18, 2009

The life to follow

In the special issue of the parish news letter of Yamagata on the Thanksgiving Mass in Hokusanbara on Saturday, which I mentioned yesterday's post, the editorial team made great effort to interview quite a number of people who joined the celebration.

Number of voices mentioned that the Thanksgiving Mass was really moving and they had experienced a sense of Holiness during the Mass. I did have the same feeling while I was celebrating the Mass on Saturday at the exact spot these beatified had been executed sensing that the martyrs, our ancestor in Christianity in Japan were together with us throughout the Eucharist to pray with us and intercede for us.

Now after the celebration, we have to begin to follow them.

In his Encyclical, "Spe Salvi", Holy Father mentioned as follows.

"To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice; to suffer out of love and in order to become a person who truly loves—these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself. (39)"

Quoting this I said in my homily on Saturday that the martyrs lives were exactly the showcase of these fundamental elements of humanity pointed out by Holy Father. They suffered throughout their lives with others and for others. They suffered throughout their lives for the sake of truth and justice. They suffered throughout their lives out of love and in order to become people who truly love. That is why people in Yonezawa paid great respect to our ancestor in faith. In spite of persecution, many joined the Christian community in Yonezawa. So we should know what we have to do now. We also have to follow their lives.

May 17, 2009

One thousand gathered in Yonezawa

So we had the Thanksgiving Mass for the beatification of Luis Amakasu Uemon and 52 of his companions on Saturday, 16th May in Hokusanbara, Yonezawa. For our great surprise, more than 1000 people made a great effort to travel all the way to Yonezawa to attend the Mass. I presided over the Mass together with Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello, Bishop Tani of Saitama and Bishop Hiraga of Sendai. Also more than 40 priests from all over Japan joined the Mass including Fr.Marcelo, the parish priest of Khabarovsk, Russia, our neighbour. Weather was fine, no rain nor not too much Sun shine.

Mayor of the city of Yonezawa, his excellency Mr.Sanjyuro Abe also honoured our invitation and attended both Mass and party. Also in attendance were several delegates from local Christian Churches and Buddhist monks . Thanks for all these made effort to join the celebration.

Nuncio celebrated Sunday Mass, today, in Yamagata as his official visit to Yamagata district of Niigata diocese. With this visit, he completed his official visit to entire 4 districts of Niigata diocese. Nuncio was so happy to be welcomed by the parishioners of Yamagata this morning that he sang several Italian songs which was really appreciated by many. Thanks for your visit, Archbishop. ( The photo above is the Parish Newsletter of Yamagata published this morning writing about the Mass yesterday in Yonezawa.)

May 14, 2009

Thanksgiving Mass in Yonezawa on Saturday

Next Saturday, on 16th May at 11 am, the Thanksgiving Mass of beatification of 53 Martyrs of Yonezawa will be offered in Hokusanbara, the exact place of martyrdom of Blessed Luis Amakasu and 52 companions executed in 1629. The Holy Eucharist will be presided by myself together with Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello, the Papal Nuncio to Japan, Bishop Tani of Saitama and Bishop Hiraga of Sendai. More than 700 people are expected to join.

Yonezawa is in Yamagata prefecture within Niigata diocese. Niigata diocese used to be the SVD prefecture established in 1912. On 28 April, 1928, Fr.Schwientek, SVD found the place of martyrdom. It was beside a stone statute of Buddha. Fr.Schwientek opened the mission in Yonezawa on 27th January, 1927. He volunteered to come to Yonezawa after he read a book about history of Japanese persecution and got to know about the martyrdom in Yonezawa. Thanks to Fr.Schwientek who immediately bought the land, we still have the place as the memorial of these 53 blessed.

All 53 were lay person. Leader was Blessed Luis Amakasu Uemon who was a high ranking Samurai in Uesugi household. He was baptised in Tokyo around year 1610 while his master was staying in Tokyo, then called EDO. Upon returning to Yonezawa, he invited 2 of his sons and started catechism. Eventually those 2 were baptised. Then blessed Amakasu ordered 2 sons to bring the good news to their family while they knew very well that the central government at that time had banned Christianity. Though the prohibition by the government and fear that they might also be executed as the 26 martyrs in Nagasaki, people continue to join the community which even reached over 3000. (Today we have less than 300 Catholics in Yonezawa) There was no priest staying with them. Probably, only once or twice a year, foreign missionary had managed to visit people in secrecy to celebrate mass. But because of good example Blessed Amakasu and others showed to people, so many joined the community. Then finally because of strong pressure from the central government, Uesugi decided to arrest leaders of Christians. On 12 January 1629, 53 were arrested and immediately executed in Hokusanbara in Yonezawa. It is said that at the moment of the execution, an officer told the crowd to kneel down since these people were not criminals but holy people. They were respected by many.

The life style of these martyrs are teaching us how we should live and how we should spread the value of gospel in modern days Japan.

The photo above is the relics of Japanese martyrs. In 1614, missionaries at that time took quite a number of relics of Japanese martyrs out from Japan to Macao. They were returned to Japan in 1995 and kept in Nagasaki since then. To commemorate the beatification of 188 martyrs last November, in which 53 of Yonezawa was included, Bishops Conference had made the ostensory of the relics. It is expected to bring the ostensory to Vatican in November to present it to Holy Father.

May 12, 2009

Long journey

Yet another days for meetings in Tokyo, again. I am about to leave for Tokyo this morning to go through, or endure through; this might sound correct, 5 meetings within 3 days in Tokyo, beginning with an editorial meeting of a booklet for the next year's, yes NEXT YEAR's, Lent. Then there will be 2 meetings for Caritas Japan tomorrow, the aid assistance commission and HIV/AIDS desk meeting. Thursday would be a day for the standing committee of the CBCJ, Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan which meets once a month. To conclude the tour, there will be a committee meeting of Caritas Japan on Thursday afternoon. I got to be back on the night so that I may be able to travel to Yonezawa on Friday to prepare for the celebration of beatification of 53 martyrs in Yonezawa on 16 May at 11 am.

From Niigata to Tokyo takes only 2 hours by the Joetsu Shinkansen, the bullet train, to cover the distance of around 350 km which is longer than the distance between Niigata and Yokote; which was 6 hours drive.

May 10, 2009

After all, it was more than 6 hours drive

So I visited Yokote in Akita prefecture yesterday and today. I wrote that I had to drive for 5 hours but, after all, I found out that was wrong. It was more than a 6-hours-drive. Since I was caught by Police last September for over speeding, though first time in my driving career, I have been very cautious to keep the speed limit.
During this morning Mass at 9:30 am, 4 people received confirmation in Yokote. Unfortunetely 2 other candidates could not show up because of their engagement with school sports activities . Yes, school sports activities on Sundays! This has been a big problem for us, Sunday-Church-goers in Japan that most of our Junior High and Senior High schools engage their students to several sports activities after hours which usually require students to join games and competitions on Sundays. That is why we do not see many young kids in our parishes.

As I wrote, half of those who attended today's Mass were from Philippines. They are married with Japanese. Also their Kids were there. According to the pastor, Fr.Oman,SVD, an Indonesian, there are more than 40 Filipinos registered with his parish and their kids are more than 50. Then one of them told me today after Mass, there must be more than 100 of them residing the area. You see, 100 new members for a parish of 30 is quite a big number. So we have to do something for this situation. I have been encouraging people to find their own way to come together, Japanese and non-Japanese catholics, in order to over come differences and difficulties of building one community, not two separated communities in one parish.

Congratulations for those who received confirmation today in Yokote.

May 9, 2009

This weekend, confirmation in Yokote

This weekend, I will be in Yokote, Akita prefecture to make a pastoral visit to the Infant Jesus parish and 6 members will be confirmed during Sunday Mass. Pastor of the parish is Fr. Martinus Oman, SVD, an Indonesian missionary. The photo above is the church of the parish in Yokote. Well, quite a small building!

When I made my last visit to the parish 2 years ago on the Pentecost Sunday, I was really surprised to meet so many non-Japanese members attending Mass. Probably there were around 30 Japanese Catholics and same number or more Filipinos (Filipinas). This is typical situation in my diocese. Quite a number of Filipinas are in my diocese as wives of Japanese farmers who have been facing difficulties to find their spouses.

By the way, to reach the parish, I have to drive for 5 hours from my house in Niigata. Well, today is a fine day and it will be a good day to enjoy a ride heading North.

May 8, 2009

Groundbreaking ceremony at Kamo KG

Though it is already a delayed post for a few days, it might be interesting to note that we, Catholics in Japan, also do the Groundbreaking ceremony at the beginning of construction work. Shinto tradition has their own ceremony and that is very popular in Japan but we also have our own.

On 28 April, the Groundbreaking ceremony took place at Kamo city in order to bless the site for construction of Kamo Shirayuri Catholic Kindergarten. The ceremony was presided by myself and attended by the director of the KG, Fr. Koichiro Kamata of Niigata diocese, representatives of the staff of the KG and of the construction company, Shibata Kensetsu. The president and several staff members of the construction company are Catholic and they have been in charge of several diocesan buildings for past many years.

The ceremony of the blessing of the site was done, of course, by Catholic prayer and reading of the Bible, though the groundbreaking itself was done according to the Japanese tradition. So I took a sickle, made by wood, to cut grass symbolically for 3 times, Fr. Kamata took a wooden spade to give 3 strokes to small mound and the contractor took a wooden shovel to give, also 3 strokes to the mound.

Fr.Kamata had managed to build a half of the KG building a few years ago in Kamo. So this time he has managed to raise fund to complete the original building plan. Operating KG next to the parish has been considered as an effective mean to approach non-Christians for many years in Japan, especially in rural dioceses such as Niigata. Also working as directors of KG, priest can earn enough money to support their living. Therefore we have quite a number of KGs in the diocese.

May 7, 2009

Fr.Sakamoto's first appointment

Our newly ordained, Fr.Kohtaro Sakamoto has celebrated his very first mass this morning at 6:30 at the main alter of the Cathedral. Since it was an early morning mass, only a handful friends of him joined the celebration. I could see how he was tensed during the first mass. Well, within no time, he will get accustomed to celebrate mass, however, I hope that he will never forget the feeling of his first mass and continue to celebrate the Eucharist with the same reverential feeling of this morning.

I have appointed Fr.Sakamoto as an associate pastor of the Niigata Cathedral. Also as I have sent a fax to each parish in the diocese yesterday to announce new appointments for the diocesan committees, appointment of Fr.Sakamoto is included. The newly ordained will serve in the Youth commission of which Fr.Ishiguro is the chairman. You may find the entire list of the appointments on next Sunday in your local parish in the diocese.

May 6, 2009

Fr.Sakamoto has been ordained today!

Today at noon, more than 300 people gathered together in the Christ the King Cathedral in Niigata to witness the ordination mass of Fr. Francisco Salesio Kohtaro Sakamoto as a diocesan priest of Niigata diocese. Mass was presided over by myself, Bishop of Niigata, together with 45 priests concelebrating. Thanks to his cheerful character, so many friends from all over Japan, including a group from Hachinohe where Fr.Sakamoto had been baptised and from Kodaira Parish in Tokyo where he spent sometime to help parish activities while he was a seminarian, traveled quite a distance to come to Niigata to congratulate him . Thanks for all those who joined today's celebration and for all who took time to pray for the new priest.

Fr.Sakamoto was baptised in Hachinohe when he was already working in old folks home. Late Fr.Doi of Sendai diocese baptised him and was looking forward to witness his "Son" to be ordained. Unfortunately, Fr.Doi has passed away a few days ago in Sendai. Fr. Sakamoto first joined Sendai diocese as a seminarian and was sent to then Tokyo Catholic Major Seminary, now the amalgamated Catholic Major Seminary of Japan. He went through difficult time to discern his vocation and decided to take a leave from the seminary for 3 years. Then he returned the seminary as a seminarian for Niigata diocese.

This is my second time to preside over the priestly ordination in my diocese. I ordained Fr. Manabu Takahashi 4 years ago thinking I may not have opportunity to ordain any one for next 10 years since, at that time, I did not have any seminarian for the diocese. Though it was a loss for Sendai diocese, and I sincerely thank Bp.Hiraga of Sendai to made me to meet and talk to Fr.Sakamoto at that time, I really felt the mystery of providence of God today. I was shaken when I started Mass today. God is so good.

Kindly remember Fr.Kohtaro Sakamoto in your daily prayer. Also kindly continue to pray for vocation.

May 5, 2009

Influenza A(H1N1)

As you know very well, the Influenza A(H1N1), or so called swine influenza, has been the focus of attention for past few days in Japan and other countries. Though no infected patient has been identified so far in Japan, it would be wise to take cautious measures so that our Church communities would not be the sources of wide spread infection.

The Japan Catholic Medical Association has sent a letter to the Japanese Catholic Bishops' Conference to warn bishops to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. Tokyo Archdiocese has prepared a pastoral guide line on the occasion of such emergency situation caused by the new type of Influenza. The guide line has been based on the one prepared by the diocese of Hong Kong a few years ago when SARS was the center of attention. You may find the guide line, though only in Japanese, from the Home Page of the Tokyo Archdiocese.

In Niigata diocese, I would like to ask you to be calm and carefully watch the government directions. The diocese will send the direction to each parishes whenever it is necessary. But meantime, if you have traveled to those affected countries recently or if you have someone nearby who traveled to those affected countries, and if you have a fever more than 38 degrees Celsius, or if your are coughing, please do not feel obliged to join Sunday Mass. Remain in your house and, if the symptoms persists, contact your local government for further instructions before you go directly to nearby hospitals.

May 4, 2009

Priestly ordination on 6th May

Fr. Francisco Salesio Kohtaro SAKAMOTO will be ordained a priest for the Catholic diocese of Niigata on 6th May at noon in the Christ the King Cathedral in Niigata by Bishop Isao Kikuchi,SVD. You are welcome to join the celebration.

Fr.SAKAMOTO who is a native of IWATE, same as Bishop Isao, will join the existing 16-member diocesan clergy of Niigata. There are around seven thousand catholics in the diocese out of around 4.7 million people in 3 prefectures, namely Akita, Yamagata and Niigata . Though we need more priests for the diocese, Fr.SAKAMOTO is the last seminarian for our diocese in the Japan Catholic Seminary. We really have to pray for the vocation. At this moment SVDs, Franciscans and Picpus Fathers are helping the mission in the diocese. All together, 32 Fathers are working in 31 parishes, 5 quasi parishes and 4 mission stations.

Fr.SAKAMOTO's first appointment will be announced on the day of his ordination.

Fr.Ebe has taken his new post in Niigata.

This blog is a digest version of the "Shikyo-no-Nikki" which is a Japanese blog by Bishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD, who is a bishop of Catholic diocese of Niigata, Japan. Full version of the text of the blog is available only in Japanese at the following;

Fr. Lucas Jun-ichi Ebe, a diocesan priest of Tokyo Archdiocese has taken his new post in Niigata diocese as a pastor and administrator of the Christ the King Cathedral in Niigata city on 3rd May which was the fourth Sunday of Easter and the 46th WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS. Fr.Ebe who has turned 54 in January is a native of Niigata. Since he was baptized during his college days in Tokyo, he had joined Tokyo archdiocese as a seminarian and later has been ordained priest for the archdiocese. Archbishop of Tokyo was so kind to second Fr.Ebe to help Niigata diocese which has only 16 diocesan priests and always in need for priests. Welcome Fr.Ebe.