Aug 28, 2012

Mission Statement of Diocese of Niigata

Catholic Diocese of Niigata is celebrating its centenary this year.  It was established as the Apostolic Prefecture in 1912 and pastoral care was entrusted to the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD).  Then it was made diocese in 1962 with the appointment of first bishop, Bishop Shojiro Ito.  The centenary celebration in Niigata will take place on Sunday, 7 October.  Thanksgiving Mass will be con-celebrated with 5 Bishops and more than 40 priests, including Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop of Tokyo, Bishops of Yokohama and Sendai.  On 8 October, the Diocesan Assembly will be held in the Cathedral with more than 400 laity, religious and priests representing entire Niigata diocese.  For this august occasion, the diocese has come up with the "Centenary Mission Statement" which, I so wish, will be signed by each and every member of the diocese and will be presented to the alter during this assembly.  The Mission Statement is based on the three priorities in evangelization of the diocese.

We have prepared A4 sized document which will be submitted during the assembly with the signature and individual resolutions.  Also we will distribute a card with the Mission Statement which should be kept at home.  Now following is the Mission Statement of the Niigata Diocese.


We, the Catholic Diocese of Niigata, comprising the civil prefectures of Niigata, Yamagata and Akita this year mark the centenary of our foundation as a diocese. We have always striven, as disciples of Lord Jesus, to live according to the Gospel, and to be witnesses of the Gospel while seeking to grow as Church communities.

Though we are a small community in this area, we have tried to discern and live out our following the way of disciples of Jesus as one firmly rooted in the local community.

Building on 100 years of history, we are determined to proclaim and witness to the value of Gospel in contemporary society.

As we make our first steps towards the next 100 years, we proclaim the following points as our priorities.

1: To build "our Church", one which is filled by joy and compassion through overcoming differences created by age, nationality and cultural diversity.
2: Realizing the responsibilities of the Catholic Church in society through exchanges of information within the diocese, districts and parishes.
3: To continue to nurture and deepen our faith, so that we may be witnesses of the Gospel both through our words and deeds in the midst of contemporary society

We hereby pledge, encouraged by the witness of Blessed Louis Uemon Amakasu and the 53 Blessed Martyrs of Yonezawa, our forefathers in faith, that we will face the realities of contemporary society with courage and through our actions will strive always to witness to the love of Christ.

8 October, 2012

Aug 26, 2012

Summer is a time for festivals @ Niigata

First weekend of August every year is designated as the city festival time of the City of Niigata. So it started as ever with the Grand Dancing Gala in center of the city on 3 August.

Usually this kind of summer festivals are connected to local Shinto shrine in many places in Japan.  But for number of major cities have their own invented festivals because cities themselves are products of several amalgamation and final products do not have any connection with local religious traditions.  Usually with in such big cities, there are several local communities which have their own traditional festivals.  Niigata city decided to organize their own 3 day festival which includes several of those traditional local festivals also.

But the main events of the festival in Niigata are this Grand Dancing Gala and the Hanibi Night (fireworks show).  The Dancing Gala starts from the city's main rail way station, crossing the bridge over the main Shinanogawa river and continue to the old shopping area.  So dancing stretches over more than 2 km of main street of Niigata city.  People just dance from 7 to 9 pm and the dance music is Minyo which is local traditional songs of the area. (This kind of traditional dancing during the summer time is originally connected to Buddhist tradition of Obon which is a festival of Souls. During this period, souls of departed ancestors come back to their houses. Dancing during this Obon period was called Bon-odori or Bon dancing.  It was a kind of religious ceremony held to send off these spirits.  But later it become local festivals of entertainment)

To end the annual summer festival of Niigata city, Hanabi show was provided by the city government on the 3rd day which is the Sunday evening from 7 to 9 pm. All these beautiful and powerful Hanabi have been sponsored by local private companies and before they are fired to the evening sky, names of these sponsors are announced. A member of the Cathedral parish invited us to go up to her apartment roof top to enjoy the view with good glasses of beer. I can not show you the real picture of Hanabi this evening. It was too far a way to take photos and, in fact in such a hot and humid summer evening, drinking beer is much more important than watching Hanabi.

Study Session on Peace for the Catholic 10 days for peace in Japan@Niigata

Annual peace memorial events of Catholic Church in Japan which is called the Catholic 10 days for Peace was celebrated as usual in all over the diocese in Japan.  It starts on 6 August which is the memorial day of Hiroshima A-bombing and ends on 15 August which is the last day of the II WW or Pacific War. Of course Nagasaki A-bombing day which is 9 August is included. Catholic dioceses in Japan organize events for this 10 days but both Hiroshima and Nagasaki dioceses usually organize quite major events.

In Niigata, because of several reasons, we are unable to organize major events during this 10 days so that we usually have at least one study session and a Mass for peace around this time.  This year in Niigata, we invited Fr. Masaru Ota of the Littele Brothers of Jesus on 29 July for a study session and I presided over the Mass for Peace after the talk in Cathedral.

Fr Ota, who used to be a secretary of the Human Rights Commission of the Bishops' Conference,  spoke about the Christian perspective to understand the nuclear accident in Fukushima

I have been repeating this same point but, I do understand that politicians or business people or scientists must have worked sincerely with all their effort to protect and promote values which they believe the best for future development for human welfare.  The present situation of our society must be the result of their efforts.  If so, as people living in faith, what do we say about the present situation of our society from our perspective which is the value of God.  All the creatures have to be protected because they are said "Good" by God and more over we have to promote that the human lives have to be given the priority in this society.  It is crystal clear even after this disaster in Japan which is natural disaster and man-made nuclear disaster, majority in power still give preferences to the value contrary to the value we believe in.  We have to speak up.