May 30, 2013

Archbishop Dominic Andoh of Accra has passed away

Archbishop Dominic Andoh, emeritus archbishop of Accra in Ghana, has passed away on 17 May at age of 84. He was a bishop of Accra, the capital city of Ghana since 1971 till 1992 when the diocese was raised as Archdiocese and became an archbishop till his retirement in 2005. 

And he was my "boss" from 1986 to 1992. I was sent to Ghana in 1986 and appointed to a mission in upper Krobo land.  Then in June 1987, I was appointed as a priest in charge of Osonson by Archbishop Andoh.  In 1992, the Accra diocese was divided to two and Koforidua diocese was created. My parish, Our Lady of Lourdes in Osonson was included in the Koforidua diocese and Bishop Palmer Buckle, present Archbishop of Accra became my superior in Koforidua diocese at that time.

I have a lot of good memories with Archbishop Andoh. He used to visited parishes every three years and stayed with us for a week. So I took him around to visit my 23 outsations for confirmation. When I met him in 2006 and 2010 in his retirement house in Accra, he also mentioned several wild experiences with me in bush with a lot of laugh and smile.   He especially enjoyed an old mission house in Osonson and also a wild car ride through bush in upper Krobo area.

May he rest in perfect peace.

Funeral will be held on 6 June in Accra. R.I.P.

May 25, 2013

Audience with Holy Father in Rome

I was in Rome from 13 to 17 to attend the Representative Council (Repco) of Caritas Internationalis which is a kind of board meeting of Caritas Confederation.  Asia is represented by Caritas Sri Lanka and Caritas Indonesia together with myself as their president.  Regional Coordinator, Mr. Zar Gomez also joined the meeting.  Prior to the Repco, all the seven regional presidents of Caritas together with the president of the Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Maradiaga and Mr. Roy, the secretary general, were invited by Pontifical Council Cor Unum to share ideas on the revised statues and internal rules of Caritas Internationalis in which the Pontifical Council was assigned as office in charge of Holy See for Caritas, both for International and regional one. 

On Thursday morning, participants of the Repco were invited to visit Casa Santa Marta to have private audience with Holy Father.  I had attended such Papal audience several times but this one with Pope Francisco was different.  Pope shared his own ideas on charitable activities of the Church for 10 minutes and gave us chance to talk.  So all the regional presidents were invited to introduce respective regions for 5 minutes.  Then Mr. Roy presented a basket with bread an fish to symbolise the beginning of the international anti poverty campaign.  Then Holy Father gave yet another talk.  Then, of course, personal greetings and photo taking time.  Holy Father was really simple and kind.  He emphasised that we should not stop at the level of emergency relief effort but have to continue to walk along with people as the Good Samaritan did with a wounded man. (Holy Father spoke in Spanish this time. I did so in English as several others did and it seems Holy Father is not comfortable with English.)

May 6, 2013

Retreat completed@Charity Sisters of Ottawa in Sendai

I have been to Sendai for a week to preach a retreat for the Charity Sisters of Ottawa in Japan. I left Niigata immediately after the Niigata diocesan pastoral council on 29 April and just returned from Sendai this afternoon.  The retreat was the annual one for sisters and 15 of them, from Yamagata, Yokohama and Sendai communities, joined a full 7-day retreat.  This morning during 7am Mass, sisters renewed their religious Vows and were sent out to their respective apostolates.

I am not given a talent to be a spiritual director so that I can not give comprehensive spiritual direction through the retreat as such.  What I did was to give talks for 12 times, that is 2 talks a day, said daily Mass and preached, and met with each individual sisters to listen to their stories.  Mu talks are all based on my own experiences as a missionary priest in Ghana, Caritas volunteer in Rwanda refugees camp and Caritas director in various countries.  Because of these experiences, especially with Caritas Japan, I have given rich experiences of encounter with so many people in many countries.

You may find a familiar face among Sisters.  Ms. Sawako Inae who used be a program officer of Caritas Japan is now a novice in this congregation.  After the March 11 disaster in Japan, Sawako was sent to work in Sendai Diocese Support Center to coordinate relief efforts of Caritas and other players.  She stayed with Charity Sisters while she was in Sendai and was fascinated with the lives of religious community.  That is why she is now with them.  Kindly remember her, Sawako Inae, in your prayer so that she can follow the call of Jesus faithfully. 

Pastoral Visit of Sakata Church in Yamagata

On 14 April, Sunday, I made a pastoral visit of the Catholic community in city of Sakata in northern part of Yamagata prefecture.  It is around 4 hours drive from my house in Niigata.  Pastoral care of entire Yamagata prefecture has been entrusted to Picpus Fathers (SS.CC.) and there are 6 Catholic communities in the area with 3 Fathers of SS.CC. There is one priest residing in Yamagata parish and taking care of Yonezawa parish, and Shinjo station. Then there are 2 priests residing in Tsuruoka parish and taking care of Nagai station and Sakata station.  I am calling them as "station" because they do not have resident priest, however, following Japanese standard some of these stations, such as Shinjo and Sakata, could be Parishes in its own right.

Sakata used be a port city for a rich merchant of this area, Honma family, who used be called the biggest landlord of Japan for 200 years till the end of the WWII. Strong traditional culture and religion make Catholics quite difficult to bring Gospel message in this area so that the Catholic community in Sakata is quite small compare with parishes in other Christian countries. 

For my pastoral visit, around 20 Catholics attended Sunday Mass at 10am. The number was much more than ordinary Sunday.  After the Mass, I gave a talk on the Year of Faith and New Evangelisation.  Then we shared lunch, sung songs together.