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Caritas plans Sendai relief response

Bishops meet in quake-devastated city to start channeling aid through diocese

Caritas plans Sendai relief response
Bishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi of Niigata, president of Caritas Japan, arrives in Sendai Photograph special correspondent, Sendai

March 18, 2011

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A group of Japanese Church leaders have met at the diocesan office in Sendai to plan the response to the quake and tsunami disaster there. Bishops Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi of Niigata, the president of Caritas Japan, and Father Paul Daisuke Narui, its executive director, as well as Bishop Marcellinus Daiji Tani of neighboring Saitama diocese held meetings in the chancery office of Sendai diocese yesterday. The men plan to set up an support center for the diocese, the hardest-hit in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Bishop Martin Tetsuo Hiraga and diocesan chancellor Father Peter Shiro Komatsu  will be the director and vice director of the center and a Caritas worker will be stationed there to coordinate aid work. Clergy and laypersons from other dioceses may also join in. The new center, which will begin receiving relief aids and accepting volunteer workers from tomorrow, will operate for at least six months. Curias of Sendai and other dioceses as well as Caritas Japan have received numerous enquiries to see how many volunteers and what kind of relief aid are needed and on how many workers are needed. The meeting also decided the arrangement of Sendai diocese’s reception of emergency fund. Caritas Japan has received more than US$253,000 in donations. Father Komatsu told the visitors that gasoline is the most needed commodity. “Since there is shortage of petroleum and roads are blocked by debris, we have difficulties to reach other affected areas outside Sendai city,” he said. The local government has set up several support centers while the Church could provide shelters to the relief workers, he said. Father Komatsu said today that he had begun contacting several downtown parishes to find rooms for the displaced quake victims. The diocese is yet to receive information of the costal churches due to disrupted telecommunications. Except for the death of Canadian Father Andre Lachapelle due to heart attack, all the other priests and Religious nuns are safe and unharmed but some Catholics have been killed. Related reports Earthquake prompts regional détente Priest dies in Sendai disaster Asia steps up response to quake crisis JA13658.1645
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