Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Papal Nuncio visits disaster area
Local Church officials discuss future course of action, seek more priestsOfunato Church in Iwate Prefecture escaped damage due to its position high on a hill but a mausoleum nearby, once standing in the foreground of this picture, was demolished
- April 14, 2011
The Nuncio celebrated Mass outside Motoderakoji Cathedral in Sendai City on Sunday, during which he offered words of encouragement to those who have suffered since the disaster struck.
He had no choice but to hold the liturgy in the garden outside the cathedral, because the building was itself a victim of the destruction and is unsafe for use. During a 7.1-magnitude aftershock on April 8, a portion of the wall directly above the sanctuary crumbled and fell to the floor far below, leaving debris strewn about the altar.
After Mass, Archbishop Bottari de Castello visited two churches, Shiogama and Ishinomaki, which have become bases for volunteer activities since the earthquake on March 11. He offered encouragement and praise to the people working there and saw for himself the harsh conditions people are living under.
The nuncioâ€™s Â three-day visit which ended on Monday followed two days of meetings involving bishops, priests and other Catholics devoted to the long-term care and reconstruction of the region and its people.
During the first, on April 7, Sendai diocesan priests discussed responses to the regionâ€™s troubles. They decided to continue operating the Sendai Diocese Support Center, which was established as an emergency measure in the first few days following the disaster.
It was also decided that each church in areas along the battered coast should have a priest of its own.
Father Shiro Komatsu, chancellor of Sendai diocese, explained the decision.
â€śUntil now, we had some priests assigned to several churches there, and people going from inland churches to take care of coastal ones. But for a period of three to five years, we would like to assign priests in [those coastal churches],â€ť he said.
â€śOf course, that means that some inland parishes will have to lose their priests, so we will submit a request to the bishopsâ€™ conference asking them whether we can get some priests from other dioceses and from the religious orders â€” and perhaps whether they could send some Religious and laypeople here, too,â€ť he added.
Fr. Komatsu was also present at the next meeting on April 8 at Sendai dioceseâ€™s main office.
This meeting, headed by bishops Daiji Tani of Saitama, Tetsuo Hiraga of Sendai, and Caritas Japan president Isao Kikuchi of Niigata, discussed how the Sendai Diocese Support Center would continue operating.
It also addressed the previous meetingâ€™s recommendations and requests.
Bishop Kikuchi said he would take up the request for more priests. Also, it was resolved that Sendai would finalize and submit a reconstruction plan in the near future.