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Priest returns home as archbishop
From second home in Japan, priest goes back to EuropeFather Hollerich
- ucanews.com correspondent, Tokyo
- September 12, 2011
Fr. Hollerich was selected in July and recalls that â€śthe day of the election was really tough. I had to do radio and TV interviews and people were even coming up to me on the street.â€ť
In a ceremony this month, he will swear to uphold his countryâ€™s constitution before a government official in charge of religious affairs.Â The ordination itself will then take place on October 16; coincidentally, his fatherâ€™s birthday. As a reminder of the land where he served for so many years, Tokyo Archbishop Takeo Okada has been invited to participate.
Luxembourg has a population of about 500,000, the vast majority of them - around 400,000 - Catholic. A diocese was created there in 1870 and it was elevated to archdiocesan status under Pope John Paul II.Â The population is very diverse: foreign residents make up 43 percent, with Portuguese representing the largest demographic. And every day, 120,000 people commute to the country from France.
Despite the size of its Catholic population, a number of testing challenges await Fr Hollerich. Indeed, when he discusses the current state of the archdiocese, he laments, â€śit might be even worse off than the Church in Japan.â€ť
Two of the main challenges that await him are supporting priests there and pastoral work aimed at young people. â€śI want to spend two or three years visiting the priests and talking to them, as well as going to all the parishes and listening to the people,â€ť he says. â€śJust like in Japan, it has become necessary to incorporate foreign-born priests, so inculturation is also essential.â€ť
In fact, Archbishop-elect Hollerich feels his experience in Japan may well have recommended him for the position. â€śThese days, Europe has become a place for missions,â€ť he says. â€śThat is probably a big part of why I was appointed. I might be the first missionary to become a bishop in Europe - thereâ€™s no recent precedent.â€ť
He leaves Japan with a feeling of great pride in the Church he leaves behind. â€śJapan isnâ€™t limited to just being a destination for missioners,â€ť he says. â€śJapanese can also do mission work, and I pray that they will do more.â€ť