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Takamatsu ordains new bishop

Aims to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor to work for 'rebirth and unity'

Bishop-elect Eijiro Suwa. Bishop-elect Eijiro Suwa.
  • ucanews.com special correspondent, Takamatsu
  • Japan
  • June 22, 2011
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About 1,000 people from Takamatsu City and elsewhere in Japan attended the ordination of the diocese’s new bishop, Eijiro Suwa, at Sakuramachi Cathedral.

The ceremony, held on June 19, was also attended by Japan’s 14 active bishops. The bishops-elect of Oita and Hiroshima dioceses, the Apostolic Nuncio to Japan, Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello, and Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Kwangju, Korea, along with several priests, participated in the celebration of the Mass.

At his ordination, Bishop Suwa expressed a desire to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, retired Bishop Osamu Mizobe, to work for the “rebirth and unity of the diocese.”

Archbishop Bottari de Castello, soon to be transferred to a new post in Hungary, called on all members of the diocese during the ordination ceremony to be obedient to the new bishop. He added that Takamatsu was “a special diocese, the first place I visited officially and the one that began my mission to Japan.”

Bishop Suwa was ordained in the Archdiocese of Osaka in 1976. He was dispatched to Takamatsu six years ago to work in the Kochi area.

Several parishioners from the Osaka Archdiocese attended the ordination.

Mamiko Yamano, a parishioner of Kobe Chuo Church and a staff member of the Kobe Center for Catholic Social Action, worked previously with Bishop Suwa following the Hanshin earthquake in 1995.

She said Bishop Suwa was a driving force behind the planning in response to the disaster and has “weathered difficult confrontations. He is someone who can really go out among the laypeople and can get things done together with them.”

The new bishop faces enduring challenges in Takamatsu, which has the smallest population of Catholics in Japan and has been troubled for decades by ongoing controversy over the Neocatechumenal Way, a movement within the Church that has led to divisions within the diocese.

Several parishioners from Kochi who knew Bishop Suwa from his former service there attended the ordination, including Yuki Shimada, a ninth-grader from Enokuchi Church who received a guitar from him as a gift.

“I want him to keep his exuberant smile, even as a bishop,” said Yuki, adding that he hopes to play one day for his parish.

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