Recalling Bishop Mori

The former bishop of the Diocese of Chubu, Rev. Francis Toshiaki Mori, passed away on July 10, 2018.  When I had received notice from the Diocese of Tokyo Management Bishop Katsuichi Hirota, I was so shocked that I asked without even thinking, “Is it true?”  Rev. Mori had felt something wrong with his foot so he had gotten himself over to the orthopedic clinic; this is where he collapsed.  He was taken to the Center Hospital of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine on an ambulance but passed away due to retroperitoneal hemorrhage at the age of 78.

The funeral, as it had already been discussed with his wife, Atsuko, prior to his death, was held with only family members at Mejiro Seikokai on July 12.  I made a visit to see his wife, Atsuko, at a later date and when I gave my prayers then, I was shown the pictures from the funeral.  It was a very simple, yet a neat funeral service, most suited for Bishop Mori. 

During the Bishop’s lifetime, he had said that he didn’t think well about the word “to die,” but rather preferred the expression “be called to.”  I would like to think of his passing away as something far beyond our thoughts and deep within the heart of God.

Bishop Mori had been the Diocesan Bishop from March 1998 to December 2009.  During those years, he played an important role in the missionary and the pastoral care of the diocese such as building of the Diocesan Center of Chubu, the formation of a collaborative relationship between the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Central Philippines, the establishment of Kani Missionary Station (the current Kani Holy Trinity Church), the 90th anniversary memorial service of the diocese establishment, and the reorganization of the group. 

In addition, it was a commemorative decision of Bishop Mori to have ordained the first ever Nippon Sei Ko Kai female priest, Rev. Yoshiko Shibukawa. 

My appreciation towards the works done by Bishop Mori, and I pray for the repose of his soul and may there be comfort to his family.

Being Together…Directly Experiencing Each Other

The Ministry Council was held in Matsushiro in June.  Reverend Osamu Irie (Chairperson of the Diocese of Yokohama Standing Committee, Bishop elected-to-be) and Reverend Ken Katayama (General Secretary of the Diocese of Yokohama) from the Diocese of Yokohama participated in the meeting. 

As I have mentioned about it in this column previously, the Diocese of Chubu was founded after separating from the Diocese of Yokohama.  However, I feel as though there has been a slight lack of relationship between the two.  We have had two joint Minister’s Meetings with the Diocese of Yokohama since I have become a minister.  The first was during the years of Bishop Jyuji Uematsu and Bishop Katsuhiko Iwai, and the meeting was held in June 1981 in Karuizawa.  The second was in November 2007 at Seisen-Ryo in Kiyosato.  This was during the years of Bishop Toshiaki Mori and Bishop Satoru Endo. Having these two clergymen join the Ministry Council, putting aside whether this might or might not lead to an immediate exchange, was a good opportunity.  I believe the two being together with the ministers of Chubu, allowed them to get a feeling of the Diocese of Chubu.  Myself, as the Bishop in Management, had the opportunity to take part in the Diocese of Yokohama Standing Committee Meeting and the Minister’s Meeting which allowed me to directly experience the atmosphere of Yokohama.  I feel it is important to experience directly on site to show understanding in each other.

The World of God is a Quiet One

Jesus, speaking about the world of God, said that it grows even without realizing it.  People do not know how sowed seeds grow in the soil, but similar to their sprouting and bearing fruit, the world of God is neither visible nor hearable, but there is no doubt that it is growing.  It means that the world of God (the work of God) proceeds profoundly and silently. 

The other day, one particular married couple was baptized and practiced confirmation at Church I.  The wife used to be a kindergartener at this church-affiliated school and, for many years, had been interested in Christianity; however, she was hesitant in becoming a Christian because her family was Buddhist.  She has, at this time, made up her mind to become a Christian along with her husband.

After the service, she said it had been a long way until now.  It had taken fifty years since her kindergarten years for her to become baptized.  But the work of God (the world of God) had been with them and lead them to be baptized and receive confirmation.

And recently, the father of Reverend I’s partner S was baptized.  S said to the father, “Dad, you’re now a Christian for you’ve been baptized.”  But the father replied, “Yes, but it hasn’t hit me yet.”  It’s a charming conversation, but once again, the work of God is hidden behind all of this. 

There’s probably not so many who feel a sudden change in becoming a Christian after baptism.  Especially in baptism for infants, there’s probably close to nothing felt by the infants for they are not even aware they have been baptized.  Myself, upon being baptized, remember feeling nervous, but did not actually feel any immediate change or even feel I had become a Christian.  I think the same can be said for most people who experience this. 

Are we not Christians if we don’t actually feel it?  That is not so.  The work of God is profound, silent, but for sure.  It may not be seen, heard, or felt by people.  However, we are, without a doubt, together with God and Jesus through baptism.  We are Christians for sure.  The father of Reverend I’s partner S might not have felt it, but he is a Christian for sure.  The silent work of God goes beyond the sense of people. 

We are not able to understand the whole spirit of God.  There are numerous things that are only understood by God and not by humankind.  But that is fine too.  I believe not understanding everything about God is, on the contrary, a blessing.  What will happen if humankind found out everything about God?  It is a fearful thing when you think about it.  It is enough that God, and only God, knows it. 

The world of God is growing silently but for sure.  As for the couple at Church I, the world of God for fifty years had grown silently.  In the case of the father of Reverend I’s partner, it took far more greater years than this.  Nevertheless, the work of God, without a doubt, is submerged profoundly and silently, and brings us to this baptism and confirmation.  We will look on to the growth of the world of God.

The world of God is growing somewhere, or in a place relatively close to us.  What a joy it is to live our holy lives looking forward to what kind of world God will show us next.

Jesus, speaking about the world of God, said that it grows even without realizing it.  People do not know how sowed seeds grow in the soil, but similar to their sprouting and bearing fruit, the world of God is neither visible nor hearable, but there is no doubt that it is growing.  It means that the world of God (the work of God) proceeds profoundly and silently. 

The other day, one particular married couple was baptized and practiced confirmation at Church I.  The wife used to be a kindergartener at this church-affiliated school and, for many years, had been interested in Christianity; however, she was hesitant in becoming a Christian because her family was Buddhist.  She has, at this time, made up her mind to become a Christian along with her husband.

After the service, she said it had been a long way until now.  It had taken fifty years since her kindergarten years for her to become baptized.  But the work of God (the world of God) had been with them and lead them to be baptized and receive confirmation.

And recently, the father of Reverend I’s partner S was baptized.  S said to the father, “Dad, you’re now a Christian for you’ve been baptized.”  But the father replied, “Yes, but it hasn’t hit me yet.”  It’s a charming conversation, but once again, the work of God is hidden behind all of this. 

There’s probably not so many who feel a sudden change in becoming a Christian after baptism.  Especially in baptism for infants, there’s probably close to nothing felt by the infants for they are not even aware they have been baptized.  Myself, upon being baptized, remember feeling nervous, but did not actually feel any immediate change or even feel I had become a Christian.  I think the same can be said for most people who experience this. 

Are we not Christians if we don’t actually feel it?  That is not so.  The work of God is profound, silent, but for sure.  It may not be seen, heard, or felt by people.  However, we are, without a doubt, together with God and Jesus through baptism.  We are Christians for sure.  The father of Reverend I’s partner S might not have felt it, but he is a Christian for sure.  The silent work of God goes beyond the sense of people. 

We are not able to understand the whole spirit of God.  There are numerous things that are only understood by God and not by humankind.  But that is fine too.  I believe not understanding everything about God is, on the contrary, a blessing.  What will happen if humankind found out everything about God?  It is a fearful thing when you think about it.  It is enough that God, and only God, knows it. 

The world of God is growing silently but for sure.  As for the couple at Church I, the world of God for fifty years had grown silently.  In the case of the father of Reverend I’s partner, it took far more greater years than this.  Nevertheless, the work of God, without a doubt, is submerged profoundly and silently, and brings us to this baptism and confirmation.  We will look on to the growth of the world of God.

The world of God is growing somewhere, or in a place relatively close to us.  What a joy it is to live our holy lives looking forward to what kind of world God will show us next.

The Rt. Rvd. Peter Ichiro Shibusawa

A Month of Joy and Sorrow

May was a month of both joy and sorrow.  On May 1, I attended the ordination ceremony of Reverend Nestor Poltic, the third Bishop to the Episcopal Diocese of North Central Philippines, which has a sister relation to our diocese.  The current Prime Bishop Joel Pachao, who was the former Bishop, had resided as bishop for over twenty years; this seemed to have caused a slight uncertainty in the ordination being the first in a while.  However, the excitement seemed to have been much more than that.

Bishop Poltic respectfully stated that he is still in the process of learning even after becoming the bishop.  He hopes to visit Japan someday, and in such opportunity, I hope he will be able to visit places including the church in Kani City to give words of encouragement to the people there.

Actually, I had been worried about Revd. Akira Aizawa’s condition not being well since a few days ago on my visit to the Philippines.  He passed away on May 11, just ten days after my return.  We worked together for over forty years, and he has supported me at services and given me advice since I had become a bishop.  I give my deepest condolences and may his spirit rest in peace. Holy Mass was dedicated upon the 120th Anniversary of Nagano Holy Savior’s Church on May 20.  While giving the service, my thoughts were upon the consecration 120 years ago.  I strongly felt the need to learn from Rev. Waller’s fighting spirit on constructing a cathedral during Meiji Era, when people were still strongly biased against Christians, even in Monzenmachi, a leading area in Japan.  We would also like to express our gratitude to the Holy Mass given with the prominent keyboard performer Genzo Takehisa.

Chubu Region and Southern Tokyo Region

With Bishop Yutaka Minabe from Diocese of Yokohama retiring, I have been commissioned as a Management Bishop of Diocese of Yokohama from April 1.  It has been 40 years since Bishop Jyuji Uematsu that a Diocese of Chubu Bishop has been commissioned as a management bishop to Diocese of Yokohama.  This will continue until the bishop for the next term is ordained and takes post.

For those of you who know the history of our diocese, the Diocese of Chubu, until it was established (regionalized at first), belonged to the southern Tokyo region, the forerunner of Diocese of Yokohama, (according to the NSKK districts of those days) and fell under the jurisdiction of the bishop of the Church of England. 

Church of England’s second bishop under NSKK, Edward Bickersteth, had come to Gifu, Nagoya, Ogaki for the order of confirmation.  Also, he had come to inspect Gifu after the Nobi Earthquake.  Furthermore, Nagano Holy Savior’s Church, celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, was consecrated by the successor to Bishop Bickersteth, Bishop Awdry.  He, too, held orders of confirmation within the diocese.   

Afterwards, in 1912, Chubu Region was established, and became independent from southern Tokyo Region.  But for some reason, the emblem of the Bishop of Chubu Region was much similar to that of the Bishop of southern Tokyo Region.  The emblem of the Bishop of Chubu Region is the same as the Bishop of southern Tokyo Region with the mark of maple, Canada’s official arboreal emblem, incorporated into it.  It has not changed to this day.  I do not know why the emblem was not renewed upon establishment of the region, but it might have been to bear in mind that Chubu Region (The Anglican Church of Canada) had been established separating from the southern Tokyo Region (Church of England). 

I wanted to take a moment to talk about the different connections between Diocese of Chubu and Diocese of Yokohama.

My Cellphone, an Immobile phone

The first time I had a cell phone was when I was at a church in Gifu. (Around 1989) As I recall, one of the church members had one of those big shoulder-strap mobile phones back then.  It was a fine one, but I believe it did not have such good reception. 

Cell phones are becoming more and more convenient day by day.  I too have a cell phone, but it is one of the old types and not the recent so-called “smart phones.”  Cellphones are, for sure, convenient, and we are able to make phone calls whenever and wherever we want.  However, at time of receiving phone calls, phones ring not matter where you are, and oftentimes, I am startled.  There are those who answer phones even if they are in a middle of a meeting, but on the other hand, I am one of those who feel hesitant in doing so.  I believe this is because I would like to concentrate on the meeting that I am taking part in.  So, I make it a habit to return my unanswered phone calls after meetings. (I forget to return those unanswered calls these days, though.)

And when I am talking to a person one on one and his/her phone rings and they answer, I cannot help but think what our conversation and situation mean to that person.  Maybe I am just old-minded.  

There are times when I do not have my cell phone with me.  I do not take it with me to the bathroom.  I sometimes forget to take my cell phone with me when I leave my house.  Those are usually the times when phones ring.  My wife thinks that my cell phone is of no use, and I think she is right.  However, I feel horrified when I think how my life would be if my life is centered around my cellphone.  For those who call me on my cellphone and get no answer, please forgive me if I do not answer right away.

A Weak Part in Ourselves is Necessary

Happy Easter.  I pray the grace and blessings of our Lord be with us.  The Nippon Sei Ko Kai Nursing Federation gathered with founders, kindergarten principals, and head teachers to train at St. Mary’s College, Nagoya at the end of February.  The lecture was based on “Understanding and Support on Developmental Disabilities during Childhood.”

 The lecture was on support for children with developmental disabilities, but upon hearing this, I strongly felt that this is not a problem solely in children, but common in adults as well.  “Not being able to get the situation,” “snaps easily,” “has difficulty learning from past experiences,” “low on sympathy,” “doesn’t get jokes,” “doesn’t realize hurting the other,” “blames others for one’s own mistakes” and so on. 

The lecturer did state that these were not problems only seen in children, but seen also in adults ourselves (those involved in children’s nursing). However, the same can be said for us ministers as well.  It was a talk that I could sympathize deeply with.  

Every one of us lacks something, or should I say, has a weakness.  In order to express the church community, Paul took the body of the human being as an example and said, “The part where it seems the weakest is the part which is most necessary.  God brings out those parts within us and made our bodies.” He also said that the non-weak parts cover up for the weak part to maintain the overall balance.  “Not a disability, but a special quality,” “Not a child with a problem, but a child seeking for a hand.”  These are important factors that build the foundation of Christian nursing.  And then, the church community mutually recognizes the differences in the people related, accepts them, and while taking them into account and leading a religious life will grow into a well-balanced relationship.