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First message of new Saitama bishop, Mario Yamanouchi

By Our Own Correspondent

Urawa City, Japan, 7 October 2018 -- In his first message to the People of God in Saitama diocese, just a few days after his ordination (September 24), Bishop Mario Yamanouchi shares his life and vocation story with his clergy, religious and lay people. Due to the multicultural composition of the diocese, the message is available in 7 languages: Japanese (Nihongo), Korean, Vietnamese, Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog and English. The full message is divided into 7 parts:

  1. Thanks to all - Asking your blessing!
  2. First Exodus with my parents and brothers
  3. Second Exodus from Argentina to Japan
  4. Third Exodus to be a Shepherd with the smell of the sheep
  5. Extensive, wonderful and unknown field - Saitama diocese
  6. Be Witnesses to Risen Jesus as community of believers!

Read selections from these seven parts below:

    "I am very happy to be able to communicate with each of you through this letter. As Pope Francis did in his first greeting from the balcony of St. Peter's on the night of his election, 13 March 2013, I also ask each of you for your prayer for me and for my part I send you my blessing. From today on let us not stop praying for each other ...

    "... In life we have exoduses that furrow and mark our existence. In my case the first one was in 1964, when I was eight and a half years old, when my parents decided to emigrate to the other side of the globe from Japan, taking along me and my four younger brothers, among whom the youngest was only a year and a half old. The second was, no doubt, in 1997, when I returned to Japan, thinking my stay would be only for one year, but it has continued to this day. And the third exodus is about to begin now that it throws me into a broader ecclesial horizon as a Salesian bishop: with fear but trust in the mercy of God, I am stepping forward.

    (3) The second exodus, I think, was my return to Japan on 27 February 1997. I was 42 years old. I took the first steps into Japan as an Argentine with a Japanese face. You can imagine how perplexed the Japanese felt about hearing me speak Japanese so badly.... It was a slow death, not entirely, to my “second self” conformed in Argentina. I remember very well that I had to answer a question as I was about to finish the one year stay at my home province of Oita: do I need to go back to Argentina? Everyone told me, “It’s up to you.” When the year passed, I got a three year visa at the immigration office. In this desert period I would sing " Wayfarer, there is no way. Make your way by going farther” written by Antonio Machado, and I read the book by Carlos González Vallés, a missionary in India whose books in Spanish were widely read in Argentina, and whom I myself heard directly at the Marist Hall in Buenos Aires: "As we walk, we make our way. The art of living the present...."

    (5) ... In this diocese there are 54 parishes in 11 zones served by 51 priests and 5 permanent deacons. We have 4 male religious orders and missionaries, and 17 of women. There are 29 religious communities in total. As a Church that evangelizes by education, we have 19 kindergartens and day-care centres, 4 junior and senior high schools, 5 welfare facilities for children, 2 nursing homes and 5 retreat houses. Therefore, my wish in the first year as bishop is to try to visit all the parishes and religious communities, not via e-mails but directly, "face to face," and to have updated photos that help me memorize the faces and their names as soon as possible.

    (6) ....The diocesan community possesses the greatest treasure in the plurality of its members. Just as Pope Francis insists that "time is greater than space" (“Evangelii Gaudium” no. 222), in the vast geographical field of the diocese it is necessary to exercise the discernment of signs of the times that God gives to us, so that we are authentic witnesses to the Risen Jesus in the midst of Japanese society. Just as the first Christians lived and gave witness with joy in a world that did not know Jesus or Christianity, so we also live in this time as "Witnesses to the Risen Jesus," forming a community open to the poor and the most needy in this society.

Full text of the message in different languages



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