By Fr. Mario Yamanouchi, SDB
June 17, Tokyo, Japan - We offered the Mass in memory of departed Sr. Apollinaris Shimura Yuriko, Superior General of the Caritas Sisters of Jesus on 17th June. The Eucharist was presided by Salesian bishop emeritus Francis Mizobe Osamu and concelebrated by Provincial of Korea, Fr. Stefano Yang and Provincial of Japan, Fr. Mario Yamanouchi and about 40 other priests - majority Salesians, but also a good number of diocesan priest of Tokyo and other religious congregations. There were present also numerous members of various groups of the Salesian Family, Superiors of other female Congregations as well the family members of Sr. Apollinaris.
In his homily Mons. Mizobe shared different moments of Mother’s Apollinaris life and remembered her as women for difficult times, who knew how to lead with firmness and much loving kindness. Salesian bishop underlined she was a model of compassion and mercy for her sisters and for people around her. Also many Japanese priests who studied in Rome keep a memory of her fraternal attention and support in critical moments of their vocation.
After the Eucharist the mortal remains (ashes) were brought to the Fuchu Catholic Cemetery (Great Tokyo Area). Due to heavy rain was not possible to conduct a moment of farewell in front of the ‘Pantheon’ of Caritas Sisters, but there was a simple prayer service in the Cemetery Chapel presided by the SDB Provincial Fr. Yamanouchi. In his short address Fr. Mario underlined that the continuous heavy rain is a sign from God to make fertile many seeds of Charity and Mercy sown by late Mother Apollinaris especially during her service as Superior General. Her witness of her death in Juazeiro do Norte in the North East of Brazil, so far from Rome and from Japan, became a shining example to many others to follow the words of Pope Francis: ‘Go out, leave towards the existential peripheries of the world!’ In this way she offered totally her life to God, to her Sisters and to the poor and needy in the society.
Last farewell words were addressed by Sr. Stella An, the Vicar General of the Congregation. Before returning to the Caritas Provincial house in Tokyo the Korean Caritas sisters visited also the tomb of Mons. Vincent Cimatti, in nearby city of Chofu. They were received by Fr. Gaetano Compri who updated the Sisters about his process of beatification. All of the visitors received also the new replica of the Holy Shround from Turin, since Fr. Compri is a well known expert on the Sindone.
By ANS correspondent
Rome, June 23 - At the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome, the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, presided over a memorial mass for Mother Apollinaris Shimura Yuriko, Superior General of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus, who died suddenly on 30 May last while on a visit to Brazil.
The celebration was attended by many members of the Salesian Family. The Rector Major was accompanied by his secretary, Fr Horacio López, and several members of the General Council and members of other communities in Rome. The Mother General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Yvonne Reungoat, was present at the celebration with almost all her General Council and other Sisters from the Auxilium and Mother Ersilia Canta communities. Also in attendance were the Mother General of the Salesian Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mother Graziella Benghini, and her Vicar, Mother Emerita, Sr. Carmelina Mosca, and other sisters; as well as representatives of the Salesian Cooperators, Past Pupils of Mary Help of Christians and other groups.
In his homily the Rector Major recalled some of the things Mother Apollinaris had said on various occasions. In particular he referred to her commitment to promote through the Institute a "culture of life" and a "culture of vocation". He also spoke of her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the sacrament of love and unity that she insisted must be "the centre of the life of the congregation."
Fr Á.F. Artime also recalled his meetings with Mother Apollinaris and the qualities that he admired: "her sweetness and delicacy in her dealings, her simplicity and closeness, and her generosity and sympathy". He mentioned in particular that the teaching she offered "was not mere words but also life and life given abundantly".
After Mass, Sr. Stella An Moung Soon, Vicar General, spoke on behalf of all the Sisters of Charity of Jesus. She thanked all who had taken part in the memorial Mass. She remembered Mother Apollinaris as "a merciful mother" who "was always welcoming, always forgiving and always ready to show great affection for all the sisters."
Sr An Moung Soon concluded by renewing the commitment of the Institute to achieve the dream of Mother Apollinaris, "the unity of the Congregation", and called for prayers for the institute that "as a little instrument of the Lord it may be able to continue its mission."