Blogging from the scene

New on the blog roll: Bishop Isao’s Memo, the blog of Msgr. Isao Kikuchi, bishop of Niigata, one of the dioceses hit by last week’s earthquake and tsunami. Bishop Kikuchi appeared on my blog before, with a quote about the Japanese Church’s intention to do their part in the relief of the stricken areas.

He blogs about the aftermath of the disaster in heavily-hit Sendai and the adjacent areas, and about his work with Caritas Japan and other Catholic relief agencies in the area. Interesting and current stuff!

Bishop Kikuchi is 52, and a member of the Society of the Divine Word, a missionary society founded in 1875 by St. Arnold Janssen in Steyl, the Netherlands. He made his vows in 1985 and was ordained a priest for the missionaries in 1986. In 2004 he became the third bishop of Niigata.

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After the horror, aid arrives

On the middle of the day after the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, relief efforts are swinging into actions. Among them the Catholic Caritas Internationalis, which has issued a call for donations for relief in the disaster zone. Go here to see how you can donate.

Most of the aid by Catholic charities will initially be organised from outside the disaster area. The Dioceses of Sendai, Saitama and Niigata, which were affected most, still struggle to restore communications and establish contact with parishes, offices and people. Yasufumi Matsukuma, working for the Japanese bishops’ conference, said, “In Tokyo, telephone lines are so busy that I cannot contact diocesan chancellor offices in Japan. Aftershocks have followed. The tsunamis are terrible and we cannot get any information concerning the church yet” (via UCA News and Catholic News Service).

Bishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi of Niigata and president of Caritas Japan, said that, although the Catholic community is very small, “we will not walk away from our commitment and our solidarity with the victims.”

As for Caritas’s activities at the moment, Fr. Bonnie Mendes of Caritas Asia, has said, “We are in constant contact with the Caritas Japan, which is monitoring the situation, the damage and the victims. We hope that there are not too many casualties. We expect to have a better understanding of the situation of displaced persons and their need to plan an emergency intervention.”

Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS