Merry Christmas! This is the first issue of “TALITHA CUM”, a News Letter from SIGNIS JAPAN. “TALITHA CUM“ were the words our Lord spoke to the girl he revived from the dead. They mean “arise” in Aramaic. These words are now directed toward us. We hope to make this News Letter attractive as we go on with the coming issues. Our plan is four issues a year. We request your continued support.
SIGNIS WORLD CONGRESS
SIGNIS WORLD CONGRESS (SWC) 2009, a special congress to commemorate the 80th anniversary, was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from October 17 to 23. From Japan, Fr. Eichi Shimosako, CBCJ, Mr. Itaru Tsuchiya, vice-president, Mr. Tsuneaki “Mac” Machida, secretary, and Ms. Shioko Izumi attended.
One of the attendees shared his impression of the Congress, which we want to share with our readers.
We enjoyed a cultural immersion tour on the first day. From the second day, there were sessions from morning to late afternoon with additional sessions of SIGNIS ASIA Assembly in the evening. We were exhausted everyday. This year, (add ‘the’) main theme was; “Children’s Rights: Promise for Tomorrow”. 500 people, including volunteers and children, from 69 countries attended.
There were many general sessions, concurrent sessions, and children’s workshops. Everybody was intensely engaged. India explained the extreme situations of poverty and hunger of so many of their children. There was a report from Malaysia that newspapers and radios/TVs were censored and the media was virtually owned by the government. It was reported that, in Fiji, even private e-mails were censored. These realities of the media surprised the Japanese participants.
My best memory is that Japan could make a presentation on our current situation on peace and children. What surprised me most was that Africa and Asia were full of vigor, Europe was average, and I could feel less vigor from North America in terms of the number of attendants, the number of presentations and vigor I feel from the people.
As for the cultural immersion tour, I cannot forget the elephant ride on the mountainous roads. Their foods were coconuts, sugarcanes, etc. and they were very clever to paint pictures with their noses. Somehow I began to discern the differences between Japanese Buddhism and Southeast Asian Buddhism. A cross-cultural understanding is best achieved by our own experiences in foreign lands.
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF CATHOLIC CHURCH COMMUNICATORS
For the first time SIGNIS JAPAN participated in the National Assembly of Catholic Church Communicators held in Shiomi, Tokyo, from October 5 to 7, and made a presentation of SIGNIS activities. We discussed the possibilities of future collaboration among Catholic communicators. We felt very assured as there were many others throughout Japan with the same heart.
“LIVING ALONG WITH THE SPIRIT OF MOTHER TERESA”
All of the people who have encountered the spirit of Mother Teresa, even if they have never met her, would be inspired to live as she did in the spirit of love.
The movie explores how the people who have encountered the spirit of Mother Teresa are succeeding in carrying out that spirit. At first, we would be overwhelmed by the people who have decided to live as she directed, “Please seek the district most like Calcutta within your own country.” In Japan, the workers of “House of Hope” in the Sanya district wholeheartedly devote themselves to serving the poor. They live with the people who live in great poverty. They know and practice that sharing love requires great determination and effort.
Mr. Chiba, the director of “Living Along With The Spirit of Mother Teresa”, also produced two other films on her life, one of which is “Mother Teresa and her world” thirty years ago. He is still continuing to communicate her message – to live in the spirit Mother Teresa proposed. Whenever I see the work of Mr. Chiba, it reminds me of something that Mother Teresa said, “What is important is, instead of doing many great things, to do all things for others with all one’s heart.” (I do not know what she said actually in English. This is a translation from Japanese.)
MINI-MINI MEDIA LITERACY – color is my mistake. Sorry.
“POPE PIO 12th AND THE RADIO”
“Literacy” is an English word which means the “ability to read and understand” written and spoken language, and is widely used in various fields today. A radio, which is somewhat less appealing today, implied a sense of importance and the power to influence people. This was more powerful in its time, forty to fifty years ago, than the present internet.
The person who most reminds me of the importance of literacy by radio, within the Church, is Pope Pio 12th (1876-1958). This Pope, who had attempted to avoid the outbreak of the Second World War, devoted himself to the reconciliation of the world and the establishment of peace after the war.
In 1952, the Pope directly sent a message of encouragement to the Japanese people, who were in the midst of great turmoil and disappointment. This address by the Pope, directed toward the Japanese nation, a small island country of the Far East and one of the defeated nations of the war, has moved us beyond imagination. Various Japanese newspaper companies wrote articles on it. Pope Pio 12th became a spiritual symbol of international cooperation for the reconstruction of the postwar period. This pope also confided in 32 cardinals regardless of their position during the war.
We live in the age of visual media. However, we still need to consider that it is often more important to listen calmly and intensely. It is still meaningful that in Judaism, the words of their confession of faith still begins, “Shema Israel (Hear, O Israel).
“THE ROLE OF SIGNIS JAPAN”
(by Mr. Shigeki Chiba, President, SIGNIS JAPAN)
When I agreed to accept the invitation to be the president of SIGNIS JAPAN, I never imagined so many talented, competent staff would gather around me. The dream my predecessor Sr. Shirai had, has come to be realized on the step-by-step basis. I really thank God!!
The first SIGNIS WORLD CONGRESS was held in 2001 in Rome, where Pope John Paul II gave us the straightforward declaration about the important role the media would play in the future for the evangelization of the world. Since that time, the two organizations, UNDA and OCIC, which had been working independently for more than 70 years, have had the chance to cooperate with each other and have developed into a single body to meet the needs of the contemporary world. It has also enabled us to go hand in hand with our friends all over the world.
In autumn, 2007, the SIGNIS ASIA Assembly (SAA) was held in Japan for the first time. More than 50 participants visited and gathered in Tokyo. The SAA was, at first, thought to be an impossible dream, but the challenging spirit and courage the staff shared made the impossible possible.
During the one-week session, the annual Catholic Film Award ceremony was held and the award-winning movie, “Professor and His Beloved Equation” was shown. We were very excited because we could make some of our SIGNIS JAPAN activities known to our friends in Asia. We do wish we can continue to play a role of evangelization through various SIGNIS activities.
WE ARE SIGNIS JAPAN
SIGNIS is a worldwide organization of Catholics engaged in media in 140 countries. Our recent year themes are; promotion of a culture of peace, advocacy of human dignity, and advocacy of children’s rights. Priests, religious group members and lay people participate in this activity. We exert our energy for evangelization through movies, radios/TVs, audiovisual and recently, internet. In Japan, San Paulo, Daughters of St. Paul, CBCJ and volunteer lay members are actively engaged in this activity. Besides current Japan Catholic Film Awards, internet seminars, etc., we hope to expand our activities to internet video news and so forth.