Self-Introduction of Our New Pastor
Dear Friends of St. Ignatius Church Happy Feast Day of the Resurrection of our Lord!
“He has risen from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.” (Matthew 28:7b)
My name is Toshiaki Koso, and I have been recently appointed to succeed Fr. Saturnino Ochoa as Pastor. I was born in 1947 on the island of Nomi (now the city of Etajima) in the Seto Inland Sea in Hiroshima Prefecture. In the spring of March 1967, I entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Nagatsuka, a suburb of Hiroshima City, and on March 19, 1977, at the age of 30, I was ordained a priest at the former St. Ignatius Church (Tokyo) by Cardinal Seiichi Shirayanagi.
My family is of Akimonto(安芸門徒) descent, but I first came into contact with Catholicism when I entered Hiroshima Gakuin Junior and Senior High School. The elementary school I attended for six years was just across the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace. The bell ringing from the church at noon for the Angelus was a signal for me that lunch time had arrived. On June 18, 1961, when I was in my third year of junior high school, I was baptized together with seven other students in Hiroshima Gakuin by the Spanish missionary Luis P. Ledesma. When I told Fr. Ledesma that I would choose Ignatius as my baptismal saint, he was overjoyed for some reason. I told him that I meant to say “St. Ignatius of Antioch” (the Feast Day at that time was February 1), but he took it as “St. Ignatius of Loyola.”
So I looked again to find out who “Ignatius” was and what he had done in his lifetime to make Fr. Ledesma so happy. This was my encounter with none other than the founder of the Jesuits himself. The baptismal name was also transferred through this connection, and I wondered if St. Ignatius of Loyola has drawn me to him this time as well.
At the end of March this year, I retired as President of the University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo. Prior to that, I served at Sophia University for nearly 40 years as a faculty member in the Department of Education. During that time, in April 1999, I took over the position of Chancellor of Sophia School Corporation from Fr. Joji
Yamamoto and served until March 2018. One of the most unforgettable memories was in 2013, when Sophia University celebrated the 100th Anniversary of its Foundation and we held the commemorative Mass in the main chapel of St. Ignatius Church on November 1 (Feast of all Saints). The main celebrant was Cardinal Raffaele Farina, Special Representative of Pope Francis, who had come from Rome. St. Ignatius Church was full for the Commemoration Mass.
Although I am not as experienced as Fr. Hermann Heuvers, Fr. Joji Yamamoto, Fr. Luis Cangas, and other priests of the past, I will do my very best as your new Pastor and would appreciate your support and cooperation.
At this time we are also transitioning to a super-smart society (Society 5.0) which is difficult to predict. Pandemics, warfare, major earthquakes, climate change, and other global environmental issues are prompting us to change the way we have lived and the structure of society. Let us pray together and strive together to make St. Ignatius Church a “Galilee” where we can meet “the Risen One from the dead” and awaken to a new way of life and live in the fellowship of new life.
Fr. Toshiaki Koso, S.J. Pastor, St. Ignatius Church