Filipino Bishop Edgar Gacutan has officially assumed his role as the new shepherd of a northern Japan diocese.
Gacutan was ordained a bishop and installed as the head of the Sendai diocese in a solemn ceremony held on Sunday.
In his message, the prelate asked the faithful gathered in the Mototera Koji Church for prayers for his new journey.
“I have always been at home in Japan and may the church in Sendai become home to everyone,” Gacutan said in a CBCP News post.
It was December last year when Pipe Francis elevated Gacutan to the College of Bishops, becoming the first Filipino prelate in Japan.
During the ceremony, papal nuncio Archbishop Leo Baccardi said “no one should wonder” that a Filipino missionary has become a bishop in Japan.
“The Catholic Church is a missionary Church. It means open to the world, embracing everyone, giving and receiving, where no one is a stranger,” he said.
“The presence of so many foreign workers in your diocese must see you present among them, take care of them who are far from their country and their families,” Baccardi added.
Sendai is a diocese that Gacutan had known for a long time. For three years, he was assigned in the area to help the victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that claimed nearly 20,000 lives and also caused nuclear plant meltdowns.
Born in Cagayan province’s Enrile town, Gacutan, a member of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM), has been a missionary in Japan since he was ordained priest in 1994.
At the time of episcopal appointment, he was a parish priest of Matsubara Catholic Church in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward.
The Sendai diocese covers Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.