Vatican City (Fides Service) - The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI on 10 December 2005 appointed Bishop of Sendai (Japan) Rev. Martin Tetsuo Hiraga until now diocesan administrator and former vicar general of Sendai.
Rev. Martin Tetsuo Hiraga was born on 20 January 1945 in Hanamaki, Prefecture of Iwate, diocese of Sendai. He was baptised at the age of 18 at the Catholic parish church Hanamaki by the Missionary Fathers of Bethlehem. He attended state schools and then from 1968 to 1974 studied philosophy and theology at Tokyo major seminary.
He was ordained a priest on 16 September 1974 for the diocese of Sendai and was later sent for higher studies to Rome where obtained a Licentiate in Canon Law at the Pontifical Urban University (1980). He has been: 1974-1977: assistant priest at Ichinoseki, Prefecture of Iwate; 1977-1980: Student at Urban University Rome; 1980-1991: chancellor of Sendai diocese; 1991-1994: assistant parish priest at Shiroishi, Miyagi prefecture; 1994-1996: editor of Japan Catholic News bulletin issued by the Japanese Bishops’ Conference; 1996-1997: Sabbatical year; 1997-2000: parish priest at Ominato in Aomori prefecture; 2000-2001: parish priest at Kesenuma, Miyagi prefecture; 2001-2003: member of Sendai Pastoral Commission. Since July 2004 diocesan administrator of Sendai.
The diocese of Sendai, created in 1891 with the name of Hakodate, is a suffragan of the archdiocese of Tokyo. It has an area of 45,951 sq., km, a population of 7,332,000 including 10,987 Catholics gathered in 56 parishes and assisted by 50 priests (27 diocesan and 23 religious), 289 women religious and there are 3 major seminarians. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 10/12/2005; Righe 21; Parole 292)