Rev Watanabe was invited to attend
29 May 2017 @ Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney
12 June 2017 @ The Itimat’s – a member of Affinity International Foundation –
The Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, invited Rev Watanabe to be a part of Ifter Dinner to celebrate “Interfaith Harmony” at the Mary MacKillop Place at North Sydney on 29 May. Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims break their fast on each evening during Ramadan, and is often a time when observant Muslims gather with friends, family and community to break their fast together.
This dinner usually takes place at St Mary’s Cathedral House, however due to current renovations, they decided to have this function at the Mary MacKillop Place. Again this is a very holy place for Catholic Christians because it is the former home and final resting place of their beloved Mary MacKillop who is the first and only Australian to be recognised by the Catholic Church as a saint.
The dinner started with “Welcome to Country” message from the Wiradjuri Elder Ms Elsie Heiss, followed by prayer and blessing from Sr Giovanni Farquer RSJ, Director of the Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney. Then we enjoyed the beautiful dishes. After we had our main course, the Most Rev Anthony Fisher shared his address. The Archbishop noted that Australia is a “remarkably cohesive society”, and we do not live with the constant fear of violence as in some other countries. Following the Archbishop’s remarks, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, Grand Mufti of Australia, spoke in reply.
Home Ifter at the Itimat’s home in Preston
My family was kindly invited to join a home Ifter dinner at the Itimat’s home in Preston on 12 June 2017. This was arranged by Mr Ahmet Orhan Polat, Executive Director of Affinity International Foundation, whom I met at the Ifter dinner on 29 May. My family all enjoyed their wonderful hospitality and food they prepared!
Muslim families are all very friendly, faithful and peaceful, and it is very sad that many people are misunderstanding them as if they are all like “Islamic State”. Therefore Affinity representatives are busy arranging family Ifter dinner to invite politicians, religious leaders, community leaders to their members’ house to celebrate their special occasion during this time of Ramadan. I also try my best to explain to my friends about true nature of faithful Islamic followers. In Gassho,
Rev Shigenobu Watanabe
The following report was delivered by Rev Watanabe during the 2017 Annual General Meeting which was held on 14 May 2017.
2017 Annual General Meeting – Minister’s Report –
It was another successful and busy year with many activities and observances throughout the year. I wish to share a couple of highlights, first of all, it was my honour to be invited by the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull MP Prime Minister to attend the Ifter dinner at The Kirribilli House as one of the Buddhist representatives on 8 June 2016.
Then, on 24 September, I was asked to be the instructor for Shomyo/Chanting and Shakyo/Brush writing at the Japan Foundation Sydney, and I lead 24 Australians who were eager to learn those aspects of Japanese culture.
These events tell us that Australian and Japanese communities hold Jodo Shinshu and its minister in warm and high regard, which is wonderful to see.
Besides these special events, we were able to observe the regular services as well as outside services at a wider range of Buddhist activities in Sydney and other areas. The following is a list of my activities throughout the year ending May 2017
May・Attended Vesak at Karna Foundation (1/5).
・Received “Certificate of appreciation” from
Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) for the 15
years of volunteer service (3/5).
・Attended Vesak services at Nan-Tien Temple &
Tzu-Chi Foundation (8/5).
・Observed Gotan-e Service & HBMA AGM (15/5).
・Attended Vesak at Phuoc Hue Temple (28/5).
Jun ・Ifter dinner at St Mary’s Cathedral (8/6).
・Attended Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm
Turnbull’s Ifter dinner at Kirribilli House (16/6).
Jul ・Participated the Japan Club of Sydney Fête(2/7).
・Joined a ‘Tea Ceremony’ organised by Urasenke-Sydney (3/7).
Aug・Officiated the “Service of Respect” at Cowra (5/8).
・Observed Annual Obon service (14/8).
・Welcomed members of Hawaii Betsuin (25/8).
Sep ･Joined Japan Festival in Chatswood (17/9).
･Observed spring Higan Service (18/9)．
・Peace Ceremony @ Parramatta Uniting Church(21/9).
・Lead Shomyo/Chanting and Shakyo/Brush writing
at Japan Foundation Sydney (24/09).
・Peace Ceremony at Dee Why Uniting Church (25/9).
Oct・Attended 6thKagyu Monlan for World Peace (3/10).
・Buddhist minister’s talk for all year 4 students at
the Lindfield East PS (13/10).
・Participated in the memorial service for His Maj-
-esty King Bhumibol, King of Thailand (17/10).
Nov･Observed Hoonko Service – Rev Paraskevopoulos shared a Dharma talk. (13/11).
Dec ･Year End Service at the Tzu-Chi Foundation (4/12).
･Attended Japanese Emperor’s Birthday party (6/12).
･Participated Matsuri Japanese Festival (10/12).
･Organised an Omigaki clean up day. (11/12)
･Courtesy visit to Bucho Hikida at Hongwanji
International Centre (22/12).
Feb ･Observed Nirvana Day service. (12/2)
･Welcomed Japanese Officers from the Agency for
Cultural Affairs. (14/2).
Mar･Participated in “Clean-up Australia Day” at Lane
Cove National Park. (05/3)
･Offered Buddhist chant at the 6th year Earthquake Memorial in Manly (11/3)
･Observed the 6th year Memo-
rial service of East-Japan
･Observed Autumn Higan-e.
･Attended “Gratitude Day Ser-
-vice” at Thai Temple in Bunda-
Apr ･Hana-matsuri – Guest Rev Healsmith (2/4).
･Visited Kyoto Hongwanji – courtesy visit to Gov-
-ernor Abe & a meeting with Rev Onoi, Head of
Policy Planning office. Then participated at the
Dento Hokoku Hoyo (16/4).
May･Joined Vesak ceremony at Darling Harbour
organized by Nan Tien Temple (6/5).
･Vesak ceremony at Phuoc Hue Temple (7/5).
･Observed Go-tan-e Service & HBMA AGM
Rev Gatenby shared Dharma talk. (14/05)
Below please find an outline of the both regular and special activities I have been doing for the past year, and also other items to report.
- Hospital and Nursing Home visitations
As a Buddhist Chaplain, I make regular visitations to the Royal North Shore Hospital seeing Buddhist patients once a week (Thursdays). I also visit other hospitals such as North Shore Private, Mater, etc. by special request and help people who are concerned about their situation and try to comfort and reassure these patients by listening to them. I actually enjoy meeting new patients but always pay the highest respect to them and also pay careful attention of what I say. I also make follow-up visits after patients leave the hospital. As an “Aged Care” license holder, I can help more in this area.
I received an award for my 15 years of dedicated volunteer service on 3 May at RNSH.
- Community support
As a member of Japan Club of Sydney (JCS), Japanese Society of Sydney (JSS), I have been supporting their activities whenever there is a special event. I am a Vice President of JCS and I mainly help with their bulletin as a Chief Editor (since August 2009). Also whenever the community has an event, I try to help in some area where I can provide support. Through these volunteer supports, I am able to meet and talk to many new people who don’t have any relationship with Hongwanji.
- HBMA Bulletin
Since the first HBMA Bulletin was published in September 2000, it is already its 193nd (April/17) edition. Rev George Gatenby kindly helps me with proofreading and providing Adelaide News. Rev Mark provides Book reviews from time to time, which are very much appreciated. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to Revs George, John, & Mark, who have been providing Dharma messages. I also thank Mr Graham Ranft who provided his articles whenever he has something to write about Buddhism.
- Study matters – Buddhist Scripture Teacher
Since 2008, I have been teaching Buddhist scripture class at Lindfield East Public School (LEPS). My children no longer attend but I still help at the school. I teach every Tuesday morning for 34 students from Kindergarten to Year 6. Those children and their parents seem very happy to have an opportunity to learn Buddhism at their school. Through this volunteer work, I am able to extend my presence within the community, and people in this area have a chance to know me as well as HBMA.
- Sunday service, HBMA recreation
We have been conducting services on Sundays starting at 11 am. We have been inviting Revs. George Gatenby, John Paraskevopoulos, Mark Healsmith to take turns each year as a guest speaker delivering an English Dharma message, at one of our major observances at HBMA, such as Hana-matsuri, Gotan-e, Obon and Ho-on-ko. Rev George organises Sunday service twice a month at his home in Adelaide to give a chance to local people to learn the teaching of Nembutsu.
Mr Ranft used to contribute his Shakuhachi playing whenever he attended major services, however as he found difficulty continuing his practice, he decided to quit it from this year. Thank you Mr Ranft for your wonderful contribution so far, and we’ll make a good use of the CD which you created.
HBMA invites young families and friends to our major services, and it is wonderful to see their children from time to time. We are planning to organise a fund raising project at Bunnings. A big “Thank you” goes to Ms Kojo and Mr Fung for organising this event. Also since we have a tennis court on our property, we could have our tennis fun day at our place.
- Public Relations
I have been providing monthly articles about “Japanese word originated Buddhism” over 12 years in the JCS newsletter, which is read by about 300 families. I’ve received many good comments regarding this particular article. We have a little PR pamphlet for visitors. I also give my support for the Japanese Society of Sydney Swim Club where there are more than 160 members. Every Saturday I meet those children and their parents so this is another way to meet possible future members. Revs George and John constantly update their HP to spread the teaching of Nembutsu.
- The future of HBMA
In 2002 HBMA started a fund called “Hongwanji Temple of Sydney Building Fund” through the collection of donations from members, supporters, their friends, and also visitors from Japan. As of today we have 213 names on the list. $35,436 (+$790 since May 2016) has been collected so far.
Hongwanji Kyoto has always been supportive of our Mission and contributed a subsidy every year. Fortunately, Hongwanji increased the amount to match our rent, but as the first contract will be ending in August and the rent amount might go up, we will still need to collect more donations, do some fundraising events, and reduce costs to make sure our mission can continue permanently in this country for the sake of both present, and future members. As we have a tennis court, we are now able to lease it to our members and the general public so that this would help our budget too.
We are very grateful to have some strong supporters, who keep making occasional large contributions to our mission. One of our members says she wishes to donate her house to our mission, which is a really wonderful thing to do. For the sake of these people and everyone who contributes to our mission, we wish to show HBMA’s activities will continue in a healthy condition. Any constructive ideas to expand our mission are always very welcome!
I know it is not possible to carry out all HBMA activities by myself, but I believe that with the support of all members and supporters, they will become achievable. Together we will be able to work towards our ultimate goal; I would appreciate any help.
Sincerely in Gassho,
Rev Shigenobu Watanabe
Buddhist Scripture Class at Lindfield East Public School!
Under the guidance of Rev Watanabe, Buddhist Scripture class students at Lindfield East Public School are learning more about teaching of Buddha as well as Sakyamuni Buddha’s life stories every Tuesdays.
Since the last month, many stories from the Jataka tales were introduced using the Internet as the source of information. Children learnt right deed/livelihood by watching the stories and drew each animal on a paper and wrote the message with it. All children made wonderful drawings and messages! In Gassho