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Speech by Brother Maurice Lapointe at the Memorial Mass in Tokyo on March 11

Visit to Japan, March 2006

Bro. Maurice

Bro. Maurice

After my trip to Japan in 1979 to visit Brother Philip, to familiarize myself with the Brothers' work here and to write a paper on comparative education, I had always hoped to come back. I offered teasingly to Brother Philip when he came back to Canada to carry his luggage on a possible and most probable visit here. Never had I envisaged the nature of the present trip.

For Suzanne and Rheal, good friends of Brother Philip and for myself, this is a pilgrimage and a mission of gratitude.

We wanted to retrace Brother Philip's footsteps, not all of them since we will not climb mountains, ski together or spend a holiday at Mikarino. We wanted to visit Kagoshima where it all started for Brother Philip, contemplate the Sakuragima and the school where he taught. For him it was the beginning of a fruitful career, We started our trip at Sendai where he concluded in personal blooming ways his career in Japan. We prayed where he prayed and met people he had worked with. Now we are in Tokyo where many of Brother Philip's friends work and live and in a region he lived when at Hino. More than places, it is people we wanted to meet, people who nurtured a special relationship with Brother Philip.

Brother Philip was in many ways "made in Japan" as he said in his farewell speech to you. He enjoyed the Japanese culture and way of life and embraced it. Since he arrived here at the age of 25 years old, it is here that he matured and forged his personality. He was happy here, felt that he was accomplishing something worthwhile as a Lasallian Brother and answering a calling for deep within his soul. We are grateful for his accomplishments here and his happiness in the land. This brings me to the second aspect of our mission here, that is, to tell you our gratitude.

You have shown friendship towards Brother Philip. Your presence here is a witness to that. You have shared with him: time, projects, thoughts, and even family life. If Brother Philip was happy here, it is because of his work yes, but also because of this lasting friendship with so many of you. The numerous photos he had with different groups where he is shown smiling and happy are a proof of this. Please accept our thanks on behalf on our family and friends in Canada.

We wanted to make this trip to tell you in person our gratitude:
  Our gratitude for your messages of condolences. They really touched us
  Our gratitude to Brother Ohtomo and Jorge for passing them on.
  Our gratitude to Shimada-san for translating my texts
  Our gratitude to Kubota-san for coming all the way to Ottawa for the
   funeral and for his generous hospitality to us in Kagoshima.

We want to say a special thanks to Brother Jorge who planed and organize our trip, for his competence, his presence and his generosity. Our thanks to Brother Mark and Brother Andr? who accompanied us for parts of this trip.

We want to say our thanks to the alumni for their hospitality, and to the friends and their committee who organize this mass and the meetings to follow.

Especially in this place of worship and prayer, we thank God who called Brother Philip to this mission and who accompanied him throughout his life here.

We think it is perfectly fitting that part of his ashes rest on Japanese soil. This is what he would have wanted. In a sense he is returning here: he is with you again and this perpetuates his presence on your soil but mostly in your hearts and spirit. It concretely expresses a phrase he often used with us, "Japan is my home, I come to visit in Canada."

Thank you for being here to-day, thank your for sharing your souvenirs of his life with you. Thank you for what you have been for and with Brother Philip.

Rheal, Suzanne and Brother Maurice

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Since 2006 March 25th