Missionary devotes lifework to helping Tokyo homeless

20 01 2009

Jean Le Beau says his decision to pursue a life dedicated to the benefit of others was inspired in high school when he read the story of Father Damien, a 19th-century Roman Catholic missionary from Belgium who spent his life caring for lepers cast out of normal society and quarantined on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

“I felt that if you were going to do something for others, you should take it that far,” said Le Beau. And the French-Canadian missionary is indeed taking it that far, spending his own life with homeless Japanese — many of whom feel like social outcasts.

The article goes on about Jean`s work but it includes a couple of things that made me think what?  First of all the article never refers to him with the title Father or Fr which is usually the custom when writing about people with a title such as Rev, Dr, or Fr.

Secondly is this quote

“They are my family,” said Le Beau, 64, explaining his relationship with his team of volunteers and ojisan. “I feel most content when I am with them. We go on outings. We get drunk together. I plan on spending the rest of my life with them.”

Perhaps he meant he just has some drinks with them but to say he gets drunk… well thats  not acceptable behavior for a priest and I would hope he would be trying to set a better example than getting totally drunk.

“I spoke no Japanese whatsoever when I first came here,” he recalled. Soon after, a member of a local church introduced Le Beau to a cafe in Ginza, where he worked as a waiter during weekdays, attending a Japanese language school and helping out with church activities during his time off.

Le Beau proceeded to work in a bar in Kawasaki, and then as a used-car dealer.

This brings me to my third problem.  I thought priests were not allowed to do outside work anywhere such as working in a cafe or bar or as a used car salesman!

Full article here

In related news I found this article from January 10 saying

The nonprofit organization Sanyukai, which aids the homeless in Tokyo’s Sanya district, has been ordered by the metropolitan government to stop handing out its weekly free meals along the Sumida River because local residents are complaining, the volunteer group’s chief said Friday.


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