Remembering A People’s Minister

Remembering A People’s Minister

Karleen C. Chinen
Commentary

If the number of people who turned out to bid farewell to Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii’s 14th bishop was any indication, the Rev. Chikai Yosemori was a much-loved man. Yosemori, the first bishop of Okinawan ancestry, died April 13 at the age of 84.

Wherever he served — in Pä‘ia and Makawao on Maui, and then at Jikoen on O‘ahu — he was first and foremost, of his congregation. He was always working side-by-side with his members — a grass roots minister to the core.

In 1996, I had the honor of interviewing Rev. Yosemori on the eve of his installation as bishop. I asked him what he would miss most about leaving behind his life as a temple priest. If you knew him, his answers were predictable: sharing words of comfort and encouragement with his members, his weekly visits with the elderly at a Kalihi care home, preparing for Sunday services, even Jikoen’s noisy and boisterous Lumbini Preschool children.

The success that propelled Yosemori-Sensei to the top position in the Honpa Hongwanji statewide organization was the result of his…


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