Fr Leo Baker

A Japanese Gentleman

By Fr Leo Baker

Phone calls for me from Japan are rare, so I was surprised recently to receive a call from Mrs Murakami, the wife of a man who was my catechist from 1951 to 1954. She told me that he had died, aged 88. That phone call marked the end of a 55-year friendship with a man of remarkable personality and one of the finest gentlemen I came to know during my 35 years in Japan.

In 1951, after 18 months in Japan, I was living in Kamogawa, a coastal fishing port, where fishermen, farmers and shopkeepers made up most of the population. I had been appointed there after just a year of language study, only 27-years-old, to try to establish a new mission where none was there before.