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Bishop Soma Passed Away
The Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor is sad to announce the
passing away of its beloved Honorary Chairperson, His Excellency
Bishop Aloysius Nobuo Soma.
Bishop Soma was 81.
We will forever be grateful and inspired by his quiet yet resonating
presence, inspiration, example and leadership.
He will be interred on October 9 at the Nunoike Catholic Church in
The Coalition appreciates any expression of remembrance from affiliates and
friends. Please forward to either the APCET secretariat or to the
Catholic Chancery Office and Nagoya Diocese
2-6-37, Aoi, Higashi-ku, Nagoya 461 Japan
Tel. + 81 -52 935 2223
Fax. + 81 -52 935 2254
A Luta Continua!
I am very sorry and sad to learn about Bishop Soma's passing on. He
is indeed a great loss not only to his flock in Japan but also to the
various causes he has touched: migrant workers and the East Timorese
cause for self-determination. Bishop Soma was the epitome of a
humble and dedicated warrior for peace. Inspite of the tremendous
odds and pressure that his advocacies reaped and the onslaught of old
age, Bishop Soma never buckled. I remember him fondly in Apcet I when
he defied the blacklisting of the Philippine government of his name
among with others by flying straight into Manila inspite of a Pakistani
airline refusing to carry him on board. Then in a peace pilgrimage
dubbed Ahi Naklakan, he led an international group of pilgrims into East
Timor only to be barred at the Surabaya airport. Still he persisted
and wished loudly that he could go back to Dili in time for the
opening of the new seminary of Bishop belo which he helped built. He
left leaving a humble donation to be passed on to Bishop Belo.
Such was Bishop Soma, he was always very ready to help and very
generous with whatever he could share. Once after Apcet I, our
erstwhile media officer wanted to attend an East Timor work
camp in Italy but did not have the wherewithal. Bishop Soma was
approached and he readily covered the cost. He also was ver geneorus
in his assistance of Apcet I and II inspite of his meager resources. And
during Apcet II, the Bishop was the collected and cool symbol of
the righteousness of the East Timorese cause as he sat among the
participants and refused to be forcibly led outside by the Malaysian
goons that broke up the conference. In our holding place at the airport,
Bishop Soma was a refreshing and strengthening presence even as he let
the younger activists plan, strategise and respond to the dizzying
situation at hand. In between, he never stopped doing his regular
calisthenics in the corridor of the hotel where we were imprisoned
while awaiting our respective deportations. My last image of Bishop
Soma was when he, together with Australian Bishop Hilton Deakin, led us
in an intimate mass in one of the cramped hotel rooms in the aftermath of the
Apcet II break-up. He spoke in Japanese but it was very audible to us
that he was fervently praying for peace not only for the people in East
Timor but also for those in Malaysia and all oppressed peoples of the earth.
The prayer, hymns, and responsorial psalms reverberated beyond the smallness of
the room. Such was the energy exuded by Bishop Soma. A room could be his
cathedral. Move on, our beloved bishop. We have been honored and
will always be honored to have been touched by you.
A Luta Continua!
Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor