Persons, places and things: A letter from Japan

Barb Arland-Fye
This letter, originally written in 2018, arrived in The Catholic Messenger office Feb. 15, 2024.

By Barb Arland-Fye


One of our subscribers, a priest serving in the Archdiocese of Osaka, Japan, paid to have The Catholic Messenger shipped to him each week and sent funds that guaranteed his subscription for years ahead. Father Augustine S. Kasagi died in the summer of 2018 and if memory serves me, we received notice of his death and stopped his subscription.

 Just last week, I received a letter, with the return address bearing the coat of arms of Cardinal Thomas Aquino Manyo Maeda, who leads the Archdiocese of Osaka. Wondering why the cardinal’s office would be sending a letter, I opened it quickly and read the short but thoughtful note it contained.

The correspondent, a woman writing on behalf of the Archdiocese of Osaka, reported that Father Augustine, a “subscriber to the Messenger,” had died Aug. 8, 2018 and asked us to discontinue his subscription right away. She thanked us “for everything you’ve done for him and for your prayers for his soul in advance.”


Most of the letter appears in type. However, Aug. 08, 2018 was handwritten and crossed out. Below it, also written in longhand, is the date Dec. 16, 2023. Typewritten below the dates is Father Kasagi’s previous address, the church at which he served.

The letter raised my curiosity because above the salutation is the address for our former office, which we moved out of more than a decade ago. The address on the envelope, however, lists our correct address. I wondered if someone from the archdiocesan office intended to send the letter six years ago but misplaced it?

Such a humorous coincidence that the letter arrived six years late but in the midst of this year’s subscription drive! The letter brought back memories of correspondence from Father Kasagi expressing his appreciation for the Messenger, along with funds to continue his subscription!

One more mystery I would love to solve: how did a priest ministering in Japan learn about the Messenger and choose to subscribe to a newspaper that covers southeast Iowa? We do provide a good mix of national and international news but our emphases are the issues, people and events pertaining to the Diocese of Davenport.

I have been told that back in the 1960s, the Messenger published the Vatican II documents as soon as they became available, garnering international attention and appreciation for the newspaper. We continue to provide coverage that helps our readers connect our diocesan Church with the universal Church. A sense of community develops with regular reading of a diocesan paper. I hope that’s what made Father Kasagi such a loyal subscriber.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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