Karleen C. Chinen

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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