Tokyo (Agenzia Fides) - “Flowers are a gift of the Creator and their beauty speaks a language all their own. To offer a flower is a sign of sharing and caring between the giver and the receiver”. This message, composed by Papal Nuncio to Japan Archbishop Ambrose De Paoli, comes with a gift of a packet of flower seeds presented to each new mother and baby at Japan Red Cross hospitals throughout the country. Behind the gift is a non profit organisation Himawari no Kai (Sunflower Society) based in Tokyo founded in 1997 to send flowers to elderly people and social welfare institutions. On the first anniversary of 9/11 attacks in New York, Oku Takatoshi, the founder of the Sunflower Society, sent 10,000 packets of sunflower seeds to the White House with a message written by Papal Nuncio to Japan Archbishop Ambrose De Paoli, with whom he and his wife have become good friends.
Oku Takatoshi and his wife Iwata first met the Papal Nuncio when they decorated public halls for official functions and they were immediately captured by his love and gentle approach to all people. Oku and his wife recently entered a catechumens’ class to learn more about Catholicism. Oku says he is convinced that “flowers are a gift of God” and so he has God as “partner” in his work of using flowers to bring comfort and joy to others. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 8/5/2004 lines 19 words 235)