Congratulations to Hawaii’s newly ordained Jodo Shinshu priests!

Charlene Kihara (Hawaii Betsuin), Kerry Kiyohara (Moiliili Hongwanji), and Barbara Brennan (Hawaii Betsuin) recently returned from Japan as Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha priests.

Charlene, Kerry, Barbara, and six candidates from Buddhist Churches of America made up a group traveling to Kyoto in July to pursue the final steps for Tokudo ordination. The candidates trained intensively for ten days with a schedule on most days going from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., including services, classes and testing, cleaning, meals, changing robes, chanting, and practicing rituals.

Two other groups of candidates from Japan received training at the same time, making a total of 33 candidates.

On the ninth day, candidates were presented with their ordination certificates by Gomonshu Kojun Ohtani, the spiritual head of the Jodo Shinshu denomination. Candidates also received a Ki-Gesa (paneled priestly vestment) and a Homyo (Buddhist name). Several more services the following day and presentation of certificates in English completed the program.

Here are brief reflections on Tokudo from Barbra, Charlene, and Kerry:

Charlene Kihara in robes“The Tokudo experience was one of the pinnacle moments in my life. It was so spiritual and transforming. It was a difficult time for me. This was my first time in Japan, I needed to quickly learn the customs, the dressing and undressing (putting on robes), saho (manners), liturgy and chanting. Although it was so short I learned so much about myself. I learned that even a bonbu like myself could learn and hopefully become a better person.” (Charlene Kihara)

Kerry Kiohara in robes“I am profoundly aware that Tokudo was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that the things I’ve learned will stay with me forever, that the robes and vestments carry tremendous responsibility. Tokudo was a chance to be re-born, to start over, to set a new course in this life. I am not deserving of this great opportunity and yet it comes to me. Namo Amida Butsu!” (Kerry Kiyohara)

Barbara Brennan“My Tokudo experience at Nishiyama Betsuin was deeply moving, beyond expectation. It was a unique learning environment where all the Senseis and Dharma teachers shared not only their knowledge of Jodo Shinshu teachings and rituals with us but also their personal heartfelt stories. I am grateful for their dedication and commitment to the Teachings which will be cause for reflection throughout the rest of my life as a Jodo Shinshu minister.” (Barbara Brennan)

Congratulations to our newly ordained Jodo Shinshu priests!