At Diocesan Convention October 19, the Rt. Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith, Bishop of Arizona, named three people honorary canons of Trinity Cathedral and the Diocese of Arizona. These included Barbara Harber (St. Luke’s, Prescott, center), The Rev. Richard Morrison (Church of the Epiphany, Tempe, right), and our Rector, the Rev. John Kitagawa (left).
Here are the Bishop’s remarks when he introduced John:
The man I’m going to tell you about is a third-generation priest, with two ordained uncles, another uncle who was the administrator of a church hospital, an aunt who taught at St. Margaret’s school, and a cousin who was a nun.
But ministry was not even an option on this priest’s table until the end of his undergraduate years. He did not want to follow in his father or grandfather’s steps – he wanted to make money. In hindsight, evidence of his calling is sprinkled throughout his life.
When he was about 10 years old, a friend broke his leg. When his friend’s mother answered the door, she said her son could not come out to play because of a badly broken leg. The future priest said, “I know, I heard about it at school. I came to visit and play chess with him.” When he left a few hours later, the mother just looked at him in amazement! He just thought visiting the sick was what people do!
When it came time for Confirmation, this young man refused – telling his father he had not been adequately prepared by the parish priest and he wanted private study with his father.
Yet, he was surprised when words and phrases from the prayer book and Bible flowed onto on an undergraduate sociology paper he was writing in response to a question about “where values come from.” Gradually, this priest worked through his rebellion about the “family business.”
When Bishop Paul Moore, called to say he had approved entrance into the postulant program and seminary – even though this man had not been out of college the required two years – the future priest said: Thanks Bishop, but I am having so much fun running the coffee house at Trinity Wall Street, I would like to wait the extra year!
Though he began ordained ministry as a parish curate in Manhattan, this priest quickly moved on to become the Coordinator of The Downtown Cooperative Ministry in New Haven, Connecticut. During his tenure with the Downtown Cooperative Ministry, he married his young girlfriend from Manhattan – after supporting Conrail with weekend visits for a year!
Seventeen years and four different Diocesan roles later, John Kitagawa was called to St. Philip’s In The Hills in Tucson, Arizona.
Please join me in a round of applause for John Kitagawa, our new honorary Canon!