Fr. Robert Reimer, SVD
Fr. Robert Riemer, SVD, is originally from Chicago. He professed first vows as a Divine Word Missionary in 1952 and was ordained a priest in 1960. He has served in education ministry in a variety of posts in Japan, including president of Nanzan University. He holds a doctoral degree in sociology from Notre Dame University.
Nanzan University in Nagoya is the window for the Church in central Japan. As the leading private
university in the area, over 15,000 students a year seek admission, although only 2,200 can be accepted. Nanzan is well known for its Catholic spirit, academic excellence, and character formation. It is an effective means to spread the message of Jesus and to supplement the direct teaching of the Gospel given at Catholic mission schools and parishes.
I arrived in Japan in 1961 with an appointment to teach at Nanzan, one of twenty-one Catholic universities in the country. The tasks of a missionary-educator are manifold. Besides being a classroom teacher and a professional scholar, he is asked to be student counselor, spiritual director, and leader in volunteer activities. Likewise, he is often burdened with the care and anxieties of university administration.
Presently, Nanzan University has more than 10,000 students in seven departments, a business administration school, and a law school. A glance at the activities in which Divine Word Missionary educators have been engaged gives a good understanding of the various works of the missionary-educator.
Father John Seland, SVD, English professor and author, has led Nanzan students into various paths of volunteer work in Japan and abroad. Father John Schubert, SVD, dynamic university chaplain, has introduced countless students to shrines, churches, and holy sites on yearly pilgrimages and tours to Europe. Father John Hirschmeier, SVD, former president of Nanzan University, was a popular presenter of public lectures on Japanese business and Christian ethics.
On the other hand, Father Karl Hamaguchi, SVD, professor of moral theology, has become nationally known for his lectures on medical ethics. Father David Mayer, SVD, kingpin for the graduate school, was a familiar figure at scholarly English academic meetings where he pointed out the abiding influence of Christianity on English and American Literature. The founder of Nanzan University, Father Alois Pache, SVD, will be forever remembered for giving the university its motto: Hominus Dignitati (For Human Dignity). Under this title, non-Christian students learn of Jesus’ law of love of God and man, the Old Testament teaching that the human being is made in the image of God, and the moral precept that all life is sacred.
Catholic universities are not the only instrument to promote the evangelization of peoples and the uplifting of human culture, but they are an approved and respected method, especially in Asia where education is highly esteemed. It is the way in which Divine Providence has entrusted to us. We are determined to use it well.
Finally, I would like to introduce you to some of the graduates who have reflected on how important and influential Nanzan education has been in their lives.
Kinko Ito, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
My years at Nanzan (1976–1980) were truly a blessed time for me. I had great professors who taught me well, and I still have my best friends from my English composition class after thirty-four years!
I studied at Illinois State University for a year as an exchange student in 1977–1978. In the 1980s, I visited Father Leo Hotze SVD, the brother of Father Alphonse Hotze SVD, at the Divine Word community at Techny. By chance, I met Father Robert Riemer’s mother at Techny at the same time.
In 1987, I obtained my doctoral degree from Ohio State University, and currently I am professor of sociology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. I have visited seventy-four countries and teach my students with love and understanding. I am active in an international peace movement, too. I want to make a difference in the world and I will be carrying the Nanzan spirit with me for the rest of my life.
Mr. Takimitsu Yamada
I had the good fortune to study at the “New Nanzan Campus,” which opened its doors to students in 1964. Its dynamic architecture and innovative professors helped make the university one of the leading private education institutions in central Japan. When I graduated I became an office employee of the university and witnessed its growth until I retired in 2005. As a Catholic, I valued Nanzan’s position to preserve its Catholic identity. The university’s motto, For Human Dignity, keeps the teaching of Christ in the forefront of education. I worked under four Divine Word Missionary presidents and appreciated their efforts to train men and women to take on responsible positions in the Church, in society, and in families. Diplomats and company presidents, priests, Brothers and bishops, model fathers and mothers have graduated from Nanzan University. I am grateful to have studied at Nanzan and to have spent thirty-seven years working for the development of the university.
Mr. Hiroshi A. Usami, President and CEO of Micron Shiga, Inc.
Nanzan University is exactly the place where the “international community of my heart” was inspired, thanks to the many Divine Word Missionary priests and Brothers I encountered at Nanzan University. I had a chance to visit Techny a few years ago and I visited the cemetery where my former professors are resting in peace. It meant a lot to me to remember the parts of my life which I shared with them at Nanzan.
My experience in developing global business pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics; assisting U.S. venture companies as they enter and grow within Japan; overseeing corporate due diligence; and orchestrating post-merger integration required all the skills which I was taught at Nanzan. Thus, Hominis Dignitati (For Human Dignity) has been an important aspect of my life. My international career finally pushed me up to the president of a venture company of a medical university in Japan.
Nanzan taught me not only foreign languages but also strengthened my Christian faith. While studying English and German, I studied organ and liturgical music as part of extracurricular programs. I still play the organ in church every Sunday. Dr. Chiaki Mukai, the first Japanese female astronaut, said, “The universe is my workplace.” Although I am not going to that extreme, I am confident that I can say, “The globe is my workplace” thanks to all that I was granted at Nanzan University.