By Ed Diokno
The sound of a Buddhist prayer bell rang through the chambers of the California Assembly this week followed by the baritone of the Rev. Bob Oshita, the Assembly’s new chaplain.
Oshita, the former reverend of the 117-year old Buddhist Church of Sacramento, urged those in the room to engage in “calming self-reflection” in his opening prayer.
After the moment of silence and contemplation, California’s 55 electors solemnly cast their votes for Hillary Clinton for President.
Oshita will open legislative sessions, serve as a spiritual counselor to members, and perform ceremonial and symbolic duties.
His appointment as chaplain was cheered by the body’s AAPI members.
“His experience working with young people, tending to the spiritual needs of a variety of communities, and serving for many years in the capitol city as a compassionate and committed reverend will serve us well in his new role,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), chair of the API Legislative Caucus and the only Filipino American lawmaker.
Oshita, 67, and his wife, retired Rev. Patti Oshita, have made Buddhism accessible to people from various faiths and ethnic backgrounds. The church has long been a cornerstone of the Japanese American community in Sacramento.
In a final expression of displeasure at the overall presidential vote in which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million over eventual winner Donald Trump, the state’s Electoral College members unanimously passed a resolution calling for an independent investigation into Russian activities that may have interfered with the U.S. elections.
The Japanese American chaplain replaces Father Constantine Pappademos, a Greek Orthodox priest who served various roles at the Capitol, including Assembly chaplain from 2003 until this year. Oshita’s counterpart in the Senate is Sister Michelle Gorman, a Roman Catholic nun who has served in the role since 2014.