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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Pasqual Olivera

"I just discovered this message board, and this is my first post. I really connect to what a lot of you have experienced in SGI. By way of introduction, I practiced for over 20 years in Canada and one year in the U.S. I’ve been there and done it – leadership positions, tozans to Japan where I visited the Sho Hondo, group photos taken with Ikeda, etc. I ended my connection with SGI in 2002. My reasons for leaving were a couple of painful personal experiences, which I’ll share at another time, as well as the ugly split with the priesthood, resulting in disquieting organizational changes.

Many of you have written about the fact that SGI is very wealthy and that there is no financial transparency. For most of my practice in the organization I never thought about the financial aspect. However, as the years went on I noticed more and more pressure and emphasis was made for members to contribute financially in higher amounts. In the last year of my association with SGI, I attended an art division conference at the Florida Nature and Culture Center at which Pasqual Olivera and his wife presided. I had never met Pasqual before or known much about him, but I subsequently learned what a long-standing, dedicated SGI leader he was. At that time Pasqual was extremely ill with cancer. Due to chemotherapy treatments, he had lost his hair and could barely stand. But his passion for the SGI never wavered, and here he was – leading this conference. 

One thing that troubled me was when Pasqual spoke of his determination to give the org $10,000 a year, which he apparently had struggled to do every year for a few years at this point. He said he was telling this to us “privately”, and that he really believed that the magic number of a $10,000 donation per year would ensure his personal future fortune. The next I saw of him was a few months later in New York, where he was traveling around the country as part of an SGI contingent. He gave the same talk about the fortune that he believed would be his by giving $10,000 per year to SGI. 

A year or so later, I was shocked and saddened to learn that he had died, and that his wife died not long after him, also of cancer. I had the uncomfortable thought that instead of traveling around the country encouraging members to donate their money to SGI, he probably should have stayed home and taken care of his health. The story felt so tragic to me."

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