Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
I am, Sister Paula (Kiyomi) Izuta, originally from Tatsuno City of Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Speaking of Tatsuno, it is known to be a famous place of the “thin noodles of Ibo.”
It was in St. Mary’s Hospital in Himeji that I first found work as a nurse. I knew that there were foreign sisters in this hospital, but had met sisters and priests for the first time there. I had known that foreign Sisters managed the hospital, and that it was Franciscan.
I had visited a protestant church and a catholic church with a friend, and noticed the difference when hearing the sermons of the minister of the protestant church. The talk that I heard from the priest in the catholic church was always consistent. Therefore, I decided to go to the catholic church
My family was Buddhist. My father knew Christianity well, because he learned it from school days. For that reason he did not oppose my joining the Catholic Church. At first I said nothing to my mother. I was baptized at the Catholic Church in Nibuno and became the only Catholic in our family. When I decided to enter religious life, my father impressed upon me that the decision was up to me and I need to take the responsibility.
Since I was young I had noticed the daily needs of my parents, and wanted to be helpful to the weak and the poor and needy. I entered the community with hopes that in becoming a Sister, my childhood dreams would be realized.
I entered the community at the Himeji Convent in the morning of August 22nd, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 1960. Then I started life in the novitiate in Tokyo that midsummer, and remember wearing a long heavy black dress.
I pronounced my vows September 17, 1963, the Stigmata of St. Francis. As a typhoon storm had subsided on the day before, it was appropriate weather for this occasion. I worked in the apostolate of our hospitals as a nurse in Nagasaki and Himeji.
When the “Domiciliation Promotion Center”, the first support facility for refugees for boat people from Laos and Vietnam, was established adjacent to St. Mary’s Hospital, I helped the refugees with health consultation. Though I could not understand the words well, I helped with communication between the refugees and St. Mary’s Hospital from December 1979 to March 1996, and helped with the health needs of the refugees at the Center. During this time, the young refugees married and had children, and it was a great source of joy for me to have them come to me with their children.
Then, at the time of the Hanshin—Awaji great earthquake disaster which occurred in 1995, I went to the stricken area for volunteer activities. This continued for five years, until Easter of 2000. I was given a bible from the Archbishop of Arch diocese of Osaka as a memento.
At the time of the earthquake disaster, fires broke out here and there. In one instance, the Takatori Catholic Church was in danger of being enveloped in flames. However, the fire was put out just in front of the Statue of Christ which was at the entrance of the Church. People said that the statue protected the church. I was given a watch as a souvenir in thanksgiving for my services. I am still using it. The 22-year step of the revival beat in this watch is 2017.
I am grateful for the understanding of the Sisters of the convent and the Community, for having had the opportunity to volunteer in these activities. I notice that this is my 54th year of religious life where I have had the opportunity of sharing with the poor and needy.