Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sister Carmella Yamawaki

I was born at the foot of “Ikuno Silver Mountain”.  The silver mine is said to have opened in 806, and was closed in 1973.  When I was born, our address included the word: “silver.”  It is about an hour by car from our Himeji Convent.

 I have two brothers.  Through the influence of my older brother, his wife was baptized, and they have four children, all of whom have been baptized.  My other brother is not Christian.  My baptism came about through the Ikuno Catholic Church which was in our neighborhood.  Many times I visited the CICM Fathers who lived there.  I was baptized at the age of 23.

I was introduced to St. Mary’s Hospital in Himeji by a priest of Ikuno and began to work at the Hospital.  While working I thought about my future.  There was a sister who came to the chapel earlier than anyone else in the cold days of winter. She put firewood in the stove before the sisters came so that it would be warm when praying.  The Sister said to me: “I am happy that I have this work.  There is also this kind of work to do.”  Having encountered this Sister and others after her, I thought of becoming a Sister.

Then, I visited the convents in the Kansai area, and participated in retreats to deepen my vocation through prayer.  One day I went to a Community in which I often participated in a retreat.  A Sister said to me: “Your name is on the door of this room.  When you come next time to stay, this will be your room.”  Surprised, I left.  On returning, I entered the Chapel of St. Mary’s Hospital, a calm came over me, and again I could hear the voices of the Sisters, and began to think that it might be here that I am called.  One day a Sister called me and I was told to go to see Sister Benita.  When I went to her, she said to me: “Come to the convent tomorrow.  We are waiting.”  For some reason, I don’t know, I answered: “Yes, I will come.”            I entered the Community in 1963, made my vows in 1966, and now 50 years have passed.  I will celebrate Golden Jubilee this year (2016).

The greatest experience of my 50 years of religious life was my visit to the General Motherhouse in 2008, the 150th Anniversary of our Founder’s Death, and the visit to Lourdes in France, and to Assisi.  It was like a dream that, when possible, every Sister of the Japanese Province could visit Lourdes.  The meals in Lourdes were very delicious.  And I will never forget the Landscape of Assisi from the Cathedral of St. Francis, as I walked the hills paved with stone.