Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
This year I, Sr. Gratia Maihara, will celebrate 60 years of profession as a Hospital Sisters of St. Francis.
I was born in Okayama. My family is Buddhist, of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. My grandfather was a Buddhist priest. I had often seen him put on a patched cotton “kesa” (morning robe) worn by the Buddhist priest and chant a sutra (the Buddhist sacred scripture) as a supporter of Buddhist temple. After World War II, I entered the Notre Dame Seishin School and I came to know of the Catholic Church. Before I graduated, I was baptized. My Baptismal name is Catharine (Catharina of Bologna). After I graduated from this school, I worked in the brain metabolism laboratory of Okayama University Hospital and I joined the Catholic Study Group.
At that time, Fr. Hamaheru, S.J. asked Dr. Shimizu, assistant professor of surgery, to establish the hospital in Himeji. At the Catholic Study Group, Dr.Shimizu asked for help to go to the hospital. I offered to cooperate, together with Masumi Yamashita, (Sr. Josepha) who was the head nurse of the internal medical wards.
I went to Himeji for an interview. It was the first experience in my life to go out of the prefecture. I did not want to go to Himeji, but a friend was in the same laboratory and wanted to go to Himeji. I accompanied my friend. A notification of appointment came to me, but my friend was rejected.Speaking to a Franciscan priest in the hospital at the time about religious life was the beginning of my religious vocation. The priest introduced me to Sr. Theodora who was the superior of the congregation of the Presentation of Mary. I visited her community every weekend. A friend of mine came to take over my work. However, that friend decided to enter the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. Through “the mischief of God”, I also entered the community on February 2, 1952. After pronouncing temporary vows, in the spring in 1957, I began studying for nursing in the Junior College of St. Mary, Tokyo. I was admitted into the second year class.
In the community, I have worked in various capacities. When passing the hospital room number 205, I remember having taught the Junior Sisters, (Sr. Marianna’s group) when I was hospitalized there with my leg in a cast.