Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sister M. Celina

“We know that God makes all things work together
for the good of those who have been called according to his decree.”
(Rom. 8:28)

In 1941, I was born in Tottori, the second of four children.  When 20 years old I received the gift of Baptism.  When in Nursing School, a classmate invited me to go with her to see the church.  Both of us had just entered nursing school, and were not acquainted with the area.  One day, we found a small church. Timidly we opened the door and found a sign: “Little Flower Kindergarten” and “CATHOLIC KURAYOSHI CHURCH”.  On the first floor was the kindergarten, and on the second was the chapel.  The kindergarten teacher introduced us to the pastor, who was a young Jesuit priest.  Then my friend and I started instructions on the Catholic teachings from this priest.  I told the priest: “I would like to hear the teachings, but I will not receive the Catholic baptism”. At that time, I was afraid that if become a Catholic, I would be tied up by restrictions, and loose my freedom.  

And I did come regularly for this with my friend.  However, I noticed that my friend who invited me to go with her, had quit coming. I was alone to receive the instructions.  Father used romaji script, and was not fluent in Japanese, but with all his heart talked about the Scriptures.  This little church community was like a family, and the Christians were very friendly and kind.  After the Mass on Sundays we mixed familiarly in the conference room and spent precious times.

During a period of two year experience, I joined the activities of the Legion of Mary, visiting the sick in the apartment next to the Church and in the surrounding area.During that time, I began to realize that I would not become bound as I thought.I received the grace of baptism at the age of 20.

Thinking of my past experiences, I had become familiar with the words of Scripture at the age of 16.  About the time we graduated from Middle School, as classmates we exchanged messages in a notebook which we passed around.  When my notebook was passed back to me, the message that caught my eye was: “Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it.  But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is narrow, and there are few people who find it.” (Matthew 7:13).  When I looked at who signed the message, it was that of our music directress, and I felt a whole new impulse.  However, at that time, I did not search for the Scripture at the church.

In a certain book I read an article:  “In that person ‘the Word of God’ may be found fermenting as yeast. It takes time for the yeast to ferment within me, and it may be guiding me…” 

When I was thinking of religious life, Father Van de Vijver (CICM) was the pastor.  As I went to speak to Father about it, he said, “I only know of communities in Himeji”, and referred me to this Community.  I had worked at St. Mary’s Hospital for a while from April, 1965, as a nurse, and knew it was an Order which came from America, and from which Sister Ruth came, and Japanese Sisters belonged.

In September 1965, I entered the Community with two other candidates, and pronounced First Vows in 1968. I studied the Sophia University Religious course two years in Osaka; then I was sent to St. Francis Hospital in Nagasaki, where I worked as a nurse. For me, it was a great grace from God that I could meet with the people of Nagasaki, who had a history of deep faith.  In October, 1973, I pronounced Final Vows.

In 1986 I was appointed as the religious formation director for the junior sisters for four years.  After which, I was sent again to St. Francis Hospital in Nagasaki.

From January, 2000, I went to the American Province to study English. From September 2000 to July, 2001, I took the ETU Religious Formation Course in Chicago.  This was a very interesting opportunity and afforded me precious experiences in meeting these international students.

In October 2001, as the beginners’ formation directress, I stayed for a short time in the Formation House of our Province in Seoul (of which Sister Laetitia was the responsible person).  I lived with the Korean Candidates, and was able to get a feeling of the Korean culture.

In the autumn of 2004, at the invitation of a Conventual Franciscan Father, I participated in a vocation activity in which five Religious Communities of Sisters visited Ho Chi Minh, Phan Thiet, Nha Trang Provinces.  This was an incentive for which we have been gifted with new energy and membership.

Guided by the gift of God, this year I am celebrating my 50th Anniversary of Religious Profession.  Dear God, please renew daily my heart, wanting to live always according to your will!