Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sister M. Odilia Yamashita

I, Sister Odilia, was born on January 9, 1935 in Tatsuno, a town near Himeji. I am the eldest, and I have four siblings: a younger brother and three younger sisters. The village where I was born did not have a single store, but was a village of mountains and rice fields. Our family business was farming. My father was killed in the war in China when I was eight years old. My uncle was a polio and my grandmother was paralyzed and neither of them could walk, so they remained in the house. My mother was a farmer by herself, and I helped her.

During the off-season, I went to learn Japanese dressmaking and flower arranging. On the way, I stopped by a Catholic church to listen to a story in secret. One day I borrowed the book "Theresa of the Child Jesus" from a believer and read it, which taught me what it means to believe. I wanted to enter the religious life as soon as possible.

On July 27, 1952, I was baptized at Tatsuno Church as one of the 10 or so baptized at the first baptismal service at the Church. When I expressed my desire to go to a convent to the pastor, he told me that I was still young and that I would not be allowed to enter a religious life unless I practiced a devoted life of a believer for three years. I was busy with my high school life and my work in the fields, so it was hard for me to go to church on Sundays. During my high school years, I did not change my mind about going to the convent; I thought it would be a long, long three years, but in retrospect, it was a blessing. During this time, my younger brother graduated from high school and began to take care of the household chores, which made it easier for me to leave home.

I decided to go to a convent, but I didn't know which one I should join. I consulted with a Father and decided to go to a convent that he thought was good. He introduced me to our Congregation. My uncle disagreed with me, but since I had not changed my mind, he allowed me and I decided to work at St. Mary's Hospital for a while. In the meantime, my mother was baptized by Father Daniel, who was a chaplain at St. Mary's Hospital. My grandmother heard about the teaching of the church from me and wanted to be baptized. My grandmother had difficulty walking, so we put her on a bicycle in the dark with no lights, pushed her carefully so she wouldn't fall, and at the midnight mass on Christmas Eve, my grandmother received the grace of baptism. Two friends and I went to my uncle's house and told him about heaven, and he said, "I want to be God's child," so we baptized him in his bed.

I joined the Congregation on September 8, 1955, and professed my first vows on June 13, 1958. After that, I became a licensed nurse in Nagasaki and worked as a nurse at St. Francis Hospital and then at St. Mary's Hospital.

After that, because I loved children, I did my apostolate at Easter Village, an institution for frail children, for 10 years. I also worked as a pastoral care worker at St. Mary's Hospital. I retired from the hospital and spent many happy years living together with young student-candidates from Vietnam.

Three years ago, we celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of 60 years of vows. I am now enjoying the blessings of the Apostolate of Prayer at Ritiro chapel. Thank God for His mercy!