Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
Sister M. Laetitia Masami Matsunaga
I was born in Kumamoto, and grew up in Nagasaki with my two younger brothers. Although our family was not Catholic, the motto of our education was the Christian way of life. Looking back, I believe that my vocation was given to me by my parents.
My first encounter with the Society of St. Francis Hospital Sisters happened when I was 17 years old and was hospitalized at St. Francis Hospital in Nagasaki. I was introduced to the "Prayer for Peace" of St. Francis of Assisi and admired the work of the Sisters, which made me want to become a Sister myself. At the age of 18, I began studying the Catechism in preparation for my baptism, and on my 24th birthday, I was baptized in the chapel of St. Francis Hospital.
I graduated from Kwassui Women's Junior College, a mission school that I had admired since I was a child, and went on to work in the commercial department of the Nagasaki Broadcasting Company for six years. I also tried to work as an announcer, and when I was 21, my father enrolled me for the Miss Nagasaki 1977 pageant, and I was chosen and worked there for a year. I think my father wanted to prevent me from becoming a Sister.
When I was 26 years old, I tried to quit the Nagasaki Broadcasting Company and join the Congregation, but a novice mistress at that time told me that if my parents were against it, I should wait a little longer. Later, I was able to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and had an audience with Pope John Paul II. When I appealed to him that I wanted to become a Sister, he promised to pray for me. When I turned 30, I overcame my parents' objections and ran away from home to join our Congregation. Therefore, I will always remember my visit to Poland and the tomb of John Paul II during the 2017 ISRCEP, a memory I cherish.
For my first vows (1989), only my younger brother attended. Later, however, my father encouraged me and said, “Follow through on the way you have chosen”, and both my parents attended my final vows (1995). After my first vows, I became a licensed clinical laboratory technician, and from 1996, I studied in the U.S.A. for about two years, attending the Institution of Religious Formation (IRF) at St. Louis University, where I studied with Sr. Ines, Sr. Geneva, and Sr. Dolly. At the same time, we participated in the development of International Formation Guidelines. After returning to Japan, I was responsible for our vocation activity in Japan and Korea as well as the formation ministry of our Korean candidates.
For eight years, beginning in 2000, I was involved in our Korea missions, and lived with our candidates at the Formation House in Seoul. During that time, I studied Korean language at Sogang University and Social Welfare at Yonsei University. I returned to Japan in 2008 to work as the Director of Francisco Villa, a nursing home in Tokyo.
In 2009, I was elected to the Provincial Leadership of our Japan Province, where I continue to serve until today. On top of my responsibility in leadership, I have begun to learn the German language. Therefore, I am currently living in Münster, Germany. I am very grateful to the kindness of Sister M. Margarete, our General Superior, and to the German and Japanese Province Leaderships for this opportunity.
Looking back on the steps of my calling, I feel that everything was a miracle. I am grateful to the Lord for calling me in HIS grace and walking with me. I want to follow the Lord's call and live with hope and respond to HIS grace with joy.