Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis

Sr. Francesca Akie Yamashita

I, Sister Francesca Akie Yamashita was born in 1930 in the house where my grandfather lived in seclusion during the Nagasaki Christian persecution. My “official” birthday is on November 2 (All Soul’s Day), which is a few days after I was born. I am told that my parents chose “Day of the Dead” that I don’t forget. I have 7 siblings. All of us were baptized as infants. My baptismal name is Maria. 

I could see the Nagasaki port from our house on the mountain, and I grew up watching the ships go back and forth.

On August 9, 1945 only an older sister ate lunch. We encountered the atom bomb as I was drying food in the sun. Our house tilted and the food disappeared. Nobody said anything about being hungry until evening because we all were so frightened.

After that I went to the Urakami First Hospital (Francisco Hospital) because my relatives worked there. Brother Joseph a franciscan and I tilled the field. I met missionaries from America, who asked me, “Do you want to be a sister?” I answered to them “I will talk to my parents” and I went back home. My mother permitted it immediately. My father thought about it overnight. Next morning he said “it might be all right for one of the children to become a sister” and he permitted me to enter.

How time flies! I celebrated 60 years of profession as a Hospital Sister of St. Francis in 2013. As I look back on my Novitiate, it was a very happy time. We did not understand English, and Sister Johanella who was novice directress did not understand Japanese. I held a dictionary in one hand all during class. We sometime could not read the English words on the blackboard. I would hear a voice from behind “long (l)” and “short (r)”and I hurriedly wrote the word in my notebook. We could not stop laughing at every slight thing and our novice directress was often angry with us saying; “That is no way to pray “.

As St. Francis I like nature. I tend plants and grow vegetables. It is my delight when I am told “it is beautiful” and “it is delicious”.

The most of my apostolic work was as a sacristan. I decorated the altar with flowers which I had planted, and I was delighted to know that God was pleased.

Even now at the age of 85, I go to the garden every day taking in a lot of sun, talking with the flowers and vegetables and spending the day thus in prayer.