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Who are we?

Introducing the members of Daughters of St. Paul

Sr.Maria Patricia Katsuko Hara

It was on the first Christmas after my Baptism, which I was given just two months ago, that I asked my parents if they would allow me to attend the midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. My parents' answer was negative. As I understood, letting young woman go out midnight by herself was widely considered as a foolish idea in a small town just after the World War II.

Despite that, I tried to convince them so I continued to ask until my father finally came to the conclusion of coming with me. After the Mass at the tea party I over heard my father was talking to the priest that he was worried about me wanting to join the convent as he gave me his permission to receive Baptism.

The priest laughed in a loud voice and said him that he had nothing to worry about, humans have no control over what the Lord does. I, on the other hand, thought that it would never be possible for me to do so, as I imagined a higher education and a dowery were required.

One year later, I was invited to attend a retreat by a nun who came from Tokyo. She brought with her church’s brochures in English to introduce her convent. Indeed, it was the first time for me to meet a real nun in person in my life.

Accepting the priest’s recommendation, I attended the retreat. I realized that a higher education and a dowery were not required, but only my will to serve as God's worker. By the end of the retreat I had already made up my mind to join the convent.

My parents never believed that I was serious about becoming a Catholic nun.
They were furious when I told them about my decision. They denied the religion and forbid me to go to the Church on Sunday. My mothersaid,“You may go to the convent after I die”. The extended family blamed me as undutiful. I heard these words, which broke my heart. However, I realized that my will grew stronger as I listened to the family.

On the day I joined the convent, I arrived there around four o’clock in the afternoon. When I was putting my clothes in the drawers, I found a letter inside my bag. It was a letter from my father.

“ Dear Katsuko, I have nothing to say. My only hope is that you will be fine and be happy. I will pray. You will pray with me. From your father”.

It was a permit for me from my father. I felt for my father as he wrote this letter at the same time, I felt grateful to him. I remembered one famous quote >from the poem of Shoin yoshida as I pray, “ Parents care (about their children) much deeper than (their) children do for them…” I put this phrase in my letter to my father to show how thankful I was.

Forty-seven years have now passed. This letter from my father gave me strength for countless times during these periods. I spend my days answering my call from the Lord. The letter, now discolored and brown, is a memorial of my father's love.

Translated into English by Chieko Sekine from the original Japanese text written by Sr. Hara.

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