Sister Maria Rosa Nakayama, MM,
Award-Winning Educator and School Administrator, Dies at 88
Maryknoll, NY — Sister Maria Rosa Nakayama, MM, an award-winning educator and school administrator who served as a Maryknoll Sister in Japan for 52 years, died September 15, 2015, at Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY. She was 88 years old.
Born on February 20, 1927, in Tokyo, Japan, to Joseph Hisakichi Soma and Maria Ko Nakayama, Sister Maria Rosa, whose baptismal name was Rosemary Aiko Nakayama, was one of four children, two boys and two girls, born to the couple.
A 1944 graduate of Tamagawa Gakuen Girls High School, Tokyo, Sister Maria Rosa also attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo from 1939-1942. She also received an R.N. from St. Luke’s College of Nursing, Tokyo, in 1948, followed by graduate work at St. Luke’s in 1948-1949, as well as at Catholic University, Washington, DC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, also in 1949.
Sister Maria Rosa entered Maryknoll on September 1, 1952 from St. Ignatius Parish, Tokyo, made her First Vows on March 7, 1955, at the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse, Ossining, NY, and her Final Vows on March 7, 1961, in Japan.
Sister Maria Rosa credited her sister, Hisako Nakayama, with bringing the Catholic faith to the family, Sister Maria Rosa herself being baptized when she was 11 years old. She came to know Maryknoll while studying at the University of Maryland when friends invited her to accompany them on a visit there. “When I saw two novices kneeling in chapel in adoration,” she later recalled, “I felt God’s call to Maryknoll.”
Following her First Vows in 1955, Sister Maria Rosa was sent back to Japan, where she did art work and pastoral ministry in Kyoto, Ise and Sai-in for six years, then began her work as an educator, school principal and administrator in Yokkaichi, where she would serve for the next 44 years. Her work, which would also include serving as chairman of the School Board of Directors, collaboration with the Catholic School Association and attending meetings of the City Social Education and Mayor’s Commission, would be recognized publically on November 14, 2003, when Japan’s Ministry of Education and Science gave her an award for “distinguished service in the promotion of community-based education.”
Sister Maria Rosa’s final five years in Japan were spent ministering to the sick and elderly at three care centers in Yokkaichi. She returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 2008, where she lived until her death.
Sister Maria Rosa is survived by her sister, Hisako Nakayama, of Tokyo, and her nieces, Haruo Hatakeyama of Tokyo and Ruriko Imamusa of Kamagawa-Ken, Japan.
A vespers service will be held for Sister Maria Rosa on Monday, September 21, 2015 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center at Maryknoll, NY. . A memorial Mass will follow on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, at 11 a.m., also at the Center. Sister Maria Rosa donated her body to science.