Maryknoll, NY-Sister Grace Mary Kuji, M.M. died on December 4 th , 2018 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY. She was 91 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 67 years.
Grace Mary was born in Tsingtao (today known as Quingdao), China on May 5 th , 1927 to Misao (Ishigami) Kuji and Kanichi Kuji. Though she was born in China, she was a Japanese national. She had five brothers (Hiroshi, Manabu Fujita, Takashi, and Kanji two of whom are deceased (Takashi and Kanji) and one sister, Mrs. Shigeko Onosuka.
From 1941-1944, Grace Mary attended Chinto Women’s High School in China. She then earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Science from the Japan’s Women’s College in Tokyo, Japan in 1950.
On August 29 th , 1951 Grace Mary entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY from Takano Parish (Diocese of Kyoto). At her Reception into the Congregation she received the religious name Sister Gratia Marie. She made her First Profession of Vows on March 7 th , 1954 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY and her Final Profession of Vows on March 7 th , 1960 in Japan.
In 1954, Sister Grace Mary was assigned to Kyoto, Japan where she was in charge of a hostel and taught catechism classes for two years. During the next eight years, she worked in parishes run by the Maryknoll Fathers in Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures. In 1962, Sister Grace Mary and five other Maryknoll Sisters founded the Maryknoll Girls School in Yokkaichi, Japan; where she remained for thirty years serving in various roles: teaching Christian Ethics in the High School, Advisor to Alumni/Maryknoll Student Service Club, and supervising practice teachers from 1982 – 1992.
In 1992, Sister Grace Mary returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center and served as Sacristan in the main chapel for two years. In 1994, she returned to Kichijoji, Tokyo to join a volunteer group to help foreign prisoner detainees. She then worked in two homeless shelters and did parish catechetical work, teaching religion and leading Bible study groups for a few years.
In 2001, Sister Grace Mary returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center to serve as a member of the Pastoral Care Team, helping many of the Sisters in the home care unit. She also served in the chapel, making beautiful flower arrangements until her retirement in 2011.
Sr. Grace Mary generously donated her body to science.
A Vespers service will be held for Sister Grace Mary on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY.A Memorial Mass will follow, also at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.
A special memorial service will take place in Japan on December 22, 2018.