Sister Maureen (Moe) Mitten

When Irish eyes are smiling, sure they steal your heart away.

Sister Maureen (Moe) MittenAnd that’s just how Sister Maureen (Moe) Mitten stole the hearts of her many Japanese friends.

Sister Moe is fondly known by her Sisters as living fully a characteristic that Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, encouraged, a saving grace of a sense of humor. Her story of one of her students in Japan, “While I was in the States, she sent a postcard addressed to Sister Maureen, Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery, Maryknoll, NY. The student had copied the address from a postcard of the cemetery! Finally someone tracked me down among the living!”

Sister Moe came to Maryknoll from Staten Island, NY in 1948 and one time on a visit remarked, “This is where I came from—it recalls a lot of wonderful memories but Japan is definitely home now.”

On February 29, 2008, Sister Moe moved into the rectory of the Yamashina Catholic Church, a priestless parish in Kyoto. After Easter Mass, the parishioners organized a celebration to formally welcome her. The choir and Sunday school students sang; kindergarten children danced and a child presented a lovely bouquet to Sister Moe. Her activities range from Introduction to Christ classes for people preparing for Baptism; private lessons for a pregnant mother wishing to be baptized with her new baby; talks on Spirituality and Christian Values for choir members, some of whom are not Catholic but love to sing to God and Talks about God to the kindergarten children aged 3-5 years. Sister Moe also has a Bible Study Women’s Group.

Past experiences serve Sister Moe well in her new ministry. She has been involved in pastoral work in Otsu, Ueno, Hikona and Kyoto. Sister Moe completed her college studies begun at Mary Rogers College at Maryknoll, at Sophia University, Tokyo. She earned a BA in Asian Studies, and worked in the Kyoto diocesan catechetical center for three years. In Yamashina, Sister Moe also continues her professional outreach as an English teacher.

Among other talents, Sister Moe is a licensed bus driver! She has driven mini buses on occasion at Maryknoll, and in Kyoto Sister Moe is one of the drivers for the physically challenged and elderly of the Kohitsuji Kai Group with whom she works.

From 1983 to 1991, Sister Moe was full-time Executive Secretary of AMOR, an acronym for the Asian Meeting of Religious Women, a forum of women religious of Asia and Oceania. In those years AMOR represented over one hundred thousand Women Religious from seventeen nations. Its purpose is to coordinate efforts toward ongoing renewal of religious life with the vision of a world built on justice, peace and universal love. Sister Moe found the work of coordinating the communication between the women of these countries to be a wonderful challenge. Every two years Sister Moe attended an international meeting in one of the countries of the membership.

Sister Moe traveled with companions from Kyoto to Nagasaki for the November 24, 2008 Beatification ceremony of the 188 Japanese martyrs of the 17th Century. “In the procession women dressed in lovely kimonos carried urns containing soil from the respective places where the Christians were executed in various cities throughout the country. These were placed under the altar with some relics. It was very touching, and such an honor to be present.”

This Beatification ceremony was memorable for Sister Moe because of a pilgrimage she made. Every year Japanese Christians and persons of other faiths join a pilgrimage from Kyoto to Nagasaki, walking the entire six hundred miles or doing it in stages over a number of years. Starting in 1988, Sister Moe joined the pilgrimage thirty times over a four year period walking about twenty miles each time. “During my pilgrimage I felt like a farmer…dropping seeds of prayer and physical tiredness…and hoping that the seeds of the Gospel would bloom there some day.”

 

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