Diary of Fr Jim's Ordination, Departure Ceremony, First Masses and Home Visit

   June, 1954

       I will begin with the arrival of the family starting on June 9, 1954 with Margaret, Bobbie Joe, and their son Jimmy, and our brother, Bob who arrived from Dallas at 2:30. They went to Potters to clean up after their long drive which began on June 7th. They had supper at the convent and it was a fast day for all. Looked for accommodations and found none until we went to Mrs. Walton where she was able to put them up for 2 nights.  The family I had made reservations was not prepared td receive any guests. I visited with James for a half-hour even though he was on retreat.

Thursday June 10, Margaret and her family slept in and had a late breakfast at the convent. I visited with them until time for them to leave about 9 a.m. for a day in  New York City sightseeing. Grace, Jim and two children, Loretta, 3 yrs. old  and David, two years 1. arrived at 2:30 p.m. from Nebraska. We drove to Elmsford to the McAleers, where they cleaned up and we came back to the convent for a visit and supper. Visited James until 8:15 p.m after which all returned to their host for the evening.  I waited for Mom and Dad to arrive but they did not come.

Friday June 11: A call from Mr. Potter early in the morning to tell me the rest of the family arrived about 11:00 p.m. the evening before. They went   to the seminary and Jim took them to the Potters. At 10 a.m. we left for a   sightseeing trip to New York City. I drove Frank's car with Grace and Jim following. The two children, Loretta and David stayed with Sr. Justina. Mom, Dad, Frank, Fern (Frank's wife) and their children, Ramona and John and I went to the U.N. We had lunch and then to the Empire State after a lunch in a Jewish restaurant. While waiting for a cab on the corner, we saw three priests coming towards us. I recognized Bishop Sheen. I could not let this opportunity pass, I asked Bishop sheen to meet my family who were here for the ordination of their son at Maryknoll. He very graciously shook hands with all and left us with several  "God bless you." It was a real thrill for the family to meet and talk with the Bishop. On our way to the Cathedral- (St. Patrick's) the cab driver took us on a long round about trip and of course collected a fat fare from these country folks. We arrived back after a lovely day and had supper at the convent so we would have time to visit with Fr. James, who came over and joined us. He brought over the chalice which the family had given to him but we had not yet seen.  (I am not able to describe it to you at this time 1979. March 23.)

        Saturday June 12: The day of days had come. All came to 7 o'clock Mass at the convent and received the Eucharist. We had breakfast and there met Mother Mary Columba. We went back to chapel. I sat near Mamma in case she should faint but she had no trouble. The place where I was sitting was needed for the procession to enter and I had to make an exit--it turned out to be a happy move as Sr. Rose Frances, who was sacristan invited me to stay at the sanctuary entrance where I had a view of every detail of the ceremony, Words fail to describe my emotions, of joy, gratitude, love and wonderment at such a sublime privilege in Godís answer to my lifelong prayer to have a brother, priest, another Christ.

We gathered at a designated place for the family on the front lawn near the entrance to Kateri garden and there greeted and received Father James blessing for the first time. There was an emotional moment when all realized how much Father Shafer was missed. Sister Scholastica, his Maryknoll sister present, reminded us even more of Father's absence.

 We went to the Seminary for dinner and later returned to our section in the grove. At 3:30 we gathered at the Grotto of Lourdes where we received the blessing of the newly ordained priests. I was impressed by the congratulations given to Mom and Dad and to me, a Sister. We went to Benediction in the Convent Chapel which was given by Fathers Lavin and Rodrigues. There met many of the parents and relatives of the Ordination Class and from there to the Seminary for dinner. We toured the seminary compound and the farm then back to the convent for a tour of the convent grounds and Maryfield to see the memorial Fr. Jim left in the rustic furniture, Maria Hearth (a lovely fireplace), the rustic crucifix that overlooks Maryfield (a ball field) and the steps leading down from the motherhouse.

      Marie and Carl Munk arrived from Fulton, New York. Marie was a child in the Maui Children's Home on Maui, Hawaii when I was assigned there in 1937. She married Carl who was in the military service and they moved to his home town, in Fulton. Others whom I had known in the service during World War II in Hawaii came up to visit. There was James Perriharos, a Greek Orthodox who just happened in for a visit. Mr. Johnson and his daughter, Loyola, the father and sister of one of my Maryknoll group, Sister Virginia Therese also came. Mr. Ward, one of the men in the Army also came in for a visit and for Father Jim's blessing. The Johnsons (God bless them) gave Father his complete priestly wardrobe. It was a day long awaited and full of joy for all. Deo Gratias and Te Deum!

 Sunday June 13: At eight thirty all gathered at the Altar of God to participate in Father's first priestly offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass. Mr. and Mrs. John Shack from Boston; Bob Hendry, from Camden, N.J.; Marie and Carl Munk from Fulton, N.Y.; Michel Puchir, a local friend; Mr. Potter, Maryknoll Sisters chief engineer and the family. This group made up of representatives from the people and places of my apostolic works and added to this glorious moment.  Father Jim offered the Mass beautifully, confidently and reverently. Words fail to express my feelings and thoughts. I could only see him in the role of Alter Christus. Many of the Sisters were also present at the Mass as well as the Swysters, Sister Teresa Maureen's family. Breakfast was served in the sisters dining room with all its festive decorations. We expected about forty but I don't know just how many came. The decorations were simple but beautiful, the backdrop was green and white with a celtic cross in gold which centered a beautifully painted picture of hands uplifting the host and chalice. It was made by Sister Anthonita. Red and white peonies were the centerpiece with a post placed in the center of the flowers bearing the name of Fr. J. Nishimuta.

After breakfast we visited for awhile. It was time to return to the seminary for a buffet luncheon.   After the luncheon we went to the cloister for a visit with Sister Theodore who knew Grace when she was at Maryknoll. We took another tour of the grounds. We then went to the reserve place for Fr. James' guests in front of an outdoor altar where the departure ceremony took place. The backdrop for the altar was an oriental design of deep blue and red, with a niche for the lovely statue of Our Lady. At the ceremony Bishop Griffith gave a homily on the Blessed Trinity in the role of the missioner. Benediction closed the ceremony.

A delicious dinner prepared by Sister Gregory and set up and served in the auditorium at the Motherhouse for the family. Charlotte Anderson's orchid and red carnation leis sent from Hawaii for Mom and Dad was presented at this time as well as all that goes with them (kisses).

At the end of this happy day we all returned early to a good night of rest before the trip back home. Margaret and Bobbie and family started at 3 a.m. with continuous driving to reach Dallas and then to Okmulgee, Oklahoma for Fr. Jim's first Solemn Mass at St. Anthony Church.

Monday, June 14: Father said Mass in Mother Mary Joseph's room. Mother Mary Joseph, the Foundress of Maryknoll Sisters community and was at this time partially paralyzed from a stroke. Mother, Dad, Mother Mary Columba Sister Mildred (Fritz), Mother Mary Joseph's brother, Abe, his wife and son, Jerry, a Paulist seminarian. Breakfast in the auditorium for the remainder of the family. After breakfast we said good-bye to Maryknoll and left about 10 a.m. with lunches packed by the sisters for the day's outing. We went to New York City to Battery Park to take the Manhattan Sightseeing tour around the island by boat. We missed a tour by a few minutes so ate our lunch (all 12 of us) sitting on benches at Battery Park overlooking the water towards the Statue of Liberty. We didn't have much privacy but enjoyed it all very much. We finally got on board. It was the first boat trip for many and the first in a long time for Mom, who came from Spain, and Dad, from Japan. While on board, Fr. James heard his first confession and later told us "it was a big fish." Deo Gratias.

Sr. Scholastica (Shafer) went with us on this trip as she was not able to go to Oklahoma for the First Solemn Mass and we had such little time together. Sr. Rose Mediatrice came as my companion to Oklahoma and was welcomed and much loved by the family. We said good-bye to Sr. Scholastica and started home by way of Washington, D.C. Enroute Jim C. stopped off in Baltimore to visit a buddy, Bob Shadrach. After leaving them we began looking for a cabin and finally found one far into the night. Mother, Dad, Fr. Jim, Fern, and Ramona were traveling in Frank's car.

Tuesday, June 15: Mass at St. James Church in Falls Church, Virginia. We had breakfast at the home of Jim's cousin with his family, Cecilia and Joe and their children Elizabeth, Rita, Louise, Monica and Danny. We met the rest of the party at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.   From there we visited the yet unfinished shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Here at the altar of St. Joseph he said Mass. We visited the Hamilton home with only the cook and house keeper, Mrs. Aurora Castalia at home, the Hamilton family were in Europe. Aurora could only speak Spanish and she and Mama had a wonderful time and we enjoyed their happy time together even though we didn't understand the conversation. Later we enjoyed real Spanish hospitality and refreshment among the dust protected covered furniture. Mamma got filled in on the happenings of the family that had brought her to the U.S.

We returned to the Shrine where we met the rest of the family to continue sightseeing and later parting in a downpour of rain to continue on the journey home. We agreed to make St. Louis our next meeting place and left Washington, D.C. at 3 p.m. Stopped for lunch at 8:30 p.m. in Storm, Ohio. We had just gotten seated when in comes Fr. James and the rest of the family comes in , just 500 miles from where we parted. The owner looked very bewildered at all the commotion. He soon found out and provided 5 rooms for the night.

Wednesday, June 16: An early start at 4 a.m. after breakfast. Our next destination and meeting was in St. Louis for Thursday morning. Cooked dinner at a wayside park on a gasoline stove, washed under a hand pump and later off to Cincinnati. I helped with the driving to give Jim time to sleep. Supper in Flora, Ill. I ordered watermelon and a quarter of a melon was placed before on the table. We all shared it and it was a meal in itself.

At 9 a.m. we called Valley Park to tell them we were still 2 hours away and could not make it in time for the Mass. They had not yet received the assignment from Maryknoll for the Sisters. They thought we would bring them with us. Sorry.

Thursday, June 17: Feast of Corpus Christi: We little David peeked in and awakened and we left at 5 a.m. taking the by pass around Cincinnati and arrived at Valley Park at 10. Received a hearty welcome from Sr. Winifred and sisters. Also from Fr. McGurkin who was giving a retreat. The other car with Fr. Jim had not arrived so Father McGurkin went on with the scheduled conference. After all had arrived we gathered in chapel, including the retreatants (novices, postulants) and all the sisters. Nearly all from the St. Louis houses so there were many happy reunion for Sr. Rose Mediatrice and me. A wonderful breakfast followed the Mass and was more enjoyed because of the lateness of the hour and the long drive. We did justice to the meal as only Nishimutas can. Fr. McGurkin joined us at breakfast. Lunch was packed for each car and delivered as we were leaving on the last lap of our trip to Okmulgee, Okla.

Sr. Joan Marie Ryan, one of the twelve who entered Maryknoll at the same time as I, met the family for the first time after 20 years. We had a visit too after not seeing each other after her return from China where she was imprisoned for 2 years and returned in 1952.

We were welcomed on the farm by the couple who watched and cared for things for mom and Dad. Bobby and Johnny had arrived on Tuesday and welcomed us with great joy.

Fr. Comber, CSSR and Jim took Sr. Rose Mediatrice and I to the convent which was quite deserted as the Sisters had gone to their motherhouse in San Antonio, for the summer. We found one bed with two sheets and collected another sheet from a second bed to give us each two sheets. We didn't need them as it was 99 deg. We turned in tired but happy. It was a long trip.

Friday June 18: We went to Mass at 7:30 which Fr. James said. Mom had her first spell at church but it did not last long. It was the first time in a long time that I saw Mom like this. Grace was with me so I let her take care of Mom. She knew what to do.

The day was spent colle'cting and doing laundry. Sister and I cooked. We didn't have much to do since there was still a goodly amount of sandwiches left. In the evening we had a fresh fish dinner. Arrangements had to finalized for the rest of the family. Sister and I pressed our habits late at night.

Saturday, June 19: Father James said 7:30 mass and breakfast at 8:30 cooked by Jim Conroy who took orders. After breakfast some of the women in the family went to church to decorate the altar with red gladiolas at the request of the ladies of the parish.

 During the day the family began to arrive, first Margaret and family, Frank and Fern and family, Paul and Ora and son, Mike. We were 21 for dinner of Spanish rice and chicken served in the back yard as it was stifling hot. Grace and Margaret prepared the dinner but due to a delay we sat down to eat at 7 p.m.  After confession we were taken to the convent about a mile from the church. It was far, far into the night and we were so glad we had our habits pressed and could turn in for the night. Fr. James left us and went to the rectory for the night.

Sunday, June 20: Finally the day of the First Solemn Mass for Fr. Jim. We received a dispensation from Fr. Comber to have liquids, coffee and orange juice at the convent before the Mass. Msgr. Leven called to let us know that his nephew was calling for us to take us to the Church, on the way we had a very pleasant visit with him. Joe arrived and went to confession to Msgr. Leven before the Mass.

 Donna Marie and the first communicants of the year wore their suits and dresses for this occasion. The whole family with their children, Joe with his seven, the largest of all the family were quietly in the front pews waiting for the procession to begin. The Knights of the Holy Sepulcher in full uniform with their feather plumed hats, acted as honor guards, The Knights led the procession into the church, followed by the children and the younger members of the family, the came Donna Marie dressed in a full length gown and shoulder length veil, looking like a little princess as she carried the paten on a white satin pillow. (During the Mass and homily, the children behaved so well to the admiration of the congregation.)

     At the foot of the altar Donna presented the paten to Fr. James and Mass began. The Young Peoples' choir under the direction of Sr. Corsini accompanied the Mass as they sang it in four parts. Msgr. Leven preached the homily on the priesthood and the part we, the people have in sharing the prayers, the sacrifice, the Mass and the fruit of the ministry. The example Msgr. Leven used Moses beseeching God on behalf of the people in battle as to how we can support Father by our prayers  - upholding him in supplication and in his need.

     At the end  of the Mass Fr. J. approached the pulpit and delivered his message of gratitude. (The evening before we had used the recorder for him to practice.) lie began by addressing Msgr. Leven, Rev. Fr. Comber, Fathers, Sisters, parents-- a glance at Mom and Dad--he could not go on and left the pulpit. The message was conveyed in a more powerful way than any words spoken could. 

We went to the front of the Church for pictures, greetings, meetings and blessings took place. We went to the church hall where dinner was prepared and served by the Ladies of the Church in a grand style.

 In the evening a buffet supper was served for the family.

Monday, June 21: Grace and Jim with Loretta and David left for Lincoln, Nebraska at 3:30 p.m. We had some good visits before they left. Loretta and David were happy to be going home.  Paul, Ora and little Mike moved into the empty room. Fr. Jim stayed at the rectory. Sr. Rose Mediatrice and I moved to Mrs. Colpitt so we could be nearer to the church.

Tuesday, June 22: Spent an hour getting tickets to return to Maryknoll by July 1st.

Thursday June 24: Mass at church at 7 a.m. and the two brothers, Fr. Jim and Frank left at 5 a.m. for their fishing trip to Ten Killer Lake about 60 miles away. We talked to Kay who decided to drive us to McAlester leaving at 10 a.m. We had breakfast and Bobby, Ora, Mike, Sister Rose, Mom and I left and arrived at noon after a grand trip. Fern had waiting for us a barbecued steak dinner. We had a happy visit after a trip around town and a tour of their lovely church, St. John the Evangelist. In the evening after shopping we had an outdoor picnic in the back yard, behind their very large house. Frank came in about 4 p.m. We left for Okmulgee at six and arrived home before the fishermen. After the fishermen came home, Sister and I went to Mrs. Colpitt.

Friday, June 25: Feast of the Sacred Heart.  Father Jim celebrated a Missa Cantata which Sr. Rose M., the two Panchot girls, and I sang and ___Carini played the organ. We had fish for breakfast that had been caught the day before by Paul and Fr. J. At 7 p.m had a special dinner in honor of the Feast Day. Later went shopping and bought a gift of aluminum glasses for Mon. We just put them on the table and at first she did not notice them but when she did there was great excitement and fun.

Before going to our room at Mrs. Colpitt we had the renewal of Consecration to the Sacred Heart with Fr. Jim giving us a blessing. The day was a happy quiet one.

Saturday, June 26: Dad, Mom, Fr. Jim, Bobby and the two of us left Okmulgee for Cushing at 9:30 and arrived at 11 a.m. at Joe's farm. How good to see the familiar places again. The children knew us from our time together last Sunday. We had dinner and Paul and Ora were present. Joe took us to the Deep Rock Refineries where he works. We were guided through by Mr. Meeker. It was late so Paul and Ora took Joe home to bring the rest of his family in to the city park where we had a picnic lunch.

Teddy and Tommy, Joe's two oldest boys went to a pre-exam in preparation for possibly receiving their first Holy Communion on Sunday. The Hienly put us up in three rooms for the night. Paul and Ora stayed at a motel. We waited in the city park for two hours for all to get together and finally at 8:30 and all were there but the two boys and Fr. Jim.  Fr. Perras gave them a course of instruction in 2 hours. They passed and will make their First Holy Communion on Sunday. It was very late when we finished eating.

A forgotten telephone call on my part created a rush problem for Maxie. She took it beautifully as she did all the other unexpected plans.

Sunday, June 27: Sister, Fr. Jim and I went to church at 8:15 a.m. Mass began at 9. Teddy and Tommy made their First Communion at the Mass. Fr. James read the Epistle and Gospel and gave a short sermon on his apostolate to preach to the nations. After Mass he gave individual blessings and after that baptized Mary Margaret with Paul and Ora as sponsors, and Bobby Gene with Mrs. Dogherty and Bobby as sponsors. We had breakfast at Mrs. Hienly. Later we had lunch in the city park and went to visit Mrs. Annie Ryan. Aferwards came back to the park for dinner, Fr. Perras joined the family at the park. We went back to the farm to say good-bye to Joe and family before returning to Okmulgee arriving at 8:30 p.m, We stayed at home now that all had gone but Bobby and Fr. Jim and there was an extra room.

Monday, June 28: We went to Mass at 7:30 a.m. When we returned home after Mass there was a telegram waiting for us from Sr. Mary Mildred with the message that we were to return to Maryknoll by June 30th. The only way we could possibly do that was to fly. After breakfast we called Tulsa for plane reservations. Our first plan was to leave by train from Tulsa at 11 p.m. tonight now we are to leave Tuesday morning 9:10 via American Airlines. We had to go to downtown to cancel the train reservations and get a refund.

Mom had a delicious chop suey dinner for us. After dinner we went on a tour of the farm and found three puppies. We brought home a lovely brown one. In the evening had an outdoor barbeque stale supper.

My last night at home and Bobby and I had a long talk.

Tuesday, June 29. Left at 5:45 for Tulsa. Said good-bye to Dad at home. We went to Mass at 7:10 in Sapulpa. There we met Boston-born Fr. Neville who knew Bishop Walsh Maryknoll's founder. Arrived in Tulsa and bought our tickets, checked baggage and had a quick breakfast before boarding. Mamma was very brave in her good-bye, I felt the parting with Fr. Jim very deeply for we had been very close in the four years we were at the Center.

In Chicago at our stopover, we called the two Maryknoll Sister groups. Arrived in New York, La Guardia airport at 4:55 and we were met by Sister Mildred and Sr. Assisi. Arrived at Maryknoll Motherhouse and had a grand welcome by the sisters especially "the Squad" who had worked hard and done wonders, under the direction of Sr. Thomas Ann. God bless them.

Wednesday, June 30: Took the day off to write acknowledgements and square accounts. The last four years was summed up in the joys of the last 20 days with the culmination of Ordination of Fr. James, the departure ceremony, his First solemn Mass in Okmulgee, the time spent with the family and friends to celebrate the years of training, prayers and his final goal of becoming a priest, a missioner and being sent to our people, the people of our heritage, the Japanese to introduce them to the Kingdom of God.

Return to Archive