I updated the bulletin #3 of “Walking Together” in our website.
For the person who is easy to read in English than in Japanese, I also placed the English manuscript of a letter form Sr. Elisa Padilla, m.c., the Superior of Sierra Leone Mission, Clarissan Missionary Sister.
The following is the letter.
（Photos are from cinerarium ceremony of Sister Leticia.)
（Photos are from cinerarium ceremony of Sister Leticia.)
SR. LETICIA MICHIKO NEGISHI, MISSIONARY IN SIERRA LEONE
How are you all the members of “Walking together” ? I thank to all of you who are always helping us with generous heart. Really thank you very much. Today I like to write about Sr.Leticia in my memories for a bulletin of “Walking together”
I first met sr. Leticia in one of her trips to Rome, Italy, where I happened to do my noviciate and juniorate (first three years of religious profession). Her visit was mainly to see the dentist but during the meals we had the opportunity of listening to her missionary experience in Sierra Leone. A country where she had spent most of her life and which she loved deeply by the way she expressed herself. It was her vivid experience and the simplicity with which she shared it that I started developing interest in the country.
.On 10th September, 1990 we travelled together. She told me I was her birthday present as she had been longing to have young sisters in the mission. During our journey she shared her happiness and all the dreams she had for her people.
Sr. Leticia’s coming to Sierra Leone was a sign of God’s providence. She had been appointed to Nigeria where the Congregation had just started but due to her poor health she was transferred to California. She came to Sierra Leone while waiting for her visa and God manifested his will. She recovered her health and remained in the country she had started to love.
During the years she continuously searched for new ways of spreading the Gospel. Knowing that the seed will not fall in an empty stomach she wrote to her people in Japan whom she knew would be there to assist. For over 25 years the plate of rice was always well appreciated as for many of the students that attended it would be the only food for the day.
Help started to come also in the area of education as she saw the need of providing the students with notebooks that will give the students better possibilities to do well in their studies. Tens of notebooks arrived, then hundreds, thousands of them! … until containers were filled not only with books but with other items that were of great help to the mission.
On one occasion when I told her not to keep on asking for so many things so as not to tired her Japanese people, she simply said: “ I never ask. I just say it”. Her simplicity, generosity, concern for others and her smile opened to her the doors everywhere she went.
Her great love for the Blessed Virgin Mary was transmitted to the students she worked with. Together with fr. Stephani, a saverian priest walking in Sierra Leone too, formed the Legion of Mary that gave vocations to our Congregation. She continuously gave faith and hope to the young people with the advices and love she shared with them. She could give testimony of her faith because she had experience the love of God.
The end of the corridor of the present Our Lady of Guadalupe Junior Secondary School One is a witness of the many hours sr. Leticia spent preparing her stencils spreading manually the ink on them, writing to her people, thanking them for the support and planning new ways to give to the students better opportunities.
Later on, with the advance of technology she would spend long hours typing on her computer. Her effort and dedication brought development to our mission. Scholarship for students at all levels, construction of schools, a chapel dedicated to Our Lady at Macoth, Mange Bureh, studies for the young sisters, assistance for our Clinic at Mille 91, to name a few.
She spent many years working as teacher at Our Lady of Guadalupe Secondary school producing always good results. Her zeal to help as many people as possible gave as a result the Maria Ines Vocational Centre, a place that gives the opportunity to women to learn a trade in order to support their families.
Sr. Leticia was a determined, hard working woman who never felt her work had been completed. Always looking for new ways and initiatives to promote the women.
One of her ideals was to bring all the people she came in contact with the love of Our Lady and to help them to live in a state of grace. Therefore, she worked strenuously for the Christian families, bringing couples to the sacrament of matrimony by facilitating them the spiritual preparation and the celebration that followed afterwards.
Whoever follows Jesus is not exempted of the cross. The years of war were for sr. Leticia a painful experience, not only because she had to run and hide as the Sierra Leoneans did in order to save her life but because during those painful years she was not allowed to return to Sierra Leone, as the country was not safe. Yet, from far away she continued helping them hoping to welcome back one day..
Her final Calvary started in December 2012 with a pain in the leg. We all thought she could get medical assistance during the Christmas holidays and return to her mission. Yet, the Lord had a different plan. He knew that it would have been very hard for her to leave for good.. So to soften her leaving, the Lord gave her the hope to come back. That her absence would be a matter of days… The development of her sickness was closely followed by each and everyone of the sisters and the people she helped and loved. “The Lord gave her to us, the Lord took her away”. Day after day she was consuming herself in the fire of love. God purified her allowing that even on her death bed misunderstandings finish to purify her. The group she started and that had worked with her for so long, just came to an end. God in his infinite mercy awoke in others the desire to continue with her work by forming a new group, named “WALKING TOGATHER”, so as to keep her alive among us and to make her dreams a reality
On 1st November 2013 , among the saints in heaven, she entered to receive the crown prepared for her from all eternity. She has left an emptiness that will not be easily filled. Sr. Leticia and myself were very closed friends. We shared many ideals in common and in spite of the difference of age understood each other very well. The distance that separated us was just physical, we both knew that raising the eyes to the sky we were covered by the same mantle, the same stars, and that kept us deeply united. Our communication during the months of her illness was very little but we both knew that we were walking together towards the same Father,. Her image is carved in every corner of our mission and in the heart of many. She touched the lives of so many girls and transformed their lives giving them the possibility to have a brighter future. At every step, at every corner, in every room it seems to me that Sr. Leticia is just hiding and will come out at any time. Her dedication, work and smile will always remain among us as if she wants to remind us that “our life is worth living if we live it for others”….
We pray that her life will be a motivation for many others to follow. Thank you sr Leticia for giving yourself like the grain that unless it dies it will not give fruit. Your life has produced a great harvest.
May her soul rest in peace
Sr. Elisa Padilla,m.c.