Japanese-born Tulsan takes vows as Benedictine nun
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 6:07 AM
Sister Maria Paula Muraki was born and raised in Japan.
She will spend the rest of her life in a Benedictine community in Tulsa.
Sister Maria took her final vows Wednesday morning, pledging her lifelong fidelity to the monastic lifestyle and the Benedictine community at St. Joseph Monastery, 2200 S. Lewis Ave.
Her commitment includes vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
"I have peace about it, ... joy," she said in a Tuesday interview.
She is the first woman to take her final vows to join the community since the late 1990s, said Prioress Christine Ereiser, who conducted the Rite of Perpetual Monastic Profession in the chapel at the monastery.
"Our primary function is to be a praying monastic community," Sister Christine said.
Bishop Edward J. Slattery presided at the Mass that was celebrated along with the rite.
"This is a great day, a day you'll never forget," Slattery told Sister Maria.
"This is a wedding," he said, noting that the relationship between God and his people is a marriage.
"You've fallen in love with Jesus Christ."
Sister Maria was born into a Buddhist family in Kainan City, Japan, in 1963, and came to Tulsa in her 30s to study and work.
She attended Tulsa Community College and Lang ston University.
She visited some evangelical and Lutheran churches in Tulsa and one morning found herself at St. Francis Xavier Church, a large Catholic Hispanic congregation.
"I sat in the back and watched the Mass. It was so beautiful," she said.
Sister Maria began to attend Mass at St. Francis Xavier every morning before school.
She said she was drawn to Christianity but couldn't make up her mind which denomination was right for her.
She finally talked it over with a Catholic priest, who told her the Catholic Church was not a denomination but was the one true church.
"That made sense to me," she said.
She also wanted a church that she could attend every day, not just on weekends.
During prayer, she said, she heard God tell her to go to the Catholic Church and to love people.
She struggled with the Christian concept of sacrificial love, she said, a concept that has no parallel in Japanese culture.
She has learned, she said, that when she is filled with self-love, God is far from her.
"But when I love people, God is close to me."
She was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith on Easter 2002, at St. Francis Xavier, following a several-month Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.
She moved into St. Joseph Monastery seven years ago and began the long process that ended Wednesday with her final vows. That process included her aspirancy, a process of discernment; becoming a postulant; and then becoming a novice for one year. After that she took her temporary vows, required for a minimum of three years, and then her final vows Wednesday.
During that period, she got a bachelor's degree in theology from St. Gregory's University in Shawnee.
She will continue to live at the monastery with 19 other sisters and one postulant. Members of the community also run Monte Cassino School.
Sister Maria will continue to work at Monte Cassino's early childhood learning center, which is its pre-kindergarten and kindergarten program.
Her parents have died, but other family members still in Japan generally support her decision.
"But they can't understand what Christianity is," she said.
Original Print Headline: New nun finds faith, joy in U.S.
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Bishop Edward J. Slattery of the Catholic Diocese of Tulsa blesses Sister Maria Paula Muraki on Wednesday as she takes the Rite of Perpetual Monastic Profession to become a permanent part of the Benedictine community at St. Joseph Monastery, 2200 S. Lewis Ave. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World