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Sur Claudine Nakamura (Sister Marie Yorokobi)

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 14/04/2024

  Birth: 09 April 1931

  Profession: 8 September 1957

  Death: 14 April 2024

Marie Claudine Nakamura was born at Saint-Louis, New Caledonia on 9 April 1931.Her father, Otojiro Nakamura, following his adventurous spirit, had left his village near Hiroshima in Japan in 1914 to work for 4 years in the mines in Thio. After various other employments, in 1923 he went to St Louis where he and other Japanese leased the mission land and grew rice, vegetables and fruit. In 1925 he married Anne-Marie Wamytan, the daughter of the chief. They had 7 children, of whom 5 survived into adulthood. Those still living are Sophie who is here with us today and Marie who is in a resthome. Claudine, the third of the family went to school with two of her sisters in Bourail.

Despite having become a naturalised French citizen in 1930, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, Otojiro was taken prisoner in 1942 and was interned at Nouville on the outskirts of Noumea. During this time he made jewellery from pieces of American planes as an attempt to help the family survive. Anne-Marie died in 1944 and when Otojiro was released after the war, the gardens were in ruin and much had changed. He was delighted to be reunited with his children.

In April 1955 Claudine entered the postulancy of the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary at Ste Foy-lès-Lyon and the Novitiate in October of that same year. She took the name of Sister Marie Yorokobi which means joy, a quality which has marked her whole life. After first profession on 8 September 1957, Sr M. Yorokobi studied teaching in Lyon.

Apart from 2 years teaching in Malaetoli in Wallis (1965-67), Sr M. Yorokobi spent most of the years 1958-1977 in Pikine on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal. There, seeing poverty and children wandering around the streets with no education, she managed with her dynamic and creative spirit to beginNotre Dame du Cap-Vert school where she became the first Directress. The school hall bears the name of Sister YOROKOBI.

Her students still speak of her and have reminded us that she was a National Councillor of the Cœurs Vaillants Ames Vaillantes(Valiant hearts and souls) movement of Senegal in the 1970s. After a period of service in the Congregation, she returned to Senegal in September 2003 for several years and by then had earned the name of Grand-mère Yoro.

Being a person of great value and one who loved and found joy in her vocation as a Missionary, Marist and Religious, Sr Claudine was frequently called upon to be part of Congregational gatherings and was given positions of responsibility within the Congregation.

From 1979-1987 Sr Claudine was appointed Directress of Novices at Mont Mou. Sisters have expressed their gratitude to her for the way she initiated them into SMSM life, for her simplicity and joy. Sr Claudine taught them to love the congregation and our missionary vocation. What she said was reflected in how she lived.

We find her a delegate at general chapters in 1971, 1980 andin 1987 when she was elected to be a General councillor: 1987-1994. Sister Mary Anne Faucher remembers her as, “someone who was joyful.  She had had as a religious name Yorokobi which means joy in Japanese and she certainly expressed it in her way of being. She was supportive, caring, giving, open and welcoming of everyone.  She was deeply given to her vocation as a marist missionary sister which she certainly demonstrated as a general councillor. For me [Sr Mary Anne] it was a privilege to have shared life with her in Rome.”

Other services asked of her were those of community leader in many communities, Provincial Councillor in New Caledonia from 1983 to 1987, the provincial leader in Eurafrica from 1995 to 2002.

After a life lived fully as a missionary, in 2010Sr Claudine asked to be transferred back to New Caledonia where she was able to help Sophie to care for their sister, Therese. Always ready to serve, Sr Claudine set out with her usual energy and dynamic spirit to help wherever she was needed in the communities of Deux Vallées, Rivière Salée, Faubourg Blanchot and Mont Mou Accueil.

In these later years of her life, Sr Claudine often expressed her desire to be a contemplative missionary, to have more time for prayer. In 2020 Sr Claudine asked to join the Nazareth community at Mont Mou where she continued to be a very welcoming and joyful person - she was the Joy of the Gospel!

Over the past year Sr Claudine’s health has slowly deteriorated requiring more care, assistance and supervision. Surrounded by the community, on 7 April she received the Sacrament of the Sick and on 14 April the sisters, with Sophie and one of her nieces,were gathered as she renewed her vows and within minutes Claudine entered into her eternal rest.We pay tribute to the sisters and helpers who have cared for her with love, respect and compassion and to Sophie and the family have been a regular and faithful source of support and joy to Sr Claudine.

May the light of the Risen Christ shine on Sr Claudine now that she has returned to the One whom she served all her lifeas a woman of faith, joyfully given to God for the Kingdom in the spirit of Mary (cf. Const. 194).



Sr Margaret Ryan smsm