> Sister Mary Edward Sugioka, Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities: Piecing things together to make things nice

Sister Mary Edward Sugioka, Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities: Piecing things together to make things nice



Interviewed by Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP
Hawaii Catholic Herald

This morning when I got up, I looked at the dress I had sewn and put on and said, “Gee, this is kind of short. What can I add to make it longer?” Because I enjoy sewing, if I can’t find some extra material to match whatever pattern or project I am working on and it is for me, it gets donated because it will fit or work for someone else. That’s what I do, I piece things together to make things nice.

People often look for items I have sewn. Awhile back when Saint Francis School used to have its Ohana Fair, I had so much sewn that they gave me my own booth called “Sister Eddie’s Crafts.” At that time, I sewed everything and anything from full-size quilts to baby blankets, clothespin bags and hand towels. There were also drawstring wraps for the prune mui, bean bags, scrunchies, hand puppets, handbags and more. Today, I still make shoulder bags for our gift shops in Syracuse. I can’t keep still.

Imagine, I am going to be 89 this year. People often ask me “How old are you?” Then they say, “You don’t look it.” Responding to continued queries I say, “It’s the medicine that keeps me going.” Really.

Every day, I look at my list of meds and ask myself, “What am I taking this for?” When you think about it, it is a wonder what the pills in different forms and colors can do inside of you. How do they know that I’m eating it with my breakfast? Or, in the evening, that they are supposed to lower my blood pressure if the nurse says so? Nevertheless, I am grateful for them because I can continue in my elder years to keep busy with doing what I like to do, like sewing.

I started sewing when I was about 11 years old. As the twelfth of 13 children, I really did not know my elder siblings as some already went to the mainland. To keep myself occupied, when my parents got a new sewing machine, they gave me the old one to play with. It was the type where you needed to rock your feet back and forth on a platform beneath the machine to make it run. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I enjoyed it.

In my later years, the wife of the owner of Wong’s Drapery befriended me and used to give me the fabric sample books. I used to cut out the thick samples and make bags. You never know what you are going to get. So I would mix this piece with that, and then add a Hawaiian print on top like fine patchwork.

Most important to me, is that every morning, the first thing I do is to say my prayers. I just have to talk to God and Mother Mary even as I stretch to get up. I ask that they will be with me all day long. And then when evening comes, I sit on my bed and talk to them again. Of course, during the day I also pray personally and with community.

Sister Mary Edward Sugioka is a Sister of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities from Waiawa, Pearl City. She will mark 70 years of religious profession this year. She resides at St. Francis Convent in Manoa.