SISTER ROSE ANTHONY TANIO
Isle nun helped turn Kalihi kids’ lives around
When Sister Rose Anthony Tanio gave advice to state housing and social services officials and lawmakers, it was from the perspective of a public housing resident as well as social service provider.
The Catholic nun lived at Kalihi Valley Housing for 10 years while she organized and operated an after-school program for youngsters, counseled families and helped organize the tenants association.
Tanio, 78, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, died Tuesday at the Carondelet Center in Honolulu. She was a member of the religious order for 56 years and taught for 30 years in California and Hawaii Catholic schools.
In 1990 she undertook a new ministry, moving into the public housing where other nuns have also served the poor.
"She was particularly engaged in the after-school program for children at the Kalihi Valley Homes Community Hall," said Jory Watland, former director of Kokua Kalihi Valley, a nonprofit organization that provides health and social services in the public housing. "She set the project up, with her background as a teacher. She was steady, stalwart, she knew the families and the children knew her."
Sister Rose Damien Malabon said, "We took to the streets at night to get the children go home, not be a pest or demand money. There were gangs; we tried to work with those in gangs to turn their lives around. ... They came to trust us and work and change their lives."
The Rev. Bob Nakata said: "She worked with many teens. She was a guiding light for them. During that time period, the fires on the hillside stopped. The kids told firemen that she kept them so busy they didn't have time for mischief.
"People really loved her. She was available 24 hours a day," said Nakata, former state legislator and member of Kokua Kalihi Valley. "She got along with management but was always on their case to improve things. She had no fear about living there. She helped organize the tenants association and played a role in getting people involved in the renovation that started to happen a number of years ago."
Tanio was born in Lihue and grew up in Waipahu.
She is survived by brothers Dominado, Eking and Anthony; sisters Natividad Aguinaldo, Rosaline Collado and Sharon Center; and nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. next Saturday at St. Joseph Church in Waipahu. Friends may call after 9 a.m. Inurnment will be at 2 p.m. at Diamond Head Memorial Park. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Center Retirement Fund, 5311 Apo Drive, Honolulu 96821.