St. Francis sisters to mark 125th anniversary
The Sisters of St. Francis will begin a yearlong 125th-anniversary celebration with a liturgy Thursday at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral.
Honolulu Catholic Bishop Larry Silva will preside at the 5:30 p.m. Mass.
The religious order chose "Women of Vision, Women of Risk" as the theme to mark the anniversary year. Other events are planned throughout 2008.
The first seven Franciscan nuns came to Hawaii from Syracuse, N.Y., in response to an invitation from the kingdom of Hawaii, which sought nurses to help leprosy victims. Mother Marianne Cope and her six companions arrived in Honolulu on Nov. 8, 1883. They staffed a Honolulu hospital for patients and, in 1888, began a ministry to patients at Kalaupapa which continues to this day.
The nursing order of sisters responded to broader community health needs by opening a general hospital on Maui in 1884, now Maui Memorial Medical Center. They opened St. Francis Hospital in Liliha in 1927 and, in 1990, the St. Francis Medical Center West in Ewa Beach. The New York-based religious order sold the Oahu hospitals this year for $68 million.
Franciscans still operate the state's largest hospice, health care programs for frail seniors, home care for long-term patients, a Waianae outreach ministry to the homeless and other community services under the St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii and the St. Francis Healthcare Foundation of Hawaii, a fundraising branch.
Franciscans have also been involved in Catholic education in Hawaii since the 1880s. They opened St. Joseph School in Hilo in 1900 and founded St. Francis School in Manoa in 1924. They administer and staff Catholic elementary schools in parishes at Ewa Beach, Pearl City, Wahiawa and Waialua, and teach at Chaminade University and St. Theresa School in Liliha.
There are currently about 50 Franciscan sisters in Hawaii.