View from the Pew
COURTESY SISTERS OF ST. FRANCIS-HAWAII
AND CHERYL TAMURA
Sacred Hearts Sister Dorothy Santos and artist Karen Lucas brushed on a silicone sealant to the mosaic of Mother Marianne Cope created for Immaculate Conception Church on Kauai, in celebration of the Sisters of St. Francis' 125th Anniversary.
To Cope They Came
St. Francis at Kalaupapa will honor the arrival of Franciscan nuns in 1888
St. Francis Church in Kalaupapa will fill up today with people who came to celebrate the arrival of seven Franciscan nuns whose mission to leprosy patients was continued by hundreds more sisters down through the years.
Mother Cope feast
A public celebration of the Mother Marianne Cope feast day will be held Wednesday at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, 712 N. School St.
Bishop Larry Silva will preside at the 7 p.m. Mass.
Before the Mass, a mele in honor of Mother Marianne, composed by Sean Tiwanak, will be performed with Roland Cazimero and kumu hula Blaine Kia and dancers from his halau.
A dinner and reception in the parish hall will follow.
Celebrations are also planned in Lahaina and Hilo.
The festivities are timed for the January feast day of Mother Marianne Cope, who is on track to be declared a saint for her service to people banished to the remote Molokai peninsula because of the disease.
Hundreds of patients lived in the peninsula in 1888 when the religious order of women brought their unique contribution of nursing care, social services and spiritual ministry.
Today the pilgrims outnumber the patients in the pews.
Fewer than 30 former patients still call Kalaupapa home. Most of the people who were sent there before quarantine was ended in 1969 are now in their 70s and 80s. Their numbers dwindle with deaths each year.
Especially poignant for the crowd in church today will be the absence of two longtime pillars of the village's Catholic community. Nellie McCarthy, whose sweet voice led the a cappella singing when no guest choir was on hand, died in October. Paul Harada, a stalwart and philosophical man of faith, died Jan. 4.
The pilgrims in town for the day include current members of the Sisters of St. Francis, women whose careers as teachers, nurses and health care administrators are part of Cope's legacy. And sadly, their numbers are dwindling, too. In the materialist, hedonist culture of today, not many young women are willing to take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
COURTESY DAMIEN MUSEUM
An 1886 photograph of Mother Marianne Cope, center.
The sisters will mark their 125th anniversary of service in the islands with events throughout this year. Although the focus is on Cope today, the festivities memorialize all the nuns who followed her from the New York-based order and the island women who joined them.
The first company of seven women arrived in Hawaii on Nov. 8, 1883. At Cope's lead, they came in answer to a call from the kingdom of Hawaii for help in the epidemic of leprosy. Cope responded to Board of Health needs, administering a Kakaako facility for leprosy victims, opening a hospital on Maui and starting the Kapiolani home on Oahu for children of patients.
Five years later they came to Molokai to continue the ministry Father Damien DeVeuster had begun. They took over operation of the infirmary, opened a house for unprotected women and girls and, eventually, another home for boys. To say they were nurses and teachers falls far short of the stabilizing impact they had on the social order, as a safe village evolved from an ungoverned place of banishment.
Cope never returned to the position of head administrator of a Syracuse, N.Y., hospital, which had been an astounding career achievement for a 19th-century woman. She worked on Molokai until her death in 1918.
And that's another bittersweet note in the anniversary song. Mother Marianne's bones were exhumed from the Kalaupapa grave three years ago. The corporate decision of the Sisters of St. Francis was to create a memorial site in Syracuse, much more accessible to the pilgrims expected to beat a path when she is named a saint. It is a decision that saddened some patients -- and a few nuns.
Yet they return today to the place where she served.
Today, choir members from St. John Vianney Church in Kailua will lead the singing at a Mass with the Rev. Felix Vandebroek presiding.
Everyone always joins in as they launch into "O Makalapua," Mother Marianne's favorite Hawaiian song. Some might hear the echoes from hundreds of voices -- patients and sisters -- who sang it in the past. And it will be not bitter, but sweet. Only sweet.