Saturday, September 18, 1999

St. Francis’ legacy
is love, service
and mission

The all-girl Catholic school honors
board member Phyllis Stephenson at
an anniversary dinner tonight

By Crystal Kua


When Phyllis Leimomi Martin Stephenson was 14 years old, she heard bells while taking a drive through Manoa with her father.

The ringing came from what was known then as St. Francis Convent School.

"I wanted to go there," Stephenson said.

And she did, graduating in 1955.

Stephenson tonight will be honored as an outstanding alumnae association member during a celebration of St. Francis School's 75th anniversary at the Sheraton-Waikiki Hotel. Started on Sept. 18, 1924, by the Franciscan sisters from Syracuse, N.Y., St. Francis continues to educate girls at its Pamoa Road school in Manoa, and also has a coed campus on Kauai.

Sister Davilyn Ah Chick, St. Francis director of development, said the 75th anniversary is important in continuing the school's legacy of love, service and mission.

"We wanted to share the mission for another 25 years and for all eternity," Ah Chick said. "We want to build the leaders of the future so the world can be a better place."

Part of the $75-per-person cost of the anniversary banquet will go toward the school's efforts to raise at least $3 million for a new gymnasium and parking lot.

When it was first founded, St. Francis helped women prepare for a career in nursing by teaching courses that included mathematics and science -- courses which were unheard of for women at the time.

Stephenson, now 64 and on the school's board of directors, has also been involved with the Aloha Health Care Center, Queen Emma Summer Palace, American Cancer Society and Girls Scout of America.

Stephenson said her education at St. Francis under the mentorship of the nuns provided the foundation for the rest of her life.

"It motivated me to aspire beyond expectations."

She said St. Francis can provide future students with what's missing in society today.

"We learned respect of one another, and you would never think to be disrespectful, because this was a friendly way to be."

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