‘Prayer life’ inspired nun
to serve isolated community

More obituaries

By Mary Adamski

When Sister Dativa Padilla went to work as a nurse at Kalaupapa, she was warned that she'd get bored and lonesome at the remote Molokai settlement for Hansen's disease patients.

It was a story she loved to repeat after she had spent much of her life there as a caregiver, celebrated as the village's premier cook and jelly maker, whose paintings and stitchery crafts are staples at the small gift shop for visitors.

"I don't have time to get bored. Work keeps me interested and my prayer life keeps me going," she said in a 1997 Star-Bulletin interview.

Sister Dativa died Friday in St. Francis-West Hospice at the age of 70. She had been a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse religious order for 46 years. She ministered to Kalaupapa community for 26 years before ill health forced her to retire in July.

"She was like an auntie to me," said Richard Marks, who operates tours for Kalaupapa visitors. "She was always questioning me, always pushing me when I started having a few medical problems. She would flag me down from the hospital and force me to eat a sandwich and drink some water."

Gloria Marks said: "She was always cooking something, always making Filipino pastries, and she loved to garden."

She said most state and federal workers at the settlement eat at the settlement cafeteria, but Padilla was famous for producing "humongous meals" in the Bishop Home convent kitchen whenever the villagers gathered for a party or potluck event. And then she'd complete the celebration by dancing with the other members of the Kalaupapa hula troupe.

"Kalaupapa was so much like where we grew up in Kipu, Kauai," said Cralina Tacderan, her sister. "It was so peaceful, everybody knew each other, an extension of our living back home. Even when she was very ill, she said she had to go back."

Padilla was the oldest daughter in a family of 10 children, learning from their mother all the cooking and sewing skills she practiced throughout her life, Tacderan said.

Padilla graduated from nursing school at St. Francis Hospital and also worked at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica, N.Y.

She is survived by brothers Vicente, Alfredo, Aurilia, Santos, Raymond, George and Charles and sister Cralina Tacderan.

A Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated at noon Saturday at the St. Francis Convent, 2715 Pamoa Road. Friends may call after 9 a.m. Burial will be in Diamond Head Memorial Park.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of St. Francis Retirement Fund, 2715 Pamoa Road, Honolulu 96822; or St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hi. 96742; or St. Francis Hospice, 24 Puiwa Road, Honolulu 96817.

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