Junior next to a mosaic of St. Marianne in Kalaupapa
Members of EPIC Ministry at the cross on top the crater in Kalaupapa
Sr. Alicia Damien Lau, OSF
St. Marianne Cope
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
St. Francis of Assisi
Nestled in the humble town of Kalaupapa lies the St. Elizabeth Chapel and next to it the St. Elizabeth Convent; here’s a little background on how the St. Elizabeth Chapel and Convent came to be, Saint Marianne Cope along with 6 of her Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis founded the St. Elizabeth Chapel & Convent, and the cottages of Bishop Home for Women and Girls in the 1880’s. The Convent is not only where the Sisters lived but also where they tended to the women and girls who were orphaned with Leprosy.
Here is where we, those of us who went on this E.P.I.C. Ministry retreat, learned about the works of the Franciscan Sisters and St. Marianne and how their works influenced the world from Sister Alicia. While talking with Sister Alicia in front of the Chapel she gave us homework. She wanted us to find the similarities of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and St. Marianne Cope.
Through a little bit of research here are some of the similarities:
They all left their old lives to do God’s calling, and they didn’t hesitate to do God’s will. When St. Francis of Assisi was in his 20s he had chosen to abandon his rich and lavish lifestyle for an austere and holy life. While praying in church one day he heard Jesus Christ on the crucifix speak to him saying, “Francis, repair my church.” He took it literally and repaired the church he was praying in; in foresight what Jesus was really saying to St. Francis was to “Repair My Church”. Through his actions in helping the poor and needy St. Francis coincidently founded the Franciscan religious order where in just 10 years the brotherhood grown to 5,000! Till this very day the Franciscan is continually growing in numbers and still serves our brothers and sisters who need it most.
At the age of 16, St. Elizabeth of Hungary learned of St. Francis of Assisi and his profound compassion and works for the poor, this is when she decided she wanted to work with those who needed help the most, but it wasn’t until her husband died that she decided to leave her wealthy lifestyle and made arrangements for the care of her three children to become a tertiary of St. Francis and make working with the sick her life.
By the time St. Marianne Cope was 24 years old she decided to pursue a religious life and joined the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. She became a teacher in the New York and later a principal for immigrant children. She also helped open two Catholic hospitals in New York. St. Marianne pioneered in medical field e.g. patients were allowed to refuse treatment, she allowed medical students to work at the hospitals, she was very strict with ever worker to have good hygiene.
They loved the poor and the sick. When St. Francis was a young lad one day he came across a leper along the countryside at first he was disgusted with the way the leper looked and smelled, but something inside him led him to embrace and kiss the leper. When the leper returned his act of compassion, St. Francis was filled with Joy. When St. Francis gave up on his old life, he started preaching about God and his love for us. He preached for the rich to give to the poor, for us as apostles to take nothing on the journey, and to take up our cross daily. St. Francis wanted to “live by the Gospel” and this is what he did.
St. Elizabeth had so much compassion for the sick she built a hospital from her own personal wealth when she was 19 years old! She wanted to make sure the patients in her hospital were taken care of, so twice a day she would bring food to the feed the people in the Church she built. Before she died at the age of 24, St. Elizabeth built two churches for the sick and poor.
It was no secret that St. Marianne loved the poor and the sick. For the beginning part of her religious life she taught as a teacher and then later became a principal for immigrant children. Then later in life she focused on giving medical care for poor in the hospitals of New York. In 1883 at the age of 45 the King of Hawaii, King Kalakaua himself requested St. Marianne to help treat the leprosy patients of Kalaupapa, Moloka’i. St. Marianne helped establish the Malulani hospital in Maui, and helped reform the management of hospitals on Oahu.
They help build Hospitals/Churches for the physically sick and spiritually sick. St. Francis of Assisi, St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Elizabeth all had the heart to serve those in most need, the poor, the broken, and the sick. They helped build Churches for those whose souls needed healing and Hospitals for those were also physically sick. They taught us about God’s love; and more importantly they taught us that through loving actions inspired by God we can truly heal the world. Even in death their influence and works resound till this day.
Place Where Outcasts Meet The starry skies was never clearer, The water never tasted so sweet, Even time seemed to be slower, This place where outcasts meet. Was this really a place where the diseased were abandoned? Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide? Chaos was rampant, until the Saints arrived. Saint Marianne and the Franciscan Sisters, Saint Damien and Brother Dutton. They did not see Leprosy patients, But our sisters and our brothers. They did not see outcasts, They saw God’s sons and daughters. Their faith, hope and love will never be forgotten. And the greatest of these is love, will remain certain. The starry skies was never clearer, The water never tasted so sweet, Even time seemed to be slower, This place where outcasts meet. A place where God sent his Saints. Where God’s love is still present. Kalaupapa, Molokai the place I felt I belonged, The place I long to be.