Corporate Anniversaries 2013: ‘Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities Hawaii Region
There are few people in this world who are passionate enough to devote their lives to their work. The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities-Hawaii have done just that—and then some. Not only are they dedicated to their work, but their work is dedicated to serving others.
Known for their history of pioneering healthcare services through the St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii, the sisters are also known for their work in education. Over the years, they established and staffed several schools on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island, and continue to operate St. Francis School and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Founded on the values instilled by the recently canonized St. Marianne Cope, the Sisters of St. Francis have been in Hawaii for a remarkable 130 years. As they celebrate their anniversary, they reflect on the ministry of St. Marianne and the legacy she left behind.
In 1883, Mother Marianne came to Hawaii in response to a letter from King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani asking for help for people living with Hansen’s disease, known as leprosy back then. The afflicted were banished to a life of isolation in Kalaupapa, Molokai. Mother Marianne’s staunch devotion to the ideals of St. Francis of Assisi guided her to accept the calling. She chose six from a pool of 35 willing sisters to accompany her.
Mother Marianne helped to establish a number of hospitals throughout Hawaii. Although she focused on the patients, she also recognized another pressing need: The children of patients with Hansen’s disease were being left behind and homeless. No one but the sisters would care for them, and so they created the Kapiolani Home on Oahu.
Sr. Francis Regis Hadano,minister of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities–Hawaii Region.
“She found her fulfillment in reaching out to those who were the most vulnerable, bringing them a sense of hope and dignity,” says Sister Norise Kaiser, who has been with the Sisters of St. Francis for 50 years, and in Hawaii for 30. “She helped women take pride in themselves and taught them how to live with the disease, rather than letting it take over.”
Throughout their history, the sisters have adapted to the changing times and Hawaii’s changing needs, even pioneering critical advances in healthcare. “We brought in organ transplants and dialysis when people used to have to go to the Mainland to receive those types of treatment and introduced home health care and hospice,” says Sister Francis Regis Hadano, who has been with the Franciscan Order for 65 years and is serving as minister of the sisters in Hawaii. Today, the sisters focus on meeting the needs of Hawaii’s elder population as well as serving in education in the pre-K to 12th grade at St. Francis School.
Looking ahead, the sisters intend to continue the legacy of St. Marianne. “Mother Marianne had a willingness to say ‘Yes.’ She was willing to risk everything that she knew in order to help others,” adds Sister Norise. “We are taking the values she embodied and carrying them forward to the future.”
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