Aloha! How are you doing today? I hope that you are well. On this day we remember a holy woman known as St. Marianne Cope. While she was originally born in Germany, her life’s journey took her to New York, and eventually to serve men, women, and children who had leprosy on the island of Molokai. She was a person who was moved by the Holy Spirit to do the Will of God wherever she happened to be. It would be worth our time and prayerful reflection to take a closer look at who she was and see what invaluable lessons she can teach us.
Interestingly enough, little Marianne was born on January 23, 1838. That date is noteworthy because it is also her feast day. Oftentimes saints are venerated on the day that they died as a way to emphasize their heavenly birthday and entry into eternal life. For Marianne, she lived 80 years this side of Heaven and spent her earliest years with her parents Peter and Barb Cope in Germany. Not long afterwards they emigrated to Utica, New York. At the age of 24 Marianne entered the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse, New York.
While she began her Franciscan life as a teacher she would then go on to become the mother superior of various communities. In addition to that she would serve as the person in charge of novices or those young women who were just entering into the religious community. Her role as the superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse would prove to be foundational for her future ministry on the island of Molokai.
When a request from the Hawaiian government went out to dozens of religious communities to help serve the peoples who were suffering from leprosy (otherwise known as Hansen’s disease) Mother Marianne Cope and six of her sisters promptly responded. In 1883, at the age of 45, Mother Marianne and her Franciscan Sisters traveled to the islands that make up Hawaii. They ministered to the needs of the peoples by establishing a hospital, by sharing the faith, and by joyfully instilling a sense of dignity among those that they served. Though their ministry was challenging Mother Marianne and her Sisters showed great courage, hope, and persevering love for those that they served.
We ask for the prayerful intercession of St. Marianne, who died on August 3, 1918, and was canonized on in 2012, that our own hearts would be opened to the needs of those around us. While we might never travel to the Hawaiian island of Molokai to serve those who have leprosy we nonetheless can open our eyes to those around us and do our part to build up God’s Kingdom.