In a challenging day, I found light in two women. Yes, two of my favorite women will soon be recognized as Saints!
While living in Syracuse, there were many wonderful connections with these two women. First, I lived across the street from one. Second, I got to visit the home of the other!
As a student of Catholic schooling, I often had to refer to my name-sake Saint. There is no St.Kate nor am I a Catherine, so I reached further. After learning about Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in the second grade, she was MY Saint, even though she was yet to be called so. I think my affinity for her is partially for her love of nature and her sense of being the surviving under-dog. During my service year, in the Fransican tradition, I drew Bl. Kateri as my Saint of the Year for 2008. This meant that she could be an inspiration to me, someone to learn more about, or however I chose to view this selection.
Can you imagine my JOY when I was able to retreat at Kateri’s village in eastern NY? I truly felt I was on holy ground. A quick background on Kateri is that she was the daughter of a Mohawk chief and an Algonquian Roman Catholic. At age 4, she was left with no family, as they died of smallpox. Her uncle adopted her, but he did not support her faith choice as she grew. Regardless she grew in faith and took care of the poor and sick.
In similar fashion is Blessed . As the Mother Superior of the Franciscan Sisters based in Syracuse, she responded to St. Damien’s call for help on the island of Molokaʻi. One of the eight main islands, this is where King Kamehameha V declared that all suffers of Hansen’s Disease (known then as leprosy) be isolated. From 1866 until 1969, over 8,000 people were sent to the Kalaupapa peninsula on the island of Molokaʻi. Fr. Damien was the first to volunteer to minister to the people at Kalaupapa. Realizing what need there was, Fr. Damien wrote to the heads of the major religious orders in the States, from West to East, for assistance. He did not receive help, until he wrote to Mother Marianne in Syracuse, where she promised the help of her self and other sisters.
Part of my excitement to travel to Hawaii last year was to visit Kalaupapa. Not only did I get to travel with two of my favorite people, but I was able to see my heroines, Dolly and JP, standing at the foot of the grave of their heroine, Mother Marianne.
These women offer amazing examples of saying “yes and…”, of showing up and being ready to serve, and doing all things with great love. I am so thrilled that they will be recognized with this honor. By having this title of Saint, I hope that other young women learn of their stories and can find deep inspiration, as I have.