January 22, 2023

Dear Parish Family:

Monday, January 23, 2023 is the Feast Day of one of the newest American Saints: Saint Marianne Cope of Molokai. Born in Germany in 1838 and given the name Barbara after her mother, her family immigrated to Utica, New York two years later. After finishing her basic education, Barbara worked in a factory. In 1862, she became a Franciscan nun and was given the religious name Sister Marianne. She began teaching German immigrant children in upstate New York. A natural leader, she was superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse three different times, where she learned much that would be useful during her later years. 

She was elected the Mother Superior of her order. During that time, she received a request from King Kalākaua of Hawaii for sisters to help with those suffering from leprosy. 50 religious orders in the U.S. and Canada had already said no. Mother Marianne not only said yes, but went herself. On October 22, 1883, Mother Marianne and six other sisters left for Hawaii where they took charge of the Kakaako Receiving Station outside Honolulu. They later opened a hospital and a school for girls on Maui.

In 1888, she and two of her sisters went to the island of Molokai to open a home and school for women and girls where Father (future Saint) Damien was operating a home and school for men and boys. By that point, Father Damien had already contracted the disease. Mother Marianne cared for him while he was dying. She then continued his work for another three decades until her death (not of leprosy) in 1918. 

Mother Marianne brought her own gifts and charm to the leper colony. She wanted people not to be ashamed. She treated all with respect and dignity. She loved and cared for them as if she were their own mother. She was canonized in 2012.

It is interesting that her Feast Day this year is on the National Day of Prayer for Protection of Human Life (usually January 22 but moved to Monday since it falls on a Sunday). This is a special day to pray and offer sacrifices for the dignity and legal protection of God’s gift of life. We respect and honor life at all its stages, born and unborn. I am grateful to Good Shepherd’s Respect Life Committee as they assist our parish in engaging in prayer and hands-on initiatives including the Morning Star Pregnancy Services Baby Bottle Campaign, Shooting Star 5K Walk for Life and Banquet for Life, carnation sale for Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards for thoughtful giving, our monthly diaper drive for Healthy Steps Diaper Bank, and much more on the way. The group is always looking for more members.  Please consider joining. 

Love, grace, peace, and joy to you.

Reverend Neil S. Sullivan