Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why Are So Many People Still Suffering From Leprosy?


Share1 Oct 31 2012, 11:46 AM ET 9 Mystery and misconceptions continue to surround the biblical scourge contracted by at least 250,000 people each year.
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A leprosy affected woman prays at a Buddhist pagoda in an isolated village south of Hanoi, 2010 (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

There was a time and a place when, if one wanted to be canonized, going to a leper colony was a surefire way of earning the requisite "angel of mercy" cred. Just last week, "Mother of Outcasts" Marianne Cope was posthumously recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church for her work with people afflicted by leprosy in late 1800s Hawaii. She was the second person working with that same population to receive this rare honor.
Caring for the afflicted made for compelling narrative as well, as nurse and missionary Kate Marsden learned with the 1892 publication of On Sledge and Horseback to the Outcast Siberian Lepers. While the action-packed details of her journey across the taiga occupies the majority of the tome's 300 pages, little compares to the "peculiar thrill" she describes at her first glimpse of the lepers -- as it was then still acceptable to call those suffering from what we now also refer to as Hansen's disease -- who had been banished to small settlements hidden in the depths of the forest:
Some of the people came limping, and some leaning on sticks, to catch the first glimpse of us, their faces and limbs distorted by the dreadful ravages of the disease. One poor creature could only crawl by the help of a stool, and all had the same indescribably hopeless expression of the eyes which indicates the disease. I scrambled off the horse, and went quickly among the little crowd of the lame, the halt, and the blind. Some were standing, some were kneeling, and some crouching on the ground, and all with eager faces turned toward me. They told me afterward that they believed God had sent me...
The lepers, to Marsden's horror, had been entirely forsaken by their communities. They spent much of their time in their book prostrating themselves before her and admiring her refusal to fear them. But if she allowed herself a bit of a heroine complex, Marsden's main objective was to call attention to the lepers' plight. She certainly didn't sugarcoat the dire realities of their exile. "I began to wonder," she writes several chapters later, "why some of these lepers did not, in their desperation, throw themselves in the way of the bears, and so end their miseries."
lepers-inset.jpgThe exiled lepers encountered by Marsden (Google Books)

Descriptions like these seem quaint artifacts of less enlightened times. Surely, there's far less opportunity to be beatified for such self-sacrifice in our era of modern medicine. Multidrug therapy -- while not a full-fledged cure for leprosy -- has caused the number of cases worldwide to drop from 5.4 million to somewhere in the realm of 250,000 since 1985, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The last two leper colonies in the U.S. -- the one attended by Cope, and another near Baton Rouge -- closed their gates to new residents toward the end of the twentieth century. While infections still occur in this country at a rate of about 200 cases per year, you're most likely to contract the disease through foreign travel or contact with an armadillo.
We also know a lot more about leprosy than we did a century ago, when our knowledge hadn't evolved much from that of biblical times. For example, so far as plagues go, it's actually not very contagious: about 95 percent of people may be naturally immune to the Mycobacterium leprae bacilli that cause the disease. While biblical references to leprosy encompass all sorts of plights to the skin -- both literal and metaphorical -- the disease as modernly defined most potently causes nerve damage.
Still, much about leprosy continues to elude scientific understanding, including the exact means by which it is transmitted. M. leprae can't be cultured in the lab, as it replicates at a snail's pace, taking 12.5 days where most bacteria require mere hours. Partly due to these challenges, the disease remains endemic in other parts of the world, predominately India, Brazil, and Indonesia. The worst cases can result in not just disfigurement, but blindness. Outside of the U.S., it's the leading cause of people losing the use of their hands.
And its biblical and historic associations with sin and shunning die hard (quoth the King James Bible, "And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean"). Limited awareness of this sort can prevent full-fledged efforts to eradicate the disease from taking hold. "I can take you to places where people live in an isolated leprosy hospital," said Steve Reed, the founder and CEO of the Infectious Disease Research Institute, a nonprofit working, in part, to eliminate leprosy for good. He spoke of people who had been sent to such wholly unnecessary places as children, and of some who had even been born there. He was speaking of the present day.
leprosyinset2.jpgMargaret Tonga sits between her leprosy-afflicted parents in Mogiri, south Sudan, 2007. Following years of war, they have not been able to receive proper treatment or medicine. (Stringer/Reuters)

Central to the eradication of leprosy may lie not so much in drugs as a switch in the way we think about it. The social stigma it continues to carry keeps it from being perceived, as Reed puts it, as "a disease like any other." WHO considers itself to be in the "final push" of its elimination strategy, and most countries reported meeting its goal of reducing incidences to less than one per 10,000 individuals by the year 2000.
But "the drop-off in the number of new cases just didn't jibe," said Dr. Malcolm Duthie, who heads up IDRI's leprosy work. He cites political motivation in places like India -- where the numbers of reported infections dropped steeply in a short period of time -- to claim the disease is under control. At least one study backs up his claim: In Bangladesh, an active search for leprosy cases turned up five times the number of reported incidences -- in this way, too, people with leprosy have been cast aside. "The easiest way to eliminate a disease is to stop looking for it," said Duthie.
The most recent recommendations released by the WHO are for early diagnosis and early treatment, which can be extremely effective in preventing leprosy's most damaging effects. But drug treatments have a limited scope of efficacy. The disease is extremely slow to manifest -- seven years can pass between infection and the appearance of symptoms -- and it's easy for physicians to misdiagnose. Patients will often be treated, ineffectively, for fungal infections or other skin conditions before finally consulting experts, who are difficult to reach in many parts of the world.
Meanwhile, multidrug therapy requires six months to a year of treatment. During that time, many things can go wrong. While noncompliance isn't a major problem, said Duthie, barriers such as natural disasters may arise that prevent continuous access to the drugs. "It's very difficult to eliminate a disease completely when all you're doing is reacting to cases," said Reed.
He added, "No disease has ever been eliminated without a vaccine." Adding to WHO's efforts, IDRI is in the finalizing stages of two vaccines for those at risk of leprosy and those in the early stages of infection. The first arose from their development of a vaccine for tuberculosis, which, in terms of the bacteria by which it is spread, is a close cousin of leprosy. The second will target leprosy specifically, as is expected to go into phase I testing by late 2013.
IDRI has also developed a blood test -- "similar to a pregnancy test," said Duthie -- that will be ready by the end of the year. The test will be key to getting the vaccine to the right people, and to preventing the damages that, once caused, are permanently debilitating. They are also in the process of putting together an advisory council, and hope to get local governments, doctors, and scientists in affected areas to spearhead the renewed effort at elimination.
In their efforts, IDRI has teamed up with the American Leprosy Mission, a Christian organization that explicitly aims to follow Jesus's example in curing leprosy. In the short term, it's a fine thing to encourage the embrace, instead of exile, of those afflicted ("And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped [Jesus], saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean"). Scientific advancement, from there, may step in for missionaries and saints and finally take us the rest of the way, relegating leprosy itself to the realm of biblical allegory.
He added, "No disease has ever been eliminated without a vaccine." Adding to WHO's efforts, IDRI is in the finalizing stages of two vaccines for those at risk of leprosy and those in the early stages of infection. The first arose from their development of a vaccine for tuberculosis, which, in terms of the bacteria by which it is spread, is a close cousin of leprosy. The second will target leprosy specifically, as is expected to go into phase I testing by late 2013.
IDRI has also developed a blood test -- "similar to a pregnancy test," said Duthie -- that will be ready by the end of the year. The test will be key to getting the vaccine to the right people, and to preventing the damages that, once caused, are permanently debilitating. They are also in the process of putting together an advisory council, and hope to get local governments, doctors, and scientists in affected areas to spearhead the renewed effort at elimination.
By Lindsay Abrams
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This must be the first photograph of two saints together...


The canonization of Marianne Cope, along with Kateri Tekakwitha, on October 21, occasioned the publication of a stunning photograph showing Marianne standing beside the funeral bier of St. Damien in Kalaupapa, Molokai. That was in 1889, and the picture is so sharp that it could have been taken today. It must be the first photograph of two saints together. The holy friendships of Teresa of Avila with John of the Cross, and Francis de Sales with Jane de Chantal illuminated civilization before photography.
St. Damien’s body is scarred with leprosy but vested in the fine chasuble in which he used to offer Mass. St. Marianne, in her timeless religious habit, shows no sorrow for she obviously knows she is looking at a saint, not knowing that she is one herself.
Studying that photograph, one thinks of how hard they worked, not only among the outcast lepers, but all their lives. Damien, born Jozef de Veuster in Belgium, was a farm boy, and Marianne left school in Utica, New York, after the eighth grade to support her family by working in factories.
Not in the picture was their helper, Joseph Dutton, a Civil War veteran who was so traumatized by the ravages of war and his broken marriage that he became an alcoholic. He reformed his life, went to Molokai and worked with the lepers for 45 years — cleaning latrines, scrubbing floors, and binding sores — until his death in 1931. Their great happiness would have been clouded to see how much unhappiness there is in our land today.
As a typical eighteenth-century rationalist, Edward Gibbon was cynical about Christianity, but as an historian he analyzed the decline of once-great civilizations in terms of natural virtue: “In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all — security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”
I expect that Gibbon would have understood modern saints no better than he did the early martyrs and confessors, but he would have seen in them a selfless energy that builds noble societies, and the neglect of such energy pulls them down. Our own nation is facing these realities as it decides what it wants to be. The present crisis in culture cannot be resolved if it is addressed only in terms of economics and international relations. The real leaders are not those who hypnotize naïve people into thinking that they are the source of hope. Those who can rescue nations from servility to selfishness are not on slick campaign posters, but in stark black and white photographs like that taken on Molokai in 1889.
By Father George Rutler  http://tinyurl.com/8w9kt74
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Monday, October 29, 2012


Tekakwitha and Mother Marianne Cope, two Upstate New York women who lived remarkable lives and will now share the title of saint.
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Friday, October 26, 2012

Mother Marianne Cope Becomes an American Saint

Oct. 21st.  (CNN) -- An American health care pioneer will receive the Roman Catholic Church's highest honor this weekend. On Sunday, Mother Marianne Cope -- along with another North American, Kateri Tekakwitha -- will become a saint, a designation so difficult to achieve that only 10 other Americans have been canonized before her.
Saint Marianne Cope, as she will soon be known, may be best remembered for her work with patients suffering from Hansen's disease -- or lepers, as they were called at the time.
In Hawaii in the late 1800s, people were so afraid of the disease that even those with simple, unrelated rashes were often banished to the remote island of Molokai. They remained at this leper colony for the rest of their lives, far away from family and friends. Their children became orphans.
An island priest who was worried about this health crisis wrote to nearly 50 different religious congregations asking for help. But the work was perceived as so dangerous that only Mother Marianne responded. Before she made her long journey to the remote islands, though, she radically changed medical practices on the mainland.

'A Wonderful Hospital Administrator'
Mother Marianne opened and operated some of the first general hospitals in the United States, St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica, New York, in 1866 and St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, New York, in 1869. Both are still in operation today.  At that time, hospitals had a bad reputation. Doctors had limited medical knowledge and even less understanding of how diseases spread. Most patients who turned to hospitals for help never left them alive.

Mother Marianne started to change that, first by instituting cleanliness standards. The simple act of hand-washing between patient visits cut the spread of disease significantly. Word of her facility's success spread quickly, according to Sister Patricia Burkard.  "She was a wonderful hospital administrator and really started the patients' rights movement and truly changed how people cared for the sick," said Burkard, who until recently held the same office Mother Marianne did as head of her religious congregation, now known as the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Neumann Communities.  Leaders at the College of Medicine in Geneva, New York, heard about Mother Marianne's success and decided to relocate to her area.

It became Syracuse University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and its students went on to perfect their skills at Mother Marianne's hospitals. That meant her patients had access to some of the top medical minds in the country and some of the most cutting-edge treatments.  The addition of student doctors also gave Mother Marianne's patients an unheard of choice. They were asked if they wanted to be seen by a student or cared for by someone with more experience.  Mother Marianne made sure the medical facilities welcomed all people regardless of race, creed or economic standing. That was many decades before desegregated hospitals. She even weathered criticism for caring for alcoholics. She treated their problem -- which was seen by many experts as a moral failing unworthy of help -- like a disease.  "She was clearly far ahead of the times," Burkard said.

Travels to Hawaii
In 1883, Mother Marianne left those hospitals in good hands, Burkard said, and traveled with six sisters to Hawaii. When they arrived in Hawaii, church bells rang and a gathered crowd cheered to welcome them.  Within a year, she established the first general hospital on Maui. The facility was so successful that King Kalakaua honored her with the medal of the Royal Order of Kapiolani. She also opened the Kapiolani Home, which cared for the many female orphans of patients with Hansen's disease.
At the government's request, she took over another badly run medical facility in Honolulu. The hospital, which was supposed to house only 100 patients, housed 200. Its deplorable conditions were described in a diary kept by one of her fellow Franciscans and quoted in a book about Mother Marianne's life, "A Song of Pilgrimage and Exile."  "Fat bedbugs nested in the cracks (of walls). Brown stains upon walls, floors, and bedding showed where their blood-filled bodies had been crushed by desperate patients. Straw mattresses, each more or less covered by a dirty blanket, lay upon the unswept floor. ... Blankets, mattresses, clothing, and patients all supported an ineradicable population of lice," wrote Sister Leopoldina Burns.  "When she got to Honolulu, it was roll up the sleeves and clean the places up," Burkard said. "That was the story wherever they went. The sisters came in with their bucket brigade. They brought order, and I guess a lot of TLC to people no one else wanted to help."
Mother Marianne's efforts were so successful her patients were allowed to remain on the main islands, but in 1887 a new government took charge. Its officials decided to close the Oahu hospital and reinforce the old banishment policy. Mother Marianne decided to follow them to Molokai, even though it meant she'd never return.

On the Island of Molokai
On the island, Father Damien DeVeuster, whom the Catholic Church named a saint in 2009, had established a medical facility known as the Apostle of the Lepers. By the time Mother Marianne arrived, he was dying from Hansen's disease.  At his request, she told him she would care for his patients. Upon his death, she took over his facility that cared for men and boys and established a separate enterprise to treat girls and women.
Saint Damien of Molokai's patients had been living in rudimentary huts. They dressed in rags. Mother Marianne wanted to improve their lives.  She raised money and started programs that gave the ill population a much more dignified life. She set up classes for patients. She worked to beautify the environment with gardens and landscaping. Patients got proper clothes, music and religious counseling. She couldn't cure them, but she could make their lives better.
Mother Marianne died on August 9, 1918, at the age of 80. Incredibly, to this day none of the Franciscan sisters have ever contracted Hansen's disease.  Almost immediately the sisters started organizing her case for sainthood. To become a saint, a person must meet a strict set of religious and otherworldly requirements. Once a person dies, this kind of local effort must be made on their behalf.
The sisters gathered all of Mother Marianne's written work and correspondence. They took testimony from people who knew her. This evidence of her holiness had to be presented to a local council, which made a recommendation that she was worthy of consideration to the Vatican. There, a team of nine theologians pored over the documents.
The theologians voted in her favor, and then the Pope John Paul II named her a "Servant of God, Venerable." This is the honorific after which most cases for sainthood stop.  To become a saint, it's not enough to do good deeds. People must pray to the person under consideration, and the Church must establish that in doing so those prayers resulted in not one, but two verifiable miracles.  "A miracle is some extraordinary fact, especially in the medical field -- a cure that nobody expected and suddenly, against all expectations, this person is cured," said Father Peter Gumpel, a priest who has scrutinized hundreds of sainthood cases in his nearly 50 years as a "devil's advocate," or someone at the Vatican who examines the case made on behalf of a potential saint.  "Miracles are still required because the Church has to be absolutely sure what we are doing in canonizing someone conforms to the will of God," he said. "To do this, we ask for a sign from God."
After a case is made that a miracle has occurred, a team of doctors must verify that there is no medical explanation for the cure. Then the case goes to a second group of doctors who consult for the Vatican, who go over those same records and must make the same determination. The process then starts over again once a second miracle occurs.  Many of these cases take hundreds of years. Mother Marianne's got through in record time.

Mother Marianne's Miracles
Mother Marianne's first official miracle came in 1992. That's when Syracuse resident Kate Mahoney recovered after her doctors had given up hope.  The then-14-year-old had a near-fatal reaction to the chemotherapy she received to treat ovarian cancer. In December of that year, she was admitted to the hospital suffering from severe abdominal pain.  Doctors performed surgery to remove an internal buildup of fluid. During the surgery, she suffered a serious hemorrhagic shock followed by cardiac arrest. Many of her vital organs shut down. Machines kept her alive when her heart, kidney and lungs stopped working.

According to the medical file submitted to the Vatican, three doctors determined Mahoney's body was in the process of overall deterioration. They thought she would die.  It was around then that friends reached out to Sister Mary Laurence Hanley. Hanley was the director of the Cause of Mother Marianne and the person who put her case for sainthood together.  The sister visited the sick girl. She prayed for Mother Marianne's help, enlisting others to do the same. She touched Mahoney with a relic from the soon-to-be-saint.  That week, Mahoney showed signs of improvement. By the next week, her medical records show doctors recording their "surprise" that her vital organs started to work again "for some unknown reason." Eventually local and Vatican doctors determined there was no medical explanation for her full recovery.

In 2005 Pope Benedict XVI agreed that Mahoney had experienced a miracle. Mother Marianne was beatified, one step away from sainthood.  It was in that same year that the second miracle happened.  Sharon Smith, then 58, was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center in Syracuse. She says she had been at home and fainted.  "I woke up two and a half months later in the hospital," Smith said.  Her doctors told her she had developed a severe inflammation that was killing her pancreas and was spreading to other vital organs. Several surgeries did little to help. Her doctor consulted several experts. None could remember anyone recovering from similar cases. The doctor told Smith there was little they could do for her.  "When I heard that, I started thinking about my time in the Navy," the Gulf War veteran said. "I thought, 'I have led an interesting life. I have great friends. I have some wonderful memories. Lord, if you have to take me, at least I have these.'"  Smith mentally prepared for death.  "But for some reason He was nice enough to leave me here," she said, laughing.  Smith says the doctors did what they could to keep her comfortable. They even tried surgery to repair a huge hole that had opened between her stomach and intestine, but it didn't work. That's when the Franciscan sisters stepped in.

"My friend was sitting in the waiting room with my longtime roommate Pat while I was in surgery," Smith said. "The doctor came in to tell them, 'She is not going to breathe on her own again.' My roommate came in and said goodbye, and then my other friend came in and told her that this lady in the waiting room gave her a prayer card with Mother Marianne on it and suggested they pray for her help.  "They did, and I woke up. I started breathing on my own," Smith said.

The nuns paid regular visits to Smith, who is not Catholic. They kept her company. They prayed with her. They brought her communion. Then Sister Michaeleen Cabral pinned a small plastic bag on Smith's hospital gown. Inside was dirt from around Mother Marianne's grave -- known in the church as a relic.  "When they pinned that relic on me, I started feeling a little better," Smith said. "A little while later, when I opened my eyes, my doctor started pulling out my tubes.  "When he started pulling out the last one, I said to myself, 'This is it.' But instead he said, 'Now I want you to order a sandwich.' I didn't think I heard him right. I hadn't eaten in nine months. I said, 'Are you kidding me?' But he said, 'No, order anything you want to eat. I don't know what happened, but the hole I couldn't fix between your stomach and intestine has healed itself. Your inflammation is gone. You're better.'"  Mother Marianne had helped one last patient.  Smith finally left the hospital in January of 2006. "I had never heard of Mother Marianne before this, but all those prayers with the help of God and Mother Marianne's intercession, I survived," Smith said. "I'm still flabbergasted."

'You are Our Miracle'
To give back to the sisters who helped her, Smith started regularly volunteering at Francis House, a medical facility the sisters run to care for the terminally ill. Smith spends much of her time there cleaning rooms and visiting patients.  As she walked out of a patient's room one day, she ran into the nun who used to bring her communion at the hospital.  "She said, 'Oh my God, are you the girl I saw in the hospital who was so sick?'" Smith said. "I thought Sister Michaeleen was going to pass out.  "She told me, 'You've got to see Sister Mary Laurence. You are our miracle. I know you are.' They dragged me up to Sister Mary Laurence, who was amazed. They thought they had their miracle."
And so it was, the Catholic Church concluded. After multiple doctors examined her medical records and could find no other explanation, the case went on to Pope Benedict XVI. In December 2011 he announced Mother Marianne would become a saint.
This weekend, Mahoney and Smith are both at the Vatican for the canonization service. Smith will present Pope Benedict XVI with a cross that contains a dirt relic from Mother Marianne's grave. To this day, Smith wonders why she has been chosen to be a part of something so big.  "I can't imagine that someone like me would experience a miracle. I'm an ordinary person," Smith said. "But the sisters explained that's who God and the saints use."  Sister Burkard is at the Vatican, as well.  "Every time I think about the large banner with her image that will hang on the Vatican for the ceremony, I get chills," she said.  "People tend to think of saints as these very special otherworldly people, but so much of (Mother Marianne's) life parallels so many other good people we know today," Burkard said.  "She probably could have done anything with her natural talents for leadership and organization, but she chose to make the world a better place. She would not let people's fear determine what she did or how people should be treated.  "She is a wonderful example for these difficult times. She gave people that others feared hope. She restored their dignity. That is the path she chose to walk."
By Jen Christensen CNN

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mother Of Outcasts' To Be A Saint For Leprosy Work

Oct 19, 2012 (Weekend Edition Saturday) — During a tragic era in Hawaiian history, more than 8,000 people with leprosy -- now known as Hansen's disease -- were banished to the island of Molokai. Mother Marianne Cope began caring for these patients in the late 1800s, answering their desperation with hope. Sunday, the nun became a saint.
A German-American nun became a saint Sunday, nearly a century after her death. Mother Marianne Cope is the second person to be honored in this way for caring for people in Hawaii with leprosy, now known as Hansen's disease.
During a tragic era in Hawaiian history, more than 8,000 people with leprosy were banished to Kalaupapa, a remote peninsula on the island of Molokai. Back then, there was no cure. The patients were treated as outcasts until a Belgian priest, Father Damien, came to care for them in 1873. Eventually he contracted the disease himself and died. He was canonized by the pope in 2009.
Just five months before Damien's death, Cope arrived in Kalaupapa. She worked in Hawaii in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Sister Alicia Damien Lau says Cope risked her life to care for people with leprosy.
"They had no idea what leprosy was all about and did not speak the language," she says. "They didn't understand the culture."
Cope, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis, spent 35 years caring for leprosy patients in Hawaii, mostly in Kalaupapa. She died there of natural causes at the age of 80.
Today, Cope continues to inspire Lau in caring for Hansen's disease patients. Lau says listening to their stories over the years has moved her to try to help some of them resolve their anger.
"Being in Kalaupapa and being here in the early days was worse than prison," she says.
Mother Marianne Cope (in wheelchair) before her death in 1918.
Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva says Cope also gave people hope and dignity.
"I think she took a situation where there was a lot of sadness and disfigurement, and tried to bring joy and beauty to it," he says.
Silva points out that Cope planted flowers and fruit trees so the settlement would be beautiful and the residents would have food.
Silva is in Rome for Cope's canonization. For him, it's a personal journey: He grew up knowing his great-grandfather and great-aunt were sent to Kalaupapa, though some of his relatives kept their exile a secret.
"So I asked my aunt, 'How is it that your children never knew this?' And she said, 'We were told never to talk about this because if someone in the family had leprosy, the whole family was suspect,' " Silva says.
Today, only 17 Hansen's disease patients remain in the state of Hawaii. One of them is Gloria Marks, who has lived in Kalaupapa since 1960.
"You know, it takes a lot of courage for somebody to give up and come to Kalaupapa to care for the patient," she says, in tears.
Marks attended Damien's canonization and is in Rome to see Cope elevated to sainthood.  "We are very, very proud of it. We can ... walk on clouds," she says.  Marks says Hawaii should be proud to have two saints from this little island.
Today, Cope's legacy lives on in Hawaii through the hospital she established, and through the work the sisters do in health care and education. They continue to take care of the elderly, the poor and the last remaining Hansen's disease patients in Kalaupapa.
by Heidi Chang
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Saints Canonised by Pope Benedict

A Native American woman is among seven new saints canonised by Pope Benedict.
The canonisation coincided with a Vatican meeting of the world's bishops on trying to revive Christianity in places where it has struggled in recent years.
Kateri Tekakwitha, known as the "Lily of the Mohawks," was born in 1656 to a pagan Iroquois father and an Algonquin Christian mother.
Her parents and only brother died when she was four during a smallpox epidemic that left her badly scarred and with impaired eyesight.
She went to live with her uncle, a Mohawk, and was baptised Catholic by Jesuit missionaries.
However she was ostracised and persecuted by other natives for her faith, and she died in what is now Canada when she was 24.
Native Americans in beaded and feathered headdresses and leather-fringed tunics sang songs to St Kateri as the sun rose over St Peter's Square ahead of this morning’s mass.
Another of the new saints is Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino teenager who helped Jesuit priests convert natives in Guam in the 17th century but was killed by villagers opposed to the missionaries' efforts to baptise their children.
The other new saints are: Mother Marianne Cope, a 19th century Franciscan nun who cared for lepers in Hawaii; Jacques Berthieu, a 19th century French Jesuit who was killed by rebels in Madagascar, where he had worked as a missionary.
Giovanni Battista Piamarta, an Italian who founded a religious order in 1900 and established a Catholic printing and publishing house in his native Brescia; Carmen Salles Y Barangueras, a Spanish nun who founded a religious order to educate children in 1892.
Anna Schaeffer, a 19th century German lay woman who became a model for the sick and suffering after she fell into a boiler and badly burned her legs.
The wounds never healed, causing her constant pain.
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sr Marianne Cope & Molokai

 Mother Marianne, far, right, led a group of six volunteers from the Sisters of St. Francis to Hawaii to combat the health care crisis there. Their help was so welcome the Hawaiian government awarded her a medal. Behind them stands Prime Minister of the Hawaiian Kingdom.




 In 1883 Mother Marianne Cope and five other sisters volunteered to travel to Hawaii to work with people afflicted with Hansen's disease. The disease, then known as leprosy, was so feared they were the only religious congregation to respond to a request for help. Mother Marianne wrote "I am not afraid of any disease." To this day none of the sisters has gotten sick.



 The government resumed its policy of banishment for Hansen's disease patients in 1887. The island of Molokai became the location for Hawaii's banished citizens. Mother Marianne lived the rest of her days working with the afflicted in the remote location, separated from the rest of society.



 There was a real orphan crisis when the Hawaiian government started its policy of banishment. Most institutions would not care for them nor would their families since they were so afraid of the disease. The children would roam the streets homeless. Mother Marianne Cope started several programs to house the children near their parents.



 While there was no cure for the residents of Molokai, the sisters tried to bring dignity to their lives. Before the sisters arrived, patients dressed in rags. The sisters gave the girls proper clothes and taught them embroidery, sewing and gardening. They also gave them music lessons.




 Hansen's disease patients often lived a long life, but their daily needs were often neglected when they were banished. The sisters' arrival on Molokai brought the girls lessons in traditional education subjects and religious training, including giving the girls a proper first communion ceremony.


 Prior to the sisters' arrival in Molokai, patients lived in ramshackle huts. Mother Marianne and the religious sisters were able to raise the money to build proper buildings for patients and give them beds instead of the straw mats they slept on.




 Mother Marianne was beatified at the Vatican in 2005 after it declared a 14-year-old girl miraculously recovered from nearly total organ failure. The Franciscan sisters heard about her case and started praying to Mother Marianne for her recovery. The girl, Kate Mahoney, is still healthy today and is attending this weekend's ceremony.

 
The Sisters of Saint Francis still minister to the sick and elderly in Hawaii. They run a hospice program, provide home health service and run adult day care programs. From left, Row 1: Sisters Ancilla Yim, Charlene Epil, Rose Fatima Leite, Frances Cabrini Morishige, Laurenza Fernandez, Agnelle Ching and William Marie Eleniki. From left, Row 2: Sisters Jovita Agustin, Norise Kaiser, Agatha Perreira and Pat Schofield. 

Mother Marianne Cope (in wheelchair) with other nuns and the women and girls of Bishop Home in Kalaupapa, Hawaii, shortly before her death in 1918.
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

St. Marianne Cope, the woman who received a piano from Robert Louis Stev...



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In Rome, for the canonization of Mother Marianne and Kateri Tekakwitha

SYRACUSE -- Hundreds of Central New Yorkers are in Rome for Sunday’s canonization of Mother Marianne Cope and Kateri Tekakwitha.
More than 350 people in the official pilgrimage of the Syracuse Diocese, led by Bishop Robert Cunningham, left Tuesday. Approximately 250 from the Diocese of Honolulu are also in Rome.
The pilgrims will spend time touring the Vatican, sacred sites and Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi, before attending the canonization of Mother Marianne, the former Syracuse Franciscan leader known for her 35-year ministry to leprosy patients in Hawaii.
Nine patients of the former leprosy settlement in Kalaupapa, where Mother Marianne ministered from 1883 until her death in 1918, will attend the canonization. The patients, who began their pilgrimage with a stop in Central New York last weekend, represent the 8,000 patients exiled by Hawaii over about 100 years.
The Upstate group will also celebrate the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th century Mohawk convert who lived in the area that is now Albany.
Kateri and Mother Marianne are among seven people Pope Benedict XVI will formally declare saints in an outdoor Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
Pilgrims celebrating Mother Marianne’s canonization include Sharon Smith, of Chittenango. The Vatican in December said it could find no medical explanation for Smith’s recovery in 2005 from severe pancreatitis and infection. That miracle was attributed to the intercession of Mother Marianne, and was a final step in the Vatican procedure that made her eligible for sainthood.
About 200 people connected with the Albany Diocese are in Rome, and the Archdiocese of Seattle has sent 67 people on its official pilgrimage. That group includes 12-year-old Jake Finkbonner and his family. The Vatican says the Ferndale, Wash., boy miraculously recovered from a flesh-eating illness in 2006 after prayers to Kateri Tekakwitha (pronounced Gah-deh-LEE Day-gah-GWEE-deh in Mohawk) on his behalf.
The Finkbonners are of Lummi descent; Kateri is the first Native American saint.
Hundreds of Mohawk Catholics from the North Country and Canada are also in Rome, as is a large group organized by the Kateri Tekakwitha Conference, a national organization based in Great Falls Montana. A small group of Syracusans is led by the Rev. Jim Carey, who was the first priest of the Syracuse Diocese assigned to minister to Native American Catholics in the late 1970s.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops estimated that up to 4,000 pilgrims from at least 15 diocese will be at the canonization.
On Saturday, the Hawaiian and Syracuse pilgrimages will attend a prayer service at the Church of San Gregorio Settimo, in Rome. The group will attend a Mass of Thanksgiving Monday at the Basilica Dei Santi Apostoli, in Rome.
A Mass of Thanksgiving for Saint Kateri is planned for Monday morning at St. Peter’s Basilica. The Shenandoah Trio will perform at the event.
The Post-Standard will cover the canonization.
Watch the canonization Mass live on EWTN or EWTN.com at 3:30 a.m. (Rome is six hours ahead of Syracuse) and 11 a.m. Sunday.
By Renée K. Gadoua, The Post-Standard 
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Sainthood ceremony for religious leader who cared for Hansen’s Disease exiles in Hawaii

Hawaii_Honolulu_Molokai_saintBlessed Marianne Cope, a member of the Roman Catholic Sisters of St. Francis who cared for Hansen's Disease (leprosy) patients on Oahu and Molokai for three decades beginning in the late 1880s, will be named as a saint during a ceremony set for this Sunday (Oct. 21) at the Vatican in Rome.

At the ceremony presided over by Pope Benedict XVI, the church will also canonize six other sainthood candidates, including Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th century Mohawk Indian who spent most of her life in upstate New York.   

About 250 Hawaii residents are in Rome for the ceremony, among them nine Hansen's Disease patients who reside at the former Molokai exile settlement at remote Kalaupapa Peninsula. Although cured, about a dozen people still live at the site, which is now part of Kakaupapa National Historical Park.

The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities petitioned Pope Paul VI to open the cause for Mother Marianne’s canonization in 1974. Nine years later, an official registration took place, which then led to the titles of venerable, blessed and, now, saint. Canonization is conferred when the Vatican attributes two cases of miracles to a candidate for sainthood. In 2004 and 2011, Vatican officials ruled that cases of inexplicable medical recovery were due to the intercession of Mother Marianne, who died 96 years ago.  

Barbara Koob (now officially "Cope") was born on Jan. 23 1838 in West Germany. The next year, her family moved to the United States and settled in Utica, N.Y. At age 24, Barbara entered the Sisters of St Francis in Syracuse, N.Y., where she received the religious habit, the name "Sister Marianne" and began working as a teacher and principal in several elementary schools in New York state.Hawaii_Honolulu_Molokai_saint Quickly recognized as a deft administrator, Cope was tapped to help establish two general hospitals in New York state. Working alongside doctors, she picked up medical knowledge on everything from sanitation procedures to pharmacy skills, which she later put to use in Hawaii.

In 1883, when an emissary from Hawaii sent letters seeking capable leaders to provide health care for patients with Hansen’s Disease, Mother Marianne was the only religious leader — out of 50 contacted — to respond positively. She reportedly wrote to the emissary: “I am not afraid of any disease, hence, it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned 'lepers.'"

During the decade preceding Mother Marianne's arrival in Hawaii with a group of sisters of the St. Francis order, thousands of Hansen's Disease patients throughout the Islands had been sent by government order to the Kalaupapa Peninsula. In 1873, Father Damien de Veuster moved to the island to live among the patients and minister to them. (Saint Damien was canonized in 2009.)

Mother Marianne first met Father Damien in January 1884, when he was in apparent good health. Two years later, in 1886, after he had been diagnosed with Hansen's Disease, Mother Marianne was reportedly the only religious leader to offer hospitality to the priest. (His illness made him an unwelcome visitor to church and government leaders in Honolulu.)

Several months before Father Damien's death in 1889, at age 49, Mother Marianne agreed to provide care for the patients at the Boys' Home at Kalawao that he had founded. Subsequently, Mother Marianne, along with two other nuns, ran the Bishop Home (for girls) and the Home for Boys at Kalawao.

Mother Marianne never returned to Syracuse, and neither she nor the nuns she worked with contracted Hansen’s Disease. Mother Marianne died on Aug. 9, 1918 in Hawaii and was buried on the grounds of Bishop Home.

During Cope's lifetime, the chronic, contagious disease then known as leprosy was shrouded in fear and mystery, despite having afflicted humankind for millennia. About a decade after Cope died drugs were developed that could effectively cure the bacterium-caused disease. Left untreated, the disease, which weakens the immune system, can open the door for potentially deadly infections, such as pneumonia. 

For more information about Blessed Marianne Cope’s work in the Islands, click here.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Synod on Evangelisation - Comments of Irish Bishops

H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Diarmuid MARTIN, Archbishop of Dublin (IRELAND)
The challenge of language is especially felt in those countries where English dominates, characterized by linguistic philosophies with known epistemological challenges. There is however a further challenge of the day-to-day language, not just of the media, but of a culture of the manipulation of language and the management of information where the meaning of words is changed and manipulated for commercial, ideological or political motives.
The concern I wish to particularly address is the challenge that this manipulation of language represents for young people in their search for the message of Jesus Christ. Young people live in a culture of relativism and indeed banalization of the truth often without even being aware of it. It is a culture which they did not create. They may not know any other culture, yet they must find Christ in the midst of this culture while they have little familiarity with the language of faith.
I am not thinking here of the large groups of young people who have found strength and support in events such as World Youth Day, but of the many young men and women who, at what is a complex and difficult time in their lives, in their search for meaning find themselves very much alone among their classmates and fellow students and indeed may experience hostility and incomprehension as they try to find or maintain their faith in Jesus Christ.
Where are we present among the large student population, especially for those whose basic Christian education may well have been all but superficial in either family or school?
The challenge of the New Evangelization must be marked by a robust confrontation of ideas, not in terms of ideological aggression, but in helping young people in the discernment of ideas.
The culture of individualism can be counteracted by the creation of a variety of new ecclesial communities, not just those of the ecclesial movements, but around our parishes, which will be the building blocks of the Eucharistic communities of the future.

H. Exc. Rev. Mons. Kieran O'REILLY, S.M.A., Bishop of Killaloe (IRELAND)
The momentum created by the recently held International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland has been further enhanced by the publication of a New National Directory for Catechesis in Ireland titled: Share the Good News. This document from the Bishops Conference is a blueprint for the Church throughout Ireland.
Share the Good News points to the complete statement of faith, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, searching out sure ways of making the treasures to be found in the Catechism more readily available to people in Ireland today. It is also a call to action with the aim of seeking to help members of the Church speak confidently of the Gospel message which each generation of believers must assimilate anew. It is a programme with a ten-year horizon: the first two years are given over to a period of implementation and making the Directory known, followed by full implementation throughout the dioceses of Ireland.
Hand in hand with Share the Good News must go a more profound knowledge and understanding of the Good News as preached and lived in the New Testament. Quoting Verbum Domini #: 51 ... “the church is a community that hears and proclaims the word of God. The Church draws life not from herself but from the Gospel, and from the Gospel she discovers ever anew the direction for her journey” This calls for a fuller and significant biblical apostolate
The Irish Church has lived, and continues to live, the recent crises in a dramatic way. At the same time, we are faced with the same effects of secularisation as many other countries, particularly in Europe. As a result, the church must now speak with a voice which is hopeful yet humble, confident yet compassionate, with a claim to authority that must be more evidently rooted in the Gospel and the love of Christ. This is the context in which the new evangelization will take place.
I hope this Synod will send words of encouragement to all the agents of the New Evangelization, in particular, to the many women who play a significant role in the life of our Church, expressing our gratitude to them for their generous activity in spreading the Gospel in the various settings of daily life where they are centrally present - at work, in schools, in the family and in healthcare. These, and other committed members of our faith communities, expect and await a message of hope and encouragement from this Synod, as we invite them to engage with evangelical courage the new evangelization in the different Aeropagii of our time.
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Supporters arrive in the Vatican for canonization of Mother Marianne Cope

DAN NAKASO / DNAKASO@STARADVERTISER.COM


Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva spoke to Hansen's disease patients from Kalaupapa just before the pope drove within a few feet of the patients after the event. The group got a front-row seat for today's papal audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

ROME -- Pilgrims from Syracuse are now walking the streets of Rome in anticipation of Sunday’s Canonization of Mother Marianne Cope.
Bishop Robert Cunningham, the leader of the Diocese of Syracuse, touched down at da Vinci Airport just outside of Rome early Wednesday morning. By mid-morning he was joined by the rest of more than 200 who were part of his pilgrimage to the Vatican and Assisi.
The Sisters of St. Francis and their group of 100 arrived the day before. They were off first thing Wednesday morning to a Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Square. Their sacred time will take them away from Rome on Thursday as they head to the hometown of St. Francis the founder of their order.
St. Francis lived in Assisi in the early 13th century. He took a vow of poverty and service that his followers have continued ever since. While in Assisi the sisters will visit a Leprosaria where people with Hansen’s disease still live today. It is a home similar to the one in Molokai where Mother Marianne ministered in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Hawaiian Islands.
In addition to the groups from Syracuse there is a contingent that came 8,000 miles from Hawaii to celebrate the Canonization of Marianne Cope. There are also hundreds of Mohawks, other Native Americans and others supporting Kateri Tekawitha as the first Native American saint in the Catholic Church.
by Matt Mulcahy CNY Central News
Our Matt Mulcahy is traveling with the pilgrims from Syracuse in Rome and the surrounding areas. He will continue to share their story on NBC 3, CBS 5, CW 6, CNYCentral.com, Facebook and Twitter right through the Canonization Sunday morning.
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Before a Nun Is Sainted, Honoring Her Upstate Past

UTICA, N.Y. — But for a wooden sign at its edge, the vacant field resembled any other in a neighborhood of factories and worn-out buildings here, not far from the Erie Canal: a few trees scattered across thick green grass, a patch of shaggy weeds growing beside a boarded-up garage at its rear.
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Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times
(Photo Right) Ivy Kahilihiwa, part of a group from Hawaii celebrating the canonization of Mother Marianne, greeting Sister Rosanne LaManche at St. Anthony Convent in Syracuse last weekend.
Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times
A statue of Mother Marianne, who will be canonized on Sunday. 
And yet, on Sunday, three tour buses bearing more than 100 Hawaiian pilgrims arrived. Ignoring a steady stream of rain, they climbed across the buckled sidewalk to pray for a woman who once lived on this land, whose favorite hymn, “O Makalapua,” they know by heart and whose face they wore on pins, medallions and specially made Hawaiian shirts: Mother Marianne Cope.
Mother Marianne will be one of seven Roman Catholic saints — including another New Yorker, Kateri Tekakwitha — canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday. The pilgrims had stopped en route to Rome to celebrate the canonization of a woman beloved in Hawaii and known as “Mother of the Outcasts” for her work among the sick.  “She was just an ordinary person, like us,” said Charlotte Recarte, 67, a retiree from Oahu. “Inside all of us, we can be saints. We just have to do the work. That’s what Mother Marianne did.”
Born Barbara Koob in what is now Germany, Mother Marianne moved with her family to Utica in 1839, when she was a year old. Her faith was formed at St. Joseph’s church and parish school, which she attended until eighth grade. When her father grew ill, she left school to work for in the city’s factories to help support her younger siblings. In 1862, when they were old enough to care for themselves, she entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse.
In 1883, she answered a call to help thousands of Hawaiians who were ill with a mysterious and disfiguring disease known as leprosy and who were being taken from their families and exiled to a remote peninsula on Molokai called Kalaupapa.  Would the nun take charge of the hospitals and lead a ministry among these patients? “I am not afraid of any disease,” she wrote, agreeing to what would become a more-than-30-year mission serving those banished to the towering sea cliffs of Kalaupapa. She also paved the way for others in her order to continue her work, connecting communities in Hawaii and New York.
Eight thousand people with leprosy, now known as Hansen’s disease, lived on Kalaupapa from 1866 until the isolation laws were lifted in 1969. Among the 17 still alive, 9 traveled to New York to visit the life that the nun had left behind.  “I wanted to come to learn about what she was before Kalaupapa,” Ivy Kahilihiwa said.
Ms. Kahilihiwa arrived on Kalaupapa in 1958, after a small mark on her back signaled her illness. By that time, medicine was available to help ease her pain, but she saw in the older patients the disfigurement that was widespread before treatment became available.  “It made me so grateful for Mother Marianne,” Ms. Kahilihiwa, 76, said. “Not anybody could go there and do that work to help so many who suffered.” As they crisscrossed central New York visiting her home, her convent and her first parish, the pilgrims — patients, parishioners and clergy members from across Hawaii, including Larry Silva, the bishop of Honolulu — saw pieces of Mother Marianne’s youth.
At St. Joseph and St. Patrick Church, opposite the site of the original wooden building where Mother Marianne first prayed, parishioners welcomed the Hawaiians for a prayer service.  “Shalom.” “Aloha.”
“We are so joyful you are here.”   Incense filled the air of the towering Italianate-style church. Hymns were accompanied by ukulele and pu‘ili, a Hawaiian bamboo rattle. Stephen Prokop, the superintendent of Kalaupapa National Historical Park, performed a reading in his forest green uniform, a kukui nut lei strung around his neck.  “Mother Marianne is a major, major figure in the history of Kalaupapa,” he said afterward, adding, “I wanted to learn more about Mother Marianne’s life.”
The group traveled between Utica and nearby Syracuse throughout the day.  At St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica, one of two hospitals in central New York that Mother Marianne helped establish, a group of Hawaiian nuns dashed into a parking lot, hugging two nuns who had been waiting to glimpse members of their order, whom they had not seen in years. And during the final stop of the day, at St. Anthony Convent of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse, the last patients of Kalaupapa met with now-retired nuns who had continued the work of Mother Marianne, ministering on the peninsula before the isolation ended.
At the convent where Mother Marianne began her religious life and where her remains lie, the former patients and nuns clasped hands and steadied one another, recalling the beauty of the landscape and the nicknames of those on the island: “tip toe,” “tom boy,” “the fishing nun.”  Sister Rosanne LaManche, 92, smiled while listening to the shared memories of long ago. She recalled her arrival on the island in 1949.   “Driving in along the peninsula, I saw that along one road there were graves, graves, graves,” she said, shaking her head. “Mother Marianne should’ve been canonized the day she died.”
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Two New Saints for America

Most Rev. John Vlazny
Archbishop of Portland
Over the 15 years I’ve served as archbishop here in Portland, a number of planning meetings have taken place where we set some goals and objectives for our church here in western Oregon. The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council has been very helpful in helping me set these goals. But there was one goal that no one ever recommended that I hold deep in my heart.  Since the highest calling any one of us ever receives from God is to holiness, I remain hopeful that one day someone who was a Catholic in this archdiocese during my tenure as archbishop will be canonized a saint.  Naturally I want all the people to become saints, but recognition given to one special person would be the frosting on the cake!

Clearly, if that happens, I won’t be alive to witness it.  But I hope to be alive on Sunday, Oct. 21, when two Americans will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome. Altogether seven people will be canonized including a Filipino and some European founders of religious orders. The two Americans are Blessed Marianne Cope, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse, N.Y., who spent many years caring for the lepers on the island of Molokai, Hawaii, and Blessed Kateri Tekakiwitha, a 17th-century Mohawk girl who converted to Catholicism and died young. Folks in the state of New York have to be proud because these two women were New Yorkers.

They say that Blessed Marianne was a born leader. She worked many years at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse.  But eventually she volunteered to go to Hawaii to take care of lepers. There she met St. Damien de Veuster on the island of Molokai. She brought education and happiness to the leper colony and she was greatly revered. Unlike St. Damien, she died of natural causes on Aug. 9, 1918, and was buried in Hawaii.

There is great interest in Blessed Kateri here in the Pacific Northwest because she will be our first Native American saint.  She was known as the “Lily of the Mohawks.”  She was an orphan at the age of 4 and was raised by her uncle, a chief in a Mohawk village.  Jesuit priests who visited the village caught her attention and eventually she became a Catholic at age 20. Many of her relatives were displeased and her open practice of the faith, including Sunday Mass and lots of prayer and fasting, placed her life in jeopardy.  She eventually left her village and escaped to Montreal and a community where she was able to live her faith freely.  She took a vow of virginity and died in 1680 at the early age of 24.

A final miracle is needed for the canonization of any person after his or her beatification. The miracle attributed to Blessed Kateri’s intercession involved the full recovery of a young boy in Seattle. Last year in December Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree, which recognized the miracle as authentic. This cleared the way for Blessed Kateri’s canonization.

Because Blessed Kateri is so widely venerated among our Native American people, I would like to offer some more thoughts about this important canonization for our church here in the United States. It has taken a long time for her holiness to be recognized officially by the church. But her holiness was acknowledged throughout her life and she was honored almost immediately after her death by all those around her.  She has also been described as the “Mystic of the Wilderness,” a contemplative whose life was immersed in the presence of God which she found there in the wilderness of those days so long ago.

To be honest, we have to admit that many tribes of the Native American people suffered great travesties of justice during the early colonization of this great land.  Many misconceptions and tall tales spread about them quickly, which were nurtured by indifference or prejudice on the part of the newcomers to America. We all know that these Native Americans were commonly referred to as Indians until rather recently, an erroneous term attributed to the fact that Christopher Columbus believed that he had come to the “Indies.”  The Native Americans were also called Redskins, even though their coloring was quite varied in appearance, from very fair to dark brown.

The original ancestors of Kateri’s people were of Mongolian or some other Asiatic stock. They came here from Siberia some 20,000 years ago, maybe even earlier. They were nomadic or semi-nomadic in their lifestyle, human beings involved in the last stages of what is called the Great Ice Age.  They came without any notion of claiming a new continent for their own. They were primitive people whose far-ranging journeys crossed the United States, with many of them reaching South America and the Andes. 

Kateri’s people lived in the northeastern part of America. The early inhabitants were described as “the Forest People of North America.”  In reading some biographies of Blessed Kateri, one develops a great admiration for the Jesuit missionaries who made great sacrifices to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the new world.  French Jesuits, Sulpicians, Franciscans, the Sacred Heart Fathers and many other priests from the European Catholic world served unselfishly to make this new world Christian.  They overcame prejudices and they even gave their lives as a witness to their faith.  This, of course, made a deep impression on many people, including contemporaries of Kateri.  Even before she was baptized, Kateri had become a woman of prayer, much in the tradition of the native people.  The Jesuit missionary, Father De Lamberville, who catechized Kateri, did not rush her to the waters of Baptism.  She was eventually baptized on Easter Sunday, 1676.

Kateri’s resistance to marriage and her embrace of virginity confounded many of the villagers, especially the women.  She wanted to give herself exclusively to Christ and, as a woman of deep prayer, God’s grace flowered in her soul. She even suffered the indignity of a false accusation regarding her virginity.  In her innocence she trusted that God would provide her with his protection.  Not long thereafter the angel of death approached her.  She prepared to meet her God, strengthened by the sacramental gift of Viaticum, with serenity and great trust.  She died on April 17, 1680.  At the monument in her memory at Auriesville, New York, she is described as “the most beautiful flower that ever bloomed for the Indians.”

Many organizations were active in the cause for her canonization and in the spread of her message of peaceful surrender to the will of God.  This weekend we thank God for the gift of the canonization of Blessed Kateri and Blessed Marianne.  I continue to pray that one day one of you will be similarly recognized for your holiness of life.
 

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Hawaiian worshipers heading to Italy for canonization of 2 Mohawk Valley women

ANGELICA A. MORRISON / Observer- Photo

The Rev. John E. Mikalajunas packs his bags, Monday Oct. 15, 2012, at the Holy Trinity Church Rectory in preparation for a trip to Rome for the canonization of Blessed Marianne Cope, which is taking place Oct. 21. This is Mikalajunas' 14th time visiting Rome. "I'm excited every time," he said. "It's always adventurous, and the fact that she's from our area makes it even more exciting." 

After that, she made a promise to herself: If she was healthy, and if she felt up to the trip, she would attend Blessed Marianne’s canonization, officially designating her as a saint.
“I trust in the Lord and I made that promise,” said Frank, 85, of Utica.
Frank’s prayers were answered. She is making the same pilgrimage to the Vatican this week with more than 200 parishioners, priests and others associated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse.
The group, led by Bishop Robert Cunningham, left today and will stay in Italy for a week to attend Sunday’s canonizations of Blessed Marianne and six others.
Blessed Marianne isn’t the only one representing the Mohawk Valley. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha lived in what is today Fonda. She will be canonized as the first Native American saint.  Frank said she remembers learning about Marianne and Kateri in school. When she was young, she prayed to the two women.  “The double excitement I have …” said Frank, pausing to choose the right words to express her joy. “The pleasure I have to live in a time when the two saints that I was really hoping some day would be canonized both together; it’s the greatest blessing.” The Rev. Richard Dellos of St. Joseph & St. Patrick Church in Utica said he is especially excited about the upcoming canonization.  After all, Marianne was a parishioner of the church in the 19th century. She was born Barbara Koob in Germany but immigrated to Utica when she was 2. She also was student at the parish school.  “It is a special time,” Dellos said. “She only lived around the block, she went to school here. We feel very near and dear to her.”
And Kateri was just a stone’s throw away in Fonda, though a little less than 200 years before Marianne’s time. The site where she lived has become the home of the National Shrine of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. It’s said she was baptized with the same water that fills a well on the grounds.
Dellos and other priests from the Syracuse diocese will help celebrate Mass Sunday at the Vatican. The Rev. John Mikalajunas, of the Holy Trinity Church in Utica, expects thousands of people to flood the Vatican for the canonization. He estimated that about 25 people from the Utica area would be making the trip.
Before the main event, the group from the Syracuse diocese is planning several sightseeing trips around Italy, including one to Assisi, the town of St. Francis, the namesake saint of the order of nuns to which Marianne belonged.  “We’re obviously preparing with good walking shoes,” Mikalajunas said, laughing.
Rose Marie Roberts, a St. Joseph & St. Patrick parishioner from Whitesboro, is getting ready for her first trip across the pond for the canonization. But this is no regular vacation for her. The coordinator for the church’s Perpetual Adoration chapel said she has a special connection to Marianne.  Several years ago, her mother was diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a bone marrow disorder that slows the production of red blood cells. She required blood transfusions once every three months. Then every two months. Then once a month. It got to the point where Roberts’ mother needed the transfusions two to three times a week.
Roberts heard Marianne’s remains were to be on display at her church. She brought her mother to pray, maybe for the last time.  “I was praying for a peaceful death for my mother,’ said Roberts, 54. “And honestly, she was probably praying for the same thing.”  After the Mass, the transfusions stopped. It was the unexplained miracle that brought about Roberts’ adoration of Marianne, she said.  She said she hopes Sunday’s canonization will have a far-reaching effect on the Mohawk Valley. The event might make God and the church more tangible to youth of the area.  “Getting a saint in our midst like that is a wonderful benefit we need to take advantage of,” Roberts said. “She was a common person in our community, and (youths) can relate to that.”
By SARA TRACEY
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No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise. 
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Leprosy Survivors Look To Mother Marianne Cope's Sainthood

This 1883 photo provided by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities shows Mother Marianne Cope, a nun who dedicated her life to caring for exiled leprosy patients on Kalaupapa in Hawaii. The Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, recommended to the pope that Cope be canonized, confirming previous rulings that a second miracle was due to her intercession. (AP photo/Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities) 

KALAUPAPA, Hawaii (RNS) At 81, Barbara Marks is among the last 17 leprosy patients Hawaii banished to the remote peninsula of Kalaupapa. Over more than 100 years, beginning in 1866, more than 8,000 were separated from their families and taken to this distant point on Molokai, where Mother Marianne Cope ministered to the settlement.
With the Oct. 21 canonization of Cope at the Vatican, and their numbers dwindling, the remaining patients are eager to make sure their stories are recorded and their home preserved.  "I've heard people say it would be a nice resort," Marks said. "I don't want them to do that to Kalaupapa. I don't want it to change. It's our home."
Patients such as Marks describe doctors taking "snips" of their skin to test for leprosy, being poked and prodded and stared at as if they were "a monkey show." They recall burying spouses, having babies taken away and spending family visits with a chain-link fence separating them from their relatives.  Still, many spoke with affection for the place they call home and their connection to the Hawaiian history that created two Roman Catholic saints: Father Damien and now Mother Marianne.  "I had a lot of sadness, but my life was not all bad," Marks said.
Their stories date to 1865, when Hawaii's King Kamehameha V implemented a policy of forced exile by approving the Act to Prevent the Spread of Leprosy.  Kalaupapa was chosen as the site of what became the world's first leper colony because of its location. Cliffs as high as 2,000 feet cut the settlement off from the rest of Molokai, which is approximately in the center of Hawaii's eight islands.
Today, the small village is a quiet, pristine retreat seemingly untouched by modern life. Black lava boulders hug the shores, and the waves are a constant, rhythmic backdrop. Visitors require permission; access is a rocky journey down a 1,700-foot mountainside by foot or mule, or by nine-seat plane.
The first exiles -- 12 patients, one stowaway child and several kokuas (family members acting as helpers or caregivers) -- were taken to Kalaupapa by boat on Jan. 6, 1866. By 1873, when Father Damien began working on Kalaupapa, about 600 patients had been shipped there. In 1890, two years after Cope and several other Franciscan sisters from Syracuse, N.Y., began their ministry, the patient population reached a high of about 1,200.
In the early years, survival was rare. Ten of the first 12 patients died within two years.  By the 1940s, medication had been developed that prevented the transmission of leprosy, now called Hansen's disease. Few patients were forced to Kalaupapa after 1949, and Hawaii formally lifted the quarantine in 1969. Patients were free to leave. But many chose to stay: Kalaupapa had become home, and other patients were family.
In 2005, when the remains of Cope were exhumed as part of the Roman Catholic Church's canonization process, 37 patients remained on the settlement's rolls; 28 still called Kalaupapa their permanent home.
Nine leprosy patients sent to Kalaupapa will take a pilgrimage to Rome for Cope's canonization later this month.
Sister Francis Therese Souza, 69, has worked as a nurse on Kalaupapa since 1989, when 99 patients lived there. She is one of about 61 Franciscan sisters who have ministered there since 1888. Three sisters live there now, Souza and two who serve as volunteers with the National Park Service.  "It's a little harder each time one of them dies," Souza said.  Every day, she remembers her connection to the Franciscan sisters who traveled 5,000 miles into the unknown to dispense medicine and compassion. She's conscious she may be the last Franciscan to do so.  "I might be the one to close the door for Mother Marianne," she said.
Sister Theresa Chow, one of two Franciscans living at the settlement's St. Elizabeth Convent, learned when she moved to Kalaupapa that she is related to a patient. Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva learned about 15 years ago that his great-grandfather and a great aunt died at Kalaupapa.  To Clarence "Boogie" Kahilihwa, who went there in 1959, "it was like a prison." Two sisters and a brother had been sent to Kalaupapa ahead of him, he said.  "We were mostly programmed. They made me feel dirty.'Go here, don't go there, don't touch that.' You could not get close. They were strict. Maybe some were scared. Maybe they were ignorant. A couple of times I said to myself,'Why did I become a patient? Maybe I did something bad and was punished.'"
After being treated at a hospital, he chose to move to Kalaupapa. "Old people said,'Why you shut your life away from society?'" he recalled. "For me it was better. I had a brother and sisters there."  His wife, Ivy, recalls an aunt leaving home and never returning. When she developed spots on her face and hands, "I did not know what it was. They told me I had to be separated. No one told me what it was."
For Gloria Marks, who came in 1960, Kalaupapa meant marriage -- in 1962, to fellow patient Richard Marks -- and a family. They had two sons, who were raised by her parents because health officials worried the children would contract leprosy. Barbara Marks also had a child, Edward Kaito Damien Marks, who also was raised by her mother.  "I didn't want to hold him," she said matter-of-factly. "I didn't want him to end up like me. There was nothing I could do. I had to be strong."
In 2008, Hawaii acknowledged such situations when the state legislature passed a resolution apologizing to former leprosy patients for the policy of exile. The Hawaii Department of Health is committed to caring for patients, providing housing, medical care, meals and modest stipends.
In 1976, Kalaupapa was designated a National Historic Landmark and, in 1980, Kalaupapa National Historical Park was created. As long as patients remain, the state of Hawaii and the National Park Service will continue to provide services and protect their dignity and privacy, said Stephen Prokop, Kalaupapa park superintendent. The park service is working on a long-term plan that will include preservation, education and interpretation of the site. There will be no recreational use, and no sea access is planned.
"It's not a traditional place to come and swim and surf," Prokop said. "It's a sacred place and we want to respect that."
(Renee K. Gadoua writes for The Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y.)
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No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise. 
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