Tuesday 3 October 2006

Pilgrimage and Exile: Mother Marianne of Molokai by: Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, O.S.F.

Pilgrimage and Exile: Mother Marianne of Molokai
Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, O.S.F.
& O.A. Bushnell
University of Hawaii Press
ISBN 0824813871

This is the amazing story of a woman who helped to shape health care in Hawaii and lead a group of missionaries to serve in hospitals and leper colonies half way around the world from home.

I was first introduced to Mother Marianne in the film Moloka,i which was primarily the story of Father Damien, and his service among the lepers on the island of exile called Molokai. This story overlaps with that one for many years but from very different perspectives.

This biography is a delight if somewhat difficult read. It draws heavily upon source documents from the period of Mother Marianne’s life, 1838-1918. It has been said that our life will be measured by the -“ the dash”, what we do with the years between our birth and our death. Marianne made the most of those years; in fact she lived and gave, and served enough for a few lifetimes of lesser people.

Born in Witzenbacher in 1938, her family emigrated to Utica, New York when she was just 2 years old. In 1862 Barbara Koob professed orders to become a nun. She established and expanded hospitals and medical services first in Utica and then Syracuse New York. The first hospital in Syracuse opened in 1869 and mother Marianne was in charge from 1970 to 1877. In 1877 she rose to the position of Provincial Mother of the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse.

It was in that position that she received the request to come and serve in Hawaii, in the role of establishing the hospitals and overseeing medical care on the islands in the Kingdom of Hawaii (At that time often referred to as the Sandwich Islands).

The islanders in Hawaii immediately recognized a strength of character - the internal life of Mother Marianne. She was a favored friend of Queen Kapiolani and King Kalakaua both of whom, though Presbyterian, gave to the work of Mother Marianne and met with her personally on many occasions.

Mother Marianne had to use all of her skills to make the mission on Hawaii work; she had to contend with Parliament, Business owners (tax payers who did not like spending money on lepers), and with the personalities in the church, and her own order.

Marianne not only revolutionized how the patients in the leper hospital, and eventually on Molokai, were treated and cared for. She set up and oversaw hospitals on many of the islands.

Marianne said on more than one occasion that: “God has called us for this work. If we are prudent in our duty He will protect us.” And she was right - not one of the scores of nuns who served there for many long years.

This book will challenge you! You will see service to other people as the greatest calling and the greatest gift. You will witness the life of an amazing woman who cared for all who came into her circle and did all she could to help them be better men and women.

Reviews of Books and Movies about Saint Damien:
Apostle of the Exiled St. Damien of Molokai - Margaret Bunson & Matthew Bunson
Pilgrimage and Exile: Mother Marianne of Molokai by: Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, O.S.F.
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien by: Paul Cox
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien
Father Damien de Veuster Apostle to the Lepers - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Saint Damien of Molokai - Virginia Helen Richards and D. Thomas Halpin
The Life and Letters of Father Damien, Apostle of the Lepers - Edited by Pamphile De Veuster 
Father Damien's Letters

Prayer of the Day - Saint Damien Prayer

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