02 July 2011

A Second Saint for Hawaii?

The Catholic News Service is reporting a miraculous healing that may be attributable to Blessed Marianne Cope, a Franciscan Sister who worked with Saint Damien of Molokai.  If Blessed Marianne is canonized, she will be Hawaii's second saint.
HONOLULU (CNS) -- The sainthood cause of Blessed Marianne Cope of Molokai has taken a significant step forward with a Vatican medical board ruling in favor of a miracle attributed to her intercession.

According to a news release from her religious community, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse, N.Y., the seven physicians at the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes declared there is no medical explanation for the cure of a woman who had been suffering from an allegedly irreversible fatal condition.

"The board concluded the woman's healing was inexplicable according to available medical knowledge. The doctors on the case expected her to die and were amazed scientifically at her survival," the release said.

No other details about the case have been released.

The Sisters of St. Francis received the news from Msgr. Robert J. Sarno, an American priest at the congregation who has been working with the postulator of Mother Marianne's cause, Father Ernesto Piacentini, in the written presentation of the miracle case at the Vatican.

The miracle, approved June 16 by the medical board, still must pass two more Vatican examinations before it is presented to the pope for final approval for canonization. The first is by a board of theologians who will determine if the healing was the result of prayer for Mother Marianne's intercession, and then by a committee of cardinals and bishops who will examine the entire case and give a final verdict.

Sister Patricia Burkard, general minister of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, said that the medical board's decision is a "reason to rejoice" for her religious order, for her devotees, and for "all who unselfishly care for others and do acts of charity known only to God."

"Mother Marianne was the human face of the Gospel's mandate to care for the hungry, the sick and the impoverished," Sister Patricia said. "We pray for success in the case so that her inspirational life will be better known throughout the world. She is a model for us all."

Sister Francis Regis Hadano, regional administrator for the Sisters of St. Francis in Hawaii, said her community is "delighted" with the Vatican ruling.

"We Franciscan Sisters are very pleased and certainly excited about the advancement in the miracle case," she said in an email to the Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Honolulu Diocese. "We are hopeful the theologians will meet sometime later this year. There is much work to be done in preparation for this session so prayer is needed."

"We thank all who pray specially for Blessed Marianne to be canonized," she said.

This is the second miracle attributed to Blessed Marianne's intercession to go through the Vatican approval process.

The first miracle, required for her beatification, was the medically unexplainable recovery of a New York girl dying from multiple organ failure after prayers were said to Mother Marianne. It was approved by the medical board Jan. 29, 2004. The board of theologians gave its approval six months later, on July 15. On Dec. 20, Pope John Paul II affirmed the case, making Mother Marianne eligible for beatification. She was beatified in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 14, 2005.

Mother Marianne, as the head of her religious community in Syracuse, led the first group of Franciscan sisters to the Hawaiian Islands in 1883 to establish a system of nursing care for leprosy patients. She was the only one of 50 religious superiors in the United States, Canada and Europe who were asked for help to accept the challenge.

Once in Hawaii, she relinquished her leadership position in Syracuse to lead her mission for 35 years, five in Honolulu and the remainder on Molokai.

When she died in Kalaupapa in 1918, a Honolulu newspaper wrote: "Seldom has the opportunity come to a woman to devote every hour of 30 years to the mothering of people isolated by law from the rest of the world. She risked her own life in all that time, faced everything with unflinching courage and smiled sweetly through it all."

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