The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, especially those in Hawaii, had much to celebrate on this past Veteran’s Day weekend. The anniversaries celebrated included the 90th year of Saint Francis School’s founding, the 125th year of the arrival of the sisters in Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii, the 130th year since the sisters arrived in Hawaii and the 175th anniversary of St. Marianne’s birth.

The first of the celebrations took place on Friday, Nov. 8 at the Damien and Marianne Heritage Center on the grounds of St. Augustine-by-the-Sea Church in Waikiki. Father Lane Akiona, SSCC, pastor and president of the Damien and Marianne Foundation, along with parishioners of St. Augustine’s hosted an Evening of Aloha. The event included music, gourmet foods and an opportunity for guests to peruse a display of Sts. Damien and Marianne artifacts at the Damien and Marianne Heritage Center. Items were also available for purchase. This event was the first official activity to raise funds for the construction of a free-standing building for the Damien and Marianne Heritage Center. The event was graced with a beautiful starry Hawaiian evening, fine company and live music.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, the Sisters of St. Francis in Hawaii hosted a Benefactor Appreciation Evening at St. Francis Convent in Manoa. Our dining room was transformed into a banquet hall with gourmet foods and the professional services of Chef Grant Sato and students from the Kapiolani Community College, Culinary Department. The best part was that our benefactors shared the evening with the sisters in deep gratitude and appreciation for all the support they have given us, especially in spreading awareness of St. Marianne Cope. The evening seemed like a family reunion. Following dinner, sisters and guests were treated to a performance of “November’s Song,” at the Almeida Student Center. Proceeds from the event benefited the renovation of the fourth floor infirmary and the care of our elderly sisters.

A matinee performance of “November’s Song” took place on Sunday, Nov. 10 with an almost full house, accompanied by a baked goods sale. Following the performance, three pieces of art work were raffled, which added to the success of the weekend.

It took many people, the investment of their time, talent and treasure, to have these events unfold flawlessly, and for each of them we ask God’s special blessing and add our personal “mahalo.”

Story by Sisters Marion Kikukawa, Alicia Damien Lau and Barbara Jean Wajda