Saint Francis nuns wait to hear if they can stay in Manoa

Saint Francis nuns wait to hear if they can stay in Manoa

The Sisters of Saint Francis are looking for a miracle.

Earlier this month, 24 nuns learned they were being forced out of the Manoa convent many have called home for decades. Last week, they filed an appeal. On Monday, a closed-door meeting was held in New York to decide the fate of the 11-acre property.

Rochelle Cassella, spokeswoman for the Sisters of Saint Francis of the Neumann Communities, which owns the property, said she couldn't release any information about the meeting.

Meantime, the head of Saint Francis School says she hopes to learn the communities' decision by Friday.

If the property owner still wants to close the convent, the sisters plan to file an appeal with the Vatican.

Community members have taken up the nuns' case, seeking to rally for them to remain at the convent next to St. Francis School.

Saint Francis alumnus Phyllis Stephenson says helping the nuns stay in their home is the least she could do.

"It's very sad to have our nuns be treated like this after all these years," said Stephenson, who graduated from the school in 1955.

In a recent quiet protest, a group of about 40 held signs. Residents are also working behind the scenes to help the nuns stay put.

The Sisters of St. Francis organization wants to move the nuns to Plaza Assisted Living Center in Pearl City. The move would make it nearly impossible for the nuns, many in their 70s and 80s, to keep their strong ties to the school.

Stephenson says the past couple weeks have been rough on the nuns.

"They're crying. They're hurting. They're being taken away from the serenity of their lives," she said.

Cassella, of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, said the Hawaii convent's planned closure isn't a first. Two convents in New York have already been closed. A retreat house was also closed this past summer. 

The alumi association is working to raise money to save the convent.

To help, send a donation to: Saint Francis School Alumni Association. On the check's memo line write "save our convent."

Checks can be mailed to: Saint Francis Alumni Association; P.O. Box 62035; Honolulu, Hawaii 96839.

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