SYRACUSE, NEW YORK (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mother Marianne's road to sainthood started at a Syracuse church. Hawaii News Now's Tannya Joaquin attended a mass in Marianne's honor as pilgrims from Hawaii and New York came together to celebrate her canonization.
"Our first stop in Syracuse sets the tone for our pilgrimage. Hansen's Disease Patients and all the pilgrims from the Hawaii delegation are at the altar of the Franciscan Church of the Assumptions paying their respect to the relic of Mother Marianne."
Hawaii bishop Larry Silva led a delegation from Hawaii and Syracuse in a moving mass at the very church where Marianne Cope entered her vows with the Sisters of Saint Francis in 1863.
"This is of course and honor to Mother Marianne and to be inspired by her. This is where she professed her vows with the Sisters and this is beginning to rest of her story," said Bishop Larry Silva.
A story that's spreading now that she's being canonized. Her work as a Franciscan nun changed the lives of the down-trodden in New York for twenty years before she answered a call to help in Hawaii.
When no one else would, she eagerly accepted the opportunity to minister to the abandoned,
thousands of Hansen's disease patients in Kalaupapa, 5-thousand miles away.
More than a century later, nine of the surviving patients from Kalaupapa are here.
Each took turns taking communion, in a joint celebration with the Syracuse sisters, who championed Marianne's cause to the pope for 37 years.
"I'm moved to see church filled with all these patients from Hawaii. It's just wonderful, a wonderful start to our pilgrimage to Rome," said Sister Roberta Smith of St. Francis Syracuse.
Before wrapping the first of many masses on the pilgrimage, Bishop Silva presented a plaque to the church to honor the occasion, and the patients who traveled so far to celebrate.
"This plaque is presented to the Assumption Church, this very special church in the life of Mother Marianne."
There were local touches.
A Hawaiian blessing to Mother Marianne's relic gifted to the church and a highlight of the mass was a song in Hawaiian, before everyone was invited to the altar to honor Mother Marianne's relic one by one.
"We're marking a lot of firsts on this pilgrimage. Marianne Cope is the first Franciscan nun to be canonized as a Saint and this is the first time her home parish has ever sang a hymn in Hawaiian. On the Road to Sainthood, in Syracuse, Tannya Joaquin, Hawaii News Now."