Called to be witnesses of the reign of God and to respond to the mission of the Church in the present day, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity serving at St. Theresa Parish, Kekaha, HI will be sharing their lives from the Congregation’s farthest western ministry site this month.
Sister Rosalani Gomes, OSF writes about her native land and her call to be a Franciscan Sister:
Growing up in what Mark Twain termed, ‘The loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean,’ was idyllic. I spent my early childhood on Grove Farm Sugar Plantation in Puhi, Kauai, where I was born, the ninth of ten children. We later moved to Kekaha Sugar Plantation. My mother taught us by example that God is generous and we should be likewise. When God called me to religious life, I readily said ‘yes’. I had never seen a nun nor were there Catholic schools on Kauai, so how did it happen?
I got hooked on four simple words, ‘Fill These Empty Shoes’, an ad in Our Sunday Visitor. I wrote to the Marist Missionary Sisters, Bedford, MS, for information, and was excited when I got a reply. I was impressed with the work of the Order and continued my correspondence. I would fill those empty Marist Missionary shoes someday!
At St. Theresa Parish, I readied the convent for the first Sisters and welcomed them wholeheartedly. When Mother Edna came, I sent her orchids which prompted a meeting. She encouraged me to pray about my vocation and assured me of her prayers.
Along with my mother, I sought the Lord’s help. Mother was hesitant to have me go so far from home-He lei poina ‘ole ke keiki -A lei never forgotten is the beloved child. (Her youngest since age eleven.) However, my parents gave me their blessing when I chose to be a Manitowoc Franciscan…on a warm July day I stood at the railing of the SS Matsonia with my mother’s prophetic words, “I won’t see you again’, ringing in my ears. As the ship pulled away from Honolulu Harbor, I had a lump in my throat. I was fearful, yet excited. The band played ‘Aloha Oe’ and with tears streaming, I cast my leis onto the water. If they reached the shore, I would return someday…I thank God for the blessings He has given me and for the blessings still to come. I pray that my ‘YES’ continues to be alive and strong.
It seems appropriate to also quote Sister Mara Gandia, OSF, who came to Manitowoc in June 1950 from this beautiful island of Kauai with one of the first Sisters.
When I was on the island, I loved to hear the Sisters laughing and singing. I thought they must love God very much because they were so happy! The Sisters told me they were so happy because they were sure that God loved them. I wanted to be sure of God’s love, too! I thought that if I could become a Sister, I would know that for sure. I continued these thoughts when I was in high school. When I graduated, my parents gave me permission to go to Manitowoc.
I did not know any Sisters in Wisconsin and Manitowoc except Sister St. Margaret. The Sisters and candidates made me so welcome that I was not afraid. I knew I could be happy with God and them. As I prayed to Our Lord, I also asked His Blessed Mother Mary and St. Theresa to help me in my difficulties and to keep on loving my Sisters and me. I have learned that there are no conditions on the love of God Our Father for me.