Saint Marianne Cope (1838-1918)

for January 23

Saint Marianne Cope was born in Germany, but emigrated to the United States when she was a young child. Her family settled in Utica, New York. When her father became too ill to work, Saint Marianne went to work in a factory to provide for her family. When her father passed away, and her siblings became old enough to look after the family, Saint Marianne entered into religious life, joining the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. She taught at Assumption Parish school, which was attended by a large number of German-speaking immigrant children. Saint Marianne also acted as superior of Saint Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse on three different occasions. She was appointed superior general of her congregation in 1883. Soon after her appointment, she received a plea from the Hawaiian government, looking for people to help those on the islands suffering from leprosy. Saint Marianne responded to the desperate plea, and traveled to Hawaii with six of her sisters to manage the Kakaako Branch Hospital near Honolulu. The sisters also established Malulani Hospital and a school for girls on the island of Maui. Saint Marianne and her companions also served on Molokai, where they founded a home for vulnerable women, and took on leadership of the home that Saint Damien de Veuster had opened for men. Saint Marianne brought change and joy to the suffering inhabitants of Molokai and taught them about the importance of cleanliness in the treatment of leprosy. Even though she was constantly exposed to the disease, Saint Marianne never contracted leprosy herself. Saint Marianne Cope is the patron saint of lepers, outcasts, sufferers of HIV and AIDS, and Hawaii.

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Why do we serve? It helps to put service to others in the context of our faith tradition. Near the end of his earthly life, Jesus asked his followers to love one another. And so we serve one another out of love. We may start off by being required to do service for school or Confirmation preparation. The hope of our teachers and catechists is that, by doing required service, we develop an appreciation for Jesus’ call to serve. As we are shown in the Gospels, Jesus never asked others to serve him. He served others. He gave us an example of service as he healed the sick, listened to those in need, and cared for those on the margins of society. When being called to do service, we can remind ourselves to ask, Am I doing this service as a response to Jesus and his mandate of love? (Taken from "By My Side: A Teen Prayer Companion.")


Jesus, you served others in love; may I respond by being a servant to those in need. (Taken from "By My Side: A Teen Prayer Companion.")