The ceremony that saw Kateri Tekakwitha declared a saint also included six others, and for the first time two Americans were canonized at the same time: St. Kateri Tekakwitha and St. Marianne Cope.
Cope (1838-1918) was born in Germany but brought to America at age 1, and received automatic citizenship under the laws of the time when her father was naturalized. Her entrance into religious life in 1862 with the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, N.Y., has a Philadelphia connection.
In 1860, five years after the founding of the Philadelphia Sisters of St. Francis by St. John Neumann, Mother Francis Bachmann sent sisters to Syracuse and over the next several years to other cities in New York State, and these groups ultimately became separate congregations.
But in recent years three of these New York congregations, including the Syracuse Sisters, have reunited as the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Mother Marianne Cope was the second superior general of the Syracuse Sisters when in 1883 she and six companions answered a plea for sisters to nurse Hanson’s disease (leprosy) patients in Hawaii, similar to the work of St. Damien of Molokai.
It is for her heroic work over more than three decades in this challenging ministry that St. Marianne has been given the highest recognition the Church can bestow.
St. John Neumann and the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia can well be proud.