It only seemed natural to interview Sr. Candida is a sister of the Order of St. Francis because St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals. It is customary for Catholic churches to bless animals on the feast day of St. Francis which is October 4. St. Andrew’s Church does this in Honolulu. The sisters of St. Francis have been in Hawaii 125 years. They are women of vision and women of risk.
“Palliative means “cloak”. Care . The Blessed Marianne Cope and six Sisters arrived in the Islands in 1883 to assist the suffering patients with Hansen’s disease on Oahu. Palliative Care is a medical specialty focused on relief of the pain and other symptoms of serious illness. The focus is on the whole health of the person: mind, body, and spirit. The goal of palliative care is to ease and relieve pain and suffering caused by serious illness and to offer patients and their families the best possible quality of life possible.”
Sr. Candida is a very special lady. Her love for animals was evident as she spoke about the animals and her life. She went into the convent in her teenage years and got to choose her name from a choice of three names; Candida was her mother’s name. I asked her if she visited the church of St. Francis of Assisi and she replied that she had spent 6 weeks in Italy and 10 days in Assisi. She beamed from ear to ear as she recalled some of the days of her youth and the good times she had with her family. She recalled her pet rabbit which she got from the Catholic Church here in Hawaii as a child and recalled how the rabbits multiplied and she had to give them away to friends. They also had chickens and her job was to pick up the eggs for food.
She recalled her pet rooster named Prince. He was a special rooster; not like any other rooster that her dad had at their home. Occasionally her dad would let some of the chicken eggs hatch and Prince was one of those cute baby chicks that turned into a pet. One day Prince had over-eaten and his feed bag broke. Sr. Candida’s dad had to use a sewing needle to repair the rooster. They kept the rooster in the house until it was nursed back to health and she named him Prince. She had a lifelong connection to Prince and when she went away to the Sisters of St. Francis her dad sold the rooster. When he sold it to the new owners it was under the condition that they did not kill it because he told them it made great breeding stock.
She also had a brown poi dog named Chico was a big dog that she loved very much. There were cats around her home as a child but she said they didn’t really give them names because they just hung around. She lost a cat named Lani when she was a Franciscan Sister. Lani ran away after the neighbors fumigated their home.
She currently owns a cat named “Pace” which means peace in Italian. Pronounced pah-chey. She said her cat is more human than cat and they have a close connection. When she comes home from her day Pace is waiting to greet her. Pace is not a snuggly cat and she attributes that to the time when she had surgery and the cat was made to sleep at the foot of her bed. So now her sweet cat sleeps at the foot of her bed every night.
Sr. Candida has taught school on Hawaiian Islands for many years and was a principal. She taught at St. Joseph’s in Hilo, Big Island. She also taught at Our Lady of Good Counsel and Sacred Hearts Lahaina School on the island of Maui.
Buddy and Sr. Candida became instant heartfelt friends. I believe animals can connect with the human heart on a level that words cannot describe.