Farewell to the Rose of Kalaupapa
By Father Pat Killilea, St. Francis, Kalaupapa
She climbed the few steps from the airport’s concrete strip and disappeared into Makani Kai’s plane. The doors closed, the engines roared, and the small plane began to pull away from the terminal building. We watched and waved as it taxied toward the top of the runway, turned, and with an increased roar of the engines, sped down the runway, then lifted gracefully into the Kalaupapa sky. The Rose of Kalaupapa was on her way to her next adventure.
The previous night we had toasted and roasted Sister Rose Annette Ahuna as she prepared to leave us after four years of wonderful ministry here in Kalaupapa. Sister Rose, or as I liked to call her, the Rose of Kalaupapa, is 83 going on 38, and full of pep. After a life dedicated to teaching and running day care centers for children, she and Sister Theresa Chow had volunteered to walk in the footsteps of Saint Mother Marianne Cope by ministering here in Kalaupapa, Molokai. We are so happy that they did.
When Sister Rose was not busy indoors at Bishop Home doing household chores or in St. Francis Church taking care of the altar or the altar linens, she could be seen outdoor keeping the Bishop Home property in beautiful shape. She always participated in our community meetings and was a live presence at every party. We will truly miss her presence even as we welcome Sister Samuel who has come to take her place… and to keep an eye on Sister Theresa!
The plane banked to the right as it gained altitude. Mac, the pilot, had chosen to give Sister Rose the “victory tour,” taking the scenic route next to the pali and over the settlement. Sister Rose must have loved that. The plane soon disappeared from view in the distance but we knew that this would not be the last time Kalaupapa would see her. We knew that she is already looking forward to visiting us even as she begins the next chapter in her life at St. Francis Convent in Manoa.
Rumor has it, though I cannot at this time confirm it, that she is planning on teaching an aerobics class to the Sisters in Manoa. Long live the Rose of Kalaupapa!