AMHERST, N.Y.-- In the Catholic Church, she's known as Saint Marianne Cope, beloved mother of outcasts. Born in 1838, Saint Cope was member of Sisters of Saint Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse, with a Regional House in Williamsville. Sunday, parishioners at St Mary's Church in Swormville gathered to celebrate her canonization.
"She was a compassionate loving person and she wanted only good for all," said Sister Michaeleen Cabral.
Sister Cabral is member on the Sisters of Saint Francis Neumann Communities. She's also a native of Hawaii, where Mother Marianne spent most of her life treating people suffering from Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy.
"I'm from Hawaii, so it touches me even more that someone would come from Syracuse all the way to Hawaii and die there for the people," said Sister Cabral.
Mother Marianne died in 1918 at the age of 80, but not before she helped establish the first general hospital in Maui and improve the life of many of the suffering. Almost immediately, the Sisters began making a case for her sainthood.
"Sister Marianne Cope is one of our two newest American saints," said Bishop Richard Malone.
Bishop Malone, head of the Buffalo Diocese, says canonization is rare in the US. In fact, only ten other Americans before Cope have been canonized. Last year, Father Nelson Baker, who worked with the poor in Lackawanna, was designated venerable by the Pope. It’s a move that puts him one step closer to Sainthood.
“It takes a while to make sure they study carefully all the testimony and all the evidence about the person and so it's a very, very slow process," said Bishop Malone.
Bishop Malone says while the process could take years, he's confident that one day Father Baker will join Mother Marianne as a saint.