Taking a fall for Jesus

It was Easter Sunday morning. I had just rolled out of bed and was wielding my Bic razor when the phone rang. The female voice at the other end identified herself and apologized for calling so early, then said that Ellery, the pilot, was fueling the plane and would touch down in Kalaupapa at 6:45 a.m. Leaving a large blob of shaving cream on the phone, I took a super fast shower, skipped into some clothing, and sped to the airport. Sister Theresa, Sister Catherine, and Sister Barbara Jean were already there. Sister Barbara Jean was in a wheelchair.

It had been a busy Holy Week beginning with our Palm Sunday service. We had lots of palms to carry in procession but we did not have a donkey for the reenactment of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. So I had to take its place. I’m quite good at that, of course! During the week we had visitors from Canada and Spain to host and take around and of course we had our Holy Week services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

It was on Saturday morning that it happened. Sister Barbara Jean, a Franciscan Sister who teaches at St. Francis School in Manoa Valley was visiting our Franciscan Sisters here in Kalaupapa. She was helping prepare the altar at St. Francis Church for the Easter Vigil Mass when she missed a step while descending from the high altar and went down hard. She took a fall for Jesus and suffered some elbow fractures but, thank the Lord, did not suffer any head injuries. She is a strong woman who loves to fish and plans on coming back again to fish at Damien’s Landing but, after spending a night at the care home, she decided to fly to Oahu to have some X-rays taken. It was a good decision.

The four-seater plane with Sister Barbara Jean on board took off as the Sisters and I waved good bye. It soared into the Kalaupapa sky,

 banked to the left and was on its way to Oahu. We returned to Kalaupapa town to prepare to celebrate Christ’s glorious Resurrection at our 9 a.m. Mass. To Sister Barbara Jean we say, “Get well soon” and to all of you, “Have a Blessed Easter season.” 


Anchor columnist Father Killilea is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

© 2020 The Anchor  †  887 Highland Avenue  †  Fall River, Massachusetts 02720