Born the eldest of four children on Honokohua, Maui, Sister Laura Abat, OSF was open to Jesus’ love and care from a young age.
“When I was seven, I first encountered religious Sisters chatting and laughing with the children in the school playground. I learned more about these Sisters when I attended religious education classes in elementary school. As a teenager, I joined the church choir in Lahaina and became better acquainted with their kindness and devotion to caring for the marginalized. These Sisters were so welcoming, friendly and always full of joy, so much so that they inspired me to follow in their footsteps; I wanted to be like them. ”
After graduating high school, Sister Laura traveled to Syracuse to join their Franciscan community, which eventually led her to San Diego, California, and then back to Hawaii.
“Some of my fondest memories take me back to parishes where I ministered in California and Hawaii. It has given me great joy to be able to use my gifts and talents with both children and adults. It was an inspiration to see how the families practiced and grew in their faith.”
Sister Laura seized various opportunities to serve — as a high school principal in Hilo, public librarian on Maui, and director of religious education in San Diego. Sister Laura embraced the ministry life inside and outside the parish doors. With more than 60 years as a Sister of St. Francis, Sister Laura had difficulty choosing just one favorite memory to share from her expansive experience in ministries in many diverse communities.
“One of my great joys was when, as the Wailuku Bookmobile librarian, I was able to share my love for reading with those who were unable to travel to the library to satisfy their thirst for information and learning,” she said. “I owe a debt of gratitude to those individuals, living and deceased, religious and lay. who have modeled for me what it means to live a life wholly committed to Christ. I extend my deepest gratitude to those who have and continue to support me in prayer on my spiritual journey.”
Sister Laura currently supports the program director of the Franciscan Adult Day Care, helping lead groups in crafts, exercise, singing, and other activities.
Reflecting on Sister Marianne Cope, Sister Laura shares:
“To serve our community as she did, we must recommit ourselves on a daily basis to love our neighbors as ourselves. We, at the St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii, continue to carry out Saint Marianne Cope’s ministry. May we never falter in serving our people in Hawaii and their needs the way she did.”
What is Sister Laura’s secret to joyful servanthood?
“Forgetting self, participating, and giving people a lot of enjoyment and love is key to loving our kupuna and our community.”
Mahalo to Sister Laura for setting an example of servant’s heart for all of us at St. Francis Healthcare System!