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St. Paul’s daughters leave Hawaii after 48 years

The St. Paul girls stand outside their store in downtown Honolulu on April 23. From left to right, Sister Diane Leonard Kraus, Sister Maria Joseph Petrill and Sister Mary Joane Caritas Gepitulan. (Photo courtesy of Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP)

The sisters will leave the islands without a Catholic retail store selling books and religious items

By Sr. Malia Dominica Wong, OP
Catholic Herald of Hawaii

The Daughters of St. Paul, the religious order of women who have served Hawaii for nearly 50 years spreading the gospel through their print apostolate and other forms of media, are closing their Pauline Book and Media Center on Bishop Street in downtown Honolulu and leave the islands on June 16, as part of a reconfiguration of the order’s 13 North American locations. The move will allow the community “to carry out our media mission in person and online,” said Sister Donald Maria Lynch, provincial superior of the Daughters of St. Paul in the United States and Toronto, in a video announcement on 19 april.

The reorganization will also close sites in Chicago, Charleston and San Antonio.

The sisters will leave Hawaii without a Catholic retail store for books and religious items. Besides books, the Pauline Book and Media Center also sold statues, religious artwork, nativity scenes, rosaries, medals, films, DVDs, calendars, music and more.

Bishop Larry Silva will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Sisters’ contribution to the Diocese of Honolulu at 6:30 p.m. June 2 at St. Therese Honolulu Co-Cathedral.

The Daughters of St. Paul currently have three sisters in Hawaii, Sister Maria Joseph Petrill who served here for nine years; Sister Diane Leonard Kraus for seven; and Sister Mary Joane Caritas Gepitulan for 11 years.

“Like many of you, our faith community has experienced the challenges of these times,” Sister Lynch said in her announcement. “Our love for God and for all of you compels us to continually discern how to serve the church more effectively through our religious dedication and evangelism. To do this, we are reconfiguring our presence to enable us to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to more people in our changing world.

“We are missionary sisters sent to bring Christ to the world through the most effective means of communication,” she said. “We share the gospel through personal interactions, digital and print words, podcasts, social media, music and radio.”

“We reach millions of people around the world through in-person and digital communications. Yet we hear the call to respond more fully to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ,” Sister Lynch said.

“And so we are reconfiguring our 13 physical locations across the continent to deliver our in-person and online media mission more effectively,” she said.

“We realize that the closure of these (four) sites will leave a void, and to say we will miss you in these cities is an understatement,” the superior said. “Although these changes we are making are painful, we hope the Lord will bestow spiritual growth and fruition through this process.”

The decision to leave Honolulu and the other three locations was not easy, said St. Paul’s daughter, Sister Margaret Timothy Sato, who was in Honolulu when the announcement was made.

“It was done through much prayer and discernment in a process that involved all the sisters,” she said.

Daughters of St. Paul in their chapel at their downtown Honolulu store on April 23. From left to right, Sister Mary Joane Caritas Gepitulan, Sister Maria Joseph Petrill and Sister Diane Leonard Kraus. (Photo courtesy of Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP)

Sister Kraus agreed. “It was a great discernment that began with the vision of the reorganization of the province several years ago. But the past two years have pushed reality and necessity forward. »

“We don’t want to close anything. But given the reality of how we want to grow, it’s necessary,” she said.

“There are never enough vocations or sisters in the community to do all the things we want to do,” Sister Sato said. “Yet we are blessed that there are women who continue to enter the community. Some vocations come from places where we don’t even have a physical location.

Over the years, Hawaii has been a rich source of vocations for the Daughters of St. Paul.

“We also have a wonderful group of lay Pauline Cooperators,” said Sister Gepitulan. “They will continue the Pauline presence here.”

The three sisters currently assigned to the Honolulu center do not have to travel alone. The congregation sends sister counselors to each of the locations to accompany the sisters as they move forward. The Daughters of Saint Paul are also well supported by the prayers of their own sisters. Sisters previously assigned here have also reached out to past and present contacts.

And adding grace upon grace, shortly after hearing the news of the center’s closure, Bishop Silva stopped by the store to say a prayer over the sisters and plan a mass of thanksgiving.

The Pauline family

Founded by Blessed James Alberione and Venerable Mother Thecla Merlo in the northern Italian town of Alba in 1915, the Daughters of St. Paul are one of five religious congregations, four secular institutes and one lay association that make up the Pauline family.

In 1932, members of the order set out to establish the congregation on American soil. They founded a provincial house and a publishing house in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. There are 120 sisters in the United States and in the province of Toronto. Worldwide, 1,900 sisters serve in more than 50 countries.

In the early 1970s, Bishop John J. Scanlan, second diocesan bishop of Honolulu, invited the Daughters of St. Paul to operate a book center in Hawaii. The first sisters arrived on September 23, 1974, with then Superior General Mother Ignatius Balla and Sister Paula Cordero. The first St. Paul’s Catholic Book and Film Center was located on the ground floor of the chancery office at 1184 Bishop Street, behind the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace. He eventually moved across the street to a two-story building at 1143 Bishop.

The sisters live upstairs and operate the retail space on the ground floor where there is also a chapel. The sisters also rent space at Pearson Place for problem pregnancies.

It has not yet been decided what the religious community will do with the building it owns.

The sisters did more than sell books. They organized book fairs in Catholic parishes and schools, gave presentations and workshops on media literacy and spiritual life, led prayer groups and retreats, and visited homes. They even participated in the Great Aloha Run.

From Hawaii, the sisters’ ministry has also reached out to other Pacific islands, including Guam, Samoa and Fiji.

Sister Donald Maria Lynch, in her post, encouraged people to stay in touch online. “We are also committed to staying connected with you as we continue our evangelistic mission,” she said. “We invite you to share this journey with us at”

From Bishop Larry Silva: Farewell to the Daughters of Saint Paul

On April 19, it was publicly announced that the Daughters of St. Paul were reorganizing their ministries in the United States and, sadly, would be leaving Hawaii. For nearly 48 years they have run the Pauline Books and Media Store on Bishop Street opposite the Cathedral, selling a wide assortment of books, rituals, cards and religious gifts. More than that, they were a great presence in their religious testimony to Jesus. They will be greatly missed.

All are invited to a farewell mass and reception for the Daughters of St. Paul on Thursday, June 2 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Therese Co-Cathedral, 712 N. School Street, Honolulu.