Bette and Al Zencak, readers of The Molokai News, informed our editorial staff yesterday that Sister Richard Marie Toal, a nurse at the Kalaupapa settlement for 40 years, has passed away.
“Today, February 5, 2013, we sadly learned of the passing of Sister Richard Marie Toal. Heaven’s gain — may Sister rest in the arms of her loving God,” wrote the Zencaks.
Sister Richard Marie was only a few weeks short of her 97th birthday on her passing. A story marking her 94th birthday appeared in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser almost three years ago.
For 40 years, Sister Richard Marie served as a Franciscan nun for the order of the Sisters of St. Francis. In working with the Hansen’s disease patients at the settlement, she followed in the footsteps of Mother Marianne Cope, who was canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church Oct. 21, 2012. A celebration of her sainthood was recently held in Kalaupapa.
During Sister Richard Marie’s 94th birthday celebration, she spoke about how she would sweep leaves and leave flowers at the grave of Mother Marianne. A stroke five years ago forced Sister Richard Marie to leave Kalaupapa to live in a Manoa convent where she resided until her death.
At her 94th birthday celebration she held a photo of the Bishop Home convent in Kalaupapa that she had cared for and loved for so many years.