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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, May 26, 2001

Expressions of Faith
Queen acted upon her faith

By Caroline Ward Oda

Queen Emma, the founder of St. Andrew's Priory School, was a strong and godly woman with many of the qualities described in Proverbs 31.

• v. 17: "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her task."

• v. 25: "She is clothed in strength and dignity."

• v. 20: "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy."

As a young woman, Emma lived her faith through action.

When she was 23, the Legislature named Hawai'i's first hospital after her because she had collected donations to build it. The Legislature then was a lot like it is now. It had decided that a hospital should be built, but had appropriated no money. Consequently, this young woman (and her husband, King Kamehameha IV) swung into action, talking to ali'i and commoners alike, persisting until they finally raised enough money to start construction.

Imagine those times. Hawaiians were dying every day because they had no immunity to colds, measles and other Western diseases. There were no vaccinations, no antibiotics. There were doctors for the foreigners and the wealthy, but no one to help ordinary people.

Emma's hanai father was a doctor. But it wasn't her father, or some wealthy chief, who created a hospital for Hawaiians. She did it.

What needs do you see that touch your heart? Even if you are 8, 10 or 15 years old, you can set your heart on making the world a better place.

After the money was raised for a hospital, Queen Emma continued to lobby the Legislature until work on the building had begun and a doctor was hired.

Good spiritual health was also essential to Emma. Along with Kamehameha IV, she worked to start the Episcopal (Anglican) church in Hawai'i. She also began to raise money to build St. Andrew's Cathedral. When she heard that there was to be a boys' school, she added a girls' school to her list of projects.

Suddenly, tragedy hit. Her 4-year-old boy, Prince Albert, fell ill, and all the medical care in Hawai'i couldn't save him. Eighteen months later her husband followed their baby in death. She slept on the ground near the crypt, in damp Nu'uanu Valley. People feared for her health and her sanity.

Months later, Emma, barely 29, made the choice to continue her work and went to England to raise money for the school and cathedral.

Emma dreamed with her heart and turned those dreams into action. What kind of compassion has God given you? Set your heart and mind to living it.

Be like Emma, who wasn't deterred by her youth. Her determination has given many women — I am one of them — the opportunity to get an education at St. Andrew's Priory.

Caroline Ward Oda is head of school at St. Andrew's Priory.

Expressions of Faith is a column written by pastors, priests, lay workers and other leaders in faith and spirituality. To contribute, e-mail faith@honoluluadvertiser.com or call 525-8036.