Molokai History:

[from a Bulletin from St. Sophia Church in Kaunakakai, no date]

The first chapel in Kaunakakai was blessed in January, 1914 by Bishop Libert Boeynams, SS.CC. The property belonged to Moses Burrows and the chapel seated 50 souls.

In 1937, a new church was built to replace this chapel. Mrs. Sophie Cooke gave the great sum of one thousand dollars towards this new edifice. In honor of Mrs. Cooke, Bishop Stephen Alencastre, SS.CC. blessed the new church on July 4, 1937 and dedicated it to St. Sophia.

The first resident pastor was Father Sebastian Konze, SS.CC. in 1944. Prior to this appointment, priests resident at Hoolehua, Molokai served St. Sophia.

The rectory at St. Sophia was built by Father Albert Leunens, SS.CC. in 1957. A catechetical center next to the church was built by Father John Van Gils, SS.CC. in 1963.

From the unofficial capital of the Friendly Island, Kaunakakai, the priest of St. Sophia served two missions, St. Joseph Church in Kamalo and Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Church in Kaluaaha. These two mission churches were built originally by the famed Father Damien, who served the faithful on the East End of the Island by traveling from the Leprosy Settlement monthly.

Father Damien had built two other churches: St. John the Evangelist at Moanui and St. Ann at Halawa. St. John was torn down in 1934 and St. Ann was abandoned in 1930. People no longer lived in these areas.

Father John Van Gils restored Our Lady of Seven Sorrows and St. Joseph Churches as living shrines to Father Damien’s love for suffering humanity. These two “shrines” are important places of pilgrimage for Catholic tourists to Hawaii.

[The parish boundaries of St. Sophia were from the center of the island, Kalamaula, to and including Halawa Valley.]

Blessings, pono & pule!!!

Fr. Brian Guerrini,