[from Molokai Catholic Community Report to the Vicariate, February 12, 1998]
The island of Molokai was visited by Sacred Hearts priests from O’ahu and then Maui from the middle 1840’s. Catechists who fled the persecution on O’ahu built up a small community of believers on Moloka’i but they faced more persecution from the Calvinists already on the island. Visiting priests routinely went down to Kalaupapa to baptize and hear confessions. After Damien’s arrival in Kalaupapa in 1873, the Catholics “topside” begged him to come up and provide sacramental services for them also. Over the course of the next four years, Damien was responsible for the building of four churches in the eastern end of the island: St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, Kamalo; Our Lady of Sorrows, Kalua’aha; St. John the Evangelist, Moanui; and St. Ann, Halawa Valley. Only two Damien churches remain standing today [on “topside” Moloka’i]: Our Lady of Sorrows (totally rebuilt in 1958; holds 72) and St. Joseph, Kamalo (refurbished in 1995; holds 38).
……to be continued
Blessings, pono and pule!
Fr. Brian Guerrini, ss.cc.