Molokai History:

[from Hawaii Catholic Herald, December 23, 2011]

“A Welcoming Church for a Friendly Isle”

Sister Isabel Rabbon, a Maryknoll sister who worked as a pastoral associate at the old St. Sophia Parish under several pastors from 1979 to 1990, said the new church was “a dream come true.”

The church’s sound qualities impressed long-time Molokai resident Maryknoll Sister Ardis Kremer. “I think it is beautiful, acoustically extraordinary,” she said.

Joe Souza, who came to Molokai from Oahu eight years ago, said that he was “proud” of the church and the “outstanding community” it belongs to.

Richard Negrillo, who has lived on the island for about 70 years, said he liked the new design “very much,” and the fact that it holds so many people.

Parish secretary, Rose Brito, who for years, has been very active in the administration of the Molokai church, is glad to see the end of 30 years of “moving altars, moving chairs” to accommodate large congregations in borrowed halls.

“That’s pretty amazing,” said Brito, who came to Molokai in 1945. “We have a place to worship. That is the most important thing. It is a safe place for our kids.”

“It’s been a very slow process. It took a lot of patience,” she said of the effort to build a new church which began in 1995. “But we persevered and supported each other.”

Daily Mass had previously been celebrated at the Damien Center, the former coffee shop next door to the new church that had served as a temporary multi-purpose parish building. According to Father Guerreiro, the future of the center is still being mulled over. It may become a Damien museum or youth center, he said.

The parish still owes $1.4 million on the new church, which cost $3.4 million to build. The parish of 300 families on an economically-depressed island has been depending on donors from across the state and the mainland.

Blessings, pono and pule!

Fr. Brian Guerrini,