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KAILUA-KONA—In 1840, two French priests arrived here from O‘ahu to bring Catholicism to the Big Island of Hawai‘i. The optimistic and hard-working clergymen overcame a score of challenges to pave the way for the founding of St. Michael the Archangel mission. A stone hitching post inside today’s Kona Plaza Shopping Arcade marks the location of the island’s first Catholic mass.
The daunting tasks and accomplishments of Kona’s priests, and their congregations, are chronicled over the last 170 years in a new book, “North Kona’s Catholic Heritage…remembered.” The 52-page color book debuts in conjunction with the St. Michael the Archangel Feast Day celebration Sunday, Sept. 27.
Open to the public, the gathering begins after the 11 a.m. Feast Day Mass at St. Michael’s. The celebration is headquartered across the street at Hale Halewai and fun will sprawl onto the church grounds, including pony rides.
“In addition to the debut of this wonderful book, Feast Day festivities include a picnic, games, entertainment and silent auction—it is celebration of our community,” says Pastor Lio Faletoi.
Filled with photos, historical info and a handy timeline, the book traces the history of St. Michael’s Parish, which includes St. Michael the Archangel Church, Immaculate Conception Church in Holualoa, St. Peter’s Church in Kahalu‘u, St. Paul’s Church in Honalo and Holy Rosary Church in Kalaoa.
The publication also looks to the future as plans are in the works to demolish St. Michael’s Church on Ali‘i Drive and build a new facility. Built in 1850, St. Michael’s was damaged beyond repair in the October 2006 earthquake.
The parish’s Heritage Committee produced “North Kona’s Catholic Heritage...remembered,” which was printed on recycled paper in Hawai‘i. It sells for $20 with tax and proceeds benefit the church’s Building Fund. Book sales kick off during Feast Day weekend, starting with the 5 p.m. Mass on Saturday, Sept. 26 and continuing Sunday at morning Masses and the Feast Day celebration.
“To showcase the book’s premiere, the Heritage Committee will screen videos of interviews done to research the parish’s history,” details Pastor Faletoi. “There will also be a slide show of historic photographs collected from parishioners.” The visual presentation will be at Hale Halawai.