Sunday, February 26, 2017


Just south of us is ST. BENEDICT'S PAINTED CHURCH, overlooking beautiful and historic Kealakekua Bay. It is the jewel of South Kona, at a place called Honaunau. While it is an important historical site, it is still a vibrant parish, with outreach programs to take care of those in need and to provide medical services for the local community.

The Catholic church has been a part of life in South Kona since 1842. The first church was located on the shore of Honaunau near the City of Refuge and was known as St. Francis Regis chapel. By the mid 1880's most of the folks had moved away from the beach to the cooler climate and more fertile soil to be found a bit higher on the slopes of Mauna Loa. Father John Berchmans Velghe, A Sacred Hearts priest from Belgium, (St. Damien's order) arrived in 1899 and decided to follow the local residents up the mountain slope. The folks dismantled the church and with the help of mules, moved it to its present location.

With repairs and additions the church looked like new. In August 1902 Bishop Ropert from Honolulu visited the relocated church, consecrated it, and named it in honor of St. Benedict.

Father Velghe, a self-taught artist, painted the interior walls of the church. His three dimensional interior painting was inspired by the gothic cathedral of Burgos in Spain. His paintings of scenes from the bible and the lives of the saints were very important teaching tools in a time when many people couldn't read and write.Fr. Velghe's health deteriorated and he had to return to Belgium in 1904, so he was never able to finish the church.

The church can best be described as a "gothic box". The vault over the nave of the church was a great architectural achievement for its time and place. To build a vaulted gothic nave inside a small gable-roofed box was a daring idea that never would have occurred to a trained architect. It is shaped in a cross section like a pointed arch, it covers and supports the nave, and it is supported on each side by three columns. Each of the supporting columns is octagonal, and is painted red, splotched green and yellow to suggest marble.

Encircling each column is a painted white ribbon, bearing, in the Hawaiian language, one of the mottoes of St. Benedict's medal.
The inscriptions are as follows:

O ke kea hemolele kou malamalama. (“The Holy Cross be my light”)
Hele oe pela a Satana. (“Begone Satan!”)
He poino kou mea i ninini mai ai. ("Do not suggest to me thy vanities")
Aole o Satana kou alakai. ( "Let not the dragon be my guide")
Ua oki oe me kou pau wale. (( "Evil are the things thou profferest")
Nau no e inu kou poino. (( "Drink your own poison")

In December of 1983 restoration work began on the deteriorating church, in collaboration with the Bishop museum in Honolulu. In February of 1985 the restoration was complete and the parish celebrated. On the hundredth anniversary of the dedication of the church in its present location, in 2002, more renovation was completed.

St. Benedict's Church, with its unique art work, is listed in the Hawaii State Register of Historic places and the National Register of Historic Places.

St. Francis

Mass is celebrated most days at St. Benedict's, the second Sunday of each month is the Hawaiian Mass, with readings and music in Hawaiian and a breakfast to follow. Many of our parishioners have been here in Honaunau for generations.

Everyone is welcome, the spirit of Aloha permeates the parish community. The Church sponsors scouting troops, a senior citizens group, and a food pantry to help feed those in need. It also provides supplemental groceries for several hundred people a month. A medical van comes once a week to provide medical and dental services to those who need them and lack insurance or the means to access them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Last Sunday I asked the children at their CCD class if any knew the meaning of the word ALOHA. A few had ideas, like hello, goodbye, love. But not the essence of the word.

Aloha  in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion, and mercy, and since the middle of the 19th century, it also has come to be used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello.
But aloha is more than the sum of its meanings.

Aloha means love, affection, peace, sympathy, pity, kindness, mercy and compassion. However, it also has a deeper impact on the Hawaiian culture. For the Hawaiians, there is "The Aloha Spirit," a unique way of living, the ultimate lifestyle, or the secret to a rich life.

If we dissect the word "Aloha", we dive into the roots of Hawaii: "Alo" means "to share"; "oha" means "to show affection or friendship", and "hā" means "life, breath". Basically aloha is all sharing the same (warm) breath of life.

History books are not clear when  the "Aloha" expression entered the Hawaiian vocabulary, but several sources date it back to the end of the 18th century. Aloha derives from the Proto-Polynesian word "qarofa". Interestingly, the Maori language has a similar word with identical meanings - "aroha."

The Aloha Spirit prevailed in the Hawaiian culture and society. In less than a century, the famous expression traveled the world and was adopted by multiple languages. Certainly the people of this Big Island  . still live the true meaning of the word. 

Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain - it is my pain. When there is joy - it is also mine. Both the great Hawaiian saints, Damien and Marianne of Molokai, lived aloha and passed it on to all with whom they came into contact. This is how we see the Body of Christ- all sharing that breath, who is Jesus Himself. As I told the children, may Jesus always be that breath in their lives.

St. Marianne of Molokai

Friday, February 17, 2017


Nine months after a Slovak missionary nun was slain in South Sudan, a bishop has demanded information from the government.

We demand [for] justice,” said Bishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe of Yei . “The investigation on her murder had been started by the government, but after making few arrests the government went quiet.”

Sister Veronika Theresia Racková, a medical doctor and member of the Missionary Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit, was shot May 27, 2016 while taking an expectant mother to a hospital.a week after she died of gunshot wounds. At the time of her death she was a medical doctor and the director of Bhakita Medical Center in Yei River State in South Sudan.

She was returning home after taking a patient on an emergency call to Harvest Hospital, Yei, when she was attacked by suspected soldiers and the St. Bakhita Health Center Ambulance that she was driving, was shot several times.

After two surgeries in the Hospital for Women and Children in Yei, she was airlifted to Nairobi Hospital in Kenya for further treatment and surgeries. Despite the best efforts of the doctors, she passed away .
"Her death is an irreparable loss for us, for her family and for the people she served especially in Yei".

The Bishop of Yei, Erkolano Lodu Tombe, who celebrated Sr. Veronika’s Mass spoke of his profound sadness at the death of Sr. Veronika when the country had just begun to take steps towards peace.
Yei River State Information Minister, Stephen Lodu Onesimo, described the killing of Sr. Veronika as an “undisciplined and barbaric act.”

The Vicar General of the Catholic diocese of Yei said they were hopeful that Sr Veronika;s death would not be in vain noting that in the history of the liberation of South Sudan, Yei has been peaceful and that the people are friendly.

The Christians are sad and sorry but death is not the end of life, we say it’s the new beginning of a new life for sister. We will miss her we encourage Christians and other missionaries congregation to continue the missionary service to the people.  Though she was shot we continue to advocate that her blood will bring peace and reconciliation among the people.”

The initial plan was to have Sr Veronika buried in Kenya but there are hopes that her body will be taken back to South Sudan where she worked.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Juliette Mae Fraser

In a local cemetery

Madge Tennent

Lei adorned statue, St. Benedict's Church

Saturday, February 11, 2017


My orchid lei-  with Mary at Church

It seems wherever I go in Hawaii, they throw a lei or two over my head, the most beautiful being the orchid lei (see photo). But the other day I visited a small shop here is Waimea where I had purchased some cards by a local artist last time I was here. I saw some kukui nut leis, which I see all over. In my early days here, this nut lei was valuable and expensive. I asked the woman and she said today these cheap versions come from the Philippines. But she had one strung by a local artist. Needless to say it was out of my price range. When I went to pay for my cards she put the lei over my head and said: just pray for me. In the true Aloha spirit.

The Kukui is the state tree of Hawaii. The white Kukui nuts (in my lei), are very rare and turn to a deep honey color over time. Ministers, hula dancers and leaders wear these Kukui leis of light . They were worn by Royalty in the olden days.  

In Ancient Hawaii the Kukui oil was used to make light. Wicks were made from the spine of the frond leaf of the coconut palm. When many nuts were used together, they would burn for hours and these were the first torches. 
The nuts and bark of the Kukui are also made into dye for Kapa or Tapa cloth and on cloth for Hula or markings on sacred cloth for ceremony. The tree has a Spiritual meaning of light, hope, and renewal.

The lei custom was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by early Polynesian voyagers, who took an incredible journey from Tahiti, navigating by the stars in sailing canoes. With these early settlers, the lei tradition in Hawaii was born. They were often used by Native Hawaiians  to signify their ranks and royalty. They are also worn as a form of honor to each other and their gods. The religion of the Native Hawaiians as well as the hula custom is tied into the leis that they wore.

Leis were constructed of flowers, leaves, shells, seeds, nuts, feathers, and even bone and teeth of various animals. In Hawaiian tradition, these garlands were worn by ancient Hawaiians to beautify themselves and distinguish themselves from others. The Maile lei was perhaps the most significant. Among other sacred uses, it was used to signify a peace agreement between opposing chiefs. In a Heiau (temple), the chiefs would symbolically intertwine the green Maile vine, and its completion officially established peace between the two groups. Today it is usually the men who wear the maile leis while the women are decked out in flowers.

I do not find the leis as frequently worn as in earlier days. We would even get a lei when we got off the plane in Honolulu. All of the major islands celebrate Lei Day, and each island is symbolized in pagentry by a specific type of lei and a color. Here on the Big Island the flower is the red ʻōhiʻa lehua. There are many methods of making the leis, usually depending on the flowers or other materials used.

ʻōhiʻa lehua. 
In Hawaiian mythology, ʻŌhiʻa and Lehua were two young lovers. The volcano goddess Pele fell in love with the handsome ʻŌhiʻa and approached him, but he turned down her advances. In a fit of jealousy, Pele transformed ʻŌhiʻa into a tree. Lehua was devastated by this transformation and out of pity the other gods turned her into a flower and placed her upon the ʻōhiʻa tree. Other versions say that Pele felt remorseful but was unable to reverse the change, so she turned Lehua into a flower herself. It is said that when a lehua flower is plucked from an ʻōhiʻa tree, the sky will fill with rain representing the separated lovers' tears. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017


While on our way to Hilo Monday, Karen played me a tape of MATTHEW KELLY, which had been introduced to us the previous week by the priest giving the retreat on stewardship. I laughed so hard at parts, that the tears flowed down my face! While he does not say anything most of us Catholics don't already know, it is a refreshing approach and reminder of who we are as followers of Christ. What he says is solidly based on Vatican II’s call to holiness and encourages people to rediscover the glory of the Church through personal prayer, a deeper appreciation for the Sacramental life of the Church, and the Eucharist.

Matthew Kelly was born in 1973 in Sydney, Australia and is the fourth of eight boys. He was raised Catholic, but was “restless and discontent” in his faith until his later teen years, when a family friend encouraged him to look deeper into his faith. This family friend, a physician, challenged him to spend ten minutes each day in a church in prayer. After a few days, Matthew was encouraged to go to daily Mass, where he truly began to connect more deeply with his faith.

He began speaking and writing in 1993. Since that time he has traveled to more than fifty countries and spoken to over four million people. He has written twelve books which have appeared on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller lists and have been published in twenty-five languages.While he has written many books, I would recommend this tape for everyone. It can be found through the Augustine Institute in Denver.

Friday, February 3, 2017


On Monday Karen and I traveled across the island to Hilo for the Mass of our Lady of Fatima and to pay homage to the Pilgrim statue scheduled to visit 100 dioceses in 50 states. 2017 is the 100 anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s six apparitions to the children in 1917. In 1916, an angel appeared three times at Fatima to Lucia dos Santos and her now-beatified cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, telling them to make everything a sacrifice in reparation for sin, which offends God.

The national tour, the first since 1948-50, will continue as Pope Francis is expected to visit the Portugal Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in May 2017. The Tour for Peace also aligns with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the Fatima messages are linked to the message of Divine Mercy received by St. Faustina.

The pilgrim statue was sculpted in 1947 by  Portuguese artist, José Thedim, who consulted closely with Sister Lucia. It is one of two identical statues created to bring the Fatima message to the world. After touring for several years, the other statue is permanently displayed in Fatima.

The 42-inch-tall, 40-pound mahogany statue was blessed by Pope Pius XII and the bishop of Fatima and has visited 100 countries. The tour is a nation-wide call to prayer and penance for peace in our nation and conversion of hearts.  Our Lady promised, “in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

I was happy to have experienced this celebration here in Hawaii with its “melting pot” of faces, all rejoicing in our Mother's mercy and love for us. And perhaps it is the sun and sea, but the people here seem to put just a bit more Aloha into every celebration... of course it is also a great love for the heavenly Mother.

Traveling First Class