by Fr. Frank Dunaway
Together with my wife Amy and daughter Reagan, I recently had the pleasure of visiting what is (at least for now) the farthest western outpost of the Diocese of Quincy: the Church of Saint Mary and the Angels, in Kapa’au, Hawaii. We were treated to a tour of the grounds of the Na Pua Li’i Hermitage on which the church is established, and the adjacent fruit plantation that is managed by the members of the Franciscan community who are in residence. Over the course of an afternoon and the following morning, Fr. Stephen Lally and Sisters Anne and Marty shared a bit of the history of their previous mission in Haiti, their relocation to the northwest coast of the Big Island, and the vision for their new mission, which over time they are making a reality.
That vision includes not only the establishment of a viable congregation locally, but also the creation of a retreat center for clergy, religious, and laity; where “spiritual batteries may be recharged” and participants may refocus their sights and actions on realizing the call which has been laid upon them by the Holy Spirit.
Work progresses daily on the site where a two-story barn, a church, a guest house and separate cottage will rise. Already, the pad on which the barn will sit is poured and the sanitary facilities to support the retreat center and residents are in place. The timbers and sheathing which will provide the frame and structure of the church in which the already consecrated altar will rest sit safely covered nearby.
When not occupied with the preparation and construction of the hermitage, the community turns to the management of the fruit plantation which they have reclaimed from the jungle-like undergrowth which had overtaken it before their arrival. The trees which provide bananas, papayas, mangos, avocados, and citrus are carefully husbanded, and their yield harvested to provide both food for the community and income at the local Farmer’s Market.
As important as all of the work I have described may be, it proceeds around the spiritual devotions which anchor this community. Each day, Mass is celebrated, the Daily Offices prayed and Compline and Vespers are said.
Our time with Fr. Stephen and the sisters was one of joy, as we saw the work done in them by the Holy Spirit and the work He has inspired them to do to make this vision come true.
Although you may not find yourself able to visit the Church of St. Mary and the Angels at the Na Pua Li’i Hermitage, I ask your prayers for these pilgrims, as they work to the glory of God. You may follow the work of the Hermitage at their website: http://www.pualii.org.
Bottom left: Site of future church building
Top right: Site of future guest dormitory
Bottom right: Foundation/pad for future barn