It’s Never Too Late
By Father Pat Killilea, St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa
Just a few minutes ago, I walked across the street to check my mail box, just in case I had received a million dollars to benefit St. Francis Church. The sign on the window as well as on the door read, “Closed 12/7; Open 12/8.” Today is 12/8 and this was my third trip today to the USPS of Kalaupapa. I will probably stop there again later. After all, this is Kalaupapa and it’s never too late here.
It has been three weeks plus since I last used our landline to make a call. I know that because my calendar tells me that on Nov. 15, I called both my sister and brother in the west of Ireland. One would think that, since we can send astronauts to the moon, we should be able to easily fix a simple landline problem. I do give credit to Hawaiian Telcom because, after several failed attempts, a repair person today solved the problem and our landline is operative again… at least for now. Of course, this is Kalaupapa and here it’s never too late.
Several weeks ago, I put in a request for the plumber to come and fix or replace the valve in my toilet tank before it burst in the middle of the night and flooded the house. I could call my brother, Johnny, a retired plumber-fitter, but he lives thousands of miles away in County Galway and he does not have a private jet. Also, he cannot beam here yet. So I wait in hope. Well, as the sock said, “I’ll be darned,” Joe the plumber just showed up and is replacing the valve. God be praised. It’s never too late in Kalaupapa.
Now it may seem to you that this script is about a bunch of complaints but it is rather about everyday life in Kalaupapa in 2020. Truly those of us who have come here from the outside world to work or to minister have been spoiled by the amenities of the outside world. It is different for the Hansen’s disease patients who have been residents in this settlement for the greater part of their lives. They have had to learn to be patient because this is Kalaupapa and so for them it’s never too late.
How different it was in the days of Saints Damien and Marianne. They had to be plumber, carpenter, seamstress, teacher, doctor and nurse. They had to bring water to the settlement from a nearby valley. Their communication with the outside world was by written letter which was ferried by the boat that crossed the Ka’iwi Channel. In their faith they knew it was never too late. How blessed we are to walk in their footsteps. Aloha.