Kalaupapa, Window of Opportunity

Community Contributed

By Father Pat Killilea, St Francis Church, Kalaupapa

I had never previously broken into a house in my 70 years of living, though it is not unheard of in my own family. Several years ago, my mother related in her comical fashion how she had awakened in the middle of the night thinking that a burglar was coming in through the kitchen window. It was my younger brother who had arrived home late after the door was locked.

Now here I was at 7:30 a.m. trying to get in through a jalousie window at the rear of Dolly’s house. Dolly had accidently locked herself out of her house when leaving for morning Mass. So I decided to do my very first “burglar act” in going through that window. After we removed the lower half of the parallel glass panels, we rigged up a makeshift platform and I made my move. I managed to get one leg across the window sill and found myself straddling the sill which was not exactly comfortable. However, I luckily suffered no bodily harm and with great difficulty managed to drag my second leg across the sill. Then I slid down onto a chair on the inside and quickly unlocked the adjacent door. I had taken advantage of this window of opportunity.

This was the culmination of an exciting week, Kalaupapa style. On Wednesday evening, we had celebrated the reopening of the renovated community pool hall with a blessing and a ribbon cutting by none other than 90-years-young John Arruda. He had come from his home in Kauai to visit with us for a few weeks. In my prayer of blessing, I reminded the billiard players that the cue sticks are to be used to play pool and not as weapons. You see, we have some sturdy workers here from Topside who are descended from ancient Hawaiian warriors. After some of our present day warriors displayed their skills at the pool table, it was time to partake of the abundant food provided pot luck style and washed down by Mr. Heineken and Miss Corona.

The next day we hosted 72 pilgrims of the Equestrian Order. When I first learned that equestrians were coming, I wondered if they would bring along horses. Then I learned that these generous men and women have dedicated themselves to helping the churches in the Holy Land. Bishop Silva led the pilgrimage to Kalawao, and Bishop Michael Barber from California was the main celebrant of Mass and the homilist at St. Damien’s church, St Philomena. After a delicious meal at McVeigh Hall, our pilgrims left us to take to the friendly skies of Kalaupapa.

As of this writing, a second group of 62 Equestrians are expected to visit us on Monday. We are blessed to have these pilgrims join us for a day and they enjoy the opportunity to learn about our two saints, Damien and Marianne, through this window of opportunity that we call Kalaupapa.


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