Once in a Century

Community Contributed
By Fr Pat Killilea, St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa

The chatter of excited voices was momentarily hushed, then broke into loud cheers and applause as he entered McVeigh Hall, weighed down by numerous leis and topped by a colorful hat. The setting compared with the aftermath of the super bowl when Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs was showered with accolades. It was like those die-hard fans greeting the second coming of King Elvis. It was reminiscent of the president entering the Hall of Congress prepared to give the State of the Union Address. He took his seat at the head table. John Arruda glowed in the adulation.
It had been a memorable week leading up to this hour. We had overcome a power outage which lasted more than 24 hours. It was suggested that perhaps someone on Topside Molokai had consumed too much orange juice and knocked down a power pole along with its attached wires. Who knows? Some days later, high winds took down a large old tree and nearby wires leaving that particular neighborhood in the dark for some days. Then, to top all this excitement, a huge Marine chopper made an emergency landing at the end of the runway of Kalaupapa International Airport. Thank the Lord that nobody was hurt by these disasters. In the face of all these disasters, the preparation for John Arruda’s big night continued.
We were honored to have Bishop Larry with us for the big bash and he prayed us into eating mode with his invocation and his blessing. Then we all dug into a fabulous meal. Many of John’s family had flown in from afar, as did several of our former workers. It isn’t every day that we have such a celebration. It isn’t every year that we have McVeigh Hall festooned with balloons. This was John Arruda’s day of historic note. This was John’s 100th birthday.
With Mikiala directing the program for the evening, we had the story of John’s life shared with us by Valerie Monson of Maui and island fame. She also presented a greeting to John from Governor Josh Green M.D. Then Representative Elle Cochran from Maui gave a citation from her constituents. It was an evening to remember, a highlight once in a century. God bless you, John Arruda.






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