St. Damien Church Gets Go-Ahead

It’s been 15 years since the Saint Damien Parish began preparing to build a new church. With that much groundwork behind them, it’s no wonder that the Molokai Planning Commission unanimously approved the Parish’s plans last week to build their new church. The St. Damien Church will be on the site of the old St. Sophia’s in Kaunakakai.

The 6,612 sq. feet building will be constructed of concrete, and incorporate design elements that have been included historically in churches built by Damien, according to consultant Chris Hart of Chris Hart & Partners. In addition to providing a worship space, the church plan also includes a multi-purpose room, classroom and meeting spaces for religious education, and a church narthex.

“St. Damien will be, as St. Sophia’s was, the centerpiece of Kaunakakai town,” said County Council Chair Danny Mateo, who spoke in favor of the church’s approval before the Molokai Planning Commission last Wednesday.

Molokai Staff Planner Mikal Torgerson said the church’s design is in compliance with all zoning regulations, the County general plan, and the Molokai Community plan. He added that the church plan had also been sent to 17 outside agencies for approval.

“This project was heavily scrutinized,” Torgerson said. “We believe that it’s compliant with all applicable regulations.”

In addition to approving the Special Management Area Use permit needed to build the church itself, commissioners also gave the okay for multi-use joint parking facilities with the Federal Credit Union which will provide an additional 34 parking stalls.

“I’ve watched the care and thoroughness that’s gone into the design,” said Molokai Planning Commissioner John Sprinzel in his approval of the church.

Members of the Catholic Church community came out in force to show their support of the new church.

“We will realize our dream of worshipping as a family in new church on midnight Christmas Eve 2011,” said one parishioner.

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