Year of Faith in Kalaupapa
By Father Pat Killilea, St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa
When I first learned that Pope Benedict had called us to a special Year of Faith, my initial thought was, “What is this? Aren’t we called to live the Faith every year?” Perhaps it is the son of a farmer in me that tells me that a farmer’s work is every day of every week of every year. So every year for the Christian Catholic should be a Year of Faith. Then of course it dawned on me that Pope Benedict intended that this Year of Faith is meant to renew the entire People of God in the Faith and to challenge us ” to share our Faith boldly with others,” as our own Bishop Larry Silva said in his letter to us at the beginning of this Year of Faith.
Here in St Francis in Kalaupapa, the Hansen’s Disease settlement where Father Damien and Mother Marianne ministered and died, our year has been a year of ongoing renewal but not in any earth shaking fashion. Our patients who come to our 5.45 a.m. Mass did so with great devotion, then dedicated their days to their work responsibilities here in the settlement. We welcome the many pilgrims who come here every day except Sundays and they in turn help to strengthen us in our faith by their presence. For the most part we do not get to participate in the many opportunities and activities offered by the Diocese of Honolulu due to our part isolation here in this island peninsula, but we do join in its spirit.
As you can guess, our life is much different here in Kalaupapa but we do not separate ourselves from the world outside. Those who live the Faith here live the Faith profoundly and try to joyfully share it with those who are blessed to visit here as well as those who work here and who dedicate their lives to the care and the service of the patients in this special land of Saints Damien and Marianne.