The Four Musketeers come to town

They were awaiting me as I pulled up to Terminal One at the Kalaupapa Airport. There they were, four sturdy young men who could be mistaken for army recruits but in actuality are candidates for religious life and the priesthood. They had been granted a “reprieve” from their novitiate “boot camp” in order to spend a week’s retreat here on Molokai. They are Bill Gural from Massachusetts, Saia Fainga’a from Tonga, Eric Cruz from the Philippines and Darius Amansec also from the Philippines. My classmate, Father Bill Petrie SS.CC., pastor of St. Damien on Topside Molokai, who would preach their retreat flew in later. One for all and all for one!

That afternoon we all boarded the “Paddy Wagon” and set out for Kalawao, the site of the original Hansen’s disease settlement, which was abandoned in 1932 in favor of Kalaupapa. There at St. Philomena Church, built by St. Damien, Father Bill celebrated Mass for us and gave us his usual rousing and inspiring sermon. He was like the second coming of Bishop Fulton Sheen of happy memory. Even Kalawao, the resident cat and self-appointed church greeter voiced his approval. The celebration of Mass was also greatly enhanced by the powerful voices of the magnificent four. After Mass was ended we returned to Kalaupapa as the sun had already disappeared behind those majestic Kalawao Pali.

In the following days Father Bill helped these young men on their journey toward profession as Sacred Hearts Brothers and they lent their voices in praise of the Lord at our 5:45 a.m. Mass each morning. We have many young men and women of college age and younger who visit here in the course of the year and we hope that they will contemplate following the example of these four young men as recruits for the mission fields of the Lord. One for all and all for the Lord!

On the final day of their stay in Kalaupapa we visited the Landing Place in Kalawao’s Judd Park and reflected on the fate of those many patients who were put ashore and left to make their homes there in the shadow of the great Pali. On the way back to Kalaupapa town we hiked up to the Kauhako crater, a place Sacred to many. The next morning we journeyed to St. Joseph’s Church in Kamalo on Topside Molokai, built by St. Damien, and closed out the retreat with group picture taking, readings from Gavan Daws’ “Holy Man,” and the singing of “Damien The Blessed.” Then it was on to Ranch Camp, the Sacred Hearts residence, for lunch and fellowship. It was one for all and all for fun. Aloha and have a blessed Christmas.

Anchor columnist Father Killilea is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

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