Today, the Catholic priests and parishioners of West Maui turn their affection to Maria Lanakila Church to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its dedication. Led by Pastor Gary Colton, the Maria Lanakila congregation has launched a unified effort throughout the past year to honor the dedication of this church in September of 1858.
“I am so proud to be the pastor of this icon in Lahaina that is so much a part of this town,” said Father Gary from his office on the church grounds last week. “The fact that the architecture of the building represents that of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome adds to the aura of this fantastic building. This structure truly represents the history of the church in Lahaina and in the world. The ethnic mix here is a fun part of being here and truly represents the rainbow effect of the community.”
The congregation has celebrated the dedication with several events, including the Sacred Hearts School May Day program, SHS Bazaar, a special mass with Bishop Larry Silva accompanied by Father Chris Keahi (a former pastor at Maria Lanakila and the current Provincial of Sacred Hearts Fathers), a mass and luncheon with the Sisters of St. Francis that reunited former teachers and staff of SHS, the presentation of a play in honor of Father Damien by Aldyth Morris (starring Casey Groves), and a parish mission with Father Ken Templin.
“These were just wonderful events that brought us all together as a family — it was a happy reunion time,” Colton explained.
Father Gary explained that T-shirts and polo shirts emblazoned with “E Ola Ka Kou No Ke Akua” — “We live for God”— are being produced for sale in honor of the celebration, and a postcard printed with renowned Lahaina artist Jim Kingwell’s rendition of Maria Lanakila Church will presented to parishioners.
He also pointed to the culminating event of the celebration: a banquet honoring the dedication of the church. This event on Sept. 11 at the Royal Lahaina Resort will be highlighted by celebrants Father Marc Alexander, vicar general of the Diocese of Honolulu, and Bishop William Justice of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and a special classmate of Father Gary.
“I’m now entering my fourth year here at Maria Lanakila with Father Louis Hoang, and I must say that it has been a good, happy time,” said Father Gary. “We had a new roof put on the church last December, and it all seems to fit together as part of the 150th celebration and our desire to take care of this wonderful building.”
People from all walks of life, from all corners of the world, have gathered in this sacred building on Wainee Street to pay homage to the Good Lord for more than 150 years. Celebrate this joyous milestone with Maria Lanakila Church. (By Walter Chihara)