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Sister Claudia and Sister Antoinette kick off Sacred Hearts’ 150th anniversary

By Staff | Jun 28, 2012

Sister Claudia (Kim Scott) leads Sacred Hearts School’s 150-year anniversary float. Photo by Hopsing Coon

LAHAINA – Folks along the Kamehameha Day Parade route on June 16 chuckled and clapped when they saw Kim Scott dressed as Sister Claudia, Sacred Hearts School principal of 40 years ago, riding a vintage bike in a full white habit.

Graduates, parishioners and students marched behind a banner celebrating 150 years. On the float, students, teachers and pastors harkened to Sister Antoinette ringing her courtyard school bell.

What does it take to consistently deliver excellent education and moral religious training in the Catholic tradition for 150 years? Compared to the collapse of whaling, World War II, decline of plantations, ravages of tsunami, hurricanes and Kaua’ula wind, our current recession is a small blip on Lahaina’s economic timeline.

Successful West Maui families and organizations always find ways to stand firm in winds of change; they seem to look at setbacks as God-given opportunities for new starts – road signs to new destinations. Sacred Hearts School gratefully celebrates 150 years of challenges and new starts with festive events and memorials from now through December.

In 1862, at the end of the whaling days and start of Lahaina’s sugar plantations, Maria Lanakila School started as a two-room building. Pastor Raymond Delalande of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts with his assistant, Kilito Mauliawa, built a new four-room school on the same ground in 1870. Father Delalande renamed the new building Sacred Hearts School to honor his religious order, and he is considered the school’s founder. Helen Kaoho and lay teachers served as faculty.

In 1928, The Third Order of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Syracuse, New York, was invited to staff Sacred Hearts School assisted by lay teachers. In 2000, the last sisters left the school, but their 72-year legacy remains. Today’s faculty embraces the same qualities of the order: joy, simplicity, charity and peacemaking that the sisters embodied as they served the children of West Maui. Lay teachers, staff and administrators are honored to stand on the shoulders of many religious and lay educators who forged the Sacred Hearts School tradition.

After W.W.II, a 1948 storm destroyed the school building. Father Matthew Alencastre rebuilt the school with lumber from the Navy barracks in Puunene, and classes resumed the following year. A worse tragedy occurred in 1971, when an arsonist burned Sacred Hearts School and two other Maui schools to the ground. Left standing in the courtyard, the statue of Christ survived to inspire the administrators and teachers. Classes continued in makeshift classrooms in the parish garage and Rectory. After much soul-searching and community support, an unwavering parish built the present school campus under the guidance of Father Stephen Van Dende.

When the Franciscan sisters returned to Oahu in 2000, Father Joseph Bukoski, SSCC, and parish members set into motion plans for the Sacred Hearts School Early Learning Center, which opened its doors on Aug. 19, 2001. God continues to bless preschool through eighth grade students on this very special campus recreated and revived so many times on this sacred ground.

The famous hymn “Morning Has Broken” says that each morning, God re-creates the new day. After 150 years, He is recreating Sacred Hearts School, a milestone worthy of celebration. Passing on success and the secret of managing change is a West Maui tradition. Lahaina families, businesses, clubs and missions survive decade after decade and give us inspiration to face the changes in our own lives.

The secret of Sister Claudia was not the leggings she wore under her robes – it was her courage to use that bike to complete her mission to teach the children. Congratulations to Sacred Heart School for continued success.