Dropping a line in Kalaupapa

I can well remember catching my very first fish. It was on a Sunday afternoon in the summer time of my primary school days. On that glorious, golden day I was ably assisted in my fishing by a girl from my own village who was a couple of years older than myself. (I always have liked older women.) While I succeeded in hauling in a beautiful fish that afternoon, that girl got away. She entered the convent as a Sister of Mercy. A few years later I entered the seminary and became a Brother of the Sacred Hearts. So we both gave up fishing for sole and took up fishing for souls.

Each time I visit my home in County Galway, the memory of those golden days and years come flooding back, as will happen next week when I go home to visit family. It happened also here in Kalaupapa this weekend on this northern shore of Molokai during our fishing tournament, when the whole community got caught up in the fishing activities, hook, line, and sinker.

Fishing has always been a tradition here in Kalaupapa where for the most part it is now done from the pier (I call it Damien’s Landing) where Father Damien and many others arrived from Honolulu on May 10, 1873. Fishing also takes place in the vicinity of the Lions’ Club Pavilion on the airport road. Many of the men of the settlement in the past spent a lot of time casting on these waters and this settlement was noted for years for the presence of the Fishing Nun.

The number who entered the tournament this year was less than the expected but did number about 20. Most of the fishing was done off the outer edge of the peninsula. Our trusted electrician, Eddie English, sacrificed his usual weekend visit with family on Topside Molokai in order to run this event. He did a great job making sure that all participants “toed the line” and stayed safe in the process. All enjoyed the tournament even though there seems to have been a scarcity of fish taking the lure. Our own Mr. Everything, Lionel, said he enjoyed the weekend and assured me that there is no truth to the rumor that he almost got dragged into the water by a monster fish.

As always with our special events, this event culminated in a feast at McVeigh Hall where the voices in the hall grew louder and louder as the evening progressed, especially when aided and abetted by Mr. Heineken and Miss Corona. Today being Sunday, everybody is recovering from the weekend’s action. So it is time to relax and watch the mermaids (and the mermen) frolic on the pier and in the waters at nearby Damien’s Landing. See you next month. Aloha.

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

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