Hatched, matched and dispatched on Molokai

As we checked in at the former Pau Hana Inn, I received a warm welcome capped by a big hug from graphic designer, Laura Pilz. She had come all the way from Colorado for this evening’s celebration. Now instead of hiking down and up the steep Kalaupapa trail in order to cover our monthly settlement meeting, she faces the might and the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. I had taken the previous day’s 2:15 p.m. flight from Kalaupapa to topside Molokai, entrusting my life to Makani Kai Air’s Captain Sean. 

Now in the company of Sacred Hearts Father Mike Kelly, known in his days in the Bahamas as the mayor of Nassau, we took our seats at table in this historic place. Here under that great banyan tree, locals would often gather, quench their thirst after a hard day’s work, and talk story. Tonight we would join in celebrating 30 years of news service to Molokai by the Molokai Dispatch.

It did not take long for me to notice editor-in-chief, Catherine “The Great” Cluett, gliding gracefully amongst the tables of invited guests. She must have grown up on ice skates on those ice ponds in the great state of New Hampshire. Catherine not only acknowledged the sponsors of her paper and all its contributors, she also gave praise to the founder of the Dispatch, Myrtle Florea, who had started the paper from humble beginnings in her home in Kalae. It was here that the Dispatch was hatched, in a manner of speaking.  Then because of the dedication of Myrtle, the paper grew and her commitment was matched by others down through the years to the present owner-president, Todd Yamashita.

The featured speaker of the evening was Richard Schuman, owner of Makani Kai Air, which sponsored the evening’s delicious dinner. He spoke of his company’s commitment to Molokai and made reference to his welcome by the residents of Kalaupapa who are served by Makani Kai Air. In congratulating Molokai Dispatch on its 30th anniversary, he also mentioned that he himself was celebrating a 30th anniversary. It was 30 years ago that his lovely wife and chief financial officer, Diane, had asked him to marry her. Can you believe that? Richard doesn’t need to kiss that famous Blarney Stone!

I am always happy to be invited to dinner, and I thank Catherine for her kind invitation. Father Mike and I really enjoyed the evening and we say congratulations to the Dispatch. I am always happy also to make a contribution to the Dispatch — in the form of a newsbrief of course — and I hope that Catherine “The Great” doesn’t edit this one too much.

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

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