St. John Vianney in concert

She rose to her feet with the agility of a 21-year-old athlete and the grace of a hula dancer. Lending a helping hand to extricate her from her collapsed chair was none other than the choir director himself, Robert Mondoy, who had grown up on Topside, then went on to fame and fortune as a musician, singer, and composer. 

I am not about to reveal the name of the choir member who caused this sensation lest she strike me over the head with a chair, but I can reveal that she is a long-time revered member of the St. John Vianney Choir in Kailua, Oahu. She and her fellow choir members come to Kalaupapa in mid July each year to put on a concert for the residents. This was her introduction to choir practice that morning and it started with a bang.

The choir members had arrived here on Monday by plane and trail and settled into their rooms at the visitors quarters.

Now one might figure that in an atmosphere such as we enjoy here in Kalaupapa, they might just hang around or go lounge on the beach, but they were intent on being of service to St. Francis Church as usual while they are here. So one late morning, when I returned from showing a young lady visitor around the settlement, with the intent of cooking spaghetti for lunch, I found my house had been taken over by the choir who were feverishly scrubbing and cleaning. Suffice it to say that I had absolutely no objection. The next day it was the turn of St. Francis Church to get a scrubbing and washing inside and out. I myself barely escaped being hosed down by Robert.

Thursday evening arrived and many of the local residents took their seats in St. Francis Church in eager anticipation of the concert. Even Elizabeth was here in her motorized wheelchair as was the new administrator, Kenneth Seamon, and his family. The choir gave a magnificent performance as always, rivaling the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and culminating in a rousing singing of “Damien The Blessed.” Afterwards we joined the choir at the visitors quarters to partake of a fabulous meal prepared by them. Then it was time for the traditional sing-along under the moon. It had been a most enjoyable evening and a week to remember. Aloha.

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


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