It was some time after cockcrow. Indeed, the town’s roosters had completed their morning clarion calls to action and were now busy conducting the rest of their business…..whatever that might be. The good pastor, Father Pat Fanning, had made the sign of the cross and welcomed us to the Mass of the day on the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the mother of our savior, Jesus Christ. It was then that the quiet of the morning was shattered by the sound of a machine. I’m still not sure whether it was that of a weed whacker or a leaf blower but it blew my mind that it continued right through the morning Mass. I know that town cleanup work has to be done but I felt that this would have been a good time for the worker of that noisy machine to take a coffee break. After all, God Himself did take a rest after all of His creation work.

I had flown to Topside Molokai the previous morning as I do each Advent and Lenten season to participate in an evening Penance Service. There are not many sinners on Topside Molokai ordinarily but Father Pat and I wish to give any or many the opportunity to say, “I’m sorry!” and to begin a new journey in faith. I also took advantage of my visit Topside to renew my driver’s license. I was surprised that I was renewed for four years rather than the usual two for people my age. So I asked the kind lady who served me, “Do you think I’ll still be alive in four years?” She smiled. Topsiders are very friendly, you know. From the registry I went to Take’s hardware in search of a star for our nativity scene at St Francis in Kalaupapa. I got the very last one on the shelf. Now I must risk my body to raise this star high above the original altar. Check the casualty listing in a future news column!

After Mass in St. Damien Church, we retired to the parish center for a pot luck breakfast which is prepared each morning by members of the parish congregation. This is also a time to share story and strengthen fellowship, as well as to catch up on neighborhood news. I did not say gossip. Then it was time for morning prayer, using modern technology. How did we ever make do before the iPhone arrived on the scene? When most of the breakfast club had departed for their day’s activities and Father Pat had busied himself at his desk upstairs, I went for a stroll around the town of Kaunakakai, which, I am told, hasn’t changed much in a hundred years. I wouldn’t know because, as of last count, I am only 79. While strolling along, I met two former Kalaupapa workers, Too Tall Andrew who had repaired my Paddy Wagon on several occasions, and Lester, the park ranger who kept us safe and behaving in Kalaupapa.

My first visit to this friendly town had been in the summer of 2004. It is always pleasant to return. Where else do the roosters summon one to wakefulness and one is treated to a five course breakfast? Aloha.    

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