Molokai celebrates Damien’s sainthood today

The excitement surrounding Father Damien, now known as Saint Damien of Molokai, has been building since well before his canonization on October 11. For Molokai, this historic event reaches its climax today as the Saint Damien relic arrives this morning.

The relic is a bone from Damien’s right heel. It arrives today with Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva. He will take the relic to Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in Kalua’aha for a 12:30 p.m. mass. At 3 p.m. today will be a prayer service with the relic at St. Joseph Church in Kamalo. At 6 p.m. it arrives at St. Sophia Church in Kaunakakai. There will be a procession to and from the Kaunakakai Ball Field, followed by personal prayer and devotion at St. Sophia.

On Saturday at 7 a.m. the relic will be carried down the Kalaupapa trail by Sacred Hearts Father Clyde Guerreiro, Molokai youth and Damien Memorial School students. At 9 a.m. the relic will be greeted by the National Park Service at Kalaupapa.

After the relic is done visiting Molokai, Silva will take it to its final resting place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu where it will be placed in a permanent glass case by the church altar.

The reliquary carrying the right heel bone relic of Saint Damien leaves St. Sophia Friday evening on its way to prayer service at Kaunakakai Ballfield led by Clarence DeCaires, deacon of St. John Vianney Parish, Kailua

The reliquary carrying the right heel bone relic of Saint Damien leaves St. Sophia Friday evening on its way to prayer service at Kaunakakai ballfield led by Clarence DeCaires, deacon of St. John Vianney Parish, Kailua

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Maui County seeks bids on two local jobs

A couple of Maui County jobs on Molokai are currently receiving bids.

Maui County is accepting bids for a Molokai resurfacing project of Oki Place and Seaside Place in Kaunakakai. The project requires 4 inches of cold planing and 2 inches resurfacing on these streets. The job is estimated to be worth $300,000 to $500,000. Contact the county’s Department of Finance for details.

The second job is for the painting and repairing of the Kaunakakai Gym. The county is specifically seeking a small business based on Molokai to reward this job. Bids must be received by the Director of Finance no later than November 19. You can contact Baron Sumida, Parks, Planning and Development at 270-7931 for more information.

Saint Damien relic arrives on Molokai tomorrow

The relic of Saint Damien has been celebrated on the Big Island, Maui and Lanai most of the week. Today it is on Kauai and tomorrow it will make its first visit to Molokai, the place where Father Damien de Veuster ministered for 16 years before succumbing to Hansen’s disease in 1889.

The relic is a bone from the right heel of Saint Damien. Bishop Larry Silva received the relic from the pope during the October 11 canonization ceremonies at the Vatican. The relic has already toured the American cities of Detroit, San Francisco and Oakland.

Silva will accompany the relic while on Molokai as it visits Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in Kalua’aha for a 12:30 p.m. mass Friday. At 3 p.m. a prayer service with the relic will be at St. Joseph Church in Kamalo. At 6 p.m. it arrives at St. Sophia Church in Kaunakakai. There will be a procession to and from the Kaunakakai Ball Field, followed by personal prayer and devotion.

On Saturday at 7 a.m. the relic will be carried down the Kalaupapa trail by Sacred Hearts Father Clyde Guerreiro, Molokai youth and Damien Memorial School students. At 9 a.m. the relic will be greeted by the National Park Service in Kalaupapa. A special mass and celebration is planned for Kalaupapa Saturday.

Flight 1712 crash anniversary recognized with plaque blessing ceremony at Molokai High School

By David Lichtenstein

Today is the 20th anniversary of the crash of flight 1712 that stole the lives of eight Molokai High School volleyball players, their coach and athletic director.

Lloyd Gilliom donated a stone plaque that was placed outside the high school and accepted and formally blessed yesterday in a moving ceremony that included the family and friends of those who were lost in the tragic crash in Halawa Valley.

Also attending the ceremony was this year’s girls volleyball team that ended the regular season as Maui Interscholastic League champions with a perfect 14 and 0 record. Head coach Matt Helm, brother of Natalie Helm who died on that fateful day in 1989, spoke at the ceremony. As the team prepares for the state tournament in Oahu this weekend, Helm told his players that, “When times get tough, it’s good to know that angels are looking down on you.” Helm said the team has dedicated this season to those on flight 1712 and the team plans to represent the school and Molokai and make them proud.

Larry Helm, Matt’s father, said that the community of Molokai is like one ohana and the whole island suffered 20 years ago. Larry Helm said that he would like his daughter and the others to be remembered in a happy way.

Seven of the players on the 1989 team were not on flight 1712 from Maui to Molokai. Later that week they went to Oahu to represent Molokai in the state tournament. One of those players, Solene Duvauchelle, said it was hard to play but getting through it was a big thing. Yesterday’s event brought back a lot of memories, said Duvauchelle. Every year the members of the team get together on the anniversary, pile into a car and visit the gravesites.

When the Farmer girls travel to Oahu today they will be the second seed in the state tournament behind two-time defending state champion Hawaii Baptist. Tomorrow Molokai plays the winner of the Honoka’a and University High match at 5 p.m. at Radford. If the Farmers make it through the semifinals on Friday they play for the division II championship at the Stan Sheriff Center at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Congratulations Farmers, whatever happens in the state tournament you make us all proud.

1989 volleyball team

The surviving members of the 1989 Molokai High School volleyball team with coach Billy Dudoit

Kualapu’u Elementary celebrates opening of new pre-kindergarten

By David Lichtenstein

While parents and educators across Hawaii bemoaned the first furlough Friday and the shortening of the school year, it was a very different scene at Kualapu’u Elementary School.

Amidst a shrinking economy and job market, this conversion charter school has actually added students and staff. Not only was school in session on furlough Friday but parents, students and educators gathered to celebrate and bless the opening of the school’s new pre-kindergarten.

It was standing room only in the self-contained pre-kindergarten that sits on the campus of Kualapu’u, the largest of the four public elementary schools on Molokai. Besides the mainstream school, Kualapuu School also houses a Hawaiian Language Immersion Program for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The pre-kindergarten opened at the beginning of this school year with 18 students.

With this new addition to the campus, the conversion charter school becomes the first public school in Hawaii to directly operate and manage a pre-kindergarten.

Kualapu’u Principal Lydia Trinidad welcomed the crowd and recognized everyone who contributed to making the pre-kindergarten possible. “There was a lot of heavy lifting that went into making this a reality,” said Trinidad. The planning began four to five years ago and support from Kamehameha Schools and the Ho’okako’o Corporation made this possible.

Trinidad said that when she started working at Kualapuu 12 or 13 years ago — before it was a charter school — one of her main goals was to bring in a preschool. “There was such a need for it,” said Trinidad, “and this was an opportunity to bring a pre-kindergarten to Molokai.”

The school is free and open to all families within the attendance area. With one building and an enclosed, fenced-in area, the school has two teachers and 18 students. These students will feed Kualapu’u’s kindergarten.

Lynn Fallin, executive director of Ho’okako’o, which serves as the local school board for Kualapuu as well as a supporting non-profit, spoke to the families at the celebration about the importance of early childhood education.

“We know from research that early childhood pays off $1 to $4 from a return on investment standpoint, and children who go to quality Pre-K programs do well,” said Fallin.

“It’s long overdue,” said Fallin about the preschool. “It took a lot of work, leadership and funding support and now it’s here and we can all celebrate. If the research is right, these children will do better in school and in life.” Fallin said those who go to preschool experience lower dropout rates and more go on to higher education.

A parent of one of the preschoolers, Kalehua Sproat-Augustiro, spoke about the importance for the community of having a preschool and the convenience it offers. She also praised the school’s two teachers, Erika Helm and Robin Van Epps. She said her child can now write her own name because of the preschool.

Others who contributed to creating the preschool were Gale Flynn, an early childhood consultant, and Rose Mayer, curriculum coordinator and grant writer. The Sam and Mary Castle Foundation also provided support. Trinidad also thanked contractor Dan Blackburn of F&H Construction for installing the fence.

Opu’ulani Albino, a teacher in the Hawaiian Immersion program, gave the pule, or blessing, for the new school. With an offering of ulu fruit (representing growth), kalo (representing Hawaiian ancestors) and Lanikeha sweet potato, the pule was given and the crowd enjoyed a festive lunch.

The preschool students also entertained the crowd with a performance of songs learned in school, including the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Lydia Trinidad at Pre-k celebration

Kualapu'u Elementary School Principal Lydia Trinidad greets the families of the students at the new pre-kindergarten that opened this year on the campus.

Teller pleads guilty to embezzling over $218K from Molokai Community Federal Credit Union

The Associated Press reported on Friday that former Molokai Community Federal Credit Union teller Daniel K. Mahiai, 32, pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Honolulu on Thursday to embezzling over $218,000 from his former employer.

U.S. Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni said that Mahiai faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine when he is sentenced February 16.

Apparently Mahiai stole the money from his teller’s draw between January 2005 and February 2008. He took $281,294 from the credit union by removing the money from his teller’s drawer and replaced $55,982 before the thefts were discovered.

To hide his conduct, Mahiai made false entries in various accounts so it appeared that account holders had made withdrawals. He placed some of the accounts on “no mail” status so the credit union didn’t send statements showing the withdrawals to customers.

When customers made transactions, Mahiai made entries showing deposits in the amounts taken to falsely inflate balances. The FBI on Maui investigated the case.

Boys cross country places second at MIL meet

The Molokai boys cross country team, led by senior Alvin Ringor, placed second at the Maui Interscholastic League meet at King Kekaulike on Saturday. The Molokai boys finished with 59 points, second only to Maui High. Ringor finished less than 20 seconds behind race winner Nicola Perez-Garreaud of Maui High in a time of 17 minutes 54 seconds.

Also finishing strong for Molokai was Akona Adolpho, seventh, 18:25; Kevin Dudoit, eighth, 18:37; Julien Bumatay, 19th, 19:07; Isreal Adolpho, 23rd, 19:31; Kailen Inouye, 48th 22:14 and Julien-Daniel Bicoy, 50th, 22:20.

The Molokai girls placed fifth as a team. Leading the Farmers was Petrisha Alvarez, 19th, 24:05; followed by Charisse Manley, 27th, 25:18; Marissa Sterner, 33rd, 26:11; Kalani Wainwright, 43rd, 28:24; Candice Pauole, 45th, 29:00. Seabury Hall won the team title for the girls.