View from the Pew
Isle groups become pilgrims
A couple of island church groups planned journeys this weekend.
Like tourists, they seek to collect information and enjoy experiences of discovery shared with a group.
But these travelers see the trip as an internal quest as well. As pilgrims, they will reflect on what they see and the paths they take, and how the experience might bring them closer to God.
Catholic Bishop Larry Silva set out yesterday on a pilgrimage to Molokai with several members of the Commission on Father Damien DeVeuster and Mother Marianne Cope, which he created in January. They will visit locations connected with those two people, whose lives of service to leprosy patients have put them on the track to sainthood.
Meanwhile, an Episcopal Church group will take a contemplative tour of St. Andrew's Cathedral tomorrow in Honolulu. "St. Andrew's is a sacred site where Christians can learn stories of our own saints, King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma," said Jenny Wallace, leader of the diocesan religious education program. "They can pray in ways that honor Hawaiian Episcopal traditions and ... they can encounter Christ."
The cathedral pilgrimage will begin at 11:30 a.m. and will last about an hour, she said.
Hawaiian alii played a role in the cathedral's history -- the two monarchs invited the Anglican church to Hawaii. One stop in the pilgrimage will be at the small side chapel dedicated to them. Another stop is the baptismal font, where a prayer from Queen Liliuokalani's baptism will be read.
A prayer for peace and litany of reconciliation from Coventry Cathedral in England will be recited in the peach chapel. The cornerstone laid in 1867, the altar and the stained-glass west window will also be stops for narrative, prayer and reflection.
"For centuries, Christians have followed in the footsteps of the saints in order to learn stories of faith, pray in sacred sites, and experience the mystery of Christ in their own lives," Wallace said. Youth groups and others are looking for ways to undertake a pilgrimage, too, she said. Tomorrow's tour will be a trial run for planners who intend to map a spiritual journey.
Silva has spoken of his intention to develop pilgrimages to the places connected to Father Damien and Mother Marianne, both of whom have been declared "blessed" in the second of three steps to canonization as a saint.
STAR-BULLETIN / 1966
Sunlight shines down on the graves and a huge cross atop Kauhako Crater at Kalaupapa. The cross, erected in 1956, is inscribed: "Love Never Faileth." The 405-foot extinct volcano affords a magnificent view of Molokai's north shore.
The Catholic group started yesterday on topside Molokai, visiting Kaunakakai and Kaluaaha churches, where Damien preached, and St. Joseph's Church in Kamalo, which the Belgian missionary priest built.
Today they are in the remote peninsula of Kalaupapa. Silva was to say Mass today at St. Philomena's Church in Kalawao, also built by Damien, who worked there for 16 years until his death in 1889.
Tomorrow, the pilgrims will meditate at the grave site of Mother Marianne, a Franciscan nurse who died in 1918 after caring for patients there for 30 years. They will attend Mass with current residents at St. Francis Church in Kalaupapa.
Hundreds of people visit Kalaupapa each year as tourists, flying or hiking into the remote peninsula for a four-hour tour of the place that was home to 8,000 patients banished there over the span of a century because of the disease. Some come because of family members buried there, and many have been drawn by the stories of the two servants of Christ who served there. Those visitors often describe the trip as a spiritual experience.
This weekend's pilgrims were prepared for their visit with some readings and reflections to put their experience in a clearer perspective than the average tourist.
One of the reflections was written by the Rev. Murray Bodo, a Franciscan priest, in his book "Through the Year with Francis of Assisi, Daily Meditations from His Words and Life." Bodo wrote, "The way of pilgrimage is the way of death leading to life. You leave behind loved ones and home, entrusting their safety and care to God, who is drawing you away from them. It is God who leads the pilgrim as he leads the dying person."
"And you follow shyly, awkwardly, fearfully at first: then letting go somewhere along the way, you surrender what you've left behind into the very hand that is clasping yours on the journey."
For someone touched by Kalaupapa, the author's words bring thoughts not so much of modern pilgrims, but of those 8,000 people whose trip to Kalaupapa was a lifelong journey.