The second Kalaupapa Elua (Pilgrimage), hosted by the Grand Commandery of the West, enjoyed perfect weather and twice the attendance of last year. Not only did we have our first visitors from a Priory outside of the United States, we had unexpected attendance at the church services at St. Father Damien’s church, St. Philomena, and at the luau thereafter.
We began with an optional Pearl Harbor Tour aboard the Admirals Barge, hosted by our Grand Prior, H.E. RADM The Chevalier Ken Moritsugu. Courtesy of Representative Ryan Yamane of our Order, the pilgrims also enjoyed private tours of the Capitol, Hawaii Supreme Court, and Iolani Palace. At the Supreme Court, we were honored to visit with Hawaii’s Chief Justice, Mark Recktenwald, who took time from his busy schedule to chat with us!
The reception on Friday was an informal affair, where we gathered to meet, greet, and enjoy a presentation by Valerie Monson of Ka Ohana o Kalaupapa. The Ohana is an organization of the families of patients at Kalaupapa, dedicated to perpetuating true history, identifying patients and their families, and erecting a monument in Kalawao.
Our pilgrimage to Kalaupapa was a wonderful affair. We had seventeen pilgrims fly this year, and three who traveled over prior to set up for a total of twenty pilgrims. We were pleasantly surprised to learn there were archeologists from Belgium also in Kalaupapa, who were familiar with our Order in Belgium. Additionally, members of several religious denominations were in Kalaupapa doing repair work on their Churches. They attended the luau and the service for St. Father Damien at St. Philomena.
This year we were pleased to feed over 100 at the luau, which was sponsored by the Order of St. Lazarus. This included patients and their families, the employees of the Board of Health, the employees of the National Park Services, all of the visitors present in the park, and everybody present on the peninsula. Imagine our surprise when the caterer informed us that, impressed with our mission, they would only bill us for their travel, and contribute all the food and consumables at no charge! We had the honor to inform the Sisters of Saint Francis they may retain the balance paid to the caterer to support their mission in Kalaupapa.
We were also graced again with the opportunity to participate in a special Sunday service in honor of St. Father Damien at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu. Once again, we had an opportunity for a special veneration of the relics of St. Father Damien and St. Marianne Cope.
At our optional visit to the Sacred Hearts Archives, we were allowed to visit with Saint Father Damien’s cane, pipe, chalice, watch fob, several Class One relics from his casket and person including some of his vestments. This included many historic letters, photos and correspondence!
The Sacred Hearts service at the Kamiano Statue at the Hawaii State Capitol Building was a rather large affair this year with nearly 200 attendees. This is another optional part of our pilgrimage, occurring several days after Kalaupapa. It was pleasing this year to note there was an increased presence for our Order.