St. Raphael Church celebrates 175 years

KOLOA — More than 500 people gathered at St. Raphael Church in Koloa to mark the 175th anniversary of the “oldest Catholic Church on Kauai” Sunday.

“The church holds about 410 people,” said Marina Pascua, who headed the church decorations for the special Mass. “With the outdoor seating and standing, at least 450 people can attend.”

Tina Brun said the Sunday Mass and luau wraps up a year of work led by Brenda Sameshima, who chaired the calendar that included six major events starting with the church’s participation in the Koloa Plantation Days Parade, where parishioners were honored as grand marshals and marshals’ decorated vehicle, float, walking and vehicle units received the overall top parade prize.

Other events included a spaghetti and pizza night with bingo and movie for the kids, 175 hours of perpetual adoration and benediction services, a fall youth dance with chili and rice, a Thanksgiving outreach, and the 175th anniversary carnival and celebration.

“We have so few active parishoners, we could probably hold the Mass in the old chapel that was built in 1941,” said Julie Souza, who did a stint as emcee for the luau that followed the Mass. “We get a lot of visitors. A lot of the people here are visitors who come to worship.”

In addition to the anniversary celebration, church pastor, the Rev. Arlan Intal, represented the parish in honoring the service of Deacon Tom Contrades, who made a special appearance at the service.

“He’s battling cancer,” said Sameshima. “But he wouldn’t miss this service.”

St. Raphael was founded in 1841, two years after Catholics were granted religious freedom in Hawaii, states its website.

The Rev. Arsenius Walsh established the parish, and the first stone chapel was built in 1842.

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