As I departed the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace this morning for the airport, I was told by one of the Cathedral employees, "You always have a room here, Father." I was deeply touched and realized how very easy it is to make friends in Hawaii, much easier for me than it seems to be back on the mainland, perhaps because I am more relaxed and at ease in Hawaii.
When I arrived at the office of Captain John Callahan, who runs Hawaii From Above, I was delighted to see that he and his assistant, Cyndi, both removed me from my flight with them last August (I give him my highest recommendation!). In fact, both mentioned the "thank you" I sent them and John had even kept my business card (which came in handy because he had to call my cell phone when he realized I left my credit card there; oops!).
When our guide from Damien Tours, Keanini, who runs Molokai Mule Ride, arrived to pick us up at the Kalaupapa "International" Airport he remembered me from my pilgrimage in August. I was very grateful and he gave another excellent tour.
At one point I mentioned to him that I would like to bring my World Youth Day pilgrims to Kalaupapa after Father Damien's canonization; he responded by suggesting that I bring them to Kalaupapa for a few days of service work. It's a brilliant idea! I'll be in touch with him upon my return.
What was supposed to be a rainy day in Kalaupapa turned out to be a rather pleasant day, which resulted in my seeing a rainbow from above:
Excitement is naturally building in Kalaupapa over Blessed Damien of Molokai's upcoming canonization. The church of St. Philomena, where he served, is currently being restored in preparation for the many pilgrims who are expected after the canonization, and are to be completed by October (pictures will come later).
When I departed the Cathedral, I was encouraged to return soon; when I left Kalaupapa, I was encouraged to return soon; when I left the airport in Honolulu, I was encouraged to return soon. Truly, good friendships have been formed here, and I cannot wait to return.
In about an hour I will board my flight for St. Paul, from where I will continue to St. Louis. Your prayers for a safe flight - and for sleep on the flight - will be much appreciated.
Mahalo, Hawaii! Aloha!