Pahoa residents pray for Puna at Sunday church services

Pahoa residents pray for Puna at Sunday church services

PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many Puna residents took advantage of the latest pause in the June 27 lava flow to do what they have done on a typical Sunday.

"I've seen a T-shirt that says 'Go With the Flow.' But really I'd rather pray," said Maralyn Renken, the music director at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pahoa.

She was in her usual spot in the choir loft, adding her voice to the hymns and wearing a black T-shirt that said "Pray for Puna" on its front.

Downstairs, friends and neighbors gathered, as they have done in this parish every Sunday since 1882.

In recent weeks, there have been more of them coming in for Mass.

"From what I've seen since the lava kinda hit close to home here, we've seen an overflow of people coming," said Anna Manalo, one of the hospitality ministers at the church.

There's a patio area for the overflow crowd who can't fit into the small wooden church building, with its statues of Jesus and Mary in the forefront.

Sunday morning's service included the reading of a letter from Bishop Larry Silva to the parishioners.

"Once again I wanted to write to let you know of my prayers for all of you as you deal with the lava flow in Pahoa town," the letter began, read by visiting priest Father Aaron Bamba.

" Just listening and hearing what Bishop Silva had to say, his prayers are with us," said Manalo. "For me, it made me feel even stronger."

Not everyone here has a home that's in the path of the flow. But the community has held together, as it has after Tropical Storm Iselle and Hurricane Ana.

And now, they hold together – to pray for Puna – and especially for Pahoa.

"We don't want to see our village destroyed," said Renken. "But we have to just make the best of whatever happens."

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