Molokai Catholics Honor Father Damien

Rev. Lane Akiona
Rev. Lane Akiona

By Joann Shin

(KHNL) - Hundreds came out for one man - Father Damien.

Catholics on Molokai, including Stephen Petro, want to build a church to honor the Catholic priest. But raising the funds has proven difficult.

"We can't raise all the money on the island of Molokai," explained Petro.

That's why they're here on Oahu to ask for help.

He said, "The need is very urgent."

"That connection to his past, I think that becomes the legacy people continue living," said Lane Akiona.

He understands the need. He is a priest in Waikiki, but grew up on Molokai.

He said, "My whole life I grew up in that parish church."

The goal is to replace St. Sophia church in Kaunakakai.

A church that's been around 60 years.

According to Petro, " Our church is termite ridden, it's beyond repair."

Akiona added, " If we had a centralized church we can bring the whole community together and have that sense of bonding."

So far they've raised a million dollars.

But it's taken more than ten years.

And they're still two million dollars short of what they need.

An uphill battle, but one this community plans to win.

"We call it a miracle, but it would be the greatest gift to show to Damien and the world that we did not give up," Akiona said.