Saturday, August 18, 2007

St. Theresa Church in Kekaha, Hawaii

Saint Theresa Church is located in Kekaha on the Garden Island, Kauai. The original St. Theresa Church was blessed in January 1941. It burned down in 1977 and a new church was built on the original sight and blessed in 1979. The church was staffed by Marist priests from 1944-1985 when LaSalette priests took over. The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, have worked at St. Theresa School since coming to Hawaii in 1946, when the school began. Hurricane Iniki destroyed the original school, as well as, the rectory, convent, and church hall. The church needed a new roof and other repairs. (mostly Wikipedia). What you see below is the corner view of the front entrance of St. Theresa Church. The beach is in front of the church. This next picture below was taken directly in front of the church with the welcome sign. This is the westernmost Catholic church in the United States. (also the westernmost Catholic school in the United States) This picture below was taken from inside the front entrance facing the altar. The next picture below was taken directly in front of the altar with the view of the Tabernacle. Again, this picture below was taken in front of the altar but with the view of the interior ceiling. Now we finally get to see the interior view of the front entrance. You can't quite see the beach and the Pacific ocean, but it's there in the background. I need a better camera than the Wal-Mart special next time. OK, we have the exterior view of the back of the church. That's a power line that you see crossing the middle of the picture. I did my best to get it out of the picture as possible. To the left is the church hall and cafeteria which you can't see completely. The parking lot isn't paved by the way. And yes, Kekaha is located in what we locals call the 'dry' side of the island. So that is barely green grass that you see. Below is an excellent side shot of the church taken from the school campus. To the right is the front of the church. Notice the Pacific ocean and my white rental. To the left is the backside of the church. Near the back you see the girls and boys restrooms and to the extreme left you see the edge of the newly built school. St. Theresa School, my alma mater, is what you see below. The picture was taken from the corner of St. Theresa Church. This was not here when I graduated back in 1984. That is the mountain range behind the school to the extreme right of the pic. Take notice of the tree to the left. It'll you give you a perspective for the next picture. Here is the tree I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I took the picture with the school to my back and the playground in the foreground. The Pacific ocean is in the background. Where you see the playground is where the original school was. Imagine attending this school with the windows open. Your sitting at your desk and you have a clear view of the beach which is only approximately 20 yards away. Boy I had NO idea how lucky I was back then. This next picture below gives you the view of the church and the school from 'Inters' & Kekaha Beach. You can barely see the school to the left. Notice the huge smoke stack in the left-center of the pic, I'll have photos of the local sugar mill further down in this posting. Also, if you look hard enough, again in the lower left hand corner of the pic, you'll notice huge lava rocks. They were placed there after Hurricane Iwa (pronounced 'ee-va'). I kind of blogged about that experience here. One last picture of my alma mater. This one below shows an old banner hanging on the school fence. Again, notice the smoke stack to the right of the pic. When the US stopped the special exemption to sugar mills in Hawaii, the sugar industry slowly went into permanent hibernation. Today tourism has supplanted sugar as the main engine of Hawaii's economy. Below are three pics from my hometown of Kekaha. Any vegetation that you see wasn't there before when this was an active mill. Depending on the time of the year, I remember the mills burning the sugar cane fields and the wind would pick up the amber's from the cane and it would fall like snow! Except that it was black snow. If I was any smarter back when I was a keiki, I would have taken pics of that occurrence. Notice the smoke stack below that I mentioned earlier. The mill itself is not working anymore and it's pretty cool to see what you can as you walk around the mill itself. Here is another shot of the mill. This is a bit to the right of what you saw above. Below you can see the huge cranes used to pull the burnt sugar cane into the crushing facilities. It was a distinct but sweet smell that would constantly emanate from the mill. All the vegetation that you see here is overgrowth due to disuse. This last pic below gives you a nice view of the crushing machinery used to crush sugar cane. It's hard to explain, but your looking at it. On the other side you (which I didn't take a pic of) you would be able to have seen the sugar cane being crushed. These next two pics are gratuitous shots of buildings of my high school of the neighboring town of Waimea. Here below is the state of the art athletic complex for Waimea High School Menehunes, the home of Champions! Utu Mai! Below is a picture of the main portion of Waimea High Schools campus. In the foreground is the administrative building. You can see bleachers to the right where we would sit for school rally's. Next year for my, *ahem*, 20 year high school reunion, I'll take more pics.
Yes I miss my home island very much, but most especially my nephew and friends on Kauai. I'll blog more about that later. In the meantime, for a virtual tour of the Kekaha Sugar Mill click here. For more about my high school, Waimea High, click here. Finally, for a humorous, yet accurate description of Kekaha (and Waimea) please click here. To view St. George's Church in Waimanalo, Oahu click here. To view a great blog from Hawaii click here.



These are great photos (not bad for a Wal-Mart special.)

What I would like to know is how did you ever keep your attention focused on your classwork with a clear view of the beach so close and the sweet smells of the sugar cane burning?

Thanks for sharing these photos and tidbits of your childhood memories. This was a very interesting post.

EC Gefroh said...

Tito, wonderful photos! I didn't realized until recently you were from the Garden Isle. I thought you were from Oahu. This trip must have brought back so many good memories for you. BTW, were you there when Hurricane Iniki hit in 1993?

Unknown said...


You're very welcome. I did pretty good in school until my senior year in high school (senioritus). Nevery rebounded until grad school, I think it's called 'maturity'.

God bless,


Unknown said...

I was in my final year in college when Iniki hit, but my family's house in Waimea took extensive damage. Took years to repair.

Yes, I grew up for 10 years on Kauai. I consider Kauai home and Kekaha & Waimea my hometowns. It was a great experience to say the least. Many of my friends now reside on Oahu, so I visit them often there.

I hope to move back, at least to build a vacation home for me and my family (parents). Plan to retire there unless I have a family of my own.

It was a tremendous growing experience to say the least. One of the few haoles that passes for a local lol.



Anonymous said...

Tito, would you believe one of our Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity just returned from St. Theresa's today amid snowy skies here in Wisconsin?! Sister Adrianna reported that all of our Franciscan Sisters are doing well in Kekaha. Mary Jean Buza-Sims is really doing a great job as principal. We are planning on doing some filming of our ministries in that beautiful oceanside location. I alerted more of my Sisters to your blog entry hoping that they would also leave a comment. Peace and all good.

Sister Julie Ann Sheahan,

Thank you for your kind comments. I surelly miss my school, island, and friends the most. St. Theresa (Catholic) School (or STS as we call it) is certainly needed on the island for the Catholics living there.

Let's pray for the continuous improvement of all the sisters and teachers there for the proper education and catachesis of all the children (keiki in Hawaiian).

In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


Anonymous said...

What wonderful memories! Seeing the pictures of St. Theresa and the surrounding area of Kekaha filled my mind and my heart with so much good. I spent five years there living and working with the wonderful people of St. Theresa Parish. What a blessing in my life that time has been.
I am Sister Myra Jean, one of the many Franciscan Sisters who shared the life of the people there. I came to love them and to appreciate the beauty of the life they live. There is a spirit of o’hana that still fills my heart. I am so blessed to have taught the upper grades. Memories of class trips, graduations, May Day Programs, singing with the adult choir, sharing faith during the Mass, are still vivid for me.
We experienced Hurricane Iniki together. There was many an evening that we spent with island friends who supported us through the loss of our convent home and our school. The difficult times just bound us more closely to each other. It is good to see and hear from the Sisters there that the school is doing well and the people are still so loving and caring toward each other.
I pray for the good of the people of the islands. I have a blessed treasure of memories from there. Mahalo to all those who helped to make that treasure so rich.
Sister Myra Jean

donnodot said...

My wife, born Susan Chalmers, in 1947, believes that she was baptized in St. Theresa Church. Our daughter now wants her to see if the records of that baptism still exist. From your blog, I see that the church burned down, so records may be lost. Do you know how we can contact the church (without traveling to Kauai)?
Her father, Roy Chalmers, worked in a nearby sugar cane mill for a couple of years in the late 40s before moving permanently to California. His father, George Chalmers, was, I am told, instrumental in the erection of the first St. George's Church at Waimanalo.
Thank you for posting the pictures of the church.
Don McLaughlin

Anonymous said...

Hello,I'm fr.Canada and I was in kauai Jan.22,2011.Went to tour the island with relatives.Went to see Holy Cross Church and had no time to go inside St. Theresa's.Thank you so much for your pics. I'll make sure to go in next time and say a prayer of thanks,hope in the near future.I'll also pray to GOD to keep away hurricanes coming to your beautiful island.Mahalo..dory..

Anonymous said...

Wow. I've been to this church many times. I also remember the old church. I remember when I was little visiting my grandma in Kekaha we would go to the Gym for church (temporary) in the 1970s. My mother grew up in Kekaha. a lot of memories.

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog, I like the photos and remembrance. I loved the old church, more character...and the school: beach, highway, and classrooms. I left Kauai years before the hurricanes hit, never went back (too busy, or so I tell myself)...but I still remember.

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