Bishop Larry Silva, center, and other dignitaries break ground Friday afternoon on the sight of St. Michael’s church.
BRAD BALLESTEROS/ Stephens Media
BRAD BALLESTEROS/Stephens Media
Bishop Larry Silva conducts a groundbreaking and blessing ceremony for St. Michael’s church Friday afternoon.
By ERIN MILLER
Jesus may have taught that people are his church, but that doesn’t mean the church should be without a home, Bishop Larry Silva said Friday.
Silva, representing the Catholic Archdiocese of Honolulu, led a groundbreaking ceremony for a new St. Michael The Archangel Church, replacing the building damaged beyond repair in the October 2006 earthquakes.
“This is adequate,” Silva said, referring to the tent, just off Alii Drive, in which church members have celebrated Mass for nearly five years. “But this is not what the Lord deserves, not what his people deserve.”
Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony was a day parishioners have anxiously awaited, Silva added.
“You know there is a longing for greater beauty, greater permanence,” he said during the homily of the special service.
Structural engineers in 2007 declared the old church, built in 1850, unsafe. Catholic missionaries arrived in Kona in 1840, founding St. Michael as a mission church. The new church building will incorporate stained glass windows and the bell, made in France in the 1850s, from the old building.
The new church will include a 9,455-square-foot church building and a two-story, 11,030-square-foot parish hall. Also in the plans are a parking lot and landscaping. The $7.1 million project will be built in two phases, Pastoral Associate Cynthia Taylor said Friday morning. The first phase, the church building, should begin in late October and take about 18 months to complete.
A capital raising campaign, launched in 2010, has raised $2.5 million so far. The parish has $2 million in reserve, according to a program provided before the service. That leaves another $2.8 million to be raised to the project.
The Leeward Planning Commission in October 2010 approved a special management area use permit for church officials to begin rebuilding.
Silva opened the homily by talking about the work that farmers put into planning, then growing, the coffee beans that become his cup of morning coffee. Building the church is kind of like that, he said.
“It took many people over many years to make that one cup of coffee I enjoyed this morning,” he said. “That is what it is to build a church. The ground has been prepared. … As we break the ground for this new church, we pray its foundation would be firm, and we aren’t just talking about the architectural foundation.”
Email Erin Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.