Saturday, April 25, 2009

First Catholic Missionaries in Hawaii

On July 7th. 1827, the first Catholic missionary priests arrived in Hawaii. They were Frs. Alexius Bachelot (France), appointed as Prefect Apostolic, Abraham Armand (France) and Patrick Short (Ireland). Three non ordained brothers of the Congregation arrived with the priests. (Protestants of Congregationalist background had arrived in 1819). They were all members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts. Following the General Chapter of 1824, Fr. Pierre Coudrin, who founded the Congregation in France in 1800, petioned Rome for a mission territory and was allocated the Sandwich Archipelago, later called the Hawaiian islands. A strong catholic community emerged in these early years but due to political pressure by Queen Kahahumanu who had become a Protestant, the Catholic missionary priests were forced to leave Hawaii in January 1832. The non ordained brothers of the Congregation were not effected by the political expulsion so they stayed on to support the small catholic community. While ongoing tensions were to exist for many years between the Protestant and Catholic missions, Catholic priests were reluctantly allowed to return in 1839, one year before Damien's birth in Tremeloo, Belgium and 25 years before his arrival in Honolulu.
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