A Brief History of Our Lady of the Mount Church
(from Our Lady of the Mount Church's 130th Anniversary Souvenir Booklet)
The original wooden frame church in Kalihi Valley dated back to 1870. It was located about a mile inward from then the former Kalihi Orphanage. There was no rectory and all records of the area were inscribed in the books at the Cathedral. Today, nothing remains of the first Church. An old cemetery was placed to mark the spot where the Church once stood.
As the population moved away in 1880's, Portuguese immigrants replaced the native Hawaiians. Until the turn of the century, Kalihi Valley became one of the two important Portuguese settlements in Honolulu and the other was at Punchbowl. The little Church became too distant and difficult to reach from the populous area.
A second wooden frame Church was built in 1903 on Monte Street which was closer to the people. It was dedicated to OUR LADY OF THE MOUNT, (Nossa Senhora do Monte) by the Portuguese immigrants from the island of Madeira. Devotion to Our Lady of the Mount is celebrated with prayer, music, dance and fireworks on August 15th. Father Clement Evrard, SS.CC. who resided at the Cathedral was the priest for Our Lady of the Mount since 1903.
A replica of the statue of Our Lady on the Island of Madeira, was brought to Honolulu and erected on the mountain side of Kalihi Valley as a reminder of the Madeiran homeland. For many years, the parish of Our Lady of the Mount was the center of Portuguese life on Oahu and played an important role in preserving the Portuguese heritage brought to Hawaii by Madeiran immigrants.
In 1908, Our Lady of the Mount became the first Church other than the Cathedral in Honolulu to have a resident priest, Father Edmond Schatz, SS.CC. With no rectory, Father Edmond lived at the Orphanage. Father Edmond kept adding to the land on Monte Street when he could afford to buy. For nearly 27 years, Father Edmond cared for Kalihi-Uka. In the early days, he would rise at 4 in the morning to be at the Church to open it, hear confessions and say Mass at 4:30 a.m. In 1934, he reluctantly resigned his pastorate due to his failing health.
The next ten years saw three pastors succeed to Our Lady of the Mount. Father Ludger Appleman, SS.CC., Father Edmond's immediate successor, built a fine rectory close to the Church. He in turn was followed by Father Walter Mutsaarts, SS.CC. and Father Anthony Jacobs, SS.CC.
Upon Father Anthony's death in 1944, Father Peter Megen, SS.CC. returned from the South Pacific Missions and took charge of the parish. His first concern was the 45 year old wooden frame Church. Wind, rain, roasting sun and age were all making their mark.
In 1949, Bishop Sweeney approved the construction of a new church and Father Peter had Architect Edwin L. Bauer draw the plans. The Pacific Construction Company submitted the low bid and went ahead with the construction, completing the church in 1950.
In the meantime, priest and parishioners began raising funds to pay for their Church. Many were very generous sponsors who paid for the furnishings within the walls. The marble altar was donated along with the Kilgen Pipe Organ, Stations of the Cross and frames. Substantial donations helped pay for the Koa wood pews.
Father Theodore Herchenrath, SS.CC. was the last pastor of Our Lady of the Mount from among the Sacred Hearts Fathers. In February 1963, Father Theodore went into semi-retirement at St. Anthony's Home and Father Thomas Miyashiro became the first Diocesan priest to head the parish. He was responsible for the new Parish Hall-Cathetical Center and the Convent for the Holy Family Sisters and a new Rectory for the priests.
Father Henry Sabog, a product of Waipahu, succeeded Father Miyashiro in 1970 and inherited a beautiful Church with a huge debt. By this time, the Filipino community increased in numbers in the Parish. He stayed for sixteen years and was instrumental in reducing the debt completely. Two significant events that took place during this time were the ordinations of Father Alfred Rebuldela to the priesthood and Deacon Roy Matsuo, a parishioner, to the Permanent Deacon Program. Father Sabog was assigned to St. Anthony Church and Father Maurice McNeely was assigned at the Mount in 1986. Father Raymond Churchill took over after Father McNeely in 1988. Due to failing health, Father Churchill retired in 1990. Father Etuale Etuale, a young and energetic priest of Samoan descent, became Pastor in 1991.
Father Churchill was credited for the initial planning of the Parish Pastoral Council at Our Lady of the Mount. It was not until the arrival of Father Etuale that the First Parish Pastoral Council was formed on October 30, 1991 and the officers installed on November 24, 1991 with James J. Adlawan its first President. The Council immediately implemented the Five Year Plan which included the completion of the Parish Hall roof repair and new windows installed in 1993. The second and third Council Administrations with Dr. Clmentia Ceria as President on both Administrations, took the task of a needed major repair work on the Church sagging floor. With budget of over a quarter of a million dollars, Father Etuale with the help of many dedicated Parishioners, initiated the repair which was completed in 1996. At the same time, the Parish Samoan community increased significantly.
Father Konelio Faletoi was assigned to Our Lady of the Mount after Father Etuale in July 1998. The construction of the concrete tile fence with wrought iron gates fronting the Church was started on November, 1999 and completed on February 28, 2000.
Father Jose R. Nacu, M.S., was assigned to Our Lady of the Mount on July 1, 2000 replacing Father Konelio. Father Nacu, appointed by Bishop Francis DiLorenzo, is the first priest of the La Salette Missionaries assigned to Our Lady of the Mount. He was at St. Philip Neri in Lenwood, California before this new appointment. Earlier in 1985, he was Vicar on the island of Kauai to minister the Filipino community. Father Nacu retired in June, 2004.
Father Steve Nguyen, the present Pastor, was assigned to Our Lady of the Mount on July 1, 2004. Father Steve did his seminary training in Texas and was ordained on June 4, 1999 at the Co-Cathedral in Honolulu. He was first assigned to the Manoa-Punahou Community (1999-2001) then to Christ the King Parish on Maui (2001-2004).