Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu - Foundation


Shortly after the Laplace incident and the issuance of the Edict of Toleration, Msgr. Etienne Rouchouze, Vicar Apostolic of Oriental Oceania, moved to Honolulu from Valparaíso, Chile. The bishop disembarked from his ship at Honolulu Harbor in the company of three Picpus Fathers. One of them was the earlier exiled Louis Désiré Maigret. Their arrival officially signified the Catholic victory over persecution in the Hawaiian Islands and the beginning of a permanent Catholic Church in Hawaiʻi.

The first permanent church broke ground on the memorial feast of Our Lady of Peace on July 9, 1840. Our Lady of Peace had been the patroness of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary since the turmoil of the French Revolution. Fathers Armand, Bachelot and Short had consecrated the Hawaiian Islands under the protection of Our Lady of Peace when they first arrived. During the groundbreaking Mass, 280 Native Hawaiian catechumens received baptism and confirmation. For the rest of the year, devotees harvested large blocks of coral off the southern coastline of Oʻahu to build what would become the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace.

On the various neighbor islands, Bishop Rouchouze commissioned the construction of other permanent churches to serve as parish missions. They also started building makeshift schools to teach in the Catholic traditions of academia. A printing press was brought into Honolulu for the production of Catholic literature including missals and hymnals written in the Hawaiian language.

In January 1842, an excited Bishop Rouchouze, pleased with the success of his work, decided to sail back to the Paris home of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in order to recruit more Picpus Fathers and religious brothers to serve in the growing Catholic Church in Hawaiʻi. Tragically, Bishop Rouchouze was lost at sea during his voyage back to the Hawaiian Islands. His vicar general took charge of the Vicariate Apostolic of Oriental Oceania while a search party was dispatched. Years later, the search was officially ended and Bishop Rouchouze was declared deceased.

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