Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu - Missionaries

Missionaries

The first Catholic mission to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi was established by the creation of the Prefecture Apostolic of the Sandwich Islands by Pope Leo XII and the appointment of Alexis Bachelot as its first and only prefect, a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a religious institute called the Picpus Fathers, founded by Pierre Coudrin during the French Revolution. The first Picpus Fathers departed from Bordeaux aboard the La Comète on November 21, 1826 and stopped in Valparaíso in Chile on February 8, 1827. The Picpus Fathers resumed their trip on February 25. They entered port at Honolulu Harbor on July 7. Having originally been refused entry by Protestant advisors to the king, the Picpus Fathers did not disembark from their ship until July 9, the Feast of Our Lady of Peace. Among the first Picpus Fathers were Abraham Armand and Alexis Bachelot of France, as well as Patrick Short of the United Kingdom. They were joined by six lay brothers. It has been claimed that Fathers Armand, Bachelot and Short concelebrated the first Mass in the Hawaiian Islands on Bastille Day, July 14, 1827, in honor of their religious institute's French heritage, but this is untrue, and an anachronism: concelebration of masses was not practiced at the time, and since France was being ruled by the restored Bourbon monarchy, "Bastille Day" would certainly not be marked as a national holiday. They performed the first baptism on November 30.

The Picpus Fathers were quick to plunge into the Hawaiian society. They learned the local language, went into the Native Hawaiian community and began preaching to them. They distributed Hawaiian language Bibles and taught the lessons of Jesus from the gospels. Hundreds of Native Hawaiians chose to receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. Among the first converts were William Pitt Kalanimoku who was baptized aboard the French vessel L'Uranie by Abbe de Quelen which arrived in 1819, four months after the death of Kamehameha the Great. Also the royal governors of Oʻahu, Boki and Liliha. They would both become pivotal members of the Catholic underground.

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