St. Joseph Catholic Church at Kaupo, Maui, Hawai’i was established in 1862 by the missionary Catholic priests who evangelized on Maui beginning in the mid 1800s. It was Bishop Louis Maigret who blessed the Church on June 29, 1862. St. Joseph Church served a thriving community of ranchers, fishermen, farmers, etc. for nearly 100 years, providing the spiritual needs of the Catholic faithful in Kaupo. They attended Masses, Religious Education classes, sang in the Hawaiian language Choirs, became members of the Holy Name Society, celebrated the Sacraments (Baptism, Penance, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, Marriage), attended funerals, etc.
The historically significant construction method of the period was such that it necessitated dedicated residents to dive in the ocean and bring up coral to melt into cement in order to build the church. This type of cement is part of what today still holds together the original stones used to construct the Church.
The Church was repaired by Fr. Cyril Early, SS.CC. in 1938 and re-blessed by Bishop Stephen Alencastre in May of that year. Unfortunately the population in Kaupo dwindled to only a few families, and the Church closed and fell into disrepair in the 1970s. During the late 1980s and very early in 1990s, much work was done to restore the Church, culminating in the rededication on July 6, 1991.
St. Joseph is a Mission of St. Mary’s Church in Hana, Maui and continues to serve the faithful in the community. Mass is celebrated at 12:00noon whenever there is a 5th Sunday of the month, followed by fellowship and pot-luck lunch. The Church is also used for special occasions, such as the visitation of the relic of St. Damien in 2009. The church cemetery is the resting place for many of the faithfully departed of Kaupo. These gravesites are actively maintained by loved ones.
St. Joseph is located on a promontory high above the sea with a spectacular view of Hawaii’s Big Island on a clear day. Visitors are welcome to stroll the grounds where, in addition to the Church building, the walls of the former stone-construction Rectory remain, as well as that of a cistern used many years ago. A turnstile at the roadside property entrance allows access by visitors and the local community at all times. Caretakers maintain both the interior of the Church and the exterior property. Many varieties of plumeria, hibiscus, bouganvilla, bird of paradise, ti leaf plants, golden shower trees, and other varieties of trees and shrubbery make up the landscape of the scenic Church grounds and cemetery.
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