St. William Church

Early History of St. William’s Church


The early church serving the North Shore Catholic residents began with St. Stephen’s Church at Moloaa.  Built by Father Maudet on September 17, 1854.  St. Stephen’s Church prospered for many years until a series of tidal waves destroyed the church.  Large numbers of people living at Moloaa were dispersed and the church was never rebuilt.


A larger, permanent church at Hanalei was built by Brother Arsene Bernat.  The location of the church was located adjacent to the river near the present day wharf area.  Fr. Maudet blessed the new church, St. Maxime’s, on October 3, 1864.  St. Maxime’s was ordered demolished during the early 1930’s by Bishop Alencaster.


With the growing number of Catholics in Hanalei, a new church was built along Kuhio Highway in 1956 under the direction of Fr. John McDonald.  St. Williams’ Church was constructed for the sum of $20,000.00 plus a tremendous amount of volunteer work by the parishioners.  A large donation of $15,000.00 was given by Archbishop William D. O’Brien of Chicago.  Following the blessing by Bishop James J. Sweeney on February 19, 1956, a luau for more than 1,500 people was held at the Hanalei Pavillion.


The architect designed the church to resemble the long houses of Polynesia.  The stations of the cross were designed and painted by Jean Charlot. 


St. William’s Church continues to serve the Catholics of the Hanalei area at the Corner of Kuhio Highway and Malolo Road.


St. William

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