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Farewell service for St. Michael’s Church; demolition to take two weeks

The church was damaged in the October 2006 earthquakes. (Photo courtesy of St. Michael's Catholic Church)

The church was damaged in the October 2006 earthquakes. (Photo courtesy of St. Michael's Catholic Church)

MEDIA RELEASE

St. Michael the Archangel Church will be decommissioned during a Farewell Service at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2. The public is invited to the service, followed by refreshments and a talk story under the tent currently used for Mass.

Demolition of the Alii Drive Church and tiny exterior rear rectory is expected to take two weeks. The adjacent wooden administration building, which opened as a Convent for the Sisters of the Holy Family in 1955, will be razed at a later date. The church’s adjacent cemetery will not be disturbed.

St. Michael the Archangel Church, which was built around 1850 of lava rock, coral and sand, was damaged during the Oct. 15, 2006 earthquakes. After the structural engineering firm of MKM & Associates of Santa Rosa, Calif. found the church unsafe, it was permanently closed.

Due to the church’s disintegrating structure, which was caused by past flooding and age, studies found the building could not be repaired and the parish initiated plans to build a new church campus on its roughly three-acre property.

The interior of St. Michael's Catholic Church. (Photo courtesy of St. Michael's Catholic Church)

The interior of St. Michael's Catholic Church. (Photo courtesy of St. Michael's Catholic Church)

Demolition of St. Michael’s Church will include locating the remains of Father Joachim Marechal, who oversaw construction of the original church. He was buried under the church’s altar in 1859.

Archeologist Bob Rechtman, of Rechtman Consulting, has been secured to guide the demolition crew in locating Marechal’s remains, said Dick Leander, chairman of St. Michael the Archangel Parish Planning and Building Committee.

“The remains will be put in a safe place until they can be re-interred under the new church,” Leander said.

Architect Mark Lively, AIA has been hired to design the new church and parking, plus a combination community/administration building and a social services outreach building with an upstairs apartment for visiting priests.

“We hope to have a new church that can accommodate up to 650 people at any one time,” Leander said. “We will also have an outdoor area between the buildings for social events. We plan to use the space effectively.”

Some of St. Michael’s original construction materials will be included in the new church’s design, Leander said, including the stained glass windows, lava rock, timbers and the 1859 bell from France.

St. Michael the Archangel Church is part of the North Kona Catholic Community that includes Immaculate Conception Church in Holualoa, St. Paul’s Church in Honalo, St. Peter’s Church in Keauhou and Holy Rosary Church in Kalaoa. NKCC serves more than 1,000 parishioners and a steady stream of visitors, many who return year after year.

The parish recently released a book that chronicles its history, titled “North Kona’s Catholic Heritage….remembered.”

For further information, call 326-7771.

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