With President Joe Biden scheduled to travel to Lahaina on Monday to meet with fire survivors and first responders, the president has been asked to consider visiting Maria Lanakila Catholic Church. The historic church established in 1846 survived the devastation of a wildfire that swept through historic Lahaina town Aug. 8-9. More than 2,000 buildings were destroyed.
Photos of the interior of the Maria Lanakila Church show that it is apparently untouched by the fire. The altar, pews, church columns, even flower arrangements are undisturbed at the church, whose name translates to “Lady of Victory.”
“Maria Lanakila Catholic Church stands strong as a miraculous symbol of the strength and resilience of the people of Lahaina. With devastation all around, the church and its interior remain virtually untouched by the Lahaina town firestorm,” said the Rev. Monsignor Terrence A.M. Watanabe, Pastor & Vicar Forane of the Maui/Lanai Vicariate.
The church rectory also survived, and Maria Lanakila priests, women religious and church staff are all safe and accounted for.
“President Biden’s visit could help focus national attention on the miracle of Maria Lanakila, and the urgent needs of our community to recover from this disaster,” Watanabe said. “We understand that President Biden’s time will be very limited during his visit and expect his primary focus will be on meeting survivors, first responders and government officials. We are also very much aware that recovery efforts are ongoing in fire-impacted areas of Lahaina, which remain off-limits to the general public.”
“We continue to pray for all those who’ve lost loved ones and their homes. Our first priority is the people of Maui, especially our Maria Lanakila parishioners in Lahaina, in attending to their needs for prayer, financial and other support in this dark time.”
“We pray that our loving God will comfort all those who have lost loved ones and homes,” Watanabe said. “Even as we mourn, we remain strong in faith in the Lord that we can find peace in the eternal love of God.”
“We are thankful for the survival of the church and the church rectory,” Watanabe said. “Now, we look forward to standing strong as a community to rebuild Lahaina with the resilience of human spirit and power of faith and community.”
The Hawaiʻi Catholic Community Foundation is accepting donations at https://tinyurl.com/MauiCatholic. Funds collected will be distributed to support Maui wildfires relief, recovery and rebuild efforts.