Maui Surprises: St. Joseph’s Catholic Church

When you drive past Hana to the back side of Maui, where the car rental agencies don’t want you to go,  the narrow, rough roads allow you to see rocky coasts, steep drop-offs, pounding waves, Charles Lindbergh’s grave, cattle, only a few people–and in Kaupo, one of Maui’s oldest churches.   For nearly 100 years, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church,  established in 1862,  served a thriving community of  Native Hawaiians, ranchers, fishermen, and farmers.

St. Joseph Catholic Church, Kaupo, Maui.  The volcanic rock wall to the right once serves as the xxx

St. Joseph Catholic Church, Kaupo, Maui.*

According to Friends of St. Joseph, missionary Catholic priests evangelized on Maui beginning in the mid-1800s.  Making use of local building materials, residents dove for coral and ground it into cement.  Even today, this cement holds together the original  stones of St. Joseph.

Bishop Louis Maigret blessed St. Joseph Church on June 29, 1862.

When the Kaupo population dwindled to only a few families in the 1970s, St. Joseph closed and fell into disrepair.   However, during the late 1980s and early 1990s,  church members restored St. Joseph and rededicated it on July 6, 1991.

In 2011, Friends of St. Joseph celebrated the  150 year anniversary of St. Joseph Church.

Anniversary celebration at St. Joseph's

Anniversary celebration at St. Joseph’s.  Photo from:

Whenever there is a fifth Sunday in a  month and you are in Kaupo, be there by noon if you would like to participate in a St. Joseph mass, which is followed by fellowship–and a potluck.  March 31, 2013, should be the next mass and celebration–but check with the Catholic church in Hana  before driving all the way to Kaupo.  

In the meantime, you may wander the grounds whenever you get to Kaupo.

Volcanic rock walls of what used to be the church rectory.

This volcanic rock wall used to be part of the church rectory*

St. Joseph Church graveyard.

St. Joseph Church cemetery *

Come visit.

Evening clouds from St. Joseph  Church

Evening clouds from St. Joseph Church*

Aloha, Renée

* photos by me


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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

4 responses to “Maui Surprises: St. Joseph’s Catholic Church”

  1. Mario e Rosetta Burlando says :

    Dear Renee we have received the fine calendar you sent us. Thanks! I lost your email and so I have to take this opportunity (I know that isn’t the correct use of one blog) to get in touch with you and send you and all family our best wishes for all your journey in the world.
    Mario & Rosetta

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi Mario & Rosetta: Thanks for your good wishes. We hope to see you both again one day. My e-mail is . Wishing you and your family much happiness. Barry sends his greetings.
      Aloha, Renee

  2. Tara says :

    Mahalo for sharing info on beautiful church in Kaupo. I love stopping there on our way to Hana!

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