I am Fr John Timbreza Molina. I was born on February 8, 1967. I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines, but my parents, who originated from Abra, migrated from Manila to Hawai‘i in the late ’80s. I entered the seminary when I was 14. I pursued my seminary studies in the Philippines and later on professed the religious vows in the Order of the Clerics Regular of Somasca (Somascan Fathers). The Religious Order, where I belong, mainly takes care of orphans. After my priestly ordination on August 15, 1998, I was assigned to study and then do my priestly ministry in Italy. There I stayed for 15 years. In September 2014, I returned to the Philippines. Periodically was sent to Vietnam, where my Religious Order was planning to open a new foundation. I was then in contact with Vietnam for a total of 1 year and a half.
On April 8, 2017, I came to Hawai‘i to be near to my aging mother and to offer my help to wherever our Diocese needs. I thank the Good LORD for our kind Bishop Larry Silva, who received me in a very fatherly way. When I arrived in Hawai‘i, I immediately substituted for two months as the pastor of Malia Puka O Kalani in Hilo. Shortly after Malia Puka O Kalani, I spent a month in Waianae at the Sacred Heart Parish. Then at the end of July 2017, I served at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu. I served in the Hospital Ministry at a nearby downtown hospital. On April 20, 2018, I received the letter of appointment from Bishop Larry Silva to take the post of our good friend, Fr. Ernesto Juarez, Jr who is now recalled by his bishop.
God is good all the time! Everything is grace! And this gives me consolation that in my limits and weakness, “I will be able to do all things in HIM who strengthens me.”
In the year 1841, Fr. Arsenius Robert Walsh, a Sacred Heart priest, was the first of the Catholic priests to enter the Puna District which comprised then the communities of Mountain View, Olaa, Kurtistown, Pahoa, Kalapana, Opihikao as well as other villages along the coast. Fr. Walsh also made stopovers in Puna on his tours of the Big Island. During these visits he baptized those who were prepared, assisted at marriages, visited the sick and comforted the dying. Priests after him would visit the district periodically after him.
Father Damien Joseph De Veuster was assigned to the Puna District in August 1864, where he remained until March 1865. He built the first house for priests and a grass hut chapel in Kapa'ahu (near Kalapana). He also built four or five chapels during his stay in Puna.
Father Clement Evrard succeeding Father De Veuster and built the first stone church in 1867, replacing the hut chapel built by Father Damien. It is believed that the stone church was based on a plan made earlier by Father Damien.
In 1898 Father Bonaventure Loots, who replaced Fr. Evrard in 1882, built a temporary church in Pahoa and named it Our Lady of Mount Carmel which was later replaced with a wooden structure named Sacred Heart Church.
Father Evarist Gielen, who arrived in Puna in 1927, relocated the Pahoa Sacred Heart Church to its present site and dedicated it in 1929. Shortly, after the dedication of the Pahoa Sacred Heart Church, he began constructing a church in Kalapana which was dedicated in April 1931 and named Star of the Sea. Fr. Evarist is credited with having built three churches in Puna: Sacred Heart Church, Pahoa (1929); Star of the Sea, Kalapana (1931); St. Theresa, Mountain View (1936).
The Sacred Hearts Fathers were the first to evangelize Puna into the Catholic faith. For 103 years they planted the seed of faith in Puna and gave Sacred Heart Church its beginning.
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