Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Society readies for Feast of Holy Ghost

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Staff Writer

You could drive up and down Queen Street a dozen times and miss it, even though it's sparkling white with bright red trim.

The Kewalo Holy Ghost Society building sits in the heart of industrial Kaka'ako, surrounded by body shops and anonymous hollow tile walk-ups, a remnant of the old world in the middle of modern times.

It's quiet most days, though Greg Reis is often there hosing down the driveway or doing meticulous repairs to the small chapel. On Sundays, members of the society show up after church for lunch and bingo. The game gets heated, though the prizes are most often canned goods. Greg calls the numbers. "Some of them, they grumble if I go too fast," he said. His aunt Rose Correa Birch cooks huge pots of food for lunch for the fifty or so regulars.

Right now, there's a burst of activity at the site. Greg is painting and scrubbing in preparation for the annual Feast of the Holy Ghost.

Birch talks excitedly of the plans, describing an event that has bits and pieces of 14th-century Portuguese customs blended with helpings of decidedly contemporary elements.

For example, there is the procession. The society members, and anyone else who wants to join in, will march through Kaka'ako, down Queen Street, up Cooke Street, on to Kapi'olani and down Ward, holding jeweled flags and decorated statues of saints, much in the way processions would move with donkey-drawn carts through Portuguese villages of old. But the Kaka'ako procession includes the American flag, off-duty police officers, a hefty insurance policy and a number of motorcycle escorts. It's the best of both worlds.

An auction and bazaar will follow, with items from handmade crochet pieces like great grandma used to make to the li hing pineapple the kids adore.

Birch's parents and grandparents were members of the society, which has been around for nearly a hundred years. She remembers when the feast drew crowds so big they had to borrow chairs from the Punchbowl Holy Ghost Society. The gatherings are smaller now, but the members hope to reconnect with the descendants of former members, and they emphasize that everyone is welcome to attend the event, in the way that everyone is welcome at a bon dance.

Part of the tradition is to feed anyone who comes by, a gesture of charity and good will. On the first day of the three-day celebration, June 29th, the society will serve beef stew. On July 1, the lunch will be more traditional Portuguese style, with vinha d'alhos and white bread.

Birch is hoping to attract the biggest crowd ever, and isn't worried about having enough food to feed everyone. "It's like the loaves and fishes," she says, "we'll always have enough."

For more information on the Kewalo Holy Ghost Festa, call Rose Birch at 261-0366.