The First Catholic Parish

The first Catholic missionaries arrived in Hawaii on July 7, 1827. Among the group was Fr. Alexis Bachelot, who was the prefect apostolic and a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Upon arrival, the missionaries were quick to integrate themselves with the island’s community. After learning the language, Fr. Bachelot and the other Catholic priests handed out bibles written in Hawaiian and held sacraments and baptism ceremonies, the first baptism being given on November 30 of that year, for hundreds of the island’s natives. One year later, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace was built in the heart of what is now downtown Honolulu.

In 1831, King Kamehameha III, who was being pressured by his Protestant advisors, enforced a policy that restricted Catholicism from being practiced in Hawaii. Fr. Bachelot and the other Catholic priests were then expelled from the islands. It was until 1839 when the French frigate Artemise sailed into Honolulu Harbor and issued a manifesto demanding among other things, freedom of the Catholic religion in the Hawaiian Kingdom.

After settling back into Hawaii, catholic priests were able to formally dedicate the Cathedral on August 15, 1843. The anniversary, however, is observed on August 16 due to the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven being celebrated on August 15.