Stained Glass Windows Have Meaning

Kona artists Helen Voge and Debbie McCormick crafted the large stained glass windows at St. Michael’s Church.

Installed in 1996, the first window (at right) depicts a story told about Fr. Damien’s visit to a waterfall.  The shapes of the multi-hued glass show Fr. Damien sitting with three children, who are suffering from Hansen’s disease, amid beautiful flowers and island scenery.  The children, in spite of their suffering, look loved and hopeful—this illustrates a key part of Fr. Damien’s ministry: to lift up the broken.  

The second window (far right) is a tribute to the native Hawaiian Catholic educators (catechists) in the early years of evangelization.  Featured in the window are Maui catechist Helio Ko‘aeloa Mahoe; the story of Luika Kaumaka, the “spiritual mother” of Hawai‘i’s catechists; and Rapaelo and his wife, one of the first catechists in Kailua-Kona.  The window was dedicated to the memory of Maryknoll  Sister Helen Higgins, who served in Kona for 12 years as a devoted catechist, hospital chaplain, coordinator of various church ministries, organist and member of the Kona Community Chorus.  An educated historian, she wrote The Foundation of the Catholic Church on the Big Island With Emphasis on North and South Kona in 1989.  The last sister to serve at St. Michael’s Parish, Sister Helen died May 7, 1996; she is buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery.

Mother Mary, the patroness of the Diocese of Honolulu is showcased in the third window (at far left) with a rainbow wreathed above her head and a string of rosary beads in her hand.  The rosary symbolizes the Rainbow Rosaries for sale at St. Michael’s Gift Shop.  The multi-colored rosaries are popular with Hawai‘i visitors and made by members of the parish’s Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Secular Franciscans.  The vocational lay group was locally established in 2001 by Carolyn Livingston, Joyce Moore and Peter Callahan.  

The fourth window (at left) pictures Jesus, the “Bread of Life,” holding out bread to anyone who will partake of it.  Gathered below Jesus are people of Hawai‘i’s different ethnic backgrounds.  Jesus is wearing the color of the ancient Hawaiian ali‘i (chiefs), indicating to all people He is the King of Kings.  The window reminds parishioners that people, of all races, are the “Body of Christ.”