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Sunset In The Park

It has been sixty summers since I played Gaelic football with my school mates and others in
our local ball field as the sun sank in the western sky. It has been somewhat less than that
since we played in that field by the light of the summer moon. Yes, my parents understood
that, after a day’s work in the hayfields, my muscles needed to be toned before returning to
the school ball fields in September. So I got to stay out later in those golden summer evenings.
Now summer sunsets still invoke in me memories of those days and I have to ask myself, “Am I
really 75?”
This week we here in Kalaupapa celebrate “Sunset in Kalaupapa” when we celebrate our
patients, our history, our community and our island home. These festivities begin on
Wednesday evening at the baseball field and at Paschoal Hall. The baseball field, opposite the
cemetery, is now a grassy meadow where deer are often seen to romp. Paschoal Hall is the
movie house dedicated in 1916 and, after restoration, was rededicated in 2012 by Senator
Daniel Inouye. It sits on the edge of the field where bands once wafted their music over the
settlement. The celebrations involve cultural demonstrations, music, food and lei making
contests and historical games. And of course food to revive the body will be served. On Sunday
the ceremonies close in front of St. Francis Church when the 50 th anniversary of the lifting of
the quarantine of the patients will be celebrated.
By the date this script makes the press, I will be thousands of miles away and will have
experienced some magnificent sunsets. At least I hope so, weather permitting in the west of
Ireland. I will have seen the sun sink below the horizon at about 10 o’clock in the evening and
perhaps watched the sun go down on Galway Bay. I will see again the old ball park, now
equipped with stadium lights, but will no longer play Gaelic football under the light of a
summer moon. ‘Tempus fugit’, as they say. We must all accept the inevitable coming of own
sunset. Aloha.

Fr. Pat Killilea
St, Francis Church, Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

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