In July 1827, three Sacred Hearts priests and three Sacred Hearts brothers fromFrance arrived in Honolulu to being the Hawaiian Catholic Mission. The beginnings of the Mission were difficult. They were neither welcomed by the royal government nor by their Protestant brethren already here. They preserved throughout those difficult years, however, years that included exile for the priests and brothers, and forced labor, beatings and imprisonment for those who embraced the Catholic faith. Finally, after the French frigate L’Artemise threatened war, the persecution ended on July 12, 1839, and the kingdom granted religious freedom to all.
With Catholics now free to practice their fait, a small chapel was built on the beach for the converts in Waikiki. But St. Augustine Parish traces its beginnings from 1854, when Fr. Modestus Flavens, ss.cc. built a temporary chapel of palm fronds and cast-off timber on what is now Kalakaua Avenue. Waikiki continued to grow and eventually the parish relocated to the present on Ohua Avenue, where a larger chapel was built from the lumber of shipwrecked ships. The chapel was used primarily for devotions; parishioners still had to go to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace for Sunday Mass. During the Spanish-American War, American soldiers were garrisoned at Kapiolani Park and the Catholic soldiers wanted a regular Catholic Mass in Waikiki, so permission was given for Mass every Sunday. A larger chapel was built to accommodate all the worshippers.
The soldiers left when the war ended, but by that time there was a growing Catholic community in Waikiki. On August 28, 1901, Bishop Gulstan Ropert blessed a more permanent church with lattice-work walls reminiscent of the palm fronds of the first chapel in Waikiki. As Waikiki grew, so did the church; it was expanded twice, in 1910 and then in 1925. but time, a growing population and termites took their toll and by the early 1960s a larger church was needed. In 1962, the present church was blessed. Designed by local architect George McLaughlin, the design reflects hands folded in prayer. The 20 side stained glass windows depict 15 mysteries of the rosary, the arrival of the missionaries, the first lay catechists in Hawaii, Father Damien and the bishop receiving the current church.
Today, St. Augustine continues to be a vibrant part of its community, cognizant always of the Gospel call of service and ministry. Our soup kitchen provides a hotl noon meal to those without food and we reach out with food to those on the Waianae Coast as well. Our mission is to radiate the love of Jesus Christ. We welcome all visitors to our church and invite you to join us in worship and ministry.