On August 8th, wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii erupted engulfed the city, spreading quickly and ravaging the surrounding cities on the island of Maui. For days, the fires raged, killing over a hundred people and leaving an estimated 1,000 people missing. Nearly a month later, Bishop Larry Silva joined John Morales on Morning Air to discuss the aftermath, give an update on Hawaii’s recovery, and how God is bringing good out of the worst disaster in Hawaiian history.
Bishop Silva began by explaining that when the smoke cleared, almost everything in Lahaina had been utterly destroyed. The only things that survived the fire were the Catholic church, Maria Lanakila, and the neighboring rectory. Following the containment of the fires, Bishop Silva was able to celebrate Mass with the survivors and their families, and he recalled feeling blessed to be able to be there for them during this tragic and heartbreaking time.
Apart from the destruction of the land, the fires also eviscerated neighborhoods, homes, businesses, and schools. These people not only lost their loved ones, but they lost their shelter, safety, livelihoods, and all sources of food and water. They lost everything.
But, amidst the tragedy and the sorrow, there were also stories of those who stepped up to offer their own resources to those who had lost it all. The good Samaritans of Maui welcomed strangers into their homes, fed those who had no food, and clothed those who had no clothes. Out of all evil, God brings good, and in this case, there was a great need for people to embrace the corporal works of mercy and they answered the call.
John brought the conversation back to the miraculous preservation of Maria Lanakila Catholic Church, named for Our Lady of Victory. Bishop Silva admitted that he did not know how or why the Lord chose to preserve this church from the fire, but he is grateful for it nevertheless.
“The pastor was able to go in a couple of days after the fire and was just amazed that not even the flowers were wilted. It was just an amazing thing,” said Bishop Silva. “The rectory also was preserved. Only a little [bit of] damage to it, so nothing major.”
The church will not be used for some time because of how toxic the surrounding area is, but once the city has recovered, it will be available for use again.
“I think it’s important for us to remember that the fire and the storm were not the hand of God. The whispering voice of love and hope, that’s really the hand of God. The prophet Elijah experienced God in a tiny whispering sound, not in fire, earthquake, or wind, but in the aftermath of those things. And so it is with our situation,” said Bishop Silva. Bishop Silva reminded his congregation that it’s okay to experience the emotions of sadness, grief, and anger over the losses they have experienced. It’s normal and natural, and God will love us through the pain.
Bishop Silva finished by remarking on the power of prayer and expressed his belief that there would not be such an atmosphere of hope in Maui if it weren’t for the prayers from all over the world. The resilience and recovery of the Hawaiian people is a direct response to the countless people around the world praying for them.
If you would like to support the victims of Maui, Bishop Silva recommended several ways to help:
- Continue to pray for Hawaii
- Donate to the Hawaii Catholic Community Foundation
- Support Hawaii Catholic Charities
- Visit Maui, as the rest of the island is open and in need of tourist-related income
Tune in to Morning Air weekdays at 5am CT