Herman Melville mused that men build hermitages near water. There is something about the sound, even the feel of the air near water, which soothes the soul. His protagonist in Moby Dick, Ishmael, went to sea to "reset" his spirit rather than stay on land where he was bound to "knock men's hats off." Our compound came to us unexpectedly. The owner did not look to sell this land. She later said that she subdivided for us because she felt moved by the Holy Spirit. Today our hermitage is being built near to one of the few year-round streams in North Kohala, Hapahapai Stream, and we hear water rushing over rocks during work hours and from our beds at night.
Coming to Kohala unexpectedly, the members of our Community found themselves nearer to Heaven's climes than any place they had seen before. The northern cape of Hawai'i Island, known as Kohala, is culturally gentle, blessed by pleasant weather most of the year, and beautiful to an almost supernatural degree. A Sister of our Community said simply, "This cannot be just for us! God has graced us with such overflowing blessing that it should pour out of us to bless others!" From the beginning it was clear that making the Hermitage a place of refreshment for others was an element of our ministry in Hawai'i. Vocation in the Church invites, even demands, that clergy and religious pour themselves out freely. The Via dolorosa is the way ahead. The Hermitage seeks to refresh these many selfless servants of God on whom so much depends.
Franciscan Hermitage Ministries is a place of beauty and quiet, nestled beneath the coastal hills of North Kohala, the jewel of the Hawai'ian Islands. The Hermitage is near the famous cliffs of Pololu, an easy drive to the 1,500 ft. waterfalls of the Waipio Valley, one-half mile from the Pacific Coast, and at the termination of Kohala Mountain Road, one of the U.S.'s "great drives." From our barn deck we can see the waters off the northern tip of the Kohala cape and beyond to Maui. On clear days the magnificent Haleakala (the House of the Sun) stands in its majesty crowned by clouds that seem imaginary in their purity and beauty. Nearby is one of the world's top beaches, Hapuna Beach, on the Kohala Coast, which is Hawai'i's sunniest locale. Here at the Hermitage, nearly every day is pleasant — washed with cool tradewinds that keep our air fresh and clear; soothed by the sound of Hapahapai Stream, which runs over little cascades through our land. The temperature band is narrow and steady: rarely below 58 F. and rarely above 90 F. The ocean temperature seems always to be in the high 70s to low 80s F. We are located in the safest Lava region (Zone 9) and favored by lots sun and adequate rain as we sit on the seam between the Island's wet side and dry side. The Big Island of Hawai'i is home to eleven of the earth's thirteen climate zones from the snowy top of Mauna Kea to the Arizona desert terrain of western North Kohala to the tropical beaches of white sand and aqua waters along the Kohala Coast.
In keeping with our desire to respect the culture and spirituality we have found in Hawai'i,
we have chosen Hawai'ian architecture for our buildings.