LAHAINA - After seven years as pastor of Maria Lanakila Catholic Church here in Lahaina, as well as a lifetime of leadership of the faith across Maui and on Oahu, Father Gary Colton will retire from full-time ministry on June 30.
He will continue to live on Maui and help with weekend masses when needed. Father Gary will also keep up his work with Maui Catholic Charities and as police chaplain for the Maui Police Department.
An aloha farewell dinner will be held on Friday, June 29, at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua beginning at 5:30 p.m., after a prayer service at 5 p.m. at the Sacred Hearts Mission Church located adjacent to the hotel.
Maria Lanakila Catholic Church Pastor Gary Colton (left) will be replaced by Father Joseph Pathiyil, who has served as associate pastor for the past two years. Photo by Walter Chihara.
Tickets for the event are $25 and may be purchased by calling the Maria Lanakila office at 661-3286.
Father Gary was raised here on Maui and ordained on June 1, 1968, to begin his 44 years in the priesthood. He spent his first 13 years at various parishes on Oahu before returning to Maui for his first assignment here in 1981 at St. Rita Parish in Haiku, which included the rural community of St. Gabriel Mission in Keanae.
"I became adopted on weekends by the community in Keanae," he remembered. "It was an enlightening and joyful ministry, and I got very close to the Hawaiian community there and beyond in Hana."
He also served as pastor of Christ the King in Kahului, Holy Rosary in Paia and the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa before coming to Maria Lanakila in 2005.
During this time, he became very active with maintenance and environmental issues with these churches; helped new Filipino priests transition to life here on Maui as a mentor for them; supported Catholic education initiatives (35 years of his ministry have been at parishes with schools) and supported Maui Catholic Charities and its efforts to help the homeless.
Also close to Father Gary's heart is his work with the Maui Police Department.
"Beyond retirement, I will continue this work, as it has always been very beneficial to me and to MPD in helping in assisting families and officers during traumatic times. And I will continue on the board of Maui Catholic Charities that has grown to provide housing with 650 transitional units in Wailuku," he said.
Father Gary, now 70 years young after running six Maui Marathons over the years, will remain active in his personal life and with the Catholic Church.
"I'm doing some walking now, no more marathons, and will be active with Kihei Canoe Club and their seniors program," he said.
"I look forward to coming back here to help on weekends and for the Sacred Hearts Bazaar. I am really proud of being the pastor on the West Side and working with the blend of people here. I will really miss all the people of all the ethnic groups that I have become close to."
Father Gary will be replaced by Father Joseph Pathiyil, Missionary of Faith, India, who has served as associate pastor at Maria Lanakila for the past two years.
Father Joseph said, "I am excited to take on this big responsibility. I have had two years to learn with Father Gary, and he has been a great help... I think it will be a smooth transition. I've gotten to know the people here and walked around the community - the people here are so nice."
Father Kuriakose Nadooparambil, also from India and a friend and associate of Father Joseph, will come to Lahaina to serve as associate pastor at Maria Lanakila.
In his farewell, Father Gary related his favorite Bible verse from John 10:10: "I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full."