July 31, 2005

St. Ann Church congregation holds to faith after deacon accused of crimes

The Maui News

WAIHEE – Their voices were rich in song and smiles were bright as the faithful of St. Ann Church gathered Saturday night to commemorate the feast day of their patron saint with the blessing of a new statue.

But it was hard not to hear their hearts breaking as their faith was being tested like never before.

On the other side of town, the man they still call their shepherd – Deacon Ron Gonsalves – was being held in jail on 62 counts of sexual assault against a boy.

“Dear God, all of us at St. Ann are suffering,” parishioner Cathy Riley sang to the heavens during the service when prayers were offered for various intentions. “Bless us, God, bless Deacon Ron and his family, bless the child and his family.”

If the outpouring of aloha at the Feast Day Mass celebration was any indication, Gonsalves’ flock remains as devoted to him as ever, standing firm in his defense. Some of the women who regularly bake bread with him were even talking about showing their support by going to the courtroom for his bail hearing Monday to boost his morale.

“We all love him,” said Agnes Cockett. “He’s such a bighearted, generous person. He has been so good to us, not just to our parish, but to the entire community.”

Posted by kshaw at July 31, 2005 04:13 PM