Clintons attend blessing for new parish center at St. Michael the Archangel in Kona
It’s not everyday a former U.S. president and first lady/Secretary of State show up on the shores of the Big Island. But it helps when they have a family friend who lives here.
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were in Kailua-Kona on the island’s west side to attend Thursday’s blessing of the new Grace Parish Center at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Parish. The new parish center shares its name with Grace Wilsey, who is an inspiration for the church’s congregation.
Grace’s parents, Kristen and Matt Wilsey, are regular visitors to the Kona church, which they consider their second home, according to a story from the Hawai‘i Catholic Herald, the newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu. Grace has fond memories of celebrating holidays and attending regular Sunday mass at the Kona church.
Kristen Wilsey is a family friend of the Clintons, according to a post on Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth’s Facebook page. Roth had the opportunity to meet and speak with the Clintons while they all attended the blessing for the new $5.5 million parish center. Catholic leaders and churchgoers also were in attendance.
“What an honor to chat with former President Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” the mayor said in his post.
Grace suffers from a rare genetic disorder called NGLY1 Deficiency. There are only about 100 known cases of the disorder worldwide. Grace was diagnosed when she was 4 years old and wasn’t predicted to survive past the age of 5, but now she’s thriving at 13 years old.
The Wilsey family made a significant donation to the building project to honor Grace and her paternal great-grandmother, who was born and raised on O‘ahu.
“So, it is only fitting that Grace Parish Center honors Grace while symbolizing the abundant graces and blessings our Lord has given us all,” the Hawai‘i Catholic Herald story says. “We are very appreciative of Bobbie and Mike Wilsey for their generosity.”
The new Grace Parish Center signifies the abundant gifts God has given to the St. Michael parish, according to the newspaper, and its name pays tribute to the very special person who is Grace.
It is unknown how long the Clintons planned to stay in Hawai‘i.