Columbaria at local places of worship at risk due to pending legislation

Columbarium or cremation niches at St. Ann Church, Kaneohe (File Photo)

A bill that would allow Catholic churches and other places of worship in Hawaii to build and maintain columbaria, or cremation niches, on their property is being challenged by the state legislature.

On Jan. 31, Diocesan Treasury Officer Lisa Sakamoto sent out an email notification that House Bill 646 would repeal a previously passed 2020 law “that allowed our faith communities to take care of ours at our place of worship.” caring for deceased brothers and sisters”.

Diocese of Honolulu Vicar General Msgr. Gary Secor testified against an accompanying bill in the State Senate, SB 157, on January 31, and that bill was shelved. But there is a hearing on HB 646 on February 2nd.

Sakamoto called on all local Catholics to testify against HB 646 by 2:00 p.m. on February 1

“We need a lot of opposition from our community to stop the passage of this bill,” she wrote, suggesting Catholics send a simple message:

“I I am strictly against it to HB646. If it is passed, our faith communities will no longer be able to care for our deceased brothers and sisters in our place of worship without a significant burden and burden on our churches. Please do not let this law pass in favor of our Kupuna and our faith communities.”

Bishop Larry Silva and Msgr. Secor provided additional testimony for Thursday’s hearing.

“Removing the Cemetery Authority’s exemption for nonprofit religious organizations in Hawaii would have a significant adverse impact on those we serve,” Bishop Silva wrote in his testimony. “The passage of HB646 would repeal Law 022(20) and churches across the state would no longer be permitted to continue this work of mercy without a great administrative and costly burden on our churches.”

The bishop also pointed out that the existing law 022 does not put a financial burden on the state parliament.

“Hundreds of local churches across the state have been given the opportunity to use this exemption to provide ongoing ministry to their members
and the families of loved ones who have died and do so in their places of worship for grieving families,” he wrote. “Our churches have been given this opportunity to return to the work of mercy of burying the dead and we are very grateful to you all.”

Sakamoto said he should file his testimony against HB 646 online at Or you can email the chair of the House Consumer Protection and Trade Committee and copy your representative on the committee.

Contact are as follows:

Chairman Nakashima (Hilo/Hamakua) at [email protected]
Vice Chairman Sayama (Kaimuki) at [email protected]
Rep. Au-Belatti (Makiki) at [email protected]
Representative Amato (Kihei) at [email protected]
Representative Gates ((Waianae/Makaha) at [email protected]
Representative Hashem (East Honolulu) at rephas[email protected]
Representative Hussey-Burdick (Kailua) at [email protected]
Representative Lowen (Kailua-Kona) at [email protected]
Representative Onishi (Hilo) at [email protected]
Representative Tam (Waikiki) at [email protected]
Representative Pierick (Royal Kunia/Waipahu) at [email protected]