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Father Damien

April 15, 2011

Father Damien or Saint Damien of Molokai died today in the year 1889. He was canonized on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. He is the patron saint of the Diocese of Honolulu and of Hawaiʻi. Because we are still in the Lenten season the Church does not celebrate this great saint although today is still celebrated statewide in Hawaii as Father Damien Day. This wonderful priest was born January 3, 1840 as Jozef De Veuster and he was originally from Belgium. He was a missionary of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He is recognized and honored for his ministry to people with leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease) in Hawaii.

Father Damien died after sixteen years of caring for the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of lepers who had been placed under a government-sanctioned medical quarantine on the island of Molokaʻi in the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Father Damien eventually contracted and died of leprosy and is considered a “martyr of charity”. He is the ninth person recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church to have lived, worked, and died in the United States.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Connie Summers permalink
    April 15, 2011 4:19 pm

    On April 5th of this year I had the honor of venerating a relic of his here in Oklahoma City. I am quite fond of Fr. Damien. The diocese of Oklahoma City recently named a church in his honor. I go there every so often and think of it as my little “San Damiano”!

    • Sister Mary Francis permalink
      April 15, 2011 10:23 pm

      Connie, I found out by accident only that April 15th was the feast day for Father Damien but I’m glad I made the discovery. We have some type of movie about Father Damien I didn’t get to watch it last year maybe I can watch it soon.

      • Connie Summers permalink
        April 16, 2011 7:58 am

        If it is the movie from 1999, the one I have seen, it is fantastic! It has some of the best British actors in it (I was in theatre for over 20 years and therefore kept up with such things). But get the Kleenex out ready to catch your tears because it is sad…joyfully sad. Joyful in how St. Damien spends his life, gives his life (literally) for others just like Christ did. Self-giving, self-emptying seems to me to be a “side effect” of the Eucharist and recollected prayer. Once a person begins to live ones life for Christ and in Christ with the Eucharist transforming one to Him, it is hard to imagine not living ones life in service to others, just as Christ did, no matter the cost.

        In regards to the Eucharist St. Damien is quoted as saying:
        “The Blessed Sacrament is indeed the stimulus for us all, for me, as it should be for you, to forsake all worldly ambitions. Without the constant presence of our Divine Master upon the altar in my poor chapels, I never could have persevered casting my lot with the afflicted of Molokai; The Eucharist is the bread that gives strength…It is at once the most eloquent proof of His love and the most powerful means of fostering His love in us. He gives Himself every day so that our hearts as burning coals may set afire the hearts of the faithful.”

        I’m looking forward to meeting you Sr. Mary Francis. God willing I will be there April 26th! Have a Blessed Holy Week and a beautiful Easter!

      • Sister Mary Francis permalink
        April 16, 2011 2:42 pm

        Connie, our Community looks forward to meeting you as well. I find the quote you included in your comment to be inspiring now I will have to try and find more to read about Saint Father Damien. Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter.

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