Church to celebrate feast of newly canonized St. Damien
Peggy Chun's portrait of St. Damien. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope_benedict_to_receive_paralyzed_artists_portrait_of_fr._damien/
Peggy Chun's portrait of St. Damien. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope_benedict_to_receive_paralyzed_artists_portrait_of_fr._damien/
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- This Thursday is the feast day of St. Damien de Veuster, better known as St. Damien of Molokai. This year, the feast takes on new significance as it is marks the first celebration of the former blessed’s feast since his October 11, 2009 canonization. Damien de Veuster was born in Belgium to a poor farming family. Answering God’s call, he joined the Fathers of the Sacred Heart, and spent the rest of his life as a missionary in Hawaii.

After being ordained in 1864, Fr. Damien was sent to the peninsula of Kalawao on Molokai, an isolated area of the Hawaiian island where the panicked government of the time quarantined people suspected of having leprosy. Arriving in 1873, he lived on the island for the rest of his life, dying in 1889 of the very disease whose suffering he sought to alleviate in others.

Fr. Damien dedicated his life to the native Hawaiians he found suffering in exile on Molokai. When he arrived, there were very few structures in the area. Many people slept on mats, covered by only a thin blanket as protection against the rain. Though there was a small, preexisting chapel, dedicated to St. Philomena, Fr. Damien set up his first rectory in the shade of a tree. However, he was a skilled carpenter and a hard worker. Quickly, he worked to build coffins, a rectory, houses, a school, and eventually a new chapel for the community.

Fr. Damien ministered to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. His primary aim was to restore dignity to the people who had been robbed of everything through no fault of their own. Thus, one of his first accomplishments was to build a fence around, and clean up, the cemetery. Then, by building coffins and encouraging the creation of a Christian Burial Society, Fr. Damien gave dignity to the leprosy victims.

Children were especially close to the Belgian missionary’s heart. As was the law of the time, families were split up, and often children with leprosy were sent to Molokai while their parents were forced to remain at home. Fr. Damien set up a dormitory for boys, and eventually one for girls as well. He worked hard to keep the children away from the depravity that had become commonplace in the rather lawless society that had sprung up on Molokai. The children became so devoted to him that they wrote a song in their native Hawaiian, calling him their father, which they used to stand outside his house and sing.

Fr. Damien also worked tirelessly to bring in outside supplies and funding. The Hawaiian government considered him to be a stubborn nuisance as he sent letter after letter petitioning for food and building materials. He also wrote to his superiors and the local bishop to increase awareness of the conditions, sufferings, and needs of the people to whom he ministered.

Ultimately, Fr. Damien contracted leprosy himself. However, he did not allow it to put an end to his ministry. As frustrating as the situation may have been at times, he never lost hope and continued to think of the people, who he made his own.

He died on March 28, 1889 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009. Every schoolchild in Hawaii is familiar with his story.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 29, 2015

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:1-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:1-20