09 May 2013

St. Damien De Veuster, Part I of II

The blog posts for May 9th and 10th will be about Saint Damien De Veuster, known for decades as “Father Damien of Molokai". Saint Damien was canonized on October 11, 2009.

Joseph De Veuster was born in Belgium January 3, 1840. In 1859 he entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts and took the name Damien. Arriving in Honolulu in March 1864, he was ordained for service as a “country missionary” in Hawaii. When the Hawaiian Government deported anyone infected by leprosy, then thought to be an incurable disease, to the island of Molokai, Bishop Louis Maigret asked for priest volunteers to take turns visiting the island. In 1873, Damien was the first to go and then, “at his own request and that of the lepers, he remained on Molokai” for the rest of his life.

When he contracted the disease in 1885, Damien, using the expression “we lepers,” found his strength in the Eucharist. He died on April 15, 1889, having served sixteen years among the lepers.

In 1938 the process for his beatification was introduced in Belgium. Pope Paul VI signed the Decree on the “heroicity of his virtues” in July 1977. In July 1995, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

Sr. Joanne Gonter, VHM

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