Friday 21st October 2016

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Another Molokai Saint? Diocese Of Honolulu Investigates Brother Dutton’s Life

April 26, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

  “I wish to guard you against having too high an estimate of the work here. Work performed with a good intention to accomplish the Will of the Almighty God, for His glory, is the same in one place as another. One’s Molokai can be anywhere” — Brother Joseph Dutton.

+    +    +

  “He wore a blue-denim shirt, which fitted his well-knit, slim, lithe, muscular figure. He stood about five feet seven inches tall; had dark brown hair and grayish blue eyes; a low voice, placid features, and a pleasant smile. He was reserved and thoughtful, had nothing to say about the reason for seeking seclusion and work at Molokai, and turning his back on the world” — physician Arthur Mouritz, quoted in Holy Man: Father Damien of Molokai, by Gavan Daws (University of Hawaii Press: 1973), about Brother Joseph Dutton’s arrival on Molokai, July 29, 1886, at the age of 43.
  The Civil War “Company Descriptive Book” gives the same basic details about Ira B. (later Joseph) Dutton’s appearance, except that it says his hair was light.
  Dutton’s road from service in the 13th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, Company B, to 40-plus years on Molokai was as rocky as the shores of the Kalaupapa peninsula, the leper settlement’s home.
  But it is for those Molokai years — almost three of them spent with Fr. Damien before his 1889 death — that Dutton is best known, and that could provide the best evidence of his heroic sanctity.
  Bishop Larry Silva of the Diocese of Honolulu told The Wanderer that Dutton’s sainthood cause cannot now be described as being underway. The diocese is doing “preliminary work,” he said — looking for evidence of widespread devotion to Brother Dutton and biographical proof of his holy life and exceptional virtue, and his “intercessory power.”
  A more intense investigation has begun, said the bishop, because three people — an Army psychiatrist, a priest-psychologist from New York State, and a priest of the Diocese of Honolulu —independently approached him to say that they thought Dutton should be proposed for sainthood.
  As to interest in Dutton’s possible cause, “it seems to be gathering,” said the bishop, but is not yet sufficient to meet the criteria of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Nothing has yet been submitted to Rome.
  If any readers have any relevant information about Dutton’s life or about devotion to him, they are invited to send it to: joseph
  Should his cause succeed, Dutton will be the third Catholic missionary to Molokai to be canonized, following Fr. Damien (1840-1889), who was canonized in 2009, and Mother Marianne Cope (1838-1918), who was canonized in 2012. He will be the first U.S. Civil War veteran to be raised to the altars.
  Dutton’s earlier years of “sins and errors” — his words — following the Civil War remain somewhat shrouded in mystery, but it is known that he married someone against the advice of his friends, the marriage failed, and he drank heavily, a barrel of whiskey a year, by his own estimate.
  During the Civil War, he served as a quartermaster and attained the rank of first lieutenant. His regiment saw little combat, but, writes Charles J. Dutton (no relation) in The Samaritans of Molokai (Dodd, Mead and Company, New York: 1932), “the function assigned to the 13th [Volunteer Infantry] usually was that of holding positions that other units had won — not an unimportant job, since often the loss of such a position would have brought disaster.”
  He added that the 13th was, through garrison and picket duty, associated with Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Chickamauga, and Sherman’s March to the Sea.
  Dutton’s work during the Civil War helped him develop skills in leadership, medicine, and carpentry that would serve him well on Molokai.
  Shortly after his mustering out, Dutton married in 1866 in Ohio. Also according to Charles Dutton, he didn’t seem to have any regular employment at that time. Nonetheless, his wife “ran up bills — bills that he had to borrow money to pay.” She was unfaithful to him a number of times — Dutton’s friends had told him before the marriage that she had an unsavory reputation. He consistently forgave her unfaithfulness, but to no avail.
  He was in Memphis in January 1867 looking for work and his wife ran off to New York City with another man at the end of that year, according to The Samaritans of Molokai. Dutton apparently continued to hope for a reconciliation, but that never happened. He sued for divorce in 1881 and obtained it.
  His work following the Civil War included two years of gathering the Union dead and arranging their burials in national cemeteries.
  The 1870 U.S. Census cites his home as Memphis and his employment as railroad clerk. He worked from 1875-1883 for the government, settling war claims.
  During much of this time Dutton drank heavily, which — among other unspecified matters — started to weigh on his conscience. He took a pledge to drink no more in 1876, and began to think of reparations for his misdeeds.
  Born in Stowe, Vt., April 27, 1843 and raised in Janesville, Wis., Dutton had a Christian upbringing. He attended two different Sunday schools, mostly a Baptist school but also a Methodist one, according to The Samaritans of Molokai.
  But as he realized a need to do penance in his adult life, he began to see the Catholic Church as the ideal means of accomplishing that. He began to study the catechism.
  Dutton was baptized at St. Peter’s Church in Memphis on his 40th birthday. Dominican Fr. Joseph Kelly — who had nursed the sick during several yellow fever epidemics — baptized him.  In a tie-in with Dutton’s Civil War background, his godmother was Mrs. Benedict J. Semmes, who was married to a cousin of Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes.
  He took the baptismal name of Joseph because of his great devotion to the foster father of the Lord. He soon began using Joseph as his given name as well.
  He is universally known as Brother Joseph Dutton, but he never was a religious, remaining simply a layman for all his life. Fr. Damien began referring to him as “Brother Dutton,” and the name stuck.
  Dutton’s road to Molokai was as indirect as the path that winds up the pali (cliff) on Molokai. After being received into the Catholic Church, he stayed at the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, for almost two years. Ultimately, he decided he was called to an active, not a contemplative, vocation.
  Dutton traveled with a Redemptorist priest friend to New Orleans where, in a convent reading room, he discovered a Catholic newspaper’s account of Damien’s work on Molokai.
  “It was a new subject and attracted me wonderfully,” he wrote years later, according to Gavan Daws.
  “After weighing it for a while I became convinced that it would suit my wants — for labor, for a penitential life, and for seclusion as well as complete separation from scenes of all past experiences.”
  And: “Yet I was not looking to hide, exactly; it was a good deal the idea of ‘beginning again’.”
  He wondered, however, if he could make himself useful at the Molokai settlement.
  This practical side led him to consult with Professor Charles Warren Stoddard of the University of Notre Dame, who had traveled to Molokai and met Damien, to see if his services would be of use there. Stoddard assured him they would be.
  Dutton reached Molokai in 1886, 20 years after the first leprosy sufferers were banished to Molokai under Hawaii’s 1865 isolation law.
  Damien, wrote Daws, “took to him immediately,” and the priest described Dutton as “truly an exemplary self devoting man.”
  Daws wrote that Dutton was “extraordinarily industrious, and always calm: preternaturally so. No one ever heard him raise his voice or saw him lose his temper.”
  After Fr. Damien came to Molokai in 1873, conditions for those suffering from leprosy (now known as Hansen’s disease) began to improve. Initially, misery and lawlessness had prevailed, with inadequate shelter and supplies and the relatively strong preying upon the weak.
  Dr. Mouritz referred to Dutton’s “seeking seclusion and work at Molokai.” But his decades there involved more work than they did any real seclusion, as he bandaged, counseled, and instructed victims of leprosy, further improving their living conditions.
  Dutton managed the Baldwin Home for Boys, established in 1895 for the leprosy victims; the Brothers of the Sacred Heart also served there. Similarly, Mother Marianne and the Franciscan Sisters ran the Bishop Home for Girls.
  During Dutton’s years on Molokai, the patient population there hit its peak: The National Park Service web site ( says that it reached 1,100 people between 1888 and 1902 when the isolation laws were vigorously enforced.
  Conditions improved materially in the settlement after Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1898.
  Dutton remained an ardent patriot throughout his life, holding a membership in the Grand Army of the Republic.
  At Dutton’s request and by President Theodore Roosevelt’s order, the Great White Fleet in 1908 diverged from its course and sailed along the Kalaupapa peninsula to salute him and the residents. The battleships dipped their flags in respect as they went by.
  When he was 80, Dutton received a letter of appreciation from President Warren G. Harding. He wrote to thank the president for his “beautiful letter.”
  Dutton kept up a mountainous correspondence. The National Park Service web site says his address book contained 4,000 names and bags of mail delivered to him at times weighed up to 50 pounds.
  Dutton lived to be almost 88 years old, dying on March 26, 1931 in a hospital in Honolulu. In his four decades on Molokai, the only time he left was when his failing health forced him to go the hospital.
  Not long afterwards, in 1946, sulfone drugs came to Molokai and proved effective in treating Hansen’s disease.
  Hawaii’s isolation laws were not lifted until 1969.
  Brother Joseph Dutton is buried at St. Philomena Catholic Church Cemetery, Kalaupapa.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Live From New York Should a Catholic Vote for Hillary or Trump?

Almighty God has been very good  in giving us as the day’s Gospel passage that of Our Lord’s famous admonition to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to God what is God’s.” I say that in view of the…Continue Reading

Catholic university blasts ‘Unborn Lives Matter’ posters as ‘bigotry,’ bans them on campus

CHICAGO, Illinois, October 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – College Republicans at DePaul University were prohibited by the university president from displaying posters on campus advertising their group with the pro-life message, “Unborn Lives Matter.” Vincentian Father Dennis Holtschneider indicated to the…Continue Reading

For Archbishop Chaput, ‘Catholic Spring’ group did untold damage

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 14, 2016 / 05:53 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput did not enjoy his first and only encounter with two leaders of Catholics United. “It was an interesting experience,” Archbishop Chaput recounted in his Oct. 13 column…Continue Reading

The anti-Catholic Catholics (and the bishops who support them)

Yesterday Ross Douthat of the New York Times embarked on a lengthy Tweetstorm —21 tweets in all—questioning whether it’s accurate to refer to the leaked emails from the Clinton campaign as evidence of “anti-Catholic” bigotry. Douthat—who is no friend of…Continue Reading

The next ‘deplorables’? Clinton campaign rips ‘backwards’ Catholic beliefs in leaked e-mails

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – “Conservative Catholics” are the latest Americans to be smeared by members of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign, leaked emails revealed on Tuesday show. Catholic beliefs are bashed as “backwards” and conservative Catholics…Continue Reading

German Bishop’s New Proposal: “There Exists More Than Man and Woman”

The Catholic Church in Germany seems to be becoming more and more unbounded in its proposals. In the recent past, for examples, the official website of the German Bishops’ Conference,, has reported about the idea to have women cardinals; about…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah presents counter-vision to Francis as he launches new book

After being reprimanded by Pope Francis over the summer for calling on priests to face east while saying Mass, Cardinal Robert Sarah is refusing to back down and is becoming a rallying point of opposition to this papacy.  The Vatican’s…Continue Reading

Massachusetts’ highest court grants full parental rights to unmarried gay woman

BOSTON – The Mass. court that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the United States ruled Tuesday that an unmarried gay woman whose former girlfriend gave birth to two children through artificial insemination has the same parental rights as…Continue Reading

Shunned for supporting natural marriage, former Mozilla CEO is back with new browser

SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The former CEO of Mozilla has released a new Internet browser called Brave. Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript, continues to lead the technological revolution with Brave, an innovative concept in Internet browsers.…Continue Reading

Lay Catholic Group: Tim Kaine’s Radical Views Stem From Embrace of Liberation Theology

An organization of committed lay Catholics is challenging Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, who’s invoking his Catholic faith and the words of Pope Francis as a basis for his radical positions on abortion and marriage, as well as his…Continue Reading

Quebec cardinal won’t refuse funerals for those choosing assisted suicide

Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec said he has no intention to follow in the steps of his fellow Canadian bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories in refusing funerals for those who asked to be euthanized. “I don’t plan specific…Continue Reading

Shocking Report Reveals Scientists Have Created the Word’s First Baby With Three-Parents

A shocking new report claims the world’s first three-parent baby (pictured above) has been born. Children born through ‘three-person IVF’ would contain some genetic material from each of three different people. There are about 50 known mitochondrial diseases (MCDs), which…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput welcomes ‘smaller church’ of holier Catholics

(RNS) In a stark prognosis for contemporary Catholicism, a leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. hierarchy has said that “a smaller, lighter church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of traditional orthodoxy. In a speech delivered Wednesday (Oct. 19) at the University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput also suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought…Continue Reading

Kansas archbishop blasts Kaine: He’s an ‘orthodox’ Democrat but a ‘cafeteria Catholic’


KANSAS CITY, Kansas, October 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas, has lambasted Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine for supporting abortion on demand while simultaneously touting his Catholic faith. Kaine is an “orthodox” Democrat but only a “cafeteria Catholic” who picks and chooses “the teachings of the Catholic Church that are politically convenient,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann wrote in a devastating critique of the Virginia senator. “It was painful to listen…Continue Reading

U.S. Catholics Under Attack

WikiLeaks did it again with another e-mail release, 1,200 of them, and this time exposing the deliberate attempts by the Clinton campaign to disrupt, undermine and, yes, try to destroy the Catholic Church. Their intent was (is) to plant the “seeds of the revolution” within the institution. Among the e-mails are communications between Clinton operatives that are clearly filled with bigotry. If anyone had any doubt that Hillary Clinton and the people around her have…Continue Reading

Fake Catholic Groups and the “Catholic Spring” Emails


It is now impossible to deny that Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United have worked for years to undermine and manipulate Catholic leadership Beginning in 2007, orthodox Catholic writers including myself wrote dozens of articles in an attempt to expose the funding and duplicitousness of two fake Catholic groups: the George Soros-funded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United. (For example, see here and here and here.) Now,…Continue Reading

Archbishop Chaput’s Weekly Column: About Those Unthinking, Backward Catholics

Back in 2008, in the weeks leading up to the Obama-McCain presidential election, two young men visited me in Denver.  They were from Catholics United, a group describing itself as committed to social justice issues.  They voiced great concern at the manipulative skill of Catholic agents for the Republican Party.  And they hoped my brother bishops and I would resist identifying the Church with single-issue and partisan (read: abortion) politics. It was an interesting experience.…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Advance Medical Directives: The Living Will”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at + + + “Evil committed for a good cause remains evil.” “Even when it succeeds?” “Above all when…Continue Reading

The Joke’s On Us

By DONALD DeMARCO The definitive Jack Benny joke is well known. Originally aired in a March 28, 1948 episode, the legendary comedian is accosted by a mugger and given the option, “Your money or your life!” A long pause follows. The gunman reiterates, “Look, bud! I said your money or your life?” Benny replies, “I’m…Continue Reading

“Pope’s Day” . . … The Lost Tradition Of A November 5 Anti-Catholic Feast Day

By RAY CAVANAUGH In much of colonial America, November 5 was known as Pope’s Day. This was not a day of celebrating the Pontiff, however. In fact, violence would erupt over who got the privilege of burning the Pope’s effigy. Pope’s Day (also known as “Pope’s Night” or just “Pope Day”) was the colonial offshoot…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred . . . Words Of Timeless Faith And Truth From An Old Irish Hymnal

By JAMES MONTI Sacred music has been a fundamental component of the Church’s liturgy from Day One, as manifested by the hymn that the apostles sang when our Lord was about to leave the Cenacle for Gethsemane following the Last Supper (Matt. 26:30). Even earlier, music had been a key feature of Jewish worship for…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Channels Of Grace: Famous U.S. Converts

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN The Mississippi Flows Into the Tiber: A Guide to Notable American Converts to the Catholic Church, by John Beaumont (South Bend, Ind.: 2014), 1013 pages. Limited copies available through A collection of short biographies of American converts from colonial times to the 21st century, these accounts provide biographical information about each…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: J.H.T. of North Carolina, a deacon who has been a witness to the “liturgical wars” of the past half-century, has recommended an “extraordinary book” — Peter Kwasniewski’s Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church — that he says should be read by all Catholics, clergy and lay, who…Continue Reading

The Lover Of Souls

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirty-First Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Wisdom 11:22-12 2 Thess. 1:11-2:2 Luke 19:1-10 In the first reading today, we are given a good perspective on things: Before the Lord, the entire universe is less than a drop of morning dew on the Earth. When we consider one tiny drop of dew in comparison to…Continue Reading

The Clergy’s Silence, Ambiguity, And Dissent Are Destroying The Family

By FR. SHENAN BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International, and he travels around the world spreading the Gospel of Life in that role. He is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese in Louisiana where he served before joining HLI in August 2011. (Fr. Boquet’s commentary below on the silence of the shepherds first…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… We Are All Lepers, Marred By Sin

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK In the Rossellini film The Flowers of St. Francis, a series of black and white vignettes drawn from the saint’s life are strung together. In one of these St. Francis encounters a leper. He is repulsed by the man’s wounds, because he is human like the rest of us. Having come to love the Lord…Continue Reading

What Is Faith?… God’s Knowledge And Love

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 7 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). It is impressive to realize that God’s knowledge is infinite, and His love is eternal. Before Jeremias was even conceived in his mother’s womb, God…Continue Reading

Blessed Giuseppe Puglisi

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a society is riddled with evil and corruption, the worst thing we can do is to remain quiet. If we truly believe in God, then it is our obligation to do all we can to save the souls in danger of being lost in such a society. The threats and dangers of this world are not…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Gerard Majella

By CAROLE BRESLIN God works many miracles through the weakest persons so that their lives read like a fairy tale. Old or young, sick or poor, powerful or destitute, all are touched deeply by their encounters with such men of God. Such was the life of St. Gerard Majella, the patron saint of expectant mothers and young children. Domenica, a…Continue Reading