Monday 20th March 2023

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

St. Damien Of Molokai… Doing God’s Will Doesn’t Mean He Just Hands It To You

March 14, 2023 Featured Today No Comments


PHOENIX — Feeling impelled to follow a certain path in life led a Flemish youth from Belgium, where his father had planned for him to enter the business world after college, to “the far side of the world” as a Catholic priest, where he died from the leprosy of the Hawaiian natives he had traveled to serve, fully aware of the dangers of the disease, a speaker here said.
The young man became Fr. Damien of Molokai, canonized in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI and known throughout the world for his dedicated service as a missionary in the nineteenth century.
Although God has a plan for everyone, Fr. Damien’s life is a reminder that people may have to insist on what they need to do. It isn’t necessarily just dropped in their laps.
His life was the topic of a talk by Rae-Mi LeRoy on March 4 for the Institute of Catholic Theology (ICT), an evangelization program here based at St. Thomas the Apostle Church.
LeRoy, who formerly worked with the entertainment industry in Hollywood, moved to Arizona in 2015 and is director of Digital Media Evangelization at St. John Vianney Church, in the red-rocks country of Sedona, about a two-hour drive north of Phoenix.
Born Jozef De Veuster, Fr. Damien was pulled out of school at age 13 to work on a farm, not an unusual situation, LeRoy said, before he went back to school at age 18.
He wrote a letter to his parents saying not to stop him from pursuing his dream of a religious vocation, she said, which expressed his view that this life’s purpose is to attain the next life.
“My vocation has nothing in it to make you sad,” LeRoy said he wrote to them.
Making a brief introductory comment before LeRoy’s talk, the pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle, Fr. Steve Kunkel, said Fr. Damien named his church in Hawaii for St. Philomena because she had so many miracles attributed to her.
St. Philomena is described as a virgin martyr early in the fourth century, although not much is known of her.
LeRoy said she became interested in Fr. Damien when she saw a movie about him. He showed his “unrelenting love to the outcasts.”
Less than two centuries ago, the world was very different. Although the Industrial Revolution already had changed life in many ways, travel and communication were among aspects that we still would consider not very advanced.
As a comparison in time with life in the United States, the future saint sailed to Hawaii when Abraham Lincoln was president as the Civil War was raging.
The rest of this article is the description of his life that LeRoy provided.
Born in 1840, he took his religious habit in February 1859 as Brother Damien. “His desire was to go to the far side of the world,” and he prayed to the famous missionary Fr. Francis Xavier, SJ, for his intercession.
At age 23 the future saint traveled by ship for 148 days from Bremerhaven, Germany, to Honolulu, from October 1863 to March 1864, the year he was ordained a priest.
He found the land where he was to serve to have 60,000 people spread over eight major islands, with one-third of the population already Catholic. He felt great joy to be there.
He left Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, in June of 1864 to work in Puna, on the east side of the big island of Hawaii. In early 1865 he went to that island’s Kohala district which for him meant covering 1,000 square miles.
Asked where he lived, he pointed to his saddle and said, “This is my home.”
In 1866 a quarantined area was established on Molokai for people with leprosy, an incurable disease then, “and incredibly contagious.” People suffering this illness who were sent there knew they would die there. Six hundred people were in the colony when Damien arrived.
“He knew what he was getting into.”
A Mormon elder and a Protestant minister already were working there.
Fr. Damien’s bishop clearly intended that four priests would alternate serving there, of which Fr. Damien was the first, but Fr. Damien intended to stay. At his first address to the sufferers, he united himself to them by saying “we lepers.”
Due to limits to access for people, a confessor couldn’t come to Fr. Damien, but the missionary went out on a boat that approached a ship with a confessor on board and shouted his confession in French.
He built a 16-by-16-foot shelter for himself and set out to improve the sufferers’ lives. Because of the repellent smell of the leprosy, he took to smoking strong tobacco, which did help.
“From morning to night, I am amidst heartbreaking physical and moral misery,” he said.
He asked for help because the work burdens left him feeling like “a lamp with no more oil.” However, Fr. Damien couldn’t work well with the first priest sent to help, nor with a second priest.
He was able to write in five languages, Flemish, Latin, English, Hawaiian, and French. Fr. Damien was used to doing things his way and was a vigorous, demanding man. Another priest said Fr. Damien was a good man but “excessively devoted to the lepers.”
He knew he never again would see his own family on Earth.
Between 1884 and 1885 it became clear that he had leprosy. Now it wasn’t a matter of whether he’d see his own family, but of losing contact with anyone beyond the colony. “He was told he was not to think of contact with the outside world again.”
His work already had become known far beyond Hawaii. Now the word spread of his leprosy. That knowledge killed his mother in her 80s back home.
Fr. Damien immediately reacted well to a layman who arrived to help, two years younger than himself. This was Ira Barnes Dutton, who had fought in the Civil War, been in a marriage that broke up, then lived in a monastery but thought that wasn’t right for him.
Someone asked the priest if he wanted to be cured of the leprosy, and he replied that not if the price was leaving Molokai, and, besides, this shortened his time until Heaven.
He seemed not to stop until he would fall over, and indeed this was the case when he became bedridden at the end of March 1889, when he collapsed after a Mass.
Fr. Damien died on Monday, April 15, 1889, four days before Good Friday. He had said there were two figures standing by him, one at the head of his bed and one at the foot, but no one else could see them.
Shortly after his death a Protestant clergyman wrote a letter criticizing Fr. Damien, but the author Robert Louis Stevenson, upon seeing it, wrote a vigorous 6,000-word defense of the priest.
Fr. Damien was an ordinary man with flaws who became a saint. He was chosen by the state of Hawaii as one of its two significant people to be represented in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.
Answering a question after her talk, LeRoy said that many saints in their own time were seen as troublesome, including St. Pio.

  • + + Observation of the reporter: In the world around us it seems there are many people devoted to causes that call on other people to make sacrifices while they themselves continue to feel superior but also aggrieved. Perhaps some of these prophets of calamity would feel better if they took up some of the burdens they prefer to impose on others?
    St. Damien of Molokai could have chosen to have a well-provided secular life in Belgium, writing criticisms of what offended him, then dying after accomplishing little. Or he could have chosen the course he did in heroic service and with no expectation of celebrity, but attaining sanctity and leaving a legacy never to be matched by self-important figures.
Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Biden administration pats itself on the back for shooting down China balloon - meanwhile southern border is wide open to the Chinese.

House Republicans approved 2 #ProLife measures.

The first measure would ban #Abortion on babies born alive and require the babies be given medical care and treatment. The other measure condemned a spurt of growing attacks against crisis pregnancy centers.

House Republicans Pass Pro-Life Bills

House Republicans on Jan. 11 approved two pro-life measures. The first measure passed by the House would ban abortion ...

Load More...

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  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 150 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


Today . . .

">Cardinals Burke . . . SAME-SEX UNION BLESSINGS?

Longtime teacher fired after discussing God in classroom, challenging ‘evil’ LGBT school policy

(LifeSiteNews) — A longtime public school teacher in Idaho was let go earlier this month for being unafraid to mention God in the classroom and voicing his objections to a pro-LGBT policy designed to promote “transgender” ideologies among young people.  Ian O’Connell, a Catholic teacher who served as a substitute in the public institutions of Caldwell School District for over 20 years, spoke on February 13 about a proposed “gender identity and sexual orientation” policy that…Continue Reading

Murder investigation underway in shooting death of LA Auxiliary Bishop O’Connell

The shooting death of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell Saturday is being investigated as a homicide, authorities have confirmed. “This incident is being handled as a murder investigation,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) said in a statement Sunday. No additional details were released. “We learned early this morning from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office that they have determined that the d

FBI whistleblower releases docs showing agency is surveilling ‘Radical’ Latin Mass Catholics

RICHMOND, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) — A document released by an FBI whistleblower indicates the agency plans to intensify its “assessment” and “mitigation” of “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” over the next 12 to 24 months due to alleged concerns that “white nationalists” are increasingly making common cause online with attendees of the Latin Mass.

MN Catholics Pass Radical Abortion Bill

SAINT PAUL, Minn. ( – Catholic legislators have been instrumental in the nation’s most radical abortion bill becoming state law.  The so-called Protect Reproductive Options Act, or PRO Act, allows for the killing of unborn babies up until birth — by any method, with no maternal age restrictions and for any reason. Minnesota’s Senate passed the lethal legislation on Saturday, following 15 hours of debate. As promised, Gov. Tim Walz, a two-term Democrat, signed the bill into law on Tuesday afternoon.  “We are enacting the most extreme bill…Continue Reading

300th Catholic Church Attacked Since 2020

(Wanderer Editor’s Note: This March 13 article is reprinted from with their permission. All rights reserved.) + + (CV News Feed) — An act of vandalism against a Catholic church in Connecticut over the weekend marked a grim milestone: The 300th known attack on a Catholic church in America since the spring of 2020.Police…Continue Reading

St. Veronica And Face-Face Human Relationships

By DONALD DeMARCO The sixth of the 14 Stations of the Cross tells us that “Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.” According to tradition, Christ left an imprint of His face on the veil (or cloth) that she used. Veronica looked upon Christ’s bloodstained face with sympathy, Christ responded with an expression of His loving…Continue Reading

Destroy The Mexican Drug Cartels

By JOSH HAMMER The tragic killing of two U.S. citizens this past week in the border town of Matamoros, Mexico, should, in a just world, refocus American attention on the glaring problem of transnational drug cartels’ de facto control of large swaths of our perilously porous southern border.That the two Americans killed may have been…Continue Reading

“God Really Intervened”. . . How A Priest Escaped From His Kidnappers In Haiti

By DIEGO LOPEZ MARINA SANTO DOMINGO (CNA) — Fr. Antoine Macaire Christian Noah, a Claretian priest from Cameroon, escaped unharmed from a crime gang that had kidnapped him in Haiti last month and has been taken to another country for his safety.On March 2, Fr. Fausto Cruz Rosa, major superior of the Antilles Delegation of…Continue Reading

Utah Legislature Passes Bill Banning All Abortion Clinics

By MICAIAH BILGER SALT LAKE CITY (LifeNews) — A bill to ban abortion facilities in Utah passed the state legislature Thursday, March 3 by an overwhelming majority.After the Utah Senate voted 22-6, the bill now heads to Gov. Spencer Cox, a pro-life Republican, who said he supports the bill, the Associated Press reports.Sponsored by State…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Glory Of The Son Of God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifth Sunday Of Lent (YR A) Readings: Ezek. 37:12-14Romans 8:8-11John 11:1-45 In the first reading today, God promises us through the Prophet Ezekiel that He will open the graves of His people and have them rise from their graves. This is the promise of the Resurrection. This needs to be made clear because in the Gospel…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This series on the Bible is from the book Catholicism & Scripture. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. Please see the contact information at the end of the column. Special Course On Catholicism And Scripture (Chapter 15) After some fifty…Continue Reading

The Rampage Of The Lawless

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK One supposes that the truth becomes “safe” for liars once they control the levers of power and thus can take credit for finally disseminating it, or allowing it be to spread. The power of elected office or bureaucratic privilege is instrumentalized for its own perpetuation at whim through a manipulation of the facts. We are…Continue Reading

The Conditions For Mortal Sin Are Not That Hard To Meet

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this commentary on March 5 and it is reprinted here with permission. Msgr. Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C.) + + Recent and public conversations about the nature of mortal sin, the reception of Holy Communion and worthiness to receive the Eucharist have shown how…Continue Reading

Reject Evil And Live For The Son Of God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday Of Lent (YR A) Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13Eph. 5:8-14John 9:1-41 In the first reading today, we see one of the most typical of human actions: judging by appearances. God sends Samuel to anoint the king He has chosen. Samuel does not know who the man is, but he does know that he…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Bernardine Of Siena (1380-1444)

By DEB PIROCH The year Siena lost its famed St. Catherine, it gained a new future saint; St. Bernardine Albizeschi, later St. Bernardine of Siena, OFM, known as the “Apostle of Italy.” He was a great friar preacher who would win souls for God.Being born in 1380 of a noble family did not protect him from heartache, but the prayers…Continue Reading