Tuesday 18th January 2022

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes… St. Damien Of Molokai

November 30, 2021 saints No Comments

By DEB PIROCH

Born the seventh child to Belgian farming parents, young Joseph de Veuster — later St. Damien — was first called to the priesthood after a mission given by the Redemptorists in 1858, when he was 18. Having been told to stop school because he was needed on the home farm, Joseph, like his two older sisters and a brother, likewise wished to enter the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Given his lack of education, he was at first not seen as a choice candidate. But having prayed hard and being assisted in Latin study by his brother, his superiors soon saw his promise.
After a novitiate in Paris, and more studies in Louvain in Belgium, in the end his prayers were answered when he was chosen to become a missionary to Hawaii. In March 1864, he arrived in the country and was ordained two months later. He was 24.
In 1850, the first documented case of leprosy appeared in Hawaii, believed to have been brought there from China. The disease disproportionately affected native Hawaiians. By 1866 poor lepers, greatly feared, by law were being forcibly exiled, even taken from their families, and sent to the Kalaupapa peninsula on Molokai. They were given no help nor food nor shelter, but expected to forage for themselves, despite their health issues, and conditions were very poor. There was no rule of order, and pressure grew for the government to improve the people’s condition there.
Fr. Damien served nine years in Hawaii before he was given permission to dedicate his ministry to those suffering from leprosy in 1873. He was thirty-three when he went to Molokai.
Such care of lepers, as we know, was not new to Christians. After all, the first hospitals were built by our own ancestors in the Middle Ages. Even in the year AD 1000, according to an article in EWTN’s online library, over 2,000 hospitals already existed to care for lepers. And as to the risk? What Catholic does not look to “the hour of his death”? Damien had been especially trained in this regard: Years before he had embraced death during his final profession, when members of his order were covered with a funeral pall, to remind them that death is the gate to eternal life.
When he arrived in Molokai, there was nothing but a small hut church, named for St. Philomena. But being a skilled carpenter, he enclosed the cemetery with a fence, and in caring for the graves and seeing to funeral Masses, he honored the sacredness of life before and after death. He ministered in many ways to those in need of care due to leprosy. And he taught the locals — who had no real shelter to speak of — to build. In the end there were a couple of orphanages, the people had roofs over their heads, and, at the end of his life, a second chapel. The people’s needs were being met in a way that was unthinkable when he began. What was a temporary priestly assignment in time became permanent. The patients also helped him, likewise, in building a little rectory, so as to have a place to rest his own head outside the church.
Father was human, and he struggled at first to embrace the real difficulties that came with living on the island. Those with the disease suffered from a horrid odor. He learned to smoke to better tolerate the rancid smells. He was shocked by the disintegration of the bodies of those infected, some of whom were infested with maggots.
“Often,” it says in his biography, “I often scarce know how to administer Extreme Unction when both hands and feet are nothing but raw wounds.”
Perhaps not unsurprisingly, Fr. Damien has been among the many Catholics attacked by today’s “woke” thinking. Last year Cong. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), betrayed more ignorance in insulting the statue of Fr. Damien in the Capitol Hill complex as a “typical example of white colonialism.” Fr. Damien’s relatives abroad wrote back in astonishment at the utter ignorance of her claims. Indeed, no one of the time did so much for the least privileged of Hawaii.
Despite the many Baptisms and the increasing numbers of lepers that were sent to Molokai, Father buried up to 200 souls a year and ministered to about seven hundred more. Sometimes his greatest trial was being the only priest, and not being able to go to Confession. Initially he was told that once on the island, although he did not have leprosy, he could not go back and forth! That matter was later rectified but, on one occasion, a ship that approached was not allowed to dock and he was not allowed to go on board the ship. His provincial, Fr. Modeste, was on board and knew that Fr. Damien wished to go to Confession dearly, but Modeste was not allowed to disembark. In the end, Fr. Damien decided he would shout out his Confession in French. That’s an act of humility — whether the shipmates understood or not.
Throughout his work, Fr. Damien’s focus was equally divided between the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. He cared as much for the souls of those under his care as their bodies, he loved them as his neighbor. Once he had contracted leprosy, a fate to which he had long been resigned, he wrote to his elderly mother but did not touch on the matter, so as not to distress her. Afflicted as he was, he was still fully dedicated to the work at hand, with no time for self-pity, as the only priest dedicated to the lepers on Molokai:
“Every Sunday I celebrate Mass twice in my double parish; I preach four times, and give Benediction twice. In the evening I am generally very tired. During the week I visit my numerous sick and busy myself with orphans, who are lepers. It is more or less repulsive to nature to be always surrounded by these unfortunate children, but I find consolation in it: for being now a bit of a doctor, like my patron St. Damian, I try, with the help of God, to alleviate their bodily pains, so as to bring them on the way to salvation.”
Father was always at peace spiritually, despite suffering from the disease. When he addressed the congregation as “We lepers,” they knew that in his love, he had taken on their suffering. He passed away on April 15, 1889, having received the Last Sacraments. While the bacterium that causes leprosy had been identified in 1873, not until fifty years after Damien’s death would there be a cure. Thousands today still suffer from the disease throughout the world.
Father did not cure leprosy. But, he said, “I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ.”
Fr. Damien was buried, according to his wishes, under the tree where he first slept on his arrival, next to the chapel on Molokai. His body was moved in 1936, back to Belgium, but a relic of his hand remains in Hawaii. Beatified by Pope St. John Paul II, he was canonized in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. The determining miracle was a healing from terminal cancer of Audrey Toguchi, a retired schoolteacher. When it was suggested that she pray at the original grave of Fr. Damien, she was already pious in nature and prayed often. Why not ask St. Damien to intercede, a priest suggested. She agreed, recalling that her own aunt, uncle, and grandfather had all been banished to Kalaupapa. She did go there and when she returned to Honolulu, the cancer masses had not spread and doctors “unaccountably” found her in remission.
Perhaps the secret is simpler than we realize. Often as he approached death, Fr. Damien told a priest with him, Fr. Wendelin, “Let us say prayers together. How sweet it is to die a child of the Sacred Heart!”

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Pro-Life Group Calls for Removing Fauci After He's Caught Funding Aborted Baby Parts - https://t.co/kqxQXGgoG8

LifeNews.com - The Pro-Life News Source

.

LifeNews.com

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

Catechism

Today . . .

Alice von Hildebrand . . . Catholic Icon . . . Dead at 98

The readers of The Wanderer have been blessed to read the wisdom and the vast understanding of the Catholic faith that Alice Von Hildebrand shared in her columns with the readers of The Wanderer for over four decades. Her contribution to the Church and to the defense of Catholicism is immeasurable. The countless people she touched in her witness to the Catholic faith will not be fully known until the end of time. Her words are even more valuable today as our…Continue Reading

Brazil to have a statue of Jesus larger than Christ the Redeemer

A statue of Christ is being built in Brazil that will be larger than the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue of Rio de Janeiro. The image, which has been under construction since 2019, will be called Cristo Protector and is being erected on the Cerro de las Antenas, a hill near Encantado in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The project was planned to be completed by the end of 20

Vatican orders forced concelebrations, new restrictions on traditional Mass and sacraments

The document released restricts the traditional celebration of the sacraments, hints at a future withdrawal of permission to celebrate the traditional Mass at all , and issues penalties for priests who will not concelebrate.

Top European court rules all EU countries must recognize same-sex parents

(LifeSiteNews) – The top court of the European Union ruled Tuesday that all EU countries must recognize homosexuals and their legal children as family members regardless of national laws on same-sex parenting or homosexual “marriage.” In a ruling that applies to the entire 27-nation bloc, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) in Luxembourg declared that member countries must allow a same-sex couple to move and reside freely with a child legally recognized as their son or daughter…Continue Reading

Court won’t stop Texas abortion ban, but lets clinics sue

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday left in place Texas’ ban on most abortions, though it ruled that clinics in the state can sue over the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. The decision, little more than a week after the court signaled it would roll back abortion rights and possibly overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, was greeted with dismay by abortion rights supporters. They said the outcome, by limiting…Continue Reading

COVID Gloom Shadows World

By JOHN J. METZLER As the New Year brings hope and possibility for a global reset and renewal, the tragic reality remains that COVID-19, with all its deadly variants, continues to plague the planet now fully two years after the malady emerged from Wuhan, China. Thus, despite much justified optimism over wider vaccinations, the pandemic…Continue Reading

Voter ID Requirements Make Sense

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY A young man who looks like a teenager walks into a liquor store and pulls a bottle of cheap whiskey off a shelf.He puts it down at the checkout counter and pulls out his wallet.The clerk at the counter looks at him skeptically. “Can I see your ID?” he asks.“Yes,” says…Continue Reading

The Road To Emmaus

By DONALD DeMARCO The road that stretched from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus, as Luke informs us (Luke 24:13-35), was about seven miles (60 estadia). What transpired in the story of the “Road to Emmaus,” however, has a far richer meaning than the route on which two people, and then a third, traveled. It…Continue Reading

Where Does NATO Enlargement End?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the breakup of the USSR began. But the dissolution did not stop with the 14 Soviet “republics” declaring their independence of Moscow.Decomposition had only just begun.Transnistria broke away from Moldova. South Ossetia and Abkhazia seceded from Georgia. Chechnya broke…Continue Reading

Our Entire System Of “Sexual Liberation” Depends On The Abortion Industry

By JONATHON VAN MAREN (Editor’s Note: Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as in print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator, and others.) + + (LifeSiteNews) — If…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Spirit Of The Lord Is Upon You

FR. ROBERT ALTIER Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Neh. 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-101 Cor. 12:12-30Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21 In the second reading today, St. Paul states: “You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.” This truth is of great importance to all of us, but we need to look at the Gospel reading to see what God teaches…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Are archaeologists still looking for the original pieces of Christ’s Cross? – J.B., Pennsylvania.A. No, the true Cross was found by St. Helena in Jerusalem in the fourth century, and pieces of this holy relic can now be found in many churches and shrines throughout the world. Helena was sent to Jerusalem by her son, the Roman Emperor Constantine,…Continue Reading

Practicing Catholics: The Moral Connection

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A Catholic acquaintance recounts having been asked, while being interviewed in preparation for hiring by a particular agency concerned with national security, “Have you slept with your friend’s girlfriend or wife?” His impulse was to answer, “No, I’m Catholic,” but only yes or no answers were allowed.That reminded me of an occasion in the Army…Continue Reading

From The Christmas Cycle… An Overlooked But Powerful Reading

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Pope posted this commentary on January 4, 2022 and it is reprinted here with permission. His website is msgrpope.com.) + + There is a Scripture reading proclaimed at the Christmas Liturgy that usually gets overlooked. And yet it should elicit considerable reflection since it is proclaimed at the Christmas Midnight Mass, one of…Continue Reading

Our Lord Gave Himself Entirely

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Isaiah 62:1-51 Cor. 12:4-11John 2:1-11 In calling Israel into a covenant relationship with Himself, God took His Chosen People into a relationship that is akin to a marriage. This marital relationship is mentioned many times in the Old Testament. Often it is because Israel was like an unfaithful…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Vincent Mary Pallotti (1795-1850)

By DEB PIROCH He lived during a different era . . . the same as the Curé of Ars. He attended a special Jesuit high school, the Collegio Romano where St. Aloysius Gonzaga had been schooled. And like his fellow alumnus, he came from a large family and was called early to religious life.One of ten, as a child Vincent…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… The Blessed Carmelites Of Compiègne

By DEB PIROCH There are those who make the capital error of equating France’s French Revolution with the American one. Bastille Day may have liberated the people from autocracy, but beyond that, the Revolution was vile. While phrases like “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity” were bantered about, it was actually only one motto used and it really had nothing whatsoever to…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)