Father Damien To Become a Saint
By Catherine Cluett
Molokai residents gave special thanks on Saturday for the island’s own soon-to-be saint, Blessed Damien de Veuster. The Vatican announced his canonization is set for Oct. 11, 2009, with the ceremony taking place in Rome.
“Blessed Damien was sent by God to serve the people of Hawai‘i,” said Lt. Gov James “Duke” Aiona in a statement issued last Saturday.
Blessed Damien is among 10 to be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI this year, with five to be declared saints on April 26, and the other five, including Damien, on Oct. 11.
Maria Sullivan of the Molokai Catholic Church says she has already seen more inquiries about visiting Molokai through the church website. “I think we will see an increase in visitors to walk where Father Damien walked,” she says.
Born Joseph de Veuster in Belgium in1840, Blessed Damien began his ministry in Kalaupapa in 1873; where about 8,000 people had been banished starting with an epidemic of Hansen’s disease in the 1850’s.
It has now been 120 years since Damien died of the disease which he contracting while caring for the patients of Kalaupapa. Pope John Paul II beatified Father Damien in 1995, one step toward sainthood.
Thanksgiving Services in celebration of the announcement of the official date for the canonization of Blessed Damien were held last weekend in both Honolulu and Kalaupapa.