Today is the Feast Day of St. Damien of Molokai
(1840 – 1889)
St. Damien de Veuster, also known as St. Damien of Molokai, was a priest from Belgium belonging to the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He had a special devotion to St. Francis Xavier and desired, like him, to be a missionary. His desire was fulfilled when he was sent to minister in Hawaii in place of his brother, a religious of the same congregation, who was assigned to go but was unable due to illness.
The island was suffering from an influx of unknown diseases brought by foreigners, among them Hansen’s disease (leprosy). The island of Molokai became quarantined as a leper colony, and all lepers were forcibly exiled there. The local bishop believed that the people living on the island, numbering over 800 at the time, needed a priest. Yet, the bishop knew that ministering to a people of this contagious and deadly disease would be a death sentence for the priest who went. The bishop asked for priests to volunteer to serve in Molokai. After serving in Hawaii for nine years, Fr. Damien was the first to volunteer.
Fr. Damien began his ministry to the lepers in 1873. He built a church on the island and did much to improve the morale and joy among the people. St. Damien lived and ministered at the Kalaupapa leper colony for 15 years, fully knowing that this decision would eventually cause him to contract and die of the horribly mutilating disease. St. Damian died of leprosy in 1889 at the age of 49. He became known as a “martyr of charity” and the “Apostle to the Lepers.” He was canonized during the Year of Priests in 2009. His feast day is May 10.
My greatest pleasure is to serve the Lord in His children rejected by other people.
– St. Damien of Molokai
St. Damien of Molokai, Apostle to the Lepers, pray for us.
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family pray for us. Amen.