oday’s commemorated saint is Saint Damien of Molokai. He was born in rural Belgium, on January 3, 1840. His original name was Jozef De Veuster and was supposed to take care of the family when he got older but instead wanted to have religious path like his his older brother and two sisters. Jozef left school when he was 13 to help his family. He helped his family till he was old enough to enter the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary where he changed his same to Damien. In March of 1864, Fr. Damien arrived in Hawaii and was made a priest two months later and for nine years he worked on the island. When Hawaii established the leper colony, Fr. Damien went there and gave the leper’s there the leadership that they needed. He helped the people build houses and schools and eventually the parish church, St. Philomena which still stands today. Fr. Damien was only supposed to stay at the colony for some time and then someone would replace him. Feeling attached to the colony, he stayed and continued to serve the people there. Fr. Damien eventually got leprosy in 1885 but kept on working despite his illness. He gained strength from prayer and devotion and was reported to be very happy. After sixteen years in the colony, Fr. Damien succumbed to his illness on April 15, 1889. He was beatified by Pope John Paul ll in Brussels, Belgium on June 4, 1995 and became a saint for lepers on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. His feast day is May 10.
Damien, brother in the journey, happy and generous missionary, who loved the Gospel more than your own life, who for love of Jesus left your family, your homelands, your security and your dreams. Teach us to give our lives with joy like yours, to be in solidarity with the outcasts of our world, to celebrate and contemplate the Eucharist as the source of our own commitment. Help us to love to the very end and, in the strength of the Spirit, to persevere in compassion for the poor and forgotten so that we might be good disciples of Jesus and Mary. Amen !