Our Patron Saint - Saint Damien of Molokai
Joseph de Veuster was born January 3, 1840 in Tremeloo, Belgium. Upon entering the seminary he took the name of Damien. He traveled to Hawaii as a missionary brother in 1863. Ordained a priest in Hawaii in 1867, Father Damien was sent to the leper colony on the island of Molokai, remaining with the lepers of Molokai for 16 years. He provided them with food, clothing, medical care, education, and spiritual comfort. He eventually contracted leprosy himself at the age of 49 and died in 1889. He was declared Venerable in 1977 and was beatified on May 15, 1994. Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday October 11, 2009.
Father Damien was the first priest to volunteer for a three-month rotation on the island of Molokai. Once there however, he knew this was to be his life work and he remained for 16 years. During his time on this island he transformed the place into a viable community that was visited by royalty and the bishop. He petitioned the Board of Health for lumber and built 300 houses for the sick. He laid pipeline to a distant spring to supply water to the settlement. He also dug graves, built coffins and said funeral masses. It is estimated that he built more than 1600 coffins during his years in Molokai. In addition, he organized processions for the feast days and formed a choir and a band who performed for visitors. The state of Hawaii has honored his work with a statue that stands in the Rotunda of the US Capital Building.