Jozef De Veuster received the name of Damien in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. When he was 23 years old, in 1863, he left Flanders, the land of his birth, to proclaim the Gospel on the other side of the world in the Hawaiian Islands. His missionary activity, which gave him such joy, reached its peak in charity. Not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to the Island of Molokai to serve the lepers who lived there, abandoned by all. Thus he was exposed to the disease from which they suffered. He felt at home with them. The servant of the Word consequently became a suffering servant, a leper with the lepers, for the last four years of his life. In order to follow Christ, Fr. Damien not only left his homeland but also risked his health: therefore as the word of Jesus proclaimed to us in today's Gospel says he received eternal life…Let us remember before this noble figure that it is charity which makes unity, brings it forth and makes it desirable. Following in St. Paul's footsteps, St. Damien prompts us to choose the good warfare, not the kind that brings division but the kind that gathers people together. He invites us to open our eyes to the forms of leprosy that disfigure the humanity of our brethren and still today call for the charity of our presence as servants, beyond that of our generosity.
-Pope Benedict XVI, October 11 2009
Oh St. Damien Molokai, beatified by our patron Blessed John Paul II, you built the Church above on the abandoned island of Molokai. From your place in heaven, please pray for us sinners on this day of your feast, that we may imitate your example in bringing the Church to those who are far away, especially the poor and the marginalized.