By B.J. Reyes
Hawaii Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono introduced a resolution commemorating the canonization of Father Damien to sainthood. Pope Benedict XVI is set to formally canonize Father Damien on the morning of Oct. 11 Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City. The resolution was cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie and 40 other members of the House.
U.S. Sens. Dan Inouye and Dan Akaka are expected to introduce a similar resolution in the U.S. Senate.
“I believe that all people, regardless of their religious beliefs, can recognize truly extraordinary persons who give of themselves, without reserve, for the betterment of their fellow human beings. Father Damien was surely such a person,” Hirono said in a news release.
“No disease was as feared as leprosy in the late 1800s, but Father Damien volunteered to serve at Kalaupapa and requested to stay there in order to serve those who most shunned,” she added. “He recognized the human rights and inherent dignity of all people, especially those he lived alongside at Kalaupapa.”
From one of the numerous reports by Star-Bulletin reporter Mary Adamski following Father Damien’s path to sainthood:
The Belgian missionary priest came to Hawaii in 1864. In 1873, he volunteered to go to the remote Molokai peninsula where the government banished victims of leprosy — which had reached epidemic proportions, mostly among native Hawaiians. He worked there — providing health care and building housing as well as being a spiritual mentor — for 16 years until his death of the disease.
You can follow the canonization and the events leading up to it in the Star-Bulletin, as Mary travels to the Vatican for full coverage online and the the paper.