Tuesday, May 10, 2016


When you hear the name Josef de Veuster, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is —nothing. And yet, St. Damien as we should know him, was an absolute model of Christian charity. For sixteen years he cared for the lepers in the Kingdom of Hawai'i, knowing full well that he might easily contract the disease. And on April 15, 1889 he died from it. In 2009 he was canonized by Pope Bemedict XVI, and today we celebrate his memorial. 

When he arrived in Hawai'i in 1864 we were still busy killing each other in our own civil war. Half way around the world, this Belgian priest was entering into a strange culture of which he knew nothing. The lepers, as they would have been called, were forced to live in quarantine areas on the island of Molokai. Men women and children diagnosed with the disease were forced to relocated to these camps. The fear of the disease was beyond what we can imagine today. 

For most of us Christian charity consists in giving to a special collection, the food pantry, or the clothing closet. Rarely do we see a true imitation of Christ, a person who is willing to give their life out of love for strangers. 

Today as we remember St. Damien de Veuster, let us pray theater through his intercession our sense of charity toward the outcasts of our day might be expanded.