Father Damien to be canonized a saint

Fr. Daniel McNichol
Fr. Daniel McNichol

By Mari-Ela David bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- It's an exciting time for Hawaii's Catholic community. After nearly a decade-long investigation, the Pope approved Father Damien's second miracle on Thursday.

The decision clears the way for sainthood for one of Hawaii's most revered Catholic priests.

Catholic leaders say recognizing a miracle is a long, and extremely difficult process. They say sometimes, investigations take hundreds of years. In Father Damien's case, his canonization could come as early as next year

He's famous for taking on a life-threatening mission, which ultimately led to his death.

On Molokai, where Father Damien dedicated his life to serving those with leprosy, the Kalaupapa community is elated over the Belgian priest's canonization.

"Father Damien has been a hero to all the patients and now to be officially recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint, that's a wonderful feeling," said Father Felix Vandebroek, the pastor at St. Francis in Kalaupapa.

Father Daniel McNichol, attests to Father Damien's second miracle. He's a long time friend and spiritual advisor of the Aiea woman with terminal cancer, cured after spending time in prayer at Kalaupapa.

"The cancer had spread from her leg through her whole abdomen up into the internal cavities around her heart, and the cancer had spread around her heart and finally settled into two organs of the lungs," he said.

At Damien Memorial School, plans are already in the works to send a representative to Father Damien's canoninzation in Rome.

"Having named our school after Damien, it certainly adds to the pride and recognition of a man who gave himself to help people in spite of the consequences to his personal health," said Bernard Ho, Damien Memorial School President.

Father Damien died of Hansen's disease in 1889. He was 49 years old.

The vatican has not set a specific date for Father Damien's canonization yet.