Father Damien will become Hawaii's first Catholic saint in October - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Father Damien will become Hawaii's first Catholic saint in October

Father Damien died from Hansen's disease 16 years after he arrived at Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai Father Damien died from Hansen's disease 16 years after he arrived at Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai
Bishop Larry Silva Bishop Larry Silva
Audrey Toguchi Audrey Toguchi
Dr. Walter Y.M. Chang Dr. Walter Y.M. Chang

By Paul Drewes bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Hawaii will soon have its first Catholic saint, Father Damien.

Pope Benedict XVI announced plans for the ceremony to take place in October at the Vatican.

It's the end of the priest's difficult but devoted journey, one that has touched the lives of people around the world.

Father Damien is forever linked to Kalaupapa, a settlement on the northern side of Molokai where those suffering from leprosy were sent in the 1800s. Father Damien's elevation to sainthood, will once again put the spotlight on this tiny community.

"I think that it will really mean that the story of Kalaupapa will be told for ever," said Bishop Larry Silva.

Father Damien was sent to Kalaupapa to minister. Through his compassion and devotion to patients, he touched their lives and made the isolated peninsula a better place to live. Damien truly gave his life for his work, contracting and then dying from Hansen's disease 16 years after he arrived in Kalaupapa.

"He was a great man who reached out and loved all of these people. Even though they were outcasts, he made them feel that they were special," said Aiea resident, Audrey Toguchi.

Father Damien also touched the life of Audrey Toguchi. In 1999, She had terminal lung cancer, but instead of treatment she went to Kalaupapa and Father Damien.

"Her cancer went into remission and was disappearing. We said Mrs. Toguchi, what did you do? She said nothing, I just prayed to Father Damien," said Toguchi's doctor, Walter Y.M. Chang.

A documented case of an agressive terminal cancer going into remission without drugs or treatment, was the second miracle attributed to Father Damien. And all that is needed to honor him with sainthood.

Father Damien had traveled to Kalaupapa. Now a number of patients still there, are planning to travel to Rome for the canonization of their hero.

They will be joined by Toguchi, and others eager to honor the memory of Hawaii's first Catholic saint.

"I can't let him down because he's never let me down," said Toguchi.

Four others will also be canonized with Father Damien on October 11th.

In addition, another relic from Damien's tomb will be first taken to Rome for the ceremony, then brought to Oahu to the island church where he was ordained.

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