Kalaupapa community celebrates Father Damien's canonization - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kalaupapa community celebrates Father Damien's canonization

Audrey Toguchi Audrey Toguchi
Glenn Medeiros Glenn Medeiros
John Sigler John Sigler
Father Felix Vandebroek Father Felix Vandebroek

By Roger Mari - bio | email

MOLOKAI (KHNL) - Blessed Father Damien becomes Saint Damien in October, but the celebration starts now, at the place where he gave dignity and respect to a community left for dead.

The day began with a bus ride out to the settlement in Kalawao. The first stop was at Saint Francis church for mass. Among the group is Audrey Toguchi, one of the two documented miracles that helped in Father Damien's canonization. She believes she's not the only one to have her prayers answered by the man she calls her hero.

"He reached out to people who really were rejected and he saw beauty in all of them and it's his humility that makes us love him," said cancer survivor Audrey Toguchi.

There are two prayers honoring Father Damien, and now local singer and song-writer Glenn Medeiros has added a song.

"The one song that I performed today was a song that I wrote from the perspective of someone who was actually helped by Father Damien," said song-writer Glenn Medeiros.

John Sigler has been living in Molokai for 16 years. Although he's not catholic, he attends this special mass. Inspired by what Father Damien has done, he decided to get him tattooed on his arm. On his leg is an injury he believes is getting better through prayers to the future saint.

"I believe 100% that I'm being healed by Father Damien and the lord himself. Like I said, we go out to his grave site every day basically," said Molokai resident John Sigler.

Saint Philomena chapel is where Father Damien stayed to care for people who were alienated because they had Hansen's disease. He arrived in 1873 with the intention of staying permanently.

"For a long, long time the people believed that Damien was a saint and now it becomes official," said Father Felix Vandebroek.

For Father Damien, it's been a long journey to sainthood. But for the community of Kalaupapa his reputation for holiness will known above and beyond the cliffs of Kalawao.

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