Father Damien honored in Kalaupapa

Dr. Walter Chang
Dr. Walter Chang
John Sigler
John Sigler

By Roger Mari - bio | email

MOLOKAI (KHNL) - It's official; Father Damien will become Hawaii's first saint in October. The pope made the announcement on Saturday.

Audrey Toguchi who the Vatican says is Damien's second miracle returned to Molokai for a special mass celebration.

While Audrey Toguchi attributes her miraculous recovery from cancer to her faith in Father Damien, it's her doctor Walter Chang she credits for helping launch him into sainthood.

"He fought to get the story to Rome and if it wasn't for him, I don't think Rome would have known about it," said cancer survivor Audrey Toguchi.

Word travels far and quickly when you're a miracle. Audrey recently received a letter from a woman in India suffering from ovarian cancer.

"She's asked me to pray for her, so while I'm here, I'm going to put in a good word for Father Damien for her," said Toguchi.

Whether overseas or right here in Kalaupapa, many are becoming humbled by what Father Damien did for the alienated victims of Hansen's disease. Although John Sigler is not catholic, he was so inspired by the future saint and decided to make him a permanent part of his life with a tattoo.

"My wife said it should be something that's Father Damien because we live here," said Molokai resident John Sigler.

On his arm a tattoo, on his leg a wound John believes is getting better through prayers to the blessed father.

"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 Sigler.

It's taken more than a century for Father Damien to become a saint, but worth the wait for this small community. They hope his influence will reach far beyond the place he gave dignity and respect to a community left for dead.