How did St. Damien end up in Molokai?

St. Damien of Molokai was born Jozsef DeVeuester in Belgium in 1840. As a young man he entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a missionary order, taking the name Damianus at first vows. His brother, also a member of the same congregation, was assigned by their superiors to the mission in Hawaii but became ill and could not make the voyage. Thus Damien took his place and journeyed to Hawaii in 1864. Damien later volunteered to serve in the colony which had been established on the island of Molokai for Hansen’s disease patients. He remained there at his own will and at the request of the residents of the colony, and eventually he contracted the disease himself. Damien died on Molokai in 1889 among the residents he had loved so deeply and served so well. Pope Benedict XVI canonized St. Damien of Molokai on October 11, 2009.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.