In 1997 Rev. Thierry de Roucy chose Father Damien “de Moloka’i” as Patron Saint for the sacerdotal Fraternity of Heart’s Home. Since then, this Belgium missionary who became a martyr of charity by serving the lepers of Hawaii in the 19th Century has been accompanying our spiritual family. To celebrate his recent canonization by Pope Benedict XVI, thirty-five members spent a week visiting the place where he lived, the place where he became a saint: the island of Moloka’i.
"At first glance, the beauty of the island seized me. This piece of land has a taste of paradise: the flowers, the birds, the color of the sea, the music. How restful it is to leave for a moment the noise of the city and enjoy the quite chanting of a bird or simply being together. For a few days, we enjoyed discovering more and more about the life of Father Damien in both silence and conversation, through time spent in talks, on walks, in the chapel, and at the beach.
In the middle of the week, we took a trip to the very small part of the island where the leper colony settled. As we arrived at the foot of the cliff, we could easily share the feelings of Fr. Damien when he began his life with the lepers. We could imagine the impression made on him by a disorganized cluster of a few hundred lepers who had become ugly to see and horrible to smell.
Praying in the small chapel Fr. Damien built, we remembered how he would describe coming to the foot of the Blessed Sacrament to beg for strength and confess how much he received from this inexhaustible Source. Little by little, he began to embrace the lepers and became more passionate about their lives that he eventually felt himself to be one of them.
Now back in New York, I am so grateful for this week! This time of vacation was for me “real” vacation; it not only gave me the time to rest and enjoy the presence of friends, but it also brought each of us back to the core of our life in Heart’s Home: to become passionate about the life of every single “leper” we meet, every suffering person suffering from any kind of isolation, and to invite each of them to share the joy and communion that we experience in Christ."