• November 15, 2009

Canonization of Father Damien of Molokai

Heart’s Home represented at Saint Peter’s Square, Rome.

On Sunday, October 11, in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI can­on­ized Father Damien of Molokai. This Belgium priest went as a mis­sionary to the Hawaiian archipelago at the end of the 19th cen­tury. He spent his life on the island of Molokai, totally giving of him­self to those with leprosy, dying him­self of the dis­ease in 1889 when he was only 49 years old.

In 1995, Father Thierry de Roucy, founder and chairman of Heart’s Home, sug­gested Father Damien of Molokai as a dynamic model of com­pas­sion for the first per­ma­nent mem­bers of Heart’s Home. That’s why many were pre­sent in Rome for this event.

We went with seven other Heart’s Home mem­bers to Rome for the can­on­iza­tion. During this trip we took the oppor­tu­nity to visit Naples, a city where Heart’s Home has been growing and making deep friend­ships since 1998.

In dis­cov­ering Neapolitan life in the very center of the Afragola neigh­bor­hood, or exploring Rome, these three days were totally exciting for us. Starting our trip in Tremelo, a small vil­lage in Belgium, we passed through Kalawao in spirit, and arrived in Rome to behold the impres­sive painted image of Father Damien flut­tering above the 20,000 people in Saint Peter’s Square, gath­ered for the can­on­iza­tion mass.

The fol­lowind day, at seven in the morning and before the crowds invaded Saint Peter’s Basilica, Father Raphael (one of our 5 priests ordained in June) cel­e­brated Mass for us inside the Basilica. From my point of view, the archi­tec­tural and artistic majesty of this place, expressing 2000 years of his­tory, exceeds human under­standing. Afterwards, we vis­ited the tomb of John Paul II.

Despite all these awe­some expe­ri­ences though, we still seem to be some­what deaf and blind to the mys­tery of God’s rev­e­la­tion: Nevertheless, thanks to the Church, we could, from Simon Peter to John PaulII, knee in rev­er­ence before his­tory, which reveals the mys­tery of God made flesh.

Séverine Dubois

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