Faith » 2020 St. Damien Novena

2020 St. Damien Novena

Feast Day of St. Damien - May 10
About St. Damien of Molokai
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St Damien of Molokai, certainly wasn’t satisfied with sitting around waiting for someone else to solve the world’s problems. He saw a need and took action to help – and that particular need was ministering to lepers. Born Jozef De Veuster in Belgium, his desire to take on great duties didn’t start in the home. The youngest in a large family of seven, he knew early on that he didn’t want to run the family farm like he was intended. Instead, he wanted to follow in the footsteps of three of his older siblings who had entered the religious life. Jozef wanted to use his desire for adventure to glorify God.

Around the age of 19, Jozef joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and became Br. Damien. Soon after, Br. Damien offered to take the place of his ill brother, who was also part of the Congregation, on a mission to Hawaii. There, he was ordained a priest. After almost a decade of quiet service, he was sent to the island’s newly established leper colony. What was supposed to be a temporary placement ended up being Fr. Damien’s lifelong vocation. Upon arriving, he quickly realized this was where his earlier drive for adventure had been leading him. He volunteered to stay permanently, despite the risk he could contract the disease too. At that time, leprosy was highly misunderstood and feared, so lepers were completely outcast by society. The mental, societal, and emotional implications of the disease were often far worse than the physical ramifications. The people needed someone who would love them unconditionally and see their humanity beyond their disease.

Fr. Damien ministered to the quarantined and misunderstood people with love, understanding,

and orderliness. He did the unthinkable through this ministry. He would eat with, touch, and even embrace them, something no one else was willing to do out of fear for their own lives. Fr. Damien believed that he wouldn’t be able to reach the people spiritually without joining with them physically. The colony went from unruly depression to joyful community because of his efforts. Inevitably, Fr. Damien contracted leprosy himself. He suffered through disfigurement and pain for four years. He eventually died from the disease in 1889 after spending 16 years ministering to these people. He provided for those so desperately in need of God’s love and the care of a human who wasn’t afraid of them. St. Damien of Molokai is very appropriately the patron saint of people with leprosy. He is still a heroic figure in Hawaii today. He was even selected to represent the state in the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol building.

St. Damien’s Feast Day is May 10th, the final day of our novena.

St. Damien is a wonderful example of Christlike love to those who are considered different, outcast,or alone. His work with the lepers made him a saint because of the overwhelming love he showed them. St. Damien is a natural choice for those who suffer from illness, quarantine, or COVID-19!

The love with which he treated the lepers still inspires us today! He is a wonderful saint to pray

with when feeling like an outcast in society.

Let us pray this novena to St. Damien and ask for his intercession!