Today, May 10, is the feast of St. Damian, the “Leper Priest” from Belgium who served in Hawaii. He is the saint after whom the chapel in which I celebrate mass everyday here in Haiti is named.
The people are still suffering in the wake of the earthquake: the rains have come, there is unrest in the capital and demonstrations, malnutrition is a serious poblem.
“Not without fear and loathing, Father Damian made the choice to go on the island of Molokai in the service of lepers who were there, abandoned by all. So he exposed himself to the disease of which they suffered. With them he felt at home. The servant of the Word became a suffering servant, leper with the lepers, during the last four years of his life… To follow Christ, Father Damian not only left his homeland, but has also staked his health so he, as the word of Jesus announced in today’s Gospel tells us, received eternal life.”
St. Damian is an example and an inspiration for all of us. Similarly, in the St. Damian chapel there is a little plaque that was written in the wake of the earthquake. Its basic message is quite appropriate – for all of us.
Si n’ap viv jodi a malgre siklon, grangou, malady ak tranbleman tè – nou dwe di, mèsi Senyè nou genlè pou yon bi.
If we are alive today despite hurricanes, hunger, sickness and earthquakes, we should say – thank you Lord because we must be here for a purpose.