Monday, December 15, 2008

Ireland and Leprosy

Vincent Barry (1908-1975) was originally from Cork but studied Chemistry at University College Dublin (UCD) and graduated in 1928.
Like most countries around the world, Ireland has a long history of leprosy. St Stephen's Green in Dublin was once a leprosy colony, and occasional "leper squints" remain in churches - holes in the wall where lepers who had been ostracised from society could peer in at ceremonies. We know that by 550 A.D. leprosy reached Ireland. Incidence of the disease grew enormously during the Crusades. It affected huge numbers of people in northern Europe, possibly a quarter of the population at one time. That percentage was drastically reduced by the Black Plague, which killed many people already infected and weakened by leprosy.

In 1873, the year Father Damien arrived at Kalawao, a Dr. Gerhard Armauer Hansen in Norway made a breakthrough discovery. He identified the cause of leprosy—a bacillus known today as Mycobacterium leprae. The discovery that leprosy was caused by a microorganism was the first step in treatment of the disease. It also led to social changes because the disease was no longer thought to be hereditary and the belief that God punished people with leprosy was weakened. Despite the promise of Goto baths, chaulmoogra oil and other treatments, a real cure wasn’t discovered until the 1940s when sulfone drugs were developed at the US Public Health Service National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana. The World Health Organization estimates there are approximately 1.15 million registered cases of Hansen’s disease around the world in 55 countries.

While leprosy has been eliminated here, Ireland has left a lasting mark on the fight against the disease because an Irish chemist discovered part of the cure. It was while working on tuberculosis in the 1950s Vincent C. Barry and his team at Trinity College Dublin synthesised a compound called B663 (clofazimine) that proved effective against the bacterium that causes leprosy. His research paved the way for the multi-drug antibiotic therapy that the World Health Organisation (WHO) currently provides free to patients in regions of the world where leprosy is still endemic.

Dr Vincent Barry's discovery was recognised in his centenary year at an event at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin on December 9th.
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kalaupapa leader Richard Marks dies

Tour operator was educator, advocate recognized by pope.
Maui News: Dec. 12th. - Kalaupapa resident and advocate Richard Marks, who helped end the state's quarantine of leprosy patients and make the settlement a National Historic Park, died Tuesday at Kalaupapa Hospital. He was 79.

Marks was inspired by Father Damien to become an advocate for Kalaupapa, said his wife, Gloria. His activism led him to travel the world, gain a private audience with Pope John Paul II, and meet Mother Teresa. At home he operated Damien Tours, a bus tour of the settlement he started to help educate visitors about the history of Father Damien and Kalaupapa. "I'd like people to remember the person he was," Gloria Marks said Thursday. "He's not doing it for himself. He's doing it for the settlement." Services are pending in Honolulu. Mililani Memorial Park and Mortuary is handling the arrangements. Gloria Marks said another service would be held at St. Francis Church, followed by burial in a family plot.

Molokai rancher and tour operator Buzzy Sproat said Richard Marks loved to travel the world, from Rome to Las Vegas, and study about the history of the settlement and Father Damien. "He really got into it," he said. On his Damien Tours, Marks was both educator and entertainer, Sproat said. "He talked about what Father Damien did for the people, but he liked to joke about things too," he said. Gloria Marks, 70, said she promised her husband she'd continue the tour as long as she was able. "I'll go another eight years if I can," she said.

While Richard Marks became a passionate protector of Kalaupapa later in life, he was angry and restless when he was first sent to the isolated Molokai peninsula after being diagnosed with leprosy, now called Hansen's disease, Gloria Marks said. "He used to run away. He'd go up the hill. How he got caught he'd call the taxi," she laughed. Born in Puunene on Maui, he was in the Merchant Marine Service when he was diagnosed at age 21. He was already familiar with exile in Kalaupapa, having had other members of his family, including a grandmother, shipped to the north Molokai peninsula. Marks was once locked up in a hospital for his attempts to escape, and even went on a hunger strike in protest, Gloria said. Later on, he became "mellow" and was at peace with his experience, she said. He became an outspoken advocate for the residents of the settlement, serving as sheriff for the community and encouraging visitors taking his Damien Tours to contribute to the community's needs.

Gloria Marks recalled that her husband boldly proclaimed, "I am a leper," in a controversial 1968 magazine article, and went on to talk about the injustice of continuing to isolate patients. The Department of Health threatened to sue him over the interview, she said, but a year later the Legislature repealed the state's 104-year-old quarantine policy. "He was the one who opened up the door," she said. In 1996, he was recognized by the Damien-Dutton Society for Leprosy Aid for his efforts to educate people about the disease and about the history of Kalaupapa. "They have all the worst ideas about leprosy being such a contagious disease, which is plain nonsense," he said in a subsequent interview with The Associated Press. "Over 1,100 people have come here to work since Father Damien and Father Damien was the only one who got the disease."

Gloria Marks said her husband was most proud of his efforts to have Kalaupapa established as a National Historic Park. He worked with the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, who introduced the legislation that brought the settlement under the management of the National Park Service in 1980. Gloria Marks said Richard wanted the enclave protected for the future, but didn't want to wait for the state government to do something about it. "It's to preserve it, for when we're gone," she said. Richard Marks was also an advocate for the sainthood of Father Damien and Mother Marianne Cope, who both lived among the patients at Kalaupapa in the 1800s to provide spiritual and physical comfort. Richard Marks was elated over the anticipated canonization of Father Damien, and was looking forward to traveling to Rome for the occasion in early 2009. He'd even gotten his passport renewed for the trip, his wife said. But while Marks may have dreamed big for his little village, not all his ideas came to pass. Gloria Marks said her husband always wanted to see a cable car link the cliff-locked community with the outside world, but he was told the idea wouldn't work because of the salty air.
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Father Damien, Citizen of the World, 1840-1889 - Joseph de Veuster

In 1889, the year of Father Damien's death, a fund was established in his memory in London, under the patronage of the Prince of Wales. The inauguration of the fund, the forerunner of the British Leprosy Relief Association (LEPRA), was soon followed by many other initiatives elsewhere in the world.

No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise. Mozlink

Monday, November 24, 2008

Awaiting Damien's Canonization

Honolulu Advertiser: Nov. 24th. - "People can sing these songs easily," explained the director of music for St. John Vianney Church, his hands curving like an arc over the keyboard. As a photographer snapped away, the flash from the camera illuminated streaks of sunlight in Dietrich Varez's painting of Damien hovering just above Mondoy, as if the priest's path to heaven itself was pulsating. Similarly, Hawai'i's Roman Catholic community is lit up with excitement as canonization looms for Father Damien, the Belgian priest who is revered for dedication to serving those suffering from Hansen's disease on Moloka'i. It's been a long road, but the feast at the end is beginning to take shape.

Bishop Larry Silva has created a commission to oversee Island-based efforts for Damien and Mother Marianne Cope, both of whom are on the path to sainthood. Committees are looking into myriad details: fundraising; how to get the word out; what will occur back in the Islands for those who can't make the journey to Rome for Damien's canonization ceremony, expected in 2009. No decisions can be set in ink until the date of the ceremony is decided by Pope Benedict XVI. An announcement isn't expected until February. "This is the calm before the storm," said Silva. "People are anticipating, the excitement is building. We're kind of waiting and doing what we can in the meantime. When the date is announced, we'll go into high gear. "Once a date is set, then we'll have the details on travel." The papal master of ceremonies has informed the Hawai'i group that it is customary to meet with pilgrim groups the day after a canonization, Silva said. "Hopefully, that will happen."

While 300 to 400 are expected to make the trek from Hawai'i to Rome, you can't book a plane seat or schedule a tour without a start date. "It's a tricky question," said Seawind Tours' Randy King, who's handling tour duties. "We can't do much with it until the pope decides." King is surveying likely participants about their dream trip, finding out about accessibility for the disabled and, especially, educating the masses that when in Rome, you do as the Romans do, i.e., walk cobblestone streets and take public transportation. Luckily for King, he's arranged Damien tours before. Twice. The first trip to Belgium, back in 1994, took more than 300 people, including Kalaupapa patients, to what was supposed to be Damien's beatification. But Pope John Paul II's nasty fall and subsequent broken hip turned that "beatification" into a "pilgrimage." The next year the beatification was held in Belgium with about 200 from Hawai'i in attendance. A halau attended both events, as did some of Kalaupapa's Hansen's disease patients. "We had a lot of fun with them," said King. "We made sure they were treated very special." The number of Kalaupapa patients who can travel is shrinking, but this time King expects an even bigger crowd. About 100 people already have registered. "It's a mix of the community so far É mostly Catholics," he said. "A guy yesterday called, and asked, 'Do I have to be Catholic to go?' I told him, 'No. (Damien) was for the good of all people.' "

King's goals for the trip are lofty. "We know what works for the masses, but we want to make this a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and hit as many people's (dreams) as possible," he said. "We'll try to be as flexible as possible. Most have never been to Europe." To accomplish that, he's been surveying churchgoers as they pour out of Sunday services at St. Augustine's, where he attends, and asking those who signed up for suggestions. Nancy Berry, who is in her last year as head of Ho'ala School in Wahiawa, hopes there's some leeway in the tour. One way or the other, she's making the trip. "Sign me up!" she said. "I saw it in the paper last week, and I immediately (thought) I'm there." King expects to arrange visits to the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum, the ruins of the Coloseum, and Rome's catacombs. And there will be a daily Mass. "Right now, we're looking at one hotel to house everybody, but that depends on the date," he said, then added how beautiful St. Peter's Square looks in the morning light: "We hope to be close enough to walk."

The bishop will return from Rome with a very special piece of luggage, one that warrants its own seat. "When we get back, I will have the relic with me of Father Damien," said Silva. The relic, or piece of Damien's remains, is expected to be the heel. Background: In 1936, Damien's body was taken to Belgium long after his death at Kalaupapa in 1889, but a relic was requested and granted during the beatification. The remains of his right hand made the return and were interred in his original grave beside his church, St. Philomena's, in 1995. It was carried in a special koa box, which will be used again to transport this relic. "The plan is to take it to different islands, and make it available for veneration," Silva continued. "Ultimately, we'll have it at the cathedral, which is in the process of renovation. We plan to have a shrine. It would have the relic, as well as a relic of Mother Marianne. "Of course, it will take a few years before we're done." The bishop hasn't been able to get a lot of answers yet, such as whether "liturgical movements" like hula will be allowed, if an oli can be chanted or whether Hawaiian music — like that which Mondoy is composing — can be included in the ceremony. "I am not the postulator of the cause," said Silva. "My understanding is, the postulator does most of (the liturgy). In fact, I e-mailed the pope's master of ceremonies and asked questions. He e-mailed back and said basically, I need to talk to the postulator."

The postulator general, or primary advocate in charge of the case, is the Rev. Alfred Bell of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Rome. He was appointed in August. The Revs. Lane Akiona and Chris Keahi, Sacred Hearts fathers based in Hawai'i, are coordinating with the bishop as well. During the canonization, a tapestry bearing the likeness of Damien will be unveiled; that's being handled by the Sacred Hearts fathers, and will be completed in Belgium. Their order also requested and was granted permission for the renaming of the Catholic community on Moloka'i, one parish with four churches, for Damien. When a new church in Kaunakakai is built to replace St. Sophia's, which used to be the main church, it will be named St. Damien.

About a dozen Hansen's disease patients hope to make the trip for the canonization, said Sister Alicia Damien Lau. "The electricity is in the air," she said. "It's a good thing, and it's a scary thing. So chicken skin." Tempering their joy is the realization that their friends didn't live to see the day. Four patients have died in the past year, Lau noted. "That's hitting everybody," Lau said. "Everybody is feeling the impact of aging with complex medical problems. When I talked and asked them if they wanted to go to Rome, the question is, 'Can I go?' " Nearly all who can make the trip will bring family or companions. The ones who can't? "Their heart wants to be there," Lau said. To offset the cost of their transportation, the bishop's commission has established a bank account for donations. Lau knows other Kalaupapa regulars — medical staff, people from the National Park Service — hope to be Rome-bound, too. Lau said Silva will be very sensitive to those who aren't able to make the trip. "The bishop plans to bring the relic to Kalaupapa first," she said. They may not miss it completely, if Venny Villapando, who's on the bishop's commission, has his way. He's made contact with Eternal Word Television Network to learn more about the simulcast. In similar circumstances, Villapando taped a recent canonization and Mass aired on the Eternal Word network, noting that there's a 12-hour time shift. "There was also a repeat broadcast," said Villapando. "I'm keeping tabs." Villapando quakes at the thought that the canonization might occur at 3 p.m in Rome, which is exactly half a day ahead of Hawai'i. "If that happens, we're in trouble," Villapando said. If all goes well, the Damien simulcast will start at 10 p.m. local time. The commission is debating whether to have a viewing party that night or the next day during a repeat broadcast — at a large venue or several smaller venues.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Lifetime Friend

Father Joseph Hendriks poses in front of paintings of Father Damien at Kalaupapa that are hanging at St. Patrick Monastery in Kaimuki. He was formerly pastor of Kalaupapa and came from Belgium. Hendriks died Nov. 3 after years of battling cancer.

Father Joe Hendriks told me, "I consider Damien to be a lifetime friend."

Honolulu Star Bulletin: Nov. 15th. - It was a spark amidst rambling summertime conversations with the retired Catholic priest. The interviews were an exercise in a continuing look into the story of Father Damien DeVeuster, whose service to some of God's humblest, neediest people has been the subject of hero stories since he lived and died in Kalaupapa in 1889. Father Joe was one of hundreds of men who chose to become priests because of the example of Damien. Like the 19th-century priest, Hendriks was born in Belgium and came to Hawaii as a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a missionary order that has provided pastors and teachers to Hawaii since the first French Catholic priests stepped ashore in 1827. Here this story swerves off track, becoming all about Damien, who is on the short list to be named a saint by the Catholic Church, probably by next year at this time. Or, off we go on a tangent about the Catholic pioneers and the role of faith in the lives of people in his times and ours. That's how the conversations went with Father Joe. He wasn't at ease talking about himself. He prepared a list of dates in his personal time line. If prodded, he'd philosophize in brief. He was a little bit better with anecdotes. What he did say was that he would not live to see Damien canonized. And he was right. Father Joe Hendriks died Nov. 3 at the St. Patrick Monastery in Kaimuki after years of battling cancer. If he had had his choice, he would have lived out his life as pastor in Kalaupapa, the job he held for seven years until the disease -- and his superiors -- forced him to retire to Honolulu in 2006.

Hendriks spent 57 of his 86 years in service at parishes on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Lanai. The pinnacle of his vocation was walking in Damien's footsteps on the remote peninsula where leprosy patients were exiled. When Hendriks said Mass, there were former leprosy patients in the congregation, along with people from the state Department of Health and National Park Service who maintain the settlement. The rectory and St. Francis Church were built after Damien died and the population shifted from the east to west side. But the church that Damien built, St. Philomena's Church in Kalawao, is still the scene of services on special occasions. "The door was open at the rectory. Father Joe welcomed people inside his house," said Meli Watanuki, who with her husband, Randy, tends the altar and church. "Sometimes we'd go talk story to him. He was really good to us, to all the patients." "He loved to entertain people," she said, and the parish hall became the scene of community celebrations for church feast days and people's birthdays. She recalled how Hendriks, almost daily, welcomed visitors from around the world to the church. He told about Damien and Mother Marianne Cope to people who came on a day trip, escorted to several spots by Damien Tours guides. Hendriks said he received about 200 Christmas cards each year from people who had visited.

Watanuki holds another memory of Hendriks from the day in 2005 when Cope's exhumed remains were taken out of Kalaupapa. The bones of the Franciscan nun, also a candidate for sainthood for serving patients in Kalaupapa, are now enshrined at Franciscan headquarters in Syracuse, N.Y. "When they put the box on a truck in front of the church, he stood by the step and he cried. He was a soft heart," Watanuki said. Patrick Downes, editor of the Catholic Herald, said Hendriks provided some of the best items ever for the parish news roundup in each edition. "They were personal, affectionate notes about parishioners, or anecdotes about people visiting from far away who were called by Damien," he said. "He typed them on his old manual typewriter, with pencil corrections, and mailed them. Every one was a tidbit of life from Kalaupapa."

When he was ordained in 1948, much of Belgium's missionary zeal was aimed toward the Congo, its colony. But he and a handful of classmates were picked for Hawaii. "God has taken care of me my whole life," he said. Many of the others were homesick serving so far from their European roots, but "God made it easy for me; I was never homesick." He became a naturalized U.S. citizen five years after he arrived. Though fluent in English, he never lost the guttural Belgian accent. While he was pastor of St. Patrick Church in 1976, Hendriks created a small Damien museum, opening up the monastery chapel to give visitors a look at the few artifacts that were kept there: Mass vestments, Communion chalice, a pipe. The museum was expanded and moved to the Waikiki parish for access by tourists. It has since been closed.

People already know what Damien did, so why bother with the bureaucratic business it takes to declare him a saint? "It's a way for people of this century to hear about him," he said. "Hopefully people will be inspired and say, 'That's the way to be. He's for sure in heaven, and I want to be there, too." A miraculous healing ascribed to Damien's intercession with God was the final criterion to achieve sainthood, but, Hendriks was asked, why didn't God heal the leprosy victims or the priests who served them? "Getting well on earth is not our purpose. To get to heaven is more important," the pastor said. "If you pray for something and nothing happens, God may have different answers. "There are many miracles in our lives. I believe God will take care of us without our expectations. "To pray is not to tell God what you want, blah blah blah, it's to be in God's presence. The number of words doesn't make it a prayer; it's to love God with your whole heart. ... That's the spirit of prayer." Bishop Larry Silva will preside at the funeral Mass for Hendriks at 11 a.m. next Saturday at St. Patrick Church.
By Mary Adamski
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise. Mozlink

Monday, November 10, 2008

Leprosy Still Prevalent in US

Nov. 9th 2008: A new study has revealed that leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, is still prevalent in the United States."Approximately 150 cases are diagnosed each year with 3,000 people in the U.S. currently being treated for leprosy,” says Dr. James Krahenbuhl, director of the Health Resources Service Administration’s National Hansen’s Disease Program (NHDP) in Baton Rouge, LA.

"We believe there are more cases of leprosy not identified due to the lack of awareness about the disease among physicians in the U.S., which is leading to misdiagnosis and wrong treatments for patients who are left to suffer with the debilitating damage caused by this disease," he adds.

While the root cause of the transmission of leprosy has yet to be determined, it is known to be a chronic disease that slowly attacks the peripheral nervous system and motor skills, often leading to disability and disfigurement.

Since the onset of infection and symptoms can take three to 10 years, according to experts, it is very difficult to find the origin of where or how people acquire the disease.

Leprosy can be fully treated with medicine when diagnosed in early stages, but nerve damage cannot be reversed once the disease has advanced.

The NHDP says that many doctors are not familiar with the disease because most people affected by leprosy in the U.S. are immigrants in poor communities who primarily seek treatment in free clinics or emergency rooms, and thus doctors mistake the skin lesions of leprosy for a fungus or ringworm and treat it with a topical cream.

No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Friday, October 17, 2008

St. Damien Next Year?

Here’s an interesting article from the San Francisco Chonicle that takes note of the active cause of canonization for Blessed Damien de Veuster, better known as Damien of Molokai. This past summer, the final miracle necessary for his canonization was approved by the Vatican, and this article suggests that Damien’s sainthood may come “most likely late next year.”

I had not realized that the Kalaupapa Peninsula, the area of Molokai Island where Fr. Damien lived, ministered, and died, is still home to some leprosy patients, and it takes an approved permit to visit there, out of respect for the residents’ privacy. The article notes that Hansen’s Disease (as leprosy is known today)

has been curable since the development of sulfone drugs in the 1940s, and people treated with drugs aren’t contagious. Hawaii did away with the exile policy in 1969.

Patients sent here before 1969 are free to leave, but many have chosen to stay because it has become their home.

The state has promised to keep the settlement open and care for patients until the last one dies. The youngest is now 67.

In related news, a local article published yesterday notes that a new church dedicated to Fr. Damien is about to be built on Molokai Island.

Damien will be a wonderful addition to the Church’s roll of the saints. In the meantime, Blessed Damien of Molokai, pray for us!
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Unconditional Love

Hi Everyone,
I want to talk about Unconditional Love today, in particular a Cause I have been passionately committed to: the canonization of the Belgian born priest, Father Damien. They called him the hero of Molokai because this incredible man was the only one who volunteered to service Molokai when death was almost certain. He defied the Vatican’s orders not to have direct physical contact with his flock and went to the Hawaiian island of Molokai, a leper colony in 1873 to serve the sick and dying. Single handedly. Hundreds of islanders were banished to this island during the terrible plague traced to a ship load of Chinese farm workers brought to the islands and causing widespread panic and disease.

I have been devoted, along with many others to the Cause of seeing this Blessed man declared a saint. Make no mistake. I’m not Catholic, nor has God whisper in my ear dictating this long and winding road, but I did have an encounter with Father Damien that I have never forgotten. Damien, thanks to the new Pope, Benedict XVI is on the road to Sainthood. At last. The spiritual patron for Hansen's Disease, HIV and AIDS patients and other ‘outcasts’ has finally been embraced by the Vatican, once embarrassed that Father Damien, in caring for what he deemed his Children, fell victim to leprosy (now called Hansen’s Disease) himself and died in agony of it at the age of 49. His story is remarkable. When he arrived on the lonely, isolated Kalaupapa peninsular, he was shocked to find so many sick and dying men, women and children, banished to the island with no food, shelter or any treatment for this hideous, progressive disease. Damien stopped the women from being raped, demanded food and medicine to be shipped to Molokai, built housing and a church for his children. He fed them, bathed them. Respected them. And he loved them. Utterly and unconditionally. He must have been a talented builder because every single structure he erected is still standing and in use, by the remaining two dozen patients who will by Hawaiian state law be allowed to live at Kalaupapa until their last breath.

Visitors are allowed to Molokai, but a permit is required and no more than 100 tourists can be on island at the same time. A few years ago, after the death of my grandmother, who raised me, I fell into a deep depression and during a long stay in Maui, found a compilation of oral histories from former patients at Molokai. Their stories were devastating. So many families were destroyed by the “Separating Sickness.” I felt increasingly compelled to visit Molokai and read everything I could on Father Damien. I became obsessed with the wonderful Australian movie, Molokai in which the extraordinary David Wenham portrayed Damien. Like many islanders, I became enraged when Father Damien’s steps toward Sainthood resulted in the Belgian government digging up his body from his grave in Kalaupapa. Long before he contracted Hansen’s Disease, he considered himself a leper. I felt in death, as in life he would want to sleep with his children and when the Belgian government bent under international pressure and returned his right hand to the people of Hawaii, I felt even more strongly about paying homage to the man I considered a true hero.

Coincidentally, I won a book on ebay called Margaret of Molokai and couldn’t wait to receive it. Then I got an email from a man on Molokai was devastated because I had beaten him out on the book auction. He had tried to win it for his mother, a still-living resident at Kalaupapa. I offered to give him the book as soon I had read it. I promised him I would read it quickly and send it to him immediately. He responded with a kind email saying I was the embodiment of the spirit of Aloha. This man and his wife and soon, his mother, started corresponding with me regularly and I ended up going to visit them. Anyone who has read my Phantom Lover series might be interested to know that Lopaka’s tutu [grandmother] is based on the woman who became my surrogate mother on Molokai. She took me on a tour of the hospital. I was shocked to see all the barriers still in place, as a sort of memorial and living museum where family members were allowed to come and visit their loved ones in the disease’s curable stage, thanks to new drugs.

We went to Damien’s church and we sat in a pew. I will never forget the sun shining on me, the dizzying scent of ginger stems washing over me. I looked at the floor as I thought about my grandmother and all the things I might have said to her given the chance to say goodbye. I saw all the holes in the floor. That, I hadn’t expected. “What are they?” I asked my friend. “Spit holes. In the latter stages of leprosy, the victims during Damien’s time, before there was a cure, could not swallow. Damien still wanted them to come to church and he put spit holes in the floor so they could still come to church and pray.” And then, a wondrous thing happened. I felt him. I really did. His beautiful, Holy ghost was in his House, and I, like all his other outcasts had just become one of Damien’s children. It was an indescribable feeling. It was a high feeling of pure love. “He’s here, you can feel him, can’t you?” my friend whispered and I just sat, stunned. Had I been alone, I know I would have dismissed that moment as a fantasy. That feeling has stayed with me for years now and I reach in for it, whenever I need it.

Recently, Pope Benedict declared the inexplicable healing of 80 year old Audrey Toguchi’s cancer as a Miracle. Her fatal illness miraculously disappeared after a long visit at Father Damien’s grave. He has pushed Damien’s case to the head of the line where he should be. Earlier this year, I went back to Molokai and took Father Damien a lei. I know it’s only his right hand there, but it still belongs to him. The hand that touched, nurtured, fed and held people terrified and feeling abandoned by their God. In Hawaii, Father Damien Day is celebrated on April 15. Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995, the Catholic Church commemorates Damien on May 10.
Known officially as “Blessed Damien of Molokai,” he will soon be known as Damien, hero, father…SAINT.
Aloha oe,
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Damien Sainthood Poses Dilemma for Leper Colony

In a state known for bustling, exciting tourist destinations such as Waikiki and the Kilauea volcano, Kalaupapa is sacred ground with a history of disease, suffering and isolation. Some 8,000 people have died on this remote peninsula since the Hawaiian Kingdom started exiling leprosy patients here in 1866. Many were torn from their families and left to scrounge for shelter, clothes and food. The vast majority were buried in unmarked graves.

Today, visitor interest in Kalaupapa, on the northern edge of Molokai island, is growing. And it will likely increase when the Vatican proclaims Father Damien — the 19th century priest who cared for the leprosy patients — a saint, most likely late next year. The two dozen patients still living here are eager to celebrate Kalaupapa's most famous resident, a selfless man who cared for leprosy patients when many others shunned them. They would welcome pilgrims at Damien's church and grave. But therein lies a dilemma. The patients and their supporters also don't want throngs of tourists disturbing the community's privacy and desecrating the land. "The priority is the patients. That's why we have to approach this very delicately," said state Sen. J. Kalani English. "Their privacy is paramount, their security is paramount, their dignity is paramount." Kalaupapa's attraction for tourists and pilgrims is heightened by the dramatic story behind the Vatican's recognition of a miracle attributed to Damien, who died in 1889 after contracting leprosy himself. It's this miracle that cleared the way for sainthood. Audrey Toguchi, an 80-year-old Catholic from the Honolulu suburb of Aiea, came to Kalaupapa 10 years ago to pray for help at Damien's grave after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Less than a year later, Toguchi's cancer disappeared. In July, Pope Benedict XVI ruled Damien had intervened because there was no scientific explanation for her recovery.

Kalaupapa is dramatically isolated, a peninsula cut off by 2,000-foot cliffs and surrounded by ocean. It can only be reached by small plane, mule ride or a 1- to 2-hour hike. Only 100 people live here, including the patients and care workers. The state Department of Health limits visitors to Kalaupapa at 100 per day, and each visitor must obtain a permit. On average, only about 25 make the trip. Terryl Vencl, executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau, which promotes Molokai tourism, expects more people will want to visit but isn't sure how many. The bureau has no plans to market tours after Damien is canonized but will give travel agents information about Kalaupapa. Lawmakers, state officials, and the National Park Service, which operates a historical park at Kalaupapa, all promise they won't allow the visitor cap to be raised without approval by from the remaining patients. Anwei Law, a historian who has been coming to Kalaupapa for almost 40 years, said visitors need to remember that Kalaupapa is not just another tourist attraction. "It's a sacred place because you've had so many people live there and die there," said Law. "It's a place where people had everything taken from them, but their response was not one of hatred."

Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, is spread by direct person-to-person contact, although it's not easily transmitted. It can cause skin lesions, mangle fingers and toes, and lead to blindness. But it's been curable since the development of sulfone drugs in the 1940s and people treated with drugs aren't contagious. Hawaii did away with the exile policy in 1969. Patients sent here before 1969 are free to leave, but many have chosen to stay because it's become their home. The state has promised to keep the settlement open and care for patients until the last one dies. The youngest is now 67. After that, the National Park Service will take over management of the peninsula.

The kingdom began strictly enforcing its isolation policy in 1873 — the year Damien arrived — sending hundreds of people to Kalaupapa even though there was no housing for them and no doctor to care for their sores. They were expected to build their own homes, grow their own food, and make their own clothes even though many of them were profoundly sick. When a resident doctor finally arrived in 1879, he wouldn't touch anybody and left medicine on a fence post. Damien, born in Belgium as Joseph de Veuster, stood out because he stayed and put no barriers between himself and the patients. He built homes, constructed a water system, and imported cattle. He had no medical training, but he did have a medical book and a bag, and he made rounds washing and bandaging patient's sores. He shared his pipe with patients and ate from the same bowl. Even before he contracted Hansen's disease, Damien began his sermons saying "We lepers." Damien was diagnosed with leprosy 12 years after he arrived at Kalaupapa and died four years later, at age 49. He's the only health care worker in Hawaii who ever contracted Hansen's.

Henry Nalaielua, 83, a patient who moved to Kalaupapa in 1941, said it would be "a glorious day" when Damien is canonized and would welcome pilgrims. "I know all of us hope that he does become a saint," said Nalaielua, a Catholic. "And that his church here will maybe become a shrine, instead of just Father Damien's church." Even so, patients and their supporters are firm in wanting to retain the 100-person-per-day limit, even if more people want to come seeking another Damien miracle. "You have to realize that the patients are still here," said patient Gloria Marks, 70. Law, the historian, said the limit on visitors should be maintained even after the last patient dies. "You really need to be able to feel the isolation of the place. If you're there with 500 people, you're no way going to feel the isolation that people had to go through," said Law. "You lose a lot of the lessons of history and the meaning."
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The strange case of Father Damien and Robert Louis Stevenson

The life of the famous Belgian missionary Father Damien (1840-1889) - "apostle of the lepers" - has been revisited in the current motion picture, 'Molokai'. Directed by Paul Cox, with David Wenham in the leading role and an all-star cast, the movie is a faithful representation of its subject. Less known, however, is the fact that the famous Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson, a Presbyterian, was a strenuous defender of Father Damien in the face of unjustified criticisms. Father F. E. Burns, who provides the following account, is a retired priest of the Melbourne Archdiocese and a former Air Force chaplain.

When the bulky hand-delivered envelope arrived at the office of the Sydney Morning Herald on 25 February 1890 the editor was delighted. Clearly written on the back of the envelope were the sender's details which read "Robert Louis Stevenson, c/- The Union Club, Bligh Street, Sydney". The famous author, who was visiting Sydney, was much in demand in artistic and literary circles - the toast of the city. But when the editor read the article Stevenson had submitted for publication, the blood slowly drained from his face. For it was a most powerful defence of Fr Damien de Veuster, the leper priest who had died the previous April, and who had been the subject of a most bitter sectarian attack.

As a boy I had read the almost unbelievable story of Fr Damien. I had also read Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde, Treasure Island, etc. It was later I came across Father Damien: An Open Letter to the Rev Dr Hyde which Stevenson offered first to the Sydney Morning Herald and which, on legal advice, it refused to publish. But American and British newspapers soon did, and Stevenson's Open Letter thundered across the Pacific, and across the literary world. Stevenson's outrage was sparked by the events following Fr Damien's death. His courageous life had been celebrated, even in the Australian secular press, prompting the Rev H. B. Gage of Sydney to write to Rev Dr Hyde of Honolulu for some details of the suddenly famous priest. Details he got. Hyde replied that Damien was "no saintly philanthropist"; rather he was "a coarse, dirty, headstrong bigot ... not a pure man in his relations with women", whose leprosy was "due to his vices and carelessness."

It is a sad fact that all denominations have their bigots. This was a bigoted age and, here, a case of bigotry at its mischief-making worst. Having obtained his "details" of Fr Damien, Rev Gage proceeded to have them published in the Sydney Presbyterian where, unfortunately for both Gage and Hyde, Stevenson read them. At first he could not believe what he was reading. Stevenson knew Hyde, and had been his guest when he lived in Honolulu. He had also, against his own doctor's advice - Stevenson had TB - visited Molokai shortly after Damien's death. He had been impressed by stories of Molokai and was keen to inquire further, though admitting to being "cynical about popular heroes."

His visit to Molokai lasted eight days, but Stevenson's awakening began even before he landed there. He travelled in a small boat with two religious sisters, "bidding farewell (in humble imitation of Damien) to the lights and joys of life." One of the nuns "wept silently and I could not withhold myself from joining her ... [A]s the boat drew nearer [we] beheld the stairs crowded with abominable deformations of our common manhood ... a population as only now and then surrounds us in the horror of a nightmare ... the butt-ends of human beings lying there almost unrecognisable but still breathing, still thinking, still remembering ... a pitiful place to visit, a hell to dwell in." But dwell in it he did. Stevenson became very friendly with the nuns and - to their despair - mixed freely with the lepers and played with the children. His sorry state of health made him doubly a candidate for infection, and Sr Marianne admonished him.

Robert Louis was a deeply spiritual man, honest to the point of bluntness, and above all a truth- seeker. What he saw at Molokai simply overwhelmed him. As a younger man he had often joked about the clergy of his own denomination in Glasgow saying that if they had appeared more as joyful bearers of the Word, and less like undertakers, he may have taken more notice. But Fr Damien's "hands on" Christianity, together with his robust faith and his acceptance of the news of his own leprosy "with a merry heart" was something different. Even though Stevenson was well aware of Damien's human failings - "he was no plastic saint." Yet the evidence of his goodness was undeniable and Stevenson, famous man of letters, graduate in both Law and Engineering, declared that the eight days on Fr Damien's Molokai changed his life. Before leaving the island, Stevenson presented the children's home with many gifts - a piano among them - and addressed a little poem to the Sisters:

To the Reverend Sister Marianne,

Matron of the Bishop Home, Kalaupapa.
To see the infinite pity of this place,
The mangled limb, the devastated face,
The innocent sufferers smiling at the rod,
A fool were tempted to deny his God.
He sees, and shrinks; but if he look again,
Lo, beauty springing from the breasts of pain!
He marks the sisters on the painful shores,
And even a fool is silent and adores.

The fact that people like listening to and passing on racy details about others (true or false) is indeed a fact of life and, if misrepresentations and lies are published, the truth must be restored. But in the case of Fr Damien, there was another factor. Perhaps Rev H.B. Gage was sincere, even if bigoted. But Dr Hyde's case was different. In 1885, Dr Hyde wrote of Fr Damien in the Hawaiian Gazette describing him as "that noble-hearted Catholic priest who went to Molokai in 1873 to care for the spiritual welfare of those of his faith, and whose work has been so successful." Why he turned from praise to slander in four years is unknown, but Hyde's letter to Gage was certainly not penned in ignorance, and the shuddering hypocrisy of his stance was too much for Stevenson. His wife reported that he locked himself in his room, muttering as he wrote.

Robert Louis Stevenson believed Damien was a saint and predicted that the Church would one day canonise him. He made plain in his letter to Dr Hyde that Hyde's own contribution would be used as "evidence against", and needed to be balanced by the truth - hence his "Open Letter." The reaction was predictable and powerful. Poor Hyde could do no better than to try to dismiss Robert Louis Stevenson as "a bohemian crank, a negligible person whose opinion is of no value to anyone." He had been particularly stung by Stevenson's closing words to him: "The man who did what Damien did is my father ... and the father of all who love goodness: and he was your father too, if God had given you the grace to see it." On his death Damien was laid to rest by and among his leper friends on Molokai. 46 years later his remains were transferred to his native Belgium. President Roosevelt provided a United States Navy ship to transport the casket, which was welcomed at Antwerp by the Cardinal Archbishop, King Leopold III and more than 100,000 people.

As for Stevenson, he died just a few years later in Samoa - but not before making a significant mark there. He bravely and effectively helped unite and represent the Samoans - underdogs as Damien's lepers were - in the struggle against colonial exploitation. And when he died, aged 44, his native friends buried their beloved "Great Story Teller" on the peak of Mt Vaea, "under a wide and starry sky", as he had requested. Fr Damien's life and work have become more well known lately through books and films. And both men have been honoured and commemorated by statues and plaques. But the greatest monument to them both - and the one that tells us much about each - is the beautiful, powerful and somewhat reckless defence of Damien penned in Sydney by Robert Louis Stevenson.
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

China allows entry of leprosy patients ahead of Olympics

BEIJING, July 24 (Xinhua) — China lifted its ban on the entry of foreign leprosy sufferers on Wednesday, two weeks ahead of the Beijing Olympics. Leprosy sufferers and their relatives from other countries can enter China starting from July 20, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ). The decision came two months after the organizing committee of the Beijing Olympic Games revealed a guideline on June 2 that blacklisted anyone suffering leprosy, mental illness, a sexually transmitted disease, open pulmonary tuberculosis and those who may commit terrorist acts from coming into China during the Olympic Games from Aug. 8 to 24. “The reason we lifted the ban is that U.N. Human Rights Council passed a resolution on June 18 for the elimination of discrimination against leprosy sufferers,” an official with the Department of Supervision on Health Quaratine of GAQSIQ told Xinhua on Thursday. The official who refused to be named said the new rules would remain in force after the Olympics.

Leprosy is a chronic disease which can cause nerve damage, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy, and permanent disability. According to the World Health Organization, the disease is transmitted via droplets from the nose and mouth of untreated patients, but is not highly infectious. At the beginning of last year, 224,717 cases were recorded globally. China banned the entry of foreign sufferers of leprosy, mental illness, sexually transmitted disease, HIV, and open pulmonary tuberculosis in 1989.
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kalaupapa celebrates Damien, Parish Anniversary, New Pastor

In St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa, Bishop Larry Silva preaches at the Mass celebrating the feast of Blessed Damien, the 100th anniversary of the Church, and the installation of Father Felix Vandebroek, left, as pastor. (HCH photo by Patrick Downes)
KALAUPAPA July 28th 2008: (Catholic Herald) - With a joyful Mass and luau on May 10, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Kalaupapa savored a triple crown celebration — the 100th anniversary of the parish church, the feast day of Blessed Damien and the installation of a new pastor. More than 100 people filled the gleaming white church for a music-drenched liturgy presided over by Bishop Larry Silva, and concelebrated by the pastor Sacred Hearts Father Felix Vandebroek, and Sacred Hearts Father Lusius Nimu. The guests, many of whom came to the isolated location on eight- and nine-seat chartered planes, outnumbered the parishioners — the small, aging community of Hansen’s disease patients, their caretakers and the settlement’s government workers. They assembled gradually and noisily, like a big family reunion, with plenty of hugs and kisses and leis, delaying the scheduled 10 a.m. liturgy by almost a half hour. No one minded. “You can feel the joy,” the bishop said, greeting the congregation. In his homily, Bishop Silva expounded on the image of the Good Shepherd presented in the Gospel, urging the congregation to be “shepherds in your families, in your school communities, in heath care.” Speaking of the church’s anniversary, he alluded to the church’s distinctive history. “As we come to celebrate the centennial of this holy place, we remember all those who gathered here in hope, gathered in sorrow, gathered with pain in their hearts, gathered with great joy,” he said. Citing progress being made at the Vatican in Blessed Damien’s canonization cause, the bishop hinted that he will be declared a saint within the year, saying “that this is perhaps the last time we will call him ‘blessed’ on his feast day.” After the homily, the bishop installed the 80-year old Belgian priest as pastor. Before reciting his installation promise, Father Vandebroek said he had a special message to give “to the parishioners of St. Francis.” “We love you,” he simply said. The Mass music was led by a dozen members of the St. John Vianney Choir of Kailua, frequent Kalaupapa visitors, and directed by Molokai-born Robert Mondoy who wrote or arranged most of it. A hula by four Kalaupapa residents — “God is Love” to the tune of “Makalapua” — served as a prelude to the liturgy. After Mass, the people were shuttled over to McVeigh Hall for a luau lunch complete with squid luau, sweet potato, raw crab, varieties of poke and a sheet cake with a picture of the church. Homegrown and visiting singers, dancers and musicians provided some spirited local-style party entertainment. Anyone who could grab an ukulele or knew the hula to “Boy from Laupahoehoe” was welcome to join in. Singer-composer Keith Haugen, with his wife Carmen, debuted the Hawaiian-language song “Kiloi ia” (“Discarded”), a mele about the people of Kalaupapa. “The sick people were thrown away, they were just discarded here at Kalaupapa, they were thrown without care from the big ship into the rough sea at Kalawao,” goes the translation of one of the verses. The lei-laden Father Vandebroek happily mingled rather than eat, chatting with parishioners, friends and guests. The pastor, who came to Hawaii in 1956 and has served in parishes on Oahu, the Maui and, has been at Kalaupapa since September. Resident Winnie Harada, wife of the late Paul Harada, presented Bishop Silva and visiting Lutheran Bishop Murray Finck of California with containers of Hawaiian salt her husband was famous for collecting along the Kalaupapa shoreline. St. Francis is Hawaii’s smallest, most remote, most unique parish. Because of its particular membership, there are no regular baptisms, first communions or weddings — just funerals. The parish continuously welcomes pilgrims from around the world who want to walk the soil that cultivated the sanctity of Father Damien de Veuster and Mother Marianne Cope. St. Francis Church is the successor to the church Father Damien built and used, St. Philomena, which still stands a few miles away, alone among the graves in Kalawao, the original site of the settlement that became the state-mandated destination for those who contracted leprosy in Hawaii between 1866 and 1969." The original St. Francis Church, built of wood in 1899, burned down in 1906. Construction for the present Gothic-style stone church began in 1907. It was completed the following year and blessed on May 28, 1908. St. Francis was renovated in the late 1990s by then pastor Sacred Hearts Father Joseph Hendriks.
By Patrick Downes Hawaii Catholic Herald



No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Discriminatory Laws on Leprosy Need Amendment

PUNE, India: 19th August 2009 (Times of India) - Leprosy, which has blighted mankind for thousands of years, is still far from being wiped out from the social psyche even though the disease is completely curable now. Even today, there are several laws that continue to discriminate against the leprosy affected people. The International Leprosy Union Alliance (HA) here has identified 16 such acts and filed a petition to the 'Parliament petition committee' (PPC) recently. "The ILU-HA has formed a committee to discuss the discriminatory laws against leprosy-affected people," said Rashmi Shirhatti, chief executive of ILU-HA . There may be more such acts but the PPC has assured us that they will focus on these 16 acts, where the leprosy-affected persons feel hardship and injustice."

Elaborating on some of these acts, Shirhatti said that the Indian Railways Act of 1869, section 56 gives the railway authorities the power to refuse carriage to patients suffering from contagious diseases. "Leprosy is the least infectious and is not at all contagious. The act is discriminatory," said Shirhatti. Similarly, the Care and Protection Act 2000 says a child found to be affected by leprosy should be dealt with separately. "The committee has proposed an amendment to the effect that such a child should not be segregated, except when undergoing an infectious stage as certified by a medical practitioner," said Shirhatti.

The Life Insurance Corporation Act of 1956, which specifies a higher premium to the leprosy-affected, ought to be amended as "it unnecessarily penalises patients and perpetuates an unscientific fear of leprosy," said Shirhatti. Changes have been sought in the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947; Council of India Act, 1992; Persons with Disabilities Act, 1955; Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 and The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, Shirhatti said. "Be it the Special Marriage Act, Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act 1939, The Hindu Marriage Act, 1956 or the India Divorce Act, 1869, all have provisions for divorce on the grounds of a partner suffering from incurable and virulent leprosy, whereas leprosy is a curable disease now," "The laws were framed when leprosy was considered incurable. Now, it's curable. Hence there is a need to amend these laws," said Ashok Laddha, joint director (leprosy and TB).
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Fight Against Leprosy in Hawaii

Number of victims increasing but the disease not hereditary
Oakland Enquirer 1895 - (California) – The government has been pursuing for 26 years the policy of segregating the lepers, who are sent to the island of Molokai, where they must live and die. When this policy was adopted it was believed that it would accomplish the extirpation of the disease, and upon that theory it is still pursued: But recent official reports that in the long fight against this disease the faith of those in the contest sometimes wavers. The leper population upon Molokai increases steadily, and, while some authorities hold that there is not much leprosy upon other islands, there are those who assert that there is as much as ever.

From the statistics given in the report to the President of the Board of Health, it appears that in 1866, when the Molokai settlement was established there were 105 lepers in it and by 1870 they had increased to 279. In 1880 the number was 606, and in 1890, 1,213. In 1893 it was 1,155, a less number than in 1890 but an increase over 1892. The report comments: “Considering the natural decrease of the native population and the number of new cases which annually occur, it would seem that in proportion there is as much leprosy as at the commencement if not more”.

The settlement is kept up at an annual cost of $80,000 or over, and, of course, it would not be maintained if it were not generally believed that segregating abates the plague of leprosy, with prospects of its ultimate eradication. And bearing in mind that this policy stamped out leprosy in Europe where it was very prevalent during the Middle Ages, it is reasonable to believe that it will do the same in Hawaii, only it must continue for a century or two and not merely for twenty six years.

This report shows that the theory of hereditary leprosy has been shaken by the experience at Molokai, where most of the children of lepers appear to be healthy, or in the term used by the physicians “clean”. And many of the children taken away young do not in after life develop the disease. This evidence, in the opinion of Dr. Myer, the health officer upon Molokai, justifies the belief that children do not inherit the leprosy, but contract it from their parents in early childhood. This separation of the children from their leper parents involves a good deal of suffering, and has not been universally followed. There is a home provided for little daughters of lepers but none for boys. Dr. Myer asks the question what will become of these children who grow up on the island and answers it by saying: “They will grow up probably a lawless and dangerous element. The settlement is their home; they know no other. …. There is no work for them; they have learned nothing; they have seen little less than idleness, drinking and gambling, and whatever else perfects hoodlums and tramps”.

A human being could hardly come into existence under more depressing conditions than those of the heartfelt child in a colony of lepers.

New York Times
Published September 28th. 1895

No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Book Review - Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

Don't assume by the length of time it took me to read this book that I didn't like it. I started it sometime last week and fully expected to finish it by the end of the week. However, life got in the way, and it took me almost a full week longer to finally get it read.

Moloka'i is the story of Rachel, a Hawaiian girl who develops leprosy at the age of seven and is sent to the island of Moloka'i which is the site of a leper colony. I was afraid the book would be depressing and bleak, but it really wasn't. I learned so much from this book. I wasn't aware that the Hawaiian people were (are?) very susceptible to developing leprosy and that there was such an epidemic of the disease. I loved this book - in fact, it makes my list of favorites. Don't be dissuaded by the subject matter - this is a lovely book.
Thanks to SOMER @

"Moloka’i is a big, generous, compassionate, beautifully rendered epic novel about a largely forgotten, largely ignored chapter in Hawaiian and American history. Alan Brennert has written an exquisitely textured tale of darkness and light, tragedy and the triumph of the human spirit, filled with original, fully realized characters who walk right off the page and into our hearts."

-Jim Fergus, author of One Thousand White Women: The Journals Of May Dodd

"Love, marriage, divorce, was the same here as anywhere else, wasn't it?....The pali [cliff] wasn't a headstone and Kalaupapa [a leper colony] wasn't a grave. It was a community like any other, bound by ties deeper than most, and people here went to their deaths as people did anywhere: with great reluctance, dragging the messy jumble of their lives behind them."

I confess that I have been haunted by the story of the leper colony on Moloka'i for years and have read other books about Father Damien, who spent sixteen years ministering to patients before he himself died in 1889 of leprosy (as Hansen's disease was then called). Hawaiians were particularly vulnerable to this disease, having lived in isolation on their Pacific islands until the arrival of the white men who brought it.

A couple of years ago, my interest in the human story of the colony was piqued by James Brocker's book, The Lands of Father Damien, in which he memorialized as many of the people from the colony as he could document, including over a hundred photographs of the individuals confined to the colony, the buildings in which they lived, and the activities which made up their day. By far the most moving photographs were those of the small children, all of whom had been wrested from their families, sometimes by bounty-hunters, and sent to live-and meet their deaths-among complete strangers in the Kalaupapa settlement on the island of Moloka'i. One child, Beka, was only four when he arrived alone from Maui to spend the three short years remaining of his life away from his parents, brothers, and sisters.

Alan Brennert's novel Moloka'i is based on serious research into the history of this colony (and includes Brocker's book in the Author's Note). Like Brocker he chooses to focus on the human tragedy, both of individual sufferers and of those families who, while free from the disease themselves, were ostracized by their neighbors and employers because of their association with a patient. But he also emphasizes the personal triumphs of many of these patients, and that is a story which has long needed telling. Instead of elaborating on the horrors of the disease in order to build up drama, as a less skillful writer might have done, Brennert recognizes their dignity and respects them. Though no book about leprosy and the colony at Kalaupapa can ever be free from profound sadness, Brennert avoids turning this novel into a ten-hanky tearjerker, focusing instead on the lives the patients create for themselves and on their attempts at normalcy.

Rachel Kalama, the main character, is a typical 5-year-old growing up in a loving family in Honolulu when her mother first sees a sore on Rachel's leg which will not heal. Fearing what this may mean, not just to Rachel but to the rest of the family, she bandages it and makes Rachel wear long skirts. For over a year she succeeds in keeping Rachel's condition a secret, until one of her siblings lets the secret out during an argument at school. Rachel is taken by the health inspector, who receives a bounty for capturing her, and sent to a Honolulu hospital for sufferers of the disease. The trauma of separation from the only life she has ever known is bad enough, but at least she is in Honolulu, where she can see her family, even at a distance. When Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa a year later, however, her isolation-at the age of seven-is total.

The "family" she develops in Kalaupapa, her friendships with other young children, and her refusal to let the disease (or any of the nuns) control her spirit make her life bearable, and the reader will admire her pluck even while dreading what her future holds. Yet Rachel is one of those in whom the disease develops very slowly, and her story continues through her teen years, her marriage, and well beyond. Through the lively Rachel, Brennert shows the history of the Kalaupapa settlement, the history of treatment for leprosy (Hansen's disease), and the history of Hawaii itself, including the seizure of the Queen and the annexation and colonization of the islands by the American sugar barons (events which clearly parallel Rachel's story). The misconceptions about the spread of the disease and the ostracism of innocent families are brought to life through episodes about Rachel's family and those of her friends at Kalaupapa.

The Christianity of the nuns who work at the settlement sometimes comes into conflict with the centuries-old Hawaiian religious beliefs and mythology of their patients, which the nuns regard as paganism, contributing further to the isolation of the patients and adding to the instability of their lives. Yet Rachel's long, abiding friendship with Sister Catherine, an important part of the book, is built on mutual respect, and Catherine becomes one of the book's most vividly realized characters.

Brennert enriches his novel by incorporating events described in real documents and journals in the Hawaii archives into his story of the settlement, from its lawless, "wild West" atmosphere at the outset, to its final development as a "home" for the people who live there. (Thirty-one people, now completely cured of the disease through sulfa drugs, still reside, voluntarily, in Kalaupapa.) He includes many real people among the fictional characters, thereby informing a new audience of the unselfish service of doctors, administrators, nuns like Sister Catherine, and enlightened patients themselves toward bettering the lives of the people of Kalaupapa. Even Robert Louis Stevenson, who visited the settlement, plays a cameo role. The reader observes the community as it becomes more "normal," with marching bands, sports teams, celebrations, and even horse races (with the patients as riders), along with facilities such as bakeries, general stores, and laundries.

While we have no way of knowing if Brennert's depiction of the life Rachel and others lived in the settlement may be a bit rosy-colored, it is the kind of life we would hope these patients could enjoy. Though there is melodrama and sentimentality here, it flows naturally from the subject and the author's desire to present the full historical record. Few readers will remain unchanged by Rachel's story. As one character says, "How we choose to live with pain, or injustice, or the true measure of the Divine within us."
(reviewed by Mary Whipple JAN 11, 2004)


No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Former Leprosy Patients Hear Long-awaited Apology

Father Damien's church in Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii on August 12, 2008. The state of Hawaii passed a resolution apologizing to the residents of Kalaupapa, who are victims of Hansens Disease, on how unfairly they have been treated. (AP PHOTO)
Aug. 13th. 2008 (Associated Press) - The Hawaiian state delivered a long-awaited apology to former leprosy patients forcibly confined to a remote peninsula on the island of Molokai. "We're sorry. We're sorry for the treatment. We're sorry for the suffering that you've been through," state Sen. J. Kalani English told about a dozen former patients gathered Tuesday at a meeting hall. "The entire state is with me today as I say this." English then read aloud a resolution the Senate and House passed in April apologizing to the former patients.

It said many patients were torn apart from their families when they were sent to Kalaupapa Peninsula. It acknowledged the sacrifices the patients made, noting they thought of the public more than themselves, and gave up freedoms and opportunities the rest of society takes for granted. The Hawaiian Kingdom, and then later the republic, territory and state of Hawaii, together banished 8,000 people with leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, to Kalaupapa for over a century after 1866 in an attempt to control the illness. Drugs to cure the disease were first administered in the 1940s. Patients were no longer required to remain at Kalaupapa after 1969 but many have chosen to live out the rest of their lives there because it had become their home.

Former patient Gloria Marks told English the apology was way overdue but she appreciated it. "We're very grateful for you to come here and give us this message," Marks told English. But she was sad that Paul Harada, her brother-in-law and former patient who pushed hard for an apology resolution, was not alive to witness the event. Harada died Jan. 4. After English spoke, Makia Malo visited the grave of his younger brother, Earl D.K. Malo, who died at Kalaupapa in 1968 when he was 35 years old. Malo, who is blind, held his cane on top of his brother's gravestone while a health aide read the resolution. Malo, 73, said he thought everyone buried at Kalaupapa heard the statement. "I know they're watching and nodding. All of these people. They're all agreeing. They're just saying 'at last,'" Malo said.

Edwin "Pancake" Lelepali, 80, said he believed the apology should be made to the earliest residents of Kalaupapa more than anyone because they had to scrounge for shelter and food and were given little medical care. But by the time Lelepali arrived in 1941 at the age of 14, he said patients received food rations, allowances and health care. Then in 1969, patients were given the opportunity to leave if they wanted. "Those people up there, they had nothing," Lelepali said. "They really suffered."
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Doctor Shares Story of Cancer Patient's Miracle Cure

Dr. Chang
KALIHI, Hawaii: Aug. 11th. (KHNL) -- It's the miracle cure that is leading to the sainthood of one of Hawaii's best known religious figures. On Sunday night, a cancer survivor's doctor shares his story. Dr. Walter Chang and others in the medical field couldn't help but marvel about the surprising results, after cancer patient Audrey Toguchi, refused treatment. A Kalihi church priest asked doctor chang to speak about Mrs. Toguchi's so called "miracle cure." Even though it's not a catholic church, a recent discussion about miracles in life, sparked episcopalian interest. "Right down the street I grew up and my brother was telling you, very interesting times," Dr. Chang said.

But not nearly as interesting as his experiences with his former patient, Audrey Toguchi. "We were really, truly, I mean, we marvelled at this particular phenomenon and of course it's called complete spontaneous regression of cancer, the true believable call it a miracle, a true skeptic will say this is a random coincidence," Chang said. At Kalaupapa on Molokai, Father Damien treated Hansen's Disease patients for more than 15 years and was said to give them hope instead of dispair. After refusing treatment, Toguchi prayed to Father Damien often. Eventually doctors confirmed Toguchi's tumors had disappeared without treatment. "So I was so thrilled when I learned that it was she who had her cancer disappear in five months and I think all of us at Aiea High School, there's an alumni association, are just ecstatic about what has happened to her," Toguchi's co-worker Nancy Au said. "No one could've deserved it more than her." Dr. Chang feels this so-called miracle might not work for everyone. "Well, hopefully that they'll believe there's something to prayers, but they should actually see their physician actually for tried and true therapy first," he said.

One thing most agree on is that no one truly knows why some cancers disappear. Dr. Chang says an additional three patients he's treated have experienced complete spontaneous regression of cancer. He says only around 800 people throughout the world have experienced this.

By Duane Shimogawa
No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Their Own Words

In the past, both patients and visitors to Kalawao and Kalaupapa wrote about their impressions and experiences. First-hand accounts reveal how people felt about being sent to this remote place, and of the conditions they faced. The following quotes offer some insight into patient life as seen from the standpoint of the patients themselves.

Ambrose T. Hutchison, resident in the settlement from 1879-1932
“On the night of the 4th day of January 1879 about seven p.m. I with 11 other fellow sufferers were lined up in two by two file by our jailer (each of us carrying our own baggage) guarded on each side by a squad of policemen were taken from the leper detention station...and put aboard the SS Mokolii lying along side the pier at the foot of Fort Street. After a half-hour wait for two Government Officials, Sam G. Wilder President of the Board of Health and Dr. N.B. Emerson newly appointed first resident physician of the Leper Settlement of Kalawao. When they arrived and came aboard the steamer the line was cast off, the steamer moved out into the habor and steamed out to sea bound for Molokai and arrived off Kalaupapa the next morning 7 a.m. when the steamer anchored we entered a row boat with the two officials and rowed to the Kalaupapa landing and put ashore and [were] received by the local officials of the Leper Settlement. After our names, ages and places we hailed from were taken down, left on the rocky shore without food and shelter. No houses provided by the then Government for the like of us outcasts.”
- Ambrose T. Hutchison, resident in the settlement from 1879-1932

Peter Kaeo, cousin of Queen Emma, in a letter to Queen Emma, August 11, 1873

Peter Young Kaeo Kekuaokalani March 4, 1836 - November 26, 1880 was a Hawaiian prince and cousin of Queen Emma of Hawaii also the grandson oJohn Young Olohana advisor to Kamehameha the Great. Peter was born March 4, 1836 at Pa'loha, Honolulu on the island of O'ahu. He was born into a noble Hawaiian family. His mother was Jane Lahilahi, the youngest daughter of John Young and Ka'o'ana'eha. His father was The Hon. Joshua Kaeo, sometime Judge of the Supreme Court of Hawaii, and great grandson of King Kalaniopuu. He was, according to Hawaiian tradition, hanaied (adopted) by his maternal uncle John Kaleipaihala Young at birth. His uncle was the fourth Kuhina Nui and the Minister of the Interior. He was chosen by Kamehameha III to attended Chiefs'Children's School along with his cousin Emma because of their descent from Kealiimaikai, Kamehameha III's uncle. The school was ran by Amos Starr Cooke and Julliette Montague Cooke an American missionary couple. He was declared eligible to succeed the Hawaiian throne by the Royal Order of Kamehameha III. He serve as a member of the House of Nobles and assisted in formulating laws of kingdom. He also served as Aide-de-camp to Kamehameha IV.

He contracted leprosy, known as Hansen's disease, which was uncurable at the time. He was exiled and isolated to the leper colony at Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. He arrived on the settlement on the same boat as William P. Ragsdale, landing June 29 1873. He had the means to maintain a comfortable existence for himself, including two servants, but was not unaware of the poverty and desperation around him. During his exile at Kalaupapa, he and his cousin Emma Kaleleonalani, at the time Queen Dowager of Hawaii, exchange letters revealing record of their personal lives during this three-year period.

From Peter Kaeo to Queen Emma, August 11, 1873:

"Deaths occur quite frequently here, almost dayly. Napela (the Mormon elder and assistant supervisor of the Kalaupapa Settlement) last week rode around the Beach to inspeck the Lepers and came on to one that had no Pai [taro] for a Week but manage to live on what he could find in his Hut, anything Chewable. His legs were so bad that he cannot walk, and few traverse the spot where His Hut stands, but fortunate enough for him that he had sufficient enough water to last him till aid came and that not too late, or else probably he must have died."

In November 26, 1880 at the age 44, he died at Kalawao, after 7 years of suffering on the leper colony. Yet the Hawaiian Gazette, Dec. 1, 1880 has to say: The Hon. P. Y. Kaeo died at his residence on Emma Street on Friday night [November 26, 1880]. The funeral took place on Sunday and was largely attended by the retainers and friends of the family. The hearse was surrounded by Kahili-bearers as becomes the dignity of a chief.

- Peter Kaeo, cousin of Queen Emma, in a letter to Queen Emma, August 11, 1873

Male, Part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78
“Like the other patients, they caught me at school. It was on the Big Island. I was twelve then. I cried like the dickens for my mother and for my family. But the Board of Health didn’t waste no time in those days. They sent me to Honolulu, to Kalihi Receiving Station, real fast. Then they sent me to Kalaupapa. That’s where they sent most of us. Most came to die.”
- Male, Part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78

Female, Hawaiian, c. 1977-78
“I remained in Kalaupapa for thirty years. I was finally paroled in 1966. My mother was still alive, so I wrote to her and told her I was finally cured. I could come home. After a long while, her letter came. She said, ‘Don’t come home. You stay at Kalaupapa.’ I wrote her back and said I wanted to just visit, to see the place where I was born. Again, she wrote back. This time she said, ‘No, you stay there.’ You see, my mother had many friends and I think she felt shame before them. I was disfigured, even though I was cured. So, she told me, her daughter, ‘Don’t come home.’ She said, ‘You stay right where you are. Stay there, and leave your bones at Kalaupapa. This place is finally my real home. They take good care of me here.”
- Female, Hawaiian, c. 1977-78

Male, Hawaiian, c. 1977-78
“You know, the babies that were born inside here were not allowed to stay with their parents. After the babies were born, the law said they had to be taken away to the baby nursery in Kalaupapa. They were afraid of the contact—afraid the babies would catch the disease from their parents…. But some of my children, I will tell you this, some of them I kept longer. Most times, the babies were born in the night. We kept everyone quiet so the administrators and nurses would not hear the baby being born. All my babies were born in my own home, right here."
- Male, Hawaiian, c. 1977-78

Male, part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78
“One of the worst things about this illness is what was done to me as a young boy. First, I was sent away from my family. That was hard. I was so sad to go to Kalaupapa. They told me right out that I would die here; that I would never see my family again. I heard them say this phrase, something I will never forget. They said, ‘This is your last place. This is where you are going to stay, and die.’ That’s what they told me. I was a thirteen-year-old kid.”
- Male, part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78

Male, part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78
“When I arrived at Kalaupapa, I was the youngest child inside the place. My father was waiting for me when I arrived, along with many of his friends. All the people took me in, and I became like everyone’s child. It was really one big family in here, an ohana. I had everything…so much love! I was spoiled rotten. I even had the nuns taking care of me.”
- Male, part-Hawaiian, c. 1977-78

Official photo left, taken in Oct 1934, providing her with her patient identification number.
Olivia Robello Breitha (1916-2006)
Olivia Robello Breitha's life was "ordinary and uneventful" until 1934. That year when she was 18 yrs. of age, about to be married and happily living with ther family, she was told she had leprosy. In those days, all those diagnosed with this disease in Hawaii were forcibly taken from family, friends and community and isolated on the remote peninsula known as Kalaupapa. Olivia lived at Kalaupapa for 73 yrs. during which time a cure for leprosy had been discovered, the isolation laws have been abondoned and Kalaupapa designated as a National Historical Park for the education and inspiration of present and future generations. Olivia traveled to different states and other countries but chose to live out her life at Kalaupapa - her home. This is where she fell in love, married Johnny Breitha and chose not tohave children because she knew they would be taken away from her at birth. This is where she wrote her autobiograpby and made a documentary with Tim Baker a 32 yr. old man who has since died from Aids, continuing to fight for her own rights and those of others.
Documentary Review Olivia & Tim Click Here >>>>>>

“The administration office…had a railing around the ‘boss’ (administrator) and there was a bench set against the wall where the patient sat. When Mr. Judd [Lawrence Judd, former Governor of Hawai`i who later became a Kalaupapa superintendent] came, the first thing that came down was the railing in his office. Then came the chain link fence in the caller house at the visitors’ quarters. That gave us a feeling that we, the patients, almost belonged to the human race again. You cannot imagine how much a simple thing like a fence and a railing coming down meant to me. I’m sure it had the same effect on all the patients.”
- Olivia Robello Breitha,

No responsibility or liability shall attach itself to either myself or to the blogspot ‘Mozlink’ for any or all of the articles/images placed here. The placing of an article does not necessarily imply that I agree or accept the contents of the article as being necessarily factual in theology, dogma or otherwise.