Catholics in Hawaii are celebrating the honor being bestowed upon Father Damien. "It is with a great sigh of relief that finally our prayers are being answered and that recognition will be given to this holy man ... this wonderful priest who worked so hard for the cause of those that were the least of our brothers. The outcasts of society," said Rev. Christopher Keahi, the Provincial Superior of the Sacred Hearts Fathers in Hawaii, the same order Father Damien belonged to.
According to the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu Father Damien's second miracle happened in 1999. An Oahu woman named Audrey Toguchi was dying of lung cancer when she went to Father Damien's grave on Molokai and prayed to him. Although her condition was terminal, the cancer vanished and she is still alive today.
The first miracle was recognized by the Vatican in 1992. It involved a French woman who, in 1895, was dying of intestinal disease. She too prayed to Father Damien, recovered and lived for another 32 years. Catholics all over Hawaii are celebrating, including people at Honolulu's Damien Memorial School. If you look at a young man who is from Belgium coming to Hawaii and giving up his life knowing the consequences of his work but doing it for religious purposes, it is very inspiring," said Bernard Ho, President and C.E.O. of Damien School. "The Catholic community and the Damien community have been waiting for this for a while. We've been praying for it for a while and it's finally answered our prayers."
There is no official word on when Father Damien will be canonized to sainthood, but sources within the church said it probably will not happen before February of 2009 at the very earliest. The ceremony will happen at the Vatican in Rome with people from Hawaii and Belgium in attendance.
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