Friday, January 23, 2009

Father Damien on TV

Father Damien did the most important work of his life in an isolated Hawaiian coastal colony, cut off from the rest of the island by steep cliffs, where people suffering from leprosy were cast off from society.
The stocky Belgian missionary priest never sought celebrity or fame. But what Father Damien de Veuster did in Kalaupapa, Molokai became a story of international impact. Later this year, he's expected to be canonized.
Coming up Sunday (Jan. 25) at 6pm, the TV show Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on PBS Hawaii looks back at the remarkable ministry of the man who spent more than a decade caring for Hansen's Disease patients who were banished to the settlement to die.
Damien's legacy lives in Hawaii, where it's not difficult to find families who remember a loved one who was seized by the government and who disappeared, to Kalaupapa. At the time, the disease was believed to be a sign of uncleanliness or sin. Some families lost a second loved one, when a spouse or other relative voluntarily went with the patient to serve as a caregiver, or kokua. Back then, it was typically a trip from which there was no return.
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