Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Celebrations at Tremeloo

Tremeloo, Belgium: October 4th: - The village of Tremeloo had the honour of opening the festivities in Belgium around the canonization of Father Damien.

On Sunday, October 4th I was among two thousand other "fans" of Damien in a large tent near the birthplace to celebrate the Eucharist which was presided by Cardinal Danneels in the presence of bishop Silva from Honolulu and Mgr. Berloco, the apostolic nuncio. With King Albert II and Queen Paola, there were many political figures of our country, but also many foreigners, including a group of 400 Hawaiians who gave colour to the assembly with their costumes, songs and “lei” that they offered to the priests and the royal couple. The Cardinal in his homily referred to the birthplace of the new Saint. but especially insisted on the fact of what this Saint has given to us. “What made Damien a saint? questioned the cardinal, “people? No, it was God did it”. This primate of the Belgian Church invited us to be thankful and appealed to the people that we must learn to pray and not only admire this heroic man, soon to be “Saint Damien of Molokai”. The Cardinal finally addressed the Hawaiians by thanking them. “Because”, he said “we gave birth to Damien so that he could come home. But you have given us as a Saint”.

This celebration described by newspapers as “a wonderful event” ended by an interview with Mad. Toguchi showing her gratitude to God who, through Damien wanted to be concerned about a "modest woman" such as she is. The miraculously cured woman told me later that she gave thanks for having known Father Damien SS.CC. thanks to the sisters present during her youth in her school in Hawaii.

Following this celebration the cardinal inaugurated a new statue of Damien in the garden of his birthplace. During the afternoon we participated in a bringing to mind the various stages in the life of Damien expressed through songs, dances and stories. The day continued with festivities, which included the whole village where our SS.CC. sisters and brothers discovered the Belgian style of popular festivity.
Sr. Hilde Reynders,

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