Famed Hansen’s Disease Priest, Saint Damien Honored
By Wendy Osher
A portion of New York’s 33rd Street was co-named Father Damien Way today after the 19th-century Roman Catholic Priest from Belgium, who is recognized in Hawaiʻi for is work with Hansen’s disease patients in Kalaupapa on Molokaʻi.
The portion of street that was be renamed is located near the Mid-Atlantic Regional Hansen’s Disease Center at Bellevue Hospital, which provides testing and treatment of the disease.
In celebratory remarks at the event, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York said, “Let’s just say this of Father Damien of Molokaʻi. Belgium is rightly proud of him; Hawaiʻi is rightly proud of him. His statue adorns the United States Capitol in Washington DC; his body is venerated in Louvain in Belgium; and today we have a street named after him in New York, and all I can say is Alleluia–Thanks be to God.”
Senator J Kalani English of Maui said Saint Damien was a “beacon of hope and light” for patients that faced a “life of condemnation.”
Sen. English delivered a Hawaiʻi State Senate resolution to Flanders’ Minister-President and the Archbishop of New York outlining Saint Damien’s work in Hawaiʻi and crediting him for “his vigorous advocacy for the universal human right to compassionate health care.
Today’s ceremonies were held at the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in New York City.